What Did You Learn Today?

On those rare occasions when the entire family would gather at the dinner table when I was a kid, one of the inevitable questions posed by one parent or the other was “what did you learn today?”. My brother or sister or I would launch into a minimalist explanation of whatever was shoveled our way in school, trying desperately to give a quick answer and let the other kid get grilled. The question, however, has stuck with me and it’s a good one for each of us to ask ourselves.

Business is constantly changing. Obviously so are the tools with which we attack our business issues. I routinely use a number of them – social media, web analytics, SEM, and CRM – which didn’t exist several years ago and the digital world in which I work most of the time didn’t exist at all (save for in science fiction novels) when I left my formal schooling several decades ago.

I use that question when I interview people –  “tell me something you’ve learned recently.” I’m not really looking for a specific skill. I want to be sure that the candidate feels an imperative to keep learning and to continually grow their skill set to keep up with a constantly changing business world. It’s even better if they don’t tell me about a program their employer sent them to – who knows if they went willingly. If they’re willing to invest in themselves the odds are that I can safely make an investment too.

So let’s start the week by asking ourselves that question – “what did I learn today?”  If you don’t really have a good answer, maybe it’s time to think about the blind spots in your skill set and to put together a plan to fix them.  You might not like analytics but I can pretty much guarantee they’re having an impact on your business.  I’m not particularly fond of accounting but I’ve learned how to read financial statements as well as how they’re put together and why.  One of the best things about our connected world is that much of the world’s learning is accessible to anyone, or at least to anyone with a motivation to absorb something new.  You?

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