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October 23, 2015
Don’t Forget to Be a Lifelong Student
 
When life takes the backseat and we spend more time in transit than preparing a meal, we often forget how important it is to continuously invent self, evolve, and stay ahead of trends. We often forget how to keep learning and adopting new skills; how to form educated opinions, backed by research and facts. And, most importantly, we forget how to breathe.

In a world run by technology, there are many executive professionals that remain computer illiterate. This is fine. Many of them can afford secretaries and administrative assistants to help them progress in an innovative direction. At the same time, they are restricting themselves, hindering growth, and spending time in areas that could be streamlined through technology. That time could be spent focused on taking their brands to the next level. In short, the business world isn’t progressing as rapidly as it could be, and the younger generation is looking to us for cues.

Mentorship is amazing because we can get shortcuts to decision-making methods, adopt specific processes, and learn things about our industries that we never knew we never knew. We learn details about business that are either kept “hush, hush” or just not shared amongst “newbies.” We learn so much, but then we lose the need to go to our mentors other than for advice. We forget how valuable they continue to be to our growth. Sometimes, we even outgrow those mentors to where there is nothing that can really be learned from them.

So, let’s talk about innovation. For every hardware or software technology that you have ever learned and implemented into your daily workday, there have been upgrades…unless the company closed its doors to the public. Not upgrading software over the course of a few years can make a huge difference. Not upgrading from one version to the next can make a huge difference.

For example: Audio engineers who stayed true to their Focusrite devices and didn’t upgrade from 6.7 LE until version 8 or 9 came out were in for a big change. While many of the smart keys stayed the same, much of the system had been rearranged with a newly designed and more aesthetic interface. Now, in version 12, you can bet that buffers, plugins, and bugs have been upgraded or fixed and made more efficient. If you’re an audio engineer, you understand exactly what this means. If you’re not, this idea is definitely transferable to multiple platforms in technology. As a matter of fact, I am still upset that Safari seems to have removed the “activity” window in its most recent upgrade. I relied on that for quickly locating files that were in use on a web page at that particular moment.

Changing technologies force us into quickly learning and adopting new ways of doing things, based on immediate need. What would happen if we simply learned for the sake of learning? How much more results-oriented would we be when implementing our new technologies or adopting them for the benefits that they could bring? Technology aside, why aren’t we consistently picking up soft skills that will add to our value in the marketplace? Why aren’t we finding ways to combine our knowledge of one subject with the next in creating something interesting?

I’m sure your answer was that you have no time. Am I right? Consider this: While you are in the car, the most cliché thing you can do is listen to an audiotape. Why don’t you do it? Today, you don’t need to rely on tapes. You can find videos or audio on just about any subject through your mobile device. You can even download audiobook players that will keep you occupied for hours and return you right back to where you left off, no matter which device you are accessing the information from. While this is so easy to do, there are many that would rather not know about something to have the excuse that they “don’t know how.” The same goes for basic software and programming skills. If you’re a hands-on person, learn management. If you’re a supervisor, learn something technical.

If you work in marketing, content creation, or design strategies, you probably have seen where your chances of getting a particular job or client would be heightened if only you knew how to do minor coding, use some unknown software program, or work with WordPress. While you are a superstar in marketing, you hate showing numbers for fear that you present them wrong. After all, you can read them and understand them, but explaining numbers is just not your forte. You need to change this quickly! It’s time you stop letting these fears get the best of you. Just go for it. Immersing yourself in learning is the best way to gain new skills. In addition to audiobooks, ebooks, tutorials, and user-generated classes, there are free mobile apps available to help you evolve through interactive quizzes and games. They can be fun, and many reward you with official certifications that always appeal to your clients and bosses.

Any seasoned professional agrees that while rebranding isn’t a great option, reinventing yourself every so many years is almost inevitable. You must evolve to meet technology advances. In order to be ahead of the game, you become an early adopter. This will keep you ahead of industry trends and ensure that you will impact the revenue of your company for the better. As markets saturate, and the less evolved you become, the less business you will continue to keep. If you want to maximize your value and salary, do whatever it takes to make business happen for you. Take risks. Network.

Or don’t. The choice is yours.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to be a lifelong student of progress.

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Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan is the owner of Shorty Produkshins and an Internet Marketing professional, specializing in Social Branding and Public Relations. She has been a part of multiple International projects in both Entertainment Business and Professional Services industries. She often works with major marketing firms and job search sites under NDA in lending valuable insight to clientele, whether it includes hands-on project development or the crafting of a roadmap for a brand's awareness strategy. Find her online here. @sp_brand_social @sp_brand_social
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