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June 18, 2008
You’ve Got to Keep On Learning

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." - Henry Ford

This time of year when I see kids walking to and from school, they all have that “it’s almost over” look on their face.  Remember that feeling, songs have been written about school being out for the summer; in fact I can hear you singing it now.

It’s also the time of year we all get that itch to maybe coast a little, maybe it’s the institutionalized years of school/summer schedule or maybe its those agency summer hours beckoning an early Friday.

Whatever it might be for you, now’s the time to push that aside and create a behavior of learning.

Back in March Steffan Postaer, whom I had the chance to work with while we were both at Leo Burnett, wrote two articles about staying young in the business.  I’m paraphrasing but I’m going to take what he said and build on it and talk about learning.

Yep, good old fashioned learning.  It’s something that all of us should keep doing each and everyday as our marketing mediums, tools and even audience continues to evolve.  And it’s happening whether we’re ready or not.

There have been heaps of articles, research, whitepapers and charts about the consumer taking control.  Why?  Because they are learning, it may be one website, widget, application or even device, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that en masse they are learning, doing and mastering.

“Do or do not… there is no try” -Yoda

As marketers we have to do the same thing, school is never really out for us. In fact the pace has just gotten faster which to me means that learning is even more important.  And just trying isn’t good enough any more; we’ve got to do.

That means embracing the same mediums, tools, and applications that our audience does and embracing them means making them some part of our lives.  Why?  Well it’s darn hard to brainstorm ideas for social networking, widget or micro-blogging and the list goes on, if we don’t participate.

If we don’t participate and learn through experimentation and doing we tend to think about the thing vs. the ideas around it.  I’ve been in way too many brainstorms that started with “let’s do something on facebook,” that’s like saying let’s do something that plays on a tv.

Choose something.  Maybe it is facebook or twitter, heck, get in line July 11 for the new Apple iPhone and start using the new apps, I’m excited about the GPS/location based apps.  Whatever it is, start doing and then do some more.  It is learning after all.

Our business is changing both from within and from without.  You’re reading this or visiting this website because you believe in actively managing your career, or if you don’t, you should.  And managing your career also means jumping into the changing medium that’s going on around us.

Where to start?  Next week I’ve got some suggestions on not only where to start but also strategies on how to get started and sites/tools/widgets to use and keep that learning behavior going.  Until then check out more of my thoughts at hundredfathom.com.

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For more than 15 years, Chris Mller has created, built and led businesses in the digital marketing space. He is a regular speaker at agency conferences and forums and is a recipient of numerous awards including agency of the year by Revolution Magazine, Cannes Cyber-Lion, One Show, Addy’s and Gold Effie. Currently he is the SVP, Group Managing Director, Interactive at Draftfcb and is actively involved with the majority of Draftfcb’s clients.
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