If You're a Start-up, You Can Never Stop Learning
If you're serious about your start-up journey, the learning is never done.
I wake up every day and realise how little I know about basically anything. There is literally no point at which I’ve sat back and thought that I was an expert and could stop learning. Learning is everything in start-up land and it’s never been simpler.
Yes, there are traditional ways to continue your personal development like a university, but there are many different ways to look at personal development.
At Nic Harry we like to continually work with our team to help them develop their own skills and minds as well as grow with us as our business changes and develops over time.
Read, read and read a bit more
As a teenager I hated reading. It was something that I felt held me back from experiencing life in a hands-on kind of way. I wanted to run and build things and touch, smell, feel. I didn’t want to read. Little did I know how much experience I could gain in a single book.
I try to read as much as I can about a wide variety of topics. I’ll jump from a book about ‘the beginning of flavour as we know it’ to books about relationships, management and business. There’s no real limit. I don’t just read books though. I make a point of following and reading interesting and intelligent people online every day. I stay away from the news overall. The news will depress you and keep you in a state of frustration. Liberate yourself.
At Nic Harry I ask my team to read at least one book every couple of months and we buy the books for everyone. We’ve created a mini library and the change that I’ve seen in some members of the team is remarkable. They’ve gone from reading one book in high school to being voracious readers who are dead set on creating wealth, being smart with their money and thinking about how we can improve our team and company.
Not everyone is a writer but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write down what’s in your head. I love writing and try to keep a daily journal. I’ll spend the first five or ten minutes of my day writing down what is in my mind; my mental state, the things that are bothering me, fights I’ve had with my partner, staff issues at work or anything in between.
If you can’t bring yourself to write down in a fluid manner then try writing down specifics like one good thing, one bad thing and one thing you’d like to do better today. Then the creative juices will probably get going and flow from there.
Do more When you’re running a start-up all you seem to do is work. I fall into this trap every single day. Work, work, work. Increasingly, I struggle to do more work when all I do is work.
I haven’t mastered the art of doing more outside of work but I’m making it a priority to become active and get off the couch. Do more hiking, thinking, meditating (not the religious or spiritual kind necessarily), reading, writing, talking and playing. It’s in these moments that I often find the most clarity about myself and my work.
Continual development does not come from working more. In my experience, it comes from working on a more diverse existence.
To help facilitate this at Nic Harry we give our team two full days off per week and offer them something called Bolt-On leave. If they have used their full leave allocation for the year and have performed exceptionally well, then I can grant them up to seven days of extra leave to take a break from work and do more.
Broaden your view
Yes, I sell socks and underwear for a living but that’s not the only thing that I am interested in and learn about.
I use an app on my phone called FlipBoard to help me stay connected to a broad set of interests that keep my mind engaged and my learning diverse.
This also applies to the kinds of people I choose to meet and spend time with. If I only ever met with other people in the sock and underwear industries I’d be bored out of my mind and probably quite boring to listen to at dinner.
Overall, the point is to develop yourself outside of your job or your work or your main area of interest. If you love rugby, that’s great but read about the latest developments in cryptocurrency and shock your friends. If you love science, watch the next episode of a trashy TV show and see how you feel about it. Development is about diversity.