The Ad Agency CEO’s Lifelong New Business Learners Permit

Leaders never let their minds shut down, always strive to learn more
by Todd Knutson

In college, I don't think there was any way to comprehend what a professor meant when he said, "learning is a lifelong occupation". All we wanted to do was graduate and not have to take another exam or write another 25-page paper.

It was when I went to graduate school four years later that I realized how little I knew about business; the first time I really messed up a management situation when I learned how little I knew about managing people; and the pain and pressure associated with learning how to manage a large sales force when I learned how little I knew about sales. And that's when I remembered that learning was supposed to be a lifelong occupation. If I wasn't making mistakes and learning from them, I wasn't growing.

In a recent Forbes article, Sangeeth Varghese, founder of a leadership organization in India, describes three ways leaders keep learning and growing:

  1. They learn constantly. They actively strive to learn at every opportunity, even in their sleep (that's my best time for processing information).
  2. They learn continuously. They will not let themselves be distracted. (He also notes that, "Research has shown that it is more efficacious to study for one hour straight than for two hours with interruption.")
  3. They learn cyclically. They know that life is three-dimensional, and they study things from every angle. They also learn best from repetition and regularly reviewing what they've learned.

This reminds me of something Michael Gass predicted I would benefit from social media: the opportunity to get out in front of topics that will impact my companies, our clients, and ad agencies in general. And he's right. It's another steep learning curve, but one that's becoming more and more rewarding and relevant. And I have not doubt that it is going to have a significant long term impact on ad agency new business.

The subject of learning is as important for any CEO as it is someone who is an up and coming leader. New technologies are rapidly changing the way we work and interact with people. Staying current is essential if you want your agency to grow and prosper.

So, are you learning constantly, continuously and cyclically? Are you encouraging your employees or coworkers to do the same?


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