Jim's Marketing Blog

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The secret to learning everything you need in order to succeed

Have you ever heard of the inoculation theory of education?

This is where people go through school or college, get a diploma, degree or whatever, and then use that to inoculate themselves from having to do any more studying.  I member the late, great Earl Nightingale recounting a conversation he had with a young man, who had recently graduated.  He told Earl he would never read another non-fiction book again.  He was done with learning and wanted to start working.

The challenge with that extremely common approach was highlighted by Jim Rohn.  Jim used to tell us:

A formal education can make you a living, but a self-education can make you a fortune.

Life-long learning

I was a very poor student at school, but committed at the age of 21 to dedicate myself to life-long learning. I determined to read the books, attend the courses and do whatever was required, for me to be the best that I could be.  Almost 25 years later, I am still a ferocious reader and am more committed to learning than ever.  I can tell you with total certainty that my decision to embrace life-long learning, is directly responsible for every success I have achieved.

In my experience, learning, true learning, means more than just blindly accepting everything you read or hear from an expert.  It means gathering information from the best sources you can find, and questioning what they say! Those you see online, accepting and agreeing like drones with everything their gurus tell them, are learning nothing.  They are simply gathering information, of often dubious value, from people who are just as fallible as you or I, and treating it as fact.

I see the process like this:

  • Read the books
  • Attend the courses
  • Listen to the audio programs
  • Put what you have discovered to the test
  • Measure your results and keep what works
  • Repeat

What is your approach to learning?  Do you set time aside to read?  Do you challenge what you learn?  I would love to know your thoughts on this!

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  1. A formal education can make you a living, but a self-education can make you a fortune.

    I really loved this, so many confuse the 2 for being the same…

    Thanks for the share Jim Connolly.. I have been running behind but hope to get it together..

  2. And this, my friend, is exactly why you continue to inspire me! I will always be a lifelong learner, looking for experts to take me to the next level.

  3. Great post Jim. It seems more often these days people Google their question, get their answer, move on and never truly LEARN the answer to the question. Thank you for providing us readers with valuable information and writing in a manner in which we retain the point.

    • Hi Carissa. Google is extremely useful, but we have to be selective regarding how we treat the results it generates. Thanks for the kind words 😉

  4. Thank you Jim for sharing your view on life-learning.
    I think the point is about motivation.
    Many people seem to undergo the formal education system. Once in the active life most of us are becoming totally informal: no books, no culture, no new learning, overwhelmed by the system with no motivation.

    In my point of view, the way of life-long learning is coming up with the wisdom and most of all the curiosity, that you’re able or not to develop.
    We all have been used to “absorbe” the information from our pairs or teachers. But some of us get that availability to fix purposes and make them real just because they were motivated.

    The determination of organizing ourselves and achieving something in life that will make us happy depends essentially on what way we choose to learn from life experiences and turning them for good.

    We all get our bottle of milk at the very beginning.
    The secret for succeeding is located in how we choose to use this bottle of milk.

    • A very good point my friend.

      I particularly like how you say it’s about
      “what way we choose to learn from life experiences.”

      The choice is always our, Yael.

  5. I agree. Part of the learning process is the utilization of what we are learning. As you say Gee, we’re not sponges.

    (Other than Sponge Bob Square Pants.)

  6. Vee Sweeney @ Internet Marketing Trends

    January 17, 2011 at 08:21

    As we get older, so does our ability to remember. Now of course I would like to say that I retain information as well as I did 5 or 10 years ago, but I simply don’t. Lifelong learning is really a necessity for the things that a person needs to retain (job knowledge, common sense knowledge etc) but it is also a choice. I have found that I have always learned and retained more from the things that I chose to learn rather than the things that I felt forced to learn (grade school, high school, college and so on).

    • I think most people would agree with you, about it being a lot easier to learn the things we choose to learn.

      The challenge is that so many people choose to learn the TV guide 😉

  7. Hi Jim,
    I think most marketeers are inherently inquisitive…I know I am. Every day is a chance to learn something new.
    For me the books, the courses, the debates etc. provide the solid framework but you soon discover that real life is never quite like the theory. Marketing is very much about people and their unfailing ability to surprise you. It makes you flexible, pragmatic and willing to embrace change, but based on a good foundation of knowledge and understanding.

  8. Nice post, Jim.

    Another method of learning I have is discussion and debate. I’ve been doing a course recently and have found that good discussions and debates (occasionally heated) help me to solidfy ideas in my head and sift out those topics that I know about from those where I could do with a bit more reading. I also find that it offers me alternative perspectives that I probably haven’t thought of.

  9. This post managed to strike a chord with me based on how coincidentally it connects with my life.

    On Friday I received in the mail a book I had ordered: “Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini. Your post made me smile because Persuasion was a book I “had” to read in college as a Communications major. At the time, I thought it was interesting stuff, but still managed to treat it with boredom rather than respect because–to my 20 year old mind–it was yet another “textbook.”

    Of course, the minute the semester was over, I took that book to the bookstore and sold it right back. Little did I know that only four years later, I’d be re-buying it for my professional growth. On that some note, I would’ve never guessed that I’d spend just as much time listening to the “Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio” podcasts as I would spend listening to music on my iPod. It’s funny to me how things that would’ve been assignments in college have suddenly become fountains of important knowledge as a working professional.

    This is definitely smart advice and it’s great to know that serious professionals like yourself take learning just as seriously as you take doing when it comes to your professional careers. Keep fighting the good fight, Jim!

  10. Jim this is awesome. I consider myself a life long learner but being intentional to challenge what I read or learn, that is something I have not been putting into practice. Thanks for sharing this! This was an “ah ha!” moment for me.

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