The above title was an infamous line of McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc. He was always learning from the best.
Too often CEOs get stuck. Year after year, they keep doing the same thing. It’s like a record that keeps skipping. Too often CEOs don’t think they need to learn, that they already have 30 years of “experience.” I think that’s actually false: they actually only have five years’ experience, six times in a row, doing the same stuff they’ve always done.
One of the CEOs I coach is also one of the most brilliant young leaders I’ve ever met. And he’s largely self-taught.
Every month, Sebastian Tondeur, CEO of the $500 million revenue MCI Group, thinks about the key areas he is working on in his business. Then he scours the online archives of articles on Harvard Business Review’s website. Years ago, Harvard began releasing short articles by global experts on virtually every area of business. They even compile groups of similar articles into books on subjects like Finance, Acquisitions, Leadership, Branding, Marketing, Meetings, Delegation, Coaching, etc. They sell these books on their own website and on Amazon.
Years ago I learned that I’d never be smart enough to figure it all out. My RND had to stand for Rip Off N Duplicate. Essentially I had to be on the lookout for the best systems that the best companies used for every area of their company. Once I figured out what they were doing, I’d just do that. Faster. And certainly easier than trying to figure it all out on my own.
Sebastian is essentially doing the same thing. He thinks about the key areas of the business he is going to be working on then he voraciously reads everything he can on the subject that has ever been printed by Harvard Business Review. He then distills that information and executes. He also focuses his learning largely to what Harvard Business Review puts out, knowing that they are already an incredible source of real experts. Why bother looking elsewhere when they’ve already done that for him?
I’ve often felt that too many entrepreneurs and business people are reading too many business magazines and business books (and business blogs for that matter) without staying focused on what specifically they want to learn. They’ll read a few books each month, and more articles online, but all the information they are learning is coming at them to randomly. Why learn about stuff that you don’t need to know right now? Why not focus your learning, so you can instantly put it to use?
Start reading about the areas of the business you are working on next week and next month. Focus your learning. Remember, unfocused light can light up a room, but focused light becomes a laser and cuts through steel. Focus your learning, like a laser.
“Register now for Cameron Herold’s December 2nd Fridays with Vistage Webinar, “Turn Your Company into a Magnet for Great Employees”