Taking on a new model. Creating a new culture. Starting in a new position.
These are all times where we feel compelled to dig deep and focus on self-improvement or team development. As we're moving more and more into being knowledge-driven businesses, waiting for a major event before seeking new knowledge isn't what will make you a leader. Continuously finding ways to increase your understanding of topics and being able to articulate the ideas effectively is increasingly important and is what will make you stand out in the crowded field of look-alike agencies.
We've written a few times about this and given several suggestions of how to gather information and ways to engage in continuous learning, so I'm not going to talk about that here. Instead I want to talk about what you do with that information you learn.
Just reading something isn't enough to really make it useful; it doesn't automatically turn into an effective new tool you can use in your selling or marketing efforts. You need to take that raw knowledge and think critically about how the information might impact you, your company, your clients, your community. When you begin to understand the underlying implications becomes the point when you can do something useful with the ideas. This is when you can create directly relevant advice and tools for your prospects and clients.
Some example ideas
Read an article or a book, watch a video, read a case study or survey results. Share it with a partner and have a discussion about it.
Ask yourselves some open-ended questions to get the conversation started.
- How does this impact our business? Our clients' businesses? The individual roles of our clients? Does it impact the way we work with our clients?
- Ask "What if...?" Make the assumption that you've already created a new reality with this idea. What might that look like?
Take the answers from these questions and see if there is an action item you can take away:
- Have a similar discussion with your team/department, and create an action plan to share the information with all clients or select clients.
- See if you can create a tool or resource that might address this issue for your own company or for your clients' companies.
- Talk to a client about the information and the potential impact.
- Write a blog post about your take on the information and offer an opinion and some advice.
- Create a presentation/lesson that you can share internally, with a client group, or with a group of prospects.
Continuing to interact with the information in many different ways is what takes it from being a passing "isn't that interesting" idea to something tangible you can use to help build a better business for yourself and for your clients. The more you work with the ideas, the better your understanding, the more connections you can draw, and the better the insights you develop, which turns into better advice you can offer.
Kevin and I find this is a critical part of our business for developing ideas and curriculum. We regularly discuss what we read, see, and hear and then we work with those ideas in multiple ways turning them into articles, blog posts, presentations, lessons, group exercises, and client tools. Sometimes the ideas and conversations even turn into sales systems, agency development plans, or entire conferences!
Even if you feel you understand a topic pretty well, taking the time to articulate it to someone else – through writing, talking, or teaching – will significantly improve your own understanding of the topic and how to relate it to various situations. You'll also find that you're more effective in your delivery because the creation process (of say an article or a presentation) forces organization and narrowing of ideas to the most significant and relevant points.
Yes, this does take time, but it's a stimulating activity when you get a group involved and ideas start flowing. We did exercises like this at our BGNLive conference and the energy in the room was just buzzing with the excitement about the possibilities that were being created. These conversations of possibility allow people to improve their own knowledge while creating ways to contribute to the success of others, all in one activity. Try it out yourself, and let us know how it goes!
Photo by Paul Lowry.