There’s Always Something to Learn

There's Always Something to Learn

There’s always something to learn. We learn from every life experience, failure and success.

I really believe this. So why is it many organisations spend more money on training rather than developing people, and when we’re self employed we either see development as a business luxury or we buy into vocational training or free sessions?

There’s always something to learn. By changing our mindset, being open to feedback, listening and observing it’s amazing what we see and hear and, ultimately learn.

This is my fifth in a series of six articles inspired by the speakers at Content Marketing Academy Live 17 (CMA Live 17). The fourth can be found on

This time I’m focusing on Marcus Sheridan. He talked about connection. Making a connection with your customer and keeping it real. To demonstrate he took us through his personal journey focusing on the key learning points.

I’ve taken his talk to help us understand personal development doesn’t have to cost a fortune, knowing and understanding yourself is the richest learning you can get, and no matter how old we are, there’s always something to learn.

Never let schooling get in the way of your education. – Marcus Sheridan CMALive 17

There's Always Something to Learn

Such a powerful statement with many meanings.

  • School can be a barrier to future learning. Many of the people we work with in The LaunchPad Academy CIC have low self esteem and have been written off by the education system.
  • We may see academic achievement as the only indicator of success.
  • We may have been inspired by a charismatic teacher.
  • We may have stuck two fingers up at the system and feel we’ve learnt more since school.

Whilst Marcus’ statement is powerful and, for me, it helps us focus on the power and richness of learning through experience and developing self awareness by being open to feedback whilst keeping our feet firmly on the ground, I’d say:

There are two things that can’t define you, your past and present, neither are permanent.

If you’ve not seen Marcus speak I’d recommend you do. He’s incredibly inspirational. 

He shared with us seven timeless qualities of personal and professional success:


1. Don’t marry your goals, marry progress

There's Always Something to LearnMarcus told us about a letter he’d written to himself ten years in the future. If he’d followed the content he wouldn’t be where he is now. We learn and grow and so do our goals and plans.

In my January 17 colleagues on tap group, I asked coworkers to write to themselves as if it was the same date in 2018. What had happened, helped, hindered, changed etc. I put a slight twist on this by saying I’d post the letters back in six months. I did, and the feedback in the main was things had changed slightly, but that was OK because either further research had developed goals or circumstances had changed etc. 

What was great no one said I stuck rigidly to my plan and things still aren’t going well!


2. Cling to the metrics that matter in your business

There's Always Something to LearnI think this makes sense to most of us. There’s no point in measuring enquiries and raving about them if you don’t measure sales, then find out you only make two in every fifty! Simple I know!

For me as a mentor and coach this is always about people and connections. Do you know your clients are happy? How do you know? Are you sure? How connected to your clients are you? For those of you who provide services remotely, or via contractors or staff, how do you measure satisfaction? More importantly, how do you remain connected to the customer or end user? 

As an aside, when I was in HR my pet hate was managers who had temporary staff, made them permanent, then said, “I need to get rid”. When probed they’d kept them because they were too busy to address the issues and it turned out the temp was never suitable anyway. 

My point here, as business owners, if we don’t measure the right things, take feedback and connect in the right way, we can’t be sure that when the clients busy phase is over, we won’t be dumped for a competitor that meets their needs better, or doesn’t but communicates, connects, and responds to feedback. 

How many times have you resisted asking for feedback because you know in your heart it’s not positive? This is the richest learning. Take off the defensive armour, listen, learn and respond.


3. Embrace the messy

There's Always Something to LearnMarcus tells us “give it a go”, everyone has to start somewhere. He shares with us the funny things he said in his early blogs. They are what made him a success as he learned and improved.

If you don’t take the first step you stand still. Embrace that you’ll make mistakes, in years to come you may cringe – hopefully, laugh because you know you’ve come so far. I’m playing with video at the moment. Everyone is telling us it’s the future. I’m cringing every time I watch back. But I do watch back to cringe but to learn for the next time. 

Face your fears, ask for feedback from people who will be honest, not your mum, partner, best friend. Then take a mentor to help you focus on the areas you need to learn and develop.

Embrace the messy – there’s always something to learn.


4. Let go of the 10% (doubters and haters)

There's Always Something to LearnYou can’t please everyone. You’re not the right customer for every business and likewise there’ll be people who won’t buy into you.  So long as you value and nurture clients when they do come on board, and do everything possible to provide a great experience, you have nothing to worry about.  It’s chasing to bring on board the doubters and haters I’m talking about here.  They are never going to become clients.

I’ll not repeat my last article in response to Erika Napolentanos’ talk, but don’t go chasing diamonds when you can have a piece of carbon that will eventually become the diamond you wanted. Those ready made diamonds aren’t for you. They will find fault, criticise and find reason not to buy. If they become your focus, they’ll destroy you. There's Always Something to Learn

Nurture the carbon you can develop into diamond clients. They’re showing interest, sharing and promoting, as well as buying into you.

Only seeing the negatives and letting the doubters or haters under your skin is destructive. Embrace the carbon, acknowledge the diamonds, and celebrate you were able to set them apart. You’re confident enough to differentiate yourself and to let those diamonds go! 


5. Seek opportunities for kindness

There's Always Something to LearnWe all need support. Build a great network. Marcus shared with us what he clearly saw as one of his greatest public falls. Sitting listening to him tell the story the audience could feel his pain, believe me! But most importantly, his story highlighted the strength that kindness holds. We need that to pick ourselves up, learn and move forward.

Marcus went on to say communication is the most valuable skill in the world today. 

It’s a powerful tool. How we use it depends on the impact and influence we have on others. My guess is Marcus was gutted following his public faux pas, but was open to support, and the kindness it took to help him rebuild and move on. Support here is not to be confused with sympathy. 

This for me, this is the greatest demonstration of the title of this article. The story Marcus told didn’t happen that long ago. He was already a big name. By developing our self awareness and understanding, being open to feedback, and surrounding ourselves with the right people there’s always something to learn. In fact always an opportunity to be better and move on, and yes, it gave him a story to tell.  That story created buy-in.  Marcus was so authentic we felt his experience.  We absorbed the learning with him.


6. Let TRUST be your compass

There's Always Something to LearnBe the most trusted person out there who does what you do and can offer what you offer.

If you look at my articles this is an area I’m passionate about. 

Be you because after all that’s who you are! 

First, knowing who you are and self awareness are so important. If you’re finding people don’t respond to you in the way you thought they would, feel people just don’t get you, or you just have a fear of stepping out and being you, the best investment you could make is getting a mentor. That doesn’t have to be a paid mentor, but make sure you get someone you know understands people and can help you work through your learning.

Years ago I used to say:

there’s the Beverly at home and the Beverly at work.

Believe me that is evident in all your relationships! Who was I kidding! You can’t be authentic when you’re not sure who you are. People can’t work you out, and ultimately they won’t connect.

People trust those they feel connected to, those they can build a relationship with. For that you need to:

  • gain respect – know your stuff, 
  • be consistent – deliver your promises, be visible, and don’t let people down or disappoint,
  • be clear – differentiate yourself by finding your voice, sharing your values, and share what you stand for,
  • People trust when they think they know you, whether in person or not.


7. Own your story

There's Always Something to LearnWe don’t just land where we are now. We all have history. Good, bad, average, it’s there, we’ve all lived, all had experiences, and that’s what makes us who we are today.

Marcus still sees himself as The Pool Guy! That’s where it started.  Running a pool installation company was what he did until in 2008 the economic climate forced him into saving his business through content marketing. That’s the journey that started where he is today. He’s proud of that.

Courtesy of my mam:

They shouldn’t forget, people have long memories and know where they started.

Courtesy of an old boss:

Don’t shit on people on the way up because they’ll take great pleasure shitting on you on your way back down! 

My point – it’s important to remember your roots. No one is an overnight success. It’s important to both remember those who helped you in the beginning and new clients as you grow. Those who helped you get started may still be advocates, but don’t exclude the people helping you grow right now. Likewise don’t exclude those who were loyal at the very start.

This is a fine line. Embracing those who join as you’re growing and maintaining relationships with the loyal followers, making both feel as equally valued and involved. I’ve seen this go terribly wrong on both sides.

Businesses so focused on their original client group that new clients feel excluded and don’t feel valued. Businesses that grow and original or founder followers feel excluded, no longer important or valued, as the focus appears to be on the new client group and growth.

In both situations the client group wants to feel included and valued. How do you make people feel that way? You create a connection, you involve them in your story, you involve them in your goals, and how your business and vision will solve their problem, you build relationships – show kindness, demonstrate you care.  Most importantly you make them feel their business is important to you.  You check in with them, acknowledge them, and work to keep them engaged.

How do you do that? Know yourself, be open to feedback and be resilient, don’t worry about the messy there’s always something to learn. Most importantly, don’t forget the messy it’s how you got to where you are now.

Be clear. Clarity leads to consistency. People trust consistency.

If you’ve connected with this and would like to discuss where you or your team are in their development, or to have a chat about communicating to clients and customers to make them feel valued, let’s grab a coffee.

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