Business thrives on insights, ideas, and implementation. As passionate participants in the business world, we all need a steady stream of new ideas. This means we need to have a strategy for continuous learning.

In my role as a sales and marketing strategist, I must have new ideas. However, I often find the tyranny of the urgent tends to crowd out the less urgent task of learning. If this happens over a period of time, the well of inspiration can run dry.

At this time of year, I find myself looking back over the previous year and reflecting on my successes and failures. This guides my planning as I look forward to the new year. As I look into 2018, my top priority is to develop a more serious learning regimen.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Prioritize: What Do I Want to Learn?

The first thing I need to do is prioritize what I need (and want) to learn. There are so many books on my Kindle and on my wish list. My phone is always notifying me about a new podcast. Add my social feed, and I can find myself paralyzed, overwhelmed with too much to learn.

Heading into 2018, I am going to prioritize my learning. It will begin with categories:

  • Sales. I’m a sales junkie. There are at least a dozen sales books on my shelf right now that I’m looking forward to reading. I’m going to put these in order and knock them out one by one.
  • Marketing: In today’s world, marketing and sales are tightly intertwined. I love the strategies. I love the technology. The world of marketing is always changing and I need to stay on top of it.
  • Leadership: As a business owner and serial entrepreneur I need a steady diet of leadership.
  • Technology: The B2B technology space is the world I live in. Rapid convergence combined with technology innovation means that I need to invest time learning about technology companies, products, and trends.

Plan: How Can I Integrate This Into My Schedule?

The great Canadian philosopher, Bruce Cockburn says, “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.” Learning must be fought for. It has to be planned and I need to stick to that plan. Here’s what I’m planning for 2018:

Eat Content for Breakfast

This is how I stay on top of the latest news and industry trends. I use Feedly to pull all of my favorite blogs and news feeds into one place. They are organized by topic area. Every morning I sit down with my bowl of oatmeal, banana, and peanut butter (yes–give it a try!) and thumb through the latest articles. When I find something insightful I queue it up in Buffer to share it on social. Not only does this allow me to share content with my connections, I usually end up seeing these posts later in the day, reinforcing what I learned that morning.

Read For 45 Minutes Every Day

This is where I’m struggling for consistency. However, my goal is to nail 45 minutes of reading each day. At that pace, I can consume 30-50 pages of content a day or approximately one book a week. Imagine the flood of ideas that will be sparked by reading four books a month!

Podcasts at the Gym

To me, nothing is more boring than the elliptical machine. To pass the time, I listen to my favorite podcasts. In 2018 I want to get more strategic making sure I cover podcasts in each of my four core areas.

Schedule Conferences

In 2018 my goal is to schedule a conference for each learning area. So far I have the following on my calendar:

  • SalesOutbound 2018 is a conference dedicated to sales prospecting. This will be my first Outbound conference. I’m excited that Larry Levine will be presenting!
  • MarketingInbound 2018, hosted by HubSpot, is the epicenter of all innovation in marketing. I’m still digesting ideas from the conference this past fall.
  • LeadershipGlobal Leadership Summit by the Willow Creek Association is the most inspirational conference I attend each summer!
  • Technology: My job brings me to many of these conferences as a speaker or exhibitor. This year my goal is to be more intentional about attending educational sessions.

What’s Your Learning Plan?

How do you stay at the top of your game? What blogs, books, podcasts, and conferences have your attention right now? Share it in the comments below.

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