Integrating Lifetime Learning into Your Schedule

Uncategorized Mar 06, 2020

In my latest book, Discussion Partner: A Radical Transformation to Unrivaled Service in the Insurance Industry, I point out that to be successful in the future, you must be willing to adapt quickly. The way companies, including those in insurance and financial services, are doing business is rapidly changing. It’s no longer "business as usual." We not only need to navigate the tsunami of change for our own businesses; we also must lead our clients through the same tsunami.

This means staying informed and up to date on changes within the companies we do business with and those companies that directly affect our industry. If lifetime learning is not one of your core values before, it needs to be now.

Current and potential customers are barraged with an overwhelming amount of information with just a click of their search buttons. Becoming an expert in your field will allow you to help them disseminate this information overload and gain their confidence as a trusted advisor.

The business case for lifelong learning

Lifelong learning has never been more important than it is today. Shooting from the hip or "winging it" is no longer an option. You will be hard-pressed to find any client who hasn’t done some preliminary research on our industry offerings. Your job is to remove the clutter and explain your value in a language they will understand. This will alleviate frustrations or concerns and enable your clients to make informed decisions for their families’ and/or businesses’ personalized needs.

Intentional and purposeful learning must become a permanent component of your business plan. It should become as habitual as unlocking the front door of your office and flipping on the computer. Customers are demanding more astute and informed advisors in all professional industries.

Intentional and purposeful learning must become a permanent component of your business plan.

Our authority based on industry knowledge must convey the value of personalized service over the perceived faster and cheaper online options. Daily lifelong learning is necessary to keep us relevant as advisors so we can offer our customers the powerful combination of our knowledge and that of our expertise partners.

Steps to take

Below are five simple ways to integrate lifetime learning into any busy schedule:

  1. Make an appointment with yourself. Pick a time during the day to block out one hour on your schedule to devote to learning. This can be any time of the day — before, during or after work. Keep the mindset that this appointment is set in stone. Do not allow yourself or your staff to schedule anything in addition to it or to reschedule or remove it. This appointment is just as important as meeting with a client.
  2. Take advantage of company- and industry-sponsored webinars and video calls. There is no shortage of these in our industry and they are a great way to get quick information on relevant subjects, as well as input from peers. One caveat: Not all information is good information. If you find that the subject matter doesn’t apply or appeal to you, simply disconnect and move on.
  3. Multitask. I like to download Audibles or YouTube videos and listen to them while I exercise. Take the time to load your device with impactful videos, audio files or digital books. Next time you find yourself eating at your desk, waiting in line at the bank or sitting in traffic, turn on one of the choices from your library. These quick injections of learning add up over the week and month.
  4. Go outside your comfort zone. Although it is very important to stay informed and educated within the boundaries of your industry, it is equally as important to expand those boundaries. Explore ideas from other industries. How can you manipulate them and apply them to your own business? Read or listen to philosophy, satire, biographies, history or anthropology. The human "struggle" has not changed over the past 2,000 years. You will find that no matter how old or new the content is, some will resonate with you.
  5. Embrace digital minimalism. Be open to disconnecting. Part of lifelong learning is also learning about ourselves on a higher plane. Shut out the noise for a set time each day. Reflect and rebalance yourself. What could you have said or done differently during today’s sales meeting? How can you improve your communication or leadership skills? How can you apply current industry changes to your business? Find solace in the quiet and stillness of time with yourself.

Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed. There is no need to order the past 12 months of every insurance and financial service periodical or go into debt filling up your Amazon cart. Today is day one. Start small. Ease into it. Pick one or two subjects that interest you the most. Focus on that until you feel you know all there is to know. There is a reason the term "building blocks of learning" exists. Think of learning as a giant brick wall that has not yet begun to be constructed. One brick does not a wall make. But over time, those bricks start to add up, and the wall becomes tall and impenetrable.

A small change in your schedule, along with purposeful dedication, will have a huge impact on your business and on your client relationships.

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