Secret Weapon in the New Economy- Learning!

Here is a typical call I get about twice a month.
“Hello Mr. Doyle, you don’t know me, but I am “so and so” I know you are a professional speaker. I want to become a professional speaker and was wondering if I might have thirty minutes of your time.”
I think I am (at least I hope I am) a nice person. I like to give back to the profession I dearly love, and I like to reward people who have initiative, hustle, drive, chutzpah, boldness or whatever name you may have for it. A few weeks later we have a call together. They want me to tell them how to become a professional speaker. I give them some ideas tips and techniques. The next question I have is “what have read or studied about speaking as a profession?” The answer is of course they haven’t. They just called me. They then say “I wouldn’t really know how to find information on that.” Huh? This is the problem. We have people in the world who want to have information and knowledge handed to them and it doesn’t work that way. Yet ironically we live in an information rich society where information and data is abundant and almost free.
There are people who build cars that have only built cars for twenty years. That is all they know. There are people who work for banks that have only done banking for twenty years. That is all they know. There are people who have built microchips for twenty and that is all they know. Then they get laid off. They are in desperate trouble because they know nothing else. So what do we do? Each one of us have an obligation to be ready for change and each one of us has to learn and develop new skills so we won’t be at the mercy of an economy a company or an industry. We need to all be ready to be free agents. The secret weapon for surviving and thriving in the new economy is learning. Because most people don’t or wont – you immediate separate your self from the competition. How? There are some myths you have to get over, some paradigm shifts you need to make now.

Myth #1: My Company doesn’t provide the training or learning I need. Maybe they do maybe they won’t. Find out. Many people I meet don’t tap into resources that are available to them because they don’t bother to find out. My brother in law worked for a city in Georgia as a gas man and hated his job. He met with the City Manager and said he wanted to be a police officer. The city paid to send him to the Police Academy and they paid him while he was going. Ask. Many companies have educational reimbursement programs other learning benefits that are buried in the back of an employee handbook. There are also many great internal training programs that are offered and don’t have to always be job related.

Myth #2: My company doesn’t provide it and I can’t afford it. Can’t afford to learn? Well I don’t think you can afford not to learn. Besides how much does a library card cost? How many books, videos and CD’s can you get form the library? How much is the internet once you pay your monthly fee? How much is a mentor’s advice? How much does it cost to borrow materials from friends and colleagues? Most people think of learning as some expensive conference or training seminar. It is often cheap or free you just have to have initiative and imagination.

Myth #3: It too late to change what I do now. It’s never too late to change. In my career, I have been a Lifeguard, Veterinary Technician, Retail Store Manage, Salesperson, Sales Manager, Trainer, Director or Training, Vice President of Training and now an Entrepreneur. I believe that everyone will have multiple careers in their lifetime. But be ready for it by learning the necessary skills that will prepare you for that change.
Myth #4: I can’t control what happens to me. True. But you can be ready for change, instead of sitting and waiting for it too happen. As Andy Warhol once said “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” So it is the remarkable difference between being proactive and reactive. So have a plan. What do you want to be and do and have in the future? Make it happen by creating a learning strategy. I recently me a young man at a meeting who told me he worked for the company but he had his own “long term play” as he put it. He had started 5 internet radio stations and was building up the number of listeners, which was at 900,000. When he reaches 3 million listeners he said “I can then generate serious advertising revenue.” I asked why he was doing that he said “because I am in control of me and if the economy goes south and I get laid off I have will have revenue.”
So here is the deal. It’s your bus- you’re the one driving so take the wheel! If you do not have a plan one will be provided for you and it won’t be your own.

Myth #5: All this networking stuff is time consuming and pointless- You get tons of get invitations for LinkedIn, Facebook, My Space and many other networking kinds of sites. You think it is a waste of time. You could be wrong. I am not saying be on all of them. I am saying that being connected to someone on LinkedIn might help you find resources you need to learn something. Someone out there knows a resource, a connection, a source, which other wise you would have never know or even considered. Live networking at chamber functions or other business related networking can have the same impact. So go ahead and build your resources now.

So the way to make your self less “fire-able”, less “downsize-able” less disposable, is to be smarter. This makes you more hirable, valuable and indispensible and invaluable to the people you work for.
So learn. Invest in yourself and invest in a brighter future.