Keep Learning

September 8, 2022

It’s officially back to school season. The streets are once again filled with school buses and my social media feeds contain pictures of smiling kids on their front porches, all ready for their first day.

I always loved school. Not necessarily all of the logistics and social dynamics – but the learning element. Our school years (especially college) are exceptional opportunities to dedicate the majority of our time and attention to learning as much as we can in as many areas as we can imagine. Take a minute and reflect on the amount and variety of things you learned during those years. It truly is remarkable and if you’re like me, you’ve never had a time like that since.

Of course, once we leave school, we continue to learn – whether it be in our professions, our evolving relationships, or in general life as we seek new skills/hobbies. But in the day to day shuffle, it can be relatively easy to lose sight of this as a priority. There are just so many other things to be done – so it becomes necessary to remain hyper-aware of this need so we can actively seek opportunities to grow and expand our knowledge.

I’ve been focused on this area of my life as of late. My profession requires a considerable amount of ongoing learning and digesting of data and analyses. This is non negotiable and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, from time to time (especially after the past 2+ years we’ve experienced), I can sense myself feeling “maxed out” on learning after my work day is done. As a result of this “brain fatigue,” I have felt myself neglecting other areas of learning.

To keep myself in check, I’ve added a prompt to my daily journal asking a simple question: what’s one thing you learned yesterday? It has been a pretty helpful exercise and keeps pushing me to pay attention and dedicate whatever time I can to accumulating new knowledge and skills.

I’m often amazed by how the universe can subtly remind us we are on the right track. A few days into my renewed attention on learning, I found myself nudged once again towards this goal.

This week I virtually attended the Code Conference, hosted by Kara Swisher. Kara, who is one of the most insightful and dynamic journalists I’ve ever encountered, founded the conference twenty years ago (with her colleague Walt Mossberg). The Conference focuses on the intersection of technology and business and has long been a marquee event.

This was Kara’s final year at Code and as a result, the speaker line-up was exceptional including Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google), Gavin Newsom (Governor of California), Andy Jassy (CEO of Amazon), Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Evan Spiegel (CEO of Snap), Jony Ive (Chief Design Officer at Apple), Loreen Powell Jobs (wife of the late Steve Jobs), Bob Iger (CEO of Disney), and many others.

These dynamic individuals shared many lessons and insights on a wide range of topics – and yet a common thread kept appearing. You guessed it – learning.

Andy Jassy (CEO of Amazon) – when asked to characterize his leadership (in the wake of Jeff Bezos), he emphatically said his biggest strength was being a very avid learner. He went on to say that the second you believe you know all there is to know, you are in trouble.

Bob Iger (former CEO of Disney) – he commanded the stage for almost an hour, demonstrating his clear mastery of various subjects including media, content creation, and entertainment. In the Q&A, when asked about how he is spending his retirement, he got a huge smile on his face and proudly said he was learning a tremendous amount (via his involvement in a few start-up businesses). After decades mastering his specific craft, he’s finding joy in starting at the beginning and learning new things.

Steve Jobs Discussion – Tim Cook, Jony Ives, and Loreen Powell Jobs were featured on a panel honoring the life and legacy of Steve Jobs (who was the first guest at Code twenty years ago). The conversation was far reaching, however, it always seemed to come back to the ideas of learning and teaching. Tim Cook noted he learned more from Steve than from anyone else in his life and that Steve was a tremendous teacher. Loreen Powell Jobs shared how Steve had hoped to teach at Stanford in his latter years and was constantly asking questions – each and every day, he would pick up the phone, call people, and simply ask them questions. And Jony Ives discussed the ferocious curiosity that Steve had, driving him to incessantly iterate and refine design and products.

These titans of industry – all at the top of their industries and leading some of our country’s most powerful and storied companies all emphasized the same point – keep learning.

It was the a beautiful reinforcement for me to keep doing just that. Hopefully it inspires you to do the same. The possibilities are truly endless.

Your partner in lifelong learning,

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  1. tom says:

    this is great.will pass it on to maddie and my friend Barry Silberg

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