It’s no coincidence, it seems to me, that successful entrepreneurs are also enthusiastic lifelong learners. Yet many new businessowners are delighted to discover that running a business is an on-going learning adventure—and they get to design their own curriculum.

Entrepreneurial learning bears little resemblance to more conventional educational experiences. Instead of spending long hours sitting at a desk, entrepreneurial education looks more like working in a laboratory where the process goes something like this: explore, test, share.

Consider TOMS shoe company found Blake Mycoskie. In his new book, Start Something That Matters, this successful young entrepreneur gives us a glimpse into his feelings about a favorite tool of the perpetual learner.

He writes, “When I moved onto a 200-square foot sailboat, I had no room for belongings. So I divested myself, selling and giving away almost everything, keeping only sporting and the books I loved.

“One day, when I own a house, I’ll keep a full library of books. Books are different from other possessions—they’re more like friends.”

A Chinese proverb reminds us that, “Learning is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.” If you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t need to be convinced.

Nevertheless, I wanted to pass along some other thoughts about the importance of learning. You might want to hang on to some of these wise words. They could come in handy on a day when resistance is trying to talk you out of attending a seminar or you’re feeling uncomfortable about acquiring a new skill.

The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who cannot learn. ~ Alvin Toffler

Beauty can happen in an instance to the well-stocked mind. ~ Reynolds Pearce

There is an unspeakable pleasure attending the life of the voluntary student. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

If money is your only hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability. ~ Henry Ford

Vacant lots and vacant minds attract the most rubbish. ~ Arnold Glasgow

One learns by doing a thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. ~ Sophocles

In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. ~ Eric Hoffer

If you’re a true student of what you’re doing and a lover of your business activity, then study what you’ve done to understand what you could have done better. ~ Steve Wynn

The minute you’re not learning, I believe you’re dead. ~ Jack Nicholson

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. ~ Bertrand Russell


If you’d like to know more about Start Something That Matters, check out this rave review from the Wall Street Journal. Doing Good By Shoeing Well


One Response to “Perpetual Learning: Why It Matters”

  1. Stephanie Chandler

    Another excellent post, Barbara. Sometimes I think I’m obsessed with learning. I can’t get enough! My ipod is loaded with audio books, my Kindle is well stocked, and my shelves at home are bulging. In fact, I just had a conversation with my husband about finding a place to add more shelves! Without a doubt, reading and the constant pursuit of new information has been essential in my own entrepreneurial journey.

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