Sometimes it’s fun to learn something new just for the sake of learning; at other times, that learning leads to a new profit center. Wherever your learning path takes you, the important thing to remember is that learning is one of the best uses of time ever invented.

Where do you begin? Here are a few possibilities, many of them gleaned from The Independent Scholar’s Handbook by Ronald Gross.

Adult and continuing education. Available in almost every community except the smallest. Colleges and universities, as well as independent programs, public school systems and even libraries offer opportunities.

Networks. You can plug into one of the many invisible networks of people learning from one another on a regular basis via mail, phone, computers and newsletters.

Home improvement and craft stores. Places like Home Depot and Michael’s offer many free or inexpensive useful classes.

Conferences. A good place to meet others in your field and to take in the most up-to-date issues, ideas and technologies.

Learning groups. Convening your own group of co-learners is easier than you think.

Specialized bookstores. Whether you visit them in person or via catalog or correspondence, you will find not merely books but also people who share your interests. Don’t overlook the free author talks at full-service bookstores, either.

Television. Making creative choices in your television viewing and following up on what you’ve seen can add a new dimension to your learning life.

Libraries. Libraries are an entrepreneur’s best friend. Beyond offering books, they can serve learners in unexpected and useful ways that most people have not heard of — and such help is available for the asking. Make friends with a reference librarian. Many libraries also host speakers.

Churches. These are beehives of free or inexpensive learning options. Many New Thought churches offer wonderful workshops.

Magazines and newspapers. Get the most out of them; challenge yourself to read other points of view.

Teleclasses. This hot new learning system lets you gather new ideas and information from the comfort of your home.

Arts centers. The arts, an ideal way to learn and grow, are burgeoning nationwide, especially at a grassroots level.

Teaching. It will increase and extend your command of your subject, prompting you to take a fresh overview and forcing you to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date.

Audiocassettes and CDs. There are recordings that cover an entire range of subjects and you can listen at your own speed.

There’s more where this came from.
Order Winning Ways now!


All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good,
too, then doing well will never be enough.
~ Anna Quindlen

The most passionate environmentalist I’ve ever known was Chris Utterback. To her, all offenses were equally serious whether it was defiling a public space with graffiti or chopping down a rain forest. She cared deeply for the earth and couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t feel the same sense of responsibility.

One day we were driving through the quiet Connecticut countryside where she lived and came across a pile of trash heaped on the roadside. She slammed on her brakes and we jumped out of the car, picked up the litter, bagged it and put it in the trunk of her car. As we got back in, I sighed and said, “Planetkeeping is a full-time job.” Chris looked at me and without saying so, we both volunteered to be Planetkeepers, even though it was long before environmental problems were getting much attention.

Planetkeeping isn’t just a full-time job; it’s a demanding one that requires a vigilance and a willingness to do more than our share simply because it’s the moral choice. Planetkeeping is motivated by a sense of responsibility to nature and other people— whether we know them or not. It assumes that we’ll take care of whatever is ours to care for no matter how difficult or challenging that may be.

A genuine Planetkeeper refuses to be influenced by the indifference or apathy of others—not even when surrounded by Pillagers. Pillagers are the folks who go through life consuming and destroying with no thought for anyone beyond themselves. I suspect that most of us fall somewhere between the two behaviors, acting responsibly in some areas and less so in others.

“If you want to change the world,” Paul Hawken advised, “don’t join the Peace Corps. Start a business.” As I look at the history of social responsibility, entrepreneurs seem to have played a leading role. In the small Minnesota town where I grew up, it was the local business community that spearheaded charitable projects. Fundraisers as well as pitching in with labor were common events. If Habitat for Humanity had been around, I’m sure we’d have seen our small town leaders swinging a hammer.

Although many big businesses have been more Pillagers than Planetkeepers, one company is working diligently to raise awareness that leads to more responsible business practices. That business is Home Depot whose  mission statement is to Improve Everything You Touch.

It’s a practice worth a closer look. Imagine how quickly things would change if everyone went through their days actively working to improve everything they touch. What would happen to road rage? To rudeness? To the environment? To self-esteem? To greed? To our communities? To litter? To hunger?

How can we as small business owners improve everything we touch? I believe it starts simply with a willingness followed by a commitment to put such lofty thoughts as Improve Everything You Touch at the heart of our relationships and activities. Planetkeeping also demands that we stop withholding our own gifts and talents and put them to work in the service of making the world a better, happier nurturing place.

If your operating policy is to Improve Everything You Touch, your creative spirit gets engaged, showing you solutions that others haven’t seen, pointing out opportunities awaiting a champion, and adding a dimension of purpose and meaning in everyday activity that the Pillagers can never know. Planetkeeping isn’t just a philosophy, after all. It’s volunteering to care for the world.