"Fast learners win." Eric Schmidt, Alphabet
Today, business is inherently more complex than it has ever been. Entrepreneurs must walk through the ‘valley of death’ and overcome significant threats in order to survive: limited resources, risk, and little capital. To learn fast, you must be interested in people and ideas, not just yourself. “Be savvy, flexible, learn from mistakes and collaborate with well-connected people,” writes Shane Snow, the author of "Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success." Entrepreneurs who learn fast build intelligence networks and tap into the wisdom of mentors to raise their game. They adopt a beginner’s mindset in everything they do and know that today’s learning is tomorrow’s unfair advantage.
Here are five ways to learn faster.
1. Leaders are readers.
First you must become an avid learner of entrepreneurship. Learn from good role models and bad ones throughout your career and read books about entrepreneurs who you admire in history. The deep insights and lessons you can assimilate are priceless. Jeff Besoz, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson are all prolific readers. Reading builds cognitive skills, imagination and creativity all essential in a world of flux.
2. Never Eat Alone.
When’s the last time you had lunch with someone and learnt something new? To learn fast, you must build up a posse of thinkers and doers who you can tap for guidance. A posse gives you access, insight and information. Likewise, if you’re not connected to the best brains it’s much more difficult to learn. You become an outsider. 9others.com is one such community that knows learning occurs when humans connect and exchange ideas. It was founded on the belief that “your success requires the aid of others.” A host and nine others will meet for an informal dinner to mingle, discuss challenges, and share experiences. It already has a network of more than 3,500 entrepreneurs and investors in thirty-three cities and is leading the way with a more intelligent approach to networking.
3. Mentors Raise Your Game.
Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s? Good mentors can raise your game; improve skills and open doors to fast-tracking your business. In simple terms, a mentor is like a critical friend with life experience. He or she is a respected entrepreneur who’s probably achieved a high level of success in their field and is a go-to person. We all need a gentle push sometimes to try harder and think bigger. It’s all too easy to end up listening to the little man, that voice in your head that says, “I’m not good enough,” and “I can’t do it.” The self-imposter syndrome can derail your prospects faster than the blink of an eye.
4. Fail Fast.
Learning by doing is probably the most powerful way to grow as an entrepreneur. You are bound to fail occasionally. In failure are life’s little secrets: you cannot learn to ride a bike by reading how to ride one. The inventor, James Dyson produced more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he invented his bestselling Dyson Air Vacuum. Embrace failure as your biggest teacher. It’s a vital part of the process of growing as a human being. A real failure is when you make a mistake and don’t fix it quickly and start over. The formula for success isn’t a mystery. It’s a conscious choice to learn from failure. Each wrong choice builds character and strengthens your mindset for the next challenge.
5. Make Your Own Luck.
Luck is a skill that can be developed. It’s about a flexibility of mind and a willingness to listen to your heart and trust your gut. Take advantage of chance occurrences, break the weekly routine, and once in a while have the courage to let go. The world is full of opportunity if you’re prepared to embrace it. Tina Seeling, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures program and author of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, writes: “Lucky people don’t just pay attention to the world around them and meet interesting individuals—they also find unusual ways to use and recombine their knowledge and experiences. Most people have remarkable resources at their fingertips, but never figure out how to leverage them. However, lucky people appreciate the value of their knowledge and their network, and tap into their goldmines as needed.”
To sum up, get into the game — this means grab opportunities, break through comfort zones, and take the risk.