One of Munger’s now famous quotes is:
“The skill that got Berkshire through one decade would not have sufficed to get through the next decade. Warren Buffett had to be a continuous learning machine. The same requirement exists in all walks of life. I constantly see people who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were that morning. And boy does that habit help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”
At PieLAB we see the same thing, the founders/CEOs/executives who we work with that are most open to learning new things, and for who learning is a regular habit are the ones that build the best businesses. Being a great leader in business requires many skills. You need to understand accounting, finance, HR, marketing, sales operations and strategy. You need to be empathetic, charismatic a good communicator and be able to sell both your product and your ideas to customers, employees, shareholders, your board and the media. On any given day you could be doing the accounts, briefing a lawyer, selling a product, dealing with a complaint, setting incentive structures, recruiting a new team member, designing a logo, developing a product or giving a speech.
So just how do you become good at all those things? The answer is through a program of continuous learning. Which brings me to the one piece of technology that could change your business: the internet. Because of the internet, for the first time in history you have access to everything you need, to become a world class expert on every one of those business skills listed above. And in most cases that information is either free or for a fee, that is a fraction of what it would have cost just 10 years ago.
There’s even a term for it: Webucation.
The options for learning are endless, and if you don’t know where to start here’s a couple of websites to get you started:
- Coursera: Where you can take specific courses on every business topic imaginable from the world’s leading universities. Picture Harvard, Wharton, Yale, London School of Economics etc. Courses are typically designed to be done part time over a period of 2-8 weeks for between $0 and $200.
- Khan Academy: Whose mission is to bring world class education to the masses for free. Here you can cover thousands of individual topics for example “Understanding Cash Flow Statements”.
- Ted Talks: Free talks from world experts on just about anything. Install the app on your smart TV or Apple TV and watch a 10 min talk every night before bed.
- Audible: Millions of books to download and listen to. Make commuting a daily learning exercise. Average cost per book if you subscribe is $12 – $14 dollars.
- Blinkist: Book summaries which are typically 3-5 pages in length. Not sure if reading or listening to a book is going to give you what you need, download the book summary first.
- Go-One: An Australian based startup success story that is taking the world by storm. Thousands of courses from academic researches, business leaders and educators from around the world. Typically, $30 – $80 per course.
- And of course, YouTube. The ultimate way to find out how to do just about anything.
The world (particularly the business world) is changing so fast that you can no longer rely on your school studies, perhaps a university degree and on the job experience. To be successful learning needs to be a lifelong exercise.
Sam Walton who created the world’s largest retailer Walmart had this to say about learning:
“It was a real blessing for me to be so green and ignorant when I was building Walmart. Because it was from that experience that I learned something which has stuck with me through all the years. You can learn from everybody. I didn’t just learn from reading every publication I could get my hands on, I learned from talking to every person and studying every competitor I could.”
So next time you are looking for the one piece of technology that can truly help you build an amazing business, look no further than the technology that can deliver the answer to every question you’ve ever had – Webucation via the internet.