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Continuing Education for the Win

In the December issue of GRAPHICS PRO, Aaron Montgomery puts a focus on acquiring the skills you need and educating yourself on them

This article appears in the December issue of GRAPHICS PRO. To make sure you don’t miss out on other industry-focused pieces, subscribe today.

Welcome to the last month of 2021. For many, 2021 was a transition into the “new normal.” There have been a lot of challenges, but we have also seen a great deal of success. Many companies are getting back to pre-2020 numbers and beyond. As I hope you are doing, I sneak an hour here and there to step away from the holiday fun to plan and dream for the upcoming year. One of the areas I focus on is acquiring the skills needed and educating myself on them.

Keep learning

The mindset of a lot of people is that only kids go to school, with some people even continuing to college. But to them, that is the end of their formal education. The rest of their education becomes trial and error or struggle and grind. As small business owners, we all know how to just dig deep and try to figure it out on our own, which is beneficial at times. Sometimes we even think that if we ask for help or get additional training, it is a sign of failure. But I’m here to tell you, success is a team sport, and the businesses “winning” out there are the ones who are constantly learning and striving to get better.

Throughout the journey of my career, I have noticed this happening. I have been fortunate to be in many roles, from software for screen printers to screen print prepress distribution, light manufacturing, and distribution of direct-to-garment machines, sublimation, heat transfer material, and more.

That just scratches the surface. It has been 22 years of a continuing MBA. The pattern of success was when the companies I worked with focused on education and then got buy-in from their customers. Everyone was successful. In fact, after starting the podcast in 2013, this pattern of education stood out for me. Those people who showed up every episode to learn and share are still around today.

As I continued to learn and grow, I even saw the need for me to take some more formal continuing education, and I became Success Principles Certified after taking Train the Trainer Program from New York Times Best Selling Author Jack Canfield. I sincerely believe that continuing education is the key to success. While K-12 education is a nice foundation for operating in society, and college and even MBAs can give us a deeper skillset, we need to learn and grow daily. I have staked my career on education, left all those experiences, and started my own company that provides education and support.

At this point, you might be saying, “Well, this is a bit self-serving,” but I’m not talking just about what we do at Our Success Group. The need to continue learning is an ingrained human trait. Just like our skeleton for walking upright makes us human, our brain and how it functions also make us human. According to HumanJourney.us, “The brain underlies mental life: to learn, to create, to invent, to think and say things no one has ever thought.”

We need to feed our brains to continue to have a satisfying intellectual life. Reaching for self-mastery gives you a lot more satisfaction than the material items. In a way, we want to go it alone because we think we are going to feel more satisfied if we achieve things without help from others. In reality, the feeling of achievement is the same whether you had help or not because we are social beings. But with support and education, we achieve more, and it comes faster.

Go beyond social media and YouTube

With the belief that continuing education is essential, let’s look at the benefits of formal education that is more vetted than your average social media group post or even the wild world of YouTube university. Just because they have a camera or a keyboard, it doesn’t mean their word is gospel.

  1. Personalized learning experience: Actual industry-based educational experiences provide sound foundations and a personalized experience from sources that have proven successful. You can learn what you need. You gain new ideas and skills you can put to work right away.
  2. Builds confidence: As small business owners, you have most likely taken on some big challenges and maybe even had what feels like more than your fair share of failures. When we work with others to learn something and then put that learning into action, it builds confidence.
  3. Clarity and prioritization: When we grow and learn, we expand our abilities, resources, and opportunities. But a run down the rabbit hole of YouTube or social media is created to distract us. As a business owner, you not only have to take a lot of actions, but you also must take the right actions. With more formal education, it is about a process, plan, or roadmap of the steps you need to take.

Important resources

To wrap up, let me share some great education sources for you and why they are essential.

  1. Membershipbased online training: Throughout the last 10 to 15 years, our industry has made drastic leaps forward when it comes to education. More and more people are sharing, and we have started to realize that there are not a lot of trade secrets. This realization has also brought on the rise of education as a marketing tool which is not necessarily a negative. Just the need for you to be aware that if the education is free, you are learning what they want you to learn to direct you towards the product or service they offer. I do this to not only direct people but also to build trust, and you should too. But if you really want to get an education that is meant to educate, look for an online membership program. There are general programs out there like LinkedIn Learning. Also, look for more industry-specific programs like CorelTrainer.com and even what we are doing at OurSuccessGroup.com.
  2. In-person/trade-show-based education: One thing that has always blown me away about our industry is how focused the groups who put on trade shows are on education. They are not just places to buy and sell goods. There is a real emphasis put on education. The good folks here at GRAPHICS PRO EXPO have an excellent slate of education for each show. It’s why we have always gone out of our way at the 2 Regular Guys Podcast to support the show.
  3. Accountability groups: While on the surface, this might not seem like formal education, the most important part of learning is implementation. We can gain a lot of value from an accountability partner or a mastermind group. We have to put the new skills and ideas into action for them to be valuable to us. And part of learning is about learning our actual limitations. When you are accountable to others, you push farther, do more and gain new trust. But look for a formal group that has a proven structure and organization. Otherwise, you end up wasting precious time.

My hope is that you embrace the need for education and be willing to invest in your success. Vet all of the information you take in and choose to be your gospel. Then make sure you do something with that learning right away. The implementation I mentioned above. I call it “Shelf-Help” when we take in knowledge but never act on it. It sits on the dusty shelf in the back of our brain. Learn, take action, grow and reach your idea of success!

Aaron Montgomery

Aaron Montgomery is the co-founder of OurSuccessGroup.com. Its goal is to help 1,000+ businesses in 2020 reach their idea of success through training, community, and accountability. Aaron has 25+ years of experience with personalized products and small business development. You can also find Aaron co-hosting 2 Regular Guys podcast (www.2regularguys.com) He also has his own podcast channel and produces weekly live videos called Small Business Saturdays Series. New episodes are released smallbusinesssaturdayspodcast.com.

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