Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and AirBnB founder Brian Chesky have both been described as Learning Machines. The biggest reason why a 33 year old Zuckerberg is worth more than 99% of population in the world is not because he was born with any great skills or talent. But because he had one lucky break (facebook launched and grew quickly within 6 months of launch) and he made the most of the platform he got (as the founder of a startup with fast adoption) by being a relentless learning machine. This is the reason why facebook won the social network game and very few people today have heard of other social networks like myspace, orkut etc.
My advice to all of you is that is if there is but one goal you want to keep for 2018, then it should be to become a learning machine yourself. In this article I will share some of my thoughts on how to become a learning machine.
1. Spend time with people who are smarter than you
This is a very obvious idea, but I don’t think we consciously make efforts to implement this in our life. Smart people scare us, make us feel intimidated and we may not always seek out their company, but you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone to spend more time with people who are smarter than you. For me personally this opportunity came by having clients who are extremely smart and are running companies with team sizes of 100 to 500 people. I was lucky that my clients wanted to spend time with me and I learned everything about recruitments from my clients.
2. Read hi-quality material
This is the easier thing to do – learn about business and entrepreneurship etc by reading books and articles by prominent authors and entrepreneurs. But the trick here is to read only hi-quality stuff that teaches you something rather than just reading articles about Virat and Anushka. I personally have the following sources of knowledge by reading: I read newsletters like: Next Draft, NYtimes.com, Washingtonpost.com, ideapod, Quora etc. Books on entrepreneurs and startups – amazon, google, Alibaba, Steve Jobs etc. I subscribe to Mint newspaper by HT, and it has at least 2-3 long articles every week that explore a startup or an entrepreneurship and teach me something. I don’t read the whole newspaper daily, but look for their longer features on companies or entrepreneurs. The most recent article I read on it was about Chayoos.
3. Listen to podcasts
A podcast is like a TV series, except it is meant for your ears.. Think of it as the transition of radio to the internet age. Radio used to play programs, now you can listen to programs of your choice only. I am a big fan of podcasts and I normally will listen to podcasts for about an hour every day when I am cycling. Additionally, when I am driving alone, then also I like to listen to podcasts. You can listen to podcasts either through a great paid app (Rs. 99) called ‘Pocket Cast’, or through free apps like Google Play Music, Stitcher etc. I recommend listening to the following podcasts:
- How I built this – a great podcast in which the host interviews founders of companies like airbnb, instagram, starbucks etc and you can learn about their journey to success. - Trailblazers – a podcast that focuses on one industry in each episode and takes us through the innovations and disruptions in that industry. For example – the episode on retail industry talks about Walmart as the previous disruptor and Amazon as the current disruptor. - Planet Money – a show about the economy and learning to look at everything from the lens of an economist. - Masters of Scale – Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman interviews some of the biggest entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg etc and teaches us valuable business lessons through their journey.