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Learn From Others

Peter Katevatis - Jun 27, 2014
Listen, listen, listen and then ask thoughtful questions.  I tell my seven year old son (when he stops talking to take a breath), this is how you learn from others.  Whether you hear what has made a person successful; listen to them talk about past f

Listen, listen, listen and then ask thoughtful questions.  I tell my seven year old son (when he stops talking to take a breath), this is how you learn from others.  Whether you hear what has made a person successful; listen to them talk about past failures; or celebrate what has made them who they are today; you will never learn from others if you don’t close your mouth and open your ears.

I am fortunate that over the years I have come in contact with some very interesting people who have allowed me to learn about their success by sharing their knowledge and experience.  One thing that always resonates with me when dealing with high net worth individuals is, they are people too.  They have kids, grandchildren, pets, triumphs and failures, but too often we put wealthy individuals on a pedestal and forget that they are just like you, with a larger chequing account.  Jimmy Pattison is one of the richest men on the planet but at the end of the day, he’s still just a guy who likes cars and playing the piano.

In order to learn from others, I highly recommend that you talk to the people around you, from your co-workers to your CEO.  Don’t just ask about processes like “Who do I talk to about my expense report?”  Ask open ended thoughtful questions like “Why did you pick a career in this industry?”  These questions can often lead to a long preamble that starts with “Back in my day…” but there is often something to be learned.  If you pay attention, close your mouth and open your ears, their successes and failures over the years are triumphs you can strive for, and failures you can hopefully avoid on your road to your own personal success.

If you find yourself in the presence of a very successful person don’t hesitate to ask a good question.  This often takes some research on your part, but there is no success for the lazy… most of the time.  If you are standing beside Bob Rennie (real estate guru and founder of Rennie Marketing Systems) don’t ask a simple question like “How’s the real estate market?”  If you do some homework you would know the question, “Who is your favourite up-and-coming artist?” would get you a better response.  Discuss people’s passions, not their industries. 

On a side note, check out Rodney Graham’s Collected Works here.  Great use of multiple mediums and composition.

Since I am always trying to listen and learn from others, I recently had some experiences worth noting.  I spent about 4 weeks travelling in Greece and the UK with my family.  I have two kids aged 7 years and 18 months and this is what I learned from them:

  • Ask questions – it may seem simple but if you don’t understand something, ask
  • Dance – there is nothing wrong with grooving to a good song, try it
  • Demand Things – you may not get what you ask for, but show some passion for your desires (in our house you do not get rewarded for tantrums, but you do for asking nicely)
  • Play – do your (home)work then play. All of life is really that simple

There are many opportunities to learn from others, you just have to look up and pay attention.

Work hard and enjoy life, it’s the only one you’ve got.