Guest Post: Be A Sponge
A Guest Post By Drew Slater
That three word phrase continues to ring in my head from the moment my dad said it to me years ago before basketball practice or baseball workshops. He wanted me to go and learn everything I possibly could. “Be a sponge and soak up everything they tell you.” Of course, my dad was talking to me about sports, but I feel like that mentality is what got me to where I am today and continues to help me grow in my professional career.
Even though I graduated from college and have been at my job for a few years now, I’ve never stopped learning. Education is a funny thing because while you study and take tests throughout school, you learn so much outside of school. Looking back at it, I remember a lot more from my internships and life experiences than I do the answers of tests or papers I wrote. So imagine how much you can learn when you are in the workforce 40+ hours a week. Don’t think for a minute that since you are done with school, you are done with learning. In many ways, it’s the opposite.
Getting your degree and doing your internships gets you in the door of your first job and working under someone. Continuing to push yourself and continuing to learn is what gets you on the other side of the desk and in the corner office.
In our field, whether you label yourself with marketing, public relations, social media or advertising, our industry is always changing – always evolving. There are countless blogs, podcasts, videos and conferences available which make falling behind inexcusable. The game is always changing quicker and quicker. The professionals who absorb it faster are the ones who continue to succeed. It’s tough and sometimes might feel impossible, but it’s a must.
Imagine being in a prospect meeting and your client, who’s looking to spend a nice amount of money, asks about something you aren’t familiar with. Do you think that client will give his business to someone he feels doesn’t know enough? Your chances are no bueno.
Ever see one of those articles pop up about similar characteristics among successful people? It’s when they survey a group of people they deem successful, and try to find out why they are as successful as they are. I came across one recently and one of the characteristics this study found was everyone always spent some time every day in bettering themselves. For some of them, it was as simple as reading their favorite blogs while eating breakfast or on their lunch break. You could do that, couldn’t you? Why not, you check Facebook and Twitter multiple times a day don’t you?
Don’t be fooled and think that all you have to do is absorb what you read to stay ahead. Remember when I mentioned most of what you learn during school, you didn’t necessarily learn from books and studying? Observe people at work. Colleagues. Managers. Senior Managers. Everyone. I hate to break it to you, but being young and inexperienced means only one thing – you don’t know anything. Now, I know you are going to argue you with me and be defensive, but look back. Remember when you were in fifth, eighth or even twelfth grade? You thought you knew everything. Looking back at it though, you really didn’t.
Watch how other people in your company run meetings, interact with clients or even simply pick their brains about the field. Everyone is interesting and has something to share if you look. Absorb it all. Whether they tell you work related stories or life stories. They will all help you grow. Don’t be arrogant and think that your boss has no clue what’s going on and you could do better. You can’t. Not yet at least.
Being green and being a fledgling in your field can be tough for anyone, but if you want to succeed and grow you must keep learning. Absorb everything. Everything you read. Everything you observe. It is all useful.
Be. A. Sponge.
Drew Slater is a Miami native who graduated from the University of South Florida and is currently an account executive in the marketing departments for a Fortune 500 company. He has a strong passion for education, whether it is learning or teaching, and sees education as the key to success. In his spare time you can find Drew marathon training, soaking in the sun at the beach or cheering his hometown Heat or Dolphins on TV.
You can follow Drew on Twitter @drewhslater