Recently, the Harvard Business Review suggested going beyond typical, traditional learning opportunities and do something different: learn from people, not classes. The article is based on the idea that to be truly successful, business leaders must be “infinite learners” — people who aren’t soured by the idea of learning something new, rather thrive on it.
Infinite learners seek out and take every opportunity to learn something new and according to the article, tackle learning itself differently.
Most executives don’t turn to a classroom (physical or virtual), but rather their own network when they have questions or want to learn something new. This kind of “network intelligence” can be tapped into by talking to people in your network and seeking out those beyond.
An example is how Reid Hoffman solved a major problem when launching PayPal Japan. By talking to people, and then talking to the people that those people connected him with, Reid eventually got on the phone with the man who could solve the problem.
Taking advantage of network intelligence may be easier for those with high profile networks, but as Dropbox cofounder, Drew Houston said: “Talk with other entrepreneurs, not just famous entrepreneurs. Look for people who are one year, two years, five years ahead of you. You [will] learn very different and important things.”
By talking to people with varying breadth and depth of experience, you get a wider array of information than you would in a traditional classroom. And by talking to people, you get to ask the questions and create your own learning trajectory.
Question: What’s something high-leverage you learned from asking someone you know?