If you are like most people, you are on a long intellectual decline. Sure, you absorbed a lot of knowledge in school. But once you left high school or college or became a beauty school dropout, you stopped learning. Ok, ok, so you still ‘learn something new everyday.’ Maybe you pick up a little trivia under a Snapple cap. You learn that the very first touch tone phones didn’t have pound or star symbols. Or you learn that Americans invented Mexican, Italian and Chinese food. But that’s not exactly growth learning.
True growth learning is extremely important to me. Because I learned at an early age that the stock version of Adam Albrecht was pretty ordinary. I have a vision of myself as a much better, smarter, stronger, funnier, nicer, braver, more capable human than I am today. Therefore I’m always trying to close the gap between the me in my head and the me on my couch.
One of the best habits I have developed to create a better me is listening to audio books while I drive. I stumbled onto my audiobook interest accidentally. In 2009-ish I attended the Hachette Book Group’s annual book sale, just north of Indianapolis. For one weekend in June everything is on sale for a dollar. So I bet a dollar on Ted Turner’s ‘Call me Ted’ audiobook. I loved the book. But more importantly, I learned from it.
- I learned how a kid who didn’t apply himself well in school could become among the wealthiest people on the planet by applying himself at life.
- I learned that to make wild leaps in your accomplishments you sometimes need to take wild risks.
- I learned that meeting room antics can make you highly memorable.
- I learned that pursuing your passionate interests can change the world.
- I learned that through mergers and acquisitions you can get tossed out of your own company.
- I learned the immense impact of philanthropy.
- I learned the value of keeping your eye on the future.
- I learned that the first Ted’s Montana Grill was in my former hometown of Columbus, Ohio. (ok, so this is a little more Snapple cap-esque)
- I learned how the right people and processes can turn losers like the Atlanta Braves into World Series Champions.
- I learned that Jane Fonda is a pretty great lady to have on your arm when you walk into a party.
So I sought out more audiobooks. I listened to biographies and self-help books. I listened to history books and books about the future. Now I pick up nuggets of knowledge and pearls of wisdom every day when I drive. I will often stop the audiobook and ask Siri to take a note for me, repeating a quote I heard, or paraphrasing a lesson so that I can review later. It’s my way of highlighting the key passages as I listen. Just as I did in college.
Soon, the audiobooks made me feel like I was winning at life. Because I realized that by listening and learning on my commute I would arrive at work smarter than when I left home. Later that day I would arrive home smarter than I was when I left work.
Since I left the University of Wisconsin, no other activity has so clearly added layers of depth to my thinking, new lenses through which to view the world, or examples of how to choose my own adventures like my audiobook lessons. Today, The Perfect Agency Project owns a library of audiobook titles that our team can checkout anytime they want. Which is the easiest way I know to grow a stronger and smarter team without adding new people.
Many of you will be flying or road tripping over the next few days for the Thanksgiving holiday. I encourage you to stop by your local library to check out the audiobook section before you hit the highways or flyways. I bet you’ll be surprised by the range of titles and topics. And it’s all free (unless you count the taxes you already paid that bought the books). Of course, there are also plenty of digital resources, like Audible and Amazon. When you find something you like, shoot me a message. I am always looking for great new reads, or listens, or learns, or whatever we should call them. If you’re interested, I’m happy post a list of my recommendations too.
Happy Thanksgiving. Safe travels. And I hope your thinking expands as much as your waistline.