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You Are Teaching. But Are You Also Learning?


by S. Anthony Iannarino

One of the ways you create value for your clients is by having the business acumen and the situational knowledge to help them do better business. Having a teachable insight is all the rage, even though I don’t believe it’s easy to get real chops (and I don’t believe we’re doing what is really required).

But as important as it is to be able to share your insight in a meaningful way, using your insight to create value for your customer, it’s equally important that you learn.

I’m reflecting on my own business experience. In the industry in which I grew up, I spent time with literally thousands of different businesses. I dealt with hundreds of different types of businesses. I worked with companies in all kinds of verticals, with all kinds of strategies, and with very different business needs. By working with these different companies, I got a first rate business education. I was taught how their businesses worked. I was taught how they thought about their businesses. And working with them to solve some of their greatest challenges, I picked up insights and ideas that I could then use to help other clients in different industries.

I’m naturally curious. I’m interested in other people, and I am interested in their businesses. It’s fascinating. In a lot of cases I asked business leaders who had knowledge that I didn’t to share their ideas with me. Not only did I learn a lot, but it made these leaders much more open for me to share my thoughts and ideas with them.

Having business acumen, situational knowledge, or “insight” if you must, levels the playing field. It makes you a peer when you’re speaking with decision-makers and decision-influencers.

But where you going to get all the ideas you need? How are you going to know what works and what doesn’t work? What experience are going to leverage when you haven’t yet had some the experiences you need? How are you going to know how different business leaders in different verticals think about the problems and challenges they are facing?

Teaching is good. But you’ll have a lot more to teach if you are also a perpetual student and if you remember that you still have much to learn.

The more open you are to learning, the faster you become valuable for your clients.


How much emphasis are you placing on really learning versus learning to teach?

How many insights should you have? How many insights do you need to really be valuable for your clients?

What do you teach when your teachable insight doesn’t resonate with your dream client?

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