How you answer the question of self-education determines things like: how successful your cause-related marketing campaigns are, indeed, how successful you are; your income; your lifespan; researchers have even shown a correlation between happiness and education.
It’s almost axiomatic that more you know the more you want to know (and as Socrates pointed out, the more you realize how little you do know)!
I hope this will be a conversation rather than a monologue or disquisition, so I invite you to comment on what you do to stay on top of your game.
- I subscribe to and read a number of business magazines so as to understand current issues, trends, economics and the like, as well as several news magazines. Since I don’t have a business degree I feel like this reading has gone a long way in advancing my understanding of business. I also read newspapers, but mainly online. I especially admire the reporting in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.
- Inspiration can strike almost anywhere, so whenever I’m in a waiting room I make a special point of reading magazines I don’t subscribe to or normally read. Sometimes that means women’s magazines, trade publications, hobbyist and special interest magazines, etc. It’s almost a lead-pipe cinch that when I read these kinds of publications I learn something I didn’t know or gain some new insight.
- When I find something that I believe has lasting value, I scan or save it onto an external hard drive. The same hard drive holds many hundreds of examples of cause-related marketing campaigns.
- I read Seth Godin’s and Guy Kawasaki’s blogs along with the reliably hilarious Fakesteve.com.
- I’ve all but given up on reading fiction. But in its place I’ve become an inveterate history buff, with a special interest in the ancient world… the Sumerians, Egypt, Greece and Rome, early European history, etc. There’s still a big whole in my education about Asian history which I must soon remedy.
- Most of what I’ve learned on this count I picked up from coursework produced by The Teaching Company and The Modern Scholar, both of which I can recommend. Both offer taped courses, meaning I can learn on the go. If I’m driving alone, I’m more likely to be listening to some of these recordings or to an audiobook than to the radio or a CD.
- I haven’t fully availed myself of it yet, but universities in North America and Europe are putting hundreds of thousands of hours of lectures and podcasts online. Check iTunes and individual universities for specific subjects.
- There are a handful of professional seminars and conferences that address the issues of cause-related marketing and offer training. In the United States the most prominent is the IEG Sponsorship Conference, but rising with a bullet is David Hessekiel’s Cause Marketing Forum. In the UK, the granddaddy is Business in the Community's Annual Conference.
- There are few books at Amazon on cause-related marketing, but the ultimate book on the practice is still to be written. On my bookshelf is Cause-Related Marketing by Sue Adkins, Marketing from the Heart, by Sue Linial, Brand Spirit, by Hamish Pringle, and Robin Hood Marketing, by Katya Andresen.
- I actively read a handful of blogs from Katya Andresen, Joe Waters and Cone, Inc., on cause-related marketing, plus others on nonprofit issues.
- While you can get online and offline certificates in various aspects of nonprofit management, still missing is any kind of certificate or other advanced education in cause-related marketing. In my opinion this glaring deficit needs to be addressed.
- You could make a pretty good argument that you can implicitly learn from games like Chess, the Asian game Go, Scrabble, as well as some number of video games. Increasingly, I’m seeing handheld games and programs that are explicitly meant to help adults learn or otherwise give their gray-matter a workout.
But you don’t necessarily need anything so external. An elderly aunt of mine kept her mind sharp well into her 90s not just reading the paper, but copy-editing it. She’d literally mark-up the daily paper with a red pen!