When I was a junior in high school, my parents sat me down for a serious discussion about my future. I was surprised to hear they weren’t pushing me to go to a 4-year university — mom and dad had other plans. They presented me with two options: Join a trade school or ship off to France to become a pastry chef, given my love of baking. Not bad choices, just not what I wanted.
I don’t know if my parents were trying to tell me something but, in retrospect, I think they understood better than I did that learning in a traditional classroom setting was not my forte. Although I ultimately made the decision to attend college, I knew that lecture halls weren’t my thing.
But it wasn’t until I started my PR career that I truly learned how I learn best — and why it pays to develop a love for learning. Whether you’re a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, there are some things any of us can do to easily stay in a constant learning mindset. Here’s how I do it:
Stay Jung and hungry
Carl Jung famously said that “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t know but need to know. Learn from them.” Something I always recognized but didn’t put into practice often until I started at Method was that I could learn from everyone, regardless of their title or position. Having the opportunity to pull from diverse frameworks of thought and experiences has contributed to many of the successes I’ve had in my career thus far.
I consider myself lucky that I get to work with people of all experience levels and backgrounds — the key is to keep a young, hungry mindset. For example, long-form writing isn’t an area of comfort for me. At Method, I’ve learned so much from senior executives and skilled copywriters critiquing my work and I try to soak up as much of their brilliance as possible. But I’ve learned just as much when I review junior team members’ work, whether it’s sharing lessons and best practices or getting new ideas on how to write and frame things. Either way, I always get fresh ideas for finding snappy, creative angles, which has helped me improve my writing and creative skills.
Go to the extracurriculars
When your agency brings in guest speakers or offers trainings and seminars — go! Experts who are in your industry but outside your company provide a goldmine of fresh perspectives. And when those opportunities come your way, simply being there is just half of the story. I’ve noticed that when I attend trainings and speaker events with a notepad, a pen and a curious mindset, I get way more out of the content. Opportunities to learn are everywhere, sometimes all you have to do is show up.
Taking advantage of feedback
Performance reviews used to give me a lot of anxiety. The thought of having a teammate give me feedback made me uncomfortable since I always went into them imagining the worst (Am I performing? Am I doing my job right? Am I getting fired?). But ever since I adopted a learning mindset, it’s something I look forward to. Getting actionable feedback and advice on how to improve my performance means that I’m constantly learning. It helps me to never feel stuck or unchallenged and I always have a chance to uplevel more. Opening my mind to feedback in various forms (formal 360 reviews, ongoing check-ins with team leads), is a chance to learn how to improve in measurable and meaningful ways.
Mistakes are the best teacher
PR is too fast-paced for nothing to ever go wrong. Objectives, clients, and even the social climate all change — sometimes at the worst moments. Finding a balance between care and speed when things don’t go as planned is important, but learning how to do it better next time is key.
I used to feel like any mistake I made meant the world was crumbling under my feet. Now, I see mistakes not as setbacks, but as opportunities to improve. Although I still haven’t figured out how to completely get rid of the “sky is falling” mindset when I make a mistake, looking to learn means I can at least recognize that I’m human. Mistakes will happen, but pushing myself to learn from them makes me a better person and better professional.
I’m a kinesthetic learner, a learn-by-doing type of person. It isn’t always easy for me to absorb information that’s simply theoretical or has no personal application or connection. I am eternally grateful to my colleagues at Method for all the ways they’ve facilitated my progress by showing me, hands-on, how to succeed.