Why It Pays to Be Rigorous About Constantly Learning


I’ve written on this topic numerous times but must do so again after reading this amazing article by Michael Simmons in Quartz.

Here are some ideas that really caught my attention:

  • Working really hard at your job without taking time out of your schedule to constantly learn, lands you squarely in the new “at-risk” group.
  • This group of hard-working, non-learners risks losing their jobs to automation, just as blue-collar workers did between 2000 and 2010 when robots replaced 85 percent of manufacturing jobs.
  • Working hard is the industrial era approach to getting ahead. Learning hard is the knowledge economy equivalent.
  • People who identify skills needed for future jobs — e.g., data analyst, product designer, physical therapist — and quickly learn those skills are poised to win.
  • We must stop thinking that the only time to learn is as kids/young adults ages 5-22. After that time, we get a job and mentally coast through the rest of our lives. That may have been true in the past but it certainly isn’t true today as we head into the knowledge economy.
Scroll down for the 6 essential skills to master the new knowledge economy and head over here for the entire article from Quartz.


6 essentials skills to master the new knowledge economy 

#1: Identify valuable knowledge at the right time. The value of knowledge isn’t static. It changes as a function of how valuable other people consider it and how rare it is.

#2: Learn and master knowledge quickly. Opportunity windows are temporary. Understanding and using mental models is one of the most universal skills that everyone should learn. It provides a strong foundation of knowledge that applies across every field.

#3: Communicate the value of your skills to others. People with the same skills can command wildly different salaries and fees based on how well they’re able to communicate and persuade others.

#4: Convert knowledge into money and results. There are many ways to transform knowledge into value in your life. A few examples include finding and getting a job that pays well, building a successful business, selling your knowledge as a consultant, and building your reputation by becoming a thought leader.

#5: Learn how to financially invest in learning to get the highest return. Each of us needs to find the right “portfolio” of books, online courses, and certificate/degree programs to help us achieve our goals within our budget.

#6: Master the skill of learning how to learn. Doing so exponentially increases the value of every hour we devote to learning. Our learning rate determines how quickly our knowledge compounds over time. Consider someone who reads and retains one book a week versus someone who takes 10 days to read a book. Over the course of a year, a 30% difference compounds to one person reading 85 more books.


Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins or steps per day, we need to be rigorous about the minimum dose of deliberate learning that will maintain our economic health.

The long-term effects of intellectual complacency are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not exercising, eating well, or sleeping enough.

Not learning at least 5 hours per week is the smoking of the 21st century and this article is the warning label.

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