Investing in Education

the value of education

I recently heard a quote from someone that went “If you put money into your mind no one can ever take it away from you”.

That hits home with me. I am a lover of learning. My dream job would be to be a professional student and spend the rest of my life learning new things. Funny how things come full-circle. I hated school as a kid. Of course, I used to hate vegetables and now I love them too. It makes me think of my last blog post where I go back in time to talk to my younger self LINK.

I thought for this post that I would share all the ways I learn.

1. READ QUALITY BOOKS

I keep a list of books to read. There are lists like this one LINK that display the top fiction books ever written. Many of these books make everyone’s list and the reason they do is cause they are timeless classics that are really really good. Everyone should read them.

Non-fiction book titles I find from reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts. The good thing about many of these top non-fiction books is they are relatively short and can be devoured in a day or two. I try to read at least 52 books per year. It is easy to read a short non-fiction book every week, but a long fiction story like War and Peace may take several months to read. I find that summarizing the book or following along with book summaries helps a great deal with the comprehension.

One of the most valuable skills I have learned is to read faster. I was around 200 wpm and now I’m at about 350 wpm and want to get to around 800-1000 wpm, or 4-5x faster than I used to be. Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett stated reading as their most valuable source of learning.

2. RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET

Yes, there is a lot of mis-information out there, but there is a lot of great, often free, information too. I subscribe to a number of blogs and podcasts and keep those I really like and get rid of those that don’t interest me. I not only learn from each of these sources, but frequently the host will introduce me to other people or resources that are valuable. Try a podcast like “Entreprenuers on Fire” with John Lee Dumas. He interviews an entrepreneur every day, seven days a week and always asks for their favorite internet resource and book. I have learned much from listening to that podcast.

3. CLASSES

I spend a couple grand a year on classes. This year alone I spent about five thousand dollars. In the Spring, I studied under a coach by the name of Dan Faggella and he has helped me develop a product that I will begin selling this month. He taught me things that would have taken me months or years to learn and in less than six months from starting to work with him, I will have a product for sale.

In the next month, I have two classes; one I will travel to North Carolina to study stock option trading for three and a half days and in October I will travel to Florida to spend two days with Jon Morrow, a master blogger.

Yes these are expensive classes, but I actually budget money towards education and I know I will get a great return on my investment. Plus, I just love learning from people who are at the top of their fields. Not only do you receive great training but the amount of time it takes you to develop the skills is reduced tremendously and as we know, time is money.

I also believe there is a mindset shift when you spend good money on education. You tell yourself you are going to use this information and you will be successful with it and it eliminates a lot of fear and procrastination. You treat the learning like a job and you are accountable to someone to complete tasks at specified times, with a coach who can correct you or encourage you. It is like education on steroids.

4. TRAVEL

I have traveled to 46 states and nine countries. I have learned from almost every trip I have taken.

Experiencing different cultures, scenery, food, people, and music stimulates the mind. Some places are so different that you can’t even imagine what they are like unless you are there first-hand. Last year, my wife and I went to the middle east for three weeks and that area is culture shock for an American. It is amazing to view places you’ve only read about in history books. I realized I love middle eastern food, the Arabic language is very beautiful, and the area is not as dangerous as I had imagined (although things have changed quite a bit this year). The people we met were wonderful and their friendliness puts many Americans to shame.

I have made travel one of my lifetime goals. I hope to visit 50 or more countries.

5. HOBBIES

I have many hobbies, probably too many. I learn from each of them. Sometimes it is as simple as I learn what I love to do and what I don’t love to do.

Some hobbies, like playing instruments and fitness, have been with me most of my life. Others like working on cars have come and gone because I have no aptitude for them, but hey you never know until you try.

This year I have tried drawing and surprisingly, I have some ability in this area. I never tried before because I thought you were born an artist, but you can learn some techniques. I try one new hobby a year. You never know if you’re the world’s best at something unless you give it a chance.

SUMMARY

While there is currently debate on the value of going to college, educating yourself through methods like those above is worth every penny…at least I believe so. Some of the methods like reading and some hobbies are no or low cost to you. Others like world travel and spending time with top coaches can be expensive, but if the subject is worth it to you, think of the time you’ll save and the skill levels you will jump and whether the benefits out-weigh investing in education.

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