I grew up as a very competitive athlete. I was involved in all kinds of sports. Quite often in sports, you hear inspiring and motivating quotations from coaches and team leaders. (Side note: Why don’t business leaders give more pep talks?)

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

“If you’re not going forward, you’re going backward.”

There are probably 10 variations of these two maxims, and I’ve heard all of them through the years. 

In high school, these sayings only related to sports for me. It wasn’t until college, although I still played collegiate soccer, that I figured out that these sayings also worked in life and in my career. Now, not a day goes by when I don’t ask myself, “What can I do to make myself a little better at what I do?” 

So, what things do I do to keep making myself better?

Without any particular planning, these are the things I do to keep improving myself, and my career. I’m no expert, but they’ve been working for me thus far.

Start with networking.

I know, I know. You hear it all the time. It’s not what you know; it’s whom you know. But, all of those people telling you to network are right. Most people go to networking events just to say they know more people. My goal isn’t to know more people; it’s to GET to know more people. 

I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert, so going to big networking events isn’t really my thing. I seem to be really good at coming across people on Twitter and LinkedIn whom I think I can learn things from. I often will “cold call” or email people to see if they’d like to meet for coffee, and you’d be surprised how many of them get back to me. We will usually make small talk for a little while before diving into a subject we both have in common. It’s usually then that the learning begins. Mutual learning.

Listen to podcasts.

Like everything else I’m mentioning here, this isn’t a surprising tactic. I am a graphic designer and I have a big interest in advertising, so I listen to a lot of podcasts on those subjects. 

What I like most about podcasts is that I can listen to them while I’m at work. It’s easy to find a show to listen to for an hour at a time, and I can do my work and learn at the same time. Plus, most shows last for around an hour, so it helps the days to go by fast.

Read blogs. 

I’m not the type of person to spend time hunting down blogs to follow. However, most of my friends on my social media platforms seem to have plenty of time doing that for me. If something comes across my feeds that I think is interesting or would benefit me to read, I check it out.

It’s also really helped me to follow some larger publication brands on Twitter that do a good job of posting links to their articles. Some of my favorites are Inc. magazine, Fast Company, Silicon Prairie News, and yes, our very own Business Record. (We often post stories to Twitter that you won’t see in our print edition or our daily newsletters.)

The quotations that my coaches repeated over and over to me growing up helped me improve on the field. Taking the same philosophy with my career has been working for me, and hopefully you’ve come away from this blog with some ideas for yourself. 

I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or if you have suggestions to help me continue to grow, please leave them in the comments or contact me directly.

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Adam Feller
Graphic Designer, Business Record