When starting a business, whether for the first time or for the fiftieth, you will undergo a steep learning curve. As an entrepreneur, you will be constantly learning through practice—sometimes, whether you want to or not. While you can carry over knowledge from one business to the next, you will most likely still find yourself discovering new things, especially as you expand into new fields. You might even be tempted to call this ever-present learning curve tedious, but if you start down that dangerous path, you may lose interest in entrepreneurship altogether. After all, entrepreneurs have to be constantly learning and improving in order to succeed.
Due to this diligent commitment to progress, you will want to relax when you have the chance. In your free time, you might want to just binge watch a mindless Netflix show. Maybe you flip on the sports channel and spend time by yourself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to tune out your mind for a moment. However, the content you consume can actually impact the success of your business.
On a recent episode of the Making Bank podcast, guests Kevin Harrington and his mentee Mark Timm discuss the important lessons they’ve learned in their careers about curiosity and content consumption. Kevin recounts what his father taught him about downtime, as Mark shares what Kevin has revealed to him. They iterate that you can enjoy content that also expands your mind. In other words, you can optimize your downtime. Keep reading to discover what they mean.
Timm first tells a story about the powerful lesson he learned from Harrington while taking a flight to Tampa. He says, “I’m sitting there fooling around on emails. [Kevin] grabs this other down and it is chock full of newspapers, magazines, trade journals. He starts going through him and he’s ripping out pages and putting them in a Manila folder.” Timm finds himself shocked, as he was originally planning on reading emails and watching a movie. Meanwhile, Harrington is going through a giant bag of reading material, throwing out what doesn’t apply to him, and keeping what does. Timm realizes that Kevin has “whittled that whole thing down to a Manila folder about a half inch thick. That’s when I realized that he is consuming content. He is finding where eyeballs are going. What he’s putting in is a direct result of the results he’s getting in his life and in his businesses.”
Harrington is utilizing his downtime to learn more about not just his businesses, but also the context in which his business exists. He is reading articles, books, and anything else he can get his hands on that may be relevant to his companies, their customers, or the environment in which those companies could thrive. By doing this exercise, he is paying close attention to what he’s consuming. Timm says, “Super successful people, like Kevin Harrington and Zig Ziglar, they read about three hours a day. Three hours a day. And I didn’t believe that until I started traveling with Kevin.”
Timm also highlights another interesting point. Consuming content that is relevant to your business teaches you, it exercises your brain, but it also accomplishes something else. Reading or consuming significant content also affects your mindset and outlook. As Timm says, “That is one of the key things: mindset. What your thinking about, what your reading, your positive energy that you have.” In other words, the content you consume affects your mindset and energy.
Optimize Your Time
Now, there’s nothing wrong with watching an episode of a Netflix show at the end of the long day. However, what Harrington and Timm are pointing to is that when you have a stretch of time, perhaps taking a flight or when commuting to work, you can optimize that space to the best of your ability. So, if the content you consume can affect your business and mindset, then what content should you be absorbing in the first place?
Harrington and Timm suggest browsing newspapers, blogs, podcasts, even YouTube. Anything that is connected directly or indirectly to your business you should be aware of and should be seeking out more information on. Reflect on “dead space” in your life, or periods of time that currently aren’t being filled, such as the time you spend walking the dog, driving to work, washing the dishes, cooking or folding laundry. While these tasks may not take up more than one hour each, you still must complete them on an everyday basis. In essence, the time you spend completely these chores adds up, creating a perfect opportunity to tune into an entrepreneurial podcast like Making Bank, listen to an audiobook, or browse a blog.
While Harrington and Timm emphasis content that relates to your business, you may also want to seek out material that benefits you as a person and your life. As Timm pointed out, what you put into your mind can alter your mindset and energy. Perhaps you’ve been struggling to sleep lately, or you feel like you’ve been more negative. Reading a positivity blog in the morning or listening to a meditation podcast before bed can help restore you. If you remember to keep in mind your well-being, you can discover healing or uplifting material that benefits your person. After all, you can’t take care of your business if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Like any new habit, all of Harrington and Timm’s points will only prove useful if you are willing to try. In order to continue to discover and consume the right content. Harrington says, “I’ve called it curiosity overload or aggressive curiosity.” He expands upon this to mean that aggressive curiosity is not just interest, but rather, an active and deliberate effort to seek out new knowledge. If you want to educate yourself, you will only keep improving and expanding your mind. As a result, your business will also grow.