April 29, 2013

Be Selfish

This essay is part of a collaborative blogging experiment to answer the question, ‘how do you invest in yourself?’

My #1 priority is to learn as much and as quickly as possible. I’m selfish. I need to be put into positions of discomfort, challenged and I expect to be held accountable. If I’m not getting that, I will leave.

This is what I told my boss (paraphrased) several months ago.

Learning is the most important investment one can make. Jobs come and go but you only have one ‘self’. Every investment made in education will pay lifelong dividends.

And since we have finite time, it’s important to maximize your learning every step of the way, selfishly or otherwise.

Selfish ≠ Disloyal

Don’t get me wrong, being selfish isn’t disloyal. Being honest and transparent is.

Companies and its employees need to align expectations and goals to build a sustainable business and positive culture. Investing in oneself is incredibly important, not just for your own personal growth but for the growth of the company.

We spend a majority of our time and focus on our career so make sure it’s empowering you to learn and grow as an individual.

After Hours Learning

Of course, work isn’t the only opportunity for growth. I also learn by:

  • Reading - I’m constantly learning from other’s shared knowledge on Twitter, Svbtle, Medium, Quora, and Quibb. There’s a wealth of information out there and I’m grateful for those that share their stories and wisdom.
  • Blogging - Reading has inspired me to write more frequently; the best decision I’ve made in the past six months. Blogging has led to numerous insightful conversations and new relationships. It has enabled me to refine my ideas and become a more analytical thinker.
  • Meeting - Reading and interacting with smart people online doesn’t have the same fidelity as face-to-face conversation. Meeting with successful, experienced entrepreneurs is an exercise in serendipity. These conversations have lead to unforeseen learnings and sometimes a transformational, new perspective.

Use It

I’m going to learn too I’m going to get super smart, so I to can die without money But I’ll be the smartest dead guy Who has that?

Kanye West, Lil Jimmy Skit (College Dropout)

Knowledge is worthless if unused. Employing this investment is the best way to build on what you’ve learned.

Write. Build. Teach. It’s of no use once you’re dead.


Remember when you were a kid and your parents asked, “so, what did you learn today in school?” You may have replied with the common response, “oh, nothing.”

This isn’t fault of children’s nascent intellect. It’s difficult to self-diagnose one’s learning.

To help recognize and measure this, write down what you’ve done each day and ask, “what did I do today that contributed to learning and what did not?” Don’t let mindless tasks, constant distractions, and operating at capacity restrict growth.

Not everything you do can or should contribute to learning, but if you find an overwhelming majority of your time invested in non-learning activities, make a change.


Take an honest look at yourself and ask:

  • Am I in the best position in my career to maximize learning?
  • What am I doing outside my job to learn?
  • How am I using these learnings?

For some these may be frightening questions to answer but remember, fear is healthy and selfishness can be a good thing.

What are you doing to learn?

Let me know on Twitter (@rrhoover). :)

Read other great posts on this topic at QuestionClub.

More Writing by Ryan