Do you invest in yourself? Do you invest in your ongoing learning, development and growth? As we get older, I think we forget to do this. We get busy with the day to day, we have other ways to spend money and we think we are too busy, too important or that we don’t need it.

We forget that from the time we were children, our parents invested in us trying new things (like ballet or tennis), being involved in teams (usually for sport) and getting help when we needed to extend beyond our current position (tutoring or extra classes). As a parent myself, I know how much I spend on helping my children to explore and grow through extra curriculum activities! And then we go to university where we specialise and (usually) get into a huge amount of debt investing in ourselves and our learning. And then we stop.

And yet, how can we just stop regular growth, when the world keeps changing, our jobs keep changing and our customers keep changing? How can we expect to not have to keep learning and growing? And how can we have fun and enjoy things if we aren’t growing?

“It’s my employer’s responsibility”

I hear this all the time. As an employee once we start a full time job, we push all of our growth and learning expectations on to the company that employs us expecting that they will take responsibility for our learning from that point on.

I’m here to tell you that not only is that unrealistic, but it’s not happening. And nor do I believe it should. After all, with tenure being at an all-time low, how can we expect our employer to invest in us when:

  1. We don’t invest in ourselves
  2. We may just take our new knowledge and skills and go and get another job

Yes, some people have training budgets and budgets to attend events, but is it enough? Is it meant to be enough? No. An employer wants you to be all-in as well. How are you showing your employer that you are worth an investment? Or do you expect them to give you the time and the money for all of your professional growth?

I spoke to an English lady the other day who is employed by one of the big four on a working visa. She is sponsored by her employer to be working in Australia and in return for them moving her to Australia her and being her sponsor, she has to give them a guarantee for the time she will spend in their employment. If she wants to extend her time in Australia and apply for permanent residency, her employer will help her to do so, but only if she extends her agreement to continue working with them for a period of time. And if she should change her plans and resign before that time, then she is responsible for paying an agreed proportion of the costs incurred.

To me, this seems fair. If you make a promise to your employer, they invest in you. Break that promise and the deal changes.

Why can’t we apply a similar approach to development? Contribute a bit yourself (to show you really want it) and come to an arrangement with your employer that you will continue to make an amazing contribution to the organisation for an agreed amount of time, in return for their investment in you.

It seems reasonable and I’m sure you can put a compelling case forward. It’s always worth a try, even if you have a training budget that you feel is fixed and not worth a discussion. (They can only say no!)

What it looks like for me:

Like everyone, I go through phases in investing in my growth. I definitely went for a good number years straight out of university where I made little to no investment in myself at all. I think this is normal in the early years where everything is a steep learning curve and your investment is about putting your head down, learning the ropes and becoming good at your craft.

Fast forward to this stage in my career though and over the last few years, I have cranked my professional learning up several gears. Here’s what I’ve done lately:

  • In 2017 I invested in a 40 week program called Key Person of Influence. It involved a few full days of face to face time together with a lot of online learning (which I did at night). It effectively has helped me to turn around my business, extending what we offer and showing me the way forward across their five pillars of: pitch, publish, profile, product, partnership. I completed this course over a year ago but I’m still involved in the broader community and the implementation of my learnings is a long term plan.
  • I have a mastermind group of business owners that I meet with each quarter. We go away for two days (often interstate) and share our challenges, work through solutions and learn from each other. My favourite thing.
  • I have a business coach. This involves monthly online masterminds, monthly online training, quarterly coaching sessions and two conferences on the Gold Coast each year.
  • I attend events (not just my own!) I’ve recently attended a conference in America and regularly try to get to one or two Australian conferences a year as well as smaller events.
  • I direct my own personal learning in other ways too. I’m always buying books and listening to audio books, I have purchased a subscription to Growth Faculty and joined another paid online community.

I just did the maths and in the last three years I have invested over $50,000 in my professional development. $50,000 worth of courses, training, events, coaching, masterminds and more! Wow.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Yeah but Louisa you’re a business owner, it’s different, your business pays for all of this”. You’re partially right, my business does pay for this, but I am on a reduced salary because of it – which means this does all hit my personal bottom line. I notice a difference, I have made this as a conscious choice and I invest a lot of my personal time in being part of these activities.

Is it worth it?

Yes. Undoubtedly investing in myself has been worth it. Would I do it again – absolutely. Will I keep doing it – definitely.  The mix of investments might change as I continue with some and mix up others but these learnings, these conversations about my work and my ideas and sharing in the teachings of others are invaluable to me growing as a marketer and business owner.

What are you doing?

Still here? What are you going to do about your professional development? Here are six things you can do today:

  • Attend a marketing event. Here is a list of over 100 events around the country (and the world) that I keep track of.
  • Identify and train up on the skills you need.
  • Join a marketing mastermind group (The Circle is an investment in you, but the progression you will make is unrivalled).
  • Get a coach (I’m taking on a few coaching customers – ask me for info)
  • Start reading a book! Here are some of my favourites: This is Marketing, 80/20 Sales and Marketing, Start with Why, Ask, Oversubscribed
  • Become a member of Interactive Minds and you’ll get monthly training sessions on the latest topics, access experts from around the world and much more!

Do you agree with my thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear. Get in touch to tell me, or share what professional development you are doing (or want to do) at the moment.