As a student at Stanford University, I started my website, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, to teach personal finance to my friends who complained about getting slapped with overdraft fees. Over the years, it went from a blog that nobody read to a multimillion-dollar business with more than 30,000 paying customers.
Today I’m often asked what skills were critical for growing my website. People are always surprised at my answer because it has nothing to do with technical skills such as coding or search engine optimization. The most important skill I’ve learned is the need to adopt the mindset of a student, no matter how experienced you are. This mindset has allowed me to grow a thriving business for more than 12 years.
These three techniques will help you implement the student mindset:
1. Embrace the mind of a child.
Young children ask “why” incessantly and always want to touch and play with everything. They’re curious. This is how they learn about the world.
As we grow older, this natural curiosity fades. We become rigid and complacent in our thinking.
I try to maintain a playful attitude and childlike curiosity at all times, especially in business. Whenever I see a successful company doing something different, I think, What do they know that I don’t? How can I do something similarly innovative?
2. Put yourself in the hands of a trusted teacher.
Years ago, I began speaking at conferences. From New York to San Francisco to Denver, I would speak onstage for 15 minutes, and afterward people would line up to say hello. Although I enjoyed this, the more of an expert I became, the less I learned and grew personally.
Professional athletes, famous musicians and actors all have coaches and advisers. If these people, who are experts in their fields, have coaches, then why shouldn’t we?
3. Read, read, read.
Sometimes the best teachers and mentors are books. After all, how else can you absorb someone’s entire life’s work in one sitting?
This is why I established “Ramit’s Book-Buying Rule.” It goes like this: If you’re even thinking about buying a book, just do it. Don’t waste time debating it, looking up reviews or asking others for their opinions.
Getting even one idea from a book makes it worth the time and money.
You can start incorporating these techniques into your life immediately. Over time, you’ll start to discover new ways to achieve your goals. As leadership and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith once said, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
It all starts with being a student for life.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine and has been updated. Photo by BalanceFormCreative/Shutterstock