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.
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?
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 I became the expert, the less I learned and grew personally.
I decided to put myself in the hands of a trusted teacher and mentor: business consultant Jay Abraham. He inspired me to grow my business in ways I hadn’t thought of yet.
Professional athletes, famous musicians and actors all have coaches and advisors. If these people, who are experts in their fields, have coaches, then why shouldn’t we?
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.
Related: How to Learn Something New
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.