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VIDEO | Learning Plan: Develop An Effective Learning Plan To Excel In Your Field

When I founded NetCom Learning in 1998—right out of college—I knew that I was taking a risk. I wasn’t choosing a secure job with an established organization, but one that in the beginning was simply me and my dream. I didn’t even have a degree in business, but rather in computer science. I knew that I would have to learn everything necessary to make this business successful. And I would have to set up a learning plan in order for my business to survive, let alone thrive.

I found that the fantasies I’d had of being my own boss, reporting to work whenever I felt like it, and gaining wealth quickly were naïve.

Continuous learning, knowledge, and dedicated commitment became my formula for success.

Throughout my career, I have benefited greatly from having a learning plan in place at all times, consisting of four basic components:

1. Learning Goals: Have specific goals and allow flexibility for them to change when necessary.

In the initial stage of my business, my learning goals were focused on becoming a business expert and a successful CEO.

2. Competency Model: Acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and attributes for all aspects of success, whatever your business or career.

In my case, I asked myself, what are the different domains that I need to master in order to achieve my goals? I realized that I needed to learn about sales, marketing, business development, personnel management, people development, accounting, finance, basic corporate law, management, and strategy. I also needed to improve my presentation, communication, and interpersonal skills.

3. Learning Methods: Consider the five learning methods, and find a way to incorporate them into your learning plan.

In the early years of my business, I applied all five types of learning methods—self-study, coaching, mentoring, on-the-job training, and classroom study. And just as importantly, I’m still using these learning methods to attain new skills.

4. Evaluation: Every learning plan should be evaluated to determine success.

When my business had grown from $0 to $10M revenue, I re-evaluated my goals and began to shift my focus away from day-to-day operations.

As my role changed, I knew it was essential to change my behavior. Using the same learning plan basics, I began developing my leadership skills. Later, as the organization grew even larger, I shifted to a learning plan geared toward increasing value through growth, profit, and trust.

The beauty of a learning plan is that it can be changed as you and your business develop and evolve—you simply tailor it to wherever you are.

“He Who Fails to Plan, Plans to Fail” is a proverb as true today as ever.

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