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Never Stop Learning

Never Stop Learning

I never stop learning, because your bank account is a reflection of what happened before, not a reflection of what happened now. – Mark Cuban

Kids are finally back at school, for the beginning of another exciting year of learning. Our teachers, whom I personally believe are earth bound Angels, have a big responsibility on their hands in preparing our children for their and our future. Talking to kids today, I sometimes get the sense that they are often too shy to make a mistake or ask a question that may seem silly. It’s better to just “fit in and follow the rules.” It seems that many kids today will do anything to blend in and not stand out. Our teachers have this seemingly endless challenge of constantly getting our kids to think outside the box, to use initiative and logic over following a set of instructions with hard and fast rules. The rate at which our world is changing in every aspect, will require a generation of fast, intuitive thinkers that will be able to solve challenges long before they threaten our life style or even our very existence.

Harvard University recently did a study to find out what skills were used by the top 5% of business people in the US that enabled them to be the best and achieve their goals. In fact, the top 5 % collectively make more than the other 95%. That’s quite a staggering statistic! It turns out that the top 5% do 3 things religiously:
1. They PLAN their day the night before
2. They SOLVE their client’s pain
3. They READ two books a month

Sounds simple enough- Right?
Every Monday morning I have a company meeting, mostly to motivate and hopefully inspire my team. Over the past 5 years, I have encouraged my team to read just one book a month. Let’s start small. I buy the books after extensive research from “Best in Class.” I give them the book, tailored to their likes and behavior. I get them excited and ready to see the value of learning a new skill and how it will change their lives. Guess what happens? Only 5% of them will read the book, the rest will give me the “I don’t have time” excuse.

The more you read, the more things you will know, the more you learn, the more places you will go – Dr. Seuss

Let’s go back a bit. My wife and I had our own businesses in South Africa. We were established and very comfortable. We lived in a big home, drove luxury cars, and generally had a great life. The only issue was that things in our country were changing at an alarming rate, and not all for the better. An opportunity arose for us to charter a yacht in the British Virgin Islands. Seems like a dream come true, right! But everything comes with a catch. All I had to do, to live in paradise, was give up everything I had worked so hard for in South Africa, and totally take myself out of my comfort zone and my area of expertise.

So, my wife and I became yachties. We would have 2 to 6 guests spend 7-14 days on our luxury yacht, and pay $15 000 to $20 000 a week for the experience of sailing around the Caribbean. The water is so crystal blue that you can see the fish swimming around the boat and the beautiful white sandy beaches. For fun we would sail to a different island or cove, anchor, water ski, go snorkeling followed by a fantastic lunch, then off to scuba dive a wreck or an underwater cave. Sunset came with mandatory cocktails before a 5 course cordon bleu dinner, then bar hopping with dancing under the stars. A very pleasant existence!

Our only challenge was I had never sailed and Debbie could not cook. Leaving everything behind, selling the businesses, home, cars, moving to a new country, to live on a boat. I wonder what most people would advise? “Follow the rules, or be different and take a risk!”

Learning our new skills was so exciting and many times terrifying, especially being at sea with 30 foot waves crashing down on the yacht.
We spent six fantastic years exploring the Caribbean. One of our guests was Robert De Niro. He spent 10 days with us and we had a blast with him. Sir Richard Branson called and invited “Bob” and us to his island…Necker Island. We met Jan, his wife, and the six of us spent the whole day, drinking, sailing, and having fun. Looking back now I only wish I had asked Sir Richard more questions!

Giving up everything and taking that risk was a huge step for us. We left South Africa with one suitcase each, but that move led to incredible friendships and endless opportunities. I believe we should never be afraid to learn, take risks and fail if we have to. I believe every new skill we learn or even every failure, is a step closer to your next success.

Kids need to learn that they can fail and it’s not the end of the world. They should be rewarded for trying something new, thinking outside the box, doing something outside their comfort zone, figuring stuff out on their own. I believe a big part of learning is making mistakes until we learn how to get it right.

Learning is fun no matter how old you are. Never stop learning! Be inquisitive, be excited by knowledge and take it from me, never be scared to ask questions!


Ralph Harris

The person who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow, is uneducated the day after- Newton Baker