Gini Dietrich

How to Create a Commitment to Lifelong Learning

By: Gini Dietrich | February 22, 2017 | 

Create a Commitment to Lifelong LearningHave you seen Florence Foster Jenkins?

(I’ve had A LOT of time to watch movies and read books in the past two weeks, what with the plague and all.)

It’s a really fun movie and I highly recommend it. Meryl Streep is GREAT in it.

While she is interviewing for a pianist, she has tea with one of the candidates.

She talks about the importance of lifelong learning. Not just once-in-a-while learning, but the kind that you incorporate into your daily lives.

As they sat and discussed what the other does to encourage lifelong learning, I thought, “Ah ha! This is important.”

And then, serendipitously, I happened upon an article in Inc. about what Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Oprah all have in common.

You guessed it!

Lifelong learning.

Three Things Exceptional Entrepreneurs Do

The article focuses on what exceptional leaders and entrepreneurs do with five hours in their weeks.

It is narrowed down to three areas:

  1. Read;
  2. Reflect; and
  3. Experiment.

All three go to lifelong learning.


The plague notwithstanding, I read about a book a week.

Not to mention the various blog posts, articles, news media (especially right now), podcasts, and videos that consume so much of our days.

The article’s author found that most “billionaire entrepreneurs” had this very thing in common.

Oprah, of course, shared her love of reading with the world through her book club.

Mark Cuban has been noted to read about three hours a day.

My very first boss read at least an hour every day, which I know because I sat next to the men’s restroom and watched him go in there every day with a stack of newspapers.

(That still makes me giggle like I’m a 14-year-old boy.)

The point is, you cannot be committed to lifelong learning if you don’t read.


The article says:

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong makes his senior team spend four hours per week just thinking.

That makes me laugh.

You can’t force people to just think, but there is a very valid point to creating time to be one with your world.

That’s why I love cycling so much. I get out there on the road and the only thing I have to think about is how fast I’m going (so I can beat the boys) and a challenge I’m facing at work.

By the time my ride is complete, I’ve figured out a solution or two.

You know how you have the best ideas in the shower? It’s because it’s about the only place you have to just think without a single distraction.

Even if you set aside just 30 minutes a day and go for a walk around the block, you’ll foster reflection time, which leads to a commitment to lifelong learning.


How do you know if something works (or not) if you don’t experiment?

One of the values we have here is to test things out on ourselves before we introduce them to our clients—and to you.

That’s how this blog came about. In 2006, we heard rumblings of this blogging thing and decided to check it out, mostly to see if it was a tactic we could sell to clients.

As we limped along, we learned a ton about what not to do (and that, by-the-way, makes great blog content), and we figured things out.

We experimented. We failed. A lot. And then it started to click.

That is the philosophy we have with everything. Right now, we’re trying to figure out this artificial intelligence thing and how it affects what we do every day.

As we make mistakes and learn how to do things, we’ll share that information with you. The experimentation stage is to bring you something of value.

What do you do every day that allows you to experiment and take some risk?

This will allow you to create a commitment to lifelong learning.

Create a Commitment to Lifelong Learning

I’ve often said exercise is like brushing your teeth—you just can’t start your day without it.

I really believe that, and it’s the same for lifelong learning.

You can, of course, start your day without it, but the only way to move beyond the cliche and actually LEARN something every day is to actually do it.

Just as we have a recommended number of steps every day (10,000) and minutes of exercise (30) and servings of fruits and veggies (5-9), we have think about lifelong learning in the same way.

Otherwise, it becomes another need-to-do, but never actually happens.

So think about how you can incorporate reading, reflecting, or experimenting every, single day.

If you can do that for one hour each day, you’ll rival some of the most successful people on this earth.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Darryl Robinson-Keys
    • Whenever I see that, I think of Mork and Mindy. Nano nano.

      • Darryl Robinson-Keys

        Whenever I think of Mork and Mindy, I remember Happy Days and Richie Cunningham and the Fonz. ‘Heyyyyy”

        • Whenever I think of Happy Days, I think of…(should we do this all day?).

          • Darryl Robinson-Keys

            Whenever I think “should we do this all day” I recall I am slightly procrastinating from my “school” [as in life long learning] assignment I allocated this morning for… 😉

          • Whenever I think about school, I think about Martin Waxman.

          • Darryl Robinson-Keys

            Whenever I think about Martin Waxman, I think about an amazing PR website he recommended – the website name escapes me and an amazing book – the author and book title escape me….

          • Sue Duris

            I’ll do the Mork handshake with you anytime, Gini!

          • Nano nano!

    • Love this!

      • Darryl Robinson-Keys

        You mean my deep insightful comments? or just the pearly whites in my avatar? 🙂

  • I think the reflecting part is most important. It’s about constantly thinking and turning things over in your mind so that when you do read things and observe things and go about your daily business you’re able to connect the threads of ideas and experiences into lessons, reasoned arguments, solutions, etc. It’s a different way of learning from attending a workshop or reading a how-to book.

    • I agree, Rob. And I think it allows you to recover much more quickly from failure because you’re constantly reflecting on lessons learned and moving forward.

  • Edward M. Bury

    This is perhaps self-serving, but here goes: Public relations professionals can commit to lifelong learning by earning the Accredited in Public Relations credential. Ongoing education is a requirement for APR maintenance. Now the disclosure stuff: I am an APR, and in 2017 I was elected to the PRSA Board of Directors as — you guessed it — APR Chair.

    • Ha! I love you and you know my opinion of APR. But you keep on promoting it. I don’t mind.

      • Edward M. Bury

        Yes, and if you didn’t bolt from that APR Jump Start event we attended in 2004 you might have the APR, too! Think of the benefits: Along with being committed to learning, you’d get the awesome tattoo, learn the handshake and participate in the “blood initiation” ritual. (Kidding about the last one.)

  • Gini, this is such a great piece.

    I always encourage entrepreneurs to ‘learn more to earn more.’

    Here are a few points I’d like to add:

    1. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to set aside a learning fund of 5 – 10 percent of your income. This way you always have a budget for books each month or to spend on that exceptional program or seminar.

    2. I think it’s important also to decide what you want to learn in advance so that you can be strategic about your learning. Do a self-inventory to identify the areas you are weakest in and commit to learning more about each area one month at a time.

    3. Make a list of the top ten books in the category you are interested in and order them all. Keep them at your bedside till you get through them – following your recommendation of an hour each day.

    4. Reflection is key to integrating new learning and making connections in your brain – one way to do this is to set aside an hour each week to review your notes from what you read and learned (I use an spreadsheet but Evernote is awesome too) and then go do something else like walk, cycle or shower so your brain can connect the dots.

    5. Lastly don’t discount the idea of learning from an expert, sometimes I wish I had just paid the $500 or $700 to work one to one for an hour with someone who is an expert in their space vs. buying their $2000 program. Even though I got a ton of information from their programs – I didn’t get the information specific to my situation that I really needed.

    Thanks for a fab article

    • Seema! This is such fantastic advice. We should take it and do a second part, with you as the author. What do you think?

      • I would absolutely love to do that Gini thank you – I have a great note taking system that I would love to share as well. Shall I go through the form and let Corina know?

    • I second Gini’s suggestion of a post from you as a Part two to this. I’m a huge proponent of lifelong learning and am surprised when I hear from people who don’t prioritize it. For me, being stagnant and bored is a terrible fate.

      • Thanks Erika…I agree being stagnant sounds so terrible…there is always something to learn and so many ways to learn both free and paid.

  • paulakiger

    AGREE! Slightly related but it’s why I firmly believe there needs to be an “A” in STE(A)M — in STEM — because a kid (or human) needs to work their artistic (reflective) brain in addition to knowing math and all of the quantitative things. Great post, Gini.

    • We’re going through the process of finding a school for the Small Child and I’m astounded at how many schools don’t have that A in their curriculum AT ALL. It makes me sad.

      • paulakiger

        As it should. Maybe they think that’s what parents want to hear (but if so, that’s another reason to be sad). Good luck with the school search.

  • I LOVE learning, and reading, and thinking, and especially experimenting. It’s a great feeling when you experience something for the first time and see it come to life.

    If we go into neuroscience, I find fascinating how our brain makes connections when we give it a break from the daily hustle. I often find myself in the shower and it hits me a solution to a work issue, or a blog post idea. It’s amazing.

    One of the benefits of living in Spain (you can all hate me now) is the great weather and long days. From February until late October long walks and hiking are my favorite ways to reflect.

    P.S: I’m working on beating you at one book a week challenge.

    • I’m with you on long walks and hiking. I start to feel overwhelmed and depressed without quality outdoor time, just to be.

    • Bring it on, girlfriend! I’m keeping track of all the books I read in the back of my bullet journal. I’m on book #8 for the year, right now.

      • Me too! I’m on book #9 so far. Those are business and personal development books.

        If I add to that another 5 romantic novels I read during weekends…

  • Mallory O’Neil

    As I aspire to one day have a successful career in the world of media and communication, I hold a great level of respect for these overlooked gems of advice about the Public Relations field. All are rewarding when one is trying to enrich their career or even just his/her lifestyle.

    The older I become and with each year of education, I realize how overcrowded we as PR specialists are with constant flowing of information (via devices), and we grow uncomfortable with the idea of being left alone with our own thoughts. We are simply not given the chance to reflect information, and we often miss this very essential step to improve ourselves. We are also not open to enough time of credible pieces of writing. We believe the first thing we see and often don’t bother reading Facebook articles that don’t have a video attached.

    • You’re exactly right, Mallory! We also just read headlines and make assumptions based on that. It’s not good. We all must do better.