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Self Improvement: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That. Or Do We?

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

This week I asked our panel of experts about improving ourselves.

After my podcast with Justin Popovic, I got to thinking about some ways that I want to “better my brain”.

So, how about you, my successful friends? Are you learning a second, or fifth language? Do you read self-improvement stuff?

Dish it. Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

I think you'll enjoy the responses. I always do.

connieConnie Ragen Green of Affiliate Marketing Case Studies says:

I love self-improvement and look for every chance to improve my brain. Some of what I do is a conscious effort on my part and some of it is simply spontaneous.

Last year I decided it was finally time to learn Finnish. I had been spending time there (in Finland) for almost twenty years without learning more than a few phrases. I now practice almost every day in the car or at home, and I can speak more than I ever thought I would be able to. It's fun to surprise my family with phrases such as “Mikä tapahtuu?” (What's happening?) or “Haluan jäätelöä jälkiruoaksi.” (I want ice cream for dessert.)

I also spend time each morning in quiet contemplation. Some people call this meditation, but I just think of it as my ‘quiet time' to gather my thoughts before I start my day.


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Kevin Riley of Maximize Your E-Mail Marketing Profits In 2013  says:

Well, first off, I moved to Japan 16 years ago – knowing only “arigatou”, “konichiwa”, and “wakarimasen” from having watched James Clavell's “Shogun”. The first year was a definite struggle, as I had no time to study and just learned from non-English-speaking carpenters. Now, I speak in a local dialect, read all hiragana and katakana, and a lot of kanji. It was a difficult learning experience, but massively rewarding.

I've treated my whole life as one long learning experience, so I'm continually learning new things. As someone who creates and sells products on the Internet, keeping up with the changing technologies and new sites, software, etc. is a never-ending exercise. I'm continually learning some new software or other tool I can use. Recently, I decided to learn how to use Animate to create animated videos, and had my local Kinko's (yes, we have one in Osaka too) print out the massive manual.

I maintain a subscription to National Geographic, as I value the ability to keep learning about new places, cultures, habitats, animal behaviours, etc. etc. I'm continually finding new things that make this world we live in such an amazing place.

Life is a learning experience. Walking down a street in Osaka, I'll see new things every day. It's all about being conscious of your surroundings. One reason I never walk with an iPod (that's just for at the gym).


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kellyKelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:

I've fallen in love with listening to podcasts that feature successful people, whether they are a success in business or in sports or life as a whole. I love hearing them talk about their experiences, especially their mistakes and the lessons learned.

Lately I've been picking up Kindle books that will challenge my point of view. You know we have a tendency to only read things and listen to things that will support our current opinion, right? Right now I'm reading a book that challenges everyone's point of view in one way or another. ‘Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave‘ points out how we are influenced by things (colors, symbols, cultural ideas) we're not aware of.

Self ImprovementFinally, I have dedicated the first part of my day to Bible study. I pick up a new devotional every few months and study it through to the end, trying to pull every good thing I can from its pages. Some of them challenge my historical knowledge, while others challenge me on a personal level.

Being challenged in life is what keeps our lives (and us!) interesting. I hope I never shrink away from it.


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Barb-LingBarb Ling of Social Curation Ignition says:

Not reading but *massive* research – seeing how the world outside of IM views the same “in the trenches” marketing techniques we tackle every day.

It's *extremely* eyeopening….


Barb thinks differently than anyone I've ever met.

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LynnetteLynette Chandler of Tech Based Marketing says:

As part of our curriculum, my daughter wants to learn Mandarin. I speak other Chinese dialects but not Mandarin – the most important one and so, I've promised her we'd learn together this school year. That's going to be interesting.

I've also been spending a lot of time lately exploring hard sciences related to evolution and creation. It's amazing what has been learned on both sides in the last 100 years or so. Some of it is mind boggling and a little over my head but that just makes all this stuff so intriguing.

On the business related side, normally I tend to choose self-help books but more and more, I find myself wrapped up in books about behavioral economics and psychology. Truly fascinating stuff.

Here's the funny thing about learning all this stuff. The more I do it, the more content ideas tend to pop up.


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debbiedrumDebbie Drum of Turn ONE PIECE OF CONTENT into 21 Sources of Income says:

Focusing On Speed.

There’s always room for improvement. No matter how old you are, you can always try to get better at something.

It has been quite a while since I learned to read. I have fond memories of reading out loud to my mom at the kitchen table as she cleaned the dishes after dinner. Unfortunately, I was never taught to read properly. I was taught to read one word at a time which is completely wrong. The end results is slow reading and slow reading leads to lack of attention which leads to wasting time because you are not comprehending what you are reading!!

I consider myself more of a visual and audio learner. That’s how I learn the quickest. But, there are times that I need to read things and I want to interpret faster and get through it faster….so I am focusing on getting better at this skill.

I started with 1) Cool Technology and 2) Free!

I downloaded an app called Acceleread Speed Reading Trainer. I’ve only just begun but it describes the exact reason people read slow and it also tells you that you CAN GET BETTER just with a little unlearning and practice.

The app has an entire day by day course for you to learn the skills to become a faster reader. At first, it is pretty crazy. The main mind shift is to start to group words together and read and interpret (and visualize) groups of words as opposed to the individual words on the screen. I am absolutely having a blast and I know that this is going to make me a faster reader.

Another cool and free tool I am using is Lumosity. You can play it on the computer as well as download the app. Lumosity is filled with games designed to better your brain as far as analytical skills, problem solving, think better on your feet, concentration, and memory.

I like this app because you can’t get sucked into playing it all day. They open only a certain amount of games per day to make your brain stronger and that’s all you need! It’s perfect.

I love these tools because you can use them anywhere – standing in line at the bank, waiting for someone you are picking up, and a little downtime if you need a break. Instead of wasting time on Facebook, better your brain because it will pay off!


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NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

Well now I'm really inspired. And, a little bit embarrassed that I didn't have a good answer planned. 🙂

Here's what I've been up to. It's nothing revolutionary, but small baby steps in the right direction. I hope they add up over time.

1. Got apps? Si!

I decided to relearn Spanish, which I used to be conversant in (not fluent, but able to communicate). In order to do that, one of the things that I did was to download some iPhone apps that have games on them for Spanish vocabulary.

The one I'm using the most is “Basic Spanish” but I also have been using “Duolingo”, too.

I'm also considering getting another program to go through. My daughter is starting Spanish classes at school, so the time is right. Anyone got recommendations? I see there are lots of options and strong opinions on many of them.

2. Exercising my Brain.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm also enjoying – which is a brain training program. I’m doing it, along with my kids and we’re competing by score. I'm pretty impressed at our progress. My memory has improved tremendously already.

3. Learning in the car and at the gym.

I've signed up with to listen to books in the car and at the gym (on my phone). I've also got several new podcasts to listen to, but I just can't get into them as much. I prefer the structure of books better than the freeflow of podcasts.  The other thing I regularly listen to is the CDs that come in my Success Magazines – which I just love.

What about You?

Got tips? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Best of luck.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Bradford Thompson

    I really appreciate how people practice on their own, learn on their own through self-education or self-improvement. I was amazed by how Connie and Kevin learn different languages on their own. Because if it were me, I may have hard time figuring out what is the word, constructing the right sentence as well as pronouncing them correctly. But thanks for the motivation I just read. Thanks for sharing these brilliant insights! 🙂

  • Tony Matos

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the post, I myself at times lose focus and motivation. I tried to read or see some motivation speakers that I enjoy, I feel that just takes some to find that right person that will push you to that next level.

    Thanks for sharing your throughts and have a nice day.


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