Debra Swersky
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Journal

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I.L.T.-ish

It was episode 774 on Entrepreneur on Fire: Ray Higdon on I.L.T. Three words that struck me: Invest. Learn. Teach. I wrote them down. The concept was pretty simple and resonated with me… especially as I was just returning from my trip to Ghana with Babson. The purpose of my trip was to teach entrepreneurship to high school students in Takoradi-Sekondi...  a trip which happened exactly two years ago and changed my life. 

When I heard episode 774 I didn’t really pay Ray much attention, but rather embraced the concept and applied it to my life. The word “invest” was a word that I had used strictly in the context of monetary investments. In going through my MBA it was clear that the monetary investment I was making in myself was huge. I don’t regret the decision in the slightest, it has helped me immensely (in life and business) but as the saying goes… it is definitely the most expensive piece of paper that I have ever purchased. (And don’t you worry, I made sure that the signature was original.) I obviously learned a ton through my classes and experience, but aside from teaching entrepreneurship to African high school students in Ghana and Rwanda I didn’t seek out opportunities to teach. In fact, I didn’t seek out the opportunity to teach in Ghana. It was more of a self-inflicted dare to myself than an opportunity to teach my newly acquired knowledge. 

In coming back from Ghana and my teaching experience, I made a very important observation: that which I had invested in myself to learn about I understood better because I taught it. I took the real-life examples of entrepreneurship in Ghana, the lady who sells plantain chips from the bowl on her head at the highway toll booths, and ran through the entire business model canvas with my students. Taking such a complex topic and making it simple was invigorating. Don’t even get me started on how I was able to overcome my Numberphobia and teach cash flow, income statements, and balance sheets to my accounting undergrad counterparts. Two words: chicken farmer. (Yes, I sent Professor Block a thank you note.)

Once I graduated, the idea of investing more money in further professional development was far from palpable. But, I had come to understand that teaching concepts that I was learning was a key component of my understanding. Turns out, according to Ray Higdon’s “Invest Learn Teach method” that when you invest in yourself and learn everything that you can from it, that you set the stage for being an authority on the subject matter. I’ve referred to this before as a knowledge advantage, as coined by… I’ll let you guess.

Though I’m confident that I’m far from an authority on any of the subject matters that I discuss here (this, after all, is a journal and not a blog), I am confident that I have come to a better understanding of all of the subject matters that I have written about on this site. I’ve dedicated the time, effort, and energy into reading, absorbed as much information as I could have from each page that I’ve turned (spending minimal money on professional development in the process), and have had the opportunity each week (!) for the past year (!!) to distill my understanding of new concepts to share with you. 

Thank you for being a faithful reader. I hope that you have found my investment to be a fruitful one for you and have enjoyed partaking in my learning experience as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. Happy one-year anniversary!

Debra Swersky