As we are entering a new calendar year, I am entering my 15th year in sales. I have to say: it’s been a crazy but great ride so far. I’ve had many fantastic experiences, exceptional customers, talented coworkers, and capable leaders that I will never forget. Well, okay, maybe some I wish I could forget. But overall, sales has been a gratifying profession.

I’ve worked with intelligent, talented, and business-savvy sales professionals and leaders. I like to think my career has been shaped by these people, the advice they have given, and the mentorship they have provided. Although I have received countless pieces of advice in my career, the best piece of advice I received was from my first CEO: “The day you stop learning is the day I will fire you.”

He joked as he said this, but it resonated, nonetheless. It was like he rang a bell that has continued to ring in my head all these years; I recall his words daily.

The Value of Continuous Learning

No matter who you are or what point you’re at in your career, you should always be trying to learn from others and your own personal and professional experiences. Constant learning and knowledge acquisition is a competitive advantage. The hunger to learn new tasks, processes, or theories keeps us constantly improving and helps us evaluate areas we can develop.

Involving myself in every professional opportunity presented to me at my company was one way I implemented my first CEO's advice. I knew engaging in new tasks, projects, or opportunities usually meant I would be outside of my comfort zone, which is where growth and learning begin. By raising my hand to be involved at every turn, I had opportunities to work with our marketing, finance, and operational teams. This gave me a 360-degree view of our company and our processes, and how I could help make my colleagues’ lives easier.

These days, with many of us working from home or looking at a calendar that is already overflowing, it’s easier than ever to say, “I’m too busy” or, “I can’t handle that on my plate today.” But I challenge you to change your mindset. To grow and learn, you must make time for diverse projects. Finding time versus making time are two entirely different things. I challenge you to start making time to continue your learning journey, because if you are waiting to find time, trust me, you never will.

Putting It Into Practice

A practice that works well for me is allocating 30-45 minutes of my day to new learning opportunities. I block out time on my calendar and actually use the time to do exactly that: learn and grow. For example, I might read a sales book, listen to an industry-specific podcast, work on a new project, schedule a meeting with a colleague to understand their workflows, write a blog, or work on my presentation skills. I block the time and use the time.

What’s the best piece of sales advice you have received throughout your career? What kind of impact did it have on you and your life? On the flip side, what advice would you want to share with others?