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Student of Business and Life

The most successful people I know in business and life are continuously learning. As leaders, when any of us stops learning and growing, so will our business.

April 30, 2006
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Doug Dwyer
Contributing Editor

Seniors will graduate from high schools, technical schools or colleges this month. At this point, many people throw their mortarboards in the air and say "I am finished studying and learning!" For those with that mentality, graduation actually is the beginning of the end. Although these people may have graduated from school, they have not graduated to the next level of growth in life or business.

How does this relate to you and your remodeling business? We experience the same stagnation when we get to the point when we think we have finally arrived and can go on autopilot. Most of the time when I have fallen into this trap, I didn't realize it until it was too late. The business suffered for lack of the influence of new knowledge, and we drifted away from some of the basics.

About five years ago, I was thinking about whether or not to attend an annual association meeting and educational event. "I have been in this business for almost 20 years," I thought to myself. "Will I hear anything new and will it be worth the time invested?" At the last minute, I decided to go.

Some of what was presented was new and exciting, while other sessions were covering the basics. Even the basic classes reminded me of things to reinforce and gave me time to think about areas that needed improvement. If the event had stopped there, it was still well worth the trip.

The thing that really caught my attention and gave me new inspiration to go to the next level, however, was meeting a guy who had tremendous results with his company. The sales it was achieving per location for a niche business were very impressive. It stopped me in my tracks, and I thought to myself, "Wow! If they can achieve that in their business, then in the kitchen and bath remodeling niche, we could double or triple that!"

We don't always know what we are going to learn at an event, but one thing is for sure: if you don't go, you'll never find out. The most successful people I know in business and life are continuously learning.

Besides being active in the remodeling industry, I am also heavily involved in the franchising industry. At the recent International Franchise Association convention, I was talking to the president and co-founder of Subway restaurants, Fred DeLuca, and I asked him why he continues to attend every year. He stated, "Simple. To see old friends and catch up on what's been going on."

It's not always pure educational sessions (although that's a huge part of it) that brings value to attendees and our businesses. Networking and finding one great contact can save years in the development of our next innovation. Making new friends to bounce ideas off of and to discuss the pros and cons with is an invaluable experience and makes events more enjoyable. Another benefit of attending industry conferences is the chance to prospect for your next hire by asking for referrals or finding someone who wants to make a change and would be a great match for your business.

Here is a list of different ways to be a student of business and life: read magazine articles and books; listen to educational CDs; attend local, regional or national association training or other specialized training events; network. For a quantum leap in your business and life, hire a coach or consultant, or find a mentor.

Make the investment of time, energy and money in continuous learning. As leaders, when any of us stops learning and growing, so will our business. The old saying is, we are either ripe and rooting or green and growing. The illusion is that there is a neutral spot.

As far as education is concerned, becoming a student of life and of business is the most valuable course to enroll in for ourselves, our families, our friends and our businesses. In addition to reading this magazine, what will you do this quarter to grow and learn?

Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at

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