My Automobile University

image via DollarClub Photo
image via DollarClub Photo

In The Australian newspaper yesterday, there was an article by Andrew Trounson titled “Bite-sized qualifications ‘the way of the future’” Read Here . It was basically saying that in tomorrow’s world studying long university courses to attain qualifications will no longer be necessary. With a business world moving quickly through a technology driven future, qualifications will become “bite sized” with “just in time” delivery.

This is reinforced by another interesting fact that I was reminded of at TEDx Melbourne’s The Stuff of Dreams talks last week, where 2015 Young Victorian of the Year, Thomas King stated that 44% of jobs that exist today won’t exist in 20 years!

I believe audio books, as a self-education tool will be part of this new “bite sized” educational journey.

I live 70km North of Melbourne and I drive to work every day. I’d have it no other way as I love my farm, I love getting out of the city and living in country Victoria. Something magical happens when the city is whittled away to just a smattering of houses, eventually turning into gentle rolling hills. On average, my drive is about one hour fifteen minutes each way. That’s twelve and a half hours a week. Working forty seven weeks per year, that’s around five hundred and eighty seven hours a year in my car. If we divide that by say an eight hour working day, I spend about seventy working days a year behind the wheel of my car!

Most Australians think I’m mad to live that far from work but in the UK an hour’s travel to work is classed as relatively average. I have worked with many people that would travel over two hours each way to work every day. That’s a little excessive, even for me!

So what do I do in my car all that time? I was introduced to audio books back in 2004 when I first arrived in Australia by one of my Character Angels, Lars Hubbard. The first book I ever listened to was……. Harry Potter, and I loved it. It was read by Jim Dale and every nuance of every character was expressed perfectly. From that moment I fell in love with audio books. I explored other fictional stories and then tried some Autobiographies. The best audio books, in my opinion, are read by the authors themselves. Michael Caine reads his own autobiography, his life has been fascinating and he embellishes so much more in the way he reads the book.  His chuckles and the feelings he adds, give so much more to the words than just a random person reading them off the page.

I loved reading business books and decided to start listening to them as audio books. To be honest I have to say that some business books are terrible as audio books. If they include lots of statistics, they can be very difficult to follow, especially when driving a car. Others are just really tough to engage with as they are read by people, whom I’m sure are the voices on your GPS Sat Nav systems! They are so robotic you can’t help but switch off. Note to all audiobook editors, please use readers who at least have a pulse!!! However, I’ve found so many amazing and engaging books that I’ve learnt so much from, these form my Automobile University!

My job isn’t one where I need to learn and refresh my knowledge all the time, like say a computer programmer who’s always having to update their knowledge as technology progresses. However, my role as a leader is always a challenge. Understanding old tested methods, new thinking, radical ideas around engagement, leadership and testing the status quo to get the best results, is fascinating to me. I was never taught leadership passé. Like most of my peers, I come from a technical background within the construction industry, being promoted to management and leadership roles, mainly because of my technical ability whist showing an aptitude to deal with stressful situations. It’s rare to find true leadership training within companies. Although I have attended some good short courses and seminars most of my knowledge has come from being lucky enough to work with some truly amazing leaders and I have been mentored very well, but I am always looking to add to my skills and learn more.

So let’s look at some facts of listening to audio books:

  • It’s believed that if you listen to an audio book for 2 hours a day, within 3 years you will have learnt as much as a 2 year university degree.
  • However you only absorb 15% of the facts you hear from listening to audio books, compared to visual recall which fairs a little better with average of around 33% of the facts you see being stored.

Therefore, there are a number of techniques I’ve learnt, (from an audio book), when listening that can increase the percentage of retained information. These techniques get you to repeat the words of the books whilst listening so that your mind stays engaged and doesn’t wander. Another is to take breaks and re-affirm what you’ve just learnt. I’m also a massive fan of using the bookmark button within some apps so that you tag certain parts within the books and go back to them to re-listen at another time. In fact I will often go back and re-listen to an audio book several times.

Books in general provide us with so much valuable knowledge and I’d need an entire set of books to list what I have learnt from my automobile university, but some of my favourite facts are:

  • What the 3 most powerful words in the world are, with the number 1 guaranteed to be the same word for every person on the planet – Craig Beck
  • That people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it – Simon Sinek
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started – Arnold Palmer.
  • Ability is what you’re capable of doing, motivation determines what you do and attitude determines how well you do it – Lou Holts.

All of the books that I have listened to have taught me something new.  There is such a wealth of knowledge out there that I suggest if you are travelling on the train, tram, bus, plane or car, exploit your time and start your automobile university and develop your knowledge.

I am often asked for recommendations and for the topic of leadership, my top 5 books to listen to are:

  • The New Science of Persuasion and Influence by Craig Beck. (More Here)
  • Start with Why by Simon Sinek. (More Here)
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin. (More Here)
  • Mentored by the King – Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business and Life by Brad Brewer. (More Here)
  • Third Circle Theory by Pejman Ghadimi. (More Here)

Oh and the 2nd and 3rd most powerful words are “But” and “Because”. To find out why, and what the No.1 word is, listen to The New Science of Persuasion and Influence by Craig Beck, it is both brilliant and fascinating.

Happy listening.

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