My co-founder, Casey, wrote a great blog post about why listening to the experts in your industry may not be the best idea. So the next obvious question is, who should you listen to? Listening and learning from someone, anyone, is a great way to jump ahead without having to make every mistake yourself. In fact, it would take a lifetime to learn everything these experts know on your own. The obvious choices would be mentors, friends, fellow employees, etc. Not to mention, listening to an expert in your field isn’t the worst thing ever, every once in a while. But I would suggest there is an alternative which trumps all those a thousand fold.
Listen to experts in every field but your own. And I mean every field. This includes other types of businesses such as a 100+ year old company, or a company which produces a physical product (if you don’t). Or how about that new cutting edge genetics company? Read some medical blogs, marriage counseling blogs (doesn’t matter if you’re married), architect blogs. Read about the arts, space travel, psychology, traveling, a zen lifestyle, etc. The list is really endless. And don’t just find a random medical company or a random traveling blog, find the best blog, the best company. Find the most cutting edge, or the most respected, find the leader in that industry. Then listen, learn and copy them.
Bring what they do best into your company and your industry. Learn how to adapt their practices to your goals. While everybody in your industry is out copying the leader, always one step behind, you’re bringing in something new. You can leapfrog the current trends, build your own path, while still following tried and true methods. You’ll be amazed at how the owner of the leading local coffee shop is already doing all of these supposedly new ways to run a company, preached by your industry. Or how that old geezer running that supposedly outdated company has more insight and understanding of your business than you’ll have for years.
Bottom line, there are a lot of really smart people out there. Don’t constrain yourself to one small industry. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from the leaders in completely unrelated fields.