The Untrammeled Power of General Knowledge

One of the magic keys to any successful career is knowledge. Knowledge about your industry is a given. I mean general knowledge. An idea of what is happening in the world.

No matter who you are or what you do, you have to keep up with what is going on around you in the world if you want to be successful. That means not only keeping up with world affairs, politics and finance but also know what's going on in pop culture, who's on the cover of People Magazine and why. Watch the news, read a newspaper, skim the headlines, pick up a magazine…or two or three. Opportunities will grow right before your very eyes.

With that said, I asked executives, managers and instructors from across the country what knowledge means to their organization:

"Our company strives to keep its people up to date on late breaking information on space industry, politics, and finance to feed their needs and desires to be active citizens. The payback is a highly articulate set of highly successful employees who have great impact on the local community, on the company, and on their industry." Frank Hughes, VP, Tietronix Software 

“I think it goes without saying that in advertising staying connected is really key. Now, not only do we have to keep up with creative and pop culture trends, we also have to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media. I try to stay connected as possible during the workday, without getting distracted from the tasks at hand “For me, it's www.nytimes.com and AOL news at all times.” Marc Pascucci, Account Executive, The Ad Store, New York

“I include a five-minute update: ‘This Day in Business History’ during every class period in my undergraduate business classes at the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State University. I believe it's very important for students to have this broader perspective on business as they apply the concepts they are learning to their own contemporary experiences.” Donald J. Minnick, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Department of Management, McCoy College of Business Administration, Texas State University

“Being aware of the conditions shaping our personal and professional environment becomes more of an imperative than an option in any business.” Steve Young, Senior Director of Consulting, Dial Global Radio Networks

Now, take a political campaign for instance. Over the weekend, the GOP unleashed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on pop culture phenomenon Saturday Night Live. Just a few years ago, a presidential candidate or vice presidential candidate would never have considered being on Saturday Night Live. It wasn’t, well, very presidential. Now we live in a world, specifically a country, where the lead story on any given night isn't world affairs but Brittney Spears’ breakdown or Madonna’s divorce.

Whether you prefer elephants or donkeys, Sarah Palin's participation in and appearance on Saturday Night Live was a brilliant move - on behalf of a political campaign and a comedy show. Both had numbers that went up - McCain's polls and SNL's ratings - after the appearance.  Again, I'm not supporting a political campaign.  I am supporting knowing what is going on in the world around you and taking advantage of the opportunities that arise.

TechEvents’ Larry Heimendinger sums it up best, “Knowledge is always powerful. Its power is most obvious when you unexpectedly get to use it.”

Dayna Steele is a speaker, entrepreneur and the author of Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars. She can be reached at dayna@daynasteele.com or through her website at www.daynasteele.com.

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1 Comments

  • Justin Bodiya

    Poignant reflection on an often-ignored personal asset. Contributions from an individual with such knowledge tend to be considerate, balanced, and thorough. It takes a like-minded manager to recognize this unique worldview and put it to good use.