“We think we learn from teachers, and we sometimes do. But the teachers are not always to be found in school or in great laboratories. Sometimes what we learn depends upon our own powers of insight.” – Loren Eisely (The Star Thrower, 1978

The other day, RW said to me, “You know, I never fail to learn something new when I get out of the office and talk to people in different businesses.”

He suggested a roundtable of CEOs — bringing together eight or 10 entrepreneurs from different but connected businesses to talk about what they do and how they are successful and to swap ideas about making money.

It’s a very good thought — one I recommend to you.

You’ve had the experience: You are at a trade show or seminar, away from the frenzy of the office, and someone says something. It’s often a random comment that’s unconnected to your business — but it gives you a great new idea.

We’ve said before that it’s not the brand-new ideas that make your business work as much as old ideas adapted to fit new needs. The trick to discovering them is to:

1. Get out of the office and into some generalized business environment several times a year. (It’s usually harder than it sounds.)

2. Seek out and question successful colleagues, competitors, and others — even if you don’t especially like them.

3. Be attentive to what they say. Sometimes, what seems like an innocuous comment can trigger a great idea if you listen hard — and think while you listen.

Action Plan: Start the ball rolling today. If you like the idea of an industry roundtable composed of related but unlike businesses, start with a list of possible attendees. Tomorrow, write a letter explaining the concept. The next day, send it to the names on your list. Suggest that if they like the idea, they too might make suggestions. Keep it on your task list. Get it done in the next six months.

If you don’t like that idea or can’t do it, the next-best thing would be to sign up for a trade show.

Today is Action Tuesday — so do it!

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