There we were. At the bottom of a textured staircase that led to two doors. One was Amy’s classroom. The other was Jordan’s. And, one by one, they pushed the silver handle, opened the orange door — the one we opened every morning for our fourth and fifth grade students — and walked in. Some came in couples, and some came alone. Some were there amazingly early and just sat quietly. A few trickled in late, and noisily. That always made us laugh. The apple really does never fall too far from the tree. And, in our early twenties, we both stood at the front of next-door classrooms, with walls so thin that we could hear each other’s echo. In front of us? Parents. Professionals. Well-established community members. The surgeon at the Mayo Clinic just down the street. The high-powered corporate attorney who flew in for the night. Speaking of flying, there were pilots there, too. More than a few. Entrepreneurs. Nurses. Investors. The one thing they had in common? They all had a child in our class.

We both took deep, deep breaths, welcomed them to parent night and introduced ourselves as Mr. and Mrs. Demos, the fourth and fifth grade teachers, and proceeded to outline our philosophies, curriculum, rules, expectations, and goals to a group of people twice our age with, in many cases, twice the education and life experience.

And do you know when we got the strongest reaction from them? Do you know when they went from nodding their heads politely to picking them up with their eyes lit up? When we said this:

Above everything else, we want your children to leave this room at the end of the year as lifelong learners, we want them to LOVE to learn, because that’s more important that anything else they’ll learn this year. 

we want them to LOVE to learn

It’s something we believe in with all our hearts. So it’s interesting, right? That an established and accomplished group of people would care more about that idea than the textbooks we’d use or the projects we’d assign. That’s what they reacted to. To be honest, ever since we graduated from college, it’s something we’ve been passionate about, because it would’ve been so easy to stop learning once our formal education ended; but, we had great examples in our life of parents and grandparents who never stopped learning. Amy’s mom is always reading a new biography or learning the latest about healthy eating and living;
her dad is acquiring new skill sets all the time, everything from playing chess to investing strategies; and Jordan’s parents are both attending all kinds of conferences and retreats to learn more about how to help people in their marriages and with their faith. Dave Ramsey always says, “If you wanna be rich, do rich people stuff!” We love that quote. It’s so simple yet so hard to do, because “doing rich people stuff” requires discipline. And rich doesn’t mean just financial wealth to us. It means rich experiences. It’s rich friendships and memories, food and wine, travel and education. It represents fullness to us, a deepness to us that’s fulfilling.

In some ways, since college, we’ve really taken the idea of being a lifelong learner to an extreme by learning a brand new vocation, photography, and running a small business. On the day-to-day, we’ve committed to this idea by:

1. Reading business books every single day.

2. Leading a small group at our church where we dive deeper in the Bible each week.

3. Taking trips together and vowing to explore cities and cultures and ask questions instead of just sitting in our hotel room.

Most recently, we’ve decided to make our lunch break a learning experience, too. Every day — or most days, at least — we eat lunch together at our kitchen table. A lot of the time, since we’re already together all day and talk back and forth a lot, we like to eat and just sit and be. So, we pull our laptop up — with William Wallace laying behind it — and watch a TED talk.

TED talks are less than 20-minute educational or inspirational lectures given by some of the smartest and most fascinating people in the world. TED’s motto is “Ideas worth spreading.” Tons and tons of people want to give TED talks every year, but only a select few are chosen. They upload a new talk every weekday, so there’s always plenty to choose from. We really believe that even though none of the talks directly relate to photography or business, they’re so valuable because:

1. they stimulate areas of our brain that never get exercised (like P90X for the cerebrum);

2. they help teach us about new things that we can relate back to our personal life and our business

3. they’re entertaining and empower us with knowledge on all sorts of interesting topics

We’ve read that some of the most successful people on the planet had many different interests in their life. Think Benjamin Franklin for example, who was an inventor and a statesmen. Or Thomas Jefferson, who was an architect and wrote the Declaration of Independence. Oh, yeah, he was a president, too! There are countless of examples of people just like them, though, who by exposing their brains to all different types of topics and subjects, actually were better at the other ones.

So, friends, we want to encourage you today to exercise your brain with us for 20 minutes every day this week by watching some TED talks. The average person has an attention span these days of about 17 minutes, so even if you have a hard time watching a 2-hour documentary or listening to an hourlong podcast, this is for YOU!

We’ve linked a few of the recent ones we’ve watched with a quick description to get you started!

1. The Unheard Story of David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
This is Jordan’s favorite business author and his retelling of this classic Bible story will have you in agreement that David was never the underdog from the start. He was the runaway favorite, like most people we think are underdogs.

2. The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor
This guy’s really funny, so for anyone who’s got siblings, this one’s for you! Also, he shows us how to train our brains to be happier, because, as he explains, only a small percentage of our happiness is based on circumstances. It’s mostly based on attitude.

3. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
This one is a classic, and a must-see for any business owner. Simon Sinek explains the principal behind every successful business. It’s the idea that we’ve built our own business on, and something worth watching again if you haven’t heard it in a while.

Sharpening Our Minds

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If you liked this post, you might also like How to Grow Your Business in 15 Minutes Per Day or Work Less, Play More.

Alisa

2 comments
filed in: Education

    Kelli

    I've been reading through the resources, blogs, and videos that the two of you have been sending out (then getting lost in blog posts on your site) and it's great stuff. As a college student with loan payments looming in just a few months, I really appreciate that ya'll are making other resources available outside of your online program. It's really a testament to your passion for teaching. By not pay-walling your tips or constantly spamming your email list with "try our system" reminders, it shows you two really do want to help people - even if they can't afford to take your classes. Thanks Jordan and Amy!

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw! You're the sweetest! Thanks so much, Kelli!! We love seeing people succeed! We're cheering for you! :)