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On Investing in Oneself

One of the reasons people don’t invest in themselves is because they really don’t understand the enormous return on that investment.

I was fortunate enough to attend Harvard Business School for my executive education. The very first class I took was given by Professor Max Bazerman. Bazerman is one of the world’s foremost authorities on negotiation, and the biggest companies in the world call him when they need help because the stakes are high. I won’t share with you what Professor Bazerman did in that first class, but simply watching him go through one exercise has literally been worth millions of dollars to me.

It Costs Too Much

If you spend the money on an education without looking for—and applying—the million dollar lessons you will perceive education as being expensive.

But education is cheap. What is expensive is not investing in yourself, not finding the priceless ideas that you can apply over the course of your lifetime. What’s expensive is making unnecessary mistakes and losing opportunities because you weren’t educated to recognize either.

It Costs Too Little

A book costs almost nothing. Because it costs so little, you may not realize the value of the book.

The three Neil Rackham books I read in the late 1980’s have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to me and my companies over my lifetime. But only because I read the books and worked diligently to apply them to my work in sales and sales management. All told these books might have cost me $75.

The monetary cost of a book is next to nothing. Most people don’t recognize that the cost of the book doesn’t reflect the value of the contents. They don’t recognize it as an investment because it costs too little.

Getting a Return on Your Investment

The return on the investments you make in yourself is exponential. To realize that return you have to make the investments of time, energy, and money. Then you have to work to apply what you learned to your business and life. There is no greater investment you can make, and nothing produces a greater return.

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  • Jay Oza

    Investment does have a big cost that is even scarcer than money: time and energy.

    You write excellent posts. How many people take time to comment and add something to the discussion you are starting? You provide something that we can all use or or tweak it based on our knowledge and experience.

    It is work to really appreciate the blog posts you and others are writing. Thanks.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for the kind words, Jay. And thanks for adding your thoughts here. I almost always write questions at the end of a post to help people apply the idea to their lives and their work. But it’s always nice to get the engagement that comes from comments!

  • Marc Zazeela


    Interesting perspective, as usual.

    Knowledge without applications is ok. Knowledge that is applied becomes. invaluable.

    I have been accused of being a repository and wellspring of tons of useless factoids. True that.

    However, when it comes to personal and professional enrichment, I try to use the lessons I have learned. It makes the time and effort well worthwhile.


  • Ross McDaniel


    I agree 100%. In fact, I regularly read numerous blogs and books on a variety of topics relating to sales, social media, and business. However, I do have a question. How do you best determine which investment will yield the greatest return? Maximizing time and money is huge.