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This Is Your Single Best Investment for 2016

This Is Your Single Best Investment for 2016

Josh Linkner is on a mission to make the world more creative. Named the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “President Barack Obama Champion of Change” award recipient, Linkner both inspires and entertains: in speeches and workshops alike, he provides powerful and practical techniques to jumpstart creativity, getting people thinking out of the box in business and at home. In this column for Inc.,  Josh writes on the importance of allocating some resources to your personal and professional development in 2016:

As the New Year approaches, many organizations and individuals are deep in planning mode. Where will you make your bets to drive the best possible outcomes? What investments will hit pay dirt in the coming months and years?

Of course, there is great debate on which investments are ideal. TV pundits scream stock tips into the camera, while your sister-in-law tells you about a real estate deal that “can’t miss.” Commodities, precious metals, art, start-ups, mutual funds and foreign stocks are being discussed at the dinner table while new factory equipment, headcount expansion, marketing campaigns, and R&D are the talk of the boardroom.

As our heads spin with limitless – and sometimes conflicting – options, let’s turn to the most prolific investor of our time:

“Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Nobody can tax it or take it away from you … if you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return tenfold.”
– Warren Buffett

Stocks can go up or down, deals can collapse. But investments in your own growth and development are the surest bet around. The cost of a book, course, seminar, personal coach, or workshop is dwarfed by the insight and knowledge it can generate. Your ability to discover new ideas, close that important deal, win new investment, get promoted, or help your community is directly linked to your ability to learn and grow.

Surprisingly, most people don’t invest in themselves. According to a study by the Jenkins Group, 42% of college graduates never read another book after graduation. Eighty percent of U.S. families did not read a book last year, while 57% of new books are not read to completion. Whether you prefer books, TED talks, live workshops, or YouTube clips, investing in yourself can quickly deliver the edge you seek.

The same is true in the business world. According to a 2011 study by CEB, “Companies that invest in leadership development have outperformed others by 15 times over the last 60 years.” Businesses invest countless resources in technology, facilities, and compliance, yet the most powerful investment of all – investing to elevate team performance – is often underfunded or cut altogether. Ironically, companies that prioritize leadership development can enjoy enormous boosts in both revenue and productivity.

As you look ahead to the New Year, think about allocating some resources (time, money, energy) to personal and professional development. The format matters less than the focus, so choose whatever works best for you. Read. Explore. Watch. Learn. Grow. Evolve. Change. Adapt. Innovate. Expand. Investing in yourself and your team will fuel performance, and help make 2016 your best year yet.

Josh Linkner/Inc/December, 2015