Want to Be More Successful? Learn More Vocabulary! : Under30CEO Want to Be More Successful? Learn More Vocabulary! : Under30CEO
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Want to Be More Successful? Learn More Vocabulary!

| September 28, 2010 | 8 Comments

In life, as in the law, ignorance is not a valid defense. This means a person’s lack of knowledge, or vocabulary, for whatever reason is no excuse in both the eyes of the legal system and also, I hope, in your eyes as to whether you achieve your goals. The only option is self-education.

By education I am not talking about traditional academic intelligence we are taught in high school and most tertiary institutions. The most powerful self-education is an abstract movement away from the traditional. A simple example recently was when looking at places to put my savings, admittedly I do not have tens of thousands but it is enough for the interest to be of some value. My first step was to learn the language of the banks, learn the difference between a ‘term deposit’ and a ‘savings account’ and as the banks currently have ‘Introductory Bonus’ learn what that means and how I can best take advantage of it.

When I was in primary school our class had the Commonwealth Bank come along each fortnight and we would put $2 away each and every fortnight.  This is a brilliant practice to help develop the habit of saving, but I soon discovered that a ‘Commonwealth Dollarmite’ account paid little to no interest. So in search of a better interest rate for my savings I found that I could get an extra couple of hundred dollars each year if I moved my money into a different account with another banking institution. What’s important is had I chose to simply follow the advice from others to stay with that bank I would have missed out a few hundred dollars, all for about 30mins of searching on the internet.

Now we can take this principal beyond the simple examples and apply it towards our professional intelligence. A study done by Stanford University examined the understanding and extent of vocabulary in relation to the level of position within a business organization and found that without fail every single increase in organizational standing, on average, was equated to an increased control of vocabulary. In other words, as a person increases their control of vocabulary they increase their position, be that from the cleaner all the way up to the CEO.

The study then concluded that by increasing their vocabulary workers would be able to advance their careers at an exponential rate surpassing their superiors who did not have as strong an understanding of the English language. This also means that should you be writing a report or essay the more range in your vocabulary the higher the response will be from teachers or superiors.

We can apply the lessons of the study in our lives by learning the vocabulary of an area you are working on in your life. If you are still at school or some form of tertiary studies I challenge you to learn 5 new words exclusive used within that subject or industry you are trying to crack into. Then next week learn another 5, and then another 5, and watch as your understanding of that subject matter grows exponentially. It’s then a matter of application of your new found knowledge that will propel you to heights of achievement you maybe thought weren’t possible.

Scott Cowley is an 18 year old entrepreneur, writer and student currently writing a book about the opportunities available for Gen Y.

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  • Anonymous

    Very good piece! I think the key here is command of vocabulary. Many people try to use larger, more complex, or more specific words which they don’t have a good grasp on. Often times they misuse these words and end up looking worse that they would have if they used simpler language. You are right on spot with what really learning vocabulary does, especially in specific language, you learn a lot more than what a word means, simply by knowing what it means… if you get what I mean!

    Anyway, great job and very true!

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  • http://twitter.com/ZackShapiro Zack Shapiro

    Great idea. The trick to vocabulary is to use it wisely, not to intimidate or impress. If you do that, you come off as pretentious. If you use your intelligent speech strategically, you can really open doors and blow people away.

    My latest blog: The Startup Student – Stop avoiding mistakes

    I’d love your thoughts on it.


  • http://www.cyberdera.com/ CyberDera

    very interesting and true .. the more technical jargon u know and understand .. the more learned u are taken as

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I think having a complex vocabulary is great–but people need to realize their audience and how you are perceived. If you are just throwing big words around to try to sound intelligent people will see through it and possibly even think you are trying to speak “above them”. (We all know someone who tries way too hard to sound smart)

    Writing is another story–if you are trying to write for the NYT you are going to need a whole lot stronger vocabulary than if you are writing for USA Today or some crappy blog. The words you use in your writing really defines the strength of your message.

  • S Cowley

    I completely agree Matt. You need to tailor your use of language to the audience. There is no point using words your audience will not understand but if the audience is of a higher level of course use more complex language as a point can be more efficiently delivered.
    I am trying to convey the message that to progress up the leadership chain, let’s say from some ‘crappy blog’ to the NYT, people need to learn a more influential control of the English language.

  • Maria Joyner

    Great article! Silly question…any good internet resources to find “new vocabulary” or “a word a day”?

  • Kstolla

    Dictionary.com has a new word everyday and you can sign up for their word a day that they send to your e-mail. It also has flash cards and quizes for new vocabulary.