A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
~ Will Rogers
The other day I was talking with my mom – who owns a delivery service – and she asked, “Dan, you know a bit about business, what can I do to grow?” (You may find this funny, but I’ve never talked business with my mom.)
That’s when I realized I had one chance to share with her something that, if it stuck, could help her improve her situation… so I thought about it for a few minutes, then asked, “How many business books have you read?” to which she replied, “None.”
That’s when I suggested to her,”Your business will grow the same percentage as you invest into learning about business. If you invest 1%, your business will grow 1%. If you invest 50%, then your business will grow 50%. It’s really that simple.”
When you think about it,
Books are the most powerful weapon every entrepreneur has to fight the war of failure.
If you look at the top Billionaires, it appears that there are not many commonalities amongst them, but they are ALL voracious readers.
Take Warren Buffet for that matter… did you know that by the time he was 12 years old, that he had already read every business and investing book in the Omaha library?
I only started reading when I was 23 years old – AFTER FAILING TWICE in business. Books changed my life. I now read and consume advice almost 50% of my day.
Here are my thoughts on finding the right books to read, the time to read them and what to do with what you learn:
Just In Time vs. Just In Case Reading
One of the worst questions you can ask me is, “What book should I read?” It lacks context. I don’t believe you should read a book just because I liked it. Instead, read about what you need to learn right now and what will help you the most. I call it “Just In Time” (JIT) Learning. This is also why I’m such a fan of talking to experts – it’s another form of JIT Learning.
Many people read using the “Just In Case” version. This means they read because it’s “supposed” to be good but don’t have anything specific to apply it to, which can be inefficient and a waste of their valuable time. That’s the same thing that frustrates me about education. The best time to learn something is as you need it.
Finding The Time To Read
“Go to bed a little wiser than when you woke up.”
~ Charlie Munger (Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway)
The person who can’t find time to read is the person who needs to read the most. No one should be in a position that they honestly can’t find the time or energy to read 30 minutes a day. That being said, here are some ways I find time to continue reading:
In The Bathroom: Everyone uses the bathroom – everyday – so why not use that “sacred time” to get a little reading done? Leave a book near the toilet and you will be surprised at how much reading you get accomplished! No excuses.
During The Commute: I’m fortunate that I share my life with someone who values learning as much as I do… so when we take family vacations, we’re always listening to an audiobook. If you’re in a car, you should be “reading” a book.
At The Gym: Another way to read, is to listen. I use Audible.com and buy the latest books and listen to them while I run or bike at the gym. I can’t, however, listen to them while I do weights as I need my music to get me pumped up.
Vacation: I buy books every week and just stack them up for when I go away for a few days. Then I sit in the pool and read. Yep, I prefer to sit in the pool, at the edge and read.
Get Out Of The Battle And Fight The War
Once you decide to read and learn, then you have a decision to make… what do you do with the information? One habit I’ve created over the years is that I ALWAYS implement at least one thing I’ve learned from reading a book. It could be something as trivial as changing my email signature, or as extreme as restructuring my whole organization. Regardless, I always take one idea and implement it. I’m fighting a war.
Without some kind of commitment to doing something with what you’ve learned, then you’ll only be in the battle without understanding the war. The war is the goal, the purpose, the outcome. What do you want from your life? Once you know that, then just read the best information to support this. Go deep. Go all in.
We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.
~B. F. Skinner
Regardless of what your economical situation is or where you live, we all have access to books. Reading can and will change your life. If you’re feeling down, read an inspiring biography. If you’re feeling confused, read a self-help book or a “how to” book to gain insights and strategies.
The one thing no one can take from you is your knowledge. Invest in it, as the ROI is exponential.
What book changed your life? How often do you read? Leave a comment below with your suggestions.
17 Startup Books by Hiten Shah