People say that nobody reads anymore.
Honestly, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Most CEOs and executives read 4-5 books per month. These are the leaders, the gamechangers, the ones that end up shaking the ground, rebuilding industries, providing jobs, and inventing some of our most beloved everyday products. If they're reading that much, then clearly there is still some value in picking up a book.
According to brain fitness expert and speed-reading coach, Jim Kwik, there is an art to reading--specifically reading fast. Kwik is an international speaker and brain coach to some of the biggest companies in the world, including Virgin, Nike, Zappos, and handfuls of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and leadership teams. Kwik is also the founder of Kwik Learning, an online platform that provides memory and speed-reading training for busy people who want to achieve more in a minimal amount of time.
How Kwik became "the brain coach" is an interesting story. He suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was 5 years old that made learning a challenge for his formative years. But, like most successful entrepreneurs, he turned that obstacle into a path to help others. Today, he speaks all over the world on the importance of brain training, and the many effects it can have on a person's life--everything from improving habits, to increasing rapid-fire memory recall, and more.
Kwik is also the host of a popular podcast called Kwik Brain, which is designed to teach listeners something actionable in a short amount of time, with the intention of improving brain fitness. In one of his recent episodes, he talked about how to read a book a week (that's 52 books per year).
"Do you know how many books the average person reads per year?" he said. "Literally two or three, for the entire year. And yet, the average CEO is reading four or five books per month. That's a drastic difference."
He went on to explain how he breaks down the habit of reading for people, so that it can be a more actionable process.
"I went to Amazon and looked at the medium average number of words per book, and it came out to about 64,000 words. So let's say the average person reads 200 words per minute. We're talking about 320 minutes to get through a book, which is about 45 minutes a day, to read a book per week. That makes it a little more realistic," he said.
He added that 45 minutes spent reading in a day is practically nothing. That's a lunch break, a little bit at night, maybe reading a bit on the train on the way to work, etc. And that's without any speed-reading techniques.
Also, audiobooks become an option when you don't have the ability to read, like when you're on-the-go, or on the stairmaster.
"I like to listen to audiobooks when I'm on the treadmill because it actually helps me absorb the material better. It's been proven that when you are releasing certain hormones when you're working out, you are actually able to learn faster. And then I just put the audiobook on 1.5x or 2x the speed, so I can move more quickly through the material," he said.
And if you really want to crank through book after book, you can utilize certain speed-reading techniques, one of which Kwik refers to as removing "sub-vocalization."
"Sub-vocalization is the act of saying the words to yourself as you read, in your head. This is what slows a lot of people down. Your reading speed is your talking speed, not your thinking speed. That's why you can listen to audiobooks at 1.5x or 2x speed because you can think faster than people could talk. So the problem is that when people go too slow, that's when their comprehension goes down. They lose focus," said Kwik.
Here's why speed-reading is such a crucial skill, and one worth mastering: if somebody has decades of experiences in marketing, for example, and they put all that info into a book, and you can sit down and get through the entire thing in a few days, you've just downloaded decades of insight in a very short amount of time. There's no greater advantage in the workplace than to be able to do that.