If there's a craving among readers, it's to know about the best books that successful CEOs have read, and which are the most recommended books that will undoubtedly help new entrepreneurs, and which are the best business books to guide your company from grassroots to blue sky.
You get the idea.
I don't read every single one of the recommended books, of course, but I do set a goal of reading more than my fair share of them. For the last two years that has meant 75 books a year, which is actually a modest goal in relation to a social entrepreneur like Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who's on record as reading almost three times that many books, or 200 a year.
I'm not there, and am unlikely to get there anytime soon. Nonetheless, I would describe my appetite for reading as voracious, partly out of relentless curiosity and partly out of wanting to better my own craft of writing.
The interesting pattern that's developed, when I look back over the titles of those 40 books, is the high proportion of books I've read that are in service to imagination and freeing my ways of thinking, more so than to overt business or operational practices.
Why Imagination Matters to Entrepreneurs
Some of the titles on the list are, naturally, books about business and entrepreneurship. But just as many books on the list are fiction, because I'm a sucker for a good story and, by the way, good storytelling about your business is a differentiator between you and your competitors. The creativity of fiction keeps a narrative juicy and, because of that, fiction has all but assured outside-the-box thinking on behalf of my business. That has been, undoubtedly, the first benefit of an insane reading goal.
The Most Influential Books I've Read for Women Entrepreneurs
During an interview last week by a writer for #Bossbabe, a website and online community for women business builders, I was asked which books most influenced me as an entrepreneur. The two books that came immediately to mind are also, not coincidentally, the two books that I give away most often, particularly to other entrepreneurs and other women: Playing Big by Tara Mohr, and You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. Why these two books?
They get to the heart of what holds us back. They call those things out. They name them, and bring them front and center. And then they explore how to effectively deal with those things so that we can overcome them. Not easily, for sure, but with courage, resolve, and ferocity. Finding kernels like that, that keep motivating you, heartily, over time? It's another benefit of a pretty insane reading goal.
The Time-Management Secret of an Insane Reading Goal
Who has time to read 40 books in six months?
You do. I promise.
Look, I can relate to the "I have no time for this" argument. I'm an entrepreneur, managing clients as diverse and demanding as Bollinger Champagne and Marchesi Frescobaldi. I'm also a writer, with substantial many-times-monthly commitments to Inc and Forbes and my own company's content (in the form of weekly Enolytics 101 posts) that's at the heart of our outbound marketing. I'm a wife, and mother to pre-teen twin boys. And I'm committed to a robust practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
So when exactly does all this reading happen?
There's a two-part answer to that question. The first part of the answer is "found moments." Each of us is given 168 hours in the week, every single week. One hundred and sixty-eight! Can we really not find 30 minutes here, and two hours there, to enrich our experience through books? I bet you can and yes, you may need to give up something else in exchange. Try reading instead of scrolling social media, for example, which is one of the world's greatest (and most devastating) time sinks. Try designating a daily hour-long "reading break" with your kids, and set all electronics aside, including your own. And try getting up earlier, and dedicating that time to read.
The second part of the answer to when exactly all this reading happens is a little bit of a cheat, because I also count audio books as reading. Just under 50 percent of the books I've "read" so far this year are actually audiobooks. This includes fictional mysteries by Louise Penny during road trips, and Work It by Carrie Kerpen while walking the dog and The 5-Second Rule by Mel Robbins while driving between one errand and another. You'd be amazed at how much ground you can cover during these "found moments" of space to listen.
That's also the third benefit of an insane reading goal, by the way, and it's two-fold: found moments, and space to listen.