Sarah Remsburg, Learning and Organization Development Coach for Farmers Insurance
When asked how best to prepare for an investment career, Warren Buffett pointed to a pile of journals and books and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day." Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year; Mark Cuban reads more than three hours almost every day.
Reading is one of the cheapest, easiest and most powerful tools for business success - that's why it figures so prominently in the lives of the super-successful. Research of self-made millionaires show that 88 percent of them read at least 30 minutes every day for self-education.
So why aren't you reading more? Let's take a look at some of the reasons some give to justify not reading enough.
I don't have the time.
This is the biggest hurdle to get over when it comes to reading. But consider this: reading can actually help you save time because you won't have to learn every lesson the hard way. The ability to gain insights from the best and brightest can help you avoid any number of costly, time-wasting mistakes. Keep in mind, as well, that reading can be done in short bursts. While waiting for a flight, between meetings or on the train home, nothing stops you from taking out your phone to read.
My life isn't set up to read a book.
Then expand your definition of reading so it's less about what's between two covers and more about consuming ideas. There are countless ways to do this, thanks to technology. Online newsletters and quality news aggregators can keep you current on world events and industry developments. There are apps that let you save long reads for later, giving you offline access to content. You can download and print out short books, PDFs, reports and white papers. And don't forget to explore the amazing podcasts, audio books, TED Talks, and my personal favorite, the HBR IdeaCast - all you need are earbuds and a device to gain access to incredible ideas.
I don't feel like I'm retaining it all.
Instead of trying to lock material in your memory, reframe reading as a chance to hang out with really smart people. In whatever format you prefer, a book lets you spend a few hours, say, with a prominent or accomplished person and learn from their experiences. Just as you wouldn't expect to recall every word from a dinner conversation, don't feel like a failure if you can't remember every principle or concept in a book. Just try to come out of each reading with at least one key thought or question that's applicable to you or your business.
I don't know what to read.
Continuing with the image of a dinner party, pick your guests with an eye for both quality and diversity of thought. Successful entrepreneurs generally didn't read novels, tabloids or entertainment magazines - and, by the way, 67 percent of them watch only an hour or less of television a day. One study shows that instead, they read books that help them learn and grow, such as career-related books, how-to's, histories, biographies of successful people and self-help books. Try browsing through those sections in either a bookstore or online, and select the books that appeal to you.
I'm just not into this book.
As important as it is to pick up a book, you also need to know when to put it down. If you aren't liking the book after three chapters, it's probably time to set it aside for now and choose one that truly sparks your interest. Usually, this happens when we base our reading selections on what we think we 'should' read and not on what we are actually interested in.You're not duty-bound to finish every book. When there are so many superb knowledge sources available to engage and educate, why waste time with one that leaves you cold?
With your busy life, too many obstacles may seem to stand in the way of cracking open a book, and your first answer to whether you'll start reading consistently may be an honest "no."
But when it comes to building the success of your business, haven't you already found plenty of ways around any "no"? Daily reading has proved to be one of the most valuable ways to nurture essential entrepreneurial skills.