I was about to board a flight with the CEO. It was near the start of the year and I was excited to talk about my performance as I wrapped up my first year with the company.
I thought I was doing an excellent job. Sure, I am young and have a lot to learn but I thought I was asking great questions and delivering work by my deadlines.
I thought that this would be my opportunity to talk with the CEO one-on-one and get a sense of how I was doing from his perspective.
It’s funny…whenever you have a big conversation coming up you psych yourself up and place a lot of doubt on yourself. You think of the million ways the conversation can go wrong and beat yourself up about it.
I had a lot of talking points I wanted to make when we were waiting for our flight.
But guess what, we barely talked about my performance.
And looking back I realized that the CEO has so many high level things on his radar that a new hire fresh out of college isn’t something he is going to lose sleep over.
I asked him how he thought I was working out and he said, you are doing “great” and we are happy to have you.
That was pretty much it.
Except for one thing that will stick with me for life.
I don’t remember the exact context of the conversation but he basically said, “you need to read more marketing and business books to get where you want to go in life and with this company.”
I wanted to argue.
I was fresh out of college, I had done plenty of reading, I was basically an expert…right?
Except after some thought, I couldn’t deny that he was 100% right.
For some reading is easy.
Not for me. I would grit my teeth and get through a book, but only if I had to.
I had bad habits when I first started reading. I would try and read at night but it would make me sleepy. I would try and read a book cover to cover by forcing myself to keep to a daily page count.
None of that worked for me, yet I wanted to succeed at my goal.
I took what my CEO said to heart and challenged myself.
My goal was to read a book a month for an entire year.
I am a month short of my goal and already have 14 books read.
Here is what I learned from reading 14 books in 12 months
Some of this may go against conventional wisdom and I hope it doesn’t offend hard core readers.
Read More Than One Book At A Time
I found that I would put off reading if I was going through a couple of boring chapters or having a tough time getting through a book.
Why should you feel like you have to read it cover to cover?
Instead, I would pick up another and get hooked.
When I came back to the previous book, sometimes it wasn’t as boring as I had learned more and could put more context around it or I was more focused on the message it was delivering.
Also, if you have a goal to read more, like I did, then having 2 books near completion really motivates you to keep going. You experience a bigger sense of accomplishment when you can check off two books within days of each other.
You Won’t Remember 75% Of What’s In The Book
It’s a sad truth really.
But I can only recall two or three major points from each book.
Granted, I can tell someone the general point of the book and can answer basic questions but it’s really hard to store all of that information.
However, a quick reread of a chapter will usually get what you need from the book.
Don’t get discouraged if you read and can’t remember much about it in 6 months. There are things that stuck and often you won’t discover those until you are put into a situation where you must recall your past experience.
It’s up in that brain of yours. Trust yourself it will deliver value when the time is right.
Use The Book As A Tool
I use to thinking writing in books was a sin.
That belief probably comes from my days in college. I would try and keep my books as clean as possible so I could sell them at the end of the term for top dollar.
I write in the margins, highlight sections, and dog ear important pages.
I do this so I can reference the book later. Especially some of the marketing and business books I have read.
If there is something insightful or an action item, I will usually highlight it so I can pull out the book during a conversation or while writing and quickly find what I am looking for.
I suggest you do the same.
You can always buy a clean copy of a book. But use a book as a tool and you will get the most value out of it.
Find Different Ways To Digest A Book
This might sound crazy to some people but I own hard copies of books and also have them in my Audible account.
I noticed that when I go to the gym I listen to music…but that is an hour of time I could spend listening to a book.
So I read when I am home in the mornings…and when I drive long distances or work out I take advantage of audio books.
This has a couple benefits, namely, I can get through books quicker and listening to an excellent reader is enjoyable (I recommend Jim Dale’s reading of Harry Potter as an example).
Reward Yourself With More Books
When I first started this goal I would buy a bunch of books thinking “I will read these someday”.
But guess what, I never picked them back up.
Sort of a waste of money if you ask me.
But after reading for six months I decided that I would be more selective with what I spent my time reading.
After all, most of the books I was reading were telling me to do just that, pick how you spend your time wisely because it is the one piece of currency you can’t make more of.
So now, when I get close to the end of a book I start to research my next purchase.
I read reviews, research the author, and look if it’s on some book lists that I respect.
When it’s time to buy the book I have a connection with the book already and it has a purpose. This helps me stay motivated to keep reading and ensures that I am reading what I want and not what has a pretty cover.
Take Reading Breaks
If reading becomes a chore, you are doing it wrong.
Sometimes I don’t feel like reading…so I don’t.
Again, it’s your time and it’s important you fill it with things you actually want to be doing.
If you rather write, or exercise, or just think…then do it.
Curious What Books I Have Read?
Here is a list of all the books I have read this year.
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Those Who Wish Me Dead Michael Koryta
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- Zero to One Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Happiness Of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
- The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
- Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff
- Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
- The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John C. Maxwell
I need your help with something…
Can you suggest a book based on what I have read? Drop me a comment with a book I need to read in 2017.