A recent client told me that one of the key reasons he chose my company to change his business model and become marketing-led is because I was so well-read. Really?
So not the 33 years’ experience launching over 557 brands; not the fact that we use a proven methodology; not that we offer disruptive thinking; not that we were great value but because I read business books.
So why for him was this so important?
Well, I read business books all the time, in fact, I never read any other genre of book. There is simply not the time.
A book offers so much.
When written well, a book represents the purest form of considered thinking, something that distinguishes human endeavour from all other living things. It is a product of someone who has dedicated themselves to understanding one particular aspect of the way we do things, providing an experience based on a far deeper evaluation, interpretation and explanation of a subject than I could ever achieve myself.
By reading their book I have just added their life’s work to my own.
The internet fuelled digital knowledge economy has created a cacophony of information noise that requires a PhD to decipher and make useful, yet an author will have done exactly just that for you and come to a point of view that in their experience is worth writing about.
Now writing a book is not easy, I have done it myself. It requires dedication that is hard to come by in a modern world, a world that is constantly changing. To step off the change escalator and capture a viewpoint in a way that makes sense after you get back on the escalator, relies on the highest level of commitment to the ideas you are trying to convey in your book.
If the outcome is worthy of being published then it is worthy of reading.
By focusing on business books, I am able to rapidly bring others work to life and even blend it into my own.
It accelerates your wisdom, getting you to the infamous ‘10,000 hours’ when you supposedly become an expert by adding in the hours that the authors have put in themselves.
My client knew this.
They understood that I was a filter for the best human thinking available, a human google for business. Highly optimised by my experience combined with that of many others.
So how then should one approach reading a business book?
Well, the first thing is to get your intent right. In the same way a degree course is approached, you need to be clear in your objectives. Reading for the sake of reading as you would do with fiction does not apply to non-fiction. If you are not open to the meaning in a business book, you might not get from it what you need.
Start with an intent to learn about an aspect of your business that you know will improve your chances of success. For example, do you want to improve your approach to systems and processes, operations, finance, marketing, sales, leadership or staff motivation?
By setting the agenda in this way, you can then look for the books that people recommend or are popular.
This focus means you are more likely to complete the book and change your thinking as a result. You may even implement some of the ideas in the book and make your business better. Reading at random will simply lead to overwhelm, confusion and prevent you from improving yourself.
And indeed, reading any kind of non-fiction book is about personal development.
Reading synthesises ideas and approaches at a deeper level than just watching a TEDx talk or a documentary or listening on Audible. You can affect your own personal understanding as you absorb the written word alongside the knowledge and experience you have already gleaned from your life.
I have a library of over 1000 business books and I’ve started them all.
Finishing them is another matter.
Writing, like most things, requires expertise and often within the first few chapters you can tell if there is real expertise there or a repackaging of desk research or a viewpoint that the author might well think is unique but is so only to them as they regurgitate the same old, same old.
If an author is going to ask for human lifetimes to be consumed reading their thoughts, they ought to work hard and find a good way to convey their message or better still be original.
When a book is original that is amazing. In truth few are, so it becomes the way an idea is conveyed that determines the success of the writing. In a few pages, you’ll soon know if the book is aligned with your style, pace and desire to complete it.
If it isn’t just put it down.
If you are smart, you’ll know who to give it to next. Alternatively, you can sell it on eBay or via the likes of Ziffit or give it to your local charity shop; unless you are like me and you just stick it on the shelf as a reminder of what’s good and what’s not.
And once you’ve found a good book tell everyone about it.
That way you can create a community of like-minded people with a similar understanding of where you are coming from.
It is no coincidence that those I work with best are the best informed and are also avid business book readers.
P.S. If you would like a copy of my list of books that influenced me most, drop me a message and I’ll get it to you.