How to Make Reading Part of Your Culture
We take reading very seriously at Boomer Consulting, and everyone on the team is encouraged to read at least one business book a month. It’s part of our culture.
We’re far from the only professionals who believe that reading is essential. Warren Buffet was once asked about the key to success. He pointed to a nearby stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” It’s rumored that he read somewhere between 600 and 1,000 pages per day when he started his investing career and even today spends about 80% of his day reading.
Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, most of it nonfiction about how the world works – things like how buildings are built, how children succeed and how diseases are eradicated. He says that although he gets to visit a lot of interesting people and meet with some of the world’s top scientists, “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”
How I make time for reading
Inevitably, when we talk about the books we’re reading, someone will say, “I’d love to read that much, but I just don’t have the time!”
As busy professionals, we know how challenging it can be to carve out the time. But here’s a little secret: I don’t sit down and read every book from cover to cover. In fact, I read some of those books in just 15 minutes. No, I’m not a speed reader. I take advantage of technology. Here are some of my favorites.
Have you ever tried to read a business book that you know has useful information, but it’s just a little . . . dull? Life is too short to read books that bore you, so use Blinkist instead.
You may remember CliffsNotes or SparkNotes from your high school and college days. They are study guides that boil huge works of literature into easily digestible information. Blinkist does that for nonfiction books, and they have more than 2,000 titles covering management, leadership, communication and social skills, entrepreneurship, psychology, economics, finance and investing, marketing and more.
Each book is distilled into a summary of key insights that you can either read or listen to in 15 minutes. You can use Blinkist to replace reading a dull book, or use their summaries to deepen your understanding of a great book you’ve already read.
I spend a lot of time in my car, so listening to audiobooks is a great way to get in some “reading” time while I’m on the road.
With audible, I can listen to audiobooks on my phone, from my computer or another device. So I can listen wherever I am: in the car, at the gym, or at home while I’m doing dishes. It makes doing routine tasks less boring.
Both Blinkist and Audible charge a monthly fee, but I’ve found both of them to be well worth the cost.
This isn’t an app or a subscription plan. It’s more like a company-wide policy. At Boomer, we try to make a habit of spending the first 15 minutes of our workday reading. Some companies may balk at the idea of paying people to sit and read, but our leaders believe it’s worth the investment in our culture.
If 15 minutes every morning doesn’t work for you, you can switch it up. I prefer to stop working on other projects at 4 o’clock on Fridays and spend the last hour of my workday reading.
Our team is entirely remote now, but even when most of us were in an office, it would not be unusual to walk by a coworker’s office and see him or her engrossed in a book. Nobody would think that person was wasting company time. On the contrary – we’d be more likely to ask if the book was any good so we’d know whether we should add it to our own reading list!
I could list hundreds of books that our team has read and shared over the years, but I’ll narrow it down to just a few good ones that we’ve enjoyed lately.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi
The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Paul White