I felt like I cracked some sort of mystery.
This summer, I chose to read a book a week.
Why? To prove that I could learn and interact with new ideas on my own, without a $5000 dollar professor to guide me along the way.
If you knew me in high school, you would know that I hated reading. I think I had some type of attention disorder. It was so hard for me to focus to the point that it was painful for me to sit down for more than 15 minutes and read a non-moving book.
Even with the books I really liked, for some reason, I could only read 20 pages at a time before I felt antsy and had to go play video games or something. I think part of that was age, and part of it was because the book was required.
But even though I didn't read a lot of books, I did read a lot of blogs.
I focused primarily on reading blogs about successful people. What did they do? What were their habits? What did they know that I didn't?
I found one common theme among hundreds of successful people.
They were all voracious readers:
- Bill Gates reads 50 books a year -- so about one a week
- Mark Cuban -- 3 hours a day
- Zucks -- reads a book every 2 weeks
The CEO of Dose Media, Emerson Spartz read a book a day for a whole year -- while he was in college.
So that's why starting in May, I had these goals in mind:
- Become a self-taught digital marketer.
- Get noticeably better at the interview process.
- Learn how to love reading again.
And so that's what I did. I chose over 12 books leading up to August by checking out different reading lists and using Amazon's top choices as references. This was honestly the best part -- when else do you have complete control of what you get to learn?
There's books on marketing, graphic design, finance, economics, politics, history, classical feminism, education, and psychology. There really is not anything that you couldn't find a book on in this world.
After my summer book-a-week challenge, I learned:
- How to prepare for interviews (Land the Interview - Michelle Lederman)
- How to write amazing content for my blog (Everybody Writes - Ann Handley)
- How to define how I wanted to live my life AND how to do it (The 4-Hr-Workweek)
- How to make my message stand out amidst all the other voices in the world (Make It Stick)
Of course there were hiccups along the way, and the project is generally still in progress, though I'm thinking of expanding this project until the day I die.
Lessons I've Learned Reading One Book a Week:
1. Some level of variety in your book choices reduces the chance of boredom and can lead to greater understanding and unique connections between subjects.
Hammering in marketing book after marketing book may be fine initially, but sooner or later, all of the books start to sound the same. This isn't a bad thing. That just means you've grasped a level of competence with the subject.
That's when you know that you need to use a different part of your brain and read something else. You may even be able to build connections between marketing and other books you read when you do this. For example, it's only when I finished this book on sticky marketing communication that I understood the book I had read previously on interviewing.
2. You don't have to finish every book that you chose just because you chose it. Aim to finish most of the books, but never feel pressured to go through a book that's not giving you value.
It was hard for me before to be okay with leaving a book unfinished.
"I never leave anything unfinished" I would say, as if it was some noble thing to finish everything that I start. This is the same logic that pushes students who hate college from freshman year to continue finishing their degree. It's absolutely insane.
I learned that it's okay to initially be into something, and then realize that you don't like it. We learn from those experiences.
3. You can get a year's worth of education for literally under $600.
I've redefined my definition of education.
Education is NOT something that has to be provided to me. Education does NOT have to take place inside of a classroom. Education does NOT have to be boring, or planned in semesters, or graded for trivial measures of proficiency.
You can actually design your education. And you don't have to pay for a 4-year vacation to do it.
The majority of books come in the $3 to $15 range. With 50 books a year, you'd only be paying around $600 for a years worth of new ideas, time-tested methods, and the world's best teachers. Most books usually take around 2 to 6 hours to finish.
All it takes is $600 and about one hour a day to get a year's worth of education. I'd even argue that you'll learn more about how to get a job in 4 books than you will your whole college career.
Isn't that at least a path worth considering?
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The rough draft of my ebook is almost done! Looking forward to a late August release. Subscribe to my email list for updates!