Here’s my latest on Medium. Would love your comments, thoughts, and personal tips.
I can safely say that reading has played an integral part in any success I’ve had thus far in life and career (and that level of success is certainly up for debate). Possibly moreso than other “traditional” learning tools. In no particular order….
Read all the trade journals in your industry. Subscribe to every single newsletter available…but quickly pare them down to the essentials once you have had enough time to judge their value.
Forget the newspaper. Seriously. If the news item is important enough, it’ll find you.
Don’t let paywalls stand in your way, digital or physical. There are ways to find what you need without breaking the bank. Example: My college student ID from maaaaany years ago still gets me significant discounts on a few trade mags. (This is not me condoning thievery. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. Resourcefulness is a skill that will serve you well in life.)
Start an easy-to-manage list of books you want to read. I use Pinterest.
Go outside your home to read. Beaches, park benches, the woods, a rooftop.
Use music if it helps. Find your groove. I’m completely unable to read while listening to hip-hop, but put on trance or soft house and I get lost in it all.
Don’t be afraid to stop reading an uninspiring book and toss it (better yet, give it to a friend or colleague). Even — or, especially — if it is regarded by the masses as a must-have. I love me some Gary V. and Chris Brogan, but each of their last books simply didn’t speak to me like their earlier ones. I felt immediate pangs of guilt and shame for not finishing them, but that’s just The Bullshit speaking inside your head. Time is valuable; treat it as such. Different periods of personal growth call for different topics, subjects, and authors.
Try everything out. Newsletters, magazines, books, white papers, Medium, RSS readers. Again, assess each one’s value and adjust accordingly.
As soon as it becomes a “task”, stop doing it.
Find a system that works for you. Experiment. Example: I use Feedly for RSS and go through it twice a day (during lunch and post-dinner). Because Medium is more long-form and usually sends me on a whirlwind of deep thought, I only go through it once per day max, and always when I have time afterwards to sketch out ideas and thoughts.
The most powerful tool for engaging customers, friends, prospects, colleagues, etc., is to share insightful information. When reading, get into the habit of thinking who in your network could benefit from each piece of info. Then send it along with a note. Don’t include your goddamn sales pitch just yet. And make sure it’s valuable and not spammy. Example: After reading Seth Godin’s Poke the Box, I immediately bought 50 copies and regularly mail them to people I feel will be inspired by it as much as I was. It’s gotten a pretty good response thus far.
If your pile of to-read books exceeds three, stop fucking buying them. This is my biggest challenge, and one I’m working on. It’s not homework. Stop treating it as such.
LEARN WHAT MEANS SOMETHING AND WHAT DOESN’T. Most important sentiment in this entire post. Some magazines are filled with 90% advertorial garbage, but the wise person will learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and find value amidst the bullshit.
BONUS: keep a pad with you at all times. Or use Evernote. Or whatever works for you. Just be ready for inspiration to hit you at the least convenient time.
I’ve never once looked at the NYT best sellers list nor do I plan to. (I have no idea what the point of this line is…sounds kinda hipsterish of me, though.)
Read weird people. Bukowski, Poe, Palahniuk, Easton Ellis, whatever. Take some chances.
Balance professional reading with fun / personal. When I get caught up in a string of business-y books, I try to add in something off the beaten path, to make sure my creative dreamer brain is getting some exercise.