And I’ve done everything I could to fight this habit. I went to libraries, I left my wallet home, I abstained for days and sometimes weeks.
On my lunch break I went on my long walks down 18th Street, NW. The route to the left would take me to Dupont Circle – risky! The path to the right would lead me to the World Bank building – also dangerous!
After a long mental battle with myself, I finally gave in, my lunch clock ticking down.
Potbelly? Caribou? Starbucks?
Nope (these would actually save me).
You guessed it by now?
These high-risk destinations are “Books-A-Million,” Kramer’s Bookstore, and the World Bank’s nice Infoshop bookstore.
Yes, I am addicted to the bookstores, and to business books in particular. Of course, you know that after you read fifty or more books on any business topic, including strategy, marketing, sales and creativity, most of it becomes repetitive, and you can only learn about 5 percent new from each new book you’re reading.
Yet, as I entered each new store, I’d go straight to the business book section, grab five or six, get my small Americano, and immerse myself in reading. At the end of my lunch hour, I’d want to buy a few and eventually convince myself that one was enough.
Ka-ching! The cashier thanks me for the purchase, and I can’t wait to get home. In a couple of hours the book lands on the pile on the bookshelf.
…And I’m “hungry” again.
So when I was cleaning my office and re-arranging my collection yesterday, I actually counted them. It turned out that I own over 100 business books. With an average price of $25, it looks like that I made an investment of $2,500 in my knowledge.
Did this investment help me professionally? Absolutely, but with one important caveat: only when I practiced it immediately. For example, using the principles of Dan Roam’s “The Back of the Napkin,” job interviews got so much easier. Joe Vitale’s “Hypnotic Writing” and Tom Ahern’s “How to Write Fundraising Materials” helped shape my communication messages. Jon Poelstra’s “Marketing Outrageously” and Eric Ryan’s “The Method. Method” gave me a boost with “old” new marketing ideas.
How do I do it? I use very simple steps:
1. Read the book with a pencil in my hand.
2. Write down specific ideas I found particularly interesting on the index cards.
3. Reflect on these ideas, trying to use it for my particular ongoing or future project.
4. Reflect on my findings. Modify these ideas and create my own formula.
5. Use these ideas at my next opportunity (work/volunteering/personal)
So following my principle of sharing the best with my contacts and followers, I’m going to share the summaries of my favorite business books in the following posts.
What are your favorite business books? Which one helped you the most in your career, or a single project? How do you use ideas you found in these business books?