“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” - Harry S. Truman
Welcome to 2016!
While most people ring in the New Year with resolutions to make positive life changes like lose weight, quit smoking and spend more quality time with family, others resolve to read more frequently. A notable resolution, but where do you start?
First, pat yourself on the back. You are making a noble commitment that bucks a nasty trend. The National Endowment for the Arts found that reading rates have fallen among every group of adult Americans. These are startling statistics, especially for librarians! Fortunately, it’s never too late to pick up a book and start reading.
Second, keep in mind the huge personal and professional benefits of cultivating a life-long love of reading. Top industry leaders understand the importance of continuous learning as well as the valuable insight that can be gained from others’ experiences. Reading on a broad range of topics and genres is associated with decreased stress, better communication skills, higher emotional intelligence and empathy. Avid reading also increases the ability to think in a more innovative and creative manner, an essential skill for every leader.
What business leaders are reading
Books have inspired business leaders for generations, and these texts continue to help us understand the world around us, human nature and ourselves. Whether it’s a well-worn paperback from the local library, an audiobook on your smartphone or the newest best seller on your e-reader, voracious reading has been a habit developed and embraced by leaders throughout the years.
Here are a few books that show the diversity of reading interests and inclinations of some of the most notable business leaders. Steve Jobs was enamoured by the poetry of William Blake, Bill Gates’ all-time favorite is J.D. Salinger’s classic coming-of-age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. And Good to Great by Jim Collins was the book most Fortune 500 CEOs would recommend to someone beginning a career in business.
A few of our favorites
To start the year off in the right direction, we asked some of our thought leaders for a few of their favorite reads and this is what they had to say:
Quarry Chairman Alan Quarry highly recommends the classic Kurt Vonnegut novels Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse-Five.
Quarry President Ken Whyte has two books on the go right now: Quiet by Susan Cain and The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need by Paul Pearsall.
Chief Innovation Officer Glen Drummond is currently enjoying Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile and James March’s The Ambiguities of Experience. He is looking forward to starting The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli next.
Mandey Moote’s, Managing Director, Client Results, long-time favorite book is The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want by Michael Hernacki. A few other favorites are The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, Flipping the Switch by John Miller and Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley.
Managing Director of Buyer Engagement Meredith Fuller’s all-time favorite book is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a captivating fictional tale set during WWII.
Tony Mohr, Managing Director of Curve Jump, offers three of his favorite business reads: The Design of Business by Roger Martin, Drive by Daniel Pink and Tilt by Niraj Dawar.
Our demand generation advocate and Managing Director Richard Hill can’t put down The Challenger Customer by the team at CEB. On a more personal note, he just finished The Speech: The Story Behind Martin Luther King’s Dream, by Gary Younge.
Make that reading resolution stick
The ROI of reading is vast. Reading sparks innovation, creativity and curiosity. Reading will enrich your life and help you to better understand your business, your employees and your customers.
But, like anything, you need to set yourself up to succeed. You need the right tools. You wouldn’t start running a 5K without first lacing up your sneakers or go for a bike ride without inflating the tires, right? So to help you accomplish this goal, here are a few tips to develop your love of learning:
- Join a book club – ease in with a book suggestion that’s likely to please everyone.
- Peruse your local library and dust off your library card – free books!
- Check out the local bookstore and get lost in a topic you’ve always wanted to explore. Birds? Black holes? The Battle of Britain? Whatever sparks your curiosity!
- Read biographies of famous people. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into the life of someone else.
- Lastly, make reading a priority. Set aside, say, half an hour a day. It’s the same as blocking time in your schedule for a yoga class or a dental appointment. And it’s something that’s uniquely good for your mind.