“Poor people have big TVs. Rich people have big libraries.” — Jim Rohn
Many modern day leaders such as Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, despite being extremely busy, have set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over the course of their entire careers for activities that can be classified as deliberate practice or learning.
I personally believe that skill acquisition, literally the acquisition of skills and how to do things, is just dramatically underrated today. People are overvaluing the value of just jumping into the deep end of the pool, because the reality is that people who jump into the deep end of the pool drown. There’s a reason there are so many stories about Mark Zuckerberg. There aren’t that many Mark Zuckerbergs….Most of them are still floating face down in the pool. And so, for most of us, it’s a good idea to get skills and not drown.
Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins, FitBit steps per day and of aerobic exercise for leading a healthy lifestyle, we should be more rigorous about how we as an information society think about the minimum doses of deliberate learning for leading a healthy life economically.
The long-term effects of not learning are just as treacherous as the long-term effects of not having a healthy lifestyle. Randall L. Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, makes this point loud and clear in an interview with The New York Times; he says that those who don’t spend at least 5 to 10 hours a week learning “will obsolete themselves with technology.”
Consider these reading habits of other billionaire entrepreneurs:
- Warren Buffett spends 5 to 6 hours per day reading 5 newspapers and 500 pages of corporate reports.
- Bill Gates reads 50 books per year.
- Mark Zuckerberg reads at least 1 book every 2 weeks.
- Elon Musk grew up reading 2 books a day, according to his brother.
- Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day.
- Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads 2 hours a day.
- Billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein reads 6 books a week.
- Dan Gilbert, self-made billionaire and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reads 1 to 2 hours a day.
Do you think their success just simply happened overnight? For myself working full-time in financial services, running a business, fitting gym time in for personal exercise 4–5 times per week as well as time with family, friends and mentors has most definitely been a time management challenge for me these past couple of years. However, one thing that has remained consistent has been my reading. I don’t say this to brag but simply impress upon all of you how important reading is in today’s information age.
In 2016 I personally read 40 books. That may seem like a lot to outsiders but in reality when the average CEO’s in America and abroad are reading 50–60 books per year, I still have a lot of work to do. I’m grateful I can pick and choose what I want to read now as opposed to just relying on business & economic theory books as well as ask other leaders around me what they’ve read in the past before to position them where they are today.
I understand that it’s a marathon not a sprint but I still have to win the race! Currently, I’m on pace to read 48–50 books this year, which is something I would be very proud of. Not to brag about the number of books themselves, yet to know the discipline, consistently and knowledge being retained and the action I’m taking (experiential learning) will pay off 10 times down the road!
Regardless of whether you’re in school, a graduate program, working full-time, building a personal business or not, the actions steps to take away now that you have the time and resources are simply to pick up a book whether it’s in the area of financial literacy, communication, leadership, exercise, sports management, nursing or teamwork and start to build upon the habit of consistently learning and reading.
I’d be more than happy to share a few recommendations and books I’ve read in the past with my fellow readers and friends, all you have to do is ask! A handful of books I’d recommend to start would be:
My Very Best & Happy Reading,