It Is a Good Thing to Read More Books – Seriously

It is a good thing to read more books – seriously.

So, two short prompts for this blog post.

Prompt #1 — Recently, I met a men who now works in economic development for a region of cities. He had heard me give a presentation at a conference that included one of my book briefings, and he talked to me about the value of reading business books.

He previously worked as a manager for HEB, the Texas-based grocery store chain. At HEB, every manager was required to read three business books a year. (One every four months – a pace anyone could handle). The managers got to pick their own books. The assignment included some sort of “reporting mechanism,” to demonstrate that they had actually read the three books. His assessment: it was a valuable discipline. He said all the managers were always reading business books, talking about them to others, and the very act of reading such books helped make them better managers.

Ed Catmull
Ed Catmull

Prompt #2 – I’m reading the excellent book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is a book reader. Surprisingly, he does not have much good to say about many of the books he has read. (He has politely not named these not-worth-reading books). Here’s an excerpt:

I read many books as I set about trying to become a better, more effective manager. Most, I found, trafficked in a kind of simplicity that seemed harmful in that it offered false reassurance.

But, as you read between the lines, you discover that he was always looking for and reading books to help him know his next steps…  And you get the idea that even the bad books he read helped him know what not to do… And, he was especially appreciative of books that helped him ask the right questions:

To the historians and biographers whose books helped me ask better questions…

Creativity-Inc.-CoverHe included Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs in his list of books he appreciated.

So… read books to learn how to think; to learn what good questions to ask. Read books to discover what not to do. Just read more books, and think about what you are reading. And, of course, always ask what transferable principles you can put into practice.

It is a good thing to read more books – seriously.


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