Bless my mom. Growing up she promoted reading to my brother and me, but, unfortunately, I was the type of kid who rarely read. I dreaded reading as a child because I didn’t have much patience for anything other than sports. In fact, I could probably count on both hands how many books I read for pleasure from age 5 to 20. Unless it was a Sports Illustrated or SLAM magazine (basketball fans of the 90s know what I’m talking about), I didn’t much care to read anything. It’s embarrassing to say. And my vocabulary was poor throughout my teen years as a result, which made it challenging to articulate points and beliefs in school.
Perhaps it’s because I was such a pathetic reader as a child that I’ve become an avid reader as an adult… maybe. I also learned that the richest, most successful people in the world, from Gates to Buffett and Ariana Huffington are huge readers. Absorbing the written word is as important to them as their wealth and philanthropic efforts.
Reading Increases Your Odds of Being Successful
I love reading now. It’s the great equalizer. Nay, it gets you ahead of most other people because so few are reading books anymore…
The Washington Post reported, “In 2015, 43 percent of adults read at least one work of literature in the previous year. That’s the lowest percentage in any year since NEA surveys began tracking reading and arts participation in 1982, when the literature reading rate was 57 percent.”
I’m shocked at how many people I know barely read, aside from what they stumble upon online (which, according to studies, doesn’t provide nearly the same value as reading a physical book).
I love learning new things every day, and reading enables me to do that. When I learn something new, I feel like the day was victorious. It makes me a little better than yesterday. I want to be a fountain of knowledge for my friends and family, and I want to know more than my competition in business. To do and be those things, I have to read, every day. Not only that, but I have a lot of catching up to do with respect to historic events considering I didn’t pay much attention during Social Studies. You see, anyone who ignores history in the investment world (which is where I make a living) does so at their own peril. How do you learn about history? Exactly.
The first year I made it a goal to read 25 books in 12 months, I noticed a drastic improvement in my entrepreneurial game. At critical moments in meetings or while working on projects, I began recalling lessons learned from some of the better books I had read – mainly biographies about business, military or political leaders. When that started to happen routinely, I became addicted to reading. There was an immediate and tangible benefit as it improved my critical thinking and writing. And not to sound arrogant, but several people complimented my ability to clearly articulate complex business points – a result of reading. In addition to those benefits, reading about a myriad of subjects teaches one how to spot a bullshitter a mile away; and it makes you a much better debater… who doesn’t enjoy winning an argument now and again?
[Tweet “reading about a myriad of subjects teaches one how to spot a bullshitter a mile away #weedouttheBS”]
So, for all you entrepreneurs who aren’t making time, every day, to read, I want to nudge you in the right direction and present some extremely telling, scientific and tangible facts and stats about how success, wealth and good health are tied to reading. I’ll also present some facts for parents who want the best for their children. Several studies have shown that exposing children to books improves their intelligence, problem-solving ability and future earning potential.
In short, leaders must be readers…
Why Daily Reading Will Improve Your Life
Avid book readers make more money: Quartz reported in June of last year that a new study “shows that for men, access to books from a young age corresponds to higher earnings over a lifetime.”
Reading allows you to learn from others’ mistakes: We learn more from mistakes than successes. So it makes sense that when we read about leaders who have failed and risen again, it teaches us what to look out for and how to persevere.
[Tweet “A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise one learns from the mistakes of others. #lifelessons”]
Helps clarify the right decision: You can validate a business decision or strategy by reading about other entrepreneurs who have been in similar situations and were forced to make a decision. The result they achieved will be very telling about the quality of your decision.
Only takes 15 minutes of reading per day: If you read 15 minutes per day, you will consume 1 million words a year. Think about how much you can learn by reading 1 million words! One or two paragraphs of value can transform your life, never mind a million words! There will be some gems in those million words, I guarantee it. And it only takes 15 minutes per day. Turn the T.V. off for the length of half a sitcom and read…
Dr. Seuss wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Reading makes you smarter – literally: RealSimple.com reported “Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a good work out. With age comes a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading may help slow the process, keeping minds sharper longer, according to research published in Neurology.”
[Tweet “leaders must be readers #motivation”]
Reading reduces stress levels: Mindlab International at the University of Sussex conducted a test pertaining to the benefits of reading just 6 minutes per day. The findings were incredible. Stress levels were reduced by roughly 68% by reading for just six minutes! Regarding the study, Telegraph reported “Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.”
Reading helps teach empathy: Showing empathy for others is an endearing trait. If you aspire to be a great person, which we all do, you must learn to be more empathetic to others.
Mercola reported, “reading literary fiction was shown to enhance a skill known as theory of mind, which is the ability to understand others’ mental states and show increased empathy.”
Reading to your children gives them an intellectual edge: Dr. John Sutton of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio told Reuters,
“In one of the most intriguing aspects, some of the greatest activation was in the visual part, the occipital lobe … A lot of it’s probably the task, imagining in their brain what’s going on in the story.
These kids have more experience with seeing what they’re hearing … Parents should definitely read often and read widely, with back-and-forth conversation with kids, going beyond what’s on the page.”
Rich people read for self-improvement while poor people read for entertainment: Business Insider reported on the findings of Tom Corley, the author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” The BI article by Libby Kane states,
• 11% of rich people read for entertainment, compared to 79% of poor
• 85% of rich people read two or more education, career-related, or self-improvement books per month, compared to 15% of poor
• 94% of rich people read news publications including newspapers and blogs, compared to 11% of poor people”
Reading improves memory: Broadly speaking, a good memory improves your ability to socialize with new people or complete strangers, keeps you organized, quicker on your feet in stressful situations, and, according to Bestselling author Eran Katz, it has been linked to better sleeps.
Daily reading is an empowering pastime. It has been a complete game changer for me – helping with fatherhood, entrepreneurship, and investing (you’d be shocked how frequently history repeats itself on Wall Street). Whether it’s fiction or self-improvement books, the value is broad ranging. From reducing your stress levels, improving your bottom line or expanding your vocabulary, entrepreneurs who read books every day are higher performers than those who don’t. Need I say more?
P.S. There are so many ways to improve yourself as an entrepreneur and investor. Let me shed some light… Subscribe to my newsletter below. Only my best content will land in your inbox.