How I Approach Business Books

Earlier this year, members of my CEO group strongly recommended I start reading more business books. I had been reading lots of blogs and news articles, but no serious "let's get better at business" books.

Before this year, I'd approached business reading like I approach novels. I'd sit down and try to go cover to cover. That didn't work well, and I'd built a stack of unread books. I didn't seem to retain much either.

I now have a new approach:

  • If I don't feel enthusiastic about a book at any point, I give myself permission to quit.

  • I thoroughly research what books to acquire. This requires a bit of work. Given most Amazon reviews are phony, I look for smart people's opinions. I eventually got Phil Knight's Shoe Dog because four people I follow on twitter raved about it.

    The steps I take to each book are:

    1- I read it quickly. I'm OK with skimming entire sections if an idea is not novel.

    2- If I find a concept that is new to me, I highlight it. I'm reading with a pen and highlighter in hand.

    3- Afterwards, I go through the book. I review the items from #2.

    4- I pick one of those ideas and blog about it here. Teaching the idea seems to reinforce the learning.

    5- This is a bonus: I give away all books I read.

    So far, my results are excellent. I read 6 books on a week long vacation this past August.

  • Michael Girdley