By Shashi Hansjee (Entelect, CEO)
We have a few questions that we ask people joining our company, to get to know them better. One of which is their favourite book. Granted, we are a technology company and so naturally will have a larger than average number of readers, but pretty much every person speaks passionately about one or two particular books that really spoke to them. Of course, most of these are fiction, but when people say that nobody reads anymore, it’s not true.
One of my favourite quotes is from Warren Buffet. When asked about the key to success, he said “Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.” He also followed up that statement with “All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
From a business reading perspective, I never manage to get through as many books as I’d like to, but I do manage to read at least one or two per month. I’ve found there are a few tricks to developing a concentrated reading list, compared to the four or five per month many other thought-leading executives seem get through.
Firstly, experiment. Amazon have an enormous range of books and their recommendations generally work well. Reading reviews, checking out the contents and reading the first chapter before you buy will help you identify those books that are outside the obvious bestsellers and can offer amazing insights.
Secondly, be aware and be creative. If you take just one idea from a book and apply it to your business, then the time spent is worth it. At times, it might not be obviously applicable, but being aware, and thinking outside the box when reading, has led to some of the most successful initiatives in our business today.
Finally, variety is important. Generally, people get hung up on reading one type of book – either strategy, or other peoples’ success stories, or topics that are only applicable to their area or role. Variety is key to expanding the mind and promoting creativity. Some of the more technical or specialised subject matter-focussed books are a heavier read, but often that extra detail and depth can yield the most practical ideas.
So, invest in your knowledge by reading regularly. Challenge your existing knowledge by picking up books that sit outside of your comfort zone and think laterally while reading. There is no rule as to where a creative solution to a business problem can come from. What is certain, is that you don’t have to be at executive level to bring a great idea into a business or your team and change the way things are done for the better.