As an entrepreneur, do you think you don’t have time to read books? Think about
No matter how you went last year, it was a stressful year. Whether you are homeschooling, caring for elderly family members, or just looking to protect yourself and stay healthy, reading was probably low on your priority list.
My advice: take the time.
I am lucky to have a job at the head of a public company and it keeps me busy. But between arranging Zoom meetings with clients and helping with home schooling, I still managed to read almost 30 books this year. Although I spent more time at home and indoors this year, reading so many books was a common habit for me long before the world slowed down.
Reading is something I will always prioritize no matter how busy my life is. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without the lessons I learned from the books. Taking the time to read is one of the most important tips I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Does the prospect of including 30 pounds in your annual routine seem overwhelming to you? Here’s how and why you should always make it a priority.
Get new (and old) perspectives
In the world we live in today, it’s hard to disconnect from work. I often find myself thinking about clients and deadlines when I should be off the clock. The pandemic certainly hasn’t helped our ability to sign. A recent report found that over the past year, the average person in the US, UK, Canada and Austria worked an average of 2.5 hours more per day than before COVID-19.
Reading is a great way to combat this trend. It keeps your brain fresh and lets you think about things outside of what you do all day. Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, reading is a valuable way to understand how we got to where we are today. The books opened my eyes to new perspectives on society, life, technology, entrepreneurship, culture and religion. History books, in particular, are a great way to apply lessons from the past to your present life. Like the philosopher and writer George Santayana once mentionned, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Do a better job
Disconnecting from work is essential for everyone’s mental health. But if you love your job, you probably also want to know how reading can help you do it better. The truth is, almost every book I read, whether it’s about the Gold Rush, successful business leaders, or a famous comedian, teaches me something new that I can apply. at work.
For example, my Okta workplace is an enterprise tech company, so I like to read about the history of tech. The innovator’s dilemma by Clayton Christensen (1997) was helpful to me because we built Okta by innovating and disrupting the old incumbents and it is a good reminder to ensure that we ourselves are not disrupted in the future.
There are also tons of books on famous and infamous entrepreneurs that offer important lessons for founders and managers. Super pumped: the battle for Uber by Mike Isaac taught me some of the mistakes Uber made early on, emphasizing the importance of creating a healthy work culture and keeping an eye on long-term success.
If reading about business isn’t your favorite way to spend your time, you can find good insight in other types of books as well. I learned a lot from a book about underwater treasure hunters called Golden ship in the deep blue sea, written by Gary Kinder. The book is about a team in search of the SS Central America, a ship that sank while carrying 21 tons of gold. Even though this one doesn’t focus on a traditional startup, it does offer many valuable lessons for someone working there. Tommy Thompson, the leader of the scavenger hunt team, had to overcome many of the same hurdles we face as entrepreneurs: finding financing, complying with regulations, overcoming technological limitations, and constantly innovating.
Find the time
If you choose books that inspire you, you won’t feel like you have to “take the time” to read because you enjoy it. When I try to read something that I’m not interested in, it becomes a chore. Putting down the book and moving on is essential. There are too many good books to spend your time reading one that doesn’t work for you.
Here are some tips to make it easy to find time to read:
- When someone recommends a book that seems slightly interesting, buy it and keep a stack of unread books at home. Having a few on hand is essential, so when you have time to read there is always something available.
- Keep a few books by your bed and set a goal of reading for 5-10 minutes before bed. I do this every night. If you like the book, you will probably end up reading more of it. Plus, reading about a different subject than what I spend most of my day thinking about makes my brain more easily “turn off” when I turn off the lights.
- Get the same books that your friends read. It’s always more fun to read when you have someone to talk to. Or better yet, send your favorite reads to your friends to discuss the next time you meet.
- Always carry a book or two in your suitcase, briefcase, backpack, purse, etc., so you have something to read on the go – on the bus, at the airport, while waiting for a date and on vacation – as we all hope soon! Or bring an easy-to-carry Kindle, and if you don’t have one, it’s a great idea when the family asks for your next birthday or holiday wish list.
Whatever type of books you enjoy, taking the time to read is one of the best things you can do to advance your career, stimulate curiosity, and develop yourself as a person. Fiction, biography, memoir, you name it, whatever the genre, books will help you broaden your horizons and think about life and work differently.