It happened twice yesterday. In the span of fours hours, two people I deeply respect said the exact same thing.
Yesterday morning, I went to see Jeffrey Gitomer (best-selling author of The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling and every other Little Book of... business and management book) speak. Gitomer is pretty clear about what it takes to be successful. He believes that the greatest sales people and marketing professionals are the ones who read and write... a lot. While many people who see Gitomer can easily walk away with the message that the secret of success is in the writing, after spending some time with him, it's obvious that the real secret (for him) is in the reading. Gitomer reads a ton. He not only collects the books that inspire him, but he devours them and surrounds himself with them. He loves words. He's constantly learning and educating himself, and - from there - the ideas for his writing (whether it's a book, article, presentation or tweet) flow from an overflowing brain of ideas and inspiration.
Then, it happened again.
After Gitomer's presentation, I went for lunch with Julien Smith (co-author with Chris Brogan of Trust Agents and a co-host on the Media Hacks podcast). Julien was telling me about Charlie Munger (one of Warren Buffet's peers) and his passion for reading. Munger loves reading. Munger believes that the most successful people he knows are those individuals who are constantly reading... like in a non-stop kind of way.
Most of us really give up on reading after university.
Most of us feel like we've "put in our time" with long text. Most of us may still read long text, but it's mostly fiction and it's mostly used as a form of distraction to forget about our current reality. I've been thinking a lot about reading lately (and how much I love it). The other truth that I'm uncovering about reading is that tweets, status updates and Blog posts that tell you how to generate more Blog readers don't count much either. The majority of newspaper and magazine articles are probably right on the edge of valuable reading, but the guts of reading that will truly make you smart and successful comes from the high brow stuff. The books, periodicals and longer thought/research pieces.
"I wish I had more time to read."
I hear that a lot. Gitomer told the crowd that it's easy to read more: "stop watching dance competitions on TV. It doesn't matter who wins." He's right (he often is). People will always have time for the things that are important to them. You have to make the choice. There is something that comes out of reading many business books (or non-fiction or history or science or biography or art books) that you can't get out of a TV documentary of newspaper article. The depth, the journey, the time alone that allows your own brain to wander and think is a critical part of where creativity and originality come from.
Make a commitment to yourself (and to your success). Start reading more... and don't stop.