Column: Move the needle

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I might be one of those guys, who from time to time, refers to a made-up statistic.

Having said that, here’s one that I believe – the average American adult reads less than 1 non-fiction book a year.

This same adult spends an hour a day on Facebook®, watches 5 reality TV shows per week and has no trouble getting through the latest issue of People® or Sports Illustrated®.

I just made that up, but you know it’s close to the truth.

Most people are intellectually lazy when it comes to self-improvement of any kind.

Here’s another interesting bit of information for you.

If you could simply drag yourself away from social media for 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you could read between 6 and 8 nonfiction books a year.

That’s at least 6 times the national average.

In other words, you’ve got plenty of time so you can take that excuse off your list.

Now, imagine the following scenario. You’re sitting on the back porch with your neighbor having a beer. As always, the conversation starts off with the following type of statements:

  • Can you believe the last second shot/touchdown?
  • Is the president ever going to make a good decision?

15 minutes later, you notice that the conversation is dragging. You’ve reviewed every play in last night’s game and both agree that congress is full of idiots.

Bored, you both decide to grab another beer and hope that when you get back to your seat an interesting topic reveals itself.

But, it rarely does.

You can only talk about sports and politics for so long.

Imagine this same scene, but instead of talking about the game you ask your neighbor, “What did you think about the latest book from Malcom Gladwell?”

Here’s 4 simple tactics to get you started.

  • Start with the popular titles. If you’re not sure which book to read first, start by searching the NY Times or WSJ bestseller list. These books are popular for a reason – they’re probably good.
  • Buy the book and mark it up. Your goal is to absorb part of what you read and underlining/starring passages will help.
  • Keep a book with you at all times – especially around the house.
  • Keep a list of the books you’ve read, their authors and a quick summary of each one.

You are 4 simple tactics and about $20 a month away from being the smartest person on your block.


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