Reading Business Books

by Emon Hassan on May 22, 2008

Seth Godin wrote about how business books are different from other how-to books; biz books motivate you. I whole-heartedly agree. Business magazines do the same for me. How the hell do I find time with all the other stuff I do? Simple: I don’t read most books cover to cover. I scan through the pages until I notice a new beat in the chapter or a new story.

Some will argue speed reading or scanning is useless if you want to absorb the information and learn something from it. Whatever. First of all, it’s not fiction. Secondly, I may not be interested in some chapters or the topics covered. If I’m reading a book by a well-known CEO on how (s)he made things happen, I’ll skip chapters that have nothing to do with the reason I picked the book up in the first place. Childhood stories – eh, when she got her first big scholarship – meh, how she managed the company from X years to X years – now we’re talking.

I always look to learn that one thing from a book. It doesn’t always happen. Years ago, from one big book of interviews with managers and CEOs, one line from a manager had a profound impact on me. Paraphrasing what he said: “If the employee you just fired is shocked by the decision, it probably wasn’t a good decision.” He argued that most employees before getting laid off or fired kind of know they are going to be. I don’t know but it made so much sense to me that I thought the rule applied to punishing children as well. Children expect fair punishment; punish them unfairly, and they’ll resent you. If you think 3-4 year old kids don’t know the difference, you haven’t been reading much.

Anyway, I also love watching video and photo editing tutorials; Something about the process unfolding in front of my eyes makes it so enjoyable, I guess. I watch them like I’d watch a regular TV show. Sometimes I’ll attempt to try out a Photoshop lesson, let’s say, with disastrous results. Only once did a lesson motivate me to create something I’m proud of.

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