In order to deliver value and actionable advice to your audience, you must learn about and practice what you preach
Diversify your knowledge portfolio
Coincidentally, building your reading list is quite similar to building an investment portfolio.
- You research which stock to buy or book to indulge in
- You try to diversify your investments
- You hope to obtain value from your investment
Incidentally, there is however, one very significant difference between the two. With the stock market, you are investing into other companies or visions. When it comes to reading books though, you are investing in YOURSELF.
Reading provides you with the empowerment to choose which goals to strive for and how to accomplish those goals. Moreover, books encompass a variety of subject areas that can collectively make you successful if you apply the lessons learned. It is not a coincidence that many of the most successful entrepreneurs read a significant amount of books. In fact, they do so to elevate their thinking, improve their expertise and spread their knowledge to their followers among a variety of other reasons.
Gaining a Competitive Edge
There is no doubt that knowing more than your peers may give you an intellectual edge. You can maintain a conversation in any setting and with any person; either in a professional environment or a casual one. Reading provides you with such an advantage.
In fact, in the book, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, it is suggested that in order to truly become an expert in any given craft, you must have at least 10,000 hours of experience under your belt. Why not apply this rule to reading? You get to continuously learn new things, and simultaneously become an expert at reading and whatever you’re reading about. It’s basically a no-brainer.
Figure out what you’re interested in doing, and become so knowledgable about it that you’ll be able to decide whether it’s the right option for you.
Perspective is in the Eye of the Beholder
Undeniably, one of the greatest benefits to reading is being able to consider multiple perspectives and derive your opinions from them collectively, rather than individually. It is often said, there are two sides to every story; or as the media likes to put it, “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” In other words, the media’s main objective is to keep you engaged so you can form an opinion that is beneficial to them. Therefore, providing you with facts is not a requirement. It is your job to differentiate between the truth and media scrutiny.
Luckily, there is a positive solution to battling this media rhetoric. That is, becoming so educated in any given topic, that you can make an informed decision about what to believe and avoid getting conned as a result. The problem with opinions is that everybody has one. This means you need to distinguish between true merit and false advertising. Creating a vast knowledge portfolio will help you achieve this.
It is equally important to decide which subject matter you are interested in perfecting, as well as what resources to obtain the necessary information from. With this logic in mind, I implore you to conduct a search of your desired field; whether it is business, blogging, digital marketing or even art history for that matter. Visit Amazon.com and review the book options available; then try to select a diverse collection to purchase from, and start learning!
In the meantime, here are 5 of my own book recommendations to get you going in the right direction as well as give you the perspective you’ll need to make your own decisions and take action today.
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant
This extraordinarily insightful book can have a major impact on your journey. It focuses on the art of reciprocity, and in particular how interactions with others can lead to substantial success for you in the long run. Network with your peers and re-connect with dormant ties. Utilize social media channels to maximize your presence and reach out to people that you feel you can help. The smallest amount of help can truly make the biggest difference; and it may return to you in a much greater form.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini
Have you ever wanted to expand your influence and get others to do what you want? Well, this psychologically motivated classic would help you do just that. Further, it would also teach you how to avoid persuasion, as well as use it to your advantage. In order to be able to sell something, you need to understand how to persuade your target audience to buy into it. By implementing the principles illustrated in this book, you would be able to do just that. Learn how to influence and persuade people, and you’ll be the one reaping the benefits from their attention.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Throughout the course of our lives, human being develop different habits that guide their lifestyles, careers and relationships. The “Power of Habit” examines whether our routine behaviors can be altered and how they may be altered. Charles Duhigg references a massive amount of scientific research to illustrate how habits form and what having the wrong habits can lead to.
Everyone should read this book to understand how people react to certain things as well as how different behaviors can affect important circumstances. It would behoove anybody getting into a business that consistently deals with people to read this book and act on it’s suggestions.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Perhaps one of the most influential and inspiring books of this century is Outliers from Malcolm Gladwell. The central question featured throughout this book is, what makes high-achievers different? Gladwell includes examples of everything from airline pilot culture differences to income inequality throughout his novel, to illustrate what differentiates successful people from those that falter.
He argues that we pay too much attention to the personalities of these people, rather than focusing on their roots, including where they are from, how they were raised and the culture they are affiliated with. For instance; did you know that Asians are often better at math, because their numeric system is easier to memorize than that of North American countries? In particular, their numbers have less syllables in them, making them more memorable. This may seem minuscule to the ordinary person, but it plays a central role in the success of certain people.
If you wish to overcome any obstacle, start by understanding that outliers do exist. Figure out what makes them successful, and improve on their shortcomings. This will undoubtedly lead you to the promised land.
Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
Although this book may seem out of place among the list of treasures listed earlier, I find it to be an essential read for any content marketer and marketer alike. This book provides valuable insight into how the media operates as well as what its’ main objectives are. Gone are the days when publications were meant to provide factual and researched information. In today’s day and age, the focus is to deliver the news first; then fact check it later. The thought process behind this notion is that “breaking a story” first leads your publication to get more engagement and shares. This provides buzz and added publicity, which in turn generates revenue.
Publications, such as Gawker, The Drudge Report and a plethora of others are more concerned with leads, than actual fact-based information. As a result, the public is realistically uninformed and only hears one side of the story.
I pose this question to you. After reading a story, do you take the time to fact check every part of it? Or do you rely on the media to deliver the facts from the get go? If it’s the latter, than you may be saddened to hear that you’re not being told the whole story. Moreover, would you consider reading a corrected article of the same issue or would you bypass it? Publications are betting that you would focus on the first thing you hear, and unless you become informed and are able to gauge multiple perspectives, than you have proved them right.
I hope I have inspired you to take action. Get out and read as much as you can. Become empowered and help change your fortunes. If you enjoyed this article, I ask that you pass it on to your family, friends, peers and associates. Share the knowledge you have learned.
Thank you for your attention.