Shortly before I began teaching high school English, the International Paper Company began an advertising campaign with the theme Send Me a Man Who Reads.(Yes, it was back in more sexist times.)
Those ads became regulars on the bulletin boards in my classroom. The gist of the campaign, which ran for several years, was that readers made better employees.
Of course, readers make better entrepreneurs as well. That’s no big surprise to those of us who wandered into entrepreneurship thanks to our devotion to lifelong learning.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of struggling businessowners who don’t seem to realize that books are their friends—and business mentors. Equally shocking is the fact that many small business bloggers and book authors do not acknowledge the writing of others.
I once knew a frustrated entrepreneur who dismissed reading as a frivolous waste of time. Evenings on the road were more apt to be spent in the hotel bar than curled up with a book that could have inspired or informed him.
Instead he labored to figure everything out himself. He was making his journey far more difficult than it needed to be.
As Mark Twain once pointed out, “The person who can read and doesn’t has no advantage over the person who can’t read.”
Why does regular reading matter so much to building a business? Here are some of the gifts.
Catch the spirit “Stuff yourself full of stories,” advises Ray Bradbury. “I’ve never had a dry spell in my life because I feed myself well.”
He was talking to writers, of course, but the same thing holds true for entrepreneurs. Many inspiring stories have been written by and about those who have gone from employee to entrepreneur.
Such stories not only inspire for telling the tale of overcoming challenges; they also are vivid records of entrepreneurial thinking in action.
By the way, fictional entrepreneurs can also help readers build an entrepreneurial mindset.
Keep curiosity alive “What I already know is enough,” is not the mantra of the successful. Passion begets passion, of course, but keeping passion alive is closely tied to staying curious.
Whether it’s human behavior or building an online presence that catches your fancy, books can keep you stretching.
Acquire wisdom Nobody has to tell you that we are living in changing times. Those who ignore the changes, operate at a huge disadvantage. It may be more serious, however, than just being handicapped.
As Jim Trelease points out, “People who have stopped reading base their future decisions on what they used to know. If you don’t read much, you really don’t know much. You’re dangerous.”
By all means, don’t confine your reading to quick Internet searches.
Leisurely reading, thoughtful reading, challenging reading can connect you with innovative thinkers and eloquent storytellers. For a few dollars, they can move into your World Headquarters and help you build a better business—providing you spend time with them and put their good ideas to work.
As Jim Rohn so aptly reminded us, “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking it doesn’t matter.”