In a word: read.

I once had an argument with someone who didn’t want to read business books because ‘they all contradict each other, proving they don’t know what they’re talking about.’ I think that’s the wrong perspective; there isn’t one right answer you’re going to find in the one right book.

Every business does the same things:

  • Product: Make something / offer a service
  • Sales: Get people to buy it
  • Admin: Maintain the books, pay taxes, etc.

 Yet every business does these things in a different way. What you need is a mental toolbox. You need to have seen thousands of scenarios and heard what options there were, what choices others made, and what happened.

Then, when you are running your own business, and a slightly familiar yet somehow slightly different scenario comes up, you can reach into that toolbox and extract the right tools to address your situation.

Reading broadly puts tools in your toolbox.

Business history, biography, and general business books were an invaluable part of my business education. Other CEOs may prefer other genres. But as a rule, ‘leaders are readers.’

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  1. I couldn’t agree more with this post.
    I find that tactics come and go but principles are remarkably permanent, and do not contradict each other.
    I’ve heard it said that creativity is the combining of 2 or more things, and the more unrelated the things are the more creative the idea is judged to be. By exposing yourself to multitudes of ideas through reading it gives you lots of different “things” to pull from and combine into new ideas.
    I find the more I read the easier it is to be creative, and to solve problems quickly. I don’t need to be encouraged to read anymore, if anything it is the opposite. I should probably read a little less and do more. 50 to 100 business books a year will give you plenty of ideas to combine though.

  2. Thanks for the advice,its always helpful to see what others are opportuned and previledged to see,by reading books,so that we can all see better.

  3. Great advice. Please share with us the top 3-5 business/leadership books you recommend.

  4. This is great!
    You truly don’t know what you don’t know.
    And saving up those nuggets of good information really pays off when you actually need it!

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