#136: How To Become A Learning Machine (And Triple The Number Of Books You Read In 2019)

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This is a podcast episode titled, #136: How To Become A Learning Machine (And Triple The Number Of Books You Read In 2019). The summary for this episode is: This week on Seeking Wisdom, DC and DG re-visit one of the most popular episodes of all time to share their secrets to reading more books. Why? Because reading is key to transforming you into a learning machine. And that means helping you get ahead in your career. Before you go leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and share the pod with your friends! Be sure to check out more insights on the Drift blog at drift.com/blog and find us on Twitter @davegerhardt, @dcancel and @seekingwisdomio. In this episode: 00:37 - Did you vote? Who are the copywriters for ballots? 2:00 - Why we made this episode 3:54 - You’ve been taught the wrong way to read 5:50 - The key to becoming a learning machine 7:30 - James Altucher: “Idea sex” 9:07 - Stop reading boring books 10:54 - How to stay inspired and keep learning 14:19 - A six-star review from Ethan

Dave: Ladies and gentleman, today on Seeking Wisdom, we're going to talk about the 2019 marketing budget at Drift.

David: X- nay on the budget-ay.

Dave: No. I tried to sneak it in. I started to sneak it in.

David: No. Good chance. Good chance.

Dave: We're back.

David: We're back.

Dave: We're back at it.

David: If you're watching the video, which I suggest you do on YouTube, on the YouTubes, as they say, subscribe to Drift because the young boy Gonzalo is trying to get some subscribers.

Dave: Some subs.

David: But if you see here, what's this on here?

Dave: You voted. I voted today. I voted today.

David: Today, I hope you voted today. You're probably hearing this delayed, but I hope everyone voted.

Dave: Be the change.

David: Be the change. I like what he said. All right, what are we talking about today?

Dave: DC told me that the lines in Essex were not.

David: No.

Dave: So I told him I'm in the south end, if you hadn't heard from this podcast. It was a real who's who of voters.

David: Posh. Posh. Yeah, yeah, posh. That's not where I vote. Where I vote, there was clamors. Also, I always wonder every time I vote, like who comes up with these questions? Who are the copywriters for ballots? Because most of the ballot questions, I read seven times.

Dave: Sure.

David: And I was like,"I still don't understand this." And I'm like," how does anyone else understand this?"

Dave: And they wonder why people don't vote.

David: Confusing.

Dave: It's confusing.

David: Half the ballot questions, yes, meant that you were actually saying no. Half of the nos... When you voted no, it meant yes. And some of the nos, meant no.

Dave: This is like having a conversation with DC. I'm like," He said no, but it means yes."

David: Yeah. It's like, yes. But it actually means no.

Dave: No, it is crazy.

David: No, yes. I was like, I'm lost.

Dave: You would not be a good government employee.

David: No, I rip everything in pieces.

Dave: But it is crazy. It's this long. I'm not sure what the answer is.

David: So what are you talking about today?

Dave: Today we're going to talk about... So a couple of weeks ago, I was getting coffee with Sam Boyd, who's on the sales director here at Drift. And he said, the reason you want to get coffee is, he said," Look, I've been listening to Seeking Wisdom since the beginning," not the beginning, because he missed his lesson," and I like what you guys talk about, but I cannot read. I do not like reading. I don't. How do you do it? What is the secret?" And so that made me think. And so, we went for a walk. We went all around Boston walk, whatever. And I told him all the stuff that we've talked about and I've learned by Osmosis. And I was like,"You know what? I bet you that we haven't done an episode on this in a while." And then I looked back. This was actually episode number two. I can't bring myself to listen to that.

David: Oh my God. It must be so bad.

Dave: Episode number two. And I thought we could bring it and talk about this because actually I think this is the core lesson of Seeking Wisdom. So we're going to talk about today, the secrets to becoming a learning machine.

David: I love it. Dude, I will surprise you. Shock you by saying that I actually can't remember any Seeking Wisdoms past five episodes ago. Isn't that shocking to hear?

Dave: It's great. Yeah.

David: I definitely can't remember number two.

Dave: I can remember them all. Not all of them. There's some, there's some. So, and really I think this whole thing is anchored by this quote, which is why this podcast exists in the first place, which is the quote from Charlie Munger. Right? Which is," I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest. Sometimes not even the most diligent, but they're learning machines. They go to bed every night, a little wiser than they were when they got up. And boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you."

David: I've often said many times that if that could fit on a tattoo on my chest, it would be there.

Dave: It could fit.

David: That'd be small writing.

Dave: No we'd just go full body.

David: Full body. Is that a comment on my girth?

Dave: No, that's not a comment. I knew you were going to take it. Is this a quote that's on the wall over there? Or is it a different quote from him?

David: It is that quote.

Dave: It's that quote.

David: Yeah.

Dave: We should cut to that. Boom.

David: Yeah. We have an entire wall that we just had done at Drift where we have this quote on the wall with an interesting picture of Charlie Munger up there that we drift to size. And, but this is one of my favorite quotes. This is top 10 quotes. Top 10 quotes for me.

Dave: Yeah. All right. So here's what I want to talk about. Pretend like nobody's heard this from you before. Let's go all the way back. Let's talk about how you read books, because you taught me something early on. You taught me a bunch of things early on about reading.

David: Yeah.

Dave: So let's see if you can remember some of those lessons.

David: Yeah. So the first thing that I learned about reading, and it took me a long time. The point of Seeking Wisdom has always been to share some of the stuff that we have learned in order for you not to suffer through the pain that many of us have had to suffer through, and learn it the hard way. So this is something I learned in a hard way. When I was a little kid, I loved reading books. Then when I went to high school and college, I didn't like reading books anymore. I actually didn't do any work, ever, in both high school and college, and didn't want to read any of the books that I was told to read in there for a bunch of reasons. And so, I kind of fell away from reading. And then in my twenties, I still wasn't a big reader. And I figured out after much going back and forth, because I'd try to force myself to read many times, was that the way that I was taught to read a book in school was wrong for me, entirely wrong for me. It works for some people. But I think for most people that I meet, including Sam Boyd here, who says he hates reading, I bet you have been taught the wrong way to read. And the way that I was taught to read was to read from cover to inside cover, to table of contents, to the entire book, to the back flap, to the back of the book and read every word there and read it sequentially.

Dave: And don't give up in the middle when it gets tough. It gets rough in the middle.

David: Yeah. And if I hated the book, I must read it and I cannot stop reading this book until it's done. And because I was taught, and I bet many of you were taught this way from most people that I talked to, a lot of people end up growing up hating books. And so what I discovered was," Wait a second, why am I reading books this way?" I already paid for the book. The author is happy that I read the book. Why am I forcing myself, torturing myself to one, get through books that I don't want to read, that aren't working for me. Two, to always have to read a book one at a time and never to read more than one book at a time. Instead, I adopt an entirely different way of reading and a mindset that was like," Look, if I can get one lesson, two lessons, three lessons," but even if I could get only one interesting lesson out of this book, I only paid eight bucks for it.

Dave: Huge.

David: Like, that's less than a latte across the street here.

Dave: Yeah. No doubt. Especially if you were talking about... Most of the stuff that we talk about is business books, is non- fiction, right?

David: Non-fiction books. Yeah.

Dave: And so usually the reason that book exists, first of all, is because there's one or two lessons, right?

David: That's it.

Dave: Take Ray Dalio Principles. That book is this big. There's really one or two core methodologies or systems in there. And you could learn about those, and you move on, right?

David: Yeah. 100%. And so I made this discovery and ever since then, there's many discoveries, but this one is the one that has helped me the most because all of a sudden I went from forcing myself to read books that I didn't want to read, to reading multiple books at once. If you asked me, I'm actually confused now when people ask me," What are you reading now?" Because I'm like," I don't know. I'm reading like seven books right now. Let me go down the list."

Dave: Yeah. And I've seen it. You pick it up, you flip through it, you see a chapter. Oh, this is interesting. You read that and that's your lesson.

David: Yeah. And then I put it down and maybe pick up another book. And then I go back and revisit those books that I read one chapter in and then I keep reading. And what happens because of this accidental discovery is that once you start reading multiple books, multiple sets of ideas in parallel, they start to feed off of each other. And this thing that... I forgot his name, now.

Dave: James Altucher.

David: James Altucher calls idea sex happens. Right? These ideas come together and they form in a whole new derivative idea that comes out of that. Amazing.

Dave: Like you could be reading a book about copywriting and old school ads. And then also you're reading the book about how Salesforce grew and then all of a sudden in the middle, you put those two things together and you're like," Oh, what if we did this campaign?"

David: Totally. Yeah. And so the number one thing when I talk to people, or if I'm having a hard time like Sam Boyd over here on reading, and they say they hate reading, is to first tell them and relieve them from the guilt of having to read a book in its entirety.

Dave: So number one is: quit books.

David: Yeah. All the time. Quit them all the time.

Dave: You have now the permission to quit books. Number two... And also by the way, if you pick them up, you're going to pick them up at different phases, different stages.

David: Yes. That was the other thing.

Dave: We talk about this a lot, like one book early on at Drift we read with Jason Lemkin, Impossible to Inevitable. Read that in the first year at Drift, re- read it last year, meant something completely different.

David: Completely different. Because you're in a different context. That's the other thing about books is that the great books are the books that you can pick up and you should pick up over and over, over a long amount of time, because in every time that you pick it up, you're going to be in a different context in life. And you're going to pull different lessons out of that book.

Dave: So quit books is one thing. Pick out one or two lessons is such a good other thing. Think about it. Like on the last episode of this, we talked about Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, who's probably won whatever the award is in that world.

David: Lots of awards.

Dave: Lots of awards, right? But you're paying him. The book is probably 600 pages. You buy the book for$ 9. 99. You maybe only read the first third of the book, or first half or quarter.

David: Guess what? Daniel Kahneman is happy you bought the book.

Dave: He's happy. But also you just exchange$ 12 for two ideas, two new lessons that you learned from one of the smartest people in the world.

David: Absolutely, and reminder: that's only two lattes across the street here in Boston.

Dave: Yeah. So quit books. Read for one thing. I also think the third thing is, this is a piece of what I got from you is, I don't read things that are not interesting to me anymore.

David: No. Get rid of them.

Dave: Right? And so it's interesting because you have like... So you send me a lot of books and you also send Will a lot of books.

David: Yeah.

Dave: And my guess, there's a difference in books that you're sending us, right? So what was liberating for me is like," Am I going to get any better? Am I going to be any better in my career or at this company or whatever, if I learn about SaaS metrics and LTV: CAC and all that stuff?"

David: Please no.

Dave: No. Will should do that. He can learn that stuff, right?

David: Totally.

Dave: So my thing, what took off for me personally, is when I started to read, you started to feed me some of those books about stuff that got me excited. And then I put it to work and then said," Oh, whoa, I read that book, and that made me write this headline better, or made me better at this thing." Okay. I'm going to triple down there. And now I just say like," Oh, that's about some VC thing. Like, somebody else can read that. That's not my appetite. I'm going to focus here."

David: Totally. It's an important lesson, which I try to do. When someone asks me for a book recommendation, I try to make that book recommendation personal to them because what I want to happen is I want them to be successful in reading that book and be happy. And these are largely non- fiction books, but sometimes fiction, that they can feel like they've grown in some dimension by reading that book. So I don't believe in generic recommendations because there are lots of books that I would never read and I have no interest in reading and will not help me. And there are other books that will help me a lot. And so for you, I try to give you books that I know that are going to stack on top of each other. Sometimes I make mistakes. I gave you Daniel Kahneman's book too early in the process when you're a young Jedi and it's overwhelming. Yeah. And I should have saved that one for later. That one might be for 10 years from now.

Dave: Yeah, yeah. Still not ready.

David: And so you've got to give people recommendations of books that are right for this time in their context.

Dave: But ultimately I think this actually is not a podcast about reading at all. It's about this mindset of always be learning of seeking wisdom, you know, not to be corny, but like that's really what it is.

David: That's why it started. Yeah.

Dave: And so I think whether that's books, whether that's videos, whether that's YouTube, whether that's movies, whatever it is to be seeking that stuff and then actually have a framework for it. Like, okay, I'm going to pick out one. I'm going to read this until I get one thing.

David: Definitely.

Dave: Maybe you're continuously hooked. And then you end up on page 300 and you're done.

David: Yeah. Maybe you get 10 things out of that.

Dave: But if you get one thing out of that.

David: Totally. Why is this podcast called Seeking Wisdom?

Dave: Why is this podcast called Seeking Wisdom? I know this answer.

David: Okay.

Dave: Fun fact. Number one is a mindset. Number two is, there's a book Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger.

David: Yes. One day I will show a picture. I will post a picture of my nightstand, and on my nightstand, there's only been one book for years now. And that book is called Seeking Wisdom. And it's these lessons, largely from Charlie Munger, but also from other places. And that book is a book that I often go back to and reference. It's more of a reference book than a book that you read in a linear fashion, right? From start to finish. This is a book that you can jump around and pull out lessons from. In our kitchen, there's a little area. There's another book there, which we have out here, which is Charlie Munger's book.

Dave: Yep. The Tao of Charlie Munger. That one?

David: Yeah. Well we have the Tao of Charlie Munger, but we also have the other book, which I'm just blanking on the name of, the blue cover.

Dave: Oh, the Almanack?

David: Yeah. The Almanack. Charlie Munger's Almanack. Charlie's Almanack, it's called. And we had that out there. Another great book. Another book that you jump in reference.

Dave: Poor Charlie's Almanack.

David: Poor Charlie's Almanack.

Dave: The wit and wisdom of Charles T Munger.

David: Yes. So we have that book out there. So these are books that sit around. But anyway, Seeking Wisdom, because I had referenced this so much, written by Peter Bevelin. We created this podcast and we named it after that book because that is what we were working on.

Dave: I remember. This is crazy. I remember interviewing at Drift, and we were talking about podcasts, and you said," I've always wanted to start a podcast." I said," Oh cool. Really? What's it going to be about?" You're like," I'm not really sure, but I know the name of it." I said" What?" And you're like," It's going to be called Seeking Wisdom." And that was like crazy. Right?

David: Yep.

Dave: But that also speaks to what we know about marketing, which is like headline first.

David: Headline first.

Dave: You wrote the headline first, before you had the podcast.

David: Before I even knew what was in it, yep.

Dave: But DC, Poor Charlie's Almanack is$ 80 on Amazon.

David: So what?

Dave: Pay Charlie Munger 80 bucks.

David: How much are those sneakers on your feet?

Dave: These are 120.

David: Okay. So he's got$ 120 Nike's, but he doesn't have that book by Charlie Munger on his nightstand.

Dave: I can't get my priorities right.

David: What does that say?

Dave: I can't get my priorities right.

David: Priorities are screwed up.

Dave: Yep. I wear the free Drift tee though.

David: Okay. Yeah.$ 120 Nike's. That is all he wants.

Dave: All right. That is a secret to becoming a learning machine. How to read more books.

David: Read more books.

Dave: Apply that to everything though, right? MasterClass, YouTube.

David: Yeah. Shh, that's quiet.

Dave: I'm not telling them what you're watching.

David: Okay, k, k. Okay. So I'm on the new learning tip that I'm not going to going to disclose, but I'm going deep, deep.

Dave: There's some science.

David: Some science. I'm going to disclose that in a future podcast, so you have to hold on to that. And maybe I will disclose that after you leave a six star review.

Dave: Sure.

David: So something interesting happened here this week. I already posted this on the IG, right? As, as the kids call it. The IG. On my story. Someone came into the office this week, who we didn't know. He came with a framed note that he wrote and he hand drew six stars.

Dave: Yeah, hold on, hold on, hold on. This is quick enough. Don't move.

David: Yeah, yeah. DG is going to get it, for the people on the YouTubes, they're going to see this, but he hand wrote a note, which was his review that he left on iTunes. And you can leave one, too. And then he hand drew these six stars. Look at this six star rating right here. Gonz, zoom in on this little six star rating right here. Huh?

Dave: Hand.

David: Look at that. That's going to be on the YouTubes. Check that out.

Dave: So, let's talk about this for a second.

David: And he framed it!

Dave: This is somebody who came into our office to have a demo from one of our salespeople to be sold Drift.

David: Yes.

Dave: Brought a present for us on the way in. So you want to talk about the value of what we talked about with reciprocity and what we talked about with the sign and the ads and the poster that we got? This is why we do this podcast. This is why we invested in the brand.

David: Six stars. This is from Ethan. Shout out, Ethan.

Dave: Shout out Ethan.

David: Six stars, a must listen for those starting out. DC and DG are interreplaceable resource for those just starting out, either as leaders or as contributors.

Dave: Sure.

David: Most podcasts tell stories, but Seeking Wisdom goes the distance to synthesize real knowledge from a place of humility, experience, and curiosity. Six stars every time. Woo!

Dave: That's pretty good. That's pretty good.

David: Huh? YouTube. You don't have to create this framed version here, but at least you can go, if you're listening to this, to iTunes.

Dave: This actually looks like he wrote it in pencil and then traced over it in pen to be right.

David: To be right. That's how thoughtful Ethan is.

Dave: Thank you for the in- person review.

David: But six star rating. Go to iTunes, leave a little six star rating. Little shout out for G2. He works hard here. He's working on the videos. He's blowing up the YouTubes.

Dave: Before this, he was out filming Coffee with a CMO: season two.

David: Oh, season two's coming?

Dave: Season two is coming.

David: Okay, shh. I saw a CMO hitter in here.

Dave: There was a hitter in here. She's a real deal. A real deal.

David: Wait til you hear this podcast.

Dave: He has a good plan for season two.

David: He does.

Dave: We're going to shock the world.

David: All right, G2. So leave a little six star review for G2. Say G2, I appreciate you. I love what you're doing on the YouTubes. Give him a little love, a little appreciation. You know, it's almost Thanksgiving time here. We've got to give thanks.

Dave: Give thanks.

David: To G2 and everything that he does.

Dave: All right. See ya.

David: See ya.


This week on Seeking Wisdom, DC and DG re-visit one of the most popular episodes of all time to share their secrets to reading more books. Why? Because reading is key to transforming you into a learning machine. And that means helping you get ahead in your career. Before you go leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and share the pod with your friends! Be sure to check out more insights on the Drift blog at drift.com/blog and find us on Twitter @davegerhardt, @dcancel and @seekingwisdomio. In this episode: 00:37 - Did you vote? Who are the copywriters for ballots? 2:00 - Why we made this episode 3:54 - You’ve been taught the wrong way to read 5:50 - The key to becoming a learning machine 7:30 - James Altucher: “Idea sex” 9:07 - Stop reading boring books 10:54 - How to stay inspired and keep learning 14:19 - A six-star review from Ethan