#153: Read Every Day
Speaker 1: One of the lessons that I wish I knew, the earlier version of me, the young version of me knew, a lot sooner than I figured out in my life, was to read every day and why it is so important to read each thing. And I've talked about in the past, I'm seeking wisdom that I used to have this love for reading when I was a kid. And then I felt like school rightly or wrongly, kind of, burned it out of me or pushed it out of me or removed that love and turned it into a chore or a job, and that caused me to rebel against it. And so I stopped reading for a long time. And then decades later, I started the habit of reading each day. Again, I wish I would have never stopped.
Adam Schoenfeld: Let's assume that most people agree that reading is important and get the general idea that you can pick up a lot from reading.
Speaker 1: Mm- hmm(affirmative).
Adam Schoenfeld: Why do you think it is that so few people actually integrate this into their lives, in the form of a habit or a practice like you're describing?
Speaker 1: Well, I think that it's like all of the lessons that we're going to talk about. I think people have heard it and they believe that they know it. And so in their minds, they dismiss the advice and say,"oh, I already know that,""oh, I already knew that," but as you said, very few people practice it. Like have said before, everybody already knows the secret to losing weight, eat less, move more, but no one does it. Right? And that's why there's a gigantic industry that markets to us about new shortcuts and tricks to be able to lose weight, which inevitably, we all fail trying to follow those things. So we tell ourselves we know it, we don't do it. I think one of the reasons that we fail at reading, and I failed at reading each day was because I, and I don't know if this was the school system, I don't know if this was conventionalism listening to consensus, I don't know where this idea came from, but I had this idea in my head that when you heard that advice about reading every day, it meant that you had to read something profound, something that was almost the, like we were taught to read in school. Like you had to study something and read it and memorize it in order to, for you to get the value out of it. I think that's a bias that many of us carry and that was what prevented me from wanting to read, because of course, if you carry that weight around, it's not enjoyable. It's not recreational. It's not something you look forward to. And then it's not a habit you adopt. And really my message to everyone right now is, it doesn't matter what you read. At all. Right. It doesn't have to be profound. Does it have to be tedious? It can be, you can read a magazine. You can read a Grisham crime novel. You can read a Mind comic novel. You can read science fiction. You can read about celebrities. You can read, one of my favorite things is to read biographies, right? It doesn't matter what you read and it doesn't matter how much you read each day. You could read one single page per day, or you can read half a page per day. And if you do that each day, as we know, it compounds over time. And the reason that the reading is important is not to memorize what you're reading, but because reading allows the synthesis to happen with your own thoughts and the ideas in their pages that you're reading or listening to, and those things come together to help you form new ideas and help you clarify some of the thoughts that you may have in your head. So there's almost a meditative aspect to reading that I think is not emphasized enough.
Adam Schoenfeld: Can you tell me about your own reading practice and how it's evolved? I get the point about starting with a page a day, start with whatever you like.
Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).
Adam Schoenfeld: Can you walk me through the levels of the game that you've gone through?
Speaker 1: It continues to change each day. I think this, especially now as we're recording this, we're recording in a post COVID- 19 pandemic world, where there's so many people have gone through so much emotional stress. And all the stuff that we're dealing with, at least in the US, around race and the Black Lives Matter movement and all the things that we're trying to wrestle with as a society, that so many of us, including myself are burnt out. And so my reading practice now is very different than it was before this. My reading practice is really about allowing myself to not care what I am reading that day. Right. I could be reading an article. I can be reading a book. I always have a million books in different form that come from either my own research to find them or recommendations or lists that I get from people. And so I have some number, let's say 10 or 12 audio books, always lined up. Some of them, I'm in the middle of. Most of them, I should say I'm in the middle of. Some of them I haven't started. I have books in every room and every house that I'm in. I have books at work. I have books on my phone in the form of Kindle and iBooks. I have books surrounding me in all different formats. And depending on the day, I will listen, or I will just read, or we'll just skim something each day. And every time that I do it, it furthers my thinking every single time. I have not had a negative interaction with making time to read, but I do think, and I mentioned the kind of post- COVID world, I think it's important for us now more than ever to give ourselves leeway permission, to not have to be so intense with your reading or any of the other practices in your life. And I'm more guilty of this than most of wanting to be intense and wanting to be focused and wanting to get better and better and better every day. And I have given myself somewhat a little bit of a break from that.
Adam Schoenfeld: It sounds like by putting books everywhere in digital and physical form too, you're, again, removing friction to just reading something every single day.
Speaker 1: Yeah. I think about it as just removing excuses, right? So I come up with as many excuses as the next person to do this. So I try to do something, which is lower the cognitive load, the friction in having to, one, the cognitive load of having to decide what I'm reading, or how to, what format I should take it in. I have every format covered. And then two on actually being able to read or finding time to read, because I don't have any assigned amount of time or length that I need to read each day.
Adam Schoenfeld: So how do you get the most out of the books that you then choose to read. You're kind of surrounded by books. Once you're picking up a book or a bunch of books in a week or a month, how do you make sure that you're getting the most out of those and integrating that into your decision- making, and your thinking, and synthesizing it in a way that you describe?
Speaker 1: I don't worry about that anymore. So I think that has been... I used to worry about that a lot. So, and I think that is a form of thinking that can become addictive right? In having, wanting to always improve, always get better, always progress. And my coach, Brad Stulberg, who's an author of a couple of books, talks about this a lot, about the dark side of improvement, of wanting to focus on this, and so I've worked with him on that. And so I don't, one, I don't worry about that as much. Two, I think one of the things I really rely on is, I've talked about this in past, seeking wisdom episodes of revisiting the grades, revisiting books that have stood the test of time, revisiting books that I have read several times. And so each week, including this week, I'm rereading something that I've read in the past and those books always for me, because I've self selected them into this group of books that are worthy, that I've found so much value in, that I wanted to revisit. I'm always compounding the effect of those books. The by- product is that I am getting the most out of my time in reading, because I'm screening first for books that I know have had an effect on me, that I keep out, because I know I need to reread them, as I move along, and I'm in different contexts each day. And context is one of the things that I think is underrated in all aspects of whether it's business and personal life. But you have to have remembered what context and frame of mind you're in when you read a certain book or listen to a certain book. And depending on that context, it will help you pull out different things when you read that book. And so those books that I'm revisiting are compounding because I'm bringing to them a different context and different frame of mind. And I'm ready to listen to, or hear, or find lessons buried in that book that I may have missed the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth time I've read the book.
Adam Schoenfeld: Can you give us a little hint into the bookshelf? What are you pulling off right now that fits that category of timeless books that you keep coming back to? A few that you've picked up this week or recently?
Speaker 1: Yeah, there's a number of them. I'd say one of them that's very close to us and what we do at Drift, that we're also rereading. I started rereading and then I got Elias, who's my co- founder, and a couple of other people rereading, is Marc Benioff's book Behind the Cloud, which is the story of the founding and the scaling of Salesforce, which happens to be in our world, in the space that our company occupies. That's a book that I've probably now just picked up. That's got to be... It's got to be at least the fifth time that I've read that book, and I both read it and listened to it. And so depending on my mood, I'll go in between those, but it has to be the fifth time. I'd probably say, it's probably closer to seventh or eighth time that I've read it, although I don't keep track. And so that one, because we are, I mentioned context before, because we are in entirely different contexts at Drift, our company. I am seeing things in a totally different way when I read them, when I read it now for the fifth, sixth, or seventh time than I did the first time that I read that book.
Adam Schoenfeld: So, just closing thoughts, do you see anything else you want to share about reading?
Speaker 1: I'd say for all the people that are listening, if you're listening to this podcast, you're probably already reading. And I will say, this group of listeners, who listen to this, and this community are your most hyper- focused on improvements and measurement and getting better and wanting to improve, right? That's the very theme of this podcast, but I would say no, we're going through unprecedented times, and so give yourself permission to just chill for a second, relax for a second, take things in and digest, and not be so worried about getting the most out of every book that you read or every podcast that you listen to, and just give yourself time to unwind. In that time, in that space, in between doing the things, I will say, is when you have breakthroughs. When you have insights is the space in between. It's not the space while doing or moving or reading. It's the space in between that.
Adam Schoenfeld: All right.
Speaker 1: You know what to do now. You leave, we're coming back with a vengeance. You leave, you go to open Apple iTunes, or Apple Podcasts, I should call it now. You open up Spotify. You open up Stitcher. You open up whatever app it is that you listen to this podcast on. Or if you watch the audio versions on YouTube, and you leave us a six star review. We know that the rating systems only go up to five stars, but this is six star only content here. So you, what you do is you leave five star rating. You leave some feedback. I read every single one of the reviews so shout it out, and then put an extra star in that review to know that we are six star worthy. Starting a little shout out to Adam Schoenfeld, who is helping bring back this show and asking these interesting questions.
Adam Schoenfeld: And we're going to keep working on Apple and all these other apps to get that six star feature crosstalk requests in there. I can't believe they haven't fixed it yet. It looks like a bug BC.
Speaker 1: By the way, don't think that I haven't heard other podcasts talking about six star reviews. When we all know this is the originator of the six star only podcast on inaudible.