Learning How to Read Sales Books

IMG_3007I’m often asked what books to read – but rarely asked how to read them…

Have you ever considered, how to read a book?

Following my Keynote at the BASF Sales meeting in Frankfurt Germany this week, I did an interactive session on Character; the importance of building character, and how to go about building your own character. I often ask sales groups, “Are you reading sales and marketing books?” Rarely do I find a group with more than 2 or 3 people actively reading. It’s a lost discipline.  Reading is central to building character.

Mark Twain once said, “The people you spend time with and the books you read determine who you will be five years from now.” That includes both character and skills.

Andrew Carnegie – From Failure to Success

In preparation for my session I was reading about Andrew Carnegie. At an early age he and his family emigrated to the US from Scotland. he was penniless.  By age 30 he had his own business in the steel industry, and by age 60 he was one of the wealthiest people in America. He donated millions to the New York Library, and founded what is now, JP Morgan.  William Thayer, in a book on character writes, “He had few school privileges, for at the early age of 14 he was compelled to quit school forever to earn his daily bread.” How did he become so wealthy? Thayer goes on, “He could read more or less every day…he was a thinker…he was never satisfied without knowing the reason of things.”

How to Read

Later in the book he talks about how to read.  Of course, most of us in business can read. Hopefully you can read this…but that’s not what he’s talking about.  In his section on reading he states, “Get a habit, a passion for reading; not flying from book to book, with the squeamish caprice of a literary epicure, but read systematically, closely, thoughtfully, analyzing every subject as you go along, and laying it up carefully and safely in your memory. It is only by this mode that your information will be at the same time extensive, accurate, and useful.”

How I Read

I started to apply these principles in college. Up until then, books sat unread on my shelf. And those  I did read, I didn’t retain. You would know that from some of my high school english lit. grades.  Today I read every day. I read on the plane, before going to sleep, and often in the morning as well. I also listen to audio books while exercising.

Highlighter in hand, I find that marking my books up helps me pick out the important stuff. I also create a cheat sheet of page numbers and important facts in the books I really care about (I make these note on one of the blank pages at the front of the book). If a book is not helpful, I quickly abandon it. I either sell it or toss it to create more landfill.  The ones that make the cut are on my shelf for future reference.

Video is great – but in many ways I think it has made us lazy. I enjoy watching a great movie. But looking back, it’s the books I’ve not only ready, but studied that have made significant impact on my life and my business.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. Speaking of books, have you read the updated House & The Cloud?  Even if you have the old version, you’ll want to read this one. It’s a complete rewrite, designed to address today’s security market with cloud, BYOD, and the digital, connected generation of workers taking over business right now.

Get it on Amazon.…  << Click to visit Amazon.Com


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