A Four-Step Plan to Reach My Reading Goal for 2016

book reading

Hey there reader!

We are almost halfway through the year. I’ve been thinking about writing an update on my reading challenge I started this year and what better time than now? But before I talk about myself let’s talk about you for just a bit.

Why read?

Always be learning.

I know some of you have listened to Colleen talk recently, and I want to highlight one of the most important pieces of advice: READ! I know there are many of you out there who read for pleasure or for business, and I know there are just as many of you who don’t. I was reading through some articles on Medium and I came across one I think is worthy of your attention, “Why Successful People Always Stay A Student” by Darius Foroux. In the article, Darius quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“Do you know the secret of the true scholar? In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him; and in that I am his pupil.” 

What does this have to do with reading you might ask? I look at reading as a way to learn from the authors you read, each of whom have a unique perspective. What better way to learn from someone than by reading their own take in their field of expertise. And it’s not just from non-fiction books that we learn. I can tell you from experience there are many things I learn from some of my favorite fiction works. Whether you learn a new word or the importance of love, each book has something different to offer its readers.

Where am I?

An Updated Look At My Reading Challenge.

Here is where I stand.

  • I pledged to read 50 books through the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge.
  • I have currently finished 9 books.
  • That puts me 15 books behind schedule according to the challenge tracker.

I will admit I have not be as successful as I had hoped. And yes, being 15 books behind schedule is probably too many to overcome but that won’t stop me from pushing towards my goal. Right now I would like to look at a few different things and try to discover what I did right and what I could do better.

What I’ve Done?

Observations from the journey.

When I started the challenge I told you one of the best ways for me to read more was to cut out some of the Netflix I watch. At first this was easy and I probably spent more time reading than I did watching Netflix. What I have noticed though is as time went past I started going back to Netflix more and more. Now I have to consciously think about and make a concerted effort to sit down and read. This is something I have recognized and as long as I work to correct this I should be able to read more books during the second half of the year.

Another observation I have is some of the books I read are quite long, 700 or more pages. Two of the books I am reading now are over 7oo pages. So even though I have not finished as many books as I have wanted, I’ve read a considerable number of pages, in total. As of publication, I have read just under 3000 pages this year.

One of my biggest struggles is I have not been reading business books much since March. I am always one for a good story and I have found that some non-fiction books are written poorly. One book took me entirely too long to read because I could not move past errors such as formatting problems, typos, and a true lack of any substantial lessons. I know this is something I need to work on and what I have started to do is read business books at the end of the workday. This way I am still in work mode and I can devote more brain power to what I am reading.

As you can tell, I am not changing my schedule to fit more reading into what I am doing. I believe we all have things we have to do: work, friends, family, sleep, etc. What I need to do is more effectively use my free time to accomplish my goals. For me, that means less time on Netflix, less time watching soccer (thank goodness that Copa America is finished and UEFA Euro 2016 is winding down!), and less time on social media.

Moving Forward

Attack Plan and Updated Reading List

I know there is still half to year left to read 41 books and I am going to write out a small attack plan here to help me reach my goal:

  1. Read for 30 minutes at the end of each business day.
  2. Watch less Netflix; I am going to try to do a 1:1 Netflix to reading ratio.
  3. Spend at least the last 30 minutes before I fall asleep reading.
  4. Go outside and read! It’s summer and the sun is out. I’ll use that to my advantage.

Updated book list: (12 Read)

  • The Mysterious Affairs at Styles – Agatha Christie
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
  • Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  • The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk – Michael Rank
  • Awakening – Jeremy Laszlo
  • Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History – Antonio J Mendez & Matt Baglio
  • The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey
  • Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath – Ted Koppel
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson
  • Along Came a Spider – James Patterson
  • Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy –  Martin Lindstrom

Also, I wanted to add my favorite fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read so far this year. There is no real judging categories or scores, just whatever I thought was the best read:

  • Fiction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • Non-Fiction: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History – Antonio J Mendez, Matt Baglio

I challenge you to go out and start to read more. I’ve taken some steps to push myself towards reading more. What are you going to do to read more?

Stay Well and Read,

Peter

What I’ve Learned Working At The Literary Prose

glasses-read-learn-book-text-highlighter-pen

Photo via Visualhunt

Since joining The Literary Prose last summer, I have learned much about myself, the business world, and what being an entrepreneur truly means. I wanted to gather my thoughts, information, ideas, etc. I have found most useful for me over these past months and share them.

Each and every day is a challenge

What challenges do you face?

There are many challenges when starting your small business. Some challenges are small and in the end inconsequential like what brand of printer paper you use or what type of desk works best for you. Some challenges have huge impacts; what services or products do we have that customers will buy, what team members you need to hire, what color should your logo be? Some challenges could affect your company but you have no idea what that effect will be until later; Apple or PC, Facebook or Twitter or both? Each and every day you and your company will face these challenges and it is how you face them that truly matters.

While I will not say that we here at The Literary Prose are perfect, each day we strive to better ourselves and the company. What I do to overcome our daily challenges, and what I’ve challenged myself to do is to read more every day. When faced with specific questions on marketing, branding, social media, writing, and any other daily challenges, you can learn all you want, and much more, by reading on those subjects.

Each day you learn something about yourself

Little changes add up to big differences

I don’t know if this is you, but when I first started I thought I either knew everything or Colleen, who had been in business for nearly 20 years, knew everything. That might seem irrational but that very reason was what made me so eager to start. I thought we’d be this huge company, earning six figures, in a matter of months. Was I being naive? Maybe, but being a small business, I learned real quick what I did not know.

Knowing what you know and what you don’t know, and the difference between the two can lead to greater insights into yourself and your company. Each one of us is proficient in many areas of life and business. For example, I went to college and earned a degree in music while playing saxophone. Focusing four years of my life on music provided me a unique insight into what I know and don’t know about music. I feel comfortable with much of the history of music but when it comes to composition, I am about as clueless as the average Joe.

This knowledge of knowing what I know and don’t know developed over time. I remember loving my theory and history classes. I remember my Music History professor saying one of my research papers were written at a graduate level. I remember reading about the composers of the pieces I played. This all culminates into me knowing what I know. If you know what you don’t know, for me composition, you can take what you’ve learned from other areas and apply them to what you don’t know. I know, just by looking at how I learned music history some ways to improve on my composition. I can read about the craft, I can practice composing, I can study other compositions, and I can look at the composer, not in a historical sense but in a more analytical sense.

Each day I learn more about what I know, what I do not know, and how I can apply my learning to other aspects of life.

Information Overload

Do you really know what you’re doing?

This happened to me over the past week. As you might know, we are in the middle of our teleseminar series “The Literary Prose Presents: It’s More Than Just Words.” Last week we wanted to write and publish an ad on Facebook and I took the task upon myself. I went to Facebook, started the process and was almost immediately stumped. What do most of us do when we are hit with a roadblock? We go to Google, and that is what I did, I went to Google and searched Facebook ads. What I found was astonishing. I was immediately overcome with billions; (I’m not exaggerating, when I checked there were about 1.7 billion web pages that matched that query) of possible solutions.

What I learned is there is so much information out there, as I was reading about the process I felt more and more lost. Each article solved one question I had but opened up two, three, or more paths of questioning. So what do you do in this situation? The hardest part of this is discovering what information is helpful and what is not.

Trial and error

Take the plunge

From those 1.7 billion web pages there are bound to be both relevant and irrelevant information on Facebook ads. What makes it more confusing is that some people swear by one method while others scold you for doing those same steps. What I have found is that trial and error is sometimes the best way to forge ahead. If you take into account two different methods you will probably see you are more knowledgeable on some of the steps than others. This is where knowing what you don’t know is important; if you don’t know how to code, don’t use the process that requires you to code.

Once you pick your process stick with it, learn what you did right and what you did wrong, and improve on it the next time. What I have found is that one method doesn’t work for everyone. I like to take many different thoughts on a subject and pick and choose what I like from each resource. I use Buffer blog to show me what size my Facebook picture should be, but I use Hubspot to choose what color I should use for text on that image. What I am trying to say is don’t be afraid to take the step off the cliff and see where it takes you. You will never know what works best for you until you try it.

Conclusion

What I’ve learned and what you should take away

The point I’m trying to make is that knowledge of yourself, your company, and other companies is important. There is no be all, end-all solution to any one problem. You must take your knowledge and apply it to each problem. If you do this and are conscious of what you are doing, you will evolve to better adapt to the challenges you and your company face every day.

Now on to you, the reader. What are some important lessons you’ve learned in business or life that you want to pass along to others?

Thanks for reading,

Peter

52 Weeks to Better Myself

72H book

Challenge Accepted

Personal development

Hello there Reader!

With January past, we are starting to get into the real meat of the year. The holidays have worn off, the time spent at work grows, and that New Year’s Resolution may or may not still be working. That’s okay, we’ve all been there. What happens is that most of us try to change too much too soon. So I want to give you a little extra push on your goals or even a chance to change up your goal and refocus.

Over the past month I’ve been thinking of ways that I can better myself, psychically, intellectually, in business… I often wonder about how I can become better, as my one professor’s in college used to say, “get better everyday.” Yesterday as I sat down to read I had one of those little ah-ha moments.

A Pledge To You

Time to crack those spines

Here is my pledge to you the reader. I pledge to make myself better everyday this year by reading 50 books this year. Yes this is a lofty goal and I know just two paragraphs above here I said that most of us try to change too much to fast. But in all honesty that’s not that difficult.  Just think about how long you spend watching Netflix (For me it’s The Office and The X-Files right now), or maybe you’re one of those people who are engrossed in a game on your phone (Clash of Clans addict here), or think of all the other tasks you do that are not the most productive use of your time (no one is 100% productive). Now think if you just read a book instead of watching one more episode of The Office (you don’t have to stop rooting for Jim and Pam) that’s 20 minutes of reading time.

That’s how I’m going to pursue my goal, one less episode of The Office (or The X-Files) a day. Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching Netflix all at once, leaving me with nothing but reading to do. No that would be a too drastic change, but who knows in a few weeks maybe I’ll be down to watching one less episode a night.

Reading Lists

What I’ll be reading in 2016

Now what will I be reading? A little bit of everything! With the aforementioned new year it seems as though there have been about as many people offering up reading lists, for this year and last year, as there are people who have tweeted or wrote a blog. I’ve also been delving into Goodreads lately and there are so many reading lists on to pick and choose from. I also have gone back to high school Pete and  thought about what I read, what I want to re-read, what I only read the Cliff Note’s for, there are about 40 books right there to think about. There are so many books out there to read, it really is impossible to not find something for you to read.

With my pledge of reading 50 books I want to read at least 20 books focused on business.  Reading business books will push me to learn more about the business, how we can better help you, how to interact better with people both in person and through the ever-growing field of social media and the internet in general.

That means that I have plenty of room for the fun books too! These are the books that I truly love, the books that I have laid in bed reading until 3:00 in the morning when I had to wake up at 7:00. This is what I’ve been reading almost exclusively in the past few months and what I want to continue reading. Fiction novels still provide you with knowledge that helps you in your life, it gives me imagination, access to language that I don’t hear in everyday speak, it provides insights into other people’s thoughts, and many, many more things.

A Challenge For You

Reach for the stars

I would like to challenge you to read a little more this year! Take the time to grow as a professional, as a human being, or better yet, both. If you use Goodreads I challenge you to pledge a number of book to read this year (look me up and lets be friends). Don’t stretch yourself too thin but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. By striving to reach just above your comfort level people are more likely to work for and achieve their goals. If you tend to read 10 books a year, maybe stretch your goal to 15, there is no need to do 50! I’d love to hear your thoughts on reading , or your thoughts on what to read.

To keep myself honest I’ll be posting a list of the book I’ve read right here, I’ll try to update as much as possible.

What I’ve Read

– updated 3/8/2016

So I’m up to 7 books, a bit behind schedule but that’s okay, I hope to finish up a couple books this week!

Fiction and Fun Non-Fiction

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Children of the After: Awakening (book 1) by Jeremy Laszlo

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez 

Business Non-Fiction

The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk by Michael Rank

 

Thanks for the read! Hope to see you on Goodreads or down in the comments!

Peter Wietmarschen