How to Read Effectively to Deliver Powerful Leadership

Leadership requires a constant flow of intelligence, ideas, and information. There is no way to gain the basics of leadership without reading.

As a boy in elementary school, I remember with fondness the Weekly Reader Club, a newspaper of sorts as well as an opportunity to buy books. My parents, especially my dad, were always happy to accommodate my asking for books to buy and bring home.

I recently gave new meaning to that idea, creating a Wednesday Weekly Reader series, in which I post a portion of the SUMS Remix book summaries I create as Vision Room Curator for Auxano.

 

Reading is my passion – but I don’t just read for reading’s sake.

The leader learns to invest deeply in reading as a discipline for critical thinking.

Al Mohler

leaderslibrary

Reading, for me, is a chance to have an ongoing conversation with the author. The image above, taken from a new addition to my reading list, reflects the inside cover of almost every book in my library.

  • The large green Post-it® notes are for writing down important ideas from my reading of the book.
  • The smaller yellow Post-it® notes are for bookmarking important ideas in the pages of the book itself.
  • The four symbols are my “shorthand” for use while reading, indicating additional action needed.
  • I also usually highlight sections in various colors.
  • And on occasion, I will write longer notes in the margins.

When I’m finished with a book – particularly one that has really engaged me and caused me to think – the result looks something like this:

hatchbooknotes

I’m an active reader, working on becoming a more critical thinker, which will help me become a better leader.

What – and how – are you reading?

Advertisement

Is “Reading” 286 Books in a Year a Sign of Addiction?

One of my greatest passions is reading. I developed this passion at an early age, and have continued to strengthen it over the years. In addition to being my passion, reading is also an important part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano. In that role, I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix every two weeks. SUMS Remix is a modified book summary in which I develop a solution to a common problem faced by church leaders from 3 different books. So, preparing SUMS Remix in 2016 alone means I have gone through dozens of leadership and organization development books to arrive at the 78 used in producing 26 issues this year.

Other parts of my role required reading current trends books, used for social media posting and content writing.

Then there’s my passion area of Guest Experience, in which I am constantly researching customer service books for application for churches.

And, as many readers know, I am a Disney Fanatic – which extends to building a Disney library, currently over 400 volumes and growing!

Finally, there’s just the pure pleasure of reading – an almost nightly hour or two in the late evening reading a wide range of books, both brand new and classics, fiction and nonfiction.

Add those 5 categories all together, and in 2016 I have “read” 286 books. 

reading2016-1

First, a disclaimer: I did not read all 286 cover to cover. With such an immense (and pleasurable) task in front of me, I have to resort to some method of finding out what an author is trying to say without reading the whole book.

Here’s how I did it – and, of course it starts with a book!

How to Read a Book

Literally – that’s the name of a classic book by Mortimer Adler.  The first lesson of reading is to learn that you don’t need to “read” each book the same way. Here are Adler’s 4 levels of reading:

  • Elementary Reading – What does the book say?
  • Inspectional Reading – What is the book about?
  • Analytical Reading – What does the book mean?
  • Syntopical Reading – What does a comparison of books on the subject reveal?

Some books are only meant to be read at the first level; others are meant to be digested at some of the other levels. Know which is which!

To get the most out of a book in the least amount of time, try this strategy:

  • Read the title.
  • Read the introduction
  • Read the Table of Contents
  • Flip through the material, scanning the chapter titles and subheadings. Note the words that stand out as bold, different colors, underlined, or italicized.
  • Examine the illustrations, captions, charts and diagrams. Read the pull-quotes and sidebars.
  • Scan through the index looking for buzz words that interest you.
  • Read the first chapter.
  • Flip through the book and read the first sentence of each paragraph in each chapter. In a well written and edited book, the most important sentence containing the topic is usually the first sentence of the paragraph — but not always.
  • Read the last chapter. If there is an executive summary, read it.
  • Read any other information on the cover or dust jacket.

If the book captures your attention after doing the above tasks, then by all means dive right in!

The converse is true: if a book doesn’t capture your attention after a few attempts, stop reading it. Pick out another one on the topic – there are always more waiting for you!

With that caveat in mind, my “cover-to-cover” reading for 2016 was 157 books.

reading2016-4

While the knowledge gained from reading is important, the real benefit is from the habit of reading. When you are continually reading, you condition your mind to keep taking in new knowledge. Your thinking remains fresh and sharp. Your brain is always churning on new ideas, looking for new connections it can make. Every day you pour in more ideas, which your brain must find a way to integrate into your existing knowledge base. Frequent reading fires up your neural activity, even during the periods when you aren’t reading.

Reading is a gift that you can unselfishly give yourself, one that truly keeps on giving. Why don’t you bless yourself and those around you by reading a new book in the first weeks of 2017, and sharing its wisdom with others?

Me? Well, I’ve got four books lined up for delivery by Amazon the first week of January, and another two on reserve at the library.

Conduct Visual Meetings to Boost Productivity

Do your meetings tend to suck the wind out of your team, instead of filling its sails?

There’s nothing more annoying than a meeting that goes on and on and on – except maybe a meeting that goes on and on and on AND doesn’t accomplish anything.

Many ministry teams fritter away precious time during meetings on unfocused, inconclusive discussion rather than rapid, well-informed decision making. The consequences are delayed decisions that lead to wasted resources, missed opportunities, and poor long-range planning.

Want more successful meetings? Try the following solution and your team will look forward to meetings instead of avoiding them.

Conduct visual meetings to boost productivity.

remix8-2fb1

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Visual Meetings, David Sibbett

Visual Meetings explains how anyone can implement powerful visual tools to facilitate both face-to-face and virtual group work. This dynamic and richly illustrated resource gives meeting leaders, presenters, and consultants a slew of exciting tricks and tools to unlock creativity, collaboration, and breakthrough thinking.

Using techniques like graphic recording, visual planning, story boarding, graphic templates, idea mapping and more, Visual Meetings will help you and your team communicate ideas more effectively and engagingly.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Used properly, a simple drawing is more powerful than any data spreadsheet or software presentation platform. It can help us crystalize ideas, think outside the box, and communicate in a way that other people simply “get.”

Over the last decade, the concept of utilizing visualization techniques has moved beyond a few talented practitioners to become available to – and useful for – any leader.

Anyone can clarify a problem or sell an idea by visually breaking it down using a simple set of visual-thinking tools. Thinking with pictures can help you discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve your ability to share your insights.

In my experience, visualizing meeting purposes and objectives is one of the most helpful things you can do to make a meeting work. And getting people involved early in talking about expectations and hoped-for outcomes is even more effective. Because people are free to imagine whatever they want and often do, this investment is the first step in focusing group intelligence.

The Power of Visual Meetings

Participation – Engagement explodes in meetings when people are listened to and acknowledged by having what they say recorded in an interactive, graphic way.

Big Picture Thinking – Groups get much smarter when they can think in big picture formats that allow for comparisons, pattern finding, and idea mapping.

Group Memory – Creating memorable media greatly increases group memory and follow-through – a key to productivity.

Benefits of Visualization

  • Visual recording in a meeting immediately acknowledges that someone was heard and how they were heard in ways that verbal communication alone does not.
  • Working visually is deeply integrative – it combines both visual (right brain) and verbal (left brain) ways of operating with interaction and physical movement.
  • Graphic displays can contain contradictory information on the same sheet of paper, softening the either/or thinking that our spoken language reinforces.
  • Working with graphic metaphors allows people to talk directly about how they are making sense of things.
  • Working with visual imagery taps people’s imagined realms, making the stuff of hopes and dreams, intentions, and visions more accessible.
  • Arranging information on pages or wall displays addresses not only the individual words and symbols, but also their overall interconnections and organization.
  • Translating from spoken word to visual representation forces everyone to become conscious of the patterns in both.

David Sibbet, Visual Meetings

A NEXT STEP

In order to start your team thinking about a visual meeting, you have to begin before the meeting. Consider taking these actions in advance of your next team meeting:

  • Create a poster with a catchy title and simple graphic image and place it at eye level outside your meeting room door.
  • Using a chart tablet or white board, have meeting participants sign in with their first name and a pressing issue or question related to your meeting.
  • Prior to the meeting, visually list your agenda on a chart tablet or white board.
  • Using a chart tablet, create a scorecard listing decisions made, action items agreed on, and individual responsible. During successive meetings update and add to this scorecard as needed.
  • During the meeting, ask participants to visually illustrate the conversation and decisions of the meeting. Build in time at the end of the meeting for each participant to briefly share his or her “visual notes” with the rest of the team.

After one month of following the above actions, schedule one hour to review, evaluate, and revise your team’s use of visual meeting practices.

Many church leaders view meetings as a necessary evil to accomplish ministry assignments and tasks. The solution presented above demonstrates that not all meetings are necessary, and the right kind of meeting doesn’t have to be evil.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here. Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Do You Communicate a Lot, But Don’t Consider Yourself a Great Storyteller?

Have your eyes ever glazed over as a speaker drones on and one, spouting statistics and facts? Do you even remember anything an hour later? What about the next day?

Now it’s your turn to be in front of your team. How are you going to reach and connect with them?

Do you communicate a lot, but don’t consider yourself a great storyteller?

It’s time to reach back in human history, and turn to the power of the story.

Storytelling has existed as the primary means of communicating among people even long before writing was developed. Success was measured by how much the audience remembered and a high value was placed on techniques that helped people remember things.

In spite of all the technological marvels available to leaders today, the simple but powerful use of a story often translates your ideas into realities in the listener’s minds. Stories are effective when they lodge in the heart of the listener, and are then acted on.

Solution #3 Make the listener, not you, the hero of your story

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Resonate, by Nancy Duarte

sums-remix-3Resonate leverages techniques normally reserved for cinema and literature, revealing how to transform any story into an engaging journey. Using the techniques in Resonate, you’ll be able to:

  • Leverage the hidden story structures inherent in great communication
  • Connect with your audience empathetically
  • Create captivating content
  • Craft ideas that get repeated
  • Inspire enthusiasm and support for your vision

Stories are the most powerful delivery tool for information, more powerful and enduring than any other art form.

A Simple Solution

Wouldn’t you like to have your audience leaning forward in their seats, anticipating the next few words you will be saying? A great story has that effect on listeners, and it begins with making the listener the hero of your story.

When trying to connect with someone while telling a story, you have to remember that it’s not all about you.

You are not the hero who will save the audience; the audience is your hero.

You need to defer to your audience because if they don’t engage and believe in your message, you are the one who loses. Without their help, your idea will fail.

Leaders need to take this to heart, place the people in the audience at the center of the action, and make them feel that the presentation is addressing them personally.

So what’s your role, then? You are the mentor. The audience is the one who’ll do all the heavy lifting to help you reach your objectives. You’re simply one voice helping them get unstuck in their journey.

When you change your stance from thinking you’re the hero to acknowledging your role as a mentor, you will find your viewpoint altered. A mentor has a selfless nature and is willing to make a personal sacrifice so that the hero can reach the reward. Audience insights and resonance can only occur when a presenter takes a stance of humility.

Nancy Duarte, Resonate

A NEXT STEP

Changing your stance from that of the hero to one of the storyteller will connect the listeners to your idea and make them the hero. When listeners become the hero and connect to your idea, they will change.

Good church leaders are telling stories all the time. As you prepare for your next leadership speaking opportunity it’s easy to become the center of the story. Remember to make the listener the hero instead of you.

By offering a clear choice of what is (their present situation) with what could be (a better future), the people you lead become the hero. As you preach, are you making members of the congregation the hero? When you lead your church in a capital campaign, they are the heroes. As a team leader, your team should be the hero. In a small group, the group members are the hero.

Of course, every story related to the Gospel makes Jesus the hero.

Ultimately, you need to make your story about Jesus.

How will you know if you are becoming more effective with your stories? It’s simple: you will be accomplishing whatever you had hoped to accomplish by telling the story in the first place.

It’s time for you to step out and lead through your stories!


Part of a new series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, as biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here. Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

The Top 15 Books of 2015 – from My Perspective

Each year during the last week of the year, the posts here at 27gen usually focus on the topic of books. My last post of the year features my top books of the year. Here’s the deal:

It’s a very subjective list – okay? The only thing all the titles have in common is that they were published in 2015. That, and each book spoke to me in a meaningful way.

As mentioned in a previous post, I read a lot – but usually focus in four areas. Naturally, my Top 15 choices are going to come from these areas.

There are some really good books out there that I am aware of that did not make it into my reading cycle, so they aren’t included. It doesn’t mean they weren’t great books, just that I didn’t read them.

Here, then, are my Top 15 Books of 2015, in no particular order.

The Experience: The 5 Principles of Disney Service and Relationship Excellence, Bruce Loeffler and Brian Church

Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others, Cheryl Bachelder

Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses, “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration – Lessons from The Second City, Kelly Leonard

Communicate to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action, Ben Decker

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, General Stanley McChrystal

Reframe: Shift the Way Your Work, Innovate, and Think, Mona Patel

X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis

Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Walt Disney’s Animation Studio, Don Hahn

The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

Rising Strong, Brené Brown

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery, Kevin Ashton

The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life, Bernard Roth

No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, Michelle Segar

Brand Flip: Why Customers Now Run Companies and How to Profit From It, Marty Neumeier

Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send, J.D. Greear

Today we close out 2015, tomorrow ushers in 2016, and whole new worlds are waiting to be discovered – in books.

EinsteinonBooks1

I Read to Cheat Old Age – What About You?

It’s the last week of 2015, and at 27gen that means #ReadingWeek!

All week my posts will be about books, reading, a few things connected to the two, plus my Top 15 Favorite books, an annual list published on the last day of the year.

To start the week off, consider this: I read to cheat old age.

It is my habit to make my lunch hour my own personal “Lunch and Learn” activity. As I work from an office in my home, I typically take a break from work to enjoy lunch seated at my kitchen counter, reading a book.

So it’s appropriate that, while reading Curious, by Ian Leslie, I came across this information:

Being epistemically curious is a crucial condition of feeling fulfilled and alive.

Science supports this intuition. Neurologists use the term “cognitive reserve” to describe the brain’s capacity to resist the ravages of old age. For a study published in 2013, a team led by Robert Wilson at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago enrolled three hundred elderly people and tested their thinking and memory skills each year. The participants were also asked about how often they read, wrote, and engaged in other cognitively demanding activity, not just currently, but in childhood and middle age.

Following each participant’s death, his or her brain was examined for evidence of dementia. It was discovered that, after taking into account the physical effects of dementia on their brains, the subjects who made a lifelong habit of a lot of reading and writing slowed their rate of mental decline by a third compared to those who only did an average amount of those things.

In other words, those individuals cheated old age.

 – Ian Leslie, Curious

My lifelong, and ongoing, investment in reading is really an investment in my future.

courtesy photosteve101

courtesy photosteve101

What will you be reading today?

Favorite Books of 2014, Part 2

Yesterday I introduced my first 7 books on my favorite books published in 2014; you can read it here.

Here are the remaining 7 books:

Curious about these books? Read on!

InnovatorsThe Innovators, Walter Isaacson

The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.

What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail?

This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.

AMoreBeautifulQuestionA More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger

In this groundbreaking book, journalist and innovation expert Warren Berger shows that one of the most powerful forces for igniting change in business and in our daily lives is a simple, under-appreciated tool—one that has been available to us since childhood. Questioning—deeply, imaginatively, “beautifully”—can help us identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities. So why are we often reluctant to ask “Why?”

Berger shows, the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners. They’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking—and finding powerful answers.

WhosTheLeaderofTheClubWho’s the Leader of the Club, Jim Korkis

Acclaimed Disney expert Jim Korkis tells the stories of what Walt did right, what he did wrong, and how you can follow in his footsteps. Drawing upon his unparalleled knowledge of the Disney Company and its legacy, Korkis distills the essence of Walt Disney’s leadership principles into an exciting narrative of popular history and self-help.

You’ll read not just about what Walt did but why he did it, and how you can apply the lessons to your own life or your own enterprise.

DoodleRevolutionThe Doodle Revolution, Sunni Brown

What did Einstein, JFK, Edison, Marie Curie, and Henry Ford have in common? They were all inveterate doodlers. These powerhouse minds knew instinctively that doodling is deep thinking in disguise—a simple, accessible, and dynamite tool for innovating and solving even the stickiest problems.

Sunni Brown’s mission is to bring the power of the Doodle to the rest of us. She leads the Revolution defying all those parents, teachers, and bosses who say Stop doodling! Get serious! Grow up! She overturns misinformation about doodling, demystifies visual thinking, and shows us the power of applying our innate visual literacy.

Doodling has led to countless breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, architecture, literature, and art. And as Brown proves in this inspiring, empowering book, it can help all of us think and do better in whatever fields we pursue.

With passion and wit, Brown guides you from the basic Doodle all the way to the formidable “Infodoodle”—the tight integration of words, numbers, images, and shapes that craft and display higher-level thinking.

MythsofCreativityThe Myths of Creativity, David Burkas

We tend to think of creativity in terms reminiscent of the ancient muses: divinely-inspired, unpredictable, and bestowed upon a lucky few. But when our jobs challenge us to be creative on demand, we must develop novel, useful ideas that will keep our organizations competitive. The Myths of Creativitydemystifies the processes that drive innovation. Based on the latest research into how creative individuals and firms succeed, David Burkus highlights the mistaken ideas that hold us back and shows us how anyone can embrace a practical approach, grounded in reality, to finding the best new ideas, projects, processes, and programs.

LifeAnimatedLife, Animated, Ron Suskind

Imagine being trapped inside a Disney movie and having to learn about life mostly from animated characters dancing across a screen of color. A fantasy? A nightmare? This is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood.The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue and song; until they all emerge, together, revealing how, in darkness, we all literally need stories to survive.

HowStarWarsConqueredUniverseHow Star Wars Conquered the Universe

In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, veteran journalist Chris Taylor traces the series from the difficult birth of the original film through its sequels, the franchise’s death and rebirth, the prequels, and the preparations for a new trilogy. Providing portraits of the friends, writers, artists, producers, and marketers who labored behind the scenes to turn Lucas’s idea into a legend, Taylor also jousts with modern-day Jedi, tinkers with droid builders, and gets inside Boba Fett’s helmet, all to find out how Star Wars has attracted and inspired so many fans for so long.

Since the first film’s release in 1977, Taylor shows, Star Wars has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics in far-flung countries and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike. Controversial digital upgrades and poorly received prequels have actually made the franchise stronger than ever. Now, with a savvy new set of bosses holding the reins and Episode VII on the horizon, it looks like Star Wars is just getting started.

An energetic, fast-moving account of this creative and commercial phenomenon, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe explains how a young filmmaker’s fragile dream beat out a surprising number of rivals to gain a diehard, multigenerational fan base—and why it will be galvanizing our imaginations and minting money for generations to come.


That’s it for 2014. My reading list for 2015 is already underway – Amazon is making a delivery tomorrow, and I’ve just received an email from the library – a book I’ve got on hold just came in.

What will you be reading?

Favorite Books of 2014, Part 1

It’s time to close out the reading year – just in time to start a new one!

A quick review of the numbers:

  • Purchased or review copies of books – 93
  • Library books checked out – 91
  • Kindle books downloaded – 55

That’s 239 books read in 2014, averaging over 4 a week. I’m not a speed-reader per se, but I do read fast – and I don’t read everything in every book.

Of course, reading is a big part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano, so that gives me a definite advantage! Reading is also my main hobby, so even my “down” time often finds me with a book in hand.

In no particular order, here are the first 7 of my 14 favorite books published in 2014.

You can read the rest of the list tomorrow.

I realize this is a very arbitrary list, and has several books that may not seem like leadership books. No apologies there – I happen to believe that leaders in organizations of every size and type have a LOT to learn about their customers (all organizations have customers – we just call them different names). I also believe that all organizations need leaders who are creative and innovative in all areas. Finally, I believe that organizations need leaders who understand the power of simplicity.

Curious? If you’re interested in more than just the title, read on!

WhatGreatBrandsDoWhat Great Brands Do, Denise Lee Yohn

Some business leaders think of brands only in terms of messages and marketing tactics because that’s all they know. Others want a quick fix and would rather change what they say about themselves rather than actually change. Still others understand the full business value of a brand but lack the tools and methods to realize it. What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee Yohn will educate the first group, persuade the second, and equip the last.

MomentsofImpactMoments of Impact, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. In this book, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon “crack the code” on what it takes to design creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions that soar rather than sink.

CreativityInc2Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

EssentialismEssentialism, Greg McKeown

The Way of the Essentialist by Greg McKeown isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

46RulesofGeniusThe 46 Rules of Genius, Marty Neumeier

There’s no such thing as an accidental genius. Anyone who’s reached that exalted state has arrived there by design. But simply wanting to get there is not enough. A would-be genius also needs a theoretical framework, a basic compass, a set of principles to guide the way forward.

Marty Neumeier, acclaimed author of The Brand Gap and Metaskills, has compressed the wisdom of the ages into the first “quick start guide” for genius46 glittering gems that will light your path to creative brilliance. This is THE essential handbook for designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, educators, artists, scientists, innovators, and future leaders in every field.

BriefBrief, Joseph McCormack

Author Joe McCormack tackles the challenges of inattention, interruptions, and impatience that every professional faces. His proven B.R.I.E.F. approach, which stands for Background, Relevance, Information, Ending, and Follow up, helps simplify and clarify complex communication. BRIEF will help you summarize lengthy information, tell a short story, harness the power of infographics and videos, and turn monologue presentations into controlled conversations.

HowTheWorldSeesYouHow the World Sees You, Sally Hogshead

You already know how you see the world.
But do you know how the world sees you?
How is your personality most likely to impress and influence the person sitting on the other side of the desk or boardroom?

Once you know what makes you valuable to others, you’re more authentic and confident, and more able to make a positive impression. It all begins with understanding how the world sees you—at your best. How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead gives you the step-by-step method to describe yourself in just two or three words. This short phrase is your Anthem, the tagline for your personality. Your Anthem guides you like a mission statement, helping you to build your team, write a LinkedIn profile, or captivate an audience.

That’s the first 7 of my 14 favorite books published in 2014. Tomorrow I will list the final 7.

Reading the Year Out

Leaders are readers.

Today and tomorrow’s posts are an annual tradition at 27gen – all about reading and my favorite books of the year. Here are a few links to previous year’s posts – click and follow the link for a few thoughts on the importance of reading – and how to read!

Reading 101

Getting the Most Out of Reading

Put Down the Duckie

Read to Lead

When You Find a Leader, You Find a Reader

Thomas Edison on Reading

Reading Requires Deliberate Practice

I Read to Cheat Old Age – What About You?

I’ve been a reader of books since, well, before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and he passed that passion along to me at an early age. Even though he worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, he often spent several hours reading at night. He and my mother insisted we go to the library in the next town and check out books – every two weeks. I would get the maximum number of books, take them home, and read them – usually in the first day or two. Then it would be an impatient wait till the next library trip.

Reading is a passion I treasure, and one that I am thankful to my dad for.

I enjoy books as a multisensory experience – you not only read the words on a page, you feel the binding and turn the pages, hear the crackle of a very old book being opened for the first time in a long time, and then there’s that “book” smell – a combination of age, dust, maybe a little dampness – but all telling you an adventure is waiting.

For books connected with my role as Vision Room Curator, I use the margins to have a conversation with the author – writing comments, questions, and references to other books. I also use Post-It notes to mark certain sections. Marking in books was definitely a “no-no” in school, but I have found the practice to be a great help to me in experiencing the book.

Although I’m an early adopter in almost everything else, it’s just that “experience” that has kept me from moving into the eBook world all the way. I’ve been dabbling in eBooks for several years, moving ahead with a Kindle, and I’m glad I did. Having a library at my disposal in one volume has been very rewarding – but I will always be a “book” guy at heart.

So in wrapping up 2014 and looking forward to 2015, you’ll find me with a Kindle in my backpack – and several volumes of traditional books as well!

Next: my favorite books of 2014.

Reading Requires Deliberate Practice

Researchers are clear about this point: It doesn’t matter whether it’s in sports, music, medicine, computer programming, mathematics, or other fields. Talent is not the key that unlocks excellence.

You need a particular kind of practice – deliberate practice – to develop expertise.

In honor of SUMS Remix, the best-of-class book summaries for leaders, I want to paraphrase authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s discussions in their book The Truth About Leadership on deliberate practice and apply them to reading.

Five Elements in the Deliberate Practice of Reading

  • Design a reading discipline to specifically improve your performance – if you want to become an expert, you must have a methodology, a clear goal, a way to measure success, and a specific process for accomplishing the goal.
  • Reading has to be repeated a lot – sloppy execution is not acceptable to top performers. Read far and wide in your chosen field with sustained effort.
  • Feedback on your results must be continuously available – every learner needs feedback. As you are reading, make it a practice to share your insights, comments, and questions with a group of peers, a mentor, or some other third-party to help you analyze how you are doing.
  • Reading is highly demanding mentally – developing expertise requires intense concentration and focus. Reading sessions need to be free of those daily interruptions that are commonplace in everyone’s day-to-day routines.
  • Sometimes reading isn’t all that fun – while you should love what you do, deliberate reading practice is not designed to be fun. The knowledge that you are improving and getting closer to your dream of superior performance should outweigh the sacrifices you make.

The best leaders are the best learners.

The best learners are the best readers.

Want to join me on the “practice” field of reading?

 

 inspired by and adapted from The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner

The Truth About Leadership

 

>> Discover SUMS Remix, best-of-class book summary service for leaders here