Leaders Read and Readers Lead. Let Me Help You Get Started.

I got my hands dirty today. I t’s been a long time since my fingers were almost black. It felt good, though, to get my hands back in it.

pug dog reading the newspaper and having breakfast in bed

It felt good to rummage around in there, traversing rather methodically, sometimes bouncing around without a real plan but enjoying the motion and the smell.

What is he doing anyway?

I was reading the newspaper.

Yes, it was newsprint all over my hands and fingers.

It’s been a longtime since I’ve read a newspaper … on paper.

I subscribe to 3 daily newspapers and countless magazines, all of which I read for years … on paper.

Since the E-revolution and my first kindle in 2007, I’ve converted to the paperless versions.

Keep reading to receive a simple 7 Step process to help you develop and manage your reading program.

But, I kinda miss the paper

I’m fully committed to the paperless approach to the world and am almost 100% of the way there.

At one point, I had more than 500 lineal feet of hardback books. (If you figure 2–2 1/2 inches wide each, that’s 2000+ books.)

But, space became a concern and already scores of books were packed away in boxes stacked in the garage. I love books and had a spectacular library at one point I time, but when the relentless accumulation of new books came face-face with the evolution of our downsizing, the paper versions were the inevitable casualty.

What have I been missing?

I think I’ve been pretty diligent say, about attacking the contents of the New York Times on a regular basis. Of course, it’s well-organized in sequential sections that I have chosen, although for those sections at the bottom of the stack, I may not get to them.

So today, during a brief getaway with my wife, Connie, the Times arrived at our room with an order of coffee. I immediately thought, “man, I miss reading the paper” and kind of smiled as I realized how silly that was since I regularly DO read the paper.

These days, reading the paper is becoming a lost art. Most people are content to get their news from disparate sources that often ignore basic standards of journalistic integrity. Facts are not carefully checked, sources are not vetted and contradictory points of view are ignored. People are reading snippets and short summaries without understanding the important details of the story. Newspapers are struggling to stay alive, in any form.

I discovered much more than usual

Admittedly, I had a little more time today so I could more leisurely peruse the paper.

But, by just paging through the paper … getting that pesky newsprint all over my hands … I also saw a lot of articles I would normally have missed.

I learned how hard Broadway shows work to get their  songs and scenes on the Tony Awards show, broadcast to over 7 million people, and that they pay $100K – $400K to do it.

I learned that the Golden State Warriors basketball coach was born in Lebanon. His father was the President of American University in Beirut and was assassinated by jihadists while Coach Steve Kerr was in college.

There were countless other revelations as I found other articles of equal interest across a wide range of subjects.

[pullquote]A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people. ~Will Rogers[/pullquote]

Leaders Read and Readers Lead

It’s rare that I’ve found effective leaders who don’t follow this maxim. Their extensive reading either comes naturally or they purposefully make sure they stay informed about a wide range of articles from an even wider range of reliable sources.

Over the years, I’ve gained countless leadership insights from what I have read, including fiction in my favorite Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre and countless articles across every conceivable subject.

They might be personality insights shared that the author didn’t even think to connect to leadership.

They might be a training tip from a story about the relentless preparedness endorsed by military special forces.

It might be a tale of pure doggedness that propels a struggling artist to achieve their breakthrough

If you’re not now, start reading

If you are not a natural reader, there is a simple course you can follow to gain access to these insights and make sure that you are living a fulfilling life by being aware of the world around you.

1. Read a national newspaper

The major national newspapers have proven journalistic teams that make certain all the bases are covered. Newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and others have hundreds of journalists uncovering stories across the globe and are a reliable source of news.

Of course, you must read with a critical eye and separate facts from conjecture and opinion, but critical reading skills can never be overused.

2. Read your local newspaper

If you live in one of the cities that have a major national newspaper, you can kill two birds with one stone.

If not, at least glance at the local paper every day to look for articles of interest.

3. Pick a few of your favorite business magazines

Here’s where it gets a little trickier since there are so many choices.

I stick to the mainline publications like Fortune, Business Week, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes and several others along with the Harvard Business Review.

There are many others from prominent organizations (the Economist, MIT Sloan Review, etc.). Choose a few that appeal to you to gain more insights into the national business community.

If you stay with it, I guarantee you will gain relevant insights, tips and techniques that will serve your business and help you become a More Effective Leader.

4. Select some business blogs

There are probably thousands of blog relevant to your business. They include blogs like this one, and many others about leadership, finance, social media, marketing and countless other subjects.

There are too many to list here, but I will work on putting together a few select lists that might be helpful and will share those with you at a later date.

In the meantime, there are tools like Feedly, Early Edition 2, Flipboard and other RSS tools that allow you to aggregate all of the blogs you have identified.

You can read them at your leisure, sort them by category and save particular articles to read later. This is a great way to organize  the blogs you have chosen to read on a regular basis.

5. Stay up-to-date on industry magazines and websites

Every industry has publications specifically addressing regional and national issues.

Don’t overlook these sources as well as industry websites that often carry current articles, ideas, and tips to make your business more successful.

If you do identify industry sources or observers, they probably publish their articles in a blog format that can be routinely captured without any effort on your part and you can read them later at your leisure using some of the services identified in item 4, above.

6. Commit to reading one book per month

There are endless sources of book lists covering all kinds of genres.

I don’t think you need to focus solely on business books.

There are history books, fascinating biographies and novels that are provocative and stimulate your thinking and consideration of new and fresh ideas across an unlimited range of subjects.

I am putting together a list of recommended books that I think will provide valuable insights for you across a wide variety of subjects, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, stay tuned to the weekly Exkalibur Newsletter where I will regularly identify new books to read.

7. Write

Readers and writers are closely aligned.

It’s rare to find an active writer who is not an active reader.

You might find that starting with something as simple as a daily journal will trigger those muscles and open you up to a more active reading program.

There is a lot of value to journaling and there are several articles promoting that activity. I have not been very good at it, in part because I’m already an active writer in so many venues, but I’m getting better thanks to a convenient digital journal I started using more than one year ago.

If you’re interested in keeping a digital journal, I recommend Day One as a digital journal that you can have with you at all times. I am now an active user and find it’s a great place to record thoughts, events, and activities as they happen.

It is also a great place for reflection. If you don’t spend any time on reflection now, you would be amazed at the power of reflection to learn more about yourself and identify those changes that will make you a more effective leader and a better human being.

That will give you a great start

BTW, I also stumbled across a favorite pen and paper store on that same trip that features beautifully crafted fountain pens and leather-bound tablets.

It may be time to dust off my fountain pen collection and start writing longhand again.

There is something rather elegant about it. 

Like reading the newsPAPER.

Question: What do you spend your time reading? Why not join the conversation and share your thoughts and comments? You can add your message easily by clicking the link to our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.

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