Pssst – Want to know the secret to success? Reading.
I’ve written in previous posts about what kind of people we’re looking for in our hiring process at Tivix. If you distill it all the way down, “lifelong learner” is probably what we care most about. We’re in a business where the technology landscape changes pretty quickly, so the skills we hire for today will probably be obsolete tomorrow. The only way for each of us to protect ourselves from obsolescence is to be constantly learning. And the best way to be constantly learning is to be constantly reading.
I did a little informal poll at Tivix this afternoon, and apparently the individuals here read an average of about 4.5 hours/day each. That’s a mix of professional and recreational reading. I think that’s good.
In addition to pure knowledge there are all kinds of other benefits that come from reading, of course. Readers tend to be better writers, being exposed to other points of view is good for expanding one’s horizons, etc.
Warren Buffett says “Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest”. I like the metaphor suggesting that you get compounded benefits on each page you read (the more you learn the more efficient you become at learning).
I sometimes have snuck this into interviews, actually, casually asking a candidate if they’ve read any good books lately. If I get an enthusiastic answer and a rundown of favorite books then that shows a passion for reading, which I take as a good sign. A passion for reading is one of the predictors of someone being a lifelong learner.
Today we absorb content in many different ways, from TV to audio books to online videos to movies, and all of these can add to our body of knowledge. But there’s still no substitute for pure reading – books, magazines, online articles (even software documentation!).
But just avoid reading the comments on YouTube. That’s the one kind of reading that is not likely to expand your horizons very much…
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read. -Groucho Marx