Why Reading is Still the Best Investment You Can Make
“What is the ROI of your mother?” — Gary Vaynerchuk
Of course something like the ROI of your mother isn’t quantifiable. That’s the point being made, though. Just because the ROI isn’t quantifiable or traceable through data analysis doesn’t mean that the return isn’t enormous.
Now, Gary is an unashamedly unread success. He has made a life for himself that most people can only dream of without reading any books in his free time. However, as an idol of mine I don’t consider Gary to be the rule, but the exception. By a wide margin, successful people of the same as well as of a much larger caliber read a lot. Bill Gates’ all-time favorite book is Business Adventures by John Brookes, Gabe Newell’s favorite book, which he follows “like the Bible” is Peopleware by Tom DeMarco, and the book that Warren Buffet attributes to his success as an investor and a businessman is The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, just to name a few. In fact, Warren Buffet has made it widely known that the multi-billionaire reads 5–6 hours a day every day.
Like I said before, Gary is the exception. Because Gary is a self-proclaimed “shitty student,” he is awful at reading and thus chooses not to. By choosing not to read, he misses out on the knowledge of not only the author but all those who influenced the author. He literally misses out on cumulatively hundreds of years of experience that is drawn off the author and the experiences the author has drawn off of. By choosing not to read, Gary has relied solely on the experiences and ideas of those he knows through word of mouth. It doesn’t take an economist to get a picture of the opportunity cost of deciding not to be well-read.
Reading keeps the mind fresh and sharp. As Stephen Covey, the author of arguably one of the greatest books ever written in the self-development genre, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, would say: sharpening of the saw is of the utmost importance. For those who haven’t read the book, Stephen Covey uses an example of a man trying to cut down a tree to illustrate this concept. After spending hours trying to cut down this tree to no avail, his neighbor finally comes over and tells him that if he would take the time to sharpen the saw, he would be able to cut it down faster. And the man replies, “but sharpening the saw takes time.”
All the years that Gary spent grinding (gotta admire his impeccable hustle) could have been reduced at least in part by reading books pertinent to business and self-development. Reading is the ultimate form of sharpening the saw, even in today’s date. That is why my YouTube channel, The Enterprise, makes videos primarily about books pertinent to business and entrepreneurship, condensing their biggest ideas into whiteboard animations under 10 minutes long. I realize how truly valuable books are and I want to share that primordial value with eeeeeevvvveryone because I love bringing value to people’s lives the same way that so many others have brought value to my life.
I may not be the most well-read person in the world, but even if you read only 1 book a month, 12 books a year can literally change you as a person and the direction of your life. Never stop sharpening the saw, my friends, and your fortunes will be realizable.
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(Full Disclosure: Those that have been keeping up with my posts probably already know this, but for those that don’t, Gary Vaynerchuk is one of my biggest idols and I’ve got nothing but love and respect for him and how he handles the path of his life)