How Books Saved My Startup (‘Mind Palace’ Technique)

As I started the year, one of the senior officers of the brand I founded quitted for some pale reasons. No 30 days notice. She vanished in thin air. She left with 12 stores under her watch. This could have been a reason for panic. I could feel my blood shooting to my head in anger. Thoughts of calling my lawyer to file for damages appeared. Hate started to grow in me. But I took a deep breath. The book ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius taught me there’s no use to panic or lose my sense of control of the situation-or in any situation! That book saved my day.

I didn’t like reading books before. I bought some when I was in college that was read only a few pages then I put them back to my shelf. I judged them by their cover. It looked perfect in my collection of books. I looked smart. I wasn’t doing it for yielding knowledge because I am impatient like a Sith.

I read a lot now, or at least I try. I forced myself to read because I didn’t have mentors to go to when I was starting my career as an entrepreneur. Then I started to read more and more. I sought for knowledge like a pauper looking for food. Not all of them were timely to my life that time but they just made sense

Then I realized something.

The past day, I observed myself when I was trying to solve a problem in my business. You see, as an entrepreneur, every other day is an episode of surprises that could be disheartening. Most of it challenging. It doesn’t ask you if you are ready. Entrepreneurship tells you ‘here’s a right hook to your face, and you take it’. Your next move is your call.

So as a 28 year old with a growing business, and even more growing pressures and anxiety with no mama or lifeline to call when you want to pause for a break, how do you solve things that come your way strategically?

So I read the email with the bad news. I leaned back to my chair and like how Sherlock Holmes does it, I opened my…. mind palace. Only mine is not as fancy or as extensive as his. I reopen the book in my mind with a topic that addresses that specific problem. I remember it. I digest it. Then I use it. I return to work wiser.

It’s not some woowoo moment. I just treated it as such because it looked cool when Sherlock Holmes did it. But just give it a try, close your eyes and go closer to your imaginary bookshelf and pick a quakebook (a book that has shaken you to your core) Remember again what it taught you.

Here are some of the books that helped me lately:

i. When I need to empower my team = Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

ii. To navigate our company to hypergrowth= Bold by Peter Diamandis and the article about 10x goal setting and Google’s moonshot thinking method come up

iii. Visioneering for the company= Start With Why by Simon Sinek, Blueprint to a Billion by David Thomson, Bold by Peter Diamandis

iv. Attitude to sudden bad news= my readings about Stoicism come up (ie., Ego is the Enemy, the Obstacle is the Way, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius)

v. When I need to increase my brand’s social media followers= the article about ‘1,000 True Fans’ come up

vi. Productivity problems= The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande and 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and the The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler

vii. When I’m sluggish in the morning= thoughts about mindfulness and mindsetting come up (ie., morning routines by Tony Robbins)

viii. When I feel results are not measuring up= The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

ix. When I need to detach myself from distractions (aka social media) so I could focus on my flow= Deep Work by Cal Newport and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and another of his, Turning Pro

x. When I need intense motivation= The Biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance, Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

xi. When I need to persuade people to my cause= The method of Steve Jobs of ‘reality distortion’ comes up from his biography book by Walter Isaacson

xii. When I plan to redesign my lifestyle= 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

These bits of information and wisdom show up and I take in the learning I got from them and apply them right away, like it’s stored and ready for its essence to help me when I need it.

I say, if you want to rule the world, READ. No wonder Bill Gates and most of the thought leaders I follow do it. They refer books to each other all the time.

The wisdom from books can help you get into the rhythm of your life without fighting what comes next- at least with mine. Books remind me to be a student, and that I’ll be forever a student. When I open them, I get advice from some of the best minds of our time. It’s a powerful thing. Books and well-recommended articles can help you reframe problems and life as it is. Reading books can be our ultimate life hack.

Those years of randomly reading different resources serve me well. Read, read, read. It’s exciting how the things you read will evolve you unconsciously and arm you.

What books do you suggest I read next? Any ‘quakebooks’ or articles that changed your life?