The Leaders Are Readers Cliche’

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December 9, 2016 by Jeff Lowen

Once upon a time in a far, far away land, teachers taught children to read. No really… Read. Not just while you’re doing homework or browsing the online news stories or the credits on your favorite movie selection, but dive deep into reading.

Did you know that studies have shown the more you read, the higher your personal income? It’s true!  Here are some interesting stats:

  • 75% of Americans 16 and older read a book last year. Yeah, that’s “A” book…
  • The median number of books read by readers last year was 6
  • The average pushed up by those ‘always-reading’ outliers, was 15.
  • The percentage of readers declined steadily with age, from 90% of 16 year-olds to just 67% of those 65 and older.


Did you know that the average CEO reads 5 books per month – 60 books per year and the reading-aloudaverage American worker reads less than one book per year? In a recent study, the average CEO earned 319 times more than the average worker….that didn’t happen by accident……leaders are readers! And like the cliche’ or not, it appears to be very true!

What’s also interesting about the study is that the fact that the two wealthiest men in World, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, spend hours every day reading. Bill Gates admitted to reading 30 books on a recent vacation! Warren Buffett says he spends the majority of his day reading.

That same study also included data that proved the most influential people in the world ranked their number one hobby and interest as reading, which ranked far above listening to music, travel, and exercise.

According to Tom Corley, these high-income earners read on the following topics:

  • Career-related books.
  • How-to books.
  • History books.
  • Biographies of successful people.
  • Self-help books.
  • Health-related books.
  • Current events books.
  • Books on memory improvement and learning.
  • Psychology books.
  • Leadership books.
  • Science books.
  • New age books that offer inspiration and create a positive mental outlook.

So, here we are, agreeing, understanding, acknowledging, yet how in the heck does anyone have time to read like this? Sure, you have a bazillion dollars, you can afford to read for hours at a time. I have kids and a spouse and a real job and a pain-in-the-ass boss and activities and…

[Insert more excuses here]

I get it. Life gets in the way. But, before I tell you how you can squeeze more time in your life to read, let me share a couple quotes with you:

  • “If I have to motivate you, I will fire you…” ~Chuck Noll, 4-time Superbowl winning head coach of the Pittsburg Steelers.
  • “Bringing attention to a problem without offering a solution is called whining!” ~G.F. Rosario

How fast do you read? Where do you read? When do you read? Let me give you a little insight… If the only time you read is when you bed down for the night and as you get comfy under your covers, you can’t understand why you’re reading that same paragraph over and over again… I think you get the hint. At the end of the day, when you’re tired and ready to shut down, even the most inspiring of pages become futile in holding your attention.

I like to read early in the day when I’m in my most attentive state. Sometimes, I even read standing up or while walking (I fall asleep easily). Sit up and pay attention. If you get tired, stand up, take notes, highlight. Not only these things help you to be more attentive, but note-taking and highlighting help you retain the subject matter.

Are you a 60 word a minute reader? Let’s face it, if you could burn page after page in moments, you’d probably read more, correct?

You’ve heard of Tim Ferriss, yes? He taught scientific speed reading to undergraduates at Princeton University in 1998 at a seminar called the “PX Project”.  The results were substantial. In fact, while on an airplane in China two weeks ago, he helped Glenn McElhose increase his reading speed 34% in less than 5 minutes.

Now, you don’t have to follow any particular program. I did an Evelyn Wood course a few years ago and got my reading speed up to nearly a thousand words a minute! Better comprehension, grammar, and retention, too! The trick is to practice.

Let me say that again… Practice.

The question remains if you knew that by spending some attentive time reading every day that eventually your income would increase, thereby giving you more freedom to share with your family, friends, hobbies, and causes… Would you?

Go back and read what Chuck Noll said!


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