My daily routine includes spending an hour or two a day studying: the news, my industry, and skills. Until recently I’ve focused most of effort towards building my professional skill set. After 5 years of that, I believe I have a reached a point where I can’t really learn much more without changing languages. But my goal isn’t to be a mulit-language programmer but to build business. To do this, I realized I need to work on new skills. After reflection, I decided to build on my leadership, negotiation, and economic knowledge. To that end, I went to Barnes and Noble to see what I could find. I picked up Bob Burg’s “The Art of Persuasion“. For years to this point, I never bought a book by a public speaker.
I’ve always been very cynical of motivational speakers and writers. How can reading a small book full of new age catch buzz-words and quasi-religious brouhaha that amounts to nothing but noise. I know I’m not alone in thinking like that, just check out websites like “New-Age Bullshit Generator” and “Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator“. I don’t need motivated, and my cynicism lead me to lump all speakers into the same group. They’re all out to pray on individual’s desperation to sell them false hope.
Yet Bob, who is a professional speaker now, managed to write a book that didn’t leave me with false hope. While persuasion comes pretty naturally to me, I found the points made in the book invaluable for evaluating how I can do better. The book also frequently suggested other reading, by other authors. From his suggestion, I picked up “Lincoln on Leadership” among other books which have continued to help me build my skills.
Not long after that, a friend suggested I check out YouTube videos of John Rohn’s speaking. If you don’t know him, he was a big motivational speaker in the 60s and 70s. So here I am, watching someone who’s selling people hope, but he’s making a lot of sense. What he has to say mirrors what I’ve learned from experience, but he says it much better and builds on it. He says getting rich is easy, in America, if you work very hard. But the point was, America is one of the only places in the world where you have so much opportunity you have many chances to succeed. My experience exactly. I’ll expand on this soon.
There’s a difference between new age, motivational rubbish and a skilled individual sharing his experiences. I’ve frequently asked older, trusted individuals in my life for advise. I’ve frequently sought out experienced individuals in my industry to learn best practices and expand on my skill set. Yet, unfortunately, I’ve consistently ignored the wealth of knowledge available out there from successful individuals who actually have something useful to say.