Read or heard any good books lately?

T3: Optimize Your Time, Talent, and Treasure

by Courtney S. Dade, CEO and Chief Strategist, CSD Marketing and Consulting, LLC

My great-grandfather was born in 1898. Believe it or not, I knew and loved my great-grandfather, “Poppy” for a solid 13 years before he passed. Right before I was born, he had to have his entire nose removed due to cancer. My whole life I never knew him to have a nose. So, when one day he put on a prosthetic nose I absolutely freaked out! Meanwhile everyone else in the world would be struck dumb and try to avoid eye contact when they saw my Poppy with a flat bandage where his nose should have been. But I accepted and loved him as is. Our normal wasn’t everyone else’s normal.

But I digress…

My great-grandfather quit school when he was 13 years old to go to work to support the family. He was low-key ashamed all his life about his incomplete education. But, as a laborer and construction worker, he fed, clothed, and housed his wife and 7 children all their lives. They never once needed government support, even during the Great Depression of 1939. This was a point of pride for him. And yet, that lack of formal education really bothered him.

As a result, he read voraciously. According to my mom, he and my great-grandmother always had a book in progress. And when his wife died, Poppy signed up for correspondence courses. He studied the Bible, and electronics. He read technical books to repair small appliances and built a CB radio from scratch. My point being, though he lacked a high school diploma, Poppy never lacked an education. He continued to learn and grow using other resources available to him.

Businessman drinking coffee and reading news in cafe

Continued learning and growth

So here we are, 103 years after his birth, and the options for at-home self-improvement, learning, and growth go far beyond books. Audiobooks, YouTube and Vimeo videos, eBook readers, webinars, and streaming services. The past year has taught us that we can even bring the live classroom into our homes through the power of videoconferencing technology.

As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we don’t have a lot of time to spare away from our operations. Many of us can’t spend hours offline in a classroom. And perhaps we can’t commit evening hours to complete online classes at the expense of personal relationships and time with family.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest in ourselves to stay current with business and leadership principles, self-improvement guidance, or even the latest in technology and technical expertise. So, when I ask, “Have you read any good books lately?” just know that I’m asking a much broader question. What are you pouring into your mind and spirit for elevation, illumination, education, or relaxation?

A while back I conducted a time management audit for myself and concluded that I should delegate all but the writing of my blog articles. One of my team was tasked with curating images and uploading my blogs to the website. She didn’t have a clue, so she ordered a WordPress for dummies book, studied one of the chapters for about an hour, and learned how to upload and edit blogs with images and other media. And now she has a new and valuable skill and new confidence in working with WordPress.

The power of organic learning

Her experience made me think about the power of organic learning—allowing curiosity to lead us to probe and acquire new knowledge and skills.

There are books in multiple formats that help us think about a variety of situations and topics we face in business. Regardless of industry, entrepreneurs and small business owners need to lead and manage people, situations, finances, stress, success, failure, and any number of states of being. We often have common needs and concerns.

Now wouldn’t it be great to get on the same page with one another, literally, about books we’ve read with topics that delve into areas of interest? Often, learning can be amplified when we discuss new concepts with others who are in similar spaces. That connection with other students is the secret sauce of classroom lectures and place-based learning.  

That’s why, in the interest of building our skills and competencies, and to honor the legacy that my great-grandfather left me, I’d like to try to build a virtual community of life-long learners. Let’s start a virtual CSD Summer Business Book Club. We’ll select 3 books for reading in June, July, and August, set a proposed reading schedule, and encourage one another by posting our reactions to the material.

Investing in talent can and should begin with ourselves. It needn’t take a lot of time or expense. But with a small investment of both, we can stay fresh and continue to learn and grow. And those we work with will benefit from our expanded knowledge.

Businessman reading the book

Final thoughts

Now, my opening story about Poppy wasn’t to shame anyone. But it’s an example of how two people can see the same thing, resulting in completely different observations, feelings, and reactions. We work with or for those people. Sometimes they work for us.

Knowing about the differences in what drives people—their strengths, preferences, and perspectives—doesn’t mean we need to stalk them or ask intrusive questions and be that person at the networking event. But recognizing there are various individual approaches to work and interpersonal situations can be a game changer in sales, supervising, meetings and managing interpersonal relations in general.

That’s why I’d like to kick off our summer reading with a book called “The Art of SpeedReading People: How to Size People Up and Speak Their Language”, written by Barbara Barron and Paul D. Tieger. It’s a quick read, packed with helpful tools for successfully navigating different personalities in different settings. Click here to sign up and let’s get started!

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