Start reading.

Everyone has read a book or an article. When you are young you did because your teacher told you. But have you started reading a book since then?

I guess there are a lot of people who have not read a book since they left school. Maybe they did pick up a studybook when they started in their new job because they needed to follow another course. When they had the chance, they will never buy a book. Reading is boring, I’d rather watch television. That is a fair opinion, watching television can be interesting. But I don’t believe that you can find really interesting programs all day long :).

read-books

A couple of months ago I wrote about discovering my old love, reading books. I have read a lot of books when I was younger, mostly adventure books. But as with many people, you get busy and reading becomes like a difficult assignment. You need to make time for it and it seems to take ages to finish the book you’re reading. I think the power is to find the books you really like. For some it can be fantasy, others like to read biographies. I prefer books that tell the story about our lives and work. Books that encourage you to think about your own life and how you are living it. That doesn’t mean I don’t like fantasy books, it’s just a long time since I’ve last read one.

It’s not that I’m reading all day long. I’m still looking for a good balance. I noticed that it’s difficult for me to read in the evening. I’m tired when I get home and it’s easy to get distracted doing something else. That’s why I decided to get up early in the morning at 5:30 AM. I take a shower and start reading while I eat breakfast. Depending on the book that I’m reading, it happens I arrive later at work because my book is so interesting. ”The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing: A Spiritual Memoir” by Jeff Goins is such a book. This is really a quick read that you should definitely check out.

If reading a book takes too much time for your busy schedule, there are a lot of interesting blogs out there. A blogpost is easy to read and only takes a couple of minutes. In fact I call books slow information because it can take quite some time to read them. Blogs are much quicker to read and can also provide great lessons.

Summer is near, a lot of television programs are at the end of their season so now is the time to start reading. Ask your friends what they are reading and if you find a book that attracts you, just buy it. You wont’t regret!

No sheeping.

To be honest, I stole this title from Jef Staes. It was his slogan to end the presentation he gave about Business Innovation. I had the honor to attend this event and he made me think about several things.

First of all, I didn’t know much about Jef before I went to his presentation. I saw the invitation on Twitter via EventOnline and grabbed the opportunity. At that moment I did not know that Jef would mention that people not using Twitter are stupid. Lucky me :). But the moment he did, I agreed. For me at least Twitter is a source of knowledge. It is a way to connect with great bloggers and speakers. That doesn’t mean that Twitter can be your only source of information. Google, YouTube, blogs, screenscasts are all valuable information flows that will make you smarter when you use them. Did I forget books? For me books are a slow information flow because reading a book takes a lot more time than reading a blogpost or watching a screencast. That does not mean books aren’t valuable anymore. I started reading again this year and I love it. There are so many good writers with a clear message you can learn from. But when I want to fix an issue, I’d rather Google it instead of reading a book of 300 pages.

”You don’t discover talents at school.” and ”Our educational system is fraude.” are two statements Jef launched during the keynote. Those are critical words about a system that exists for many years. But maybe that’s why it is true. Maybe education did not follow the evolution of the increased information flow? Maybe education is too conservative? I think these are things to think about and to investigate. Work enough for all teachers out there I suppose. I graduated almost 3 years ago and I have to agree that I did not discover my talents at school. I like to work with computers, designing solutions for problems of other people. I can’t imagine doing so while at school. Or maybe one time during a group assignment to organize an event for charity. We should get more assignments like that where your team can organize itself and discover who does what the best. Diplomas are used by companies to assign employees a function and level. Most of the time, this means that people with a higher degree get the better jobs. I think that’s what Jef means with fraude in our educational system. Someone who had problems at school with Statistics may not have a Master degree but is he less smart than someone with that degree? Possibly, but you can only know it for sure when you give him or her a chance. 2D smart, Jef calls it. Getting better by doing it over and over but without passion and without information.

That brings us by how Jef thinks we should be, 3D smart. 3D smart has three pillars: Talent, Passion and Information. Information is very important. Someone with passion will look for information and develop his talent. Everyone has talents an passion, but you have to discover it. When schools and companies don’t give you the chance to explore your talents, they end up with people that are not engaged.

Jef used a great quote that shows the essence of his message.

”If you put fences around people, you get sheep.” by William McKnight

I can go on about Jef’s presentation but I think you should go listen to Jef yourself when you get the chance. If it’s not for his message, he’s an amazing speaker. You won’t regret.

 

Why don’t you just pay for it?

I used to avoid paying for everything. Why would I pay for something if I can get it for free? I will only use it from time to time, so why pay for it?

Films, books, music, software… I downloaded them for free from the internet. It was normal to me and everyone did the same. Why would I buy a filmticket for 8 euros if I could watch it for free at home? If I wanted to, I could watch it more than once. I did not listen a lot of music so I did not feel the need to buy albums of my favourite artist. By the time I would listen to it, the album was old news. I had no problem buying expensive hardware, but software was a bit more difficult. Software needed updates, paid updates. I always had difficulties paying for something that will fade away. It’s like throwing money away. Greedy? No, I don’t think so. I think about what I spend and love to get something good in return for my investment.

But times change. Things like the iPhone and its appstore, e-books and streaming services encourage me to reconsider. Books became cheaper and easier to get. Apps changed the way people live their lives. There are a lot of free apps, but I started to notice that spending money on apps that you use every day is a great investment. I listen to podcasts every day and started using the podcast app from Apple. After some time, I decided that I needed something better with some extra options. Manually downloading episodes every day was just a waste of time. So the first app I bought was Downcast. An amazing app that manages the podcast I listen to and downloads them when I am at home. 2,69€ and I am using it for almost two years now. I stopped hesitating, if I find an app that can make a part of my life better, I’ll just buy it.

I see you thinking ”That is easy, it costs peanuts.” and I admit, I still hesitate for higher prices. But a lot of the time I am not downloading them for free. The books I read, I could use from someone else or I paid for them. I still have some software for free but I do not download free music anymore. I use Spotify for that.

Streaming services are hot these times. For a low monthly fee, you can listen or watch to anything you want. Great isn’t it? I love Spotify. I can listen to any music whenever I want. I hesitated when I subscribed for their service. I did not listen a lot of music so why would I need it? Well, that changed after subscribing :).

I can go on like this forever. The last months I’ve bought more things than I’ve ever bought in my whole live. So I have made my choice. When I find something I can use in my daily life, I will buy it.

Will you pay for it?

Some tips.

Ask you friends for tips. What have they bought that may be interesting for you?

Ask for a trial, read reviews. Doing so, you know what you buy.

Stop hesitating and pay for what you need.

I’ve found back my old love.

Who? That’s the wrong question. What? Reading. I used to read a lot while I was younger. But when I went to highschool, I stopped reading. I don’t even know why.

I used to read different books every month, when I was younger. I rented the maximum amount of books at the library and at the end of the renting period I finished them all. That means 7 books in 6 weeks or so. I loved reading. I always went for quick adventures, stories that made me want to turn the page. Stories that made me go for that extra chapter. Before I knew, I could start the next book. But I’ve never read ’informational’ books or biographies. Maybe because I was too young or just because I did not like them.

I suppose that was the reason I stopped reading when I grew older and went to highschool. People expected us to read the news, read books about history and what we were studying. But why would I read those if they did not interest me? But that was not the main reason. I had a busy life playing soccer, going to school, assignments for school, breeding birds and so on. To be honest, it never occured to me that I was not reading anymore. I didn’t even think about it.

Until now. Since last year, I started reading blogposts and short articles. About life, productivity and other stuff. People were blogging about the books they were reading and how they learned a lot just by reading what others wrote down with so many passion. So I started reading the short ebooks provided by those bloggers. Mostly free but with great content. Then I started reading about the things I do at work. About datawarehousing and agile development because I wanted to learn more about what I was doing. But I noticed that this lecture is not the same as reading life experiences and little adventures. I needed to think while reading and store some things in my memory. Those books could not be read in the evening. At least, I couldn’t read them because my mind is tired in the evening after a day of work. So I started reading in the morning at 5:30 AM before I went to work at 7 AM. This works for me. I enjoyed doing so but still those ’learning’ books are not always as easy to read. I like books like ’Getting Things Done’ by David Allen because those books tell a story. They are written with practical knowledge and have that factor that make you go for that extra chapter.

Right now, I am reading ’Mijn Leven, Sven Nys’, a book about cyclocrosser Sven Nys and how he experiences his carreer. This is the book that made me find back my old love. Reading.

My advice? Ask people what books they are reading and when you think ’this is the one’, buy it and start reading. Not as good as you thought? Close it an go look for another one.