books study

Perhaps the single biggest predictor of success is tragically undervalued, often forgotten, and at times even derided. But many of the most successful people on the planet swear by it, and enthusiastically evangelise their method.

It has nothing to do with investing, and nothing to do with networking – although it can certainly help both of these improve.

If you read the title, you will know what we are getting at. Reading. That’s it. Good old fashioned reading.

Warren Buffett. Bill Gates. Mark Cuban. Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg. Elon Musk. All of these famed entrepreneurs and investors make sure to carve time out of their busy schedules to read voraciously.

At one extreme, we can find Warren Buffett, who claims to read a tremendous amount every day, dedicating as much as 80 per cent of his time to it.

“Read 500 pages…every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it,” he once told an audience.

The famed investor even regularly recommends books to his company Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders.

“Look, my job is essentially just coralling more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action,” Mr Buffett said.

At the other end is Mark Zuckerberg, who needed to challenge himself to read a book a week for an entire year. Still, when one of the richest men in the world, who can purchase anything he can dream of, decides to make a commitment to simply sit down with a book, that is a strong indication of just how seriously he takes reading.

Asked how he learned to build rockets, Elon Musk famously quipped: “I read books.”

He read for around 10 hours every day when still in grade school, allowing him to gain the deep and broad knowledge that has allowed him to be a serial entrepreneur in some of the most difficult sectors to work in.

Ajit Singh, a venture capitalist and professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, says he reads 50 to 60 books a year. He credits this with helping him to improve his communication skills.

“Leadership requires storytelling; The story can be the vision of the company, or an acquisition plan, or an impending layoff. Telling a compelling story and listening with empathy have contributed much to my skills as a leader.”

With so many business leaders giving the same advice, maybe it’s time to take heed.

The Money Guru is a BusinessNow.mt column presenting insights from some of the top business and investment minds from around the world. Are you looking for advice on a particular subject, or found useful tips you would like to share with a wider audience? Drop us a line on our Facebook Page.

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