Is Reading The Real Secret To Success?


If you are an avid reader, then you know there are way more books than time to read them. For this reason, we have to prioritize.

For us, these are the 6 books you need to read to create a life of meaning. And these are our personal favorites, which include Narnia & Harry Potter (the key to succeeding in Business School).

Yet, reading books is not going to change our lives. The most important step is to internalize the new knowledge by adding it to our thinking, to our decision-making process, and expanding the way we see the world.

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.
— Herbert Spencer

How many times have you been reading a book and get excited about the content?

Maybe you start thinking about how you can apply it in that next salary negotiation, to kill it during an executive presentation and get the promotion, or to wow your clients and close deals. So you keep reading the book, maybe even making notes, but what happens when you finish?

In his book, Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina shares research that uncovered we will forget 90% of what we learned in class within 30 days. And that’s just a class! What about a book that takes hours to finish?

Just as there are ways in which you can retain more information when attending classes (like taking notes), there are ways in which you can recall, and later apply, the information you are getting from books.

Matt and I are both “Get It Done” people. We are always taking action, without letting excuses get in our way. So when we read, we ask ourselves, “How can we apply this knowledge to our lives to grow?”

This blog is for you if you want to make the most out of the books you are reading. This is how you can use that new knowledge to challenge the status quo!

Read Less to Read More


When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information?
— Ryan Holiday

Books alone are not enough. They can be a nice escape, fascinate us, and pass a lazy afternoon. Yet, for books to truly be impactful, there must be application within our lives.

Applying what you read is actually simpler than most people think. Just do what authors say you should do. It’s really that easy. Too many people question what they should do, stay on the sideline, and never get in the arena. Why? Because they won’t take advice from those who came before them.

If you are reading the right books, the authors have reached a level where you want to be, why not do what they say? Here are some examples from my life.

Getting Things Done by David Allen is a classic on time management and his methodology is used by everyone from individuals to fortune 500 companies. One of Allen’s recommendations is to get everything out of your head, i.e. write out everything you need and want to accomplish. Writing out all of your projects, responsibilities, and desires frees up mental capacity to focus on one thing at a time. I have taken his advice and now have to-do lists online. When someone asks me for something I immediately set a reminder on my phone as I don’t want to waste mental space on a reminder when I have technology which will do it for me.

Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday is, in my opinion, the best book on modern marketing out there, period. It replaced Ogilvy on Advertising which was the previous top book on marketing. In one of the chapters, Holiday gives a script for posting to social media to gain clients and increase sales. He even tells the reader to copy it, alter the content, and post it online. So that’s what I did . . . and landed multiple clients for my marketing business.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy details the power of doing the right things over and over. Eventually, that discipline leads to success. Hardy explains that every day he checks his calendar to see if his schedule aligns with his overall goals. If not, he changes his appointments, if it is aligned, he keeps moving forward. I took this advice to heart and every Sunday I spend 15-30 minutes looking at my calendar for the next week, month, and three months. I carefully examine my calendar to make sure I am on track to meet my goals.

Those are just a few examples, I could go on, yet the point should be clear by now. I practice what I read. You should as well. Here are two pieces of advice to get started on applying knowledge from books to your life.

  1. Filter what you read. Here is what I mean. I speak with many people who have all these ideas because they read something. That’s great, but at the same time, everything needs to be filtered through your values, goals, and vision of success. Some insights from authors will not fit your life, don’t worry about those. Take what works for you and put aside what doesn’t.
  2. Piggybacking on the last point, don’t read too much. Hold up, aren’t we the guys who encourage you to read!? Yes, but you can reach a point where you are reading just to read and authors start to sound like they contradict each other. Find authors and books which resonate with your soul. You know those books, you read them and feel like your life had changed forever. Read that book again and again and again. There are a handful of books I read 3-5 times a year! Why, because they impact my life every time I read them and learn something new.

There you have it. You should have deliberate intention to use the insights from what you read. Think of how you can take what you read and immediately apply it to your daily routine. Use critical judgment and filter what you read. Also, don’t read to the point you are just checking off another book. It’s perfectly fine to read the same book multiple times.

I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.
— C.S. Lewis


There are 5 things that have improved my ability to make the most out of the books I read:

  • My planner
  • Goodreads
  • Highlighter
  • Pen
  • Post-it flags

My planner allows me to maintain the habit of reading. I have a section that I have to check every day so that I can keep my daily habits going strong, and reading is one of those 5 habits.

My goal is to read a minimum of 10 pages a day. This way, it always feels doable and most of the time I end up reading much more.

Goodreads allows me to keep track of the books that I want to read, the ones I’ve read, and also to monitor my habit of reading.

I can check my profile to see how many books I’ve been reading over the past 1 or 2 months. This allows me to adjust my reading pace. Believe or not, sometimes you can read too much. I had a month that I read so many books I missed the opportunity to revisit most of these, by incorporating that knowledge into some of my articles, because my writing couldn’t keep up with my reading.

The highlighter makes it easier when I’m searching for anything that I thought was important while I was reading the book. It could be a quote that I want to use as a daily mantra, or maybe some research that would be helpful for my writing or to illustrate a story when I’m doing speaking engagements.

The pen is to make notes about thoughts that I’m having when I’m reading. Usually, they are questions that come to mind because of this new information I’m learning and incorporating into my thinking.

The post-it flags are to mark the pages that I found most valuable. This goes hand-in-hand with the highlighter. Usually, it is material that I want to use, and the flags make it easy to find. I also use the flags as a bookmark, that way they are always at hand when I’m reading.

The key is to make it simple. If the process is too complex you will not do it, because it is easy to find excuses. If you have no process, then you won’t be able to maximize the learning process.

So, one thing I do is to have several of this “reading kits” (highlighter, pen, post-it flags). I have one at my desk, one in my car, and one in my bag. This way, anywhere I am I have it available.

Another habit that I’m implementing, which will give you a lot of insights about yourself, your way of thinking, and how it changes with time, is to highlight with a different color the second time I’m reading the book.

At different points in our lives, we will have different priorities. Thus, we will be looking for different information. It is an incredible experience to see how we can completely miss insights and valuable information that was right in front of us, just because we are focused on other things.

This is why, as Matt mentioned, it is valuable to read books (especially the ones that resonate the most with you) several times.

Books Have Been the Key to Success for Millennia

Did you know the formation of the first cities and reading/writing share a strong correlation? I won’t get too “anthropology instructor” on you, but let’s just say cities begun to spring up as a result of being able to track taxes, redistribution of goods, laws, and other items which are written down.

For thousands of years, the wealthiest members of society held a monopoly on books and education. Even today the top-tier universities hold an advantage over lesser-ranked schools. Yet, when you trace the advantage back far enough, you realize those who had the privilege to read where the ones who excelled.

We are the most spoiled generation in history when it comes to reading and developing new skills through books, yet many people don’t ready. It’s actually rather shocking. Books inspire people by opening new worlds which leads to transforming your life. Our aim over these three weeks was to share our favorite books, but more importantly to help you get more out of your reading.

Embrace the opportunity you have to read amazing books and you will see yourself quickly excelling in multiple aspects of your life. Reaching your definition of success is a journey, one that is quickened through reading.

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