To keep up with change, reading's fundamental

Peer over the top of this newspaper and look around the room. What newspapers, magazines and books do you see in your home? Chances are there are some magazines scattered over your coffee table. What do they reveal about your interests? You may be learning more about how to fish, cook, or decorate. But are you learning more about the changes taking place in the business world? If you have a job and have not been learning about the revolutionary changes all around you, you could be at a significant disadvantage if you aren't poised to understand and capitalize on the changes.

Statistics about the number of books read after high school and college are staggering. Almost half never read another book after graduation, according to Brian Tracy, a well-known speaker on the subject of change. Now, you might argue that thousands of books are sold every year. But according to statistics, only a handful of people are reading them. Brian makes the point that successful people usually have homes that are filled with books.

If you really want to scare yourself into more reading time, consider this; according to experts on the information age, if you piled up all the information that has been created throughout the history of man, and put it in a stack, it will only take the next three years to replicate that amount of information. That's how quickly information is being generated in the knowledge age.

The point is this: the competition is so fierce in the marketplace and there is so much change happening in your industry that those in the know will have a significant advantage over those who don't.

Here are a few tips for keeping up, even though you're life is busy.

1.      Subscribe to at least two business magazines that follow trends on a global basis. There are many good ones so ask people, whom you admire, what they are reading.

2.      Subscribe to at least one industry-specific periodical to stay in touch with changes going on in your specific industry.

3.      Read good literature to keep you well rounded. These books can give you a new perspective and broaden your thinking about how to approach problems.

4.      Use your commute time or morning walk to listen to books on tape. This is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to reading since we are all getting too busy to read.

5.      Start a book club at work. Get a group of people together to read a business book and then get together once a week to talk about it over the lunch hour. It will not only force you to read, it will stimulate learning and practical application at work. If you've ever read a book and thought to yourself, "Gee, I sure wish some people in our company were reading this..." it’s a good way to get it started.

6.      Subscribe to a clipping service or use an on-line service to clip articles on subjects that you've identified.

7.      Get together with some peers and each of you agree to read a different newspaper. Clip articles that will be of interest to the rest of the group.

8.      Subscribe to one of the periodicals that publish condensed versions of the latest research or books. I know many busy managers who read "Executive Summaries" of the latest books, so they can get the essence of the book without reading it word for word.

9.      Keep a book on your bedside table and read a chapter a night.

10. Keep a book in your car or in your briefcase, so you can read a few pages every time you are forced to wait.

What are you waiting for? Keep learning. You can bet your competition is!

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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