For about the last 6 months, I have been repeatedly re-watching a documentary entitled “Becoming Warren Buffet” (2017, HBO Documentary Films). It has the usual footage of his birth and family life, education, etc. What fascinated me most, however, was information on his personal work style.
And my jaw just about dropped to the floor when he stated that he reads about 5-6 hours/day. He likes to keep his office quiet — he has no calculator, nor does he use a computer. (Here’s a video posted of a “tour” he gave a media person of his office. You’ll notice no PC or noise…)
But… Five to six hours a day… reading? “Yes,” I can hear someone saying, “That’s now, when he’s at the top of the heap, and has dozens of staffers to do all the other things that need to be done. But I’ll bet he didn’t read like that when he was younger and just starting out.”
But to my amazement, he has always been this way. He states, for the record, that he has always liked to read, even from early childhood. Growing up, he read all the business books in his father’s office, “some of them, more than once” according to him.
Which means that this is a lifelong habit, engrained in him, that he followed all the years when he was busy building his business from the ground up. It is not something he does now that he is privileged, but a years-old, essential way he has always worked, and lived.
“I just like to sit and think…”
Now THERE is a secret-sauce formula: Read a lot and sit and think about it.
They say the way to success is to learn from people who are successful. Warren Buffett sits and reads 5-6 hours a and then thinks about it. And he’s one of the world’s richest persons. I’m not making this stuff up folks!
Where am I going with all of this? Well, over the last 2 years, especially, this has caused a major shift in how I approach work — and I want to offer some strategies and lessons learned in the hopes it might help you as well.
“Nobody Gets to See the Wizard, No Way, No How”
The above statement is actually posted on a sign that swings above the office door of Warren Buffett (of Berkshire Hathaway fame). Here is a man who has learned the importance — true value — of his time, and of the knowledge stored in his head. How about you? How about me? There is a great temptation in the SEO world — especially as many agencies are small-sized, to want to take on all customers, do everything, be everthing, be available to everyone, all the time. I’ve learned that this is a trap.
Read More — Think About What You Read (More) — How Do You Do That?
I don’t pretend that you can just ignore pressing operational issues in your business. That would be downright foolish. As VP of Operations, most of my daylight hours are taken up with fighting fires and dealing with issues as they arise, on-the-spot. Those have priority for me.
So in my case, I often have to delegate reading/writing/thinking tasks to a separate part of my day (I call it my “night shift”) so I can fulfill my daily responsibilities in other areas. You may have to do something similar. But let’s both of us remember Mr. Buffett — and learn from him.
Step 1: Pick the Right Reading Sources
To read more, you should spend your time reading only the best. Invest in a good feed reader (I use Feedly, but there are many others), and make sure it works on multiple devices so you can catch up on reading when you are away from your main computer.
Prune off the sources of info that don’t seem to have much value, and when you come across an overlooked/unknown source, add it to your list of reads you want to keep up with.
I’m not fond of reading newsletters when they first arrive in my inbox so I move them to a folder where at a later time I can read them over and extract (save) what is important to me.
Step 2: What to Keep? Focus on Deep Analysis Items
As you consider what to save (retain) and what to release, keep in mind the 80/20 rule:
• 20% of your focus should be on information that is mostly current and trending in your areas of interest.
• 80% of your focus should be on retaining information that contains a deep analysis of subject-matter.
Go for depth, in other words, rather than superficiality (“One-inch wide and 10,000 miles deep.“) And by the way, that’s how I personally judge the quality of any publication or online source — how much detailed, in-depth analysis do they provide? Lots of sources repeat the latest tidbits of gossip, Tweets from conventions and the like — I require more, and so should you.
Step 3: Build Up “Idea Wealth” Digital Notebooks
You can name and organize them in any way that you like, but to file things away you need to have places to put them in. I call mine “idea wealth” notebooks because that’s what they contain, a wealth of information, of great “wealth” (value) to me and others, and might help me (and the company I work for) get more $$$$$.
My recommendation – Don’t overdo it on the number of digital notebooks you set up. You want only broad categories, as there is a better way to retrieve information when you need it: tags
Step 4: Clip and Tag Everything That Has Value
There are several good web content “clipper” add-ins (extensions) for your web browser out there. I use one for Microsoft OneNote and also one for Evernote. Evernote is especially good for granular control of tags (keyword phrases you can associate with the items you file).
Rule-of-Thumb: Use a very general, limited number of notebooks, but use lots of tags, even for one article. More tags will give you more possible ways to retrieve material you might need in the future.
Occasionally I will print out a full list of all my Evernote tags, just so that I can keep that list handy when I need to assign tags to a new article and can’t view the whole list online.
Step 5: You Don’t Have to Read Everything NOW
Here again, a kind of 80/20 rule seems to operate —
• 80% of what I encounter I know I might need to refer back to sometime in the future, but it is not of current need and I don’t have the time to deep-dive into it right now. That stuff gets clipped and tagged and is safely stored away, forgotten until it is needed.
• 20% pops out at me and I know I need to do the deep-dive now.
Typically I will clear my feed reader by right-mouse clicking on an item to open it into its own browser tab, then go on to open others of interest the same way — reading nothing — until that source is cleared.
Then I go back and, tab-by-tab, decide if this is worth keeping, and if so, is it the 80% (of future value) – in which case I clip and tag and go on. If it is the 20% I need to dive into immediately, I do that on the spot, reading it over.
When I clip I also add a note to the clipping to remind myself of how (in what way) I could use that material best. Both Evernote and OneNote allow you to do that easily.
Step 6: Match Your Reading to Your Energy and Work Day
The nice aspect of this way of doing things is that I can match the reading I need to do with how my workday is progressing as well as to my energy level. As we all know, different work days have a different feel, a different “flow” to it – some more relaxed, some others full of urgencies calling for you. Some stressful and some much less so.
When I am busy putting out fires for business all day, I tend to do a lot of filing and tagging of information that crosses my desk, and moving quickly from one item to another. On those days, my “reading” might not be more than that.
When I am not quite so busy, or my alertness level is higher, I can pull out the filed items and really focus on those them, brainstorm, and just “think” about what I’ve just read, perhaps making some notes.
Doing this in the evening (if your run-of-the-mill business day is during daylight hours) allows you to do it without the normal press of business impinging on your brain cells — and also gives your brain to further cogitate the possibilities by moving it into your subconscious as you sleep (I often awake in the night or early morning hours with thoughts and insights).
Honestly, I’m not at the Warren Buffett level yet, but I’m trying to learn, trying to improve all I can, every day.
Your most important business asset in SEO (and in life) is your brain, and what you’re putting into it.
Are you managing your work and life — or is it managing you?
Since 2007 Rob Andrews has worked in the SEO and Content Marketing fields and is an established writer and trusted provider of thought-leadership for hundreds of SEO, advertising and marketing agencies worldwide. From 2013, he served as Manager of Product at Posirank.com, the leading SEO white label service provider. In July 2017, he was promoted to VP of Operations at Posirank.
He maintains extensive contacts with agencies at all levels of growth and expertise, and is contacted by many who seek out his counsel about the selling process, especially as it applies to the SEO industry, or who are exploring the possibilities of using an SEO white label provider for their in-house SEO clients, or who are just looking at the SEO needs for their own business website.
Here’s “Rob’s Reward” — Let’s talk and I’ll try to come up with at least 1 great idea that you are not using now! (Pssst… I am not part of our sales staff, so no sales pitch will come your way.)
All original content is copyrighted © 2015-2017 by Rob Andrews and Posirank.com. All rights reserved.
Since 2007 Rob Andrews has worked in the SEO and Content Marketing fields and is an established writer and trusted provider of thought-leadership for hundreds of SEO, advertising and marketing agencies worldwide. Read More