Monthly Archives: December 2009

Book-Burning Experiment: $600 Worth of Books, One Book a Day (and the Actual Result: 30 Books in 60 Days)

By | Business, Learning | One Comment

This post was originally published on my old blog, here.

One day before the new year, I placed a $600 order of books at Barnes and Noble, after almost deciding to drop out of college last month and opting to take a leave of absence instead. Here’s the proof:

The Plan: I will attempt to burn through 1 book a day.

Why: In pursuit of starting my new business with “more confidence than an MBA”, I placed a $600 order of business-related books from Barnes and Noble. I selected the books from PersonalMBA, a community started by Josh Kaufman, who asserts that a full education in business may not require/call for/justify forking over the $250,000 typical for completing an MBA program. Even less useful is a bachelor’s in Biology, which I have chosen to pursue, mainly because it entails the lowest number of “major requirement” classes.

Rather, it may be as (relatively) cheap as reading these 77 books on business concepts such as marketing, productivity, leadership, and creativity. After careful inspection, it’s clear that not all of the books apply to each person’s interests. For example, books in the “Corporate Skills” category will be of little use for an aspiring entrepreneur like myself, while books under “Creativity and Innovation” will provide valuable insights on brainstorming novel business ideas.

Of the 77 books on PMBA, listed below are the 35 that (1) I have not already read and (2) directly address the particular areas that are my blindspots.

Here’s the catch: There’s no use sitting around for years reading books without applying the ideas.

So, I am setting a time limit of 50 days to spark through the learning phase. This means I have time for one book a day on weekdays, and free days on weekends in case I suffer through a few verbose authors or bad reading days. That’s 5 books per week.

Some anticipated issues: Isn’t one book a day too fast for me to absorb all the concepts in such high quality books?

Sure, but that’s not the point. Hopefully, after reading these books, I will have the confidence of knowing basic principles that form a solid foundation for my journey in the entrepreneurial world. I may not remember the details, but I will know where to find them in my book collection when the time comes to refresh on, say, that website appication that does business expense tracking.

If all goes to plan…I shall read through each of these books and, to make it an even bigger ambition, I will also try to outline the key take-away points and write a review for each book.

This’ll be interesting.

 

UPDATE: The Results

Instead of reading 35 books in 50 days (one book per weekday), I read the following 30 books in 60 days.

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less
All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers
The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
The Myths of Innovation
Lead The Field
The Power of Full Engagement
10 Days to Faster Reading
Bit Literacy
The Power of Less
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
Indispensable: How to Become the Company That Your Customers Can’t Live Without
The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
How to Make Millions with Your Ideas: An Entrepreneur’s Guide
The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up
SPIN Selling
The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life
Getting Started in Consulting
The Simplicity Survival Handbook: 32 Ways To Do Less And Accomplish More
Cut to the Chase: And 99 Other Rules to Liberate Yourself and Gain Back the Gift of Time
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message
Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations (Voices That Matter Series)
The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

The other 5 books turned out to be less relevant to my circumstances than they appeared on book reviews.

Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource
Results Without Authority: Controlling a Project When the Team Doesn’t Report to You – A Project Manager’s Guide
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition

The 10 most helpful books that continue to have an effect years after reading:

SPIN Selling
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
The Power of Full Engagement
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
10 Days to Faster Reading
Bit Literacy
The Power of Less
All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers
The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully