There are so many articles out there about similarities among successful people and the habits one can borrow to, in theory, copy that success. Want to know one habit successful people overwhelmingly have in common?
They read. A lot.
- Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day — if you balk at that amount of time, remember that the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day
- Elon Musk is an avid reader in fact he credits reading for his success with rockets
- Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year — that’s about one a week
On of the most prolific readers worth of this list is Warren Buffett. When he was once asked about the key to his success, he pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this 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’s not joking, Buffett is well known not only for being an investment genius but for reading between 600 and 1000 pages per day, a habit he devloped when he was beginning his investing career. Today he devotes a whopping 80% of his day to reading.
You might be thinking to yourself that these are just anecdotes, cherry-picked and isolated cases I chose to make a point. In fact, these aren’t just isolated examples. A study of 1200 wealthy people found that they all not only read a lot, but that they self educated by reading. This brings me to my next point.
Successful People Don’t Just Read Anything
Similar to TV watching habits “67% of rich people watch TV for one hour or less per day, while just 23% of poor people keep their TV time under 60 minutes….only 6% of the wealthy watch reality shows, while 78% of the poor do,” the habits of successful readers varies greatly from their less successful counterparts.
Successful people read not to be entertained, but rather to be educated or otherwise better themselves and expand their horizons. They believe books and reading are a gateway to greater knowledge and learning.
There is a huge difference between the reading habits of the wealthy and the less-than-wealthy and poor. According to Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, rich people (annual income of $160,000 or more) read primarily for self-improvement, education, and success. Poor people (annual income of $35,000 or less) read primarily for entertainment.
Successful people will pick up an educational book or publication before a novel, tabloid or magazine. Most notably successful people turn to biographies and autobiographies of other successful people for guidance and inspiration.
I also find that successful people don’t just read to simply keep up to date with the basics in their field but read voraciously anything they can find on the cutting edge of their business, management practices, investment, workflow optimization, etc…
There are many examples of successful people who dropped out of school or forwent a formal education to start a business or otherwise become successful, what you often don’t hear, however, is that they didn’t stop learning. And reading is a key part of their success.
Reading is not just a pathway to a more knowledgeable, educated and successful you. Reading has also been shown to help with stress, depression, and dementia, along with enhancing confidence, empathy, decision-making, and life satisfaction.
A good place to start is with some reading lists:
- 9 of Warren Buffett’s Favorite Books
- 17 of Bill Gates’ Favorite Books
- 20 Books That the World’s Most Successful People Read and Recommend (The Muse)
- Books Extremely Successful People Read (From President Obama to Bill Clinton to Sheryl Sandberg)
- 15 Best Business Books of 2015 (Forbes)
- Best Business Books (Goodreads)
- 20 Books that the World’s most successful people read and recommend
- 25 Must-Read Books for Success
- 10 Must-Read Business Books for 2016 (Inc.)
- 16 Must-Read Business Books for 2016 (Forbes)
- 9 Business Books to Read in 2016 (Stanford)