If you can read, you can learn everything else

If You Can Read, You Can Learn Everything Else“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ― Mark Twain

Over the past couple of weeks, I have discussed the topic of reading at length. It has been on my radar so much that I am now seeing and hearing about reading in  articles and podcasts I frequent. Reading is perhaps the most important skill you can learn. Being literate will help you learn countless other subjects. If you cannot read, you are at the mercy of others. I wonder why our education system is under attack. Read more

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

Stand on the Shoulders of GiantsEach day, I have a 25 minute commute to work. This gives me almost an hour devoted to learning; while Bernadette has been in the Netherlands, I have been soaking in almost two hours of learning each day. My learning tool of choice for these situations has been the podcast Entrepreneurs on Fire by John Lee Dumas.

During this podcast, he interviews a different successful entrepreneur each day. While there are many lessons to be learned, there are a number of themes that seem to shine though. One topic that has been emphasized over and over is the importance of coaches and mentors to the learning process. While I would love one-on-one mentoring on a number of topics, I do have access to countless coaches on many subjects, and so don’t you. Read more

A look at some high-speed reading lists

BooksWhat you do and how you do it are largely shaped by what you learn. One of the ways you can learn is through professional reading. Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin were avid readers. While in the Air Force, we were encouraged to read the books on the Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List. If you check out my book reviews, you can tell that I also find reading is important. Reading lists can help ground you in a vision that leaders have for an organization. Here is a consolidated list of reading lists from key leaders, innovators, and organizations. It is a good place to start if you are trying to find something to read over the break and into the new year. I am going to start with the first reading list I became aware of. (** – books I have read) Read more

My many methods of note taking.

Note taking
Note taking

I just finished reading an interesting article Social media & learning – note taking on steroids by Donald Clark. He discusses the benefits of note taking and using social media tools. After reading his post, I realized I was using similar strategies.

Clark comments on note taking at conferences, and questioned why many professionals did not. I personally am an avid note taker at conferences. Lately, I have been using Evernote as my primary tool. You can read more about this strategy here. Evernote has been a great tool for collecting and later finding notes and ideas.  My friend, Deb Beck recently wrote about taking notes with pen and paper. While I appreciate her need to do this, I personally can not make the connection. My connection is with technology – having a digital record that I can quickly retrieve.

I also use Twitter to get the word out about items I find interesting. If I happen to be retweeting a link, I often capture the link into my Diigo account. Diigo is my actual note taking tool for keeping track of great finds in the wilds of the Internet. Most importantly, I use the Diigo’s tagging system to organize and make sense of all the links. Diigo’s search feature is also extremely useful.

For my academic and professional research, I use Zotero. I have gotten into the habit of reading books with a note taking focus. Once I have read a book, and scribbled notes in the margins, I then spend the time to add it to my Zotero library. When I started my library, I would only add notes regarding my academic research. I now add notes about all the books and journal articles I read. This has helped me on a number of occasions when putting together articles, reports, and grants. It has increased the breadth of my research. Here is a little more on Zotero.

Finally, I use this blog to pull my ideas and notes together. This blog helps me make sense of things I have read or discussed. Again, as Clark points out, it allows me to search through my writings, which I have had to do on a number of occasions.

I would be interested to hear how you use social media for your note taking, or even, why you don’t.

Want to earn more, then read more – 230% more

Man readingLast night, I was reading a book by David Cottrell called Tuesday Morning Coaching, and I ran across a statement that surprised me. I thought it was important enough to share with you.  “According to the U.S. Labor Department, business people who read at least seven business books per year earn over 230 percent more than people who read just one book per year.

This makes a lot of sense to me. People who want to be and stay successful are constantly learning. Reading is a great way to tap into new ideas regardless of your discipline.

While I was poking around the Internet, I was surprised to find that 25% of Americans have not read a book in the past year. A number of other sources are highlighting that CEOs are reading 4-6 books… per month.  While have not confirmed these numbers, I did read some time back that Bill Gates would collect books, and twice a year would take a two week vacation simply to read and make notes.  This speaks volumes to the power and necessity of reading for professional development.

In a recent survey with some of my colleagues, they reported that they read regularly in order to stay abreast of changes in their specialty and to be better educators (Skrabut, 2011). However, more can be done at the organization level to encourage reading. Organizations can support informal learning by encouraging professional reading as well as include current reading  as part of staff discussions (Bell, 1977). Organizational leaders should share the books and articles they are reading (Tobin, 2000).  I think the Air Force does a great job promoting reading. Each year the Air Force Chief of Staff puts out a professional reading list. Here is the current list: http://www.af.mil/information/csafreading/index.asp

Does you organization have a professional reading list? If so, please comment below.


Bell, C. R. (1977). Informal learning in organizations. Personnel J, (6), 280. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=agr&AN=CAIN779442742&site=ehost-live

Skrabut, S. A. (2011). An examination of informal learning strategies for University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service educators. Manuscript submitted.

Tobin, D. (2000). All learning is self-directed: How organizations can support and encourage independent learning. Alexandria  VA: ASTD.

United States Department of Labor, Survey by Yahoo! Chief Solutions Officer Tim Sanders and Business Majors, Survey by Bersin & Associates, How Executives Stay Informed.

Improving the book review assignment

In past classes, I have had to put together book reviews. In my Teaching Adult Learners class, Dr. Michael Day has asked us to complete three book reviews or critiques.

Most of the book review is what you would typically find in a book review; purpose, arguments and evidence, as well as your personal reaction.  However, Day asked us to add one piece that no one else has ever asked me to add. He asked for context. He wanted us to examine the book in relation to the period when it was written, and the events that may have had an influence on the writer. I personally felt this added to the value of the book review. I was able to glean a little insight into the reasoning why Lindeman wrote The Meaning of Adult Education*, for example.

Day explains in his reasoning that he had been exposed to this method for writing book critiques after reading Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren’s How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading*. This has been added to my reading list, I hope also yours.

* In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that if you purchase this item through my link I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.
Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. 🙂 Thank you, in advance for your support!