I like reading.
Articles. Interviews. Books. Just about anything.
I have the Pocket app and it’s usually full of longform articles.
I do like reading business material. The occasional article on Inc. or Entrepreneur. The occasional book. I loved the Good To Great series.
And I’ve read a good number of business biographies. Probably my most recent favorite was on James J. Hill or the one by Ray Kroc.
But there is another type of content that I enjoy reading maybe even a bit more.
Like just about 99% of the people in the world I like music.
Probably country music well above anything else. But I also like rock and pop. And really anything that hits my ear and sounds appealing. Something with a good melody first and then something good in the lyrics to dive deeper into.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed reading rockstar biographies or autobiographies. Sometimes I’ll read both the autobiography and then the biography to get the artists’s perspective, but then also an outside perspective.
He’s not a rockstar, but pretty much the rockstar of country music, George Jones. I read his autobiography some years ago and just read his biography.
Lessons From Other Content
Other than a few books like Good To Great and James J. Hill I’ve learned more about business from music books than from business books.
I think it’s because they’re an unlikely source of information. It’s kind of a shock to the system to read about the musician lifestyle. The choices they make. The way they live their lives.
When you read something that’s completely foreign to you it puts your senses on high alert. You’re paying attention to a lot more than you normally would because you’re in discovery mode.
When I’m reading the average business article it’s usually got something elements that are familiar. Without even knowing it that kind of makes my mind zone out a bit.
It’s not that a business article doesn’t have great advice. It’s not that there isn’t a lot to learn. It’s just that it’s familiar and not as new or interesting.
But when I read other sources of content I seem to learn more.
Another source is psychology blogs. I don’t know when I got into psychology. Maybe 7-8 years ago when I really started getting into reading blogs of all kinds.
Today, I probably subscribe to more psychology blogs than business blogs. In fact, I know I do.
I read them to learn about the way humans live. Why we do things. Why we make certain decisions. Why we fail. Why we succeed. There are tons of articles about how relationships work.
Pulling Out Our Own Lessons
And here’s the thing about content.
Content doesn’t have to be straight ahead educational content like in school. It could be a story and we’ll learn just as much or often times we’ll learn more.
Humans have this great ability to read, watch or listen to a story and pull out lessons and things to learn.
I think that’s why I can read Keith Richards’ autobiography and pull out business lessons. Or how I can read about George Jones and understand the importance of creating a huge number of content items in order to build a skill that leads to quality.
Or how I can listen to a podcast with a songwriter and learn about the importance of partnerships and apply that to business.
This post was kind of for me, but I think it can help you as well. I get caught in the business echo chamber as much as anyone. I like business and therefore I read about business. Tips, stories, etc. I read it all.
But I like the idea of looking at other material. For me it’s been music and psychology, but it could really be anything. I read about golf too and have learned a ton of business applicable lessons.
Don’t think that just because you’re in business that you need to read a lot of business material. Go after what you enjoy. Try consuming entirely new things. History or Science Fiction or whatever. There are lessons to learn from anything and if it turns on that circuit in your brain that wants to pay attention you’ll almost always come away learning something good.