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  • Diana Schneidman

We are what we read. So maybe I should read better stuff?

I’m a big fan of learning. In fact, I’m so enthusiastic that I’m prone to postpone business-building activity in favor of learning more about how to build my business.

I’ve got stacks of library books piled up on my worktable, electronic stacks of ebooks in my computer and lengthy CDs of marketing teleseminars that I listen to in the car.

I’m addicted to anything on the topics of marketing, internet marketing, public relations and business building. Give me “Six Secrets to Building Your List” and I can drive the width of Nebraska all night steady without yawning.

But lately I’ve been thinking I should upgrade what I’m feeding my brain. That while I continue to gain new facts, my current info diet is more akin to mushrooms that have been breaded and deep fried than to raw broccoli.

Specifically, I think my reading menu should be broader and more substantive, especially in the areas of history, the arts and even literary fiction. The world around me keeps nudging me to change my habits.

Most recently, obituaries for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who died at the age of 92, point out that he was an expert on the Senate of ancient Rome and was well versed in histories of the Roman republic and English political history. While involved in the Ku Klux Kan when young, he grew to support civil rights legislation a few decades later. Maybe his reading fostered the personal growth that contributed to his political leadership?

Around the same time I was reading The Noticer by Andy Andrews. This is a brief, inspirational novel in which a single individual teaches inspired life lessons to the people around him in such an intuitive manner that you’re wondering if he is a regular person or an angel.

On the book cover, golfer Nancy Lopez calls it “the best book I have ever read in my life.” She’s overstating its importance a tad, but it is a quick, uplifting read (and Lopez doesn’t claim to be the best-read intellectual around).

Anyway, The Noticer recommends reading biographies of historical leaders to deduce important lessons. He starts with books about Winston Churchill, Will Rogers and George Washington Carver, followed by titles on Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln and Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning).

Here in the Chicago area, speaker and writer Conor Cunneen, is also a role model for more nutritional reading. As a trainer when I attended Speaker U of the National Speakers Association-Illinois in 2008-2009, he spoke about the importance of reading to gather substantive ideas concepts and fresh anecdotes to enhance his professional speaking engagements.

Today, a glance at his Amazon reading list on his LinkedIn profile reveals some heavy reading in the disciplines of history and business, including Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu that Led America into the Vietnam War and Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster.

This change in reading habits challenges me. In practice, it’s doubling the heights of my hard-copy and electronic media piles. But it’s an exciting challenge.

How about you? What are you reading lately? Are your tastes changing?

Originally posted 7-5-10

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