21 September 2013


Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 13

Last week, my company sponsored a seminar that everyone was required to attend. The featured presenter was a local entrepreneur, popular motivational speaker and host of a finance programme--and he was pretty good! Everyone seemed to enjoy his presentation, though it was probably better suited to his fellow business wizards than to corporate English trainers. There was one thing he said, however, which also struck me as relevant to what I do on this blog.

He quoted a newspaper columnist who has interviewed the country's richest tycoons as saying that one difference between a successful entrepreneur and a "regular" person is that the former will read primarily for information, while the latter will read primarily for entertainment.

It made me remember what I still think is the funniest moment in the unfortunate comedy Dodgeball.

I refer to the first ten seconds of this slightly NSFW clip

Anyway, I guess it's safe to say that nobody who regularly reads Shredded Cheddar is a self-made millionaire! =P

But who am I to mock White Goodman these days? True to my desire to be as eclectic--or as someone else has put it, as omnivorous--a reader as possible, there are two books I've been carrying around everywhere for the past two weeks, which you could say lean closer to information than to entertainment in this totally imaginary spectrum.

I know I take crappy pictures, okay?

Yes, one of those is a dictionary, and I'm totally breaking a mental sweat over all it represents.

Now, I wouldn't say that both categories are mutually exclusive. Information presented well can be very entertaining--and entertainment is often informative as well . . . as long as you watch out for goofs. (LOL!) But to paraphrase the presenter: "When was the last time you read something because you knew it would improve your performance at work?"

With all due modesty, I'm arguably already doing that . . . though my manager may not agree that amusing our German clients counts as improving my performance . . . but I like the implicit challenge to read something else out of my comfort zone. Something an entrepreneur might read. If I didn't have very definite plans for the October/November "Two or Three" Book Club meetings, the next pairing up for consideration might be something like the following.

The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Okay, these two are probably not "something an entrepreneur might read," but when I looked up a couple of the titles and authors the speaker himself mentioned, I found them a little too fluffy for my liking. At least these two meet the standards for information without daring me to dislike them.

When was the last time you read something totally out of your comfort zone?

Image Sources: a) The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig, b) Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


love the girls said...

"a successful entrepreneur and a "regular" person is that the former will read primarily for information, while the latter will read primarily for entertainment."

I suspect this more applicable to successful institutional or corporate drones where keeping up on the latest gives an advantage.

Even among those who have made a success producing products in highly specialized fields the success isn't in the reading, but it bringing to the table what they already know with the difference being that they have the ability to transfer that previous knowledge into a marketable product.

love the girls said...

adding on. I once read a business book, kind of, Dressed for Success.

But I simply could not bring myself to follow its advice because I just could not stand the styles because they were just too too exquisite for my old school prep. tastes.

And I did look up what the halo effect is. It's something one figures out by simply being around. And where it cuts both ways. For instance I know my mannerisms and such do not fit the profile of what some people expect.

Enbrethiliel said...


My own critique of the way that observation was presented was the implication that you could turn yourself into a tycoon if you just read the right books. But I think tycoons read those books not because they want to mine them for gold, but because they are naturally attracted to their subject matter. It's like saying that the difference between successful fashion professionals and the rest of us is that the former spend more time studying fashion magazines and shopping. (Which gives me an idea . . . One of these days, I may do a fashion-themed readalong! You and your "old school prep. tastes" will be welcome to comment.)

I've read a few Business books, too, but I can't remember the titles right now.

Just to clarify, Phil Rosenzweig's book is actually a critique of the halo effect! Or rather, a critique of what has been said in other Business books about the halo effect.

DMS said...

Hmmm... good question. I have read things out of my comfort zone- but not for a while. I like the idea of stretching my mind by venturing out. Maybe I will pick something up this week and spice things up. :0

Good luck with your German!

Enbrethiliel said...


Vielen Dank, Jess! =)

Shaz said...

I'm reading something out of my comfort zone right now, Lawrence in Arabia, a rather weighty non-fiction book.

I often hear a similiar message in ultra conservative religious circles where "entertainment" reading is viewed as a waste of time and a spiritual hinderance.

Enbrethiliel said...


I know nothing about ultraconservative religious circles, but I know that when novels first started to become popular, they were criticised for similar reasons. The idea that something entertaining could also be artistic, and therefore worthwhile, took a while to sink into the cultural consciousness. Perhaps when a group splinters off into a subculture, it forgets this . . . or even actively rejects it!

Shaz said...

If you spend more than .02 seconds on my blog you know that I have not fallen into line with the ultraconservatives! :-)

I think the anti reading for entertainment people (be they religious or corporate) are victims of black and white thinking.

I view everything through the lens of my faith and while it would not doubt scandalize the saints, a lot of my spiritual insights have come from secular novels. While I am not a entrepreneur, I would imagine that they might also find inspiration from non-informational sources.

It's just very simplistic to say that to be a good ___ you have to read ___ and avoid reading ___.

Enbrethiliel said...


As I explained to LTG earlier, I don't even think that the people who make such judgments make a completely inaccurate assumption. Having seen that a certain type of person is attracted to a certain type of book, they conclude that if we want to be more like that person, we should pattern our reading habits accordingly. But the assumption is that the person became that way because of the books, when the reality is that the person was already that way when he was attracted to the books.

I think it is possible for someone to see anything by the light of faith. And I don't think the saints would be too scandalised. =)

Bob Wallace said...

"Dodgeball" is the greatest movie ever made. I was of Olympic quality at it in school. Too bad it's not a professional sport.

I can even Patches O'Houhlihan. I can post some of them if you want me to.

Enbrethiliel said...


Philippine schools don't have dodgeball, so unfortunately, I don't have any memories to compare to yours. I'm not sure why this is so. Dodgeball doesn't require a special court or any equipment besides a few balls, so it's one of the easiest physical activities to set up.

There's probably a parallel world somewhere in Dodgeball is a professional sport and you are a huge star. ;-)