Thursday, March 26, 2009

Read to Lead

Bob Buford, the entrepreneur behind the start of the Leadership Network and author of the Halftime series of books, had some very interesting comments recently about the future direction of learning by reading.

He recently spent the day with Moe Girkins, the CEO of Zondervan, the Christian publisher. Zondervan finds the world of the printed page changing rapidly as a new generation of nonreaders takes over So the Rupert Murdock owned print empire has gone for a new approach in running Zondervan. All of Moe Girkins’ experience and background is in technology -- Motorola, Wireless and Dell. She has no experience at all in books. Buford had the following comment:

I received a great lesson from Moe about the changing nature in the book world --, Kindle, Walter Issacson, former editor of TIME, cancelling his years-long New York Times subscription – he gets his news on the Internet -- Facebook, ceaseless text messaging, on and on and on. Moe told me, what to me was, an eye-opening fact. She asked, “Guess how many books the average American reads after they leave formal education?” After I said I had no idea, she held up one finger. I said, “No!” She said, “Yes, just one.” I expect I spend about fifteen or twenty hours a week reading and this was a jolt to me. Though not entirely, because my friend, Tom Luce, recently the Deputy of Education in Washington DC, had told me that virtually none of his young politically absorbed associates read The New York Times, The Washington Post, or long David McCullough books about former presidents. They go directly to the Net.

I had recently read that statistic in a couple of other places, and was surprised. As I have mentioned before, reading is an important part of my heritage, present reality, and something that my children seem to enjoy as well. To me, reading is the ultimate way to develop yourself and get insight on becoming the best leader you can be. Steve Sjorgen noted these reasons for reading (from Community of Kindness):
  • Reading increases your well-roundedness
  • Reading gives you consistent sources to draw from
  • Reading is very attractive to big thinkers and other highly skilled leaders
  • Reading helps you develop insight
  • Reading breeds wisdom

So how do these two very different realities co-exist? How do we communicate the importance of reading to a generation (or two) that no longer finds it important?

There's more to the Bob Buford story - but that's for tomorrow!

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