For a few years now, I have been building the greatest network I could ever imagine.
I never thought I would meet many of these people.
I know industry leaders in Marketing.
I have met philosophers in stoicism and absurdism.
I know a world famous comic.
I know a expert in CRISPR technology.
I know all of these people by consistently engaging in a simple practice that has been common for hundreds of years.
I read almost everyday and for well over an hour. I get to have a conversation with thought leaders in a multitude of arenas every time I pick up and read a book.
"Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." -Charles Scribner Jr.
I never understood the gravity that regular reading had on my mind and personal development.
When I was younger I never read. I found it boring. I couldn't focus on what was in front of me and always thought that whatever the school system told me I needed to read was stupid (in reality, it could be the case. The public school system is littered with shit literature being forced upon our youth).
It wasn't until I was 20 years old getting my undergraduate degree at University. I was given a job by one of my professors to oversee the Business School's Entrepreneurial Studies office. I was to take phone calls and set up meetings for the Department Head. My School wasn't known for it's entrepreneurial school. If you wanted to be successful in your studies you went with a Finance Degree or you became a teacher. Regardless, there wasn't a whole lot of work that needed to be done in the office.
With an excess of time on my hands I was recommended a book by my then college roommate. He recommended that I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.
The book changed my life. It was the first time I realized the power of the written word. It was the first time I saw how a writer could inspire the reader through language. When I read the pages I read it as if I were Siddhartha.
The impact the literature made on me inspired me to move across the country to a city I had never visited once I graduated.
So I moved from Chicago to Boston with only the belongings I could pack in my Pontiac and never looked back. After reading the book I felt this underlying urge to experience life for the sake of experience. I wasn't going to be held back by pressure from society to do the things I was expected to do.
I was going to live my life.
Since then I have read a multitude of books on many different subjects. Some of the books have influenced similar transformations to that which I experienced with Siddhartha. Some have provided copious amounts of information on a given subject. Some I read 25 pages and put down because they didn't do much of anything for me.
I read constantly because when I read these books, I feel I am building a network of experts. I am having an in depth conversation with this individual on a subject that they have spent years studying.
"The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries." -Rene Descartes
I have had many conversations with Ryan Holiday and Seth Godin on how to market my business and brand.
I have drank many a cup of coffee with the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Herman Hesse and Albert Camus in contemplating what life is all about.
I had Steve Martin tell me his life story of becoming the greatest comic in the world only to leave it all.
I had Matt Ridley take me through the expansive history of the human genome on what types of implications that have on me as a human being.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
When I was younger, I was told what I had to learn. We all were. Now being an adult (I still laugh saying it), we have the opportunity and responsibility to learn what we wish. We have the opportunity because of the times we live. Publishing of literature and the scale in which it can be done is immense and cost effective. We have the responsibility because we need to learn all there is to realize our true self and the gifts we were made to bring to this world.
If you want to learn about the cosmos and space, there are plenty of people that can help you.
If you want to learn how to bootstrap and make your first movie you'll find people who have done it and written about it.
Everything you need in order to start is sitting somewhere in an Amazon warehouse shelf or in a binary combination of ones and zeros just waiting to be consumed.
Who knows where the book might lead you?
It could bring you to another author who has a different take on the subject.
It could lead to a topic in common that might build into a romantic relationship.
It could spark a new business idea.
It could have an impact that transforms your whole paradigm of what you think living is all about.
All hyperbole aside, these are the real impacts a choice to make life-long reading can have on your life. When you are constantly reading and seeing all that has been thought about and done in the world, it opens your eyes to what you might be able to accomplish.
"A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others." -Abraham Lincoln
So you have been wanting to build a network and don't know where to start? Start by picking up a book on the subject. Ask a friend what, if any, books they have read on a subject. Recently, I have been asking newly formed acquaintances two very simple yet profound questions in my attempt to get to know them:
What book(s) have they gifted the most to their various networks?
What book(s) has had the greatest impact on their life and why?
These two questions ask very different things about the individual. They offer a snapshot into what is important to the person. They also offer a window into a realm that you have never ventured into before.