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How to turn your book notes into reviews [PODCAST]


PreneurCast is a marketing podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.

This week, Pete and Dom talk to Steve Cunningham from Read It For Me, and they find out how Steve goes about reading all the books inside Read It For Me and how how takes notes and turns them into the reviews inside the service.

Pete and Dom talk to Steve about Read It For Me and how he turns his notes into reviews

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Episode 039:
How to Read a Book

Pete Williams: We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcasting for a really cool episode this week. Don’t we, Dom?

Dom Goucher: We do, we do. I’m actually very, very excited by this one.

Pete: This week, as scheduled, was going to be all about publicity. But we’re going to push that back a week. We’ve got a special guest today and we’re covering how to read a book in a very cool way. You’ve probably heard us talk about the Read It For Me service; and Steve [Cunningham], the guy behind that, has kindly given up some of his time to discuss how he reads books, and how he creates the notes and the summaries that become the really cool engagement on Read It For Me.

There’s a link that we’ll mention to you now for those of you in front of a computer who would like to play along. Check out ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, more details later at the end of this after we hang up from Steve. So for the next 30 or 35 minutes, we’ve got Steve going deep into not only his reading workflow but his note-taking workflow, and how he creates the summaries as well.

Dom and I throw in our two cents as well. So sit back, listen to this week’s edition. I really enjoyed listening to Steve and how he consumes content. It’s a really engaging conversation. Steve, welcome to PreneurCast!

[Pete’s interview with Steve Cunningham starts]

Steve Cunningham: Thanks for having me, Pete. My pleasure to be here.

Pete: No, very much love to have you here. Because obviously, over the last few episodes, me and Dom have been raving about your new service, Read It For Me. It’s just a fantastic way to devour content really quickly due to the book summaries that you’ve produced. A good place to start is probably giving some people a little bit of a history of Read It For Me, how the idea came about and how it all started.

I’d love to get that context up front and then we can delve into how you go about creating the summaries and your reading style and note-taking style. But how did it all start?

Steve: Well, we do, in some part, still run a digital marketing agency. And a couple of years ago, everybody was talking about social media and how you can use it to transform your business. We would go to clients and we’d talk to them and they would get all excited about it, but nobody wanted to write us a check. I think that was the experience of a lot of people at that time.

There were not a ton of case studies out there at that point; it was more of a visionary thing like, “Look at what this can do for your business.” So instead of just continuing to beat our heads against the wall, we decided that we could go out and we would do it ourselves.

We would create a case study that we could bring back to them and show them step by step what we did in order to grow our business, and then we could be able to get people to cut a check. That was the goal. So what we did was we took a look at what content could we create. We knew that creating content was going to be the most important part of the strategy.

I’d been talking with a lot of CEOs, a lot of high-level executives, and I would always walk into their office. You might have this experience as well, I walk into their office and they have a stack of books lined up on the desk. And I would invariably ask them about one of the books because I was a veracious reader.

And it would turn out, they would stare at me blankly and say, “You know what? I really wish I had the time to read these books. Obviously, I thought I would read it when I bought it and life just gets in the way. Life is just too busy and I frankly just don’t have the time to sit down for three or six hours and consume this book.” So we took that away and we said if we could create something really compelling and do it through video, because that was something that was on the forefront of creating content at that point.

We just took that format and we said, “OK, we’re going to boil these books down to their essence and create videos around them.” We put them up on our website and the hope was that that would get passed around through people’s networks like Twitter and Facebook and all the other different social networks that you know of. So we sent it out to 10 people as an experiment.

We sent it to just 10 people, and that 10 people turned into 20, turned into 50, turned into a 1000. And today, we’re reaching over a 100,000 people a week with Read It For Me. Right after that, probably within the first couple of weeks, we started to get calls from venture capitalists wondering what our business model was.

And I had to tell them quite proudly that we didn’t have a business model because this is social media, man. We don’t do that. So anyways, I was a slow learner but eventually, I caught onto the fact that there was a business here. A few months ago, as you know, we launched this formally as a business and are doing our best to promote it, and people seem to like it.

Pete: Yeah, absolutely. As you and I started speaking about this a few months ago, I stumbled across the service. I think I mentioned this to you, I was actually toying with the idea of doing something like this as a small business itself, as a standalone thing, a new project for me.

But then I came across what you guys were doing, and went, “There’s no point in competing. I might as well support.” That’s how I came to be a big fan and that sort of involvement at that level anyway. The main thing I’d love to cover today as we chat and Dom’s here as well; he’s a bit quiet, but Dom is here.

Dom: Yeah, I really am here by the way, Steve. Because I got a load of stick from Ed Dale last time because he had Pete all to himself. I thought he’d be pleased; but no, I got grief. So you’re honored, I’m here with you on the call.

Pete: What we’d love to get into today because it fits with the whole PreneurCast kind of thing is just workflows and getting a feel for how you go about reading. Now, obviously, we’re encouraging most listeners to go and check out the service and we’ll talk about more around that later on.

But for those who still have to read, be it white papers or case studies, or who want to devour a book that you haven’t reviewed inside the membership area yet, how do you go about reading? Is there any hacks or processes you go about reading a book to get to the core content and work out what the key pieces should be that you then obviously turn into the book summary?

Steve: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I’m probably going to go in a bunch of different questions because quite frankly, until you asked me the question and wanted me to talk about it here, I really hadn’t thought about it. But obviously, a lot of people ask me, “How do you read so many books and how do you get through so many?”

Because I do read every one that we do. So I sat down and put together some thoughts here. The first thing is really first understanding what to read. Setting out with a purpose. I got a lot of the principles that I use to decide what I’m reading and how I read it and how I apply it from a book.

It’s an old book and it’s called Breakthrough Rapid Reading. It’s inside the Read It For Me Community. It gives you a bunch of different techniques and tips on how to read faster and to comprehend more. One of the great insights for me in that book was that you don’t read everything the same way. A lot of people do, most people just read through line by line, page by page, and that’s how you read a book.

But you want to create different techniques for a different material. So if you’re reading a physics textbook for instance and it’s your first time in Physics class, you’re going to want to pay attention to every word and you’re probably going to have to read everything twice to really comprehend it. But there are other books.

I think a lot of the business books that are out there, particularly ones where we’re talking more about the soft skills, you really can take a quicker approach to getting through it; in particular, when there’s a lot of stories inside the book. The first thing is understanding what you’re reading. Let’s just say we’re reading something like Good to Great. Now, something like a Good to Great does a great job of this. But the next thing I do is I look for a summary of the book.

That’s going to sound really self-serving, but let me explain. There’s a lot of principles that I’ve learned from a gentleman who’s in California. He does a lot of research on this subject. His name is Richard Mayer, and he studies the science of multimedia learning. We’re starting to learn how we, as human beings, learn; particularly, when you’re talking about multimedia-type of aspects.

But really, it gives you a lot of insight into how we learn just in general. One of the things that he says and one of the things that his research shows out is that if you learn a summary of a topic first, you’re going to be able to go into the deep dive into it a lot better. So the summary gives you the landscape. Now you know when you’re reading a specific detail in a specific chapter where to put it.

You almost have a construct in your mind before you start and that’s incredibly helpful in learning and it’s one of the lessons that I learned after reading, I would say a hundred plus business and personal development books and not remembering a damn thing. So, the first thing is you need to create some sort of overriding structure for that. Sorry, do you want to ask a question?

Pete: Yeah, I was going to duck in there and say a couple of things. Where are you finding those summaries? Are you just reading the summary on Amazon.com, or are you actually subscribing to another book service and reading that summary first? What’s the process in finding that? What’s the physical action?

Steve: Sure. Typically, what I’ll do is I’ll go on, just like you said; sometimes people that leave reviews on Amazon will put the structure of the book for you. If that’s not there, I may look for it on the authors’ websites because sometimes they’ll do a good job of laying out, “Here’s what’s in the book.” A lot of the times, they don’t.

And if that fails, what I’ll do is I’ll actually just go through and read the beginning paragraph and the ending paragraph of every chapter in the book. And what I’ll do, and this really helps me and maybe it will help you, is do it with a pen in hand and a piece of paper, and really just draw out the book.

As you’re reading along and you’re taking more notes, you can see how it fits into the bigger picture. So there’s a lot of different ways you can do it. I find that on Amazon, if somebody was gracious enough to lay out the instruction of the book there, that’s really helpful. But if not, even reading the beginning and ending paragraphs of every chapter is a quick way to do that.

Pete: Yeah. I remember when I was learning to speed read, which I’m still not that great at, the very first lesson we got, I still remember that, on a Sunday morning that I went to like a local town hall to learn how to speed read, the structure was the very first thing you do. You read the back cover, you read the index, and then you try and get a good picture for the actual overall structure of the book.

That way, it’s like a tree branch. As you go through, you can sort of hang the leaves on the branch of the tree and that creates structure. So, I like that. It’s interesting because what you’re saying there- or what I’m hearing anyway- it’s all about taking the extra five or six minutes up front to really set the context. And this is an underlying theme we talk a lot about in the show, getting the frame and the context right before you jump into something.

A lot of people think, well, the book’s the book. That should lay it out in a sequential fashion for me so I shouldn’t have to prepare to read a book. It should just be a logical flow. But I think you’re absolutely right; that if you have that mental skeleton up front, then when you go about devouring the book, it’s easier to have the meat understood and put on that skeleton.

Steve: Absolutely. One of the things that’s really important to me is understanding the science of things, understanding what works and what doesn’t. So that was a big light bulb for me when I read the research from- I think it’s UC Santa Barbara. I’m blanking on that right now, and the book is called Multimedia Learning.

But that was a huge light bulb moment for me where not only is it going to give me the context for it but at the end of the day, my goal is to learn and apply it. So it’s going to help me do that. So, I never start a book and I never start learning something new without following that first step.

Pete: Awesome. Very, very cool. From there, it’s obviously then about actually going in and consuming the content. Do you actually speed read, or do you just read the book at a typical pace?

Steve: It really depends on what I’m reading, again. If I’m reading a novel for fun, I don’t go and do the summary thing; I just read. And again, it really depends on something. If I have a really in-depth understanding of the subject matter already, I may go looking for the nuggets that I haven’t seen yet. For instance, if you read a book on social media, because there’s a lot of books on social media these days.

I go through and kind of find out the case studies that I haven’t seen before or the ideas and concepts that seem new to me, and I’ll kind of glaze over the things that have been done before. A good example of this is any book about social media in the last two or three years is going to have a case study on Zappos. So, I won’t re-read that section.

Again, I do use some speed reading techniques and we can get into that if you want; but it’s really an understanding of what you need to read and what you don’t need to read. If you’re learning to better yourself, and I’m not talking about reading for pleasure; and it’s a skill I learned in law school, and I always bring up the fact that I’m maybe one of the lawyers on the planet who practiced for one week and then quit.

But what I got out of law school was the ability to just go in and decide what was important to read and what wasn’t. Because we’d get assigned this ridiculous amount of reading every night, and there was just no way you could physically get through it. So that’s the skill that I learned, but it’s an important one if you’re learning with a purpose.

Pete: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. We should probably get Dom back in. You still there, mate?

Dom: Yeah, yeah. I’m just taking all this in. And yeah, I can’t claim to have studied law or anything quite so altruistic; but I did a lot of studying at university. I did a computer science degree. And at the time, it was all new. Everything was moving and everything was changing. Nothing like it is today; probably a thousandth of the volume of information there is out there today.

And so, even though I thought I was prepared when I got to this stage and I’ve gone through, just every day new stuff and new stuff and new stuff. But as you say, Steve, there’s a lot of repetition. There’s a lot of standard case studies. That’s a really good tip that you can decide what to skip and look for the meat and the new material. That’s a great way of cutting down what you consume.

Pete: My tip is just to avoid all social media books altogether. I reckon they’re just repeating the same sort of crap; but that’s a whole other rant I’ll get into later. I’ve got a personal thing against social media as a term and all these social media gurus. Just because you can open a Twitter account doesn’t mean you know how to market.

Dom: We can all learn from Steve, and go out and do it is probably the best way to learn about it.

Pete: Absolutely.

Dom: The other thing is that whole framework thing. The real thing that made a difference to my learning and my memory, and this is a thing that comes from another book that Pete and I talk about, the Moonwalking with Einstein book, where they go back into the science of learning and memory, and how if you put a structure into place, it’s easier to hang those things off it.

A lot of people, as you say Steve, commented that, “Why don’t you just read it? Why don’t you just go at in a line?” We hear that a lot, “Why don’t you just start at the beginning? That’s what the book was done for.” You’ll consume it, but you won’t get much from it and certainly won’t recall much. Whereas, if you set yourself up, as you say, to better yourself, then by putting that framework in place, you’ve got a big chance of retaining it as well as consuming it with more consciousness.

Steve: Absolutely. and I think a lot of people like you said will say you’re not going to get the full benefit of it if you don’t read in a straight line. I just had a remarkable discovery for myself a couple of days ago, and this is something that probably everybody on the planet knows.

But if you take a look at every 10-minute interval in your day, and I don’t know if you do this but you may waste some time on your favorite sports website when you just don’t feel like doing everything, and those minutes add up. I did a calculation that every 10 minutes that I waste is a full work week by the end of the year. So, if you did that every day, you’d be wasting an entire week.

And for me, I’m not going to just go through and read something if I already read it and I already know it because there’s a lot of things that I can do with an entire week. And if you add it up to half an hour a day, that’s a lot of time at the end of the year. So if you value your time and what you can do with your time, having a strategy for getting through content quicker is certainly a good one to take.

Pete: Definitely. Dom?

Dom: The other thing I was going to say, the one other thing I picked up from your initial piece, Steve, and the thing that has made a great difference to me, back to repetition in a way, is reading with some kind of note-taking ability to hand. Because even if you don’t recall it all or absorb it all, if you make notes- this is another one of those memory things, the multimedia learning. I’ve done a little bit about it, but I haven’t read that book.

I’m going to go and get it straightaway because I know that it’s scientifically proven that the more you do with knowledge- like if you physically move when you’re learning, and you hear things and you see things, it goes in. But even just really simplistically making notes as you go through means you don’t have to go down and re-read it again, which is what all of the people end up doing.

They read this, and then they go, “Hang on, I can’t actually remember what the five key things were,” and just writing those five things down makes the difference between reading it once and reading it seven times. So that’s a really core tip there on its own.

Steve: Yeah, I think it’s one of the things that as you know from being inside of Read It For Me, there’s a method to putting it together so that you just take those notes that you create and you make it even more memorable. It’s all about having that knowledge at your fingertips for when you need it, and the brain doesn’t work the way we think it works.

It’s not just this giant computation machine that has great memory and that you can recall things on a moment’s notice. Everybody knows this; but it seems like they forget it when they’re trying to learn something new, so I think that’s a fantastic point, Dom. You really need to have your knowledge put in a place that you can access it, and a notebook is great. It’s even better if you can put it inside your brain.

Pete: Yeah, exactly right; so that way you can take it with you. You really have to have that cache in place with something like Evernote or Notational Velocity, and we encourage people to go back to the Note-Taking for Fun and Profit episode we did. It was all about note-taking. But I’d love to chat a little bit about how you go and devour the content and take notes while you’re writing to get the key points out.

But a couple things I want to mention that I’ve put down before today’s show as well, is a lot of people are very averse to writing in their books. And obviously, you mentioned before, Steve, that as you are reading those first and last paragraphs of each chapter, you’ve got that note in hand. And I don’t know if you’re like me and you write in the book in the margins and that sort of stuff.

I find it weird that a lot of people are averse to doing that. I had this really cool question that might put people in the right frame of mind when it comes to that, and I guess it is: what’s the purpose of buying the book? Are you buying the book to flip it or to learn from it? And what I mean from that is if you’re flipping stuff, it’s really a real estate-type term; you’re buying something to turn around and sell it again on the other side.

Most people aren’t buying a book to be able to turn around and resell it or flip it; they’re buying to learn from it. And if that the outcome you want from the book is to actually learn from it, there should be no resistance to scribbling and writing all over it if it’s going to enhance the learning. That’s a little quick frame set there to put that in context a little bit.

But a really cool tip that I read from a book called Mindhacker, which I think I might have mentioned on an episode previously, really cool book about hacking the mind and doing workflow hacks to get more out of your mind; they talk about writing your own index to a book. So, producing your own index somewhere in the back of the book that is relevant to you and why you’re reading the book.

The tip is to basically, over two pages or one page, however much space you can find, create your own index. A really quick way to do that, to give some action points again, is in the top left-hand corner of the page, write the letter A; in the bottom-left corner, write the letter M; in the top right goes the letter N for Nelly; in the bottom right goes Z for zebra.

And then in the center of the left-hand side, you put in G for goat; and on the right-hand side, T for time. Basically, what it does is if you just put those rough letters in those spaces, is roughly space out the alphabet in a spacing that would generally work for most books. So then as you’re reading the book, go back to the index and put in key terms with the page number in that ad hoc index you’ve created there. That can be a really cool way to take notes.

As you’re reading, that actually gives you a focus and reference point for the way you’re devouring the content. That’s something that I read recently that I thought was a very cool tip. But what about you? How do you go about reading a book and taking the core out and summarizing it so you can then make it a very coherent summary inside Read It For Me?

Steve: Well, that’s a really good method. I hadn’t heard about that one, but that seems like a pretty cool way to go through and really take out the key points of the book. Over the past while and as a lot of the planet has done, I have shifted over to reading eBooks. I’m almost at the point now where I can’t imagine having to get in my car and driving to the bookstore to buy a new book.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of books sent to us from publishers, and I tell them, “Please don’t send the paper book because it’s going to get put on a shelf somewhere and I’ll never read it. Send it to someone else who will.” So what I’ll do- obviously, I can’t write; I use the Kindle so I can’t write in it. What I’ll do is I’ll go through and I’ll build this summary as I’m reading it. So on the Kindle, you can highlight certain passages.

Pete: Quick question: are you using the actual physical Amazon Kindle device, or are you using like the Kindle Reader on the iPad or something like that?

Steve: I use it on the iPhone, I use it on the actual Kindle, and I also use it on my computer. I’ll touch on this and I’ll get back to how I go through it. I read as much as possible on the computer because it has a really wide screen and I can make the text span a larger amount, and that allows me to use the finger method when we’re reading a lot quicker.

So, I can read very quickly when I’m reading on my computer, a lot quicker than I can on the Kindle or a physical book. For me, that’s a huge time-saver. But we can go back to talk about how I summarize the book. I summarize it as I’m reading it. I’ll actually highlight the chapters; and within chapters, highlight the main points. And then I’ll go back to it, extract my notes.

And then I have essentially pulled out a summary of the book that makes sense to me. So I get all of my notes in one place. And then what I’ll do is I’ll build- I’ll also have my pen with me because I’m drawing my own outline as we’re doing it, so a mind map sort of thing. Then I’ll essentially take the mind map and the notes, the highlights of the key points of the book, then I’ll craft it into my own words.

That’s one of the things that from a summary standpoint it makes a lot of sense, but it also helps me internalize the ideas. Because if I can put it in my own words, that means I understand it now. If I’m not using the author’s words and I’m using my words, the ideas are mine.

So it’s kind of gone from a situation where that guy’s the expert or that girl, that gal is the expert, and now I know at least as much as they’ve put into that book. That’s in general how I’ll go through and the technical points of how I’ll create a summary and extract the information from the book.

Pete: Very, very good.

Dom: Steve, I just want to say that I was absolutely on the edge of my seat to hear how you got over the eBook markup summary issue, because I just got into scribbling in books, thanks to Pete and Mindhacker. In Mindhacker, they actually say, “So what? So what if you scribble in the book and give it to somebody? You’re adding value.” Yeah, and it’s a mindset thing.

You may or may not know, but I do a lot of transcript work for clients; and one of the things I do as part of my service, as part of that, is to actually highlight or embolden areas in the paragraph because they’re talking in general terms. And then they might say something really important, so I’ll make it bold.

Now, if you’ve gone through a book and underlined the bits that are important and starred them and made a little note in the margin, that’s adding value, yeah? So when I read that in Mindhacker, I was like, “Oh, great!” And I got all my books out and I started scribbling in them and thinking about indexing them.

Then pretty quickly, I moved over to eBooks and just started collecting like you. Especially because where I am geographically, eBooks are just so much more convenient. I travel a lot; so having my entire library on my iPad with the Kindle and iBooks apps, it’s all there for me to read whenever I have the time. But I was just getting into this struggle of how do I do these notes and summaries.

So that’s really good. I really enjoyed listening to how you do it. And I totally agree about that, turning it into your own words to internalize it, because that’s another one of those learning and study things that you get taught in different places. But yeah, phew, thank you. I’m going to go back to my Kindle now.

Pete: I don’t think this is going to be a feasible business on any level, but you just gave me a really cool idea. Imagine if you could actually have a service where you buy Richard Branson’s copy of Influence with his handwritten notes in the margins? Just actually like selling books that I’ve read with my notes and then say, “Here, you can buy the Pete Williams edited-up edition or marked-up edition of Read It For Me.”

Or not Read It For Me, it’s a book; but Good to Great as you suggested, or one of Seth Godin’s books with Pete Williams’ idea markup in it. Completely random idea. I think it’s not viable, but just an idea for a business.

Steve: I don’t know how it would fly with the printed book; but I think with Amazon, they’re obviously tracking all of that. And I’d be shocked if that idea doesn’t come out at some point. It’s a great idea because I’d love to see what Seth Godin thinks about Richard Branson’s book, for instance.

Pete: They’ve already kind of got that. With the Kindle, you can go to Kindle and follow people. So if you make your notes and your summaries public, which you can just tick inside your Amazon Kindle account on Amazon.com, you have the ability to actually then read and see their notes. So Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, for example, have actually released on certain books the highlights of notes they’ve taken for the actual book for free.

You can kind of do that in a digital form already. I did a video, maybe a month or so ago, about that and showing people how to actually find that. We’ll put some links in the show notes to that video. It’s up on YouTube or available on my blog at PreneurMarketing.com. But you can go and physically see people’s shared notes.

I have started to share a lot of the notes and highlights that I’ve made with the eBooks and digital books that I’m reading on Kindle and stuff like that. So people should definitely follow there if they’re interested to see how I mark up a digital book that I’ve been reading.

Steve: Well, there you go. You’re one step ahead of me, Pete, and I’m not surprised. That’s why I’m glad you didn’t’ take on this idea before we did. So thank you for that.

Pete: I’m happy to support a great product, which is what you guys do. So, whatever sort of stuff do you do when it comes to reading, and is there a next step in the process to actually do the final summary? What else is worth sharing in your reading and summary-type workflow?

Steve: The next thing we’ll do is we’ll create something that’s called the idea code for the book. This is something that’s part of my learning out of the book that you guys were talking about, Moonwalking with Einstein, and how people learn and memorize things. There’s a great story in the book, and I can’t remember the specifics of it, so I guess I didn’t put it in the memory palace- that joke will make sense in a second.

There’s a guy way back in the day who literally would go on vacation. And because he had memorized entire books, it would be like re-watching a movie. He would replay a book in his head because he had memorized the entire thing. I thought that’s just incredible that you could actually do that. And as it turns out, there’s this method called the memory palace.

That because your brain is very good at remembering or identifying places, physical locations in your mind; and if you could, for instance, and usually the first place people use for the memory palace is their home. If you went around and in your mind placed things just in your mind, not in your actual home, but placed objects in your house in your mind, you could then take a tour of your house and remember where all of those things were.

So rather than just placing objects in your house, what I do, what a lot of people do who use the memory palace, is you place things that represent ideas. So if you can break down a book into ideas that really can be placed into objects that can be placed in different places in your house, or in the first school that you went to, and there’s a lot of different ways you can build this out, you’re going to remember all of the concepts very easily, almost to the point where it would be impossible to forget them.

And as you know if you’ve read the book, and you guys have, these memory champions actually have to go through and erase some of their memory palaces so they can put things into it. That’s how powerful the method is. So what we’ll do is I’ll take my notes and I’ll take the summary of the book, and I’ll build an idea code which is sometimes five points and sometimes 10 points; and to help the learning along, I’ll put it into a mnemonic.

And then what we’ll do is I’ll go through and make that mnemonic as memorable as possible. Then we put that into an idea code which is a PDF that our members can download and print out and do what they want with. Then I’ll take it one step further and the books that I really engage with, I’ll take the time to sit down with the memory palace concept and memorize them that way.

So the last step is really putting them into a format that you can recall it instantaneously whenever you want to. I’ll just keep going here because as you know, we have what we call the LEMA learning method. The L stands for learn, and that’s where you’ll watch the video, the summary of the book. The E is experience. So, the other thing that we’ll do is we’ll create a workbook.

When you go through and you actually apply what you’ve learned right away to something that’s going on in your life; so I’ll just use Good to Great because we talked about that earlier. If you’re reading Good to Great, the best thing you can do to make this thing stick and for it to make a difference in your life is to apply it right now. Apply it right after you’ve read it.

What we’ll do is we’ll build up some questions for people to go through and exercises for them to go through. So as soon as they’re done watching the video, they can go through and apply it to their own life. Let’s just say you’re not a Read It For Me member and you’re doing this with a book. You’ll want to go through any of the exercises that the author has given you.

If they haven’t given you exercises, which would be the case in a book let’s just say like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you invent them for yourself and you put them into practice. Because the only way you’re actually going to remember these and apply these is if you actually go ahead and apply them. And so that is the Es; we call that the experience portion.

Then the memorize portion is the thing that we just talked about, which is the idea code. And lastly, the act portion. There’s a lot of research around how people build long-term habits. And so, what you want to do if you’re going to really take this idea on, whatever book it is, and build it into your life and weave it into everything that you do, you need to have some frameworks in place in order for you to turn it into a habit.

And so, if you decide exactly what you want to do, when you’re going to do it, the place you’re going to do it, and then you tell somebody else you’re going to do those things so they can hold you accountable, you’re 95% likely to actually accomplish what you set out to do. There’s some frameworks that you can follow that actually help you apply what you learn.

If you’re brave enough to decide that you’re going to do all those things, you’re going to be so much further ahead. The last thing I’ll say about that is that extra work for after the book. That’s the old Pareto rule; that’s the 20% that’s going to get you 80% of the results. It’s not a lot more work than actually reading the book or watching a summary of the book, but it’s the effort that’s going to kind of make the difference. Sorry for the long rambling answer there.

Pete: But that’s exactly right. I think the key is that people shouldn’t read a book passively; that’s the biggest thing that I’ve taken away or at least has been reinforced throughout our conversation. That the actual physical action of reading a book should not be passive. Too many people sit there and read- this is obviously more relevant to nonfiction books.

If you’re reading a fiction book, that can be passive because it’s for enjoyment. But the whole outcome of reading a nonfiction book is to improve your knowledge on a subject so you can take action on it and implement it in a particular project, be it a business, or a relationship, or a not-for-profit, or whatever it might be.

Steve: That’s a great way to put it too. I think the difference between nonfiction and fiction is a lot of people treat nonfiction books, or business and personal development books the same way they’ll treat a novel, thinking that’s just the way we read a book, when the purpose and outcome of what you’re trying to achieve is completely different. And I did this for way too long; it’s an issue that will just eat up your time like nothing else when you think you’re learning and you’re actually not.

Pete: Exactly. And there’s times you might want to read a book for enjoyment, like Outliers for example is a nonfiction book, and I read that for more of an enjoyment and a subconscious education point of view as opposed to a downright take action-type. But the actual physical way you read a book with your pen and your notes is very physical.

But then also, as soon as you close that back cover, you shouldn’t just finish the book there; there should be another seven or eight minutes of just time where you go, “OK, these are my action points from the book. This is what I’m going to do.” This is that sort of engagement-type of element that you spoke about, which is the second portion.

It’s that: what are you actually going to do? What are you going to do? What are the case studies? What are the examples? I’m trying to articulate this as I go; but, what are the things I’m going to do off the back of this book? How am I going to implement these things and have that structure and those plans in place? And I think that’s really important and a lot of people just don’t do when they are reading a book.

Steve: Absolutely, I completely agree.

Pete: We’ve come close to the usual length of a PreneurCast episode, so I won’t keep all the listeners too much longer. But I appreciate your time, mate, because I’m a big fan of Read It For Me. I’m definitely using it; it’s a big part of my internal workflow, my team’s workflow. And I think all the books we spoke about today are actually inside Read It For Me already, so that’s really cool.

People can get a bit of a deeper understanding of the stuff we’ve spoken about with how to read a book and the speed reading, and obviously, the multimedia learning. So, as we have done many times before, we’re going to encourage a lot of people to check out the service and go to the site and check it out.

It is a fantastic, fantastic service that I think definitely is worth subscribing to. It helps you devour the latest and greatest books out there and gives you some action points without spending the hours of time typically you need to invest to really get the core understanding of a book.

Steve: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, guys.

Pete: Happy to.

[Pete’s interview with Steve ends]

Pete: There we go, guys, Steve from Read It For Me. Hopefully, you got a lot of great value out of that. It’s a little bit different to what we usually do here on the show; but I think it’s important as entrepreneurs to be continually devouring content, whether it is a book or a different sort of piece of material.

Just thought we’d get him on here because he obviously reads a lot and has a great way of pulling out the core content and the core action points out of any sort of book and putting it together.

Dom: Yeah. I just wanted to say about that, Pete, something that was going through my mind as we were talking to Steve and he was talking about his workflow and what’s inside the Read It For Me site; I appreciate somebody might look at the word Read It For Me site, and say, “Oh, it’s a book summary site,” and, “Oh, maybe they do some cool stuff.”

But if you do something else, you have to go and have a look to see how to consume content the way that they consume content. They way that they consume content or the way that they set the content up to be consumed is an absolute textbook model. It’s fantastic. It’s why I rave about the service. It’s not just that they do great summaries and they’re really cool and colorful.

But as Steve went through in that interview, the detail, the way that they’ve structured the material for you to consume it and memorize it and take action on it, even if you just go through, look inside the system, inside the Read It For Me membership area, and just look at how they do that and then go and do it yourself, that’s an incredibly powerful thing. But the fact that they do it for you and line it all up is just awesome.

Pete: Yeah, absolutely. What we’ve actually done is Dom and I recorded a video of inside the membership area. Obviously, we’ve spoken about it quite a bit, but the membership area is very visual. The video that they do for each book is also clearly visual; that’s the whole purpose of a video. So we’ve recorded a bit of a walkthrough, an over-the-shoulder look of us walking through the membership area and giving you guys a look of what is actually inside.

It’s an awesome, awesome service and Steve has kindly jumped on board to support you guys as listeners as well and put together a pretty cool offer. So if you head over to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, you’ll be able to see not only the walkthrough video that Dom and I have done for you guys, but also he’s put that up there with a very special offer for listeners of the PreneurCast podcast.

So take him up on the offer, check it out, at least take it for a trial. Because, look, I highly recommend it; I use it and it’s a fantastic, fantastic book summary service to get the key points out of a number of books you probably wouldn’t read but also get a good taste of the books you want to read in its entirety. So it’s great for those two purposes.

Dom: Definitely. Just want to highlight again that is not the address we’ve mentioned before, that is a special address. Steve has done us a fantastic offer to support the show, to support the listeners, and to make sure you can get that offer. It is ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast. Go to that address, you’ll see our video. You’ll see the walkthrough. You’ll see what we’re raving about, but also you’ll get a special PreneurCast listener deal.

Pete: Absolutely. Next week, we’re talking publicity. This was interrupting your regularly scheduled broadcast, as we’d promised this week was going to be publishing; but Steve was available and offered a couple of conversations. I thought it was really cool the way he reads and works. We thought we’d tie one together and stick this episode in between. So next week, back to the regularly scheduled programming which is publicity. We’ll be with you next week on the PreneurCast.


Special PreneurCast Listener Offer:
http://ReadItFor.Me/preneurcast – Visit this special link for a PreneurCast listener offer at Read It For Me

This week, as we’re all about the Read It For Me service, there are no links, just a recommendation that you check out these books inside Read It For Me:
Breakthrough Rapid Reading
Multimedia Learning
Moonwalking with Einstein

PreneurCast Episodes:
These previous episodes are talked about in today’s show. Go back and listen, if you missed them:
PreneurCast Episode 30 – Notetaking for Fun and Profit

Online Resources:
http://www.preneurmarketing.com/productivity-hacks/hacking-the-amazon-kindle-for-crowdsourced-reading-speed-reading-stealing-ideas-every-day/ – Pete’s article about sharing notes on the Kindle platform

Pete’s eBay Copywriting Article – http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/cluttered-chaos-smooth-cash-flow-just-7-days/
Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Taleb
Audible – http://preneurmarketing.com/randomnessaudio
Amazon – http://preneurmarketing.com/randomnessbook
Book Yourself Solid – Michael Port
Audible – http://preneurmarketing.com/booksolidaudio
Amazon – http://preneurmarketing.com/booksolidbook
You can try out a lot of the books we recommend in audio format with Audible:
http://audibletrial.com/preneurcast – Free trial with a free audiobook download for PreneurCast listeners
Previous PreneurCast Episodes:
Episode 124 – 2013 Awards – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast124-2013-awards/
Episode 058 – Serial vs Prallel – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast058-serial-vs-parallel/

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