How to do a Warren Buffett

When Warren Buffet was asked at a conference how he got smarter, he simply held up a stack of papers and said, ‘Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.’

In last week’s post, we figured out what to read. Our next challenge is learning to read both fast and smart. How can you get instant gratification from a book without having to plough through 50,000 words?

The great news is that you don’t have to read every book from cover to cover (apart from my books please)! Technology and smarts make it possible to be a voracious reader, even with limited time and while juggling multiple priorities.

You can use tools like which provide short book summaries. Their promise is irresistible – ‘a smarter you in 15 minutes.’ I often read my first business book for the day over my morning cup of coffee this way. For longer summaries, subscribe to services such as If you’re an auditory learner, options like are perfect. High achievers in my gym often combine audible with exercise. If you want the whole shebang then the Future Thinkers series features 30 minutes live webcasts with best selling authors each month. And depending on what you pick you can listen to an audio version of a web cast, read a one page summary and even have a copy of the book delivered to your door step! Most of these services come with a free trial period, so you can experiment to find what works best for you.

There are two main strategies to use here. The first is ‘content compression’: what’s the best compressed version of the book I can read or listen to right now? Of course, if you enjoy the compressed version then also feel free to buy or download the whole book. You don’t have to do this for every book though. The other strategy is to ‘compress time’ – i.e. reading on your phone while waiting at an appointment, sitting in the train on your way into work, or listening in your car or on your headphones while walking your dog.

How do you read fast and smart?

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  • Reply

    Yamini, interesting post. As a writer of business stories I have to read a lot and I’ve discovered information, thoughts, ideas and comments in the most unlikely places. Reading is a journey of discovery not simply the acquisition of someone else’s viewpoint on what’s important. Guess there’s a place for overviews/short-cuts but I am not sure it’s a substitute for acquiring new knowledge and discovering new perspectives.

    • Reply

      Hi Jacqui
      Totally agree. Both strategies are vital. One is for breadth and the other for depth. Don’t have a binary view of this. It’s never either or but what suits you and the books in question. Would love to read deeply on every book but know I can’t so these strategies let me drink from many wells. But also then if I am interested or curious or want to learn more will buy the book and read deeply.
      Thank you so much for your comment.

  • Reply

    Jane totally agree. But sorting out what to read In depth is the challenge. Discussion discourse and application ofcourse enrich the whole experience.

  • Jane

    Hi Yamini
    Reading us not just about vacuuming up information at the greatest rate possible. It’s also about ideas and meaning. So this is a plug not just for reading the whole book but also for discussing it with friends and colleagues. That’s how you get to be smarter.

    And if you are really lucky, the language in the book will shine, be vital, and stimulate the brain to connect other things that you know to this idea helping you expand not only your thinking but others if you share it.

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