How to do a Warren Buffett

November 16, 2015

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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