Aug 18 2011
A recent Pittsburgh Business Times column featured best-selling author Harvey Mackay (Swim with the Sharks), who starts off by paying homage to the late Charles “Tremendous” Jones, a motivational speaker, who Mackay says imparted the notion to him that our lives basically change in two ways – the people we meet and the books we read.
That certainly caught my attention because “Tremendous” Jones was the first motivational speaker I heard as a young man just starting out in the early years of my career. I serendipitously had the opportunity to attend Jones’ sales seminar with a free ticket given to me by a boyhood friend who managed the local hotel where Jones was speaking. The seminar promoter had given him a couple tickets for his friends.
All speakers have a “back table” where they sell books, and Jones was no different. He boxed a number of great classics together in what he called the “battery pack”; the idea being that reading these books would recharge your mental batteries. Among them were James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh, Emerson’s essay on Self-Reliance, Russell Conwell’s Acres of Diamonds, Williard Beecher’s Beyond Success and Failure, and a couple others. The boxed set was in limited supply that day, so I placed an order. Imagine my surprise a week later when the seminar promoter and Jones showed up at my office to personally deliver the box. We had an inspiring chat for 20 minutes.
I read every book. I’ve read them several times over the years. Each time there is something new.
That was the point of Mackay’s column. He shares the biggest secret of a really life-changing book: “If you have found a book that taught you a tremendous amount, you need to go back and read it three, five, seven and 10 years later, after you’ve had different experiences. It is not enough to simply read a motivational self-help book. You have to study it, underline it, highlight it and take notes. Good books should never be permanently put away.”
I am frequently amazed when I go through older books and find underlines and notes in the margins. They are like little gems that give new insights to the present, as well as relate thought patterns of the past.
As Mackay says, “A good book can stretch your imagination and spark your creativity. Books inspire, comfort, teach and entertain.”
I probably read 30 to 40 books a year, some simultaneously. That’s in sharp contrast to the average person who reads just three books a year, according to statistics. I read for all the reasons Mackay mentions.
I must admit that the books in the Battery Pack have certainly influenced my life in a positive way. I’m glad I discovered them in my early career.
There are many, many others along the way that have had tremendous impact, too. I just finished reading Edwene Gaines’ The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity – for the third time. It’s on my list for another reading. Perhaps it is because I heard her speak, and she autographed my copy. When I read it, I hear her voice as if she is speaking only to me. And I always hear her tell me something new.
Mackay admonishes us to “Read to expand your mind. Read for fun. Read because you are interested in something – and read to become more interesting. You’ll never waste your time if you are reading.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Continue the blog and share what books have influenced you. Which ones come to mind that you might pull off the shelf for another read?
–Ralph Yearick is CEO of Yearick-Millea, a full-service marketing agency specializing in business-to-business communications. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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