Joining a business book club can give you a fresh perspective on your career

From the pages of In Business magazine.

A couple of months ago I turned 27, and to celebrate I did something really wild. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen! I joined a book club.

Now, to most people, joining a book club probably isn’t that crazy, but for me it was incredibly exciting. I realize that I’m exposing myself as a total nerd, but I’m okay with it because the more I’ve ventured into “nerd-dom,” the more benefits I’ve uncovered. Before I get into some of those benefits, let me tell you a little more about why I decided to join.

I’ll start from the beginning. In college, I hated reading. I was one of those students who spent thousands of dollars on textbooks and never opened most of them. Sorry, Mom and Dad. (On a side note, I did graduate from the Wisconsin School of Business in four years with a double major, so I must have been listening a little!)

I cringed at the sight of textbooks and never really got into reading fiction, either. Why read for 15 hours when I could get the gist of the story by watching a two-hour movie? Now, before you start sending me hate mail, let me say that I do think reading of any kind has benefits, and really the point is to find things to read that you enjoy; most fiction just isn’t for me.

So what did I do in college if I didn’t spend hours upon hours reading my textbooks? I wrote emails to executives and local business and community leaders asking them if they could give me a few minutes of their time.

When executives agreed to my request, I’d write a list of questions and try to learn as much as I could about what actions they took and habits they had that helped them achieve success.

To my surprise, by far one of the most common pieces of advice I heard was to get in the habit of reading daily.

After several people I respected and admired gave me the same tip, I decided to bite the bullet (or so I thought) and get back into reading. Instead of textbooks and fiction, this time I read some of the books these successful executives had recommended, and my life hasn’t been the same since. Now I have a pretty substantial book collection, and one of my goals for this year is to read at least one book per month and listen to at least one audio book a month. So now that I have made it a priority to read on a daily basis, why join a book club?

The book club I joined at DreamBank has added another level of value to reading. Each week I meet up with a group of eight other people interested in the featured book of the month.

This month, we’re reading Launch by Jeff Walker. We’re given a reading assignment each week, and then we meet to discuss our thoughts with people who are interested in the same topic but have different perspectives on it.

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My favorite part is making assignments at the end of each meeting. Not only are we given specific pages to read, we’re asked to take actions based on what we have read. This has helped me not only commit to reading but also to consistently take action to improve myself and my business.

Since I have enjoyed the book club experience so much, and since DreamBank’s book club has limited spots available, I wanted to host a new weekly book club for In Business readers, starting in June! The first book will be The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine and one of my favorite business authors.
Join this nerd and experience the benefits of living life on the edge through this new book club!

Fast Track Action Items for May:
■ If you are interested in joining my book club, email me at Jenna@JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com.
■ Consider getting a monthly subscription to Audible. It’s about $15 and gives you access to a huge library of audio books to listen to as you go about your day.
■ Email me to let me know which books you recommend or which titles are at the top of your reading list. I will compile my own list and send it out to anyone who’s interested in finding new books to check out!

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building
opportunities to local business leaders.

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