Why do many people find it hard to gain something from reading? According to Nick Hutchison, it is because they do not take intentional action on their learned information. Joining Penny Zenker, the author of Rise of the Reader and founder of BookThinkers shares some tips on prioritizing reading over any other activity and using the knowledge you get from it to unlock your full potential. Nick talks about some tips to improve reading habits, including his unique concept of “Book Sex.” He also opens up on his strategies to overcome the most difficult moments in life and face uncertainty with great courage.
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Take Action On Learned Information And Unlock Your Full Potential With Nick Hutchison
[00:00:44] As you know, I’m always looking to bring some interesting perspectives for you, and in this episode, we’re going to mix it up a little bit. I haven’t talked about the power of learning and how to take action from the information that we learn so I’m excited to give that lens because so often, we meet off to the next thing, and we don’t process, learn, and put things into practice. I’m excited for this talk.
I’m talking to Nick Hutchison. Let me give you a little overview of him and then we’ll introduce him. Nick is the author of Rise of the Reader: Strategies for Mastering Your Reading Habits and Applying What You Learn. He’s also the Founder of BookThinkers, a growing seven-figure digital marketing agency that serves mission-driven authors. At the age of twenty, he discovered the world of personal development. I wish I discovered it a little bit earlier. He quickly used books that he was reading to improve every aspect of his personal and professional life. Now he’s dedicated his life to helping millions of readers take action on the information that they learn and rise to their potential. Without further ado, Nick, welcome.
Penny, I’m excited for this conversation. I’m also excited that it’s a little bit different, it sounds like, than your average guest as far as getting more from the books you’re reading. It’s a fun subject and I’m an open book, pun intended.
You fell in love with books and now it’s your passion. Is that what I’m understanding?
When I was growing up, I was not much of an academic. I was more of an athlete. I didn’t do much reading growing up, but going into my senior year of college, I took an internship at a local software company. It was a sales internship. My boss, long story short, introduced me to the world of business podcasting. I had about an hour’s commute each way to this internship. When I was listening to all these successful people being interviewed, a number of them were giving at least some credit for their success to the books they were reading. I said, “I want to be like those people.” I fell head over heels in love with improving my life by reading these books.
It’s so true though. I think we can all remember a book that changed our life, and that made us shift our perspective to think about things differently. Also, to look in the mirror and see ourselves for what we want to be and search for our best selves. I’m a personal development junkie myself, but what do you think keeps people from making more books more impactful for them because there could be more impact. Maybe they only remember one and there could be so many more.
I think a couple of things. When I think back to growing up, one of the reasons that I didn’t fall in love with reading at an earlier age was because I was being forced to read things in school that I didn’t love. When I didn’t have the same perspective as the teacher in that book, I was penalized. I fell out of love with reading at an early age and it wasn’t until I realized that the right book at the right time can change your life that I fell back into love with it.
I love reading personal development books. They solve problems. They help you build skillsets. Each one of these books has a big impact on me. One of the reasons that people aren’t getting more from the books they’re reading is because they’re reading without intention. I love to set a goal for each book that I read. This is one of the tips I share in my book, Rise of the Reader. Instead of reading a communication book or a productivity book and hoping that it’s going to change your life, I like to set a smart goal for each book. Something that is specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant to my life or business so I’m emotionally connected to it, and time-bound. I love to give myself a deadline and take advantage of Parkinson’s Law.
If I read a book on communication, my goal might be to find and implement at least two communication strategies by the end of the month or something like that. That’s specific. I know what my goal is for the book. It’s measurable. I know whether or not I achieve those two strategies. That’s attainable. I didn’t say I wanted to book a TEDx Talk right after one book. I said I wanted to find and implement two things. It’s relevant to my life because my communication used to stink, and I’m always looking to improve it, and it’s time-bound. I said, “By the end of the month.” I force myself to take better action. When we take action and we’re intentional, we’re going to retain and implement more.
What about those people who set a good intention, “I’m going to read this and I’m going to take two things away,” but afterwards, they skim through it because they didn’t have the time? They intended to do it but didn’t follow through. We see that all the time with a lack of follow-through on goals that are set.[00:05:25] When I hear people say they don’t have enough time to read, I love to ask them this, “If I paid you $10,000 to read a book by the end of the month and read every single word in that book, do you think you could do it?” They’re like, “I could read five.” It’s not a question of whether or not we can read, but it’s a question of whether or not we prioritize it enough. We value it enough to put it in our calendar or prioritize it, essentially.
Check out this math. For somebody who’s new, that reads for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. In that 30 minutes, they’ll read about twenty pages. If you do that five days a week, that’s 100 pages a week. Most of these books are only 200 pages nowadays. That’s a book every two weeks. That’s 26 books over the next twelve months. Twenty-six different areas of your life that you can improve simply by reading for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.
Better yet, let’s replace something like social media scrolling and a little bit of Netflix in the evening. It’s something that is meaningless in the long run with something that can change your life. Replacing a low-impact activity with something that has more potential. I think that’s how we get more of these books finished.To finish more books, replace a low-impact activity with something with more potential. Click To Tweet
One of the things that I like that you said is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. I find that when I take that time to sit down and read, or even sometimes it’s a podcast or whatever I’m using as my learning mechanism, I find that it sparks all sorts of creativity. My newest book is about reset moments. It creates a reset for us to process everything that we have to process.
By taking our mind in a totally different direction, it gives the other part-time to integrate, but very often, it helps us to make connections that we wouldn’t have otherwise made. It’s the same thing as when you’re in the shower and then all of a sudden, these great ideas come, but this is more directed because you’re reading about a particular topic and then you’re going to link those into your life, and things that you’re thinking about.
Yeah, absolutely. I think you can do it with even more intention too. I have a practice. It’s a tongue-in-cheek name. It’s book sex. I love to take two random notes from two totally unrelated books, and I love to grab a note from each one and then journal about how I would merge them together and create a little book baby. That practice cultivates more curiosity, more creativity, and more novelty. You can come up with some fun, new, and innovative ideas by taking something from a book on fitness and mashing it with a book on business or something like that.
That’s so interesting. You have book sex. That’s fun because it really does force you to create new connections. When you’re going through the content to see what mixes, you’re reinforcing what you’re learning in a very unique way that makes it more memorable. You are passionate about this. What 2 or 3 of the books that have made the biggest impact on you?
I love using this example. It’s a book I read called $100M Offers by Alex Hormozi. Here I am, a small business owner. The book’s promise is, “I’ll 5X your average deal size. I’ll 10X your average deal size. I’ll help you make more money and build better offers.” I read the book. I implement everything that I read. I went through all the exercises, and within three months, I generated an additional six figures of revenue for my business. A $20 book and a few hours of my time helped me generate over $100,000 of additional revenue in my business. Talk about an ROI. I love that book. It’s been amazing for me and for a lot of the people that have read it. That’s one.
In talking about productivity, another book that I loved was The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Not only did that book turn me into a world traveler who spends a few months internationally every year, but it helped me build a remote business that’s distributed where I only focus on the highest leveraged activities and I automate, delegate, or eliminate the rest. I used that book as the roadmap for building the business I have now, which has ten people on my team, and we serve hundreds of authors a year as a result of that book.
I used that also. I created my own exercise out of The 4-Hour Work Week to help people find their 20% activities that get 80% of the impact. It’s a good book to get you thinking. I like the way he thinks, in general. If you look at any of his books, it’s about how you can use a constraint and make it a catalyst. I love that way of looking at things. It sparks a lot of creativity. You’ve given us some good tips here. What’s a question that most people don’t ask you but is valuable and important?
I’m still young and nobody asks me how I was able to build what I consider to be my dream life in such a short period of time. The answer that I give has to do with the subject of death. I love the subject of death and I think it’s more positive than people give it credit for. I read The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. Have you read that book?
No, but I think I know where you’re going with this.
She’s an end-of-life palliative care nurse. She’d spent the last couple of weeks, maybe days with somebody before they passed on, and she would talk to these people. She realized most of them lived a life full of regret. They regretted not living a life that was more fulfilling to them. A little bit less on society’s expectations and more on their own. They regret working so much and there are a whole bunch of other ones in there.
I read that early on, and then I also got into stoic philosophy. This idea of Memento Mori, we’re all going to die. I started to prioritize thinking about death, and it created more urgency in my life. I started to focus more on experience, growing this business, and focusing my time on things that matter more to me in the long run than things that are mindless, like social media and Netflix.
The first book I read a few years ago in a relatively short period of time, I’m happy, healthy, and wealthy. It’s because of these books. The mindset is life is finite. We’re all going to die at some point, so we might as well get the most out of our time on this planet. These books condensed decades of somebody else’s lived experience into the lessons that they’ve learned. You can read them in days. I’m still young but I’ve lived thousands of years if you include all of the books behind me. That’s something that we don’t talk about a lot.
I love that. I can say, for me personally, that I have been shaped by death as well. My father died when I was nineteen. I’m glad that you didn’t have it because somebody close to you died but I think when you are young and you have someone who you love who dies young, you realize that life isn’t guaranteed and that it does become, “I’m here to live. What can I do? What can I explore? How can I read, learn, and experience more so that I can feel like I lived?” That’s the way I’ve been living my life. I lived overseas for sixteen years and I’ve done some incredible things because why not? What do I have to lose? I’m here to live.
Most people are asleep at the wheel. My sweatshirt says, “On a living spree,” as well. It’s one of my favorite messages.
[00:13:26] It sounds like you learned a lot so it’s hard to say, “What have you learned?” Let’s pick a topic. Right now, a lot of people are talking about resiliency and they’re stressed out. You talked about stoicism and the way that one might face uncertainty. What strategy or how do you face difficult times when it’s uncertain and things aren’t going well? Even though your business is growing and everything is great, sometimes that’s a curse too. What are some of the strategies and ways of thinking that you approach resiliency?
Two things come to mind. One is a more recent thought. One is an older thought. I’ll give you the more recent thought first. When you expect failure, difficulty, and anxiety, and you know it’s part of the process, it doesn’t shock you when it happens. I’ve learned to love failure. I’ve learned to embrace it because I think through failure, you can find opportunity. You can collect feedback and it’s not personal. The world isn’t trying to get you. It just is what it is. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned that failure is part of the process and now it doesn’t scare me. It doesn’t hurt me. It doesn’t create anxiety or bad feelings because I know that’s how I’m going to continue to grow. I’ve been desensitized to it through exposure, and that’s been important.When you expect failure, difficulty, and anxiety knowing it is part of the process, it doesn't shock you when it happens. Click To Tweet
The older thought that I’ve had for a few years now, we’ve been talking about stoicism, is this idea of amor fati, which is Latin for loving one’s fate. Again, the world is not positive or negative. It’s neutral. It is what it is. Factors that are outside of your control are outside of your control so you shouldn’t be upset when you can’t control them. Amor fati takes it a step further. It says, “You should love these external factors. You should show gratitude to them.” Even things that might be perceived as negative, you’re the one that’s perceiving them as negative, and you have agency over that. I think what’s helped me in difficult times too is realizing that it does not serve you or anybody else to be too negative.
It is what it is.
It is, and it’s nothing more or less unless you make it more or less.
It’s hard for people to be objective. I think that’s the interesting thing about stoicism or how I interpret it. I haven’t dug deep into it, but I practice a lot of stoic types of practices. It’s stepping away from some of the emotion. The emotion has us see it worse than it is or better than it is. Sometimes it’s stepping back and seeing what is. We have to step away from it in order to see what is. It’s not always easy so sometimes we may need to do that through other people.
See it through someone else’s eyes. “How would so-and-so see it?” That’s a strategy that sometimes I use. If I’m looking at something and I feel stuck or whatever, how would somebody who I respect or want to be like, how would they see this situation? How would they interpret it and where would they take it and that kind of thing? It would bring you somewhere totally different.
I use that same strategy all the time. Sometimes people say comparison is the thief of joy, but I think comparison can create joy and perspective.
[00:16:46] I think it depends. It’s the thief of joy when it’s about where you’re judging yourself and your status but I agree with you. It can be opening up perspective for you so that you can see opportunities and you’re not directly saying, “I should be like this, but here’s the opportunity that I could grow to be this,” then it’s different.
Either comparing yourself to where you were a few years ago or comparing yourself to people who are in less fortunate circumstances instantly puts you in a place of gratitude.
I always say someone else has it worse than I do so I’m just going to get on with it. We’ll take my problems over anyone else’s problems any day. Thank you so much for being here. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you feel like you want to share before we end the show?
I’ll say to everybody reading that if you found this conversation valuable, if you’re looking for additional strategies to get more out of the books that you’re reading, the podcasts that you’re listening to, the courses that you’re going through, check out this new book, Rise of the Reader. It does have the potential to change your life to help you take better action. One of my favorite quotes is by Napoleon Hill. It says, “Action is the real measure of intelligence.” I’m not in this game to just talk my talk and not walk. I’m here to help people change, get access to the information they can use to change, and live better lives as a result of it. That’s what fuels me. I believe the right book at the right time can change your life. That’s what my whole brand is all about.
Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you, Penny. I appreciate it.
[00:18:26] Thank you all for being here. This was a total bomb. We’ve got some good nuggets here. I want you to think about how you can incorporate 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Start reading more and being more intentional before you start reading about what you’re going to take away. Also, if you want, it’s okay to have book sex. Go ahead and check out everything that Nick has to offer. We’ll see you in the next episode.
- Rise of the Reader: Strategies for Mastering Your Reading Habits and Applying What You Learn
- $100M Offers
- The 4-Hour Work Week
- The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
About Nick Hutchison
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