Video killed the Bibliophile – Video vs Books
Book lovers, aka bibliophiles, are 6 feet under…. If you want to learn something new, most people just Google it, others watch a video. I have a fond history with books, and they helped me build SSW.
The beginning of SSW Rules
When I first started SSW I read a business book that helped me change my way of thinking. I was stuck being busy and I only worked in the business, not on the business. The book was called The E-Myth. This was before the internet was widely popular, so the “E” refers to “Entrepreneur”…. not “Electronic.”
My learning…. I learnt that if you really want to have a good business, it is important to consider what steps you previously took to solve a problem and work out a way to make those steps consistent and repeatable – e.g. a process… This is probably where my Rules came from… or was it the army, or being an accountant…? I’m not sure. 🤔
So after reading this book, I documented some of SSW’s processes. For example, I tried to think about how I interacted with customers, because at the time I felt I was the only one in the office who knew the steps. I wrote down all the questions I would ask, and I looked at all the past faxes I had sent to clients (yes – we sent faxes in those days! 👴🏻). And I used that as the foundation that has allowed SSW to grow.
The Rise of YouTube Education
I know today many people do *not* read books and that they learn in other ways. These days, I mostly learn about a new topic from YouTube videos, so I was curious if anyone in SSW was the same. For example, I already knew that William doesn’t read physical books, but I know he has read a ton on finance while at his computer e.g. Barefoot Investor.
I asked the SSW team using a Microsoft Form survey about how they learn, and to also tell me about a book that had an impact on their life. I learned some cool things! Here is a couple of them.
#1 – No one really learns from reading books anymore…
One of my questions asked SSW people to list their top 3 ways to learn about a new non-technical topic. The results showed
#1 – YouTube (red bar) overwhelming won.
#2 – Reading internet pages in general e.g. blogs, articles, etc. (purple bar).
#3 – Reading a physical book (blue bar), but the numbers were considerably lower.
#2 – Our accountants all like the same book! (Well almost)
Firstly, I learned why Anastasia (SSW’s CFO) and Anky (SSW China’s Accountant) get along so well during their finance meetings! They both said that the book that had the biggest impact on their lives was Rich Dad, Poor Dad with their comments being:
“Where you learn your financial habits is important – your family aren’t always the best people to learn financial habits from. Look to successful people and follow their lead.”
“Mindset is important – if you stop thinking “I can’t afford it,” and start thinking “How can I afford it?” It opens the brain and forces it to think of solutions.”
Nick (SSW Accountant) was the odd one out favouring Legacy, which is a book about the rise of the All Blacks. I’ve heard it’s a great read for aspiring leaders and coaches! Nick has represented Australia in both powerlifting and dragon boating, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this! Like me reading the E-Myth, Legacy also instilled in Nick how important repetition is, and he commented:
“The book followed one of the captains closely (Richie McCaw). It talked about the things he would repeat physically, verbally and mentally and how they brought it into the team. What I learned was that repeating things can turn them into a habit subconsciously and consciously.”
#3 – A lot of my developers love the Barefoot investor – but read it in different forms
Quite a few SSW software engineers talked about how reading or listening to the Barefoot Investor changed their financial future for the better. Interestingly, not everyone read this as a physical book. E-books, Audiobooks and Scott Pape’s blog were all ways they absorbed this content. The biggest takeaways I read were:
- Set up a bucket system, that separates your money into different spending categories that works for you and then stick to it, e.g. Daily Expenses, Splurge, Smile & Fire Extinguisher. No need for budgets or spreadsheets once you have calculated your initial spend. Again, it’s all about repeatable habits leading to success (I’m seeing a pattern!). My Qld State Manager, Penny, went from being in debt, to saving a deposit for her house within 3 years.
#4 – The Impact of a book can be long-lasting
I asked about when they read their most impactful book:
- 29% had read this in the last year (blue),
- 45% of SSW people said that they had read the book in the last 5 years (orange)
- 12% had read something that had stuck with them for more than 10 years (red). That’s a long time for a book to still be making an impact!
One of these people in the 12% category was our General Manager, Uly. He read Getting Things Done which taught him the importance of follow-up, and also dividing your work. I watch him use a free tool called Followupthen religiously. Uly says:
“the book taught me to limit my attention to the things I want to (and can) achieve today, and then move everything else out into tracking systems (backlogs, follow-up services, etc). Secondly, I use the Pareto’s principle (aka the 80/20 rule), to make sure you’re mainly working on the 20% of tasks that produce 80% of the results. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it.”
Other learning moments from the SSW Team
Even though most of my team learn via YouTube, they mentioned at least one great book that they had learned something from. I have added a few of them to my list to read if I ever find the time. They also shared some great online content, so here is a mix of some of the ones mentioned (there was 40 or so, so I can’t list them all!):
- Freakonmics – Matt Wicks said “the book explores the hidden relationships between everything – which made me learn to take a step back when trying to debug issues and work out the cause/effect”.
- Rovering to success – Bryden Oliver also recommends Arstechnica.com for a broad overview of current science and technology.
- Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams – Jason Taylor says “it’s all about managing productivity and happiness through flow.”
- Billion Dollar Whale – Calum Simpson said “it made me realise money is very important, and not important at all… at the same time.”
- Becoming Bullet Proof: Protect Yourself, Read People, Influence Situations, and Live Fearlessly – Chris Clement just read about how to influence people. I guess I need to watch Chris in future meetings to see if this one has had an impact! 😂
- Influence without authority – Anthony Nguyen uses it to guide clients and other developers to his way of thinking. 🕵🏻♀️
- Never Split the difference – Michael Smedley, our most experienced and persuasive Sales Manager is still learning new tricks. He says this book helped him learn about “Mirroring, tactical empathy, listening and negotiating skills.”
- Alvin Shen, CEO of SSW China “I subscribed to a channel called Nate Talk (Chinese only) and watched every episode of it. It’s a Chinese YouTube channel, hosted by Li Ziran, a famous investor and entrepreneur. He shares a lot of business experience about how to find good opportunities, how to invest in companies, how to go overseas etc.”
What was your favourite non-technical book ever? Or maybe your favourite YouTube channel, E-Book, Audio-Book or old school physical book! I’d love to see what influences you and how long ago you read it!
July 15, 2021 @ 9:21 AM
Is it true that books are ‘dead’, or is it more that expanding learning into other formats has made technical self-education more accessible?
I’m a fan of books (although prefer eBooks these days) and videos. I like videos for explaining concepts, and prefer text for step by step tutorials as it makes it easier for me to follow at my own pace.
Both have their strengths and weaknesses. I find concepts easier to explain and easier to understand in video format. And sometimes its much easier to show someone something – which you can do more effectively in video – than to tell them. But you can’t ctrl-f a video, which you can with text.
Rather than trying to decide whether one format or the other is better, I prefer to think that now we have the luxury of both which means more people, irrespective of learning style, have access to quality content.
July 15, 2021 @ 11:43 PM
Great article, thanks for sharing Adam.
I’m deep in a YouTube based learning journey at the moment.
Thoroughly enjoying Robert Sapolsky (from Stanford) and his lecture series on Human Behaviour Biology.
The access to content is mind-blowing, and inspiring at the same time.
The availability and ease-of-access to audiobooks is also amazing.
Great time to be alive, if you love to learn 🙂