Why does Bill Gates read?

An open book placed on a bed
Bill Gates writes regularly about the books he reads

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Today’s generation does not need libraries, or so we think. They have their mobile phones and browsers with information at their fingertips. But there’s more to it than evidence on the surface. Deep reading happens only with books and material that explore concepts in detail. To build depth on a job, employees need to dip into vast troves of knowledge to improve their abilities to generate new ideas.

Look at it this way. Any new idea generated is from combining existing concepts and knowledge. As people expand their knowledge pool, they begin to make fresh connections and approach problem solving differently. The beneficiary is the organisation that reaps the rewards.

CEOs who read

Gates Notes from Bill Gates is a blog detailing the books he’s read over the summer. Or winter. He shortlists the books he enjoyed the most twice an year. He shows you where he gets his ideas from. More important is the range of subjects he covers and the ideas he comes across. In turn, this feeds into his ability to draw a range of unique conclusions.
You would think one of the richest men in the world can do whatever he likes – and he chooses to read! Magazines and breathless articles speak about his vision and foresight. How do you think he arrives at them?

Short answer. By setting aside a considerable amount of time to learn new things. Get acquainted with subjects that interest and intrigue him.

Bill Gates draws upon his reading to create strategic advantages. Initially, it was to build Microsoft. Today, it is to increase the impact of the charities the Gates Foundation runs on health and society.

This method is open to everyone

Books are ideas in words and accessible. They can be picked up and read anytime. They’re waiting to be discovered and get you to explore a new way of thinking. And they ask for nothing in return. Books are the products of fertile minds who have slaved away for years to produce it. The effort required to read is nothing compared to the effort that was required to write it.

And that is the sad part. Cultivating a reading habit is like every other habit. It needs to be encouraged and one must persist with it for the breakthrough to happen. Initially, it may look as if the pages don’t resonate because a lot of us associate books with text books and memorising pages and pages of things that were simply not comprehensible.

One needs to read for pleasure. And for that to happen, you must sample the work of several authors until you find one that speaks to you. Just like a friend does. It could be the way the person writes. Or the narration that sweeps you away. It happens and then there is no looking back. Most people simply don’t give books enough time to grow on them

Reinventing the library

For hundreds of years, libraries have been treasure troves of knowledge. Societies that progressed were the ones that encouraged and documented what they did.

Even in the information age, that doesn’t change. Having information available and not utilizing it is like sitting next to the seashore and never wading in.

If every employee in your organisation read just 1 book a year, that’s increasing the knowledge potential of your organisation by a factor of 100. Or a 1000 depending on how many people you employ.

And if just 10% of them came up with a new idea that works for the organisation, you would benefit enormously from the knowledge base you build.

K:lib is about mental enrichment

K:lib, formerly Kwench has taken the core principles that guide the library and adapted it for the digital world. The company realised that building a collection, curating it, maintaining it and getting more people interested was a job all by itself.

So they have taken it out of the equation altogether. And moved the library to the company’s doorstep. Making it easy for anyone to browse through and borrow books they like.

And they can start off with anything that catches their eye. Not necessarily with ‘heavy’ subjects. There’s a whole range of easy reading to build a habit. The important thing is to build a love for books and reading. The rest will follow.

The difference between skill and knowledge

Organisations pay considerable attention to building skills because it increases the efficiencies of doing the job. Training programs are oriented towards building this precise set of requirements.

To help organisations compete and grow, they need to improve the analytical ability and keep abreast of new breakthroughs in the sector as well. This is left to individual initiatives – and people may not acquire new knowledge simply because they don’t think it is valued in the organisation.

That limits the ability to respond and evolve competitive edges to succeed. It is left to an extremely small team of individuals to achieve this. With analytical ability broadened, the organisation develops a bigger pool of executives who can drive growth through innovative solutions.

K:lib is doing more to acquaint people with the enormous benefits that books bring

Guest articles: Experts in various fields are invited to write on articles and subjects of interest for clients – almost like songs on request to k:lib to enhance the bouquet of online content.

Author-connect sessions: Authors are invited to interact with employees and engage with them on specific topics. This helps the author reach more readers and employees get to hear from the authors directly

Client engagement specialists: They work to deepen the usage of the platform among employees through various campaigns and initiatives.

When more companies in India become knowledge-led in addition to being process led and skill dependent, it leads to fresh thinking within. That opens up several opportunities internally to come up with ideas that can be explored and implemented.

The more knowledgeable employees are, the more they will contribute and share

Since inception, K:lib has fulfilled over 2 million orders. That’s a drop in a nation of over a billion people. The potential for corporate libraries to open up a new chapter in the sharing economy is immense. And that’s where K:lib is headed

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Author short bio: I head Ideascape, an agency that I started in 2004. I have over 35 years of experience building brands in businesses as diverse as payroll services, software, cycles, HR services, hospitals, hospitality and project management.

We’re a boutique creative agency but we provide the full range of branding services in partnership with several associates in digital marketing, web development, and event management. This blog is a collection of my experiences and my point of view on marketing and advertising