Debra Swersky
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Go Forth And Read

To put it bluntly, I’m a fan of Mark Cuban. The way that he articulates himself resonates with me. For example, he won’t invest time or money into anything that he isn’t excited about, won’t use, or can’t explain to someone (like his mom). #beenthere #donethat He used to tell himself that “it was ok to make little mistakes as long as [he] didn’t make the big ones.” Agreed. And lastly, “most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage.” This one hit me hard. In reading the compilation of blog posts that he made into a book, How to Win At The Sport of Business, I realized the impact of this statement while I was mentoring at The Dallas Entrepreneur Center. To finish the quote, Cuban goes onto say, “I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all of the information available, particularly with the Internet making it so readily accessible, I can get an advantage in any technology business.” 

First of all, nice shorts, Mark (Part 1: The Dream). Second of all, Cuban, you’re right. There came a point in time when I realized that I actually enjoyed reading. Part of distaste for reading was “who has time for reading” and the other part of it was “there are so many good classic books to read that I should read.” The point in time I refer to when I started to enjoy reading was during my Independent Study Project at Babson. For once, in my entire academic career, I controlled the curriculum. I chose the books, the chapters, and of course, the research topic. I started the study because I was genuinely interested in how a business (in my case a restaurant) infused its brand message and core values into every aspect of it’s company (in my case the restaurant's location) - specifically its onboarding and training programs. I started to read books that interested me because they interested me… not because a professor (or anyone else) told me to read them. It was fascinating how quickly I consumed them. Reading, at that point, was no longer a chore. It was fun!

From that point forward, I began to understand the effects of the “knowledge advantage.” I began sharing ideas and thoughts and inspirations that I had from all of the books that I was reading. When I sat down with three entrepreneurs at The Dallas Entrepreneur Center last week, I felt empowered as I shared my knowledge advantage with them. In my conversations with each person I recommended books that I had read that could resonate with them and felt the lightbulbs going off in their heads as I justified my recommendation. It. Was. Awesome. 

As luck would have it, my advisor for my Independent Study Project, Professor Keith Rollag, Associate Professor of Management and Chair of the Management Division at Babson College, published his first book which I began reading this week: What To Do When You’re New. In it he talks about the “secrets to newcomer success” one of which is asking questions. There was a study that he refers to from a group of researchers (Ryan, Hicks, and Hidgley) that “found that students who were mostly focused on performing well relative to their fellow students tended to be much more reluctant to ask questions than those who were oriented toward learning and improving.”

To tie this post up with a bow there are a few takeaways: 1. Mark Cuban is awesome. 2. Find something you’re interested in and read up on it. 3. Get your own knowledge advantage. 4. Share your knowledge advantage with others who need some inspiration. 5. Don’t focus on “performing well” (or reading the classics)… focus on “learning” more, “improving” yourself, and getting your knowledge advantage in something that interests you. Now, go forth and read!

Debra Swersky