The book Read to Lead offers both the why and the how of developing a personal reading plan that will help build a successful career. It gives practical advice on how to read and retain more, learn new skills, and turn your knowledge into influence. Below our CEO & Founder Grant Glas interviews the authors of the book Jeff Brown and Jesse Wisnewski.
Jeff Brown is an award-winning radio producer and personality and a former nationally syndicated morning show host. After more than 25 years in the radio and music industries, Jeff went boss-free and launched the Read to Lead podcast, a four-time Best Business Podcast nominee. Jeff has interviewed hundreds of leaders in their industry on the podcast, including Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, Liz Wiseman, Dr. Henry Cloud, Brian Tracy, Nancy Duarte, and Alan Alda. Jeff has been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, and Hubspot, and the blogs of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Jeff Goins, and Social Media Examiner, as well as publications like the Nashville Business Journal, the Tennessean, and hundreds of other blogs and podcasts.
Jesse Wisnewski is a senior-level marketing professional and a self-proclaimed bibliophile. He has been featured in Forbes, CNBC Make It, The Muse, Observer, and more. He holds a master’s degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a marketing degree from Marshall University. He lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with his family.
What is the book (or books) you've given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
A couple that comes to mind right away concerning books that I've gifted are a couple that I've gifted to many of my nieces and nephews as they're coming of age and entering their teenage years. I think all of them now are officially in their adolescent years or beyond. But that's been books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Also, more recently in the last 15 or so years, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. That's not a book I've gifted to my nieces and nephews per se, but it's a book that I recommend to many readers or leaders, I should say, written by Liz Wiseman.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you've ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.
I was initially going to say, well, books, of course. But I'll go a little bit beyond that and say, more specifically would be my podcast. My similarly titled podcast is called Read to Lead, and I started that about eight years ago. And the time, money, and energy that I've put into that have just dramatically changed my life. Not only has it kept me on pace to read at least a book a week because I interview authors on the show, and every week, I'm interviewing somebody new. So I'm reading 50 to 52 books a year, and I've been able to keep that up for quite some time. So it helps me stay accountable for doing that.
But realistically, the best, most worthwhile investment I've ever made, as I think about it, was in 2005, I just started graduate school, and the school was providing a speed reading course. Due to scheduling conflicts, I couldn't attend the course, but I reached out to the instructor and asked if he would meet with me. He was super kind, opted to do that. And we sat down for an hour more; he just walked through all the lessons with me at the time. And Grant, you've mentioned something earlier, at the time, it was one of those innocent, "Oh, I want to do this. It's going to be helpful."
What new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life in the last five years?
A couple of things come to mind. And one of those is that taking action before your belief in your ability to do something is more important than working on the belief side first and then taking measures. Seth Godin once said to me on the first visit to my podcast about six years ago, "We don't take action because we believe; we believe because we take action. Do first, believe second." And so the last five or six years since I heard that, since that was drilled into me, I've been intentional about doing things I'm uncomfortable doing. I think what it is, Bonnie Ware, I believe in the Five Regrets of the Dying talks about, the number one regret is getting to the end of your life and feeling as if you lived a life that everybody else wanted you to live instead of a life that was true to yourself.
When I thought about it, the transition to using a paper journal to track my daily and weekly and my daily and weekly planner has been just revolutionary for me. Beforehand, probably like most people is I was using multiple apps or digital tools to track whether it was projected at work, life stuff, whatever was going on. But I was having a hard time managing all the different tools and apps out there—and then not having one place to keep everything. So through the encouragement of a friend, at least what he shared on his Instagram feed, I saw that I was like, you know what? I've been hearing about using paper journals; I've used one in the past. I'm going to go ahead and give it a try again.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a "favorite failure" of yours?
What immediately came to mind was the last regular job I worked that I got let go of. That was the case for me, with a lot of stable jobs that I worked. But the last one was in 2013, and I had been thinking about life beyond radio. I was in broadcasting for 26 years. But I'd not really built a plan, and even though I had set a date in my mind that I wanted to leave by, that was months down the road, and it was not in the forefront of my mind; it was in the back of my mind. And one of the reasons I'd set a date so far out was because I didn't want to think about it right now. I was too scared or too afraid and probably knew deep down that I probably wouldn't make the transition to do something on my own when that date came.
I think the proudest one that impacted me was that it wasn't a failure in terms of I was doing something; it was a failure in terms of quitting. So I had an opportunity to walk on to play football at Marshall University. I had an excellent first year, won an award on the scout team, and then, leading into the second year, decided to quit as summer drills were starting and stuff for different reasons. But most importantly, what I learned a few years later, partly because of that, is that I struggle with clinical depression. And so once I had enough wherewithal working with the counselor, this even goes back 15, 16 years ago, it helped me see from that incident and quitting.