July 16, 2020

JF2144: Read 52 Books In A Year | Syndication School with Theo Hicks


Does reading 52 books a year sound daunting to you? Yeah I thought so, well today Theo Hicks will be going over a popular blog post that Travis Watts from Ashcroft Capital recently published on the importance and techniques to reading 52 books in a year. Theo will be sharing the techniques he learned from reading this blog post and if you’d like to read it yourself check it out here

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To listen to other Syndication School series about the “How To’s” of apartment syndications and to download your FREE document, visit SyndicationSchool.com. Thank you for listening and I will talk to you tomorrow.


Joe Fairless: There needed to be a resource on apartment syndication that not only talked about each aspect of the syndication process, but how to actually do each of the things, and go into it in detail… And we thought “Hey, why not make it free, too?” That’s why we launched Syndication School.

Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to apartmentsyndication.com, or to learn more about the Apartment Syndication School, go to syndicationschool.com, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners and welcome to another episode of The Syndication School series – a free resource focused on the how-tos of apartment syndication. As always, I’m your host, Theo Hicks. Each week, we air two podcast episodes that help you in your apartment syndication journey, and for a lot of these previous episodes, we’ve offered some free resource. They’re PDF how-to guides, PowerPoint presentation templates, Excel calculator templates, something that’ll help you along your apartment syndication journey even more so than just these weekly episodes. All of that is available at syndicationschool.com.

Today, we are going to talk about a life-changing technique that I learned from Ashcroft Investor Relations, Travis Watts, and that is how to speed read; how he was able to read 52 books in one year. So I used to be an avid reader. I’m just starting to get back into it. Again, at least reading books and not just blog posts/articles… So I wanted to go over this blog post with you, Best Ever listeners, just in case you haven’t read it, but even if you have read it, I can give some additional advice on some strategies I’ve learned to be better at reading or how I read, because Travis obviously includes a lot of great examples in here as his examples as well. So I felt I could add a little bit of value here.

So in this blog post, first he goes over a few case studies. First, he’s trying to convince you why it’s important to read before he goes into how to read. So he starts off by talking about Tony Robbins, who coined the term CANEI, which stands for Constant And Never Ending Improvement, and that he emphasizes the importance of reading as a way to constantly improve yourself. There’s a book that he wrote called MONEY Master the Game where he says, “As a young man, I decided I was going to read a book a day. I didn’t quite read a book a day, but over seven years, I did read over 700 books,” so about 100 books every single year. “So how can you read, on average, 100 books every single year?” He goes over even more case studies.

He has Warren Buffett – everyone knows who he is – who spends five to six hours every day reading a book. Now obviously, you might not be able to spend five to six hours every single day reading. Warren Buffet has an established business. So if you’re grinding, you’re hustling, trying to scale, your time might be spent better doing that as opposed to reading, but reading is still important nonetheless. Especially one of the world’s richest men is spending five to six hours every day, probably close to a third of his waking hours reading. Not just books, from my understanding, he also reads a lot of online content as well, newspapers, things like that.

We’ve got Bill Gates, who said that he reads about 50 books a year; so about a book each week. Mark Cuban, who spends about three hours reading every day. He attributed his early career success in life to reading. So again, just because you don’t think you got the time, just because you think it might be more important to spend your time, as I mentioned, hustling, grinding for deals… Mark Cuban, pretty successful person, billionaire, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said that in the beginning of his career, he attributes reading to his massive success.

You’ve got Oprah Winfrey, who is an advocate for reading and strongly recommends her talk show viewers to adopt the habit of reading. She often refers to reading as her “path to freedom” due to these tough start in her career. So again, just like Mark Cuban, she attributes her success to reading early on in her career.

You’ve got Mark Zuckerberg; he’s a strong believer in reading. He believes that if you want to improve the quality of your life, you must commit to personal growth and development. He also adheres to Tony Robbins’ CANEI approach.

Elon Musk, who devoted a huge chunk of his time to reading when he was young. When he was in grade school, he read about ten hours a day, and I remember reading about that or at least hearing it when I listened to– it was in an autobiography; it was the biography of him where he talked about– I’m pretty sure he just went to the library in South Africa and just spent all of his days there reading.

So clearly, reading is very important if you’ve got billionaires, world’s richest people reading a ton and talking about the benefits of reading. So because of this, Travis decided that he too was going to take a stab at an aggressive reading strategy. He was going to try to read 52 books, so one book a week, for a year, but then he said that he knew that he would likely fail if he tried reading books in a traditional fashion, one page at a time from front to back, so he took a couple of speed reading courses and learned a powerful reading technique. So he outlines the technique that he used that allows him to read 52 books every single year… And he actually mentioned this here too, that this is more specific to the how-tos in the self-improvement books, but I do think that this would also work in real estate books as well. It depends on the type of book. For example, if you’re reading The Best Ever Apartment Syndication book and you’ve never done an apartment syndication before, then following this technique might not be the best approach just because it is a step by step process for completing an apartment syndication, and so it goes to the education of exercise you need to do… But if it’s a traditional how-to or self-improvement or self-help book, then I think this approach is perfect for that.

So here’s his five-step process. So first, set aside three different 15 minute or 20-minute intervals for reading a book each day; so a total of 45 minutes. So this could be 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon, and 15 minutes in the evening; and then if you need to, set a timer.

Now I think this is important because if you tell yourself that I’m going to read for 60 minutes every single day, that’s a long time. An hour is a long time, especially if you’re not used to reading, especially if you haven’t read a lot. So you’re likely going to avoid that. I think a better example would be fitness. I personally think that the reason why a lot of people have a hard time getting started is because they don’t want to spend 60 minutes in the gym. So a much better way to start off is to, rather than working out 60 minutes straight, maybe do a few different cycles of push-ups, sit-ups and air squats in your office. Maybe do that ten different times a day; maybe do five push-ups, five sit-ups, and five air squats. Do three rounds of that and do that five times throughout the day. It’s a lot easier to do that because that takes two minutes to do. Let’s say it takes five minutes to do. You do it ten times, that’s 15 minutes. You’re probably not gonna do it ten times, but at least if you do it one time, it’s better than not doing it at all.

I think the purpose of this is to give yourself much more smaller goals that are more easy to mentally digest and get into. Saying, “Well, I only need to read for 15 minutes–” well, that’s 15 minutes, compared to the “Oh, I can sit down here for 60 minutes,” you’re wondering about what’s going on in your emails, what other things you need to do. So I really like this technique of breaking it into different intervals. Of course, if you’re able to do 60 minutes straight, by all means, do that, but breaking the intervals, I think is a lot better.

So right when you wake up, it may be one of the first things you do, and then before you take your lunch break, you read 15 minutes again, and then maybe take 15 minutes at the end of your workday or after dinner, or before you go to bed to read as well. So that’s step one.

Step two is to decide ahead of time what your goal is for reading the book. So what are you seeking to learn from the book and how will that help you in your career? So depending on where you’re at, this might be something different. If you’re obviously just starting off, then you’re likely going to maybe need some help with this mindset; maybe you’re gonna need help finding deals. If you have an established business, maybe you want to learn how to be a better leader. But defining specifically what you want to accomplish by reading this book is going to be important for the later steps.

Step number three is to use a bookmark or sticky notes to save important pages or sections. Use a pen to circle or underline key tips or ideas. So when I read books, right now, what I do, I don’t necessarily follow the speed reading technique, but when it comes to the sticky notes, and then the pen idea– so a really good strategy is while you’re reading anything that’s important– let’s say you’re reading one chapter; it’s a 20 chapter book. If you are planning on reading the full book, while you’re going through it, you have a highlighter. I like a highlighter better, just because with a pen, I’m ripping the pages and I can see the pen on the page behind. So I found a page that looks like I underlined something on the page behind it, and sometimes the lines are so close together that I can’t really get a pen in between lines without going over one of the lines. So it looks like I’m crossing something else. I personally am a highlighter person plus it’s a lot brighter, but a pencil works. But you’re still gonna need a pen because what you do is you read a chapter, you highlight things, and you go back over that chapter and you read what you highlighted, and you take one of the bigger sticky notes, and you just either summarize in sentences or summarize some bullet points and the main takeaways from your highlighted sentences, and then you put that sticky note at the front of that chapter. That way, whenever you’re going back to your book, you open the book up and if it is a 20 chapter book, you’ve got 20 sticky notes, rather than having to go through every single page and look at the actual highlights. All you need to do is look at 20 sticky notes to read the entire book again. So that’s essentially what he’s saying, but I think you should take it a step further. Rather than just using sticky notes to save important pages, use sticky notes to summarize the different things you underlined or highlighted in that chapter.

So step four is to read the front cover first, then the inside jacket, and then the foreward introduction and first chapter. So if you’re reading a softcover book, the front cover has the title and then any subtitle, and then the inside jacket for hardcover books will have a description of the book, but obviously, for a softcover that’s on the back. So if you’re reading a softcover book, it would be – read the front cover, read the back cover, read any of the things before the actual book start. So it might be an intro, it might be a foreword, it might be a preface, they’re all called different things. Read everything up until the first chapter, and then read the first chapter. After that, you go all the way back and read the last chapter, which is typically depending on what book your reading. If it’s a self-improvement or how-to book, it’s typically going to be the conclusion. Summarizing– not to just say summarizing, but summarizing the content of the book. After you read the last chapter, go back to the table of contents and select the most relevant chapters for your goals and only read those. So cover, back cover or inside jacket, everything up to and including the first chapter, and then the last chapter. You have a pretty good idea of what information is going to be in the book, and then going to the table of contents, you can pick out specifically what you want to read.

So maybe I got ahead of myself talking about our Best Ever Apartment Syndication book, because obviously, if you are just starting out, you should read the entire book, but if you’re already doing syndications and maybe you just need help on raising money or maybe you just need help on building a brand or maybe you already are really good at raising money and building a brand, but you just need help finding more deals… Well, if you simply go to the table of contents and it says How to find more deals, you read that book, review that chapter in one day and you’ve essentially gotten what your goal was out of that book in one day without having to read all 450+ pages. So really apply that to anything.

So that is Travis’ five-step technique for being able to read a book in a week, and depending on how specific your goal is, you should be able to read a few of these books in a day, and it’s 45 minutes to an hour. So maybe you spend your first interval reading the front cover, the inside jacket or back cover, the forward introduction and the first chapter, and that’s your first 15 minutes or 20 minutes, and then you take a break, and then on your next 15-minute interval, you read the last chapter in the book, and then go back to the table of contents and determine which chapters are the most important, and then at the end of the day, you read those irrelevant chapters, and then boom, the book is done and you can move on to the next book.

Now in his blog post, Travis says that the goal of using this technique is to extract a few key ideas, concepts or takeaways that you can implement in your life, because most people only really retain 10% of what they read anyways. So if you’re going to read a 100-page book, you’re likely only going to retain ten of those pages. That’s not exactly how it works, but you get the idea. Whereas this technique will allow you to retain information quicker and more efficiently and offers you the ability to go back later and skip directly to the most relevant information by using those bookmarks, notes and annotations. So again, if you’re struggling to read because you’re overwhelmed by how big the book is, this is a great way to pull out the important information that you need now, ignore the fluff that you don’t necessarily need to know right now, and then move on to a different book afterwards.

So definitely try this technique and let us know how it goes on our Facebook group. You can email me at theo@joefairless as well, and hopefully, you too can be like Travis and read 50 books per year or if you’re feeling very bold, you could be like Tony Robbins and read 100 books per year. I think following this strategy you could probably read 300+ books per year because you could probably go through one book per day as I mentioned earlier.

So that concludes this episode on speed reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Make sure you check out some of our other syndication school episodes and those free documents; those are available at syndicationschool.com. Thank you for listening and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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