"Read 500 pages [...] every week. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest."
- Warren Buffett
On the 1st of January 2018, we at Choose To Thinq (CTQ) began an experiment. Each day, we would read one summary of a book. This way, we would get something out of Blinkist, the book summary service we had subscribed to over a year ago but never really put to use.
At CTQ, everyone happens to be an avid reader, so reading a 3000 word summary of 15 mins reading time wasn't going to be difficult. But doing it without missing a day? Reading material that someone else had chosen? Now, this was a challenge.
Now, 600 days have passed and we have turned this into a habit. 7 people read one book summary every day. There's a WhatsApp group to coordinate. Each posts a 'takeaway' from the reading as well. A month into this experiment, we even felt the need to raise the stakes (things were too easy), so we've begun doing challenges related to the book's topic. "Write a post about this topic", "identify an Indian company that is like the company profiled in the book", "reflect on what you'd have done in such a situation" have been some of the "+1s" that have been attached to a day's reading.
Oh, and in a nod to the Buffett quote above, we've called this the "Reading Compound", for this was a habit that brought compounding efforts for life.
Recently, we opened this system up to the world. If you would like to read wisely and widely each day, consider joining us.
Why this has worked
In designing the Reading Compound, we've used several ideas from the world of habit formation, human behaviour modeling, system design, learning and mastery, and intrinsic motivation. Here are 4 of those ideas:
Unambiguous goal and concrete outcomes: Our brains don't like vague tasks. And it likes getting to a successful conclusion fairly quickly. The chosen book summaries take 15 mins to read and a conclusion is (almost) guaranteed.
Social pressure: The pact is that all of us commit to reading each day. We keep an eye on each other. On days when we don't quite feel like it, our commitment to each other keeps us moving. And we don't get to see the next summary unless everyone has finished the previous one.
A mix of convention and novelty: The format is stable - there are no odd surprises each day. But the content brings novelty and feeds curiosity. Some books are interesting, some are dull. This prevents things from getting too monotonous, but also not in a way that keeps us on edge.
It's a system - it doesn't rely too much on the heroics of one super-motivated person, but on a structure that works almost all the time.
Does this really 'compound' in the same way money does when you put away a coin in the right place each day? We believe it does. Over time, the ideas we pick up start to connect strongly with each other, creating a network of insights and unusual intersections. It also builds a strong, common vocabulary for the team.
Would you like to build such a reading habit for yourself? Check out this page .