Byron's Babbles

The Gift of Reading!

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 10, 2015

2015/01/img_0659.png The inspiration for today’s post came from the text conversation which I have posted a picture of for you. What a great way to start your day, as a leader, to have someone who you consider to be a great friend and colleague text this to you. I had the tremendous honor to give Ambra Tennery her first job as an Agricultural Science teacher. Let me tell you, she was one of the greatest, if not the greatest. She now is providing awesome leadership with the National FFA Organization, but we stay in touch. Ambra obviously took my recommendation of the book How The World Sees You and is turning it into personal professional growth. As leaders it is so important that we post, tweet, and have individual conversations about those things that are influencing our leadership growth and serving as catalysts for leadership development. Here’s a picture of the very last text in the series:

2015/01/img_0665.png I am showing the image of that text not to brag, but to show the importance and power of what we do as leaders and mentors every day. I heard my favorite basketball coach, Albert Hendrix, make a comment (actually he yelled it to his players!) last night in a Lebanon High School game that really stuck with me. He said (yelled), “Value every possession!” In that context he meant to make sure that every time we had the ball that we needed to play as a team to score. By the way, Lebanon won the game. But, as I thought about it we need to do the same as leaders, teachers, mentors, and coaches. Every time we have the opportunity to influence others we need to value that possession. Never forget, leadership is influence.

Let’s dig deeper into this idea of recommending books.

Do book recommendations from peers really make that much difference in our book-buying habits? What about posting a review or reflection on your blog? Another great way to review is on Barnes & Noble or Amazon reviews. Twitter has also become a great way to recommend books. Or, the power of giving someone a book you have just finished? I would argue all of these are very powerful today, and are all things we as leaders should be doing. If we truly believe the statement that ‘Leaders are Readers’ then we need to be doing all of the above. It’s a leadership obligation!

In talking to an individual on our team this past week, she said she doesn’t pay attention to general advertisements about books. Instead she only looks at the reviews of people who’ve already read the book and bases her decision solely upon what readers are saying. Her comment really got me thinking about the power of recommendations. I know when I going to put an app on my phone or iPad, for example, if the ratings are not good I won’t do it. Therefore, we have a leadership obligation to take the time to rate books and make comments on the books we read. It does not matter if it is on GoodReads, Amazon, or Audible; we need to be doing it. I have to do a better job of taking time to do this to. I am including a picture here in the post of a recent recommendation I did for Sally Hogshead’s book How The World Sees You.

Additionally, I have also posted blogs about this book as well. ‘Rudolph and Elf Fascinating Leadership’ and ‘Just a Kiss of Leadership.’ Click Byron’s Babbles to read those two posts.

Reviews and recommendations are not new, but certainly a powerful marketing tool in the online world. Most of us trust the word of mouth from other ordinary people like us. I recently saw this statistic: 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements. Think about it, we really did not need the data to affirm this. Did we? We look at the comments of other consumers, and then we make our purchases accordingly. It’s true for everything from furniture to TV’s, from comforters to curtains. And, yes, it’s VERY true for books too.

As I said, I believe we have an obligation to promote books that have enabled professional growth in us. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to make a personal and individual recommendation to friends, family members, and those we coach, mentor, and lead. As you know from previous posts I always give a copy of every book that I read to someone who I believe will get value from it. So, for example, last year I read 66 books and gave 66 books to others to read. Now, do I know whether they read them? No, but it is important to do so and I know that many did because I get feedback from them. If you want to read more about what I’ve done to get books that have influenced me into the hands of others, click iRead Because iLead. Interestingly, in his book Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson talks about picking a book each year and giving it to his players to read based on their needs. I was motivated to continue my practice after reading this! Would you read a book someone personally gave you?


So what do you think? Have you ever been swayed into buying a book after reading a blog review or Amazon review? Do you watch what others are reading and saying about books on Twitter? Would you make sure you read a book that someone personally gave you and report back to them? Which influences you more—peer recommendations or advertisements? And why? Don’t forget it is a leadership obligation to give others the gift of reading!

3 Responses

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  1. Abbie said, on January 11, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I just picked a book based off of a review in a magazine. It is called “Republic of Imagination.” It talks about teaching using some classic books from the US in the Middle East.

    It inspired me to look into statistics involving literacy in America. I was completly shocked and started developing a literacy study geared toward fifth graders. I will be presenting the concept tomorrow for backing from the University.


    • Dr. Byron L. Ernest said, on January 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      That is awesome Abbie! You are a rock star!


      • Abbie said, on January 11, 2015 at 8:31 pm

        I had some great leaders when I was a kid, who told me to question the world around me and not be afraid to do big things.


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