Byron's Babbles

iREAD Because I Lead!

Posted in Coaching, Education, Education Reform, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 25, 2014
David Marquet's Tweet

David Marquet’s Tweet

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ~ Harry S. Truman

I was reminded of this quote from our 33rd President this past week when @LDavidMarquet tweeted it. I, of course, immediately retweeted. On the same tweet, he (Marquet) also asked the question, “What book is sitting on your nightstand?” Those that follow me on twitter, @ByronErnest, know that I can’t resist answering questions. So, I answered that I just finished The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen’s Race to the South Pole by Roland Huntford and Paul Theroux. And, since I am such a fan of David Marquet, I had to throw in that he (Marquet) is like Amundsen is this contrast of two leaders. You will also notice from the picture on my response that I am now using GoodReads. It is an awesome way to keep track of books, get recommendations, and make recommendations. It even lets you scan in your books using the barcode. I learned of this app while discussing books with one of our awesome teachers, Allison Marchisani. I love the team we’ve got here because I learn from them every day.

My Response Tweet

My Response Tweet

This post is not a review of any books. I can guarantee you that I will be posting to my blog about David Marquet, however, in the future. So, watch for that, but today my post deals with the importance of reading. It is interesting that earlier in the week before being asked the question of what book was on my nightstand I was reminded of just how many books I have read this past year. In fact the exact number is 35 since July 1 of 2013. The only reason I know this is because our Media Specialist keeps track of it for our iREAD – I Just Finished Reading program. She sent out a report last week and I was amazed, as was our staff, how many books I had read!

Our school has the goal of every student and staff member reading 30 books per year outside of the normal school reading. This is a huge undertaking, but research shows that high school students should be reading 30 books outside of school per year. Therefore, our staff believes that if the students are doing it, we should be doing it. I am excited to already be five over the goal. Keep in mind I read in three modalities: book in hand, Kindle app on my iPad Air, and Audible app for listening. As a leader the benefits of reading are wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Reading — whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle — is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. Harvard research claimed that reading across fields is good for creativity. As a leader who reads, I can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, the military, or psychology, and apply those insights to my own organization. Think about it, I can take the incredible leadership lessons of David Marquet and apply them to my own leadership journey to help us innovate and prosper.

So let me explain how we do our iREAD – I Just Finished Reading program: On the honor system, each student and staff member are responsible for reporting to our media specialist the title of each book finished. The media specialist then records the book and makes a laminated picture of the cover. This cover is then put on the walls out in the building (see picture). Our halls are filling up with cover pictures. It is great to see students and staff perusing the titles and having conversations about the books.

Book Covers

Book Covers

In addition, I have gone one step further with my Principal’s Picks 13-14 Program. As I finish books I actually buy a copy to be put on display in the Principal’s Picks 13-14 Display (see picture) in the media center. A card is placed in each book and staff and students can sign up to win the drawing for their very own copy of the book. There are usually four to seven books that I have read on display at a time. This has been such a fun way to promote reading. In fact it has become quite competitive when it comes drawing time for the books. There have also been some great discussions about reading that have developed out of this program.

As I close this post I would say that I really do believe that leaders are readers. Also, I want to share my list of 35 books I have finished so far since July 1 of 2013. Click on Principal’s Picks 13-14 to see my list. Since everyone will ask which is my favorite of the 35, I’ll tell you: Turn The Ship Around: A True Story of Turning of Turning Followers Into Leaders by David Marquet. Did you make the connection to where I started this post? We are full circle back to David Marquet! Because of iRead I have now made a connection to a great leader and author. Don’t forget if you lead, you must read!!!

Principal's Picks Display

Principal’s Picks Display






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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!