Can too much reading be bad for you? I say, “yes.”
While I love books, there is a limit to how much you can learn through them. Over the course of this article, we’ll look at a common problem caused by reading too much; and how you can avoid this pitfall.
Lastly, I’m going to share an ultra-simple system for getting the most out of what you do read. Use this tip and you’ll save yourself a lot of time when learning a new skill. But first we’ll start with the biggest mistake most readers make.
You Do Not Operate On A High Enough Level To Benefit From Most Advice
You will not benefit from 99% of specific information. Of course, when I say “you,” I mean everybody. Myself included.
Let me explain.
Over the summer I was working on a direct market product and got stumped on price. I couldn’t figure out if I should sell it for $17.99 or $19.99.
Unsure what to do, I bought a bunch of books by pricing experts.
These books were written by guys who advise companies like Coca-Cola, ARM, and Maybach on what to charge for their products. As a result, I learned a lot about subjects like “bundling,” “profit cliffs,” and surcharges.
But I didn’t learn anything about selling my E-Junkie eBook.
Frustrated, I sat down, did some simple math, and determined that $19.99 was a fine price.
My weeks of research proved worthless when simple mathematics could have solved the issue in a fraction of the time.
Much of the specific information you read only applies to a select few situations, most of which won’t involve you.
If you’re the head of a multi-billion dollar corporation like Coca-Cola, you deal in minute details. A 0.001% sales increase means millions of dollars profits. So it makes sense to find something like the optimal price point if it means you’ll get one extra sale out of every 1,000 customers.
For a small business venture, like selling eBooks, that slight increase has no real effect. One sale per 1,000 customers would (in the case of my eBook), only be worth 17.99 – $19.99 total. If I sold 10,000 books (which is a ton for self-published authors), I’d only earn an additional $180 to $200.
That’s hardly worth the extra effort.
When dealing with specific advice, what works for one person probably won’t work for you. Luckily, there is a solution.
Master The Broad Strokes
Instead of searching for “success formulas” or step-by-step advice, focus on mastering a general skill set. Doing so allows you to develop your own flexible system that can be used in a variety of different circumstances.
Here’s an example.
In 2014, I took a flight from Peru to Chicago. Before my plane left, I bought a copy of The Millionaire Fastline to read during the trip.
In one chapter, author MJ DeMarco lays out his exact blueprint for making money off of his book:
From start to finish this book cost me roughly 1,000 hours of my time. If I sell 100,000 books at $5 profit each, I earn $500,000 or roughly $500 per hour invested.
DeMarco goes on to note that:
If I guest-speak on a radio show for 10 minutes and that appearance yields 1,000 book sales, this 10-minute investment yields $5,000 in income (1,000 books X $5 profit) and yields a return on my time at $30,000 per hour. Can you get rich trading your time for $30,000 per hour? Yes you can, and awfully fast.
Someone looking for specific advice would read this and think, “There’s a lot of money in business books themed around car motifs. I’ve got to write one too and name it something like Drive Me To The Bank!”
In fact, that’s what most of the people seeking “guru advice” would do. They’d learn nothing, and simply try aping whatever the person advising them has done. This mentality is what’s lead to millions Tim Ferriss clones, generic motivation blogs, and other low-quality content that consumers tend to avoid.
People who think big picture look past superficial stuff, like the exact details of how someone became successful, can pick up on the broader strokes.
Going back to The Millionaire Fastline example, I used big picture thinking to concentrate on the author’s message, not his example.
I focused on the idea of creating books that could sell with or without me constantly marketing them.
By doing so, I was able to come up with my own unique titles and set them up in a way that they’d generate sales forever. Even now, the books I wrote in late 2014 and early 2015 still make enough money to pay my rent every month.
When you want to learn a new skill, don’t obsess over tiny details. Instead, try to pick up on big picture ideas and general concepts.