My Latest Epiphany about Books


Hey friends,

Greetings from Miami, Florida. I’m here for a few days, and then heading to Palm Beach to attend Tony Robbins’ Business Mastery live event. Should be interesting – I’ll report back how it goes next week.

But this week, I’ve had a few realisations. And they all stemmed from reading a physical book (!) on the flight from London to Miami yesterday.

The book in question is the hardback copy of The Diary of a CEO: 33 Laws for Business and Life by Steven Bartlett. He and his team kindly sent me an advance copy, which arrived the day before the flight. So I thought “ooh this will be fun and novel, I can read a physical book for the first time in ages, and I can do it on the flight”!

And so on the flight, I read around 2/3 of the book. It took me around 4 hours. And like a true connoisseur of self-help books, I decided to take notes in the margins with a real-life pencil, and highlight sections that resonated with me with a real-life highlighter.

And man. There were SO MANY INSIGHTS.

Firstly, what’s an insight? To me, an insight is a realisation that changes the way I think, and ideally changes the way I behave. I usually share these sorts of insights in videos on my YouTube channel. Often, I say in the video “this book changed my life”. And some cynics in the audience are like “dude every other book you read seems to change your life, this is just clickbait”. But it really isn’t – if I read a book and it changes the way I behave, then it’s (somewhat by definition) changed my life. Usually for the better.

Secondly, I had more of these insights than I normally do when reading self-help books. I suspect that’s firstly because it’s a very good book with some strong and often counterintuitive points. But secondly, I suspect it’s to do with the way I read it – unlike my usual blitz-reading on Kindle, I read Steven’s book fairly slowly, in physical form, with a physical pen and highlighter to take notes.

The slowness of the reading, combined with the slowness of highlighting and taking notes by hand (compared to the speed of highlighting on Kindle / typing notes in Apple Notes) made a huge difference to the way I engaged with the material. Instead of just reading it and saying “yep, yep, that’s good, yep I know this, ooh nice point I’ll highlight this on Kindle”, I took my time with it, reading along with the voice in my head, and thinking “do I agree with this? Yep I think I do… how does it relate to my own experience? Oh yeah, in this way. Ooh this is interesting, how could I apply this point to my life?” and so on.

One very tangible insight from the book is that I need to take my health way more seriously. Steven describes health as ‘your first foundation’, which is a neat framing. It made me realise that I’m seriously under-investing my time and my resources in my health, and that I need to make a change.

There were plenty more but I’ll save those for an upcoming Book Club video once I’ve processed my notes properly.

I wanted this week to be a quick email because firstly, I’m writing this at 10pm Miami time with the jet lag kicking in and causing my eyes to droop, and secondly because often, a shorter email is a better email.

And as usual, because I prefer to think of these emails as “notes to myself” rather than any sort of “giving advice to the reader” (for various reasons), the note to myself is this – read more physical books, more slowly. By doing so, you’re way more likely to actually engage with them, and especially if you’re reading for insight rather than for information or entertainment, you’ll only find the true value from the book through that process of engagement.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

P.S. Tomorrow we’re sending the first edition of the Daily Productivity newsletter, where you’ll receive one idea, one quote, and one tool to make you more productive and help you build your dream life. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then click here and you’ll automatically start receiving the Daily Productivity newsletter. You can unsubscribe anytime, and I’d love your feedback 🙂

🤝 80,000 Hours – Find fulfilling career that does good

By now, regular readers will have heard me talk about my friends at 80,000 Hours before, but it’s a great time to check them out right now..

They’ve released a massive update to their free career guide, which aims to help you find a fulfilling career that does good. You can read the individual articles on their site now, or wait until September 4th to get the full 2023 ebook or paperback version.

The guide is ridiculously in-depth, and talks you through how to find the highest-impact career for you — and it contains practical exercises so that by the end, you’ll have a full career plan.

By the way 80,000 Hours is a nonprofit, so everything they provide is free, forever. I’m really happy to have them sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 🙏

♥️ My Favourite Things

  1. How to give feedback – I really enjoyed this video from 9 years ago (!) of communication skills trainer Shari Harley explaining how to give feedback at work. Giving the right amount of candid feedback (both positive but especially negative) is something I really struggle with so I wanted to learn how to do a better job of it. Shari’s videos, and her book How to Say Anything to Anyone are excellent, and really funny as well.
  2. Movies x2 – I watched two movies on the flight to Miami, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. The first was She Said, a film about the New York Times journalists who broke the Harvey Weinstein story a few years ago – super interesting + harrowing. And then with a radically different tone, I also watched Hachiko, a Chinese film (English subtitles) about an abandoned puppy who gets rescued by a professor and his family, and the ensuing drama and vibes. Super super wholesome, and a real tear-jerker too. 100% recommended if you want a beautiful, touching film that’ll make you cry.

🎬 My New Videos

💰 How I Became a Millionaire in My 20s – It’s been a crazy journey since I started getting coding gigs online aged 13 to earning lots of money in my 20s and eventually becoming a millionaire. If you’re interested in following a similar path, in this video I share my 5 top lessons from how I did it and how you could do it too. .

✍️ Quote of the Week

“If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something what we are really, really saying is that it’s not a priority. Simply put: You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.”
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