Don’t Confuse Reading with Learning

Posted January 31, 2022 in

Bob Ruffolo

CEO of IMPACT, student of marketing, sales, leadership and people, avid reader, needs to pick better sports teams.

At IMPACT, one of our core values is “obsessed over learning.” We truly only want to surround ourselves with people who love to learn and want to make themselves better each and every day.

We believe that leaders are readers. In fact, we have a book club at IMPACT that pays employees up to a $100 bonus for each book they read.

Every new employee starting their career at IMPACT is required to read eight pre-selected books within their first few months. This way, we all have a shared doctrine and a shared set of principles that guides our culture and the company we want to be.

But don’t confuse reading with learning. There’s a huge difference.

It’s not that hard to “read” a book. If it’s a task that just needs to get done, many people will skim through the book or have the audiobook playing in the background while they do other things to “get the gist.” 

Learning requires much, much more. It means taking notes, re-reading sections you don't get at first, Googling at times to dive deeper, and critically thinking about the information you just consumed. Learning also means applying the concepts, strategies, or game plans in your work and in your life, getting better every single day.

There are some people who say “yes, I read that” and there are others who can’t stop talking about the book they read, quoting the book whenever relevant, and sharing quotes or snapshots of the book with the greater team.

When you truly want to learn instead of just read, you have a very different mindset. Instead of approaching a book as “I need to finish this” you instead say “I’m going to master this. I’m going to know this like the back of my hand.” True learners finish a book and say, “yeah, I could probably teach a course on this right now.”

People who are true learners become more and more valuable to the people around them every single day. 

History has shown, at least at IMPACT, that true learners are the ones who thrive. They are the ones that everyone wants on their team, are regularly offered raises and promotions, and get publicly recognized more than most. These are the ones we would fight to keep at IMPACT if they were to tell us they were leaving. 

So I challenge you. The next time you pick up a book that you believe will be helpful to you at work or in life, slow down. Take notes. Don’t finish the book until you feel you have a mastery-level understanding of the concepts. Then build a plan for how you’re going to implement these concepts. 

It’ll take you twice the time, but you’ll get a 100x return on that time. 
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Tom DiScipio
"Learning also means applying the concepts, strategies, or game plans in your work and in your life, getting better every single day."

Well said, Bob Ruffolo . This is a shift I've started to make at the end of last year. This year will be a commitment to implementation.  

Joe Rinaldi - we were JUST chatting about this topic :) 
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Scott Humphris
Bob Ruffolo  - What are the eight books that IMPACT new starters are required to read?
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Bob Ruffolo
Sure - 

Books every team member should read
Jennifer Goode
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