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What Successful People Read that You Don’t

I was finalizing a purchase with a new company this weekend and because it was a new vendor, I had to complete the deal by registering on the company’s website. The sales representative was charming and extraordinarily knowledgeable throughout the entire negotiation, so it didn’t surprise me when she wanted to coach me through this last “mile.” We sat together while I completed some forms online.

When the website wouldn’t take capital letters and persisted in translating everything I input to lower case, I laughed and said,

“Wow, your company will think you’re doing business with e.e. cummings.”

“No, we don’t do business with an e.e. cummings, “ she replied. “At least not in my territory.”

Because I am both an educator at UCLA Extension and a working MBA, my heart sank a bit. I know we teach you sales, business, accounting, marketing, operations, human resources, manufacturing, and then some in business school. But if that’s really all you know, we have failed you by graduating you.

The most successful business people read.

They read way beyond their business field. They consume poetry, fiction, science, philosophy, science fiction, science fantasy, religion, psychology and then some. Without these references, you are doomed to lose prestige when your product knowledge is no longer at issue.

We may have done you a real disservice if you have an undergraduate business degree.

Consider whether you have an education deficit, which is more of a liability than you might think. Consider what subject areas would expand your point of view, like anthropology, fine arts, sociology, physical science, biology, mathematics, linguistics, political science and the whole host of topics that enliven the world with different perspectives.

You can be an autodidact, a MOOC-addict or at least a casual reader in these other fields. However, nothing comes close to being engaged by a teacher or mentor who is dedicated to challenging you on a new subject.

Successful people actively widen or deepen the shallow areas of their education. They never stop learning – really learning, not just apprising themselves of a topic with a Buzzfeed style list.

Read and learn to get a richer framework for life, and life brings you greater riches.