By the Book vs. Buy the Book

Jim Houx is a good friend and former business colleague. Now retired, Jim was vice-president of engineering for The Marley Company, a global manufacturer of cooling towers. During a business meeting, I mentioned that I had just finished reading a business book I thought was quite good. Jim asked me what I’d done differently, or planned to do differently, as a result of reading that book.

I had no answer to either of those questions.

Jim said the value of business books is in the transformation they bring to an organization, its teams and its individuals. Little change–little value. He said if he read a book he found highly interesting, he would re-read it and then begin to apply the ideas he thought had potential. Jim didn’t just read a book, he worked through it. He lived it.

Jim’s words struck a cord with me. I went on a “book-fast” and didn’t buy another business book for a full year. (That was the year the stock market value of both Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble collapsed.) That book-fast was difficult for me. I love buying and reading business books. But thanks to Jim, I’ve been working hard to be more selective and focused with books. Most importantly, I try to put the words into action.

After all, actions speak louder than words.

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