In a recent Forbes interview, Bill Gates’ dad reveals what the Microsoft billionaire was like growing up.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the young Gates was an extreme bookworm:
Just about every kind of book interested him — encyclopedias, science fiction, you name it. I was thrilled that my child was such an avid reader, but he read so much that Bill’s mother and I had to institute a rule: no books at the dinner table.
That Gates loved to read as a kid is hardly surprising. Today, his personal blog “GatesNotes” features upwards of 150 book recommendations for everything from scientific histories to novels.
Among the world’s richest and most successful people, a passion for books and for lifelong learning is hardly uncommon. Author and self-made millionaire Steve Siebold has interviewed more than 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people over the past three decades and has noted that reading for self-education is a common thread among them.
Investing legend Warren Buffett reportedly spends about 80% of his day reading, and continues to include book recommendations in his annual shareholder letters.
In 2015, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every two weeks, and even started a book club called “A Year of Books” so that he could discuss those books with the Facebook community.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey selects a book every month for readers to discuss online as part of “Oprah’s Book Club 2.0,” and when tech billionaire Elon Musk is asked how he learned to build rockets, he reportedly answers, “I read books.”
Experts say reading is crucial for anyone in a leadership position. Writing in The Harvard Business Review, author John Coleman argues that reading can make you a better communicator and more empathetic.
Meanwhile, Scotty McLennan, a lecturer in political economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggests that novels can boost leadership skills by showing readers reality in a way that case studies and business books can’t.
Obviously, there’s no one secret to becoming wildly successful. But a weekly trip to your local library is an almost surefire way to increase your knowledge and your effectiveness in business settings.