Many of us may not realize it (I’m definitely guilty of this), but we sometimes fall into the trap of being “personal development junkies” – often chasing the high from those incredible “aha!” moments that books give us, but we don’t always turn those lessons into real personal development or meaningful life changes.
In today’s solo episode, I dig into why this is, talk about how to integrate “book summaries” into your reading plan, as well as my personal hacks that help me read more books (hint: there’s an app for that) — and how to get more out of them faster than ever before.
- Why I often lean toward reading book summaries instead of entire books—and I’m giving you my top 3 favorite apps for reading book summaries.
- How to get an entire book’s worth of content in 10-30 minutes—and how to implement it into your daily life.
- The most important thing that an author or content creator can do to make a lasting impact for us, and why it is our responsibility to seek that out.
- How to tell if you need to go deeper and read an entire book.
The point of a book, should be to change your behavior in a meaningful way.” – Hal Elrod
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- How to Be Ultra Spiritual: 12 1/2 Steps to Spiritual Superiority
- Hal Elrod – Beyond The Bestseller with Jordan Harbinger
- Hal Elrod – Beyond The Bestseller with Joe Polish
- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8am)
- Optimize Book Summary App by Brian Johnson – Apple or Android
- Blinkist Book Summary App – Apple or Android
- Instaread Books Summary App – Apple
- AYG 243: The Reality Check We All Need
- Best Year Ever [LIVE] Experience
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TRANSCRIPTClick here to Read the Transcript
Hal: Goal achievers, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host and your friend, Hal Elrod, and I’m going to start by telling you I’m not exactly sure where we’re going to go today. Number one, I’m sitting on my daughter’s bed. We have construction being done in our house and it’s loud everywhere, even here. So, I’m in this different space physically, in a different environment, and I’ve got a lot of things on my mind and I’ve got some things I want to chat with you about, but I’m not exactly sure what direction we are going to head. So, I’ve been sitting here for like 30 minutes just making notes and going, “Ah, I just need to start and decided I’m going to be transparent. This is a conversation, right?” It’s like if you walked in the door right now, you’re like, “Hal, what’s up?” and I would be like, “You know what, my mind is going all over the place, but let’s see what comes out of this.”
So, that’s where we’re going to go. We’re just going to have an open dialogue, just a conversation, just me and you and the other I don’t know how many people are listening to this, but we’re all having a conversation. I guess it’s kind of a one-sided conversation you’re listening to me which, if you’ve ever gone out to eat with me, I can sometimes be a talkaholic and then you actually, that’s the conversation anyway. I try to be a better listener all the time and I’ve been working on it for like 20 years but I get excited about stuff then I just start talking and then five minutes goes by or 10 minutes or what seems like an eternity in my head and then I realize in my head as I’m talking, I don’t think I have asked this person a question in like 10 minutes. I’m just talking at them. What am I doing? So, anyway, let’s do a little bit of that today.
One of the things I want to talk about so last night I went to a dinner. A new friend of mine, pretty new friend, JP Sears. My friend Joe Polish introduced us a few months back. You may know JP. JP puts out these videos that are really funny. JP has the long red hair and the purple shirt that he usually wears unless he’s dressed in like a thong on his recent video. He wears some pretty funny outlandish outfits but super funny guy, super sweet and just generous and genuine human being. And that’s how Joe polish introduced me to JP Sears was just like his being funny is the least important or least significant thing about who he is. He’s just such a really special sweet awesome, spiritual human being. He’s the author of the book, Becoming Ultra Spiritual (How to Be Ultra Spiritual). I believe that’s the title and we have some fun videos that will be coming out here in the next few months to promote The Miracle Morning Movie and that’s actually a quick announcement. The Miracle Morning Movie is almost done.
There’s actually no real announcement. You have to wait longer. That’s the announcement. You have to wait longer. It’s not ready yet. There’s nowhere to go watch it. But, yes, it’s my first experience of the film and with the documentary and it ended up being better than I imagined and taking longer than I imagined. So, I did get an email from our director, Nick Conedera, yesterday and he’s like, “It is almost done.” There’s all these technical elements, the color, and the sound and all the stuff and so, yeah, we’re almost done. That’s exciting, but so JP and I did some videos for that. Last night, JP invited me to a dinner here in Austin at a new friend’s house and our new friend for me, someone JP’s been really good friends with for a long time, JP highly recommended this individual and we went. His house is 0.9 miles from mine so it’s really convenient and went over there and spent some time with Brandon Hawk. You can find him online at BrandonHawk.com. Really, really beautiful human being, very much like JP. Just a sweet soul.
In fact, we were about to break bread together and I never met him and his wife. For the first time, my wife and I and my kids are going over there and he’s got some kids that are our kids’ ages and we went over there and there’s probably a dozen or 14, 16 people in the house, all couples. The kids were out running around and we gathered around in his kitchen and he had us all hold hands which I thought was beautiful and he had us right before we broke bread he said, “I just want to acknowledge everybody for being here and it’s such a beautiful thing and it means so much to me that people I love that I can be with you and be around you and connect with you.” And we’re all holding hands. I’m holding my wife’s hand on the left, I’m holding a new friend, Sonny, who I never met before, we’re holding hands, he on the right. And it really, well, I hope there’s some value in this for you and what it did for me is as he’s doing this, I go, “Man.” He basically just spoke what this meant to him having us over. He invited any of us to share anything that we wanted to share.
And I’ll just share with you what I shared with him. I said, “Brandon, you are leading by example right now and you’re really inspiring me. I used to have people over all the time. My wife loves entertaining. We have people over but I’m kind of an introvert and I don’t know if I not taken for granted. I’m grateful. I always journal about them being there and how grateful I am to be with my friends but I don’t ever speak up and say anything while they’re there usually.” And so, I said, “You inspired me. Every time I have people over, I’m going to probably stand in a circle in the kitchen with them with our hands being held, holding one another’s hands and just acknowledge everyone and how much I love and appreciate my friends and family and circle of influence and so I thought that was really cool.”
Hal: Where was I going with that? Here’s what it is and this might be the topic of the show. We might keep this one quick. I note some random thoughts here to start us off but I had a conversation during dinner with another new, a gentleman, new friend, and we were talking about reading and obviously, reading is for I think almost everybody that listens to the podcast, reading is probably part of your life in your world, reading personal development books or professional development books, and it’s something that I think most of us do. Some of us have it all figured out. Some of us are still trying to figure out. When I say figure it out, I mean, figure out which books or books should I read? How many books at a time should I read? Is there any value to reading book summaries? What’s better, a book summary or the book itself? Or is there a time when the book summary is better versus a time when you should read the entire book, or should you read them both? Should you speed read?
Like, there’s so many and you’d think about it like you can get really deep and really intricate and really complex in your strategy for reading and just digesting or taking in content and so we’re having a conversation about this last night and this is what I shared. So, I want to share with you, this is kind of my reading hacks if you will. I’ve really been gravitating towards book summaries as of late, and I’m going to give you my favorite apps where you can access book summaries then I’m going to talk to you about kind of my thoughts on reading book summaries versus the entire book, you know, which way to go, how you should consider this. So, here are my thoughts. Obviously, I’m sure you’ve read books and you read a book and sometimes read a book and it’s great. Sometimes read a book and it’s not great. Sometimes read a book and there are many great – I think for most books, there are some parts that are really great, really valuable, and then some maybe that are not so great or kind of drag on and I’m sure some of my books probably have those elements as well.
But here’s what I’ve found. If you look at why am I reading a book and I just gave a speech last week at Genius Network at the annual event and the speech was Beyond the Bestseller. That’s the title of the speech, Beyond the Bestseller, and I talked about how to create content, whether it was writing a book and that was kind of the emphasis was how to write a book. So, the subtitle of the message was: How to write a book that creates a movement, earns you a fortune, and changes the world. And by the way, I’ve done a podcast on this on the Art of Charm Podcast. If you google “Hal Elrod Beyond the Bestseller”, you should be able to find a video, at least one video, and an audio or two on that topic. So, if you want to hear more about that from me, you can, and it’s a book that I’ll eventually, I’ve actually written the rough draft of this book and I’ll publish it at some point, but in that book and in that message, I talk about the most important thing that you can do as an author or as a content creator.
So, if you are a podcaster and I’m realizing that I don’t know that I do this very well as a podcaster so as I’m saying this, I’m going to make a note and we’ll see if this episode if I can pull this off. I don’t know if I can because I just now thought of it but the idea is that the most important thing you can do as a content creator and for me this is, as an author is where this stemmed from, is to change a person’s behavior. So, if you’re an author, you’re changing your reader’s behavior. If you’re a blogger, you’re changing your reader’s behavior. If you are doing this via email content, you’re changing your email subscriber’s behavior. Whatever human being is on the other end of your content, the idea is to change their behavior. If you think about it, most books don’t change our behavior. Most books simply change our thinking and it’s very short-lived, it’s very short-term because you’ve all been there, we’ve all been there. You’re reading a book and you’re going, “Oh my gosh, this is the best book I’ve ever read like idea after idea after idea.” It’s shifting your paradigm. It’s profound. You never thought about things the way that this book is inspiring you to think about things. It’s the greatest thing in the world. Maybe even tell people, “Oh my gosh, I’m reading this book. It’s amazing. You got to read this book.”
Here’s the problem. If all it does is stimulate your thinking and it doesn’t change your behavior in a meaningful way, then typically when you’re done reading that book, the only thing that you do is start reading a different book. You move on from one book to the next, and all of those shifts in your thinking typically are very short-term because as soon as you start reading the next book, you got all these new ideas flooding your mind, flooding your consciousness. There’s only so much mental capacity that we have for so many ideas at once. In fact, Jay Papasan and Gary Keller wrote the book, The One Thing, and there’s a lot of research that shows you can actually only focus on one thing at a time. If you’re multitasking, you’re focusing on one thing at a time, and then it’s another thing then you’re going back and forth but you’re really only effectively able to focus, really focus on one thing at a time.
So, if you read a book and you get a bunch of ideas but it doesn’t change your behavior then you go on to the next book and you forget all the ideas in the first book and now you get a bunch of new ideas, greatest ideas ever, greatest thing since sliced bread. And then if that book doesn’t change your behavior which most books don’t, most books just shift your thinking, you go on to the next book, and we’ve all been there, right? Personal development junky is that label that some of us wear unconsciously. I’ve done it. I’ve worn it all the time. I’m sure I wear it all the time but the idea that we consume all this content and then we move on to the next thing. If it doesn’t change your behavior, we forget the ideas that could have been life changing as soon as we’re on to the new set of ideas that are life-changing and then onto the new set, onto the new set, so on and so forth.
So, how is this relevant? Well, you think about this. If you are a reader so if you’re listening and you’re like, “Well, Hal, I’m not a content creator. I don’t blog, I don’t write a book, I’m not a speaker, I’m not a podcaster like I’m not a content creator in any way.” That’s okay. You’re a content receiver. If you’re listening to this, you’re a content receiver, and all of us receive content in some way, especially for interpersonal development, The Miracle Morning, we’re learning new things. So, here’s the point. What’s the point of a book? The point of a book really should be to change your behavior in a meaningful way. But if you read a book, for example, that teaches you how to be a better friend or leader or spouse or parent and you go, “Wow. Yeah, these are great ideas,” but if don’t actually do something differently, if you don’t change your behavior, then really nothing changes. You have these great ideas and you feel good. And that’s the thing is as personal development junkies, we chase the high from one aha moment to the next aha moment and those aha moments give us the delusion that we’re actually growing.
And it doesn’t mean that we’re not growing. I mean, yeah, you can learn something new, you can change your thinking, and that does change either the way you feel or the way you respond, which is really a behavior change in terms of the way you respond. But ultimately, for a book to be effective, it should actually change or prompt us to change our behavior in some way that positively impacts our life. You read a book on health, you should be eating something that adds to your health or eliminating something from your diet that takes away from your health. You read a book on fitness, you should be doing something differently that improves your fitness level, not just thinking different. If you read a book on parenting, you should do something different that impacts your children in a positive way. But it’s not just thoughts in your head. It’s manifested behavior and consider that if it simply changes the way you speak to your children or your spouse or the people that you lead as a CEO or your customers as an entrepreneur, if it changes what you say to them or what you type in an email or a blog, if it changes your communication, that is behavior. If you say something different, that is actually a change in your behavior.
So, understand that behavior is broad. You change your behavior by changing something that you say, something that you do. There’re various ways to change behavior. So, I know this is kind of a long-winded way of getting to the point which, hey, that’s my thing. Leave me alone. But here’s the point is that when it comes to reading a book, if you really look at, “Hey, for a book to be really impactful for me, it should change my behavior in a meaningful way,” and that doesn’t mean changing a lot of things. In fact, very often simplicity and focus is where the most value comes from meaning if you can make one change from a book that you read then that book has changed your life. And most of us we get so overwhelmed with so many ideas in a book that we don’t change anything. That’s where I’ve gotten feedback from a lot of people were The Miracle Morning was such a life-changing book for people is because it changed their behavior in a meaningful way.
They went from hitting the snooze button in the morning and many of you I’m sure listening probably can relate to this if you read The Miracle Morning, but people that read it, they didn’t just read it and go, “Yeah. These are great ideas,” and then just keep doing what they were doing. They read it and they’re like, “Oh, wow. Okay. So, I’m going to move my alarm clock across the room,” behavior change. “I’m going to wake up and I’m going to drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning. I’m going to hydrate,” behavior change. “I’m going to go in the living room and I’m going to sit down and I’m going to do these six practices known as the SAVERS.” This is all changing someone’s behavior in a way that’s meaningful for them and that adds value for them. So, you if you’re a content creator, you should apply this to creating content that changes people’s behavior. And if I ever write or I should say when I write the book, Beyond the Bestseller, we’re going to go way in-depth on this of course and this is like one of five keys to going beyond the bestseller. The behavior change is the most important though.
But as a reader, as a receiver, as someone who’s into personal development, you need to really focus in on, “Okay. As I’m consuming any content…” Think about this. Every day that you consume content, if you read an article, this is really profound, I hope you’re listening, hope you’re ready to jot this down. If you read an article, if you read a book or a chapter in a book or a page in a book, whatever, you listen to a podcast, you should ask yourself, as the reader this is your responsibility, what is one thing that I learned from this content that I can do differently that will add value to my life or to the lives of people who I influence or I impact, who I love, who I lead? And by focusing on doing something that adds value even to somebody else’s life that adds value to your life, if you’re helping someone else, and that hopefully is meaningful to you then that is simultaneously adding value to their life and to your life.
So, when this comes to reading, the point is that when it comes to book summaries, the point is that a book summary and I’m going to give you these apps here in a second, my three favorite apps, but a book summary takes an entire book that might take you a month to read and usually anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes you can consume a book summary that distills all of that content from that book into what the summarizer believes is the most valuable aspects of that book. But it’s quality over quantity. You know, if you read a 200-page book or 300-page book, the odds of you being able to implement everything you learned in the book all at once before you’re onto the next book learning new things to implement, it’s overwhelming. But if you read a book summary and you can just pull one thing, maybe two that you can do differently that will add value to your world, to the worlds of the people who are in your life, that is extraordinarily valuable. It is quality over quantity.
So, here’s my recommendation. Here’s the prescription if you will, and there are some behavior changes about to come, right? So, here we go. We’re going to wrap this up with my three favorite apps and behavior changes. I encourage you to download these apps. You can download all three. You can pick one if you want. I’ll explain kind of what the differences are in terms of why I like each one, but these are book summary apps and what I do now, I lean towards book summaries over entire books, but I do both, and here’s how I do this. If there’s a book that I want to read, I will search all three of these apps for a summary on this book on any of these three apps and then my fourth option if it’s not on these apps is I will Google book summary and I will put the title of the book and see if I can find it anywhere else online, getting a book summary, and sometimes it might be a blog or something or somebody summarized it. But you think about it. You can get an entire book for the content in 10 minutes or half an hour at the most. How valuable is that?
And then you can ask yourself, what can I implement from this book summary that will add value to my world or the world of the people around me and then and only then, I mean, I won’t say only then, you can do it whenever you want, but then you can go, “Okay. Now that I’ve gotten clear on one thing I can do, do I need to go deeper? Like was this book summary, did this give me a taste of this book being so valuable that I’ve only scratched the surface to the summary that there’s so much more value available to me? Should I buy the entire book?” And that’s kind of how I do it. That’s my process. I start with a book summary or one or two or sometimes the book that I’m looking for, a summary, it will be on all three apps that I’m about to give you and I will read all three of the summaries which will give me three different summarizer’s perspectives on the same book and I’ll be like, “Ooh wow, they really pulled out some different content. I really like the way that they framed this.”
Here are the three apps. The first is called Optimize and that is created by somebody who’s become a friend of mine that I teach in The Miracle Morning documentary, Brian Johnson. He created a program called PhilosophersNotes. That’s what he called his book summaries. They’re beautifully done, they’re very casual, like meaning they’re very well done, but I like the language he uses. It’s like you’re having a friend tell you about a book that they read where he’s giving you great content, really summarizing, but he uses language that’s kind of fun and like just down to earth. I love his book summaries. Optimize is the app. The second app I’ll give you his Blinkist. Now, what’s great about Blinkist is it’s the shortest app. That’s always the place that I start because their apps tend to be the shortest. I can read them the fastest or not their apps. I’m sorry. Their summaries tend to be the shortest I can read and the fastest. So, Blinkist is usually the first summary I’ll read because, again, I can just get the overview in the quickest amount of time, shortest time. And then last but not least is Instaread and they’re also a little bit longer summaries. Optimize and Instaread app I haven’t done a word count but they’re probably about the same.
So, those are my three favorite apps for book summaries, Optimize, Blinkist, and Instaread, and that’s my reading hack, ladies and gentlemen, is I always start with a book summary and many times I go, “You know what, I got enough from that summary to implement, to do something to change my behavior in a meaningful way that will add value to my world and/or the world of those around me that I don’t even need to buy the book. I’m going to move on to the next summary.” But think about it, every day you can read a book, not the entire book but every day you can read a book summary during your reading time, during your Miracle Morning and how complete is that, right? I mean, instead of reading 12 books a year like a book a month, you can get through an entire book’s concept. Not every word. Not every story. A lot of times books are filler. I’m an author. I mean, I try to make, my books are pretty short usually because I try to make them really impactful and not waste too much time going in tangents, but often you read an entire book and you go, “Man, that author could’ve gotten to the point a lot sooner.” I’ve had some people said that on my books like, yeah, I didn’t need all the stories, right?
Now, at first, I’d be like stories are valuable because you see real-life implementation of a concept that you’re teaching. So, for me, as a reader and as a writer like I value the stories of people that have implemented what I’m learning about so I can go, “Oh, okay. Now I get it. Now I see a scenario where that was put into practice in real life, and that makes me compare how I might implement it.” Then I hear another story and I read another story in the book and go, “Oh, there’s another example.” So, I find that valuable but a lot of times you read a book summary, you get everything that you need.
Hal: So, I’m going to leave you all with that, goal achievers. I know we started random and we dove in and this became a book hacking topic focused for the podcast today so hope you got value from that. Again, the apps are Blinkist, Optimize, and Instaread. Check out all three of those. And also, if you did not listen to two episodes ago, The Reality Check We All Need, it was Episode 243 and I highly encourage if you have not listened to that, go back and listen to that episode. I was just reading the comments and, by the way, you can find that at HalElrod.com/243. I was just reading the comments underneath that episode and they were really profound but I hadn’t read those until today and I didn’t realize how impactful that episode was for people, but it was really impactful for me to record it because I was sharing things that had impacted my life in a really powerful way. So, again, that episode is called The Reality Check We All Need. It was a solo episode like today but more focused though and you can find it at HalElrod.com/243 and all those apps you can find in the App Store or search them online.
Goal achievers, I think that is it for today. No more announcements. I love you. I appreciate you. I’ll be back of course next week with a new episode of The Achieve Your Goals Podcast and, yes, we are all sold out for the Best Ever Blueprint Life Experience, but for those of you that are listening that are coming, I will see you in San Diego. By the way, we do have a waitlist we used to put up. If you didn’t get your tickets and you want to go, in case anybody has to cancel which we always have cancellation the last minute, people can’t make it for emergency situations come up, whatever, if you go to BestYearEverLive.com, by the time you listen to this, I just emailed my web designer today that, “Hey, set up a waitlist. We’re sold out. We need to stop selling tickets,” but there should be a waitlist set up by the time you listen to this episode, so he’s got a week to set up the waitlist. But BestYearEverLive.com is where you can find that and if you already have tickets, you got your spot, you’re going to be there, I cannot wait to see you in San Diego for another really life-changing week at the Best Ever Blueprint Live Experience, December 7-9.
Goal achievers, I love you more than you know every single one of you. I really, really do. I appreciate you and I look forward to talking to all of you each and every one of us connecting again on next week’s podcast episode. Until then, make it a great week and I will talk to you very, very soon.
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