Admitting Diminishing Returns

In 2009, I acted like this equation is true:

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(I chose The 4-Hour Work Week and Hacker News because they’re two very popular resources, but there’s dozens I could’ve chosen.)

I read quickly, I’m endlessly curious, and I have a completionist streak. I wish this formula worked, that somehow the process of absorbing and evaluating lots of different sources of information would make a successful business appear. I wish it more than you do. Last year I read scores of business books and blogs, screened dozens of hours of podcasts and videos.

These things contribute to business success, but there’s a point of diminishing returns that’s much nearer than I’d like to think. I’m glad I’ve read about prioritizing, delegating, and goal-setting, but The 4-Hour Work Week and No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs are 90% the same material dressed in different writing styles.

Reading about a topic I already know something of is seductive. It’s easier to connect with other concepts in my head, I get the satisfaction of judging whether the author is proficient, I’ll cross another book off the list faster. And it’s sure as hell easier than fishing another case out of the issue tracker to fix a bug, add a feature, follow up with a contact.

The equation feels true but is a lie. It doesn’t much make my work better to keep reading instead of building. So in 2010 I’m building more and considering this business ‘research’ as the entertainment is is. We’ll see how it goes.