Information Overload

By Lain Ehmann

Eric Yaverbaum, a self-proclaimed information junkie, president of New York City’s Jericho Communications and author of Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs (Dearborn, 2004), says he used to get so jazzed about the ideas and concepts he’d read about that his partner would greet his enthusiastic new ideas with: What book were you reading last night? Over time Yaverbaum learned that not every idea from every book would work in his company and industry or with his employees and clients. So he developed an approach to books that helps him get the most from what he reads – without getting too carried away. Here are his suggestions.

  • Keep an open mind. “There’s something to learn from every book you read,” says Yaverbaum. So even if you’re in pharmaceutical sales, don’t think that Anita Roddick of the Body Shop won’t have anything to teach you. Exposing yourself to philosophies from outside your industry or area of expertise can get your creative juices flowing.
  • Be selective about what you read. If the first few pages of the book don’t grab you or a quick read through the table of contents doesn’t make you want to read more, don’t waste your time. A search on shows more than 100,000 titles under the category of business and management and 127,000 more under sales. There are plenty of books out there, so find the ones that click.
  • Don’t look for the one answer. “There are so many different ways to be successful,” says Yaverbaum. “You have to find the ways that work for your organization.” While interviewing for his book he discovered several CEOs had not only different perspectives, but downright contradictory ones.
  • Keep in mind where you’re starting from. While a book from a start-up veteran might talk about the need for organizations to be nimble, not all companies can – or desire to – follow in those footsteps. “There is the reality of what is and is not possible. You need to start with the reality,” explains Yaverbaum.
  • Commit to creating change. Once you’ve gleaned a nugget or two that might work for your team, commit to putting your ideas into action. Thoughts and dreams not acted on are useless. “Take the first step,” says Yaverbaum, with one caveat: “Only if you’re truly passionate.”
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