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Dec. 7, 2021

136. Read, Lead, and Succeed with Dr. Danny Brassell

How you can tap into timeless wisdom, insight, & inspiration to create a better personal & professional life.


How you can tap into timeless wisdom, insight, & inspiration to create a better personal & professional life.

 

ABOUT DR. DANNY BRASSELL

Danny is a former inner-city teacher (Compton, CA), journalist in DC, keynote speaker and lifelong student on a mission to bring joy back into education and the workplace by transforming struggling and reluctant readers into more passionate and proficient readers. 

He shows people how to make reading a life-long habit and trains leaders how to communicate their messages through effective and inspirational storytelling.

 

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Transcript

Researchers at the University of London in 2009 did a habit formation study, and they discovered it took anywhere from 18 to 254 days to change a habit, and the average was 66 days.

 

Welcome, everybody. Today I'm excited to have Danny Brassell with us to talk about the importance of reading in business and in life. I've been so amazed by his energy and his passion for the topic that I really wanted to share that with you. Thanks so much for joining us today, Danny.

 

Thanks a lot for having me, Wade. And thanks for all that you do to inspire people.

 

Absolutely. So Danny is a former inner city teacher, a journalist, a keynote speaker, and a lifelong student on a mission to bring back joint education and the workplace by inspiring people to read and really take to that. Danny, would you share a little bit about your experience as a teacher? What you saw that made you so passionate about reading and maybe even as a father, what came up for you of why this is so important to you?

 

Well, thanks for that question, Wade. It's ironic that people call me America's leading reading ambassador because I grew up hating reading. My father is a librarian. I always hated the public library because it always had uncomfortable furniture. It smelled funny. There was always an elderly woman telling me to be quiet. There's always some freaky homeless guy by the bookshelves that thinks he's a vampire. I never liked it. And it wasn't until I became a teacher in the inner city and I saw that a lot of my students didn't have all the resources that I had when I was a kid and I started pointing the finger at myself.

 

I said, Shame on me. I was really blessed. Both of my parents were in the home growing up. We were not wealthy by any means, but we always had food on the table. My parents read in front of us. They read to us, and we had plenty of books at our disposal. It really angered me that not every kid has that fair opportunity. And so that really became my mission is to make sure that every kid has that fair shot in life and all that encouragement that I received from my wonderful parents and teachers growing up.

 

That's awesome. I think that's something that I saw with our children. Our children are now twelve and 15. And earlier in life, when they started reading for school, the focus was on them, simply enjoying whatever it was they were reading. So read something, read anything and no crazy topics, just good stuff. And at some point there was a shift to measuring and tracking how many books they read and who was ahead, who was, perhaps by inference, smarter or not as smarter, who was ahead or who was behind.

 

And that's the part where I feel like with good retention, perhaps. But maybe we kind of lost the focus of okay, well, let's just have them read. We know how important it is, like nutrition, like everything else, like exercise. And yet this sense of not feeling adequate, not feeling comfortable about who they are as readers seem to really inhibit their skills. And I wonder what you see with not only with kids, but how that also impacts people later in life.

 

Well, you hit the nail on the headway. That's what frustrates me. I think that schools do an adequate job of teaching kids how to read. But the question I always ask people is, what good is it teaching kids how to read if they never want to read? I teach kids why to read because I've never had to tell a kid. Go watch television. I've never had to tell a kid go play a video game, and I never want to have to tell a kid go read something.

 

I want them to choose to do it on their own because they love it so much. And really what I find schools are doing is they're teaching kids the misery of reading. They're making it a real test ready exercise. They're forcing kids to read things that they don't necessarily want to read. I hated reading in high school. I remember I had a teacher that forced me to read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and nothing against the book. I mean, everybody has their preferences, but the book is basically about Hester Prin has to wear an A on her chest because she's committed adultery.

 

And I told my teacher I need to wear a B on my chest because I'm so bored reading this book. And it drives me nuts when we force people to read things, especially kids. But this is where you see so many adults have no interest either. They're forced to read things that they don't want to read, and the research is really clear on this. It doesn't matter what you read. What matters is how much you read. It doesn't matter if you're reading James Joyce or James and The Giant Peach.

 

People who read more read better and so that's my passion is really spreading the joy of reading to people of all ages because I want people to read more, read better. And most importantly, love reading. It's a lifelong skill.

 

Absolutely. One of the things that I find is I've been listening to audiobooks for years now. In my case, I'm not as avid of a reader from the text. I prefer listening to stuff, but I've been listening. Gosh. I remember first listening to Zig Ziegler years ago. What is an 18 cassette tape? Literally just hours and hours and hours. And it almost from a standpoint of when I wanted to learn something, it almost felt like cheating to know stuff other people didn't know. It almost felt like it had an unfair and advantage.

 

And to your point, this idea of trying to communicate to people how important it is for them to want to do it. But again, that was me as an adult, because I read this Scarlet Letter, and I wasn't that into it as an adult, I can see. Okay, it's an interesting book, but I'd have rather been reading things I enjoyed. And I watched again. In the case of my son, for so many years, he got to choose what he read. And he was so excited about.

 

So whether it was Percy Jackson and the Gods and some of the same stuff we ended up studying in school. But there was a narrative, the storytelling to it was so much more engaging to him. And so, like you said, he just wanted to read. And when you see the comprehension, you see the way it impacts their ability to communicate. There's so many different things that it did. And yet when they had that disconnect, when it was forced to do something, it was kind of like taking the athlete and saying, you have to practice your shots like, so my son plays basketball.

 

I talked about this. There's this sense of figuring things out. When I was learning a sport, I was like to play with it. Like, what if I do this? What if I do that as opposed to, yes, it's great to have a video and YouTube or whatever to tell me. Hey, here's how you do it. But then there's the discovery part of it. So there's a balance there. How do you help kids or people find that balance between the enjoyment of it and for kids? Or is it just really that they just keep enjoying it until they reach a point where they're ready to choose something different?

 

How does that work most effectively?

 

Well, you cover a lot there. Wade, we'll start off with you listening to audiobooks. When I was writing one of my books and researching successful people, it was fascinating because I found that over half of the Fortune 500 CEOs are Dyslexic. And there's a lot of research that shows that Dyslexics respond better to listening to things being read to them rather than reading on their own? So you're in fine company for listening to books. The research. Actually, I'm one of these totally nerdy people. It's actually read every government report of the last 75 years.

 

A nation at risk. Why Johnny can't Read becoming a Nation of readers, the National Reading panel. And they're always about 2000 pages long. And it's always around a page 100 where there's one paragraph that says the research seems to suggest the single best way to improve reading is to be read aloud to, and then they never mention it again because it sounds way too easy. One of my friends and mentors, Jim Chalice, wrote a wonderful book called The Read Aloud Handbook. And Jim says, if reading aloud cost $129, every parent in America would rush out and buy it.

 

And if we found out kids didn't like it, they would mandate it in the schools tomorrow. It's the simple things that work, and it just breaks my heart when I hear stories like the one about your son. And that was a perfect example you gave reading. It's actually not like sports, because in sports, they let you play the game. And we've designed schools now where the kids are never really getting to play the game. They're always doing some type of drill on a skill. It would be the equivalent of your son just dribbling all day or shooting free throws.

 

It totally drains the joy out of it. And it's really the simple things that I train parents and teachers to do. Find that passion in the kid. And the secret is every kid is a little bit different. But there's lots of research out there that shows that comic books and Sports Illustrated are written at about twice the grade level as network news. There was actually a great study done in I think it was around one 9000 hundred and 64 when the comic stripped. The Fantastic Four came out and literacy scores actually increased almost a full grade level that year because kids were reading Fantastic Four.

 

I don't disparage things again. I always tell parents and teachers the little boy who only reads Captain Underpants and books about Diarrhea is going to be a better reader than the little boy who's not reading anything. Captain Underpants and books about diarrhea are the gateway drug to Shakespeare. But you got to hook them first. And so that's what I'm always trying to do. And it's a lot easier. Like everything. My specialty is habit formation, and it's a whole lot easier to create a good habit in a younger child than to try to reestablish and train an adult to create a new habit.

 

Absolutely. And there is something that I like you shared with me about how you got your kids to read when they perhaps wanted to more focus on TV or video games or other things. What's just a very simple, practical way without making the punishment, because that's the thing my wife has really helped me with this. You have to do this in no way. Once you do, you have to this you've already pulled rank on them. You've already made it a power play. And now it's not that.

 

How do you get your kids interested?

 

Yeah. So when I train people, it's not rocket science. Everything I'm going to suggest are very simple suggestions. And I often have teachers say, Well, that's simple. I could do that on my own, and I'm like, Well, I encourage you to do so, but I know you won't. People talk to talk, but that's why in my reading program, my reading engagement program, I have an accountability system and I can track who exactly is doing it. There are some quick wins. I'd love to provide your audience right now.

 

First of all, I have a feeling that television is here to stay. And I don't believe in trying to battle my kids on television. There's a lot of people I've trained. They say, I don't have anything to read at home. I'm like, oh, you do. President Bush SR. Over 30 years ago, signed a very important law in this country that said, every television set sold in the United States has to have closed captioning. So the first suggestion I always give parents is turn on the closed captioning on TV.

 

And a lot of parents will say, Wait a second. If the show is in English and the subtitles are in English, what good does that do? I'm like, well, that's a fair point. Let me make a point, though. How often have you ever watched a show with subtitles and not looked at the subtitles? That's very difficult to do. Your brain is directed towards the text. There's actually research that supports this. If you look at reading test scores around the world, the more kids watch TV, what do you think happens to the reading scores?

 

They always go down in every country. Except for one. The country that actually watches the most TV in the world has the highest reading scores in the world. It's Finland. People ask, how can that be? I'm like, Well, Finland makes really bad TV shows. And so they import all these shows from America, these old sitcoms like Mork and Mindy and Brady Bunch. And they do the subtitles and finish. So the kids are constantly reading. So that's one quick win that I do with my own children.

 

I always advise everybody to do when my kids were really little. My kids are teenagers now, all three of them. But when they were little, we established a habit which they still had to this day before the kids turn on the TV, which I have no problem with them turning on the TV. The price of admission is they have to bring me something to read. And so when they were little, they'd bring me a picture book and we'd read the picture book together. And then they could watch TV.

 

Nowadays it's more likely they'll either find a newspaper article or a magazine article or something online, and we'll read that together. But that's the price of admission. When I'm trying to train people in habits, there's a concept known as habit stacking. So it's a whole lot easier to create a new habit when you build it on top of a regular habit. And so people always ask me what's the most red item in America every morning. It's not the USA Today. It's the back of the cereal box.

 

And so since kids are bored at breakfast, why not have things at your breakfast table for the kids to read? One of the things I do with my own kids is the Screen Actors Guild has this wonderful website called Storylineonline. Net. And they basically have all these different entertainers, famous actors and people of significance, and they read aloud storybooks. It's about ten to 15 minutes, and each read aloud is closed captioned. And so while I'm making breakfast and my kids lunches for school, I always had my laptop open and the kids are watching a read aloud.

 

That's an easy way to stack. It's called a Keystone habit when you can build it on something like that. And then my wife gave me the greatest compliment. One she said, thank you, Danny. Our kids love to read because of you. My kids actually don't know that you can go to bed without reading a book. The habit is they come into bed with me and we read whatever they want to read. Now I have three different children, and so we have three different books that we're going through because my oldest daughter right now we're reading it's by a New Zealand author.

 

It's the absolute book, I think, is what it's called. Elizabeth Shaw. It's like a library murder mystery kind of thing. Pretty cool. My son and I are reading The Killer Angels by Michael. Sherrad actually won the Pulitzer Prize in 1019 and 73. It's about the Battle of Gettysburg. Now, if I had read that book in high school, I would have been a history major in College. Wonderful book. That book was so well written. As a matter of fact. Laura Hillenbrand, in an interview, said when she read that book, she understood how she could write a biography in an interesting way.

 

And that's how she wrote Seabiscuit was because she had read The Killer Angels. And then my youngest daughter, Samantha, she's reading. We're reading one of my favorite books of all Time Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, which is wonderful. But again, this is based on the kids. It's not based on my passion. It's based on the kids passion. I'm not going to sit there and say, I just read C at the Top by Zig Ziggler. And I think your kids, even though I love it, it doesn't mean my kids love it.

 

That's awesome. And so one of the things that I think people seem to not grasp is that eventually this becomes something that is going to impact your trajectory. So I look at the friends of mine that I know that read on a regular basis that are the same people that maybe now they might watch YouTube videos as a replacement. But in other words, they're always taking something in that is either hopefully nonfiction wisdom or something that's sharp, like a Zig Ziglar or Tony Robbins. Whatever it might be Wayne Dyer, whomever and then maybe something that's a little more timely, maybe an Ariana Huffington or something, but something that's still just getting them thinking.

 

And then separately, they have things for entertainment. And so it's funny. I'm waiting for it to hit. My son started reading one of my favorite books is The Katamana Cristo, and my son has. I'm still trying to help him explain the whole Batman like nature of the book. And he picked it up about five years ago. I think it was too early. It's like, no, man, when you finally get this, you're just going to love this. But it's one of those things where I think people miss on.

 

It's kind of like speaking a certain language. Almost that when you get into conversations with people, like, for example, gosh, when you hear Robin Williams do a comedy routine and all the references to everything from Antigua to Oedipus to all these different things. And some people look like, well, like you said, that the Sports Illustrated articles being written at a certain level. And it's not that the people are more intelligent, but they're aware of more. I find as an entrepreneur I can connect with more people when I can even the fact that you and I both know what the scrap letter is again, whether we loved it or not, just even being able to do that.

 

And I think so many people in the entrepreneur don't see how it impacts their entrepreneurial journey. What would you tell somebody if somebody's entrepreneur saying, okay, Danny, why do I care? So I'm past the stage. I'm not sure I'm going to like reading again, but almost prove it to me. Tell me, why do I care? As an entrepreneur, why is it or any person in the business world, why is it possibly hurting me to not be a reader?

 

Well, entrepreneurs more than anybody should be reading. You need to understand your customers. It's not just nonfiction. Fiction can serve you just as well. I would argue to any entrepreneur, just look at the most successful people in the world in terms of income. Elon Musk on any given day, is either the richest or the second richest person on the planet. And he still reads three books a day, three books a day. Warren Buffett, who I think the last time I checked was the fifth. Even though he's already donated half of his money to charity, he's still the fifth richest person on the planet.

 

He still reads every day from 08:00 a.m.. To 10:00 P.m.. That's all he's doing. He's not reading Antigua. He's reading stock reports and things like that, but it's interesting. He has no problem reading those things. And he's influenced by the great thing about reading Wade is it also teaches you points of view. You don't have to have ever lived in France, but when you read Alexander Duma, he does this incredible job of capturing 19th century France in the Napoleonic Wars and with your son. If he still hasn't read The Count of Monte Cristo, he's totally missed out because that's one of my favorite books as well.

 

And one of the things I always it's taboo, but I always tell people.

 

Let the kid watch the movie.

 

The movie is a good trailer for the book, and I guarantee you and this is the reason I love doing this is when kids watch the movie and then they read the book they always come out to and they're like, wow, the movie is awesome, but the book is a whole lot better, and it's inevitable because when you read a book, you form pictures in your head of these places and of these characters, and you want this scene to be done this way. I've never been satisfied with how they've ever filmed a John Grisham movie, because in my head, I'm like, this is the way that Darby Shaw should be doing this.

 

I have these pictures in my mind, and that's what I love about reading, too. You and I can have a discussion where we're name dropping Nathaniel Hawthorne and Alexander Duma, and it's sophisticated, and it's something that society needs. People need to learn how to think. I have started off my career as a history teacher, and the first thing I always train people when I teach histories, history books are usually written by the winners. Every event in history has multiple points of view, and in this class we're going to learn how to consider different points of view.

 

I don't care if you agree with the point of view. That's not my retention. I'm going to teach you how to think, not what to think. And too many people right now, I think, are letting other people think for them. God gave us this thing between our ears we should use and that's the beauty of reading is I can read two conflicting reports and be like, now it's up to me to try and figure out what's actually, maybe I should have been a police officer because I'm sure that's what cops have.

 

All my uncles from the Irish families, all my uncles are cops, all my aunts are nurses. So all my uncles, I always empathize with them when they have these two people screaming at one another and the cop has to figure out what the actual truth is. That's a skill set. I still don't think when I was a teacher and had to break up fights, I'm like you're both going to time out. That's the way I.

 

Think is I've learned a lot of that, certainly also through travel, you get this different point of view, and especially with all that's going on and it's always been going on. But even more so right now in the United States, the conversations around politics have become a little more heated and I've told people, Look, I don't care what side you have. I just hope you actually base an opinion upon your thinking. And I would hope that you would approach this as a scientist rather than a marketer, because when you're trying to sell a point of view or where they're pregnant conclusion You're already coming in with the idea and you're simply looking for data to confirm your point of view.

 

To say that I'm right as opposed to what if you just go in and you say, I'm not sure. More like a mathematician, like a pure scientist. And what's so interesting to me right now, we're at this time where right now people are trying to figure out what they want to do with the vaccine and of the code vaccine. And I think what's encouraging me to see is I'm seeing people who are now breaking from their party lines. They finally found something that's important enough. And not everybody has a party line.

 

As you and I both know, some people are just doing their best to try to figure out the middle. And then some people, I think, think they are. But people are realizing, oh, wait, my party can't answer this for me any more than my party can tell me what my religion is. I can join a religion because my parents bring me into it. But at some point, no matter what beliefs you take in, it's just research this Maria monstrous talked about. Some people talk about it at a certain age, you start looking outside for facts.

 

So no matter what you were raised with, if it was the greatest religion, the greatest idea, the greatest political party in the world, you're automatically looking to the other side by definition. And as the parent, can you entertain that conversation in a way that maintains the relationship with that person? Can you encourage that person to think? And as a species, can we be okay with going to another just making progress? It makes me think I heard when somebody say that you have that book by Alexander Duncan.

 

Have you read that? And I just thought that was so great. It was a comedy routine. I forget where it was. And it was like, yes, my son is like, who's that? I'm like, yes, that's that.

 

I took my students once on a field trip to the La Zoo. And one of my boys is like, Man, I saw a freaking ape like, hey, watch it. I looked and it said, African eight. A freaking.

 

Oh, that's great. That's great. So how do you help the person who wants to get reading into their daily routine, but will say to you, Danny, I don't do the fitness bike, the fitness bike's in the corner, the nutrition plan, everything's in the corner. I can't do it. Okay, you have me convinced. I get it. It's worth it. I might not do three books in a day, much less three books in a month.

 

But.

 

Okay, how do people start with something that's going to stick? You mentioned habit stacking. How do we set people up for success? This is actually going to work out, as opposed to another New Year's resolution or another resolution that's gone in a couple of weeks.

 

Yeah, resolutions fail routines work. And that's my credo was about five years ago. I created a company with my business partner called Thereadinghabit. Com. We're now the world's largest reading engagement program online. And before I forget, I wanted to give all of your listeners a couple of freebies if they go to freereadingtraining. Com again. Freereadingtraining. Com. I'll give everybody a copy of my book Read Lead and Succeed, which is a book I wrote for a school principal who didn't know how to engage his faculty.

 

So I said, okay.

 

I'll write you a book. And so once a week I give you a concept, an inspirational quote, an inspirational story, a book recommendation on a book you should read. But you're probably too lazy because you're an adult. So I also give you a children's picture book recommendation that demonstrates the same concept in five minutes. There's nothing that gives me more pride in doing a corporate training and seeing a CEO start this meeting off with the Doctor Seuss book. I'm also going to throw in a couple of free digital trainings of some of the trainings I do with parents on how to get their kids excited about reading.

 

This is my passion. The first program we designed was geared towards teachers and parents of struggling and reluctant readers, kids that either hated reading or they had a tough time reading. And so my program was read better in 67 steps. And so basically, in 67 days, we'll get the kid to basically improve their reading by about two to three grade levels, which is fine and good. But what's near and dear to me, what's important to me is that we get kids that used to hate reading, that now can't get enough of it.

 

That's what I'm interested in. People always ask, Why is the program 67 days? Well, there's a lot of people that will tell you it takes 21 days to change a habit. And to those people, I say, show me the research. It's a completely bogus number. I actually know where the number comes from. As a matter of fact way, it's from a wonderful book written in 1019 and 60 called Psycho Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Your son should read this. There's a great basketball study in that book.

 

But Dr. Maltz was a plastic surgeon, and in the preface of the book, he said he had observed it took most of his patients about 21 days to get used to their new face. Well, a lot of self help gurus, a lot of people that you and I respect took that number and started telling people, it takes 21 days to change a habit, and it's completely based on nothing. Well, researchers at the University of London in 2009 did a habit formation study, and they discovered it took anywhere from 18 to 254 days to change a habit, and the average was 66 days.

 

Well, I don't like the number 66. So I threw in a bonus day 67, and it depends on the type of habit you're trying to change. If you want to drink the last water before breakfast, that might take about 18 days to make into a habit. But if you want to quit smoking, that's going to take 254 days to change that habit. And the reason this is an important Wade is let's say you go on a diet. You follow it religiously for 21 days. But on day 22, you fall off the wagon.

 

Well, you blame yourself. Well, research shows it takes on average at least three times longer than that to form a habit. So I think it's very irresponsible for a lot of people to throw out numbers that are not based on research whatsoever. And you see people from all walks of life who love to use numbers to appease their ends and means the other number I always focus on is 20. So researchers were looking at student test scores around the world trying to determine are there common characteristics of students that succeed?

 

And they stumbled upon one which just baffled them. They couldn't believe it. It was the number of minutes spent reading outside of school. So they looked at the low kids, the middle of the road kids and the high kids. So the kids in the 20th percentile average less than a minute a day of reading outside of school. That really didn't surprise anybody. That's probably why the kids are at the bottom of the class. But this did surprise the researchers, the kids in the middle of the class, in the 70th percentile, the C students, they average 9.6 minutes a day.

 

Now during a training of parents. This is when the first parent usually raises their hand and ask me, Wait, Danny, are you saying if I can get my kid to read ten minutes a day at home, I can take them from an F to a C. That's exactly what I'm saying. The research is pretty conclusive on this, but this was even more amazing. The kids at the top of the class, the 90th percentile. How much time do they spend reading outside of school every day? Is it 3 hours a day?

 

No. Is it 1 hour a day? No. The average was just over 20 minutes a day. So this is my goal. When I'm teaching people how to become better readers, let's find those 20 minutes. Now, here's a couple of things that are awesome. First of all, it doesn't matter what language you're reading in. If you're an English language, learner and you're from Mexico and Spanish is your first language, I highly encourage you to read in Spanish. The research is very conclusive on this. The better you are in your first language, the easier it's going to be to learn a second language.

 

Secondly, we talked about this earlier. It's just as good to listen to books as it is to read them on your own. So if you're just listening to them in the car, those minutes count and then third, the minutes don't have to be consecutive. So you can do five minutes four times a day you can do 1 minute, 20 times a day. And that's what I'm always trying to show parents is. Okay. Let's take a habit you're already doing. I'm developing a program right now called the 30 Day Reading Challenge, which will be a free challenge for people where I'm going to show them every day.

 

Just a real quick thing, because I think people read a lot more than they realize they're reading. But I want to show them how reading is fun. And so one thing we can do is find some motivational messages, your mantras, an inspirational quote, and post it on your bathroom mirror. And every morning when you're brushing your teeth, I just want you to read that and keep on reading it to yourself. Well, that counts as reading poetry to me has always been my secret weapon. When I was a teacher, they'd always give me students well below grade level.

 

And I had a first grade class once, and they gave me all Spanish speaking students reading at a preschool level. And on the first day of school, I gave the kids my speech. I said, you know, the state of California has asked me to get all of you kids prepared for second grade in the next nine months. And I can tell from the looks of you today, that ain't going to happen. I'm going to get all of you ready for third grade. We're going to skip second grade.

 

Who's with me? The kids start looking. I'm like, no, we're skipping third. We're going sweet to third. I'm going to get you up there and kids got a little excited, and I'm like, okay, so what we're going to do is we're going to do lots of songs. We're going to do lots of poems. And so every day. And I've done this with all my clients. I've taught all age levels, from preschoolers to rocket scientists. And whether I'm teaching my little ones, my older ones. I read four poems a day.

 

So think about that. Over the course of 180 school days, I've exposed my students to over 700 poems. I mandate that all of my students have to memorize at least 20 poems. It's a great way to differentiate instruction, too. So, like when I was teaching kindergarten on Thursday, I had the kids become palms. And so Jose, one of my non readers, would say, Hi, I'm the Sitter by Shell Sylvester. Mrs. Mcfitter, the babysitter. I think she's a little bit crazy. She thinks the babysitter is supposed to sit upon the baby.

 

Then I'd have Laura, one of my top students, and she's like, Hi, I'm Mark Anthony from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare Friends, Romans, countrymen. Lend me your ears to come to bury Caesar, not to praise. And the evil that men do is at. And the good is often terrible their bones. So he was Caesar. He was my friend, loyal and justice. This is a six year old girl who memorized 50 lines of Julius Caesar. And people are like, Where did you get that idea? I got that idea from watching the movie Kindergarten Cop.

 

When I saw that movie, I'm like, Wait a SEC. Schwarzenegger just got the little ones to memorize the Gettysburg Address. I wonder if that's possible. And now I realize, gosh, if I was a better teacher, I could teach calculus to the little ones. I started as a secondary teacher. My passion became the little ones. Why? Because they don't know what they can't do yet. This is exactly what your entire podcast is about. Weight is. Stop putting limits on yourself. It's adults that put the limits on little kids think they can do anything.

 

We should be encouraging that.

 

Yeah, that is so true. I think one of the things that people underestimate is the idea of fictional reading. And depending on who you read, it depends on your view of the world, depending on how in touch you are with how we are either completely physical beings versus body, mind, heart, spirit. And if there's more going on, regardless of your religious beliefs. But just the idea that there's something more that, for example, I can't see the WiFi waves right now, but they're there. I can't see the radio waves, but they're there, so at least a certain level, I'll just simply call it humility to say, okay, we don't understand.

 

We don't see everything. We thought the world was flat, all these different things. But then you start realizing that a lot of this, whether it's motivational talking or motivational books or just inspirational books that sometimes sound fantastical. I think of Robin Williams in the movie What Dreams May Come, and it's one other alternate perception of what could be. And who knows. Again, to me, it's not even remotely relevant, whether it's accurate or not, it's expanding your mind to what if that's the part that when I see so many of my friends that have started businesses that are a grind.

 

And even when I've done that versus my friends that didn't know I have a friend of mine just started a software business not even a year ago, and he's doing awesome nice. And I almost am glad that he didn't talk to me because I'm blown away by how quickly he's growing it. Now he really nailed the need. And he's a listener and he surveys. So he really is like, hey, tell me what it is that you want. And in that sense, whereas at times I would rely perhaps more on my gifts, whatever it is or my intuition?

 

He's asked. But again, if somebody had told him, if I had told him, I have 20 years in a successful software business, but he's had a growth and it's a growth in a different way. They're both great in their own way. But literally the first couple of times I was like, I've got 1000 users and then like, a week and athlete. I got 2000 users, 3005 of them are free, and part of them are premium and whatnot. But long story short, he didn't know what he couldn't do.

 

He was the character in the Bugs Bunny movies that ran off the cliff and looked around the whole thing. They hadn't read about gravity yet, so runs right back and says, I didn't know there was gravity, so I didn't fall. That's the part that as a species, when we're looking for the answers, when you hear songs by the Beatles, all you need is love. And it sounds so obvious to a teenager and so completely delusional to a middle aged person. Like, how naive are you? And you realize that it might not just be all you need.

 

But darn it, you need it. And just that sort of sense of opening people's Horizons and their possibilities. And that's the thing that, to me has been most interesting, even if it is, for example, perhaps you're in my not even so much visceral reaction to the book, but even just why is this person going to wear an A? Well, of course, that's also part of the book. Why does she have to wear an A? It's not just it's okay. Should she be wearing an A? What happened?

 

That part of getting people thinking. I think the part is that's so magical, because when you then bring it back to entrepreneurs or even just finding creative solutions if you're an employee or even just having an awesome life, just the possibility that one of my friends had said recently, wait, I've been an entrepreneur ten years. She's like, I never considered that I could have a three day weekend. It never hit my radar. I was always focused on making more money and getting more done in less time.

 

But then so I'd get more done. And this is a person who is very calm, very chill. She's not trying to take over the world, but it was something that hadn't hit her radar. And so that's the part that I find so encouraging to people. And I love your idea of having people start wherever they're at. So basically, it's like anything else. Just start somewhere, hopefully at the 20 minutes Mark, even if it's in pieces. So is that really kind of the main key to get started and maybe even encourage your kids to do the same?

 

Yeah. Being an entrepreneur is like being a good reader, Wade. It takes persistence and consistency. And it's kind of like there's all that research that shows just a simple act of getting yourself to the gym increases your likelihood of spending more time working out. But the people that actually physically go to the gym, they won't just sit there for five minutes. They'll get on the bike. Well, ten minutes today. Well, I can do 20 minutes. The reason I love reading, especially as an entrepreneur, is I'm trying to read about those stories about you're not alone.

 

You're not living a unique experience. I'm fascinated. I can't remember the name of the guy, but I use it in one of my presentations where the guy says my first company was an abject failure. My second one was a little better, but it wasn't right. The third one, I was starting to get the formula right. And the fourth one was almost there, and the fifth one was PayPal. Well, that's all right. You only took five tries to make a billion dollar company, but how many people are like that?

 

And I love reading about when you read biographies. I'll read about anybody. And the last book I wrote was called Leadership Begins with Motivation. It's all these stories about successful people. And it was interesting. After I wrote it, I read it. And I'm like, most of these stories are about white males and Americans. I'm like Gosh. And so the book I'm writing right now focuses on minority women and international people. And so I've been reading a lot about different things, but it's interesting how books can change your viewpoints.

 

I read a book recently by Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio, Joe DiMaggio. And by the end of that book, I'm like, this is the biggest scumbag ever to live. He's not a nice person. There's nothing good about him, and people can debate me on that. I'm like, okay, let's look at exactly what he did with his life. He had all these gifts, and he's just a jerk because that's what I thought after this was a guy I admired my entire life until I actually read about what kind of human being he was.

 

And it's interesting because the book I'm reading right now is called American Caesar by William Manchester. And I picked out the book because I had read a trilogy of William Manchester's biographies on Winston Churchill, which is just incredibly written. And American Caesar is about General MacArthur, Douglas MacArthur. And so I'm reading this one going in thinking this guy was a jerk, too, because one of my favorite biographies is Truman by David McCullough and President Truman. One of the things he did was he fired General MacArthur for being insubordinate.

 

And I haven't gotten to that part yet here in American Caesar. But I'm reading this book. And, yes, he's egotistical beyond belief, which I'm sure most generals are. But it's interesting. He was a heck of a general. The odds were stacked against this guy. I mean, he's almost basically like the 300, the movie, the 300 for every one of his soldiers that died. He killed ten Japanese soldiers. His loss of life was, like, minimal compared to the European campaign. I'm like, Holy cow. And then the amount of ground.

 

I mean, I never actually considered it that if you just impose the United States on the South Pacific, like Japan would be in Northern Canada, Hawaii would be Scotland, Australia would be in Brazil. Europe is a very condensed area. And this guy had to deal with it's fascinating. And so that's what books can also do is they can get you to think about. I mean, I read the autobiography by Mary K. Ash from Mary K Cosmetics. Oh, my gosh. This woman is unbelievable. If you're an entrepreneur, read the Mary Kay autobiography, you talk a woman who her husband dies, and she's left to raise her kids.

 

And so she creates this company to make a living. And she not only creates a company, but she creates a company that has lifted so many women up into the entrepreneurial field. I have so much admiration for this woman. And I just love what's been great about reading all these stories is one of the stories I just wrote was about these two women, Martha and Agnes. And they were both choreographers. And Agnes had just produced her third play on Broadway. And it was doing all right.

 

But the critics panned it. They said, this is horrible nonsense. And so she was going to just take it off a Broadway. And Martha, her friend said, no, you can't do that. It's not for you to judge your own work. You are the only person who will create this work. And you are the only person that will be like you in the history of this planet. And if you get rid of this play, the world loses it. They lose you. And so Agnes kept the play on Broadway.

 

Well, Martha, her friend was Martha Graham, who is the mother of modern dance in America. She won the Kennedy Center honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Andrew Barnes was Agnes Damill. And Agnes became the first woman to have three hits on Broadway. She created the modern day musical and that play that she was going to take off Broadway. She decided she just would change the name of the play. So she changed the name to Oklahoma. And, wow, it's great. And there's another one I just wrote.

 

And it's this guy writing to his buddy Giuseppe. He's like, Man, my back is sore. My eyes are killing me. I'm just miserable. This is like the worst experience of my life. Oh, Alas, Joseph, I am not a painter. And the letter is dated 15 nine from Michelangelo after he had painted the nobody knows. And I love those, especially entrepreneurs. We need to see these people. Everybody sees them when they're successful. I want to see what was it that kept Elon Musk when he faced this obstacle?

 

What do you do next? I read the biography on Elon Musk by Ashley Vance. And there are two things that cracked me up about that biography was one he has a new girlfriend when the book is being written. And so he asked his biographer, he's like, I've thought about allocating her eight and a half hours per week. Is that enough time for a girlfriend? And I'm like, wow, you're thinking that was crazy. And then the story that I loved was at SpaceX. He would ask engineers on the floor questions all the time, and it was starting to bug the engineers.

 

They're like, Man, what is he interviewing us again? I know what I'm talking about. But then one of the engineers realized he's like, Wait a second. His questions are getting more sophisticated. He's learning from my answers, and he's actually learning it better than I understand it. I'm like, wow, that's amazing. I always love all those types of books. And I know you and I read the same type. I mean, Zig Ziggler. I went from the tapes to the CDs. I'll do anything with Zig. Ziggler. I just think he's one of those, but he has such a great concept, too.

 

It's a great thing that I know you follow and practice. And probably most of your listeners do his whole mission in life. He says, you can get anything you want by helping others get what they want. And it's really one of the greatest creatures I've ever heard.

 

Absolutely. Wow. Danny, thank you so much. We've gotten everywhere from Duma Torn, Nathaniel Hawthorne's, Scarlet Letter, everything. So in the notes, I'll also put the gift. Thank you. The freereadingtraining. Com. Where else can people go to find and learn more about you?

 

We'll just send them to freereadingtraining. Com because they'll get all kinds of goodies there again. Eventually it'll go live 30 day readingchallenge dot com, where this will be a simple challenge to get people into a proper habit. But again, for your audience, entrepreneurs, this is why reading is important. You need to be inspired. I think podcasts are just as good as reading. When you feed your mind with these inspirational stories. I'm constantly listening. As an entrepreneur, I listen to this Podfest. I listen to how I built this from NPR.

 

It's just wonderful because it's the one on James Dyson. I was just like, this is one of the greatest stories I've ever heard about how the Dyson vacuum came about. But it's nice to hear that there's other people in the trenches. Not everybody's like your friend who creates a very successful company within a year. Sometimes it takes five. Sometimes it takes 25, but you've got to stick with it. The only failure is quitting. When I do presentations, I always ask people what's the opposite of success.

 

And everybody says, failure. I'm like, no, it's not to succeed. You have to fail a lot. The opposite success is not trying or quitting. Bay Bruce hits 60 home runs in a single season and an amazing feat, a record that stood over 30 years in baseball. What most people conveniently forget is he also led the League and strikeout the same year with 89. I, for one, want to swing for the fences every single day. And so that's what I want to leave all of your listeners with is keep with it.

 

Change your reading. Change your life.

 

Awesome. Thank you so much. And so as always, I'm really so grateful. This and this is something that I think I just encourage you all, regardless of the topic. Regardless, whatever is that inspires you. Get out there, get more things coming in that are nurturing to you and the same thing with your kids and the people around you. And there's also four to helping you help more people and make more money and less time doing you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends and your life.

 

Thanks for listening.

 

Dr. Danny Brassell Profile Photo

Dr. Danny Brassell

Bringing JOY back into education by helping educators, parents & organizations. Keep reading to learn HOW...

Danny is a former inner-city teacher (Compton, CA), journalist in DC, keynote speaker and lifelong student on a mission to bring joy back into education and the workplace by transforming struggling and reluctant readers into more passionate and proficient readers.

He shows people how to make reading a life-long habit and trains leaders how to communicate their messages through effective and inspirational storytelling.