Reading Strategies: Business Journals

In the world of business, there are the movers and shakers and then there are the bystanders who study what happens and publishes it as Business Journals. In this symbiotic relationship, the bystanders happen to be researchers and professors at Business Schools who teach the future movers and shakers – and provide insight to the current movers and shakers to help them get out of their pinch. Reading business journals not only helps the corporate guys to stay abreast with the latest concerns in their industry, it also helps a thriving small business owner widen his/her perspective on current offerings that could help their business.

There are many types of journals specific to each industry such as Finance, HR, Automotive, but for this blog post I will concentrate on the reading strategy for business journals that is compiled and widely published as books – the Harvard Business Review.

The reason I chose to provide a reading strategy for such business journals is because Harvard Business Review is the most cited journal publication in the world. Its impact shows that the in-depth study that is done before the journal is accepted for publishing is indeed useful. Apart from that, a journal selected as part of a published Harvard Business Review does speak for itself. A lot of hard work had been put to churn out that seven to 12 page of journal. Make no mistake that the studies are NOT based on small samples; there are studies that have gone on for decades and passed on to younger researchers before the journal is sent for publication.

My personal take on Harvard Business Review is that I have yet to read any business books so heavy with information that is as relevant, yet easy to digest as Harvard Business Reviews. That said, having the reading strategies for business journals would give you an upper hand in making sure you are making the best investment for your time spent on the book and your money.

STEP 1: READING SAMPLES

There is a myriad of topics that is covered by Harvard Business Review such as Managing People, Managing Yourself and Organizational Culture. Besides that, there are publications for Entrepreneurship and also Leadership Lessons from Sports. It is an extensive list so the first step you need to do when choosing a Harvard Business Review to read is to choose one topic that you are interested in.

If you are currently looking at restructuring your company and many division will need to leverage, the most insightful Harvard Business Review for you would be HBR’s 10 Must Read: Collaboration. Never mind the need to manage a huge change as there exists an HBR’s 10 Must Read: Change Management 🙂

If you can’t seem to decide which you should read, whether on Collaboration or Change Management; Step 2 will give you a better insight to invest your time and money on the best Harvard Business Review for you.

STEP 2: FINDING OUT YOUR OVERVIEW

Personally, I find the most beautiful trait about Harvard Business Review is their Index page. If there is something we are truly overwhelmed by on the Internet, it is information overload and HBR nails exactly that. Their Index page is so well and specific that you only get the information you really need. Let’s say I read a journal about blockchain on Harvard Business Review and want to find out more, I simply use the terms indexed under blockchain on its Index page so that I only get the relevant information I need. Doesn’t that save a lot of time?

So in order for you to find out which Harvard Business Review you would learn best for the situation you are in, head to the Index page at the back. Scan through the terms and decide which publication holds more relevant terms that speak out to you in its Index page. That’s how you decide whether your topic is Collaboration or Change Management.

I know, you may thank me later 🙂

STEP 3: BREAKING DOWN THE BOOK (JOURNAL)

The main idea of reading a Harvard Business Review is to figure out something. It is not about evaluating the author’s writing skill, nor is it to question the validity of the information. Holding on to your main purpose of reading business journal, which is to figure out something – quickly skim through the Editor’s Notes to weigh the gist of each journal. Once you have identified your top priority journal, move to the Contents section to find out the page number of that journal.

Once you have landed on the right page, find the section Idea in Brief to get an overview of what the journal will cover. One great tip I can give is to move straight to the Case Studies included in the journal, this way you immediately identify if the problems you are facing is relatable to this journal. This would also subsequently arouse your desire to find out more and read the business journal thoroughly.

At this point, you could quickly skim through the main topics in the journal (usually in bold) and only read content that is relevant to you, without wasting to much time on the learning if you have already figured it out. Some people do read business journals just for inspiration on how to solve their current problem at work.

If you intend to read for learning, you might want to actively engage yourself with the content of the journal to get the best out of your investment of time and money on reading a Harvard Business Review. This can be done by following Step Four and Step Five below.

STEP 4: PLANTING QUESTIONS

The easiest way to start planting questions when reading a Harvard Business Review is to focus on any chart, figure or table that is included in the journal. Skim the figure and be critical with what you see as to question how the this figure would benefit to serve your problem. With the knowledge on the case studies and a summed of figure in your hand (and mind), you are ready to plant questions as you read through the journal.

Another tip to boost your question seeking activity is to read more on the author of the journal from the About the Contributor section on the final pages of the Harvard Business Review. Having background information about the author would give you an insight to the author’s bias and perspective to help you plant questions and actively engage yourself while reading.

STEP 5: MEETING YOUR CONCLUSIONS

Once you finished reading the journal, you need to have a check-and-balance to see if your comprehension is aligned to the points provided in the business journal. One way to do this is to re-read the Idea in Brief section and see if you had missed any important part in the journal. On the other hand, you could re-visit the chart, figure or table to see if you have a better grasp at understanding the point the author is trying to make.

When your new knowledge jives with the idea that is formed in your mind, you should start sketching a draft proposal to solve your problem. When you are able to formulate a solution from your reading, it is suffice to say that you met your conclusions and you have made a good investment of your time and money by reading a business journal!

So there you have it! My five steps for Reading Strategies: Business Journals to help you with a structure when reading such publication. Enjoy!

-Baini Mustafa

Reading Strategies: Crime Fiction

If there was a genre of books that can be honoured to relieving a lot of problems just by distracting readers with a greater set of problems that is beautifully written, Crime Fiction should win the prize. I can’t begin to tell you how much Crime Fiction I had been absorbed in while waiting for time to pass, to fill up boredom (there was no handheld gadgets while I was growing up), so much so that Crime Fiction could be the very reason I read at all.

The fascinating streak about Crime Fiction is that someone had done wrong and could get away with it. The fact that you are toying with the idea that the criminal could get away builds suspense and the mystery of the unknown is just another reason for you to keep reading the book. If there was a genre that could help you relax and distract yourself, I highly recommend Crime Fiction as a ‘bibliotherapy’.

Through my experience with reading, I have set up the strategies below on how to read Crime Fiction. Crime Fiction can be read passively, where you let the author unveil the mystery to you at the end. But you could also engage in active reading to let yourself be part of the book and this would allow you to finish the book much faster than usual. Imagine being able to make time to do other things AND still read enough books?

Check out below my READING STRATEGIES: CRIME FICTION.

STEP 1: READING SAMPLE

A little research on the book you are planning to buy would always pay off. The large selection of Crime Fiction makes it easy for you to make a bad purchase that doesn’t suit you. The best way to determine whether or not a book suits you is to find out the background of the novel. Where does the story take place? What does the main character do for a living? What type of crime is being done here?

If you are working in the Information Technology sector and planning for a trip to Sweden soon, maybe A Girl With A Dragon Tattoo would serve your interest and curiosity. If you are planning a winter trip to Scandinavia, Jo Nesbo’s Snowman is a chilling page turner for you.

Your selection should serve both your interest and curiosity. If you have no intention of ever cross-country traveling via train, the details in the Murder on The Orient Express by Agatha Christie would serve you no purpose. But on the other hand, just reading that book might make you want that experience!

STEP 2: FINDING OUT YOUR OVERVIEW

The thing about Crime Fiction is that it is read by a great number of people of different walks of life. My tip when trying to narrow down your selection is to simply go by the numbers. It is safe to pick up Crime Fiction that is wildly lauded by many.

Once you have cultivated your own liking for Crime Fiction, then it is safe for you to make your selection more personally.

STEP 3: BREAKING DOWN THE BOOK

Besides the plot and the mystery in a Crime Fiction, the characters should be unforgettable for the Crime Fiction to be an interesting read. You can see how Sherlock Holmes seem to have a life of his own, as created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Interesting main characters weaves the story line in a Crime Fiction. So based on the back of the Crime Fiction you are planning to purchase, read the synopsis and spend some good time there to learn about the main character.

Next, skim through the book to find the main character’s name and try to read a little whenever you see it. Do you like what you read? Do you like how the author writes about the main character? It is important to have a positive feeling about the main character to be able to read through the book. Do note that if you do not feel an instant attraction to the main character, it might not be worth your time to read the book.

STEP 4: PLANTING QUESTIONS

Once you have selected the Crime Fiction of your choice, make a conscious decision to read actively through the book. This will not only increase your momentum and interest, it serves as a check and balance between the characters. I said this because, when you read a Crime Fiction, you need to read as a witness – not as the main character of the book. As a witness, you need to question the motives of each character and that means you also question the motive of the author for what he/she unveils.

When planting questions in a Crime Fiction, you will find that the pace of the story line is aligned to the questions that pop in your mind. This is when reading becomes a two-way street and you are engaged to the author and his masterpiece.

STEP 5: MEETING YOUR CONCLUSIONS

Making assumptions throughout reading a Crime Fiction is the boon of this genre. Where else would you be given free reign to assume and will not stump if you were wrong? But if there is one advice I can about making conclusions when reading a good Crime Fiction is: don’t get too carried away with your conclusions 🙂

Personally what I love about reading Crime Fiction is the contented feeling when my conclusions are met AND the pleasure of of discovering the alternative to my conclusions. Both are equally satisfying.

There you have it, five steps to help you read Crime Fiction more effectively by actively reading and engaging your mind as part of the plot. I hope you enjoy the Reading Strategies series and I will see you in the next blog post on non-fiction reading strategies.

-Baini Mustafa

Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller

When browsing the fiction shelves at a bookstore, it is hard to miss the Legal Thriller section. Let alone walking into a bookstore without seeing any book with the name John Grisham across its cover. Legal Thriller certainly has its cult status following and that begs the question, have you tried reading a Legal Thriller?

A Legal Thriller is of the mystery genre but usually has a lawyer as its main character. Although a lawyer’s main task is to prove his/her client’s innocence in court, this is not without paying the dues of investigation, priming the witnesses and jurors, building up the case and last but not least presenting the argument in court. The dramatisation of the entire tasks, with the many characters of varying roles, intelligence, importance, and intentions, makes a Legal Thriller an interesting read and is high on my suggestion list whenever someone asks for a fiction recommendation as a break between reading non-fictions.

The beauty of reading a Legal Thriller is that your mind is aroused with the description of activities you are reading in the book and at the same time, your brain is high on alert to also do its part in solving the mystery. Although most people read fiction to relax, I discover that a Legal Thriller relaxes you by shifting your focus on a different problem and sharpens your problem solving skills. Ultimately, the fiction not only gives you the satisfaction of finishing a book, it refreshes your mind and believe it or not, you feel ready and excited to solve your own problem.

So ARE YOU READY TO PICK UP A LEGAL THRILLER NOW? Let’s armour our time investment, pick up the right book by applying the Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller.

STEP 1: READING SAMPLES

As I have repeatedly mentioned around my blog, it is important to pick up a book that serves your interest. Before purchasing a book, make sure you invest a little time by researching reviews to see if you could relate to the book. If you had lost a relative to lung cancer, then maybe The Runaway Jury by John Grisham will keep you interested throughout the book. If you love sports, especially baseball, maybe A Pitch for Justice by Harold Kasselman will keep hands glued to the book. It is all about finding the right match between you and the book that makes reading enjoyable.

STEP 2: FINDING OUT ‘YOUR’ OVERVIEW

Even though you think you have found a Legal Thriller that should excite you, hold on to your horses. Just an extra five more minutes of research should be able to make or break your decision. Find out a little about the people who likes the kind of Legal Thriller you are planning to buy. Do you feel you could relate to the people who gave a positive review about the book? Does the people who gave a positive review about the book, your kind of people? Do they impress you? If they are not YOUR kind of people or even simply you don’t feel inspired by the people – don’t waste any more time and just move on to finding the next Legal Thriller for you.

Do not underestimate the power of demography when selecting the best kind of reading to suit yourself. It might seem counter-productive to find a suitable book and then discover that it is not, but trust me that this five minute research might save you from a draggy five months of trying to finish one book. If there was a way to search via demography first, and then by book – you would need to follow avid readers that match your demography. For example, if you are here to follow my readings tips then most likely your demography matches mine and I can save you a lot of time and money simply by letting you know which books to read.

STEP 3: BREAKING DOWN THE BOOK

At this point, you need to get the feel of the entire book so that it keeps you coming back after you put it down. My personal tip when reading a Legal Thriller is to breakdown the book into 100 pages. For example if the book weights 423 pages, I will break it down into four parts and read a full page within each 100-page part.

This way, I get an idea of how fast the story line would progress and specific scenes, characters and my first hand exposure to the author’s writing style. Ask your self, do you like what you read in that broken down portions? If not then put it down and go back to the first step in the Step 1. Fret not, there are still millions of books out there just waiting to meet its right audience.

If a book doesn’t have the lure factor that appeals to you, it is not worth your investment of time and money.

STEP 4: PLANTING QUESTIONS

Now that you have found the perfect Legal Thriller suited for you, it is time to actively read the gem you picked. In order to actively read a Legal Thriller, it is not only important to be aware of the little details of the plot’s twists and turns – it is also important to notice the small quirks of each character in the story.

Plant questions that would inquire the behaviours of each character in the story. This keeps yourself interested in the psychology of the characters that you may build up in your mind. Does this lawyer have a blond paralegal who obediently brings his double espresso every morning? Is the prosecuted criminal a cat person or a dog person? Sometimes the questions you ask yourself has nothing to do with the story line, but planting questions regarding the psychology of each character in a Legal Thriller would build suspense and almost always satisfy your theories about people. And maybe who knows, you might crack the case before the lawyer does 🙂

STEP 5: MEETING YOUR CONCLUSIONS

When reading a Legal Thriller, the story line is maneuvered with yourself as the main character. On the same note, you need to be aware and understand the roles and the limits of other characters in the story. Did you know the real roles of the jurors? Did you know the basics of a judge’s jurisdiction within a county? It is as simple as a quick Google search to find the answers and it will give you an insight that will help with your active reading. After all, if your conclusion is accurate wouldn’t that boost your confidence to read more Legal Thrillers?

As a tip, I will let you in on my own conclusion that is always find accurate whenever I read a Legal Thriller – Lawyers have the ability to argue black as white AND lawyers would always prime their witnesses to believe what the witness testifies to be the truth.

There you have it! My Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller that will help you navigate through a fiction as an experience that is worthy of your time an money. Let me know if the strategies work!

-Baini Mustafa

Reading Strategies: An Introduction

Did somebody say strategy???

This week I will start another series of post called Reading Strategies. In the first of its posts, I have its Introduction so that readers have a basic idea how the Reading Strategies can help.

Contrary to popular belief, reading is not a passive activity where the author does all the job. Let me introduce you to a term “Active Reading” where readers seek in a book for its gold, rather than simply peeling page by page to be entertained.

I remember the time I read The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle that took me months to finish. It was my first non-fiction of that genre – it was new and exciting but terrible to digest. I was rereading paragraphs in one sitting and I kinda felt like I was at wit’s end. Just like that jar of jam that wouldn’t pop open!

But I still continued on and on because I really liked the book and what I wanted to know what the New Earth was about. Until I found a point where the sentences started to make sense without having to think too hard about it. That was when I realised that every book needs its own visor for the reader, so that the book can be read through a specific lens. And this specific lens comes from having an expected ‘theme’ for the book to fulfill, rather than having an empty slate that your mind can wander on and off the ‘theme’.

So that is where the Reading Strategies will help you and give you the moral support you need to read fifty books a year! YES, IT’S POSSIBLE!

Below are the seven parts of the Reading Strategies series to help you with improving your reading and making the best out of your investment of time and money on a book. No more mindless reading and deciding halfway that the book isn’t worth your time with these strategies.

  1. Reading Strategies: An Introduction
  2. Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller
  3. Reading Strategies: Crime Fiction
  4. Reading Strategies: Business Journals
  5. Reading Strategies: Self-Help
  6. Reading Strategies: Pop Sociology
  7. Reading Strategies: Business

I have included both fiction and non-fiction in the mix because I do believe that a lot of business aspects can be learnt by reading Crime Fiction and Legal Thriller, so I wouldn’t want my readers to miss out on its benefits. And these are great vacation books – light, exciting and a little bit of learning here and there – I promise!

In the Reading Strategies series, 5 key elements will be delivered in the following fashion. Where the first three elements is done prior to reading and the last two elements is actively done throughout the reading. This structure helps tremendously to build and keep your reading momentum.

  1. Reading sample
  2. Finding out an overview
  3. Breaking down the book
  4. Planting questions
  5. Meeting your conclusion

The 5 key elements above will help you get the most out of your reading in the interest of time and money invested on the book. Applying the elements above will also help you read actively because you feel more involved in the process of discovery instead of passively accepting whatever the author had written.

The strategies I expose are ones that I use to help me make the most out of my reading and I find that different types of books require different strategies. It is my wish to see somebody come up with a fool-proof formula that can be applied to all types of reading to aid comprehension.

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU IS: To apply the strategies as I post them throughout the week and let me know if it doesn’t work. I would be more than glad to refine these strategies.

-Baini Mustafa