I barely made it out of high school. I come from a family where reading was never encouraged. I don’t ever remember opening a book as a child. I don’t ever remember having a parent read to me. By my early 20s, I found myself in the high-paced adrenaline pumping world of tactical and investigative policing.
At 29, my wife told me I was going to become a father. It scared the hell out of me. I realized that, financially, I was a train wreck. I needed to do something fast to make more money and get out of policing.
I sought out the advice of the only person I knew who was an entrepreneur. He owned a major insurance brokerage business. I asked him for some advice and he gave Og Mandino’s book, the Greatest Salesman In The World. His advice was to read the book, as his father had forced him to read it when he first started in business.
That book changed my life. I realized that the skills that I had learned in police interrogation were the same skills that Mandino described as the skills of the greatest salespeople.
Fast forward 17 years -- I have read over 1,000 books on business, leadership, finance and personal development. I have started four business that have grossed over one hundred million in revenue.
My latest venture is launching the world’s largest book club and author marketing platform. It’s called Reader’s Legacy. At the time of this writing, over 50,000 users have joined in the first six months, and we have launched an online platform to help authors connect with those readers.
Realizing that we were now growing the largest community of readers in the world, I decided to start studying reading. The results of my studies have made me sick to my stomach and launched me onto a mission to help to eradicate the children’s literacy epidemic.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 14 percent of U.S. kids graduating from high school are illiterate. That means their reading ability is the same as a 5 year-old! Eighty percent of people incarcerated in prison in the U.S. are uneducated and illiterate. If you want to know why our country and our world is in such bad shape, then start doing your own research into illiteracy.
Don’t worry -- I’m doing something about it. I am taking 20 percent of the revenue from my company and donating it to the Readers Legacy Children’s Literacy Fund. Make sure this article gets shared with anyone you know who works in a not-for-profit organization that is trying to fight the children’s illiteracy problem in the world, because we have funds for them.
Now let me talk to the entrepreneurs for a minute! After all, this is Entrepreneur Magazine. There are millions of articles here on how to fix your business, how to start a business, how to grow a business, etc. I believe that everything you need to be successful in your business is here on this one website. If you take a look through the millions of articles, you will find hundreds of them that are lists of books that the contributors believe that you should read, and these articles are always the highest shared.
Why? It’s because real entrepreneurs know that you have to read to succeed. I believe, and the research supports this belief, that we could make radical changes in the unemployment numbers, the crime numbers, the divorce numbers and the economic numbers, if we simply made it our common goal to give every child in this world the gift of reading.
You want to increase the quality of your workplace, institute book clubs, reading programs and personal development programs. If every child in the world knew how to read, they would also have better judgment skills, better discernment skills, better imagination. If every kid could read, they would have better experience, earlier in life.
Personally, I believe that the solution to so many of the issues that are hurting our world today are being cultivated in the minds of our young. If we eliminate illiteracy in children, we will change the world.
In the meantime, why don’t you open a book!
If I caught your attention, read the stats for yourself: