How our People & Culture Lead forced me to read books

As part of our team-building effort, we embarked on a group reading initiative. The process was simple: choose a book, set a deadline, and then discuss our insights. The most challenging part? Taking the plunge and turning that first page.
3 min read
Arnaud Charles
How our People & Culture Lead forced me to read books

My story

A colleague, known as the People & Culture Lead, suggested Mirahi read a book for personal and team growth. The concept was great, in theory, but I don't enjoy reading books.

The only kinds of books I read are technical (Linux, Kubernetes, etc.), but even then I can't finish them. I mainly search for what I need, which is usually the "Getting Started" section.

Technical books up until the half or two-thirds mark are okay, but rarely more, as the last chapters often go deeper than what I need to know. Even if I wanted to become an expert, my memory is bad, so I learn mainly by doing.

The first book

Now you have the picture, the chosen company book read was Radical Candor. A coaching, consulting, boring book. You can imagine the challenge.

I didn't want to read it. I complained a lot and turned it into a joke to let people know that I wasn't interested. The only motivation I had was to avoid being the only one to screw up the project, so I started reading it.

The book start by being nice to read until Chapter 2. There were no secrets, no a-ha moments, nothing new. For me, the book was like a mix between TED conference and LinkedIn status. You can check my LinkedIn to understand how I'm active on it (not). I consume a lot of YouTube, but never these kind of TEDs.

First step achieved! First half-fail.

Opened and started the book. My joy decreased after reading Chapter 2 and each chapter after. I wished I had it in paper format just to burn it. I forced myself to read some chapters because we had upcoming meetings to debate the material. I was able to participate and answer with pertinent input, not because I read the book, but because I had a job before and some work experience (5 - 6 years).

The timeline was the same, I reached 66% of the book and finished it by reading summaries. I made the effort to quickly finish by skimming, but it was not an enjoyable experience.

It was my first half-fail. I made it, but I hoped never to relive the reading experience...

My wish didn't come true

We were asked to read another book, which was picked this time by a vote. I chose Atomic Habits,

Not to spoil the book, but if you are interested in reading it, the idea is simple:

  • Determine your bad habits
  • Try to swap them with better ones
  • Don't force yourself, just make it enjoyable
  • Go step by step, 1% every day is better than nothing

The last advice was the only one that made sense for me. I did simple math and 1% of one day is <15 minutes.

My logic was simple: I needed to read a book and I didn't want to. The book's advice is doing 1%. So I set a goal to read 20 minutes every day, if I can manage to read for 20 minutes, then I might be able to finish the book and/or judge it.

To make an extra effort, I listened to the audiobook while driving.

The result

Turns out I found a way to like books thanks to the reading and listening combination. Put together, I enjoyed the book so much that I finished in 3 days!

During a calm moment I was able to reach the 20 minute–goal but with an iPad notification that I might miss this goal the next day, so I spent a bit more time. I've done this several times the first day which amounted to an hour of driving.

The second day I listened during 3h of driving. The third day, 20 minutes in the morning, again 20 minutes on the lunchtime, and some driving in the evening to finish it.

I kind of failed the 1% as I wanted to test the theory until the last meeting debate which is the deadline, so I started another book about Elon Musk.
Same result --> Finished in 1 week.

Then I went back to another book, a technical one, a third attempt, as I've started 2 other similar books on the same topic. This one, when I am writing this blogpost, is now close to being finished. I didn't use audio for this one, but I've mixed the reading (still 20 minutes) with YouTube videos on the same topic.

I've found my method for "reading" books.


The term "Fail Fast" is often used in the tech world. I did just that. I failed to read a ton of books—until I experiemented (thanks to a book) and found a way to read them from beginning to end.

My last word will be:  Thanks Justine.

Read Justine's blogpost about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here