One day, I saw Andrew scribbling away. I asked him what he was doing. "I have some associates coming in with a paper to test me," he said.
I had always thought that was our chance to test them, not the other way around. "They want to see if I can add any value to their draft. So I am making some notes." He then patiently explained to me how he would pass his associates' reading test.
He had three rules:
- "Make a note of my point of view on the paper. They are all smart, and I do not want to get caught up in their internal logic." That hurt. I was always getting caught up in the internal logic of what I was reading.I would then find it hard to come up with an original insight.
- "Make a list of all the topics that I expect to see covered. That helps me see the invisible -- what they haven't covered in their paper." I was starting to see why everyone thought Andrew was so smart.
- "Outline a few coaching points I can cover, so that they feel they have got something out of me." Now I started to see why everyone not only thought Andrew was smart, but they liked him as well.
Reading for business means reading with prejudice and with purpose. Eventually, I found that just a couple of minutes' preparation before seeing a paper or hearing a presentation would make me a much more critical and effective reader and listener.
Some people even started to think I might be smart. Getting to be liked was entirely different challenge--.