Welcome to my world. I have been interested in business since I was a little kid – see “about Gary Hoover” to read my biography. But I have also found that life is more satisfying, and business more successful, if you have an interest in, and understanding of, the broader world around us. I call this “the liberal arts approach to business.” This is equally important in any enterprise – any time a group of people get together to accomplish shared goals – such as not-for-profit organizations, trade associations, and government agencies.
I believe the most important personal attribute for successful leadership and living is curiosity. I am curious about virtually everything. My curiosity grows and broadens each day. Like a wine aficionado, I revel in the fact I haven’t yet “tasted” every fact or every subject. I am glad I do not know everything. I look forward to tasting as much as my lifetime will allow.
I believe that I can learn something from everyone. Rich or poor, powerful or not, young or old, local or distant, friend or stranger. My task is to figure out what I can learn from you. And perhaps apply that learning to my own goals and ventures.
I believe the learning is further enhanced by sharing. We were not intended to be puddles holding information; we are parts of a river. We need to be in the flow. We need to remember that information is the one valuable thing that we can give away and still have.
I find that I learn five ways:
When I say study, I really mean what you might think of as “passive learning” – reading, listening to music, attending a lecture, watching a movie. But none of these activities is passive for me – I am actively engaged in the learning process as I read or listen or watch. I stop and think about everything, what it means, what the implications might be.
Note that I did not mention schools or classrooms in my list of ways that I learn. Too many people confuse schooling with education. Schooling, if done right, is a form of conversation and study. It can be very important. If done wrong, it is just a way to burn time and keep people employed. The best educated people I know got less than 10% of their education in a school. They understand that the classroom that matters is life itself.
The core of my own learning is through books. I have about 50,000 of them in my personal library. I am an “information junkie,” so they are almost all nonfiction books. I love a good world atlas, a reference book, even a textbook! Relatively few of my books are bestsellers, or books that you have heard of. I have a method for “digesting a book” in 15-30 minutes, which is described in a post on the website. (It is actually not about reading faster; it is about reading fewer things more slowly.)
My friends are always asking me, “What are you reading now? What cool books have you discovered?” A big part of this website therefore consists of my reading recommendations, in numerous subject areas. I have tried to make these posts interesting, so you learn something even before you crack the first book. I hope to stimulate your thinking, to motivate your mind. (If you happen to find a book I recommend intriguing, you will help support this website, and my continuing book recommendations, if you buy it via the links I have included. But I also urge you to support your local bookstores, both chains and independents!)
In order to be different, to stand out from the crowd, I am experimenting with the best way to organize the website. For beginners, I am breaking it into a different subject – or group of subjects – each day of the week.
On Friday I will post my main insights about business, about marketing and retailing, about consumer trends, and about big business, which (believe it or not) was my first love as a kid. On Monday, I will talk about entrepreneurial thinking, about the innovation and creativity that go with that. In 2001 I wrote a book which my publisher called Hoover’s Vision: Original Thinking for Business Success. I am in the process of revising and updating this book, chapter by chapter. I have reverted to my original title, The Art of Enterprise. On Mondays I will gradually post the updated chapters, which you can read online or download as pdf’s (you will have to register your email address with me in order to get the free pdf’s). Monday and Friday will also contain book reviews relevant to these subjects.
The rest of the week is when I let my curiosity range more broadly. Tuesday is history and geography day, two of the most important subjects you could ever study. I will include my thoughts about the world and travel tips there. Wednesday is “arts” day – my own interests run to movies, music, graphic design, and architecture. And Thursday is for “everything else,” including my love of nostalgia, cars, trains, planes, and gadgets. Most of the content on these days will consist of book recommendations, but I will also include some book tips, like how I digest a book in 15-20 minutes, or where I suggest you buy books.
I hope that you discover new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new books from my website. I am sure you will let me know what you think, so I can make the site better and more useful to you. But I will always be experimenting, trying different things. Life is too short to let it go stale.