Reading Faster & Better with Nick Hutchison

Reading Time: 16 Minutes

In this episode with Nick Hutchison, we discuss how to be a faster and better reader.

Takeaways We Learned from Nick…

Reading with Intention

Set a SMART goal for each book you read. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Action is where the magic happens, and setting a goal primes you for it.

Goal-Oriented Reading

Don’t just read books for the sake of reading. Set clear goals for what you want to learn or achieve from each book. Reading without intention leads to missed opportunities.

Efficient Note-Taking

Differentiate between reading and note-taking as separate activities. Highlight key points as you read, but save the reflective note-taking for the end of the book. It helps you focus and retain what you’ve learned.

Repetition and Implementation

Re-read the same book until you’ve fully implemented its teachings. Repetition leads to retention. It’s not about how many books you read, but how well you apply what you learn.

Start with Variety, Then Dive Deep

In the beginning, read a wide variety of books to build a foundation. Discover your preferences and styles. Once you identify your goals, focus on reading the same book repeatedly for depth and mastery.

Reading as a Shortcut to Wisdom

Reading is the quickest way to gain wisdom and understanding. It opens doors to knowledge and transforms your thinking. Don’t miss out on this powerful tool.

Quality over Quantity

In the world of books, quality trumps quantity. It’s not about how many books you read but how deeply you absorb and apply the wisdom they offer.

Reading Speed and Subvocalization

Reading faster isn’t about speed-reading courses; it’s about eliminating subvocalization, the habit of silently pronouncing each word. It frees your brain’s full capacity for reading faster.

The Power of Audiobooks

Audiobooks have their place as entertainment and easy consumption, but for real learning and retention, nothing beats physical books. They engage 80% of your brain’s visual inputs for a stronger connection.

Gratitude as a Daily Habit

Gratitude is an action, and it’s a practice. Start your day by listing three things you’re grateful for. It’s a habit that can change your perspective and lead to happiness.

Tools of Titans

Tim Ferriss’s ‘Tools of Titans’ isn’t just a book; it’s a toolkit for high performance. Implementing its advice can lead to life-changing results.

The Four Hour Workweek

Tim Ferriss’s ‘The Four Hour Workweek’ isn’t just about working fewer hours; it’s about working smarter. It can transform your career and lifestyle.

Stephen Pressfield’s Wisdom

Stephen Pressfield, author of ‘The War of Art,’ shares the power of resilience and humility. Success often comes after years of hard work and persistence.

Custom Book Recommendations

Looking for the perfect book to read? Reach out to experts like Nick Hutchinson for personalized recommendations. They can guide you to the books that suit your needs and goals.

About Nick Hutchison

Nick Hutchison stands as the visionary force behind BookThinkers, a growing 7-figure marketing agency that seamlessly bridges the worlds of authors and readers.

In just over 7 years, he has organically built a platform that reaches over 1,000,000 people each month. Nick’s podcast, BookThinkers: Life-Changing Books, is a global top 2% show that features captivating interviews with world-class authors such as Grant Cardone, Lewis Howes, and Alex Hormozi.

Through the use of his platform, Nick has helped hundreds of authors expand their reach to hundreds of millions of readers and drive significant revenue growth as part of their book campaigns. His expansive services include short-form video production, podcast booking and social media brand building.

Now, Nick has dedicated his life to helping millions of readers take action on the information they learn and rise to their potential through his books, speaking, and personal brand as a whole. This was the inspiration for his new book, Rise of the Reader, where he dives into the strategies for mastering your reading habits and applying what you learn.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive business coach Allison Dunn, we are talking about the power of intentional reading. Our guest is Nick Hutchinson. He is the founder of Book Thinkers and author of Rise of the Reader. Nick has also interviewed over 100 of the world’s top business and personal development authors on his path podcast, including guests such as Grant Cardone, Ryan Holiday, Robin Sharma to name a few. Very cool, Nick, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Nick: Yeah, I’m excited to be here. Can I ask the first question today? Yeah. What is your favorite book of all time?

Allison: That is my final question for our interview. So be prepared for that. Know that I have read as a man thinketh no less than 200 times.

Nick: Oh, wow. 200. That’s impressive.

Allison: It’s written by Mark Allen. And the essence of it, I think is just transformational. And it’s like, to me, it almost feels like a Bible, like something you just keep on going back to when you learn something new each and every time. So have you read that?

Nick: And I share an embarrassing statistic right off the bat, I haven’t read it. And I’ve read over 500 of these personal development books. So it’s always been on my list. And I know it’s a small book, right? Isn’t it? 50 pages or something?

Allison: I don’t have it. Okay. Perfect. Thank you. You bet. I am, like you an avid reader. I, my library probably consists of over 1000 books. And I’m not kidding. And then in addition to that, I also interview a lot of authors who have written books. So I think reading is like, it opens the door to the world of things you may not ever do. And it just transformed your thinking. I am not going to point out your age. But I would say like the statistic that I heard is that most people never read another book once they leave high school. I assume you’re out of high school, right?

Nick: I am Yes. I don’t mind sharing it. So I’m 29 years young. Okay, and but if you include all of the decades of wisdom behind me, I’m over 1000 years old. So that’s, that’s how I like to say it.

Allison: I love that I do think that reading is the quickest way to gain wisdom and understanding. So that’s fantastic. All right. So do you have an exact number of how many books you’ve read?

Nick: I don’t know, I used to count. But I’ve stopped counting over the last few years. I’m somewhere between five and 600. If you include individual books if you included a second, fourth, fifth, sixth time reading each book as a separate number, that I’m probably over 1000. I like you have read so many of my favorite books so many times.

Allison: Yeah, that’s awesome. What do you think? What do you think cause where people go wrong when they’re reading a book? What would be your, your guidance?

Nick: There are so many things that I think people do wrong. So number one, when I meet people, oftentimes I’ll ask them what they’re reading. And they’ll tell me and I’ll say why? And they’re like, What do you mean why, and now I’m just kind of met with like a blank stare.

So one of the things that I like to do is read with intention. I like to set a SMART goal for each book that I read.

So in this world of business, and personal development, there’s a lot of inspiration and motivation. But I think all of the magic happens when you take action. So when I set a goal, it is specific, measurable, attainable, meaning it’s possible to achieve. It’s relevant, meaning you’re emotionally connected to the goal. And then it’s time bound.

So one of the business books that a lot of people are reading right now is 100 million dollar leads by Alex or Mozi. And they’re just reading this book hoping that they’ll somehow implement all these cool lead generation tactics, and it will change their life. For me, I go into a book like that, and I set a goal, I say something like, I’m looking to find and implement at least two lead generation strategies for my business book thinkers by the end of October. And so I’ll write that goal on the inside cover of the book. And I’ll review it each time I read a few more pages, so that my brain can filter for those actions to take. And so I’m priming myself to take action. Like I said, I think action is where all of the magic happens. So that’s one thing is people are reading without intention. And I think as a result, they’re getting less out of the books than they could if they had set a SMART goal in the first place.

Allison: So you set a SMART goal for every book you read?

Nick: And you read most of them.

Allison: The book you’re just speaking you’re speaking of what are the two actions you’re taking on that to implement the lead strategies?

Nick: I’m not done with the book yet but I have you know, I said by the end of October, so hopefully by the end of October when I go through a book like that. And I’m primed for locating those potential lead gen actions. Maybe by the end of the book, I’ll have highlighted 15 or 20 different potential actions. And so what I’ll do, and I will do this, by the end of the month, I’ll write down those 20 actions. And I’ll say what 20% of these can create 80% of the change that I’m looking for. So not every action is created equal.

And I look for what are the highest leverage activities that are also easy to implement, I think sometimes we get hung up on trying to implement these really long, complex strategies from books. And as a result, we don’t take any action.

And so that’s, you know, again, just something that’s attainable not make $100 million by the end of the month, but just find and implement at least two strategy. So one of the strategies that I have highlighted so far in the book is around outbound advertising. It’s not something that my firm has ever participated in. So here we are, we’re, we’ve been in business for seven years, and we’ve never done any like outbound lead gen, as far as paid advertising goes. And there are a ton of strategies in the book for how to incorporate Google ads and things like that. So yeah, that’s definitely something that I’m considering so far.

Allison: Very cool. I agree with you in the sense that a lot of people just consume books without intention of taking, or even not even sure what they plan to do with the information right? Is there based on the books you’ve consumed a way to take notes and or find those nuggets that you then choose to put into action? What’s your strategy? Highlighter?

Nick: Yes, absolutely.


I think right off the bat, another thing that a lot of readers are doing inefficiently is reading and note taking.

And so for me, those are two completely separate activities. And I think we should treat them as such, we know we want to avoid multitasking, we know we want to avoid task switching, yet we’re reading and taking notes at the same time. So for me, I review that intention. And as I’m reading, if I find something that I might want to take action on, I’ll quickly highlight it. I love writing right inside of paper books, I do listen to some audio, I could talk about why reading physical paper books is much better for us and a minute.

So I’ll quickly circled a page number, I’ll highlight a few things, maybe I’ll make a quick note. But I am not sitting there reflecting on the information in real time.

Because again, I don’t want to lose that momentum, that state of flow that I’m in with reading. Then at the end of the book, I’ll go back. And again, I’ll analyze each one of those things that I highlighted, I’ll confirm that it is related to my goal for the book. And then I’ll rewrite as a form of repetition, because repetition leads to retention, I’ll rewrite those 15 or 20 things that I found in the book, maybe less, rarely any more than that. And then I’ll decide which ones that I’d like to take action on. So it’s almost like I’m going through the book a second time, but I’m only going through the second time looking at what I’ve highlighted, and that I’d like to take action on.

Allison: Okay, so I’m just curious, do you do that like chapter by chapter concept or full book, and then you go back and take notes.

Nick: It’s changed so many times over the years, but right now it’s full book. And then I go back and take notes on the full book. So it’s almost like they’re totally separate activities. And I try not to try not to mix both.

Allison: That’s fantastic. I had a goal in 2020. I think it was to read one book a week. So I was doing about four a month. And that was exhausting. And I don’t know that the implementation of it was good. But I did get through a lot of authors that way, for sure. I am. I’m a big believer that reading one book repeatedly to get the essence out of it until you have it implemented as a much smarter strategy.

Nick: I do too. I think when people are first starting, it’s okay to read a wide variety of books so that you can understand what you like what you don’t like, what styles you find useful, you kind of have to get the basic foundation of reading and implementing sort of, you want to build that foundation first. And then like you’re saying, I think once you can identify a problem that you’re looking to solve or a skill set that you’re looking to develop, then it’s okay to read the same book over and over and over again, I think then quality becomes more important than quantity.

Allison: Yeah, for sure. How fast do you read?

Nick: Probably like four or 500 words per minute. Okay, and I’m not. Speed reading is so interesting to me because I’ve never really invested in speed reading. I haven’t taken courses or anything like that. I’ve read a few books I interviewed this guy, Howard Berg once for my podcast, who has the Guinness world record for the fastest reading. But there’s something about removing subvocalization that I just don’t love. So a lot of these speed readers, they don’t even read the book to themselves. They don’t hear anything in their own brain when they’re reading. They’re just scanning and although There’s some data that says that improves retention. It’s just not for me. So I do read pretty fast. But that’s just the result of reading hundreds of books over the last 10 years.

Allison: Um, he just used a word that I don’t think I knew. So you said subvocalization. So I read in my head while I’m reading. So that’s what I’m doing. I didn’t realize that that is. less effective is I think what I understood you to say.

Nick: So here’s why, as I understand it, I’ll give a metaphor first, and then we’ll tie it to the metaphor. So imagine you are driving through a neighborhood, but you’re driving pretty slow, you’re in a car. Because you’re driving slow, your mind can wander, you can daydream a little bit, you can look at the houses, the landscaping, the cars in the driveway, whatever. But let’s imagine you were driving very fast, your eyes would have to be glued to the road. So there’s no opportunity for danger. I mean, the same thing happens while we’re reading a book.

And so if you’re reading slow, and you’re so vocalizing to yourself, right, because then you can only read as fast as you can speak to yourself.

You’re sort of inefficient, because you’re not your eyes aren’t glued to the road, there’s the opportunity, because you’re not using your friend your brain’s full capabilities to sort of daydream or to multitask as far as your thoughts are concerned. So what a lot of these crazy speed readers do is they read without repeating the words to themselves, because you can read, I’m going to make up the number five times faster than you can speak. And so by not speaking it back to yourself, you can free up the rest of your brain’s capacity for reading faster. Yeah, it is kind of crazy. But I don’t really do it that way. I

Allison: I think about I mean, I think I’m like you, I do have to speak it to like really absorb what it’s saying. But I’m going to try to do it without doing that

Nick: I’ve tried a ton of times it’s weird, and it’s awkward. And you’re like, am I actually reading or am I not reading?

Allison: You brought up the point that the physical book is off is a different experience than listening to an audible, when do you choose which to do.

Nick: So let’s say I read about, or I consume about 100 books a year 75 of those are physical paper books. And then the other 25 are audio books. I don’t I’m not really a Kindle guy. So the books that I listened to are the books that I don’t really want to implement anything from. So long biographies, autobiographies, books that are sometimes fiction, you know, like parables, the Go Giver, or the alchemist or something like that. And the reason that I don’t order books that are over 500 pages, because I just, you know, I don’t love reading a book and staying in the same book for a month straight.

So as far as comprehension and retention is concerned, about 80% of the inputs to our brain are visual. And so by default, if you’re only listening to something, you know, you’re far less efficient as far as being able to consume, store, organize and retain that information.

And so I know, if I’m listening to something, it’s not as efficient. And therefore I only choose to listen to books that I’m not really expecting to gain anything from, they’re more of a form of entertainment for me at that point, than they are education. And oftentimes, when I’m listening to something, I’m multitasking, so I’m in the car, I’m doing chores, I’m at the gym, whereas when I’m reading a physical paper book, that’s the opposite of multitasking, it’s mono tasking, you’re focused on one activity at a time. And so you can become fully immersed in that reading experience. And again, 80% of the inputs to our brain are visual. So by default, reading a physical paper book means you can develop a stronger connection to what you’re reading.

Allison: I agree with everything you just said very much. So what is that habit that’s changed your life the most?

Nick: Other than reading, I would say gratitude. Early in my reading experience. I read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, and he analyzes hundreds of high performers in different areas of athletics, entrepreneurship, spirituality, all sorts of things. And he was looking for a common trend between everybody. And some huge percentage of those high performers had a daily mindfulness practice, a lot of them would focus on gratitude, they would meditate they would journal things of that nature. And so I thought, I’d like to try that out.

And so in the beginning, I would just on a yellow legal pad like this, so a journal three things that I was grateful for every single day. And because I knew that I would have to write something the next day, I started to filter for opera. To identify something I was grateful for right in the middle of my day, which was brand new for me in my early 20s. It had such a big impact that I decided to get the numbers one, two and three tattooed on my wrist as a reminder to look for opportunities to be grateful throughout the day. And there’s a quote that I love to that reinforces this. It’s from an Indian monk named Gore, Gopal Das, and he says, It’s not happy people that are grateful, but it’s grateful people that are happy. So gratitude is an action. It’s a practice, it’s something that we should essentially force ourselves to do at the beginning.

And then the happiness is the result of practicing gratitude. So there are other ways that I practice gratitude today. But that journaling habit has probably created the biggest change in my life.

Allison: Wonderful. That particular book is a book that I have not fully consumed, but it is full crammed full of very, very interesting tips. How many of them, have you done?

Nick: Oh, tons of them. The Wim Hof breathing and the deathbed visualizations. And yeah, there’s so much there’s so much in that book. Oh, that’s fantastic.

Allison: Oh, that’s fantastic. I love it. I’m assuming that this is not your answer the book you just said. But what would be your favorite life changing book that you’ve read?

Nick:  Well, by the same author, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is one of my favorite books of all time. And I say that for a couple of reasons. Number one, when I read that book, I was working in a cubicle nine to five sort of changed, chained to a desk, book fingers hadn’t taken off yet. And so I was able to use the frameworks in that book to take that same position I had, but flip it and make it a remote position, which was the first time that somebody had done that within that company. And I started to travel internationally and experience different cultures all as a result of reading The Four Hour Workweek.

But also, as I continued to reread that book, as I was traveling, it laid the foundation for the business that I have today. So today, my business book thinkers, we have about 10 employees. Right now we serve hundreds of authors a year. And it’s all totally remote and distributed. Everybody’s in a different state. Everybody works remotely, and I used the frameworks in that book, to develop my business. So I owe pretty much everything that I that I have today. And that I do today on a daily basis to Tim Ferriss.

Allison: That’s fantastic. You had an impressive list of folks that you’ve spoken to who’s been your favorite podcast interview guest?

Nick: Steven Pressfield, Stephen has authored a number of books, including The War of Art, which is my favorite talks about how to overcome resistance. So we had an interview with him earlier this year. He’s 80 years old. And he has so much energy, he’s so articulate, well thought, impressive. He’s sort of, you know, I kind of wish he was my grandfather or something like that, you know, I wish I had an extra grandfather, because he’s just the coolest guy on the planet. So humble. And my favorite part about his story is that he literally worked for 30 years straight, without any success.

And after 30 years of writing and producing content, trying to get it out there, he finally hit some success in his 50s. And now he’s interviewed on Rogan all the time, and all the biggest podcasts out there. And he’s just so humble. You know, I was sat there, and I said, Hey, man, you get referenced on Joe Rogan’s podcast, once a month, and you’ve been interviewed on it a few times, how did that happen? He’s like, I don’t know. I just got invited and I weigh in it. Yeah, it was a cool experience. And like, what was it like being there? It’s like, I don’t know. It’s just a podcast. So it’s just it’s cool to see what it looks like when somebody is so humble like that.

Allison: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I look up that episode, for sure. So congratulations on your upcoming book. It’s to be released very quickly. So if you’re listening to this podcast, you can find it where it is available.

Nick: Yeah, it’s available on every online retailer at a minimum. So Amazon, Barnes and Noble Books a Million. The book title is Rise of the reader, which I know you shared in the intro. And the subtitle is strategies for mastering your reading habits and applying what you learn. And I can’t wait for it to be out.

Allison: If so, go pick up your copy, guys. Nick, thank you so much for sharing your concepts on intentional reading. I think it is the biggest way that you can influence and change your life so quickly. So thank you for guidance on that. I appreciate you being here with us today.

Nick: Yeah, of course, of course. And I’ll throw this out there too. If anybody in your audience would like a custom book recommendation from me. I know sometimes, especially if you’re just getting into the reading space, it can be very difficult to find the right book for you. So DM me at book thinkers on Instagram and just share a problem that you’re facing share a skill that you’d like to develop. I might ask some follow up questions, but I will always provide a book recommendation and even follow up with you in three months to see what you thought.

Allison: I love that fantastic. Thank you so much, Nick.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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