5 Tips to Starting a Successful Book Club
Over the past few months, I've been leading two book clubs. My first and largest group is made up of peers, leaders within my organization, and just recently, a leader from a separate company altogether.
We meet Mondays, over lunch, so we can start the week off in the right direction.
The second book club is much smaller, consisting of only me and a close friend; we read a separate book and get to have a different type of conversation since it's just the two of us. He and I have a web chat on Wednesdays, later in the evening.
Since I started the first book club back in September, I've gotten a lot of questions from people asking how to start one on their own and how to make their club unique and successful. So, below I've compiled a short list of things you can do to start a book club at your office or with your team.
1: Readers are leaders.
Starting a book club will go much better if you're already reading on your own. It was, at times, a lonely road to get my first book club going. I initially emailed over 130 people, 10 of which responded, and 2 showed up. If I was not willing and able to do it on my own, I never would have made it to book 2.
2: Have a direction and theme.
If you have a list of books you're already reading or a list that you'd want your club to read, those will give your book club direction and even though you can put it to a vote, you can still steer the ship. If you're looking for a list, or want my opinion on where to start, check out the EmpoweredU personal library. If you'd like to check out a brief review of the books on my list, they're posted here. Also, if you have a suggestion for me, please share it in the comments below! I'd love to hear about it.
3: Keep the mood light and positive.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but this could become an issue if you're not aware of what could happen. There have been a couple of times when the discussion turned toward examining specific events and situations in the workplace.
No leader is perfect, no team is without mistakes, and no business is without its faults.
But, as a leader, you need to steer the discussion and instead be talking about what you're learning in the book. It's hard to read a book giving great examples without seeing mistakes and missteps in our own lives. Stay positive!
4: Set an appropriate pace.
As a leader, if no one is following you, or if no one can keep up, you're just a guy or girl going off on their own. Keep the pace only slightly faster than “slow”. Initially, I wanted to cover 3 chapters per week, or about 9.5 pages a day, but I found that we didn't have time to adequately discuss everything we wanted to discuss. The conversation, to me, is more important than blasting quickly through a book.
You also want to give everyone the opportunity to participate. If you're a fast reader, others who may be interested and eager to learn with you may be discouraged if they can't keep up.
5: Make it fun and different!
I have gotten to like using Google+ Hangouts. Hangouts allow up to 10 simultaneous users in a single hangout, all for free. I'm exploring doing a larger broadcast in the coming months and a Hangout embedded here on this website may be how I do it.
In that second book club I mentioned, we are reading EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey, and each Wednesday we have a video chat via Google+. Neither of us had used it prior to these meetings and joining a hangout is as simple as clicking a hyperlink. It's a fun way to interact and keep a higher level of engagement.
Hopefully, that's more than enough information and hopefully not too much. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!
Check out my Google+ page and thanks for spending a few minutes with me today! Let me know how your book club is going!