Warren Buffett is anything but average: The legendary investor has an approximate net worth of $82 billion, making him the third richest person in the world. At 88, he still runs Berkshire Hathaway, his holding company that owns businesses like Geico, Dairy Queen and See’s Candies.
A key to Buffett’s extraordinary success, though, is a refreshingly simple habit and “something anyone can do,” his longtime friend Bill Gates pointed out in a recent blog post: He reads every day.
Buffett, who spends between five and six hours a day paging through books and newspapers, finds it “enjoyable to think about business and investment problems,” he says in HBO’s documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett.”
Plus, staying up to date on business news and current events is a relatively simple way to gain a competitive advantage. “Everybody can read what I read. It is a level playing field,” Buffett used to tell his late wife, Susan Buffett, according to the HBO documentary.
“And he loves that because he is competitive,” Susan said of Buffett. “He’s sitting there all by himself in his office, reading these things that everybody else can read, but he loves the idea that he is going to win.”
Tech entrepreneur and self-made billionaire Mark Cuban is also an avid reader and has used the habit to get ahead in his career. He recognized the value that reading could return early in his career, while building his first technology business, MicroSolutions.
“I remember reading the PC DOS manual (I really did), and being proud that I could figure out how to set up startup menus for my customers,” he writes on his blog. “I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, $3 for a magazine, $20 for a book. One good idea that led to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over.”
“Everything I read was public,” he adds. “Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it.”
For Cuban, taking the time to “get a knowledge advantage” helped him outperform competitors, he says. “A guy with little computer background could compete with far more experienced guys, just because I put in the time to learn all I could.”