I'm no superhero, but I read. A lot. I block out an hour every day (including weekends) to read about trends, business, marketing and what’s happening in different segments of business. By learning about what’s going on in different industries, I gain insights and ideas that I can implement at my own company. I also learn what I should avoid. It’s a scary world out there; monsters are lurking.
Reading also gives me great content to post on social media. Having a social presence is a must, no matter what your role or industry: It helps build a personal brand and will increase the number of potential customers without having to sell. Through social media, people can establish themselves as thought leaders — those who are experts in setting trends.
Given that time is so valuable, I have spent a considerable amount of it vetting news sources and finding the resources that have the most valuable content. Here are my “Fantastic Four” go-to sites:
1. Fred Wilson's AVC Blog
Fred Wilson is my favorite venture capitalist. Sure, he’s notably wealthy and successful, but he’s also a normal guy I can relate to, and he really cares about the well-being of people and our country. He invests in companies with a civic mission and companies that build excellent work environments for their employees. He writes every day about things that matter in life. His writing has a technology focus and gives me good insight into new tech advances, trends, emerging companies and things to watch out for. Find his articles here: http://avc.com/archive.
2. The Hustle
In 2015, I attended a one-day event in San Francisco called Hustlecon. Hustlecon was created to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to hear non-technical founders discuss their respective companies. The founders teach the practical tactics they implemented to start and grow their companies, and they share insights from their wins and losses. I loved the Hustlecon event. My favorite speaker was Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora. Westergren spoke about how he was able to inspire a team of people to work for him for over two years without gett ing paid. I attended Hustlecon because I was so impressed by Hustlecon creator Sam Parr’s marketing and writing. Parr is also the producer of The Hustle, a blog about tech and business. The Hustle is fun, witty and easy to read. It includes major business news, stories about little-known companies and obscure but interesting concepts that I would likely never consider. It provides an interesting viewpoint on trends, business topics, unique revenue models, leadership and why businesses succeed and fail. The Hustle signup is here: https://thehustle.co.
3. Pocket Hits
Pocket Hits provides diverse content from many different industries, as well as summary emails each week listing the most viewed articles on the topics I care about. It’s run by the team at Pocket, a service that lets you save articles, links and videos for later viewing. Pocket Hits delivers the most popular stories from articles saved to Pocket in the form of email and Twitter.
More than 1.5 million items are saved to Pocket every day. The Pocket team analyzes all the content by looking at which items have the highest volume and rate of saves, opens, shares and favorites via an algorithm they call Impact Rank. This gives them a good idea about what pieces are the most engaging. I like that it’s unbiased; a New York Times article doesn’t get any more leverage than a personal blog post. This creates an equal playing field for all publishers. Sign up for Pocket here: https://getpocket.com.
Quora was created as a way for people to share their knowledge. Sometimes the best way to learn is from our peers — people that have already experienced something, or have extensive education or training in a certain field. The founders of Quora wanted to unleash the power of knowledge by connecting people who need information with the people who have it. Quora uses a Q&A format. Someone posts a question on any topic, and the community posts a wide variety of responses. This provides several different worldly viewpoints on all subject matters. The answer with the most “upticks” is placed at the top so readers can easily find the most popular or supported answer. I love that I can post a question on anything I need help with and get responses from industry experts. People such as Hillary Clinton, Glenn Beck and Sheryl Sandberg have been known to respond to questions. The responses to the business-focused questions are most helpful; they give me a lot to think about. The different viewpoints add diversity — one may receive a response from a Ph.D., a housewife or an entrepreneur. Sign up for Quora, and then customize your feed: https://www.quora.com. Using one or all of my “Fantastic Four” go-to sites may not transform you into a superhero, but my hope is that you find them helpful, fun and educational.