Some year-end/new-year thoughts about the value of the First Friday Book Synopsis

For some reason, at the close of this year, I have reflected quite a bit on the value of our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis gathering.  We are closing in on finishing 22 full years – over 500 book synopses presented; two a month, every month.  (OK – we did miss one month, years ago, because of an ice storm).

I recently wrote these lines about our gatherings:

Learn from the best books
Connect with the best people
While you enjoy the best breakfast buffet in Dallas

And this:

We use old technology; a book, paper synopsis handouts, a pen, and a human speaker.

We live in a world overflowing with information  They call this “information overload.”  But increasingly, I think our information input is received in a way that does not maximize remembering, or learning.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I still think the best way to learn is to give our learning our undivided focus; to take a few notes, and review our notes. And then ponder what we have taken in.  In other words, we need to take time to take it in; then time to review and time to ponder.

And there are certainly plenty of ways to take it in.  Tweets; posts; audio input. The practice of listening to audio books is on the rise.

But in terms of “learning,” I suspect that reading with a pen or highlighter is better than listening without taking notes of any kind.  (Yes; I acknowledge I am a little old fashioned in this regard).

We try to provide such a live learning/studying experience at our monthly gatherings. And, I’ve got a hunch that our formula is unique.

We do not rely just on audio.
We do not use PowerPoint.

Here is a page of my Kindle app highlights from the Benioff book Trailblazer

Here is a page of my Kindle app highlights from the Benioff book Trailblazer, which I am presenting at the January First Friday Book Synopsis

I read a book very carefully — every word.  I highlight (literally) hundreds of passages in each book I read.  I share the best of my highlighted passages in our handouts. And then I find the key themes, lessons, principles, and stories, and I finish my handout with my lessons and takeaways. – And, I always begin with why a book is worth our time.

When you attend our events, you get the physical handout.  Usually 9-11 pages for each book.  People take notes as I speak.  And then, for those who want to go deeper, they tell me that they read all of the highlights included in the handout more carefully on their own.

I might describe my handouts this way: the last part is kind of a thorough executive summary of the book, while the entire handout is the deeper dive.

What I think I am saying is this:  though, of course, it is always best to read a book on your own, our event is a true “study” event.  (One regular participant likes to use the classical term “study hall”).  12 meetings a year. Close to 45 minutes of serious study at each event.  And, you really do learn from the synopses of these very good, very carefully selected business books.

Here is the last page of my synopsis handout for a very good book: Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella

Here is the last page of my synopsis handout for a very good book: Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella. Click on image for full view.

Those are my thoughts as to why our event is useful and valuable; still, after nearly 22 years. In other words, people really do find the First Friday Book Synopsis to be worth their time.

Here’s to a 2020 for learning, and studying – at the First Friday Book Synopis, and then the other areas of our lives.






By the way, you can purchase my synopses from this web site.  Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation recorded at our live monthly event.  Click on the buy synopses tab at top of this site (use the search box for titles that you are interested in).  Or, click here for our newest additions.

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