One of the most common habits of successful CEOs is reading regularly. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is a famously voracious reader, who claims to read around 50 books a year.

This is no surprise, as studies repeatedly show that reading has myriad benefits, both physical and cognitive. It improves brain connectivity and problem-solving abilities, boosts vocabulary and comprehension, increases empathy by allowing the reader to see other people’s perspectives, and even reduces stress – all highly useful skills for businesspeople.

In this series, we’re looking at the reading habits of CEOs in Malta – the books that have shaped their lives and the ones that have helped them to get ahead in business.

Today we’re talking to Jonathan Shaw, CEO of Retail Marketing Ltd.

What role does reading play in your day-to-day life? 

I prefer reading books in print and as a way of switching off from a screen and not being distracted by being connected. Hence reading is in itself a way to disconnect. 

What are the books that have left the biggest impact on your work-life? Why? 

When I think about books in general I find there are usually a number of selected insights and takeaways that I’m impacted by. One such insight is about a strategy for meetings, including an approach as to how to proceed before accepting a meeting request. Another one was The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard which explains how managers can meet their own priorities, give back other people’s monkeys, and let them solve their own problems.

What are your favourite books of all time? Why? 

Probably Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s about humanity’s creation and evolution and explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human”. Sounds complex but it’s a great read. 

What is one book you think everyone should read? Why? 

I would not go so far as to list a particular book but would rather suggest that at least one reads a book a month. I guess that I don’t need to explain why.


Mark Vassallo Cesareo / LinkedIn

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