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Using AI When Reading Books: A New Approach to Absorbing Business Knowledge

Reading a non-fiction business book has markedly changed with the advent of AI – at least for me.

Let me share how, with an example. I picked up Howard Schultz’ first book on Starbucks, Pour Your Heart Into It, back in 1997. I was noodling on starting a virtual law community to connect caring lawyers with people, and Howard’s book was the inspiration I needed.

Without that read there is no way I would have jumped a plane to Silicon Valley to see if I could get funding for my idea. Howard and Jeff Bezos being in Seattle – as well as the Bay Area costs – inspired the move to Seattle.

Building Prairielaw (the virtual law community) required travel all over. Everywhere I went I carried Pour Your Heart Into It. Pages dog eared, post it notes galore, paragraphs highlighted, sentences underlined and notes all over.

I read other business books, from which I learned things, but Howard’s book, founded on care and inspiration became my bible. I’ll admit when Howard bought my Sonics and sold them to Oklahoma City, I didn’t pick up the book or anything else he wrote, for almost ten years.

Turn to AI. I am now reading Howard’s book, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul, which I picked up in 2011.

Like Howard was then with Starbucks, I would like to see if we can restore the essence of LexBlog.

I am not following Howard, carte blanch, but reading Onward flushes out and organizes my thinking.

With AI, rather than post it notes, highlights and notes, I take a picture of a portion of a page with GPT. I then ask GPT to summarize the portion of the page. I also ask GPT to weave that summary into notes I am creating in a folder in GPT labeled “Restore LexBlog Essence.”

Continuing to learn how GPT works, I asked GPT how I can continue to add to that folder on an ongoing basis – and to the summary I am creating, GPT responded, “You can simply refer to “Restore LexBlog Essence” folder whenever you want to review or add new information. If you need to add something specific to this folder, just let me know what you would like to include, and I’ll update it accordingly.”

I am doing this with pictures via the GPT app on my iPhone and iPad. I could also share my thoughts with GPT, orally, and ask GPT to summarize and add the thoughts to my outline.

I used to pull books like Howard’s off my shelf and look for post it notes and highlighted pages. I like books – bookshelves full of them – so I assume I still will pull books off the page, but AI is taking learning and inspiration from books to a new level.