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CFO means business with New Year’s resolution to consume audio books

By Tara Laskowski


Mike Pritchard; Nataly-Nete/iStock/Thinkstoc



It started with a long commute and a New Year’s resolution to read more books. Now Mike Pritchard’s team members at the University of Colorado Foundation have changed the way they set goals and manage their workload. Pritchard, the foundation’s chief financial officer, used his hourlong drive from Castle Rock, Colorado, to downtown Denver to listen to 52 audiobooks, one each week in 2016, using the Audible.com app. Here’s what he learned:

Out of the list of books you included on your LinkedIn profile, what are your biggest takeaways?

In Deep Work—which I gave to my team for the holidays—Cal Newport talks about making sure you spend at least half of your day working on projects and work that only you can really do well. The book Essentialism by Greg McKeown highlights how we end up doing low-importance tasks and miss the essential work. We are too often distracted by the “trivial many” when we should be focused on the essential few things that make an impact.

How has what you learned changed the way you and your team work?

I try to block off up to four hours a day in my schedule to close my door or work offsite on deep work. I’m seeing my team do this as well.

We still meet weekly, but our meetings are more efficient and our discussions are more focused, thanks to the concepts in Essentialism. We’ve also started watching a TED Talk at the start of each meeting.

Finally, our team has transformed our strategic planning and goal-setting process thanks to the book Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney and Sean Covey. As the book advocates, we set three “wildly important goals” this fiscal year and have been staying on target with these goals and deferring lesser goals.

Have you noticed anything different about listening to books versus reading them?

When authors read their own books, you get a sense of their passion for the material. I love the way that Jim Collins emphasizes that a culture of discipline requires “disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action” in his book Good to Great. Hearing him say it really sticks with you in a way it wouldn’t just seeing it on paper. 

About the Author Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski is a former senior editor for Currents.

 

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