By Joe Hendry
I have to be honest. Other than a few well known-wrestling biographies, I probably didn’t read a book cover to cover for the best part of 15 years.
Why? Because books require a huge time investment and I’ve found that unless it’s something I’m super interested in, I’ll most likely get bored and write it off as a waste. I found that, barring a few of my favorites, books seemed to be too long, pretentious and overly descriptive for the sake of it.
That was my view point until very recently.
Those who know me will know that my ritual when arriving to the U.S. the day before shows involves only two things:
1. Get a Chipotle.
2. Watch Shark Tank.
This has led me to quickly becoming a fan of Mark Cuban, who swears by reading and researching for three hours every single day! And if it’s good enough for a billionaire, it’s good enough for me, right? Lockdown has led me back to try reading again and I’m glad it did. I now realize it’s not reading that’s the issue, it was the types of authors I would look up.
If you’re like me, you don’t want pages and chapters setting things up, you want the key info quickly and delivered in a way that’s easy to read. If this sounds familiar, then make sure you do the following: Read books by practitioners rather than professors. Yes, Harvard professors will put things very eloquently and back everything up with pages and pages of research, but practitioners will deliver information that’s easy to understand and has actually been tried and tested in the marketplace.
All my favorite TV shows and movies tend to drop the viewer straight into the action. Rather than having every prerequisite detail set up for me, I prefer to get right into the action as the lore of the subject unveils itself and grows as the plot or documentary progresses.
So before I become guilty of the same thing I get frustrated with, let me crack on with my book recommendations for wrestlers and fans of the business. I have selected these because they are short, to the point and contain an extremely dense amount of valuable information per page:
1. “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier
“Rework” is an essential read for anyone who is pursuing a creative project of any kind, starting their own business or, even better, both. Written from the perspective of a small but wildly successful software company, “Rework” strips everything down to the essentials. This book helped me to understand exactly what I should be offering as a wrestler, how I should be allocating my time and, most importantly, what parts of pro wrestling I should perhaps be leaving to someone else. This is all about focusing in on exactly what makes you great and trimming the rest away. Don’t be deterred by its 280 pages, at least a third of them are cool drawings.
2. “The 48 Rules Of Power” by Robert Greene
In pro wrestling and many other walks of life, along your journey you will encounter the best of people and let’s just say … the not so great. This book, greatly inspired by the original “Art Of War,” gives 48 rules to help you understand the motivations of all the different people and entities both positive and negative you’ll encounter throughout your career. It’s not to say that you should adopt and follow every rule verbatim, as this would lead to absolute narcissism and sociopathy. This is more a framework to help understand that everything may not always be as it seems and you must have your wits about you to make effective and logical decisions in high-stakes industries.
3. “How To Win In The Sport Of Business” by Mark Cuban
How could I not include this one? As an eccentric billionaire and one-time pro wrestler himself, Cuban knows how to succeed on the balance sheet and on the screen. So who better to listen to? In only 101 pages, Cuban, simply and expertly delivers his stories, methodology and principles that have carried him to long-term success. This book is extremely humanizing and really gives off the vibe that he's just an ordinary person who achieved extraordinary things. The subtitle of the book is “If I can do it, so can you.” Reading this will take you one step closer to believing that and putting it into practice.