Liviu Tanase, on His Favorite Books and the Best Way to Handle Information Overload
What’s your favorite business book? It’s one of the questions our CEO Liviu Tanase answered in this interview with Cristina Chipurici. Liviu also talked about:
- how he makes time to read and why he doesn’t take notes
- the fundamental skills he believes should be taught in school
- and the business challenges that keep him up at night.
Plus, he told Cristina how he manages to handle information overload and maintain clarity – in business and life.
This conversation took place in 2019 – but it’s evergreen.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey. The best operating manual for life. Such a great summary of how people should approach the world – both in business and their personal lives. Business would be much easier if everyone would adhere to simple concepts like the ones in his book.
“Judgment in Managerial Decision Making,” by Max Bazerman, is also on my list. This little book changed forever the way I make decisions. I recommend it to every business owner I meet with.
Lately, I’ve been reading “A History of California,” by Kevin Starr. It’s been a captivating read so far. History fascinates me because you can look back and see how a small decision can change the course of our society, even years later.
Was there a moment when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?
“Judgment in Managerial Decision Making,” by Max Bazerman, has a section called “escalation of commitment to a failure course of action.” This refers to one’s commitment to a course of action even if it’s clear that it will fail. It was an AHA moment for me.
Now I always ask the question: is this a failure course of action, should we still pursue it?
What books had the biggest impact on you?
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey, influenced my mindset dramatically. I learned to think only of what’s important in every aspect of life, business or non-business.
Then, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins, taught me to focus on people first. Simply put, if I partner with level 5 leaders, things will fall into place.
What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – by Stephen Covey
“The Lean Startup” – Eric Ries
“Good to Great” – Jim Collins
“Judgment in Managerial Decision Making” – Max Bazerman
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” – Daniel Kahneman
They’re all packed with valuable advice on how to train your mind to serve you and how to build long-lasting, impactful projects.
How do you make time for reading? How often do you read?
Ever since I was a kid, reading – and playing chess – has been a part of my life. I never really thought about making time for books; I just read. Time wasn’t such a scarce resource. That lasted until I was about 18 and my first business fully took off.
Then, my schedule became pretty hectic, so I started reading less. But I still look at reading as a basic habit for self-education, mental hygiene and growth. And, even if I read less now, I try not to kick myself for it. Because that would mean taking a beautiful thing and turning it into a source of guilt.
Now I strive to read at least a couple of books every month.
What format do you prefer?
Paper is still my favorite, but I end up reading on my iPad, too. It’s so convenient.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I don’t take notes, I just read – whatever sticks, sticks. Taking notes would just stress me out. A note is an action you have to take, and the last thing I need is more stuff to do. ☺
There’s such an abundance of information at our fingertips that we risk becoming “digitally obese” and even be paralyzed by it. How do you try to handle information overwhelm or manage social media?
I made a habit of not surfing social media or the web in general. The internet is a resource. If I need something, I find it online.
If I don’t need anything, there is no reason for me to be on the web. This is a great rule that improves the way you see and use the net. It helps you save time and live more.
Social media channels are powerful business platforms, and our PR & marketing department does use them every day. When it comes to my personal profiles, I’m not a daily user.
It’s fun to scroll down my Facebook feed a few times a week to see what my friends are up to. Also, LinkedIn has a wealth of information that helps me stay up to date with what interests me. But social media is not my main focus, I just don’t have the time and mental space for it.
With the job market becoming more and more unstable and insecure, lifelong education is key. At the same time, learning resources are becoming increasingly commoditized and know-how also becomes obsolete faster. What fundamental skills do you believe should be taught in school?
Searching and finding information on the web is a key skill each kid should learn. Like it or not, we’re moving away from storing large amounts of information in our brains. Now we have external locations to store that information. So our brain is starting to function more like an index than like a library or a hard drive.
Everything is available everywhere. The key is knowing how to search for what you’re looking for and also, being able to distinguish between fake and true. These skills are already crucial and will be so in the future, too.
Do you remember an example of something you learned from a book, tested, put your hopes in it, and didn’t work out the way you thought it would?
Some books offer an operating manual on how to run your business. And it makes sense: if you follow the advice to the letter, it really feels like it takes away 90% of your challenges.
But I made the mistake of not realizing things are different from country to country, culture, or life stage of the company. In other words, the overall idea of the book is great, but it has to be adapted by each leader to their style, culture and current goals.
I only gained 100% clarity on this matter once I moved to the U.S. and discovered how different the business environment is here. It’s much easier to create a successful business in the U.S. People get easily excited by innovative ideas, and fully embrace them. None of the books I’d read before I moved here really showed me that.
So, don’t take everything you read too literally. Stay flexible and alert to what’s going on around you. Create your own experiences and see what they can teach you.
What business challenges currently keep you up at night?
Once we recruited some of the very best talents in our industry, we’ve been focusing on growth. That’s something I think about a lot. Also, short-term – long-term balance and prioritization. Figuring out what you have to work on first is hugely important to reaching your goals.
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