Most people don't put in the time to become smarter and obtain a knowledge advantage. It's so easy to choose the dopamine rush of television and Instagram. One thing humans are really good at is hyperbolic discounting. For example, setting a diet goal but eating dessert right after dinner. We simply can't resist short term temptations.
Charlie Munger once famously remarked, "In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren (Buffett) reads — at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out."
When asked how to get smarter at a conference, Warren Buffett held up a stack of papers and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will."
Buffett understood that even though he just gave away his secret, the majority of people would not act on it.
My favorite example is Mark Cubin. When he was starting out in his first business, he read every book and magazine he could. And he ignored the price. A twenty dollar book could lead to a new customer or solution which paid for itself many times over. (So mom...you cannot get upset when I pay sixty dollars for my Kinfolk subscription. This investment will pay for itself in no time! Promise.) While Cuban was reading he learned a valuable lesson: that the same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out that most people didn't want it.
The lesson here is that if you do the same thing that everyone else does, you will achieve the same results. Given the fact that relatively few people actively read, you can put in the extra work and spend at least an hour a day dedicated to reading a book that is related to the industry you are interested in. You will stand out amongst the crowd, have more interesting topics to bring to conversations, ignite more ideas within your work, actually know the business you are immersing yourself in, and solve the issues you may be going through in your life.
Whatever problem you're facing right now, somewhere in the history of mankind, someone probably much smarter than you has written about it. Save yourself some trouble and learn from those who have already gone through it and have figured it out. The purpose of reading is not to simply attain raw knowledge though. It's about bringing meaning to your life, allowing you to see things differently and it simply makes you a better person.
Photograph from Tumblr