The Learning:Action Book Ratio

My name is Ryan Lee and I’m a learning junkie.

I can’t stop. No matter how hard I try, I have an addiction to business books. It’s almost 20 years and just can’t kick the habit.


Currently, I “read” 2 books a week. I use the word read in quotes because 95% of the books are actually audiobooks. My new favorite “reading” time is at night after the kids are in bed. I crank up the treadmill to the highest incline and take a nice 20-30 minute walk while listening to the audiobooks on my iPhone.

Of course, I listen in “double speed” so I can absorb twice the amount of knowledge in a shorter time. A 2 hour audio book takes just 1 hour on the treadmill. (during the past 2 weeks, I’ve read “Start Something that Matters” “Uprising” “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain” and “The Little Big Things”)

I get a physical AND mental workout at the same time. Then, a hot shower and I’m ready to relax.

But, and this is a big but, I’m able to apply what I learn in all of these books and take immediate action.

The action step might be as something as an idea for a blog post or a new headline. Or maybe, it’s an idea that launches a new product, company of event.



I’m going to describe someone – and it just might be you.

This person is well read. They have read lots of business and self-improvement books. They can quote Napoleon Hill with the best of ’em. And they are also the person who puts up endless quotes on their Facebook or Twitter feeds.

However, they are still struggling in their business.


One word: ACTION.

You MUST, MUST, MUST take immediate, decisive action on what you learn. Period.

Please don’t get stuck only being in the learning mode – you must shift gears into ACTION mode.

I can’t tell you how many coaching calls I’ve done and the person says, “Ryan, I’ve bought all the products but I’m still not making any money.”. And when I ask what they have actually done – the response is usually “not much” or “I don’t have time”.

Or worse, they say “I will start my blog after I spend another $2,000 on a 15-hour blogging course”.



As I find more and more of the “business and marketing” information products are, to put it bluntly, sh*t, I am spending more time with good old-fashioned books.

Reading a book by Howard Schultz and seeing how he created Starbucks is giving me more business insight than the latest “How to Make Money with Adwords” product.



When you are first starting, you’ll likely spend a larger percentage just “learning” and absorbing information. Maybe it’s 90% learning and 10% action.

However, as your business begins to take shape, those numbers start to shift dramatically.

I recommend getting to an 85% action and 15% learning ratio.

That’s right – 85% action!

What exactly does taking action mean? It depends on your business – but here are a few action steps to move you towards your goals…

  • Writing a new blog post that stirs emotion
  • Submitting an article as a guest blogger
  • Posting comments on Facebook
  • Writing your book, ebook or product
  • Creating a video and getting it on youtube
  • Emailing a potential joint venture partner
  • Surveying your list to see what they want
  • Building a referral system
  • Coming up with a bonus product to blow your customers away

That’s it.

The golden ratio that will get you off your ass and taking action.

Action, my friend, has always been the name of the game.


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      1. I used to listen to audio books – I had a membership with audible, but to be frank I couldn’t keep up with a book a month even listening for a few reasons. I fell asleep a lot listening to the book, and would wake up like 40 minutes later having no idea where I was in the book, took too long (I read faster), and went back to Kindle books.

        Audio is great for travel however, and the car.

  1. Ryan you are right!(as usual) ATTACKING is the key, not talking about it or reading about it. Thanks for the kick in the arse brother!

    1. Author

      I’m always here for a good arse-kicking Billy 🙂


  2. Great post Ryan!

    One thing I’ve also found is that as your business grows you realize how less relevant so much of the materials are – especially the “IM” stuff.

    There is a lot of “tactical” info available but more and more I’m coming back to the basics and learning how to master those.

    I too am coming back to main stream business books and audio programs. My latest favorite is from Tom Peters called “The Little Big Things”.

    Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the audio version (available for free):


    1. Author

      Hey Stu,

      I’m definitely with you about studying less of the “tactical” stuff as my business grows.

      And I read Peter’s Little Big Things last week. Good stuff.


      1. WAIT you guys mean to tell me you aren’t following the latest tactical strategies like theGoogle panda, pimping plus? or the facebook attack master pro double jump? Or how about the super swish pinterest double toss woogy majig? LOL Well how do you expect to make a billion dollars in 2 minutes? LOL wish on that list with your Ryan Lee Method LOL.

  3. Hey Ryan,

    Great post, I was sweating just reading it visualizing you (eventually me) on the treadmill reading.

    I’ve got to ask, what program do you use on your iPhone/iPad to help speed up the audio? I use enounce for my videos but don’t know which one to use for audios – plz help!

    Bottom line – action trumps all! No matter how many books or audios you listen to, if you don’t put that new knowledge or sometime refreshed knowledge into action, you may have well watched another episode of Magnum PI 🙂

    Ths as always!


    1. Author


      When I buy audiobooks in iTunes, there is a button that shows the speed when you are playing it back. I just click it to “2x” speed.

      Otherwise, there is an APP called “SpeedUp” that works for any audio file.


  4. Great post Ryan! The biggest part of taking action is getting started- I think one should just say they are going to just do something to get started and taking that one little baby step usually always gets them into taking more action and before you know it – you’ve done a lot! So just start with doing a small baby step toward moving your business along and see how much you get done once you get started!


    1. Author


      Yes, it really is about taking those small baby steps. That’s the key to action.


  5. Hey Ryan

    Thanks for the great post. I read somewhere that the word A-C-T-I-O-N is one the most important words in the dictionary or something like that. You have just succinctly re-enforced the point – its definately one of my biggest challenges but I’m not giving up. Thanks for the inspirational post!

    ~ Ricky Britton

    1. Author

      Never, ever give up Ricky!

      And thanks for your comments.


  6. Great post as always!

    I totally agree with you that it’s important to take action, and try out the new things you have learned.

    I’m reading the word of mouth marketing and I can highly recommend that book.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your comments.

      And I haven’t read that book yet – I’ll add it to the list 🙂


  7. Ryan,

    As you and I have agreed before, LISTENING to books makes things happen more easily. I have Audible in my Android phone and whenever I’m in the car, I listen to a great book instead of rehashed baseball activity or “news” of the latest disaster somewhere. (Oh, believe me… I stay up on the news, but not while shaving nor while driving).

    And most mornings I listen while shaving too… those times when my wife and I aren’t in the bathroom at the same time – she likes the local news.

    And there you go again telling people to take action: Thanks! Action is what makes the world go round. Action is what gets our blog posts out to the world and our videos syndicated through the Internet. Action is what gets us to “knock” on the next door, to engage, to connect and build a relationship with our next potential client, customer, or patient.

    And for ME… the only way I know that I’ve accomplished my daily output of action is to keep a list – a target for each day which adds up to the week, which adds up to the month and then the year. Let’s face it: it’s hard to accomplish our yearly goals if we haven’t taken care of today’s!

    So – thanks for the reminder, Ryan.

    Now let’s get out of here and get something done!

    Charlie Seymour Jr

    1. Author

      Hey Charlie,

      I literally listen to my audiobooks EVERY free minute I can.

      And yes, I will continue to hammer home the point of taking ACTION. Without it, everything you learn in the business world doesn’t mean a thing.


  8. More great advice Ryan! Action is the true key to achieving success in anything and the added benefit is it is also a great learning tool as well since you will probably learn more from taking action and observing what works/doesn’t work and tweaking than simply reading about it and not actually applying that knowledge immediately.


  9. Too many people are on the hamster wheel of buying info products without implementation. I’m a bit guilty of this. Thanks for helping to push us all along into action!

    I’m also an audio guy- I cant do 200% speed, do 150% while hitting the gym and walking to/from lunch. What I havent done but need to do is take notes between reps using evernote on my android. (i use a timer too in the gym, good productivity tool)

    Can this count as my new action for this week!? Or does it have to be action towards new client/product creation?


    1. Author


      We’ve all been guilty of that as well (not always implementing)

      I just add the notes to my iphone notepad. And put the good stuff into my notebook later!

      Keep on rockin’

  10. Great post Ryan,
    Audible app is one of my faces. Currently listening to Napoleon Hill ‘In His Own Words’, a collection of his best speeches.

    Stay strong, buddy!

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing that Jason – I don’t have the Audible app yet.. but will soon 🙂


  11. Awesome post Ryan, I’m a learning junkie as well…I just accomplished my goal of reading close to 30 books in 6 months and it’s made a tremendous difference.

    I also listen to my audiobooks at 2x the speed, it’s good to see I’m not alone in this!

    Check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg on of my fav books of 2012

    1. Author

      Hey AJ,

      You are definitely not alone in the “2X speed” – I’m hooked!

      And thanks for the recommendation – another one to add to my list! It sounds like it would be similar to Tony Schwartz’s “Power of Engagement”.


  12. Great post Ryan, as usual. I can say like Dave commented above, I have been guilty of being a Learning Junkie too much and not enough of an action taker (on-line that is). Beverly hit the nail on the head with JUST GET STARTED and more action will follow…but i have one request….Ryan, can your next post be an expanded version of taking action?! How does one get started…are there specific steps YOU take,; mind maps? outline format? etc….that’d be a great kick in the ass for all us “learning Junkies to transform into Action Junkies!!!! Thanks again, a loyal follower and original Elite Sports Training Alliance member…..Keep ’em coming!

    1. Author


      Yes – I will go into more detail about action taking.. but really, it does start with those small baby steps.

      You’ve been with me for a loooong time.. close to 10 years already. Time really flies!

      Stay tuned for more…


  13. Hi Ryan, great post and thanks for the ‘to do list’.

    I envy my mentors in their ability to ‘Just get it done’. I’m focusing solely now on getting things done. I have been guilty of being the person you described. I have mild OCD and tend to be a perfectionist and this leads to procrastination. Not because of the difficulty of the next task ahead but because of the added difficulty I know I will face by trying to do it right.

    The main thing is I’ve identified this as my problem and am changing my habits by eliminating all forms of info overload and focusing on one task at a time.

    I am getting more done now. Thanks


    1. Author


      Being a perfectionist can really hurt you as an entrepreneur. Just learn to accept that nothing will ever be perfect. Make it as good as humanly possible and you can always make changes as things progress…


  14. Thanks Ryan for the post!

    Personally I have a really short attention span and usually spend too much time on reading books. Have not tried audio books but this could be the “saviour” for me!


    1. Author


      You are going to LOVE audiobooks. They changed my life!


  15. Solid. Action. Godin talks about this often with regards to breaking and shipping (an idea/product, etc.).

    Knowledge is power, as they say. But, really power is something only expressed through doing or action. Otherwise, it’s simply clutter, right. Potential versus Kinetic Energy.

    1. Author

      Good one John..

      “power is something only expressed through doing or action.”


  16. By far the best article of 2012…

    Thanks for sharing……

  17. Also into audio books, use audible on the iphone, I’m an old dog learning new tricks coming from the comercial construction and design industry (where we are currently eating our own young), a little late to the party but pumped with all the great info, I am amazed at the willingness to share information and the openess of your (and hopefully my new) culture and community. started four weeks ago reading yaro storac, Pat Flynn, gary V., Pat led me to you, can’t wait to get my ideas rolling,

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Author

      It’s never too late Paul.

      Welcome to the party 🙂


  18. Conundrum: I use the same “exercise + audiobook” method, Ryan – but have trouble “taking notes” when I hear an action step in a book, since I’m moving/exercising. How do you personally do it?

    1. Author

      Since I’m walking, I just type a short note into the iPhone on my “Notes” application.

      Then later, I write it into my notebook.


  19. Ryan, thanks for revealing your ideas to making more (getting smarter) by working (reading) less. I think you could run seminars just on productivity.

    My ipod got stolen, and it actually affected my whole life for a few weeks – since I couldn’t listen to inspirational input while driving and doing other things.

    Success input -> success mindset -> success habits -> success character -> success 🙂 It all starts with the input.

    1. Author

      Fred – I have a few plans about “productivity”… stay tuned 🙂

      I couldn’t imagine not listening to audiobooks for more than a day. I am truly hooked.


  20. Thanks Ryan! As usual your blog is always very insightful. I’m struggling daily with finding balance between learning and action. I’m still on the learning curve since my business just started but I know I’m now ready to shift my learning/action ratio to more action.



    1. Author


      Make that shift – but continue to learn as well. That never ends 🙂


  21. Action takes us from one level to another level, and subsequently to our desired destination… Another great post from a great guy!

  22. Ryan,

    How do you listen at double speed on an iPod? Or what program do you use to be able to do that?

    I completely agree with what you are saying here. I personally struggle with reading physical books but enjoy books on audio. I also feel that I actually take in more of the important stuff when I do.


    1. Author


      When you buy a book in iTunes and listen back, there is a button that lets you change the speed.

      Otherwise, there is a free app called ‘SpeedUpLite”


  23. I have a book that might interest you…

    It’s called “The Pumpkin Plan”, written by Mike Michalowicz – author of the self-published book, “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur”.

    His book launches the week of July 5th. If interested, I can prob get you an advance copy (being one of his Promotional Managers).

    Would you be interested in getting an advance copy & interview him?

    If so, let me know.


    1. Author

      Thanks Kevin – I’d be happy to take a look at the book.

      He can reach me through our support desk ( or my page.


  24. Hey Ryan,

    If you aren’t onto this resource you are missing out.

    If you like add /193.html to the end of the URL to share the love.

    I spoke to Steve Cunningham the other day and they have some great ideas and new things they are implementing to help you learn and grow.

    1. Author

      Hey Justin,

      Yes – I know Steve and he is doing some very cool things with readitforme.

      Thanks for sharing.


  25. I completely agree. Especially that it takes a lot of time learning in the beginning compared to doing.

    It is so much easier when you have a coach that can speed up the learning process!

    1. Author


      We all need coaches – and books are a great coach.


  26. Yup, my weakness, guilty. Also, it helps to understand where to take action. 1 week trying to get an interview with a “guru” might be time better spent than 1 weeks worth of blogposts for example.

    1. Author


      Now that you know where you need improvement – create the plan and “git r done!”


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  28. Great reminder. I read a lot as well and listen to audio programs – I find they just motivate me and change my beliefs/attitudes. There may not always be something to take action on, but in general, just using the motivation to take action is key.

    1. Author


      There is so much negativity – we need some “good stuff” to even it out.

      Keep rockin’

  29. I love reading.

    From those crazy dusty Tony (I mean Anthony) Roberts books, to… Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. Which was interesting.

    The best “audio book” by far, without a doubt… and there is no close second. “Eckhart Tolle’s the power of now”. I know its not business, but beginners can absolutely apply many things. Especially the “action” For me, it was a completely different book when heard, (then read). If that makes sense. His voice has put me to sleep…what feels like hundreds of times.

    You made me laugh with the “think and grow rich”.

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  32. I think this is one of the so much vital information for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article.

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