How to Read: Take the Stairs

Rory Vaden – Take the Stairs


This is a non-fictional book, categorized under self-help. Vaden interned at over his college summers for a company that sold children’s encyclopedias door-to-door, which taught him many skills, including perseverance, optimism, and how to take action. Since then he co-founded a consulting firm and teaches us his ways to build a better now for a great 80 years.

Rating 3.5/5

Each chapter is titled after a principle which build up to action vs inaction (taking the stairs vs the escalator). He goes over the pitfalls of not assuming action right now, gives a charming example for the principle and interviews a successful person in the form of a ‘case study’.

I heard about this book from the Beyond the To Do List podcast by Erik Fisher. He interviewed the author Vaden, but it was in promotion for his second book, which I don’t think I will read.

While the book was a quick read and full of insight (I enjoyed the 80’ tape measure analogy and cows vs bulls) he gets repetitive. It makes sense because Vaden has a background in public speaking and it’s been known that an audience the attention span of 10 minutes. He treats this book as an epic motivational speech with lots of breaks and emphatic repeats. For example:

“You are in charge of creating the world around you. You think it, you speak it, you act, it happens (120).”

I get it. When sitting in an uncomfy chair for more than 15 minutes and giving all your attention to one person, the mind wanders and you shift around and look elsewhere, so the speaker must interject with loud or emotional jabs.

However, I’m sitting on a couch, wrapped in a blanket, TV on mute. A book doesn’t need that many interjections. I read faster than you speak.

So it takes a little wading to get to the golden bits. And even then, I didn’t jump out of my seat to get some work done. Each time I had to put the book down, it didn’t feel like I finished an evangelical sermon and I was excited for life. No, though it should be noted that I did recall the gold nuggets randomly. Things like, “Don’t be a cow, be a bull” or “it’s Double Time Part-Time now!” quietly seeped into my head as I contemplated my chores.

So it worked, but as a murmur.

Perhaps that for the best, as he introduces the concept of the Law of Diminishing Intent, and if I ended the book with a excitement equal to a New Year’s Resolution, I’ll be forgetting everything by next week. If my excitement level is at medium, it’ll build and have a much more powerful impact.

Success for his book and myself will show itself over time.

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