Performance Perspectives Blog

Enroll in Automobile University

by | Jul 7, 2013

The late motivational speaker and author, Zig Ziglar, coined the phrase “automobile university,” to refer to the use of the time spent behind the wheel to expand one’s education. He suggested that many drivers can increase their knowledge about a variety of subjects quite a lot during their drive time.

For close to 30 years I have been an active student in this university, initially taking advantage of the various cassettes (now CDs) from Nightingale-Conant. They offer a very wide variety of speakers and topics. In fact, it was from listening to one of these sets that I got the idea to go off on my own and start a company (The Spaulding Group), which has now been in business for 23 years.

In 2009, a friend and client turned me onto Audible.com, which offers access to a tremendous number of books, covering all types of subjects and genres. A year or two before, I had begun to buy books on CD, as a way to expand my reading while listening (I still read a great deal the old fashioned way, but figured that by listening, too, I’d expand my reading experience even more).  Audible.com provides a more efficient, expansive, and less expensive way to do this.

I drive more than 20,000 miles a year, so the time available to listen to these books (which I download to my iPod) are extensive. While I could be listening to the radio or perhaps music, I generally prefer to spend the time listening to books. I feel that it’s a much better use of my time. It allows me access to more information and education, as well as to books that I had never gotten around to reading before.

My taste in reading is quite varied, and this resource is quite helpful in allowing me to invest my time wisely. For example, I’ve listened to classics in literature (e.g., Dostoevsky’s The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Thoreau’s Walden, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and Hugo’s Les Miserable; business books such as Wessel’s In Fed We Trust, Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence, Paulson’s On the Brink, and Zuckerman’s The Greatest Trade Ever Made; contemporary fiction, such as works by Baldacci (who I’ve come to like) and Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane; political books, such as Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Gibbs’ The Presidents’ Club; as well as autobiographies, such as Massie’s Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. In all, around100 books. Some are fairly short (eight hours or less) while others can be quite long (e.g., Atlas Shrugged was 63 hours and Les Miserables was more than 60 hours). For the most part, the books are unabridged, so you’re getting the full book.

In addition to listening while I drive, I also listen while I exercise, which I try to do several times a week (on an elliptical, for 45 minutes).

I strongly recommend that you consider enrolling in Automobile University. There are probably other resources than Audible.com, though I find it (Audible.com) to be reasonably priced (you pay a monthly fee, which allows you access to recorded books that would normally cost much more than the fee itself). You can also make additional purchases, which I’ve done a few times. Note that they offer discounted pricing for the first three months, which provides a great way to try it out. I suggest you do!

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