THE FIVE HOUR RULE – successful people read

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Tom Corley, whose list of best-selling books includes ‘Rich Habits’, ‘Change your Habits, Change your Life; and ‘Rich Habits, Poor Habits’, spent five years studying self-made millionaires.  What he found is that success couldn’t be attributed to a good start in life, loving support from family and friends or even hard work. Of course, all that helps, but the single biggest element that connected the successful people he met was their commitment to reading.  In fact, 86% of the successful people he met said they read - books, articles, blogs, journals.  And 63% listened to audiobooks during their daily commute.  But how can people seemingly as busy as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama find time to sit down and read?  Welcome to the Five Hour Rule.

The five-hour rule was first outlined by Michael Simmons, Chief Connection Officer and Co-Founder founder of Empact. What Michael suggests is that no matter how busy successful people are, they always “set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over their entire career for activities that can be classified as deliberate practice or learning.”

Simmons is motivated by Benjamin Franklin, one of the US’s founding fathers and a philosopher who still inspires innovators and entrepreneurs today.  Benjamin Franklin devoted an hour a day on every weekday to deliberate learning. 

For some successful people, the hour a day is dedicated to learning something new, seeking inspiration from others or reflective thinking with a key question asked at the end of every reading hour – ‘how can I apply this to my working life?’

At Cause4, we’re hoping implementing the five-hour rule helps us stay on top of the changing world and find new ways to help our clients.  We hope that we’ll be inspired by what we learn so that in 2019, our tenth anniversary, we’ll remain motivated and forward thinking.  We are a company that has embraced Sharism throughout our business and in our collaborative approach with our partners and clients.  By providing each member of staff with the time, space and facilities to learn each day, and to share that knowledge, we’ll be a stronger team and a stronger enterprise.

Cause4 is providing bite-sized eLearning because we understand that time is in short supply. I’d also encourage people to visit websites like Blinkist and make use of eLearning/podcasts whether at home, work or on the move.  Breaking learning down can stop it feeling overwhelming when your day job is stressful or demanding. 

I recently finished Tribes of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in The World by Timothy Ferriss.  I loved this snap shot of the lives of successful people from different backgrounds. I appreciate what I learn from autobiographies and biographies about what has worked for others and what lessons I could learn for use in my own business. 

But whatever your book of choice – the Five Hour Rule doesn’t specify that it has to be non-fiction, or business related – here’s to a happy new year of reading.  If the world’s most successful people feel it’s worth finding the time who are we to argue?

About Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright

Cause4 is a social enterprise and one of the first certified B-Corporations in the UK.  Founded in 2009 on ethical values, Cause4 supports organisations across the charity, arts, sports and education sectors, helping companies develop robust and sustainable business plans, cost-savings reviews and effective fundraising and investment strategies.  Cause4 is recognised as an innovator and represented the UK in the 2015 European Business Awards and in 2016 was declared one of the top 50 scale up companies in the UK by Silicon Valley Comes to the UK.  In 2017 Cause4 was voted one of the top ten philanthropic companies in the UK by readers of Real Business magazine.

Cause4’s founder and CEO, Michelle Wright, was named one of the top five most compassionate leaders in the UK by Salt Magazine, was a top 25 entry in the Smith and Williamson Power 100 for her work supporting other entrepreneurs and was part of the Maserati 100 and WISE 100 for top entrepreneurs in the UK. She was voted Woman of the Year at the Women’s World Awards in San Francisco in 2016.

Provoking change is at the heart of Cause4’s mission and its work ranges from developing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, to ensuring that smaller community charities can run as efficiently as possible. Cause4’s clients include charities, corporations, funders and people that want to make things happen. Since set up in May 2009, Cause4 has raised over £54m for charitable causes.

Cause4 offers a range of learning opportunities through face to face training combined with its e-learning platform Cause4 Advance, all underpinned by the latest data and research.  Industry innovating programmes spearheaded by Cause4 include

Cause4 is based in London Liverpool Street, with an office in Leeds and programes that extend to the Netherlands, the USA, Australia and Sub-Saharan Africa.  Cause4 is proud to be a Living Wage Employer and to hold Investors in People accreditation.

More information about Cause4’s strategic development programmes and talent development initiatives can be found at

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