The interview with Matej Golob, MSc, was conducted by Vita Godec, Managing Director of Lenis Pharmaceuticals.

Matej, what does reading mean to you?

Time spent with a book is a special sort of time, kind of like therapy. You fall into a zone, and it’s a moment where you sort things out or make sense of them. Another thing is what I typically read. There’s a bit of fiction, but most of what I read has to do with our work at CorpoHub. Whatever we learn from business literature gets included in the way we do things and in our workshops on leadership and agility. Alongside pure knowledge, literature also serves as an inspiration. Normally CorpoHub runs on efficiency, but books are the exception – your thoughts can escape from the paragraph you are reading and there’s no rush with a book. If you take a long time to read a book, if you pause because you need time to think about what you’ve read, all of that is fine.

What’s your favorite book? What did you take away from it?

It’s hard for me just to pick out one favorite, but if I had to, it would be Harari’s book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s not too narrow in its focus (i.e. just on our line of work), and at the same time it’s not fiction, and it gives nearly any reader a broader view of things.

How to you keep up with your to-read list and what is the next book on it?

My goal is 20-25 books per year. I found the portal Goodreads and recommended it to all my coworkers. It works like a website where bookworms maintain their to-read lists and write reviews about the ones we’ve already read [editor’s note: you can find Matej’s list and his reviews here]. Amazon just bought it and the site has been integrated with Amazon Books and their Kindles. I put all the books I’ve read on Goodreads and I give a review, too.

Do you take notes and if so how?

Usually no, except for books that I’d like to present to my team at CorpoHub. About a third of them are like that. For them I make a summary in the form of slides and present them in what we call sladiCHa, a recap of something that one of our employees has learned or mastered – new expertise from a conference, a lecture, a summary of some book, etc. [editor’s note: sladica is the Slovenian word for “dessert”, and the CH in sladiCHa stands for CorpoHub]. I specifically take my notes in Google Keep in the format P.X  (where X is the page number in the book), and briefly add that which I took away from the book, whatever stuck in my memory. At the end there are around 30 such pages bookmarked. I revisit this and use the content therein to brief my colleagues, a process that usually lasts 15 minutes to half an hour.

Tell us more about sladiCHa, which seems like a great way to share knowledge within an organization.

CorpoHub uses Slack, which is where we share everything that’s going on. We have a channel called Learning with interesting things that we’d like to share with others – you make a brief presentation and, since the slides are already done, we can use the content later in our workshops and training modules. We began doing this before the pandemic, when the post-prandial hour at the office was the least productive, when it was time for coffee and dessert or sladica. That’s where we got the name, too: instead of an actual, edible dessert, we have sladiCHa – dessert for the brain. We like for everyone to take a turn once a year. There’s a bit of peer pressure, too: one person made 37 desserts, while another colleague just made 20. So whenever someone finds some interesting content, we say: “Bake that into a dessert!” This is a seasonal thing, whenever things aren’t too busy at work. When the pandemic hit, we moved these presentations to Fridays, and instead of having them live, we either recorded ourselves or did them online.

How important is a good cover?

Whenever you’re forced to make a choice (if you don’t have your next book already picked out), the first filter is definitely cover and author, and then ratings on Goodreads. What would I put on the first page if I were to write a book? I would entrust that to someone who knows what they’re doing, I wouldn’t create that myself.

What do you say to people who tell you they have no time to read (especially fiction)?

You have just as much time as everyone else, and within 24 hours it’s just a matter of priorities. You can always find half an hour a day. Reading books has to become a hobby, so you need to do it regularly, even putting it into your calendar if necessary. Why is it important to read? I would cite the book An Everyone Culture here. It stresses that the development of personality and knowledge (mental complexity) doesn’t stop short at the end of college or in your early 20s, as it used to be understood, but points out that learning new things and new concepts is tied inextricably to mental development, a process that lasts for a lifetime.

Hard copy or e-book and why?

I am an extremely digital guy by nature. CorpoHub even went so far as deciding not to pay bills that arrive by snail mail. But books are the exception here – despite my Kindle subscription, I always by hard-copy books. Holding a book in your hands is just something special.

How has the pandemic affected your relationship with books?

At first, of course, there was more time for reading, and then there was less, as the epidemic kept us inside and other things started competing with books, like podcasts, Netflix, and other content (documentaries, magazines, etc.). Now I would say I’m back at the 2019 level.

Who is the next bookworm you recommend for an interview, and what book would you recommend to them?

Michele Leonardi from IBM. I recommend to him The Power of Moments by Dan and Chip Heath.