BROOKINGS – “Alright, welcome to Books with Beste. I’m joined by Alan Stein, author of ‘Raise Your Game.’ Thank you for being here,” Konner Beste says during the onset of the first episode of his “Books with Beste” podcast.
“I’ve so enjoyed watching you and your very unique journey since the first day we met and very proud and excited with everything you are doing,” Stein replies.
To say Beste’s journey from student-manager on the University of Nebraska’s women’s basketball team to podcast host and full-blown reading addict is unique is a bit of an understatement.
Beste, a 2013 Brooking High School graduate, bounced around between South Dakota State University, Nebraska and the University of South Dakota, unsure of what he wanted to do or what he wanted to major in. He switched majors and schools on a semester-by-semester basis.
He stayed put for a year at Nebraska, becoming a student-manager for the women’s basketball team. At semester, he transferred back home to Brookings and enrolled at SDSU. At SDSU, Beste worked as a student-manager for the women’s basketball team under coach Aaron Johnston.
Beste figured out he wanted to become a college basketball coach. As a student-manager, he had some responsibilities but “no deep responsibilities” like recruiting or instruction.
“I knew at this time I wanted to coach college basketball,” Beste said. “So I asked myself, what can I do to best prepare myself to become a basketball coach? What can I do to better myself?”
Beste thought long and hard about that question before a hinge moment in Beste’s journey occurred when former SDSU men’s basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger brought in author Joshua Medcalf to speak to the team. Beste at the time had no clue who Medcalf was, but following the speaking engagement, Beste reached out to Medcalf on Twitter.
“I wanted to know who this guy was so I started talking to him on Twitter,” Beste said.
Beste found out that Medcalf was a best-selling author, having written the highly popular book, “Chop Wood Carry Water.”
“I asked myself, what do all great basketball coaches have in common,” Beste said. “They all are great leaders. And what do all great leaders have in common? They read a ton, so I asked Medcalf if he had any recommendations.”
Medcalf gave Beste a 60-book reading list on how to become a transformational leader. Beste, before this time, was not a “huge” reader but also wasn’t one to shy away from a task like this.
“I went and bought all 60 of them off Amazon and began working through them,” Beste said.
Beste realized that even though he wanted more responsibility with hands-on coaching, he could learn through reading and prepare himself for when he would have more responsibilities as a basketball coach. He began to read religiously, spending most of his free time buried in books about leadership, success and personal growth.
“I learned that books quote other books, so I started reading those,” Beste said. “I had some good mentors from my time at the Jay Bilas Basketball Camp and started getting more and more recommendations.
“It really snowballed from there.”
Beste began reading enough that when sending handwritten thank-you cards, he would add on a book that he enjoyed as well. He cites one of the earliest books he read, “Atomic Habits,” as a big key to his reading journey.
“The main point of ‘Atomic Habits’ is that small changes you make can yield the biggest results,” Beste said. “For me (and other people), that means starting a daily practice of reading, something like 15 minutes a day or even a page a day if you really hate reading.”
Beste’s reading consumption rose considerably. He estimates that in 2017 he read around 25 books. In 2020, he read 96. In March of this year, Beste read 31 books.
“When you start discovering good books, it becomes addicting,” Beste said.
Over time, Beste realized that he really wanted to talk to people about the books he was reading. He also wanted to discuss with the authors some of the ideas and ask follow-up questions. That’s when he decided he wanted to start a podcast and a book club.
“I was reading all these books and wanted to talk to the authors as well as other people,” Beste said. “That was hard, though, because not a lot of other people read. I tried run book clubs before, and it didn’t work out well, but then the pandemic happened, and Zoom made book clubs a lot easier.”
Spreading his addiction
Beste began the process of starting a podcast and reached out to various authors whose books he had read. He ended up recording nearly 12 episodes throughout the past year and starting this summer has been gradually releasing episodes on his YouTube page titled “Books with Beste.”
Beste says that he will continue to release episodes weekly until December.
Recently, Beste announced via Twitter that he would be running “Mastermind” book clubs that would begin to meet as soon as people sign up.
Beste says that his current reading schedule has changed a bit with his new job as an admissions counselor at SDSU, but he still finds time to read for about an hour a day.
“Thirty minutes when I wake up and 30 minutes before I go to bed,” Beste said.
Beste says his passion for reading continues to grow and hopes to spread his “addiction” onto others.
“I want to inspire people to read more,” Beste said. “People ask me all the time how I have the time to read as much as I do. I work at SDSU, I bartend on the side, and I still find time. I ask people to look at the screen time they spend on their phone and then come back to me. There is always time to invest in yourself.”
Beste is currently working on writing his own book, detailing his experiences and lessons learned from being a student-manager. As for his coaching aspirations, Beste spent one year at Queens University in North Carolina assisting with the women’s basketball program and is currently out of coaching, focused primarily on building his podcast and book clubs.
For more information about Beste’s Mastermind book clubs or to listen to the podcast, visit his Twitter or YouTube pages, both titled “Books with Beste.”
Contact Addison DeHaven at [email protected]