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To learn, you must consume.
But most people consume inefficiently. They allow “educational distractions” and pursue things during times where they should be doing important work.
Becoming a learning machine doesn’t mean watching or listening to things on 2X speed or speed reading.
It’s about how you optimize your consumption time, not the pace at which you consume. Consumption is a good thing only if what you’re consuming enriches your life.
Increasing your consumption speed only means you will consume more. It doesn’t actually mean you’ll retain what you consume (and isn’t that the point?). Educational consumption can be detrimental if it’s taking you away from important work you should be doing.
The key is deferring your consumption. That’s what we talk about in this episode. Learn to optimize your consumption habits and become a learning machine.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Focus during the day to be as effective as possible and defer learning to a later time when you can focus on learning.
- Get work done during the day. Save any educational material you come across for later.
- When you defer your learning, you build up a queue of content to fill your free time.
- Fight the urge to consume in the moment.
- Follow fewer people. Seek out a trusted resource curator to follow who you know will bring the best things to surface.
- Be open to learning in every encounter you have.
- Focus on one task if you want to learn it well.
- The point of learning is to retain information and upgrade your mindset.
- Give yourself learning themes and embrace those themes in seasons.
- The reason you’re not doing something now is because you don’t care about it enough.
- If you want to be successful, you’re going to fail along the way.
- Be purposeful with your consumption.
- 12:35 Sean: To learn, you must consume knowledge from other people. Today, I want to talk about optimizing that consumption. A lot of people come across something interesting during the day and think, “Yeah, I’d like to learn that. That seems interesting. I’ll click it in my feed. I’ll watch that video.” They get distracted. They think they’re going to go learn, but what they’re really doing is splitting their focus.
Stop Splitting Your Focus
- 13:04 Splitting your focus is the worst thing you can do. We’re splitting our focus on things we convince ourselves are beneficial or educational.
Focus during the day to be as effective as possible and defer learning to a later time when you can focus on learning.
- 13:27 I recommend using a tool like Instapaper. Instapaper is an app where you can have a bookmarklet, and on various platforms you can click on a link, maybe using Tweetbot, Chrome, or an IOS device, and Instapaper integrates with all of these. You tap and hold on a link, and you can save it to your Instapaper app, which collects all of these. You can read them on your computer, your phone, or your. Instapaper collects a list of these articles, podcasts, or videos, so you’re able to consume your list of things saved for later whenever you want. I like to defer learning using this tool, so if you come across something that seems interesting that would otherwise be a distraction during the day, save it and consume it later on.
- 14:28 Ben: That’s a great practice, because the mind tends to shape itself for consistent activities throughout the day. If, in the morning, one of the things you do consistently is look at your phone, your brain learns to anticipate that. If the first thing you do is meditate, your brain learns to anticipate that. That rhythm becomes a way for the brain to become more efficient at those tasks. When you defer your learning, you can control when and where that happens. If you schedule that consistently at the same time, you can learn more consistently. That’s not just because your focus isn’t split, but your brain is anticipating using that time for consuming and learning.
What Does Deferring Consumption Look Like?
- 15:21 Sean: There are two benefits, one being what Ben just mentioned. The other one I want to illustrate by comparing what your day looks like when you pursue one of these two routes. Normally, people go through their day needing to get work done, but they get distracted by links to interesting articles or videos. They click on those, stop their focus on their work, read or consume, and they come back to work. In the past, we’ve talked about workers being interrupted on average every 10.5 minutes and it taking 23 minutes to regain focus. It’s terribly costly to get interrupted. A seven minute interruption is really 30 minutes of lost focus time.
- 16:11 People are going throughout their day getting interrupted and losing focus time. They’re kind of getting some work done during the day, but they’re consuming these articles and videos throughout the day. They get to the end, their day is over, and now it’s the evening. They think, “Okay, how am I going to spend my time?” It ends up dissipating. It goes somewhere, you don’t really know where, and you’re not taking account for it. If you’re deferring learning, you go throughout your day and you’re focused. Any time a friend sends you a link, “Hey, thought of you! Check this out,” you save it. You don’t get distracted and go down that rabbit hole. You don’t follow that trail. You defer the learning until later and continue with your focused work.
- 17:00 You get more work done during the day with increased focus, which means that you could get the same amount of work done in less time, or you could do more work in the same amount of time. You get to the end of your day, and what do you have? You have a list of things you can learn from. You have this collection of things. This does two things. One, it allows you to focus on your learning time. Two, it gives you a queue of content you can consume on your schedule, when you have availability. You can optimize your life and fill in the gaps that are wasted. What do you do when you’re brushing your teeth? You could be learning about business from a podcast, or whatever your interests are. What do you do when you’re driving? Why not have something ready?
When you defer your learning, you build up a queue of content, so when you have free time, you can fill it with educational material.
- 18:07 Ben: I’ve been experiencing a new frustration lately. I’m just about ready to get into the shower, and I remember that I want to listen to something. For Christmas, I got a bluetooth shower speaker. I remember this, and then I realize that I don’t have anything saved to listen to. I don’t have time to sit there and look for something, but that’s a great idea. It’s something I need to start doing more.
- 18:41 Sean: When you find yourself getting a text message of something cool, funny, or interesting from a friend, a newsletter comes in saying, “Hey, we put out a big article on this thing that interests you,” fight that urge. Fight the urge to consume in the moment. Consumption is a good thing. As long as you’re not wasting it on things that don’t matter and don’t enrich your life, you can learn a lot by consuming. The problem is that consuming tends to take us away from our important work and makes us less effective. If we defer it, we can be more efficient. As you go through your day and come across things, save them. You can use Instapaper or Pocket is another app you can use. Try out one of these, anything that allows you to use a “read later” function. Save these as you go. Fight the urge to pursue those distractions as they hit you. Defer them for later, and then focus on the work you’re supposed to be doing during your day. As you have those gaps in your life, fill them in with the queue.
Mediums for Consumption
- 20:08 Daniela says, “What have you found to be the most effective medium for you to consume? Is it blog posts and videos for short takeaways or books for the full picture?” That’s the beauty of deferring your learning and building a queue. You have different sized things, different pieces that you can match to the gaps in your life. If you have a three minute podcast, that’s perfect for brushing your teeth. I’m not saying that you can’t listen to parts of things while you brush your teeth. I’m going through some physical hardback books in bed before I fall asleep. That’s nice, because it’s less screen time, which helps you wind down better. I read physical, paper books, right before I go to sleep. At this rate, I get through a book in three nights.
- 21:02 It depends on what the gaps are. Personally, I like blog posts, podcasts, and I like books. It depends on the availability that you have. Sometimes, you have to use your hands or your eyes. If you’re driving, you know that your eyes have to be on the road and your hands have to be on the wheel, but what do you still have? Your ears. That’s where you would use a podcast. Hopefully you’re not watching full videos in your car while driving. That’s not a good idea.
- 21:31 Ben: I think there’s something to be said about learning styles. I’m not going to be able to represent them well, but some people learn best through hearing. Some people learn best through physically doing something. Some people learn best through reading. Many people have a combination of the various learning styles. There may be one you’re not as strong in and one you’re really strong in, and it’s good to be mindful of that. If you find where you feel like you’re not retaining as much stuff, you won’t get as frustrated. Supplement that with a form of learning around that same topic in a medium you’re more suited to consume.
Curate Your Consumption
- 22:21 Sean: Alex says, “How do you curate your learning resources? There is a lot of good stuff on the Internet, but the packaging of the information may not resonate with you or your values. How do you not miss out on learning valuable things?” This question is something a lot of people struggle with. They follow 1,000 people on Twitter. You can’t follow that many people, really. You’re kidding yourself. People do it because they think they can’t afford to miss out. They think, “I like all of these people, so I go in my feed and I scroll super fast. I see it fly by, and maybe I’ll put my finger on it and see where it stops. Maybe I happen to see something good recently.” They’re overloading themselves in the hopes that they don’t miss anything, and as a result, they’re missing too many things.
- 23:25 Try to find people who are curators of resources. Find someone you trust, whose taste and values you like, and let them sift through things. Let a few other people sift through things, and find the people who bring those great resources to the surface and follow those people. That’s a lot better than following 30 other people who every once in a while put up a blog post, but mostly just tweet about sports and what they had for lunch. You’re adding to your information-overload, and your signal-to-noise ratio is getting worse and worse.
Follow fewer people with one trusted resource curator who you know will bring the best things to the surface.
- 24:11 Ben: I can think of a handful of people that I follow who I look up to. They are a celebrity in my mind. I decided to follow them in the first place because I thought they were a cool person, but I’m realizing some things after living with them in my feed for a little while. I really enjoy Dan Benjamin, and I love him on the podcast. I enjoy some of the things he tweets and references, but compared with the other feeds I subscribe to that provide valuable resources and information, it doesn’t fit in my feed. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy him or look up to him, but it doesn’t match what I’m trying to consume and learn right now. Maybe you need to look at it objectively like that. Say, “Is what this person consistently shares what I really want to be learning and taking up my mental space right now?”
- 25:33 Sean: A lot of people struggle with following someone because they’re their friend. That person is really just adding to the noise in their life, but they think that if they don’t follow them, then it’s an insult to their friendship. Ben said it—you have to be objective. I have a lot of friends. I respect a ton of people and look up to a ton of people that I don’t follow on Twitter. It’s nothing personal, but that’s how I choose to use Twitter. For me, it’s not a place for friends, but it’s a place for my interests and what I feel gives me value. I treat it that way. What would your feed look like if you started over? Start with the people who add value consistently to your life, more so than they add noise, and build back up that way.
- 26:37 Alex was saying, “What about people who don’t resonate with your values? How do you not miss out on learning valuable things?” It comes back to following fewer people who put out a higher ratio of value and/or following curators whose values you trust. The resources they bring up will be useful to you.
The Value of Various Consumption Forms
- 27:03 Emily says, “You (or was it Aaron?) have talked about not speeding up podcasts while listening. Are there other ways we might be ‘speeding up learning’ which might be detrimental or the wrong approach altogether?” A lot of people listen to this podcast and other podcast on faster speeds. I understand that. I’m not saying that you can’t do that. Part of the value is the space we give you to think in. I think that’s a huge part of this show’s value. It’s not just the words we’re saying, but the space we’re creating for you. Maybe not all of these words transcribed resonate with you. In an episode I did with Matt on Lambo Goal, I talk about thinking bigger and why the only way you’ll get a million dollars is by thinking that it’s not a lot of money (Related: e041 If You Think a Million Dollars Is a Lot of Money…). Until that number is no longer big to you, you won’t be able to attain it.
- 28:30 I tweeted, “If you think a million dollars is a lot of money…” and linked to the episode. Within five or six seconds, where no one could load the page or watch anything in that time, this guy tweets me back something like, “The only place this exists is in unicorn fairy startup land. A million dollars is a lot of money to anyone.” I’m sitting there backspacing a lot of my replies. This guy needs to upgrade his mindset. More upsetting than that is the fact that he responds within five seconds. Matt and I did an hour long episode on this, and it’s really valuable if you actually listen to it. We’re trying to help people. We make a three minute promo. If you can’t be bothered to enrich your life with what we’re giving away for free, we made a three minute version for you—this guy responds in five seconds.
- 29:46 I said, “Cory, hold me back.” He helped me come up with a response. I said, “Did you listen to the episode?” I wanted to say, “Did you even listen to the episode?” Cory told me not to say “even,” so I didn’t say it. This guy replies back, “Not yet. It’s on my list. Perhaps you’ll change my mind.” Smiley face. I was happy there, because I was about to get all riled up thinking, “Stop being so closed minded! Why do you immediately react?” You hear a million dollars, and you immediately react. You don’t want to upgrade your mindset or be open minded. I took a step back, talked it through with Cory, and the guy said that it was on his list.
- 30:45 I was really glad to hear that. Everyone needs to hear that Lambo Goal episode to upgrade their mindset. The guy from earlier also says, “I did skim the page and read the notes.” Here’s the issue with that. The shownotes are very helpful. You can glean quick information. We can’t reach the people I want to right now, because they’re skimming the shownotes and not listening—they probably won’t read this sentence in the shownotes, because they’re skimming—the problem is that the value of the podcast is the space we create for you to think. If you gloss over these words in written form, you don’t get that space. You’re just processing information. That’s very valuable, and it’s good to do sometimes.
There is nuanced value when you consume something in its specific form.
- 31:57 Listening to this as a podcast gives you different value than reading it. Watching it as a video gives you different value than listening to it as a podcast while you’re driving and having a conversation with someone in the car. Listening to this podcast when you’re not in the chat talking with other people gives you a different kind of value. When you’re in the Community, talking live with other people, you get a different kind of value, and it’s a great value. You’re talking, relating, bouncing off ideas, but you are listening. There are people who speed up podcasts, and I understand it. It’s a different way of consuming, a different switch. These episodes have a lot of re-listen value. They have a lot of value when you go back a second time or review the shownotes. People don’t realize how valuable the shownotes are when you want to revisit something.
- 32:54 You can Google seanwes plus anything, and you can find an episode and go straight to a timestamp. You can review it and read it without having to listen for six minutes. You read it right there, and that’s super valuable. My answer to Emily’s question, where she says, “Are there ways we might be speeding up learning that might be detrimental?” is to go into everything with an open mind and a willingness to learn from every single person you encounter. Be open to learning in every encounter that you have. Everyone has something to say, even if you disagree with 99% of it. Look for the 1%. Don’t discount the person, but try and upgrade your mindset. Try and learn. If you’re speeding things up and listening on 2X speed, I understand that you’re trying to get the information and parse it as fast as possible, but there’s a different kind of value—the space you’re given to think on a topic—that’s also valuable.
- 34:05 Ben: I was making the comparison in my head from my laptop to the iMac I have at home. This laptop, as a machine that processes information, is much slower. Even though it’s connected to the same internet source, this is going to load a page a lot slower than my iMac is. Sometimes, we try to firehose information, when all we’re able to handle is a drinking fountain. We’re trying to overload and consume as much as possible, but we’re missing pieces. It’s important to understand the speed at which you actually learn and retain things. That’s not to say that if you’re listening or reading at superspeed, you’re not going to be able to retain some of it, but you’re definitely not going to be able to retain as much as you would if you were listening, reading, or watching at a speed that matched your learning speed.
- 35:33 Sean: A lot of people probably think that listening on faster speeds or learning to speed read is how you become a learning machine. I used to speed read when I was doing CLEP tests in college. I only got 20 hours of credits toward a degree, but I learned to speed read to be able to take these tests. CLEP tests allow you to skip taking semesters of college, and they try to determine if you really know the subject. Okay, you say you already know the subject? Here’s a CLEP test for you to essentially opt out of taking semesters of school. You can speed read and learn exactly what you need to pass this test and get your credits. I didn’t retain any of the things I speed read. It was a lot of history stuff, numbers and dates. There are different techniques where you hit on the first and last lines of paragraphs so you can get the gyst of things, but you’re not really retaining all of it.
- 37:00 You can’t read 100,000 words a minute. You can speed read a book and gloss over each page, but you’re not retaining it. It might feel like listening on 2X gets you the information faster, but what is the point of learning? The point of learning is not to pass a CLEP test.
The point of learning is to retain information and upgrade your mindset.
- 37:28 Hopefully, you learn something you can apply in the future. If you’re going to apply it in the future, you need to remember it. To remember it, you might need to experience it at normal speed. To be a learning machine might mean listening at normal speed. I did a mini sabbatical episode on this and I want to touch back on some of the things I talked about in it (Related: e227 How to Learn on Hyper Speed). Whenever someone mentions a name, a place, or any noun, your job is to look it up if you don’t already know it. When you hear someone you’re learning from mention another name, a book, an event, or whatever it is, stop the recording and look it up. Follow the rabbit trail and keep doing that. That’s how you learn on hyper speed. Every time someone mentions a past episode, they remember it for a reason.
- 38:34 There are a lot of episodes I don’t remember. That’s not to say that they weren’t all valuable, but some of them stand out for a reason. I remember them and I mention them. If you’re smart, you’ll go back to that episode. Do that with other people, too. When they mention the one book that changed their life, don’t say, “Cool story.” Go find that book and read it! That’s how you become a learning machine. Follow the rabbit trail, and then follow the rabbit trail’s rabbit trails.
- 39:24 Ben: Another thing I think can help with being a learning machine is focused learning. Instead of having various topics or pursuits you’re learning about, focus on one at a time.
- 39:43 Sean: This is a question Daniela asks, “Would you recommend honing in on one thing you want to learn at a time? Is learning several different things at once detrimental to progress?”
- 39:57 Ben: I think focusing on one thing at a time is powerful because it keeps your brain working on that same thing. For example, say I’m setting aside 30 minutes every day to learn about something. On Monday, I learn about jazz piano. On Tuesday, I learn about sales. On Wednesday, I learn about email automation. They’re so disconnected, so my brain doesn’t have a chance from one day to the next to string those things together and make stronger connections for any given subject. If I’m just focusing on one thing, I can build on the momentum and the things I learned the previous day. That familiarity causes you to retain more.
- 40:56 Sean: Think of it in seasons. Don’t think, “I have to focus on this one thing forever,” but do focus. Give yourself learning themes and embrace those themes in seasons. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, I’m focused on business. I read business books, marketing books, sales books, and podcasts, videos, articles, seminars, and all of those things. That’s what I’m focused on right now. In my past, I’ve been really focused on music and electronic music production. I would spend 30 to 40 hours a week on top of my day job learning music production. I was going in depth and watching all the videos there are, and I retain that. Now, I have that as an asset. I can go in and produce music any time now, because I remember it.
- 41:52 If I was spread thin, I’m only going to kind of remember bits and pieces. “I think I remember something about marketing. I think I remember something about music…” It ends up being split. I’ve heard two different pieces of advice, and I used to think they were conflicting. Now I see the difference. One piece of advice says, “Focus on one task at a time, one kind of thing.” Think of an assembly line. You’ve got a white coat and a white hat, and your job is to assemble this one piece of a product. It’s going on a conveyer belt when you’re done. You get really good at attaching that one piece. What is the product, Ben? What are we assembling?
- 42:53 Ben: I actually worked on an assembly line. We made books. The books came out in this stack on the conveyer belt, and my job was to take a collapsed box and uncollapse it, tape the bottom part, throw the books in there, and tape the top part. They were coming out pretty quick, but you could adjust the speed of the machine. I got really good at putting boxes together.
- 43:53 Sean: Compare this to if you were the person who was supposed to take the binding, cut the pages, put it on the conveyer belt, take the final piece and put it in the stack, take the stack of books and transfer it to another conveyer belt, go down and be the person who drives the fork lift of the pallet of cardboard boxes, the person who cuts the ties that hold the boxes together, and then take one of those boxes, get some tape, put the box together, and put all the books in the box. You probably wouldn’t be that fast at taping the boxes.
Focus on one task if you want to learn it well.
- 44:45 You get really good at that one task. You could eventually do it in your sleep. Say Ben focused on boxes and made 100 boxes. Then he just focused on cutting the pages. He focused one at a time. When it’s all said and done, he gets all of it done faster overall. The other piece of advice says to focus on the whole project. Do one whole run together and then do another whole run together. I thought, “Why would you do that?” When I did some research on it, it’s because people said that you need that sense of completion, the feeling of getting a win. It’s the feeling of, “Ah, I did that.”
- 45:33 If you’re producing a course, one would be to write out all of your scripts. Two would be to record all the scripts. Three would be to edit all of the videos. Four would be to imbed all of the videos. You’re focusing on one at a time. This piece of advice was saying to write out one module, record one module, edit one module, imbed one module, and then you’re done with the module. It’s a mental thing. It helps you feel a sense of completion that motivates you to keep going. Conflating these two pieces of advice, it comes down to personality. If you’re big picture enough that you don’t get discouraged focusing on the individual tasks one at a time, that’s more efficient. If you find that focusing on one repetitive task discourages you and keeps you from completing anything, then focus on completing something to get the momentum of the quick win.
- 46:46 Ben: You can also work in the other direction. Batching things is objectively more efficient. When I do coding, sometimes I’ll be going through CSS writing rules, and I’ll want to jump over and check and see if it looks okay. I know I can sit down and write the whole thing, and then I can look at everything. I have to resist the urge to keep going and checking. It’s a discipline I need to develop because batching is more efficient. If you take away the need for a win, if you can work toward batching, I think you should.
- 48:13 Sean: Marinda says, “I’m already a learning machine, I need to become an action machine now.” Rebecca says, “What’s the ratio between time spent learning vs. implementing what you are learning? Sometimes I stall out in the learning phase and don’t take action to ‘try’ what I’m learning.” They say that they’re already learning machines, devouring everything, but they’re not doing anything.
- 48:53 Ben: Part of what completes the learning process is putting it into action. Can you say that you’ve learned something unless you’ve actually done it? You can understand something conceptually, and you can understand ideas and principles behind something, but unless you’ve actually put that into practice and have experienced it, you haven’t completed the learning process.
- 49:24 Sean: This guy emailed me last week and said, “You need a show list. You’re always saying, ‘What was that one show?'” I don’t think he understands. Right now, on my computer, I’m recording the live video broadcast. We’re recording and streaming the podcast audio. I’ve got the chat and my show outline. It’s too many things on one screen, and it’s not a matter of having a list. I have a list, but I would have to switch over, find that tab, and search the page. I’m trying to keep the show going, so it’s easy to say it. This question reminds me of the episode we did on taking action. (Related: e142 Taking Action. This is what Cory and I were talking about with procrastination—what does it come down to? It comes down to care. Why do people procrastinate?
- 50:27 They wait until the last minute because they don’t want to do it. We call it procrastinating because, eventually, you get it done. It’s not negligence or the lack of action at all, it’s that you wait until the last minute to act. Why do it at the last minute instead of not at all? Because you care more about not getting fired, leaving a bad impression, offending someone, losing a friend, getting bad grades, and dropping out of school, ultimately, more than you care about not doing the work. It comes down to care.
The reason you’re not doing something now is because you don’t care enough.
- 51:18 Sometimes, knowing the issue is about care is enough to help you see through the fog. When it comes to taking action, you have to care. You have to care enough to take action. You have to want it. The reason you’re not taking action is because you don’t care about it. Maybe that’s a slap in the face right now, because you want to say that you do care about it. You have this idea in your mind where you’re imagining taking action and you like the result. If you don’t care enough to go through the process, you don’t care. I’m telling you that you don’t care about this thing. If you think I’m wrong, prove it by taking action. Maybe that’s not satisfactory to everyone. What do you think, Cory?
- 52:09 Cory: I think that’s right on. With the balance of learning and taking action, Sean can read ten books and learn online how to produce an online course, but until he actually does it, he’s not going to know what that’s like. He might think, “I can just get a camera, talk to the camera, and share my knowledge.” No matter how much learning you do, however detailed it is, it’s going to be a different experience when you actually do it.
- 52:48 Ben: There are things you learn going through the experience that you can’t learn from a book. There are things even the best teachers in the world can’t convey because it’s such an experiential part of whatever it is they’re teaching.
To have a complete knowledge of something and say that you’ve really learned it, you have to put that knowledge into practice.
- 53:20 Cory: It was the same with my film. I didn’t go to school for film, but I did a lot of learning online. I learned a lot about each department and I knew what it took, but it’s totally different when you actually go do it. It’s all head knowledge unless you take action.
Act, Fail, & Succeed
- 53:41 Sean: Since the last episode, Cory had his film premiere. How many people came out?
- 53:47 Cory: Almost 70.
- 53:54 Sean: Would you say that you learned some things?
- 53:57 Cory: Yes. I’ve been saying this, but I need to write down all the things I’ve learned, because it’s a lot.
- 54:02 Sean: Would you say that mistakes were made?
- 54:03 Cory: Too many mistakes, but we learned from that.
- 54:09 Sean: Cory was somewhat frustrated with how some things went. There were some technical difficulties with the projector and the video. In his mind, he had the way that he wanted this film to go. He was frustrated that his first film went the way that it did, because it was his first film. He wanted to have a better first film. I said, “Cory, a lot of people think that Learn Lettering was the first course that I taught, but that’s because that’s all they notice and care about. It wasn’t the first. I taught other places. I taught workshops online on other platforms, and I learned some lessons.” I think Learn Lettering was like my first course launch. What do you think Ben?
- 55:09 Ben: It definitely felt that way. In my in mind, it was the first serious course launch. I didn’t know much about what Sean had done in the past. From the outside, it seemed like putting together this course was his first, but he had other experiences to help guide him in the process of doing Learn Lettering.
- 55:48 Sean: So many listeners probably think that that was the first course I did, the first launch. There are a lot of people in the future, Cory, who will think that your second film is your first film. It’s going to dwarf your first one. Maybe it’s the sixth one, but something is going to be big enough that that’s all people know you for, and they don’t know all the previous projects. You learn from it. You learn from doing, from taking action.
If you want to be successful, you’re going to fail.
- 56:24 If you think you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail. If you think you’re not going to fail, you’re going to fail. You will fail. You’re going to fail if you are going to be successful. Put yourself in a producer mindset. Consume to learn, but why are you doing it? Hopefully, so you can take action and become a producer. Adopt a producer mindset. We’ve talked about phones and tablets, and how kids are growing up today. Everything is optimized for consumption. Maybe technology will get better, but in the near future, I don’t see people being able to edit something like a film on an iPhone, at least not well. Laci pretty much only uses her phone—that is her device, and this is becoming more and more the norm for people. Kids don’t get computers anymore, they get a phone. That is their device.
- 57:57 That’s what they use. What is a phone optimized for? It’s optimized for consumption. Yeah, you can slap a 4K camera on there, but people consume on these devices. Everything is heading towards consumption, which is why you can be a producer and set yourself apart. You’re the 1% of the 1% if you are a creator and make things. Everyone is consuming. Like I said earlier in the show, consuming to learn is a good thing. As long as the things you’re consuming are enriching your life, it’s a good thing, but be purposeful with your consumption. Optimize that consumption. Defer that learning, and better yourself during those times so that you can do something, take action, and produce. If you’re having trouble taking action but you’re already a learning machine, maybe you need to revisit the reason you wanted to be a learning machine in the first place. What is your why? Why are you learning?
Always Learn & Always Implement
- 59:10 We could go deeper into Rebecca’s question, “What’s the ratio between time spent learning vs. implementing what you’re learning?” 100 to 100. Do more with your time. Focus when you’re doing your day job. Focus when you’re implementing. Focus when you’re learning. It’s all in. I’m a numbers guy, a logic guy, a math guy, but this is one where I want to be illogical. The ratio is 100 to 100. When you’re doing something, focus on it. Go all in. You are always learning and always implementing. There’s no taking breaks from learning, and there’s no taking breaks from implementing. Keep going.
- 1:00:08 That’s why I like deferring learning. If you are focused during the day, then you’re always implementing. There’s always down time. We talk about the importance of rest, so don’t send me emails or comments about, “If you listen to podcasts in the shower, when are you ever going to get quiet time? Isn’t it important?” I know it’s important. That’s why we have sabbaticals. Find your quiet time, account for that, and protect it. You’re always implementing and focusing, but there’s going to be down time. There is going to be brushing your teeth, driving, showering, running, or whatever it is in your life. Use the buffer, the queue you’ve built up, to fill that time with learning and education.
- 1:01:10 Ben: Allison in the chat asked, “How do you guys feel about a learn-as-you-go tactic? Is that splitting focus too much?” I had a similar question, because Sean and my learning styles differ in this way. If there’s a new program that I want to use for something, I’m more likely to download it and start messing with it. That’s more of a learn-as-you-go approach. I see Sean as someone who would download it, read through the things that come with the program, watch some videos, and get as familiar as he can before he starts using it. Sean’s way is more efficient, because you need a baseline knowledge of what you’re doing. It’s like I’m in a trench, trying to go forward, and the thing I’m going after is a couple yards down. Someone says, “Why don’t you get out of the trench?” I say, “I have to keep digging.” There’s some satisfaction in seeking, finding, and trying to figure things out. I’ve learned a lot of things that way.
- 1:02:56 Sean: The first car I bought, the Mustang, was a big goal for me—my first goal was buying a Mustang, so I saved up for a couple of years and bought it in cash(Related: e068 You Have One Life—Set Bigger Goals). It showed me that I could accomplish my goals. This car was a manual car, standard transmission, and I’d never driven a stick shift car before, so I watched YouTube videos. I found the car in Austin. My dad helped me drive up there, and I was going to drive it back. I’d never driven one before, so I watched a bunch of YouTube videos. I watched tons of different examples, and that was it.
- 1:03:45 It wasn’t smooth sailing from the very beginning, but I learned. I practiced on some hills, making sure I didn’t roll backwards into the car behind me. I do learn first, but it’s a combination of things. You learn by doing as well. You can’t just have head knowledge. It wasn’t exactly the same when I got there and started shifting gears myself, but I understood what I needed to do. It was a matter of acquiring the muscle memory. You can power your way through and dig the trench and get where you want to go, and by then, you will have the muscle memory. That’s the nice part.
You might get there a little bit faster if you learn upfront and then dive in and take action, but both are required.
- 1:04:41 Ben: A hybrid of the two is really the best. Part of what I think can help us be better at learning is to have a better understanding of what we do and don’t know about a topic. I was watching a video the other day of a guy teaching how to be a well-rounded jazz pianist. He started by saying that you have to know your scales, and he demonstrated them, but it was clear that to play at his level, I would need to watch a video of his fingering. It was really humbling. I don’t consider myself a fantastic piano player, but after watching this video, I felt like less than a beginner. I don’t even have the foundation that I need. That was good, because if that was something I really wanted to pursue, I have to know that I can’t start at level three when I’m not even a level one yet. Being real with yourself about where you are is valuable, because it can help you know where to start.