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80-Minute Interview With A World Top Expert On Learning


Interview Note: Scott Young and I had a great interview! Unfortunately, when doing the Zoom, I made a mistake though. To get more relaxed, I turned off my self-view so I didn’t have to watch myself the whole interview and get self-conscious. Apparently, this also means that you don’t actually see me in the recording. So, we get to see Scott’s beautiful face for 80 minutes straight! Sorry, Scott! Lol.

The good news is that it was an awesome interview. I really enjoyed it, and I learned a lot from it. I think you will too.

This past week, I had the opportunity to interview my long-time friend Scott Young. Scott is the author of an 18-year-old blog on learning and the author of two of my favorite books on the topic:

In this interview, we focused on his just-released book, Get Better at Anything: 12 Maxims for Mastery., which I highly highly recommend reading.

As someone who has studied learning how to learn for the last 10 years, I am very careful about who I learn from as this is one of the fundamental decisions of learning how to learn.

Scott checks all of my boxes of what I look for:

  • He has spent the last nearly twenty years writing about learning how to learn. While many people have come and gone, Scott is the only person I know who has been razor-focused on this one topic.

  • He has read all of the most important academic literature on learning. More specifically, he has read hundreds of studies on learning across many fields.

  • He’s a great explainer. His books are full of stories that make them page-turners. Furthermore, his writing has earned him a loyal tribe of true fans that have allowed him to build a significant business.

  • He has applied everything he has learned to his own life. For example, he did a crazy learning challenge where he passed the tests to get a 4-year computer science degree from MIT in just one year.

To whet your appetite, below are three of my favorite clips from the interview that changed my thinking…

#1. Practice In The Wrong Environment Can Hurt You

We assume that practice is universally helpful.

But many times, we learn in messy environments that don’t provide good feedback, so we don’t know if what we’re doing is actually working. To illustrate, Scott gives an example of an HR manager. An HR manager never sees all of the people they rejected who turned out to be A-Players at other companies. So, it’s harder for them to prove.

Thus, someone who practices in a messy environment might think they’re getting better simply because they’re gaining experience, even though they’re not. This over-confidence can then damage their learning.

#2. Learning From A Group Of Good Experts Can Be Just As Good As Learning From One Top Expert

When I aim to learn, I typically look for top performers with a long track record of success and extraordinary hardships they had to overcome compared to others.

This clip has convinced me to expand my horizons to learn from groups more.

Group learning is powerful because of the Wisdom Of Crowds Effect. When you have a diverse, independent group of people who are all good at something but not necessarily great, you can actually become great by learning from all of them. The reason is two-fold:

  • Each person has something uniquely valuable they mastered. And when you aggregate all of the skills in different people, you can end up with a skillset that is larger than any one of the people in the group.

  • You can avoid mistakes. By noticing the mistakes that various people make, you can also learn to avoid the most common mistakes.

#3. You Don’t Have To Move To The “Silicon Valley” Of Your Field To Succeed In It (Paid Subscribers Only)

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