There is great benefit to being a full stack thinker. A full stack thinker means having broad knowledge in all areas of life, with specific verticals that interest you the most.
Full stack thinkers understand the bigger picture, are more creative and more strategic when faced with real life opportunities or problems.
To gain broad knowledge on a particular subject, one of the best skills you can master in life is being able to learn fast.
This could be learning hard skills like engineering, or soft skills like sales.
But what do I mean by learning?
Regurgitating information from a text book or on an exam, and forgetting it a few weeks after is not learning.
True learning is developing skills to think creatively, critically, and solve real problems. And not just in theory, but in real world application.
It’s ineffective to be stuffing your mind with information with little to no application.
What is the point of stuffing your mind with encyclopedias of information?
With Google you have the answer to virtually any question in your pocket.
You gain advantage by learning information that can’t answered by Google.
It’s important to keep a balance between your consumption and production.
Production is the measurement of your output.
How much content and value are you putting out into the marketplace?
How much are you producing?
In value, in sales, in helping people solve problems?
Always remember, winners produce.
Steve Jobs produced the iPhone, MacBook etc.
Elon Musk produced electric cars, rockets, etc.
The majority of the world is filled with consumers.
Consumers simply buy, buy, buy and give their time and money away.
This is why I’m a big advocate of minimalism.
Minimalism is about less distractions, pressure, and noise in your life. It enables you to focus only on what’s relevant to you right now.
If you’re listening to 100 gurus, how are you going to create any focus or momentum in your life? You are giving all of your time away, and failing to focus and produce anything consistently.
So, it’s important to learn fast and apply your knowledge, be focused and produce outcomes.
So how can you learn faster?
Up until now the most ancient (and effective) form of learning has been apprenticeship. This mean working closely with somebody who is a master at their craft.
Monkey see. Monkey do.
This type of master/student transference can be extremely valuable.
But apprenticeship isn’t always feasible and may not be best suited for everyone. Modern scientists and psychologists have developed a number of models to understand the different ways that people learn best. One popular theory, the VARK model, identifies four primary types of learners.
Chances are you’re likely a combination of these 4 types with 1 or 2 dominant types.
Think about your past and how you learned best in school, in your job, or in your business. (Remember learning = absorbing information, retaining it and then applying it, so think about how you best learned in that context).
If you’re unsure how you learn best, you can take the VARK quiz to help you find out.
One last thing before we get to ways in which to learn faster. It’s important to consider the source of the information and the intentions of that source. In a world full of manipulation, fake news, and propaganda, it’s easily to become persuaded by somebody else’s ideologies and ideas. So be discerning, look at everything through an objective lens, and don’t take everything you see and read at face value.
1. Youtube.com – Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google. There are hundred of channels that produce content on virtually any topic you’re interested in.
There is also a niche on books, where video makers do book summaries in 5-10 minutes. You can literally “read dozens of books” per day if you really wanted to. You can even play the videos at 2X the speed, and enable captions on the video.
This enables you to have 3 inputs to improve retention. You have the visual input from the video animation, you have the audio input from the narrator, and you have the text as an additional input to help with comprehension.
You can write your own notes and takeaways from each, and more importantly, implement what you learn. If a particular book interests you, you can order the book itself, or download an audio copy on a platform like Audible.com
Most other video/audio players have the function to speed up the playback speed by at least 2X. There are a number of third party apps you can install that allow you in increase playback speeds.
For example, search for “Video Speed Controller” on Google and install this plug-in for your Google Chrome browser.
2. Audible.com – This is a platform that allows you to buy books, directly to their app which you can install on your phone. I’ve gone through over 100 books on this app. You can sign up for a free trial and get a free book.
If you’re not already on audible, I highly recommend you give it a try. Especially if you’re busy, and you want to listen while you’re on the go, or doing some work around the house.
Once you get used to audio input learning, you can increase the audio speed. There is an option to increase the speeds between 1-3.5X. This means that technically, you could read a 3 hour book, in less than 1 hour.
It may sound crazy, but once you get used to faster playback speeds, regular speed sounds very very slow. I can barely listen to any audio input on less than 1.5-2X speed now.
3. Books – This advice applies to non-fiction books. This means books that focus on personal development, business, sales, marketing, and things that apply to the real world.
I used to read books from cover to cover. This is a complete waste of time. The best way I found to read a book is to scan through it first.
Try this next time you read a book. Read the back cover of the book to get an idea of what the book is about. Then read the last few pages of the book, particularly about who the author is.
Remember, the source of the information is an important consideration. This will give you an idea on who the author is, what their background is, and if their work is relevant to what you’re trying to learn.
Read the table of contents if there is one, then open the book at a random page. Read a few paragraphs. Then open the book at another random section, and read a few paragraphs. Continue doing this for about 10 minutes.
You now have a much better idea of what the book is about, and you’ve likely learned at least 2-5 new things from it. Reading retention is very low, so if you read a book cover to cover, you’ll only remember a couple things from it anyway.
If you like the book, you can read it in depth, or even cover to cover if you choose to. What’s the point of spending 5 hours reading a book, forgetting about it a few months later, and not applying anything you learn?
Unless you want to read purely for enjoyment and disconnection.
Happy learning, and don’t forget to produce something of value by applying what you learn.