It took $240k and 6 years to get my PhD. 4 out of 5 of my classmates didn’t make it to the end.
It was brutal, but it taught me how to think.
To save you quarter million dollars, here are 10 lessons on how to learn about any topic and form your own original insights, quickly👇
1. Study the “classics” hard, and ignore the rest.
For any topic there’s the definitive classic text, and then a million derivatives and commentaries.
You want to know the former like the back of your hand, and then force yourself to come up with your own derivatives and commentaries, instead of reading those written by others.
Example: There’re 1000 books about #bitcoin out there, most a waste of time. If you want to learn, study the original white paper carefully, and THINK.
2. Find the knowledge arbitrage.
There are always insights from field A that can be applied to field B. When you’re the one doing the arbitrage, you become an innovator in field B. Be curious about other fields and actively look for those opportunities.
3. Dare to make hypotheses.
Train yourself to have an opinion about everything.
When most people start “researching” on a topic, they think they need to read everything about it. They fill their head with other people’s thoughts, leaving no room for their own.
What you should do instead is to learn a modest amount, and then form your own opinion, regardless of how ill-informed it is. You don’t want to be loyal to your opinion though. Strong hypothesis, loosely held. You then collect more info to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
It’s a more efficient way to learn, because you now know what kind of information you’re looking for.
4. Don’t be impressed by authorities.
Most venture capitalists talking about future “visions” are full of sh*t. Most academics publishing in prestigious journals don’t have much new to say.
These people may be a few steps ahead of you, but that’s all there is. Their biggest differentiator is they didn’t ask for your permission to have their own thoughts. You don’t need to ask for theirs, either.
5. Go down the rabbit hole.
If you chase an internet rabbit hole to learn something, 5 hours passes and you barely notice, that’s good! Ride the wave, keep going and see how far it takes you. Intense, concentrated effort is the most efficient way to learn.
6. Embrace the chaos.
If you’re learning something cognitively complex, you should feel out of control.
At some point you’ll have so many open-ended threads of information in front of you. Your brain is exploding. Don’t be discouraged. The feeling of chaos is a sign you are learning fast.
In due time dots will connect and order will emerge. Trust the process.
7. Overwhelm your brain, and then rest.
Training your brain is similar to what you do at the gym.
High intensity of information overload forges new neuro pathways, just like weight lifting forces your muscles to accommodate pressure. After overwhelming your brain, you want to set everything aside and let it rest completely.
That’s how you solidify those new pathways and grow in cognitive strength.
8. Talk about your ideas.
That’s what “advisors” are for in grad school— the sounding board for you to round out your own thinking.
When you approach a new subject, explain it to others, write articles about it, have a debate with someone.
It strengthens what you learned and help you find what is not clear in your thinking.
9. Respect idleness.
There are plenty of fools who read 100 books a year, are more informed than Google, and yet don’t have a single original thought of their own.
If you’re always busy taking in information, you leave no room for processing.
Creativity happens between activities.
10. Persistence pays.
If you allocate 10 hrs a week learning and thinking about X, in a couple years you’ll be an expert on X.
This applies to a vast majority of topics. Because not that many people actually put in the time. All of us are too distracted.
The longer the time frame, the fewer the competition, if you stick with it.
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10 lessons to learn anything fast and become an original:
- Study “classics” hard
- Find knowledge arbitrage
- Dare to make hypotheses
- Be unimpressed by authorities
- Go down rabbit hole
- Embrace chaos
- Overwhelm your brain, then rest
- Talk about your ideas
- Respect idleness
- Be persistent