Like minds – Josh Kaufman

Like Minds hosted Josh Kaufman, author of best selling book – The Personal MBA. Josh has just released his new book – The First 20 Hours, in which he came to Like Minds in London to discuss.

The First 20 Hours addresses skill acquisition. We all want to learn a variety of skills but the task of actually learning new things is very daunting. Josh proposes a strategy to take us from a place of no skill to one of reasonable proficiency – and in a remarkably short amount of time. Or, as the sub-title of his new book has it; “How To Learn Anything…Fast”. This conflicts with the notion made popular by Malcolm Gladwell that it takes us 10,000 hours to become good at something. This belief however, was actually about mastery in highly competitive environments like chess and elite sports. There is obviously a huge range of skills where complete mastery is not necessary.

Here are the steps he devised to learn something new:

1. Specify what you want to learn and why – give yourself a goal

2. Deconstruct the skill – break it into component pieces (Josh used the example of golfing, where putting and driving off the tee are different, although related, skills within the overall skill of playing the game)

3. Do some research and find which of the component pieces are the most important – what do you need to learn first?

4. Eliminate barriers to practice – (if you want to learn the guitar, for instance, keep it near you and don’t hide it away in its case at the back of a cupboard!)

5. Commit to 20 hours of practice – or not at all

Josh’s book follows his efforts to learn Yoga, wind surfing, the Japanese board game GO, touch typing with a new non-Qwerty layout (which was really re-learning to touch type), programming in Ruby, and the ukelele.

And as proof… he played us the ukelele. DHP filmed the interview with him after the seminar and at the end of the interview he played a mash up on the ukulele. It was tremendous and reinforced his theory that you can really learn any skill you want, and learn it fast!