We're going to become a learning machine by understanding meta-concepts, okay? Get ready for the intro... drumroll please...

Understanding some of the main meta-concepts of the world might be one of the best things you can do for your personal growth. The world is insanely complex, but after awhile, trends start to become obvious. In fact, if we were to take just a handful of ideas, we'd be able to get a pretty solid grasp on most of the world. 

What I've prepared for you today is an attempt at this handful of ideas. It ain't perfect, but it's the best darn shot I got right now. And I'm pretty darn confident that it covers some new stuff you haven't thought about before. 

Okay, we get it, John, meta-concepts are awesome. We're in for a treat. Blah blah blah. Why are they so awesome? Tell us! Okay. Here we go.

If we're all just sources of information for other people in the world, here to make the lives of others better through sharing ideas and doing work, then being better at organizing information in our head is going to make us more helpful to other people. Deeply understanding meta-concepts allows us to better organize all of the information inside our heads. You can picture this process as strengthening the connections between the neurons in our brains. Since there are many common paths, used by many neurons, identifying these and building them up strengthens the power of the neurons, and of the entire brain. 

Being able to look at seemingly unrelated parts of the world and connect them together is a very useful skill. People are rewarded very well by society when they do this. I can think of two examples where people can get over-focused on one part of the world and forget about the other: the first is doctors not knowing how to run a business, and the second is gym owners. They both know about their field well - being a doctor and a fitness expert respectively - but they benefit highly from having someone else come in to help them (these are one and two companies as examples). 

We'll start out with the most important meta-concept/skill of all: becoming a learning machine. What it should really say is becoming a meta-learning machine. The best thing we can do to improve all our knowledge is improve our ability to deeply connect what we learn together so we are less likely to forget anything. The best way to anything is practice, so let's get into what might be your first list of meta-concepts, which will hopefully provide a foundation to you growing/modifying your list in the future.

The best part about these ideas is that, because they're connected to many parts of the world, it will be very easy to remember them. Reinforcement is the best way to solidify new ideas, so if we can pick ones that effortless reinforce themselves by coming up in our daily lives everyday, then internalizing them will be easy. 

Get ready, get excited, and let's get started people. Here we go!

I hope you're as excited as I am! Let's go!!!

I hope you're as excited as I am! Let's go!!!


1. Become a Learning Machine

This man is one for the history books. Credit: Business Insider

This man is one for the history books. Credit: Business Insider

I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.
— Charlie Munger, USC Law Commencement Speech

I cannot understate the enormousness of the compounded value that comes from becoming a learning machine early on in life. It's the best meta-skill. It's the key to all the lessons in the world. Learning how to become a learning machine is like using one wish from a genie in a bottle for unlimited wishes. It's the enabler to better knowledge.

First things first, let's understand what a learning machine is. To be a learning machine, to have to be willing to change our ways. Every single day, we will encounter new information that, if we let it, can inform a better way of us living our lives. The first step to becoming a learning machine is being open to changing our ways. Having too large of an ego, and being stubborn is a great way to stop any chance of learning. As long as we are open to some sort of change, we will have a chance at improvement. 

Being a learning machine just means that we do this process over and over again. We maintain an openness about the new parts of the world we discover, and a consistent curiosity to expose ourselves to new parts of the world. From this information, we look for things that are new to us, compare them to our previously held beliefs, and update our knowledge as we feel necessary. And we keep on going. 

To become a better learning machine, we can explore these three steps to make our machine stronger. 

1. Maximize thinking (learning) time. 

The more time we put into anything, the better we will get at it. If we can teach ourselves to be learning at every moment, we'll be maximizing what we can learn. The more time we spend learning, the more we will learn. Since we learn anything by thinking about it, the more time we're thinking, the more time we're learning. To learn through thinking, we can reflect on past experiences of our own, be presently engaged with some part of our physical environment, or be engaging with someone else to absorb lessons from their past. 

Even if we're not being exposed to a new part of the world, or if we're alone, so we can't engage with our environments, or the past of someone else, we can always learn from our own past. No matter where we find ourselves, we always have access to the best learning tool of all: reflection. So if we want to increase our learning time, but we don't feel we have anything to learn from, we can play a game with ourselves, thinking about what has happened to us recently, thinking about our life in general and apply a mining type attitude to the process. We can always get more knowledge if we mine for it. 

2. Expose ourselves to new parts of the world.

Once we have built a strong learning/thinking habit for ourselves, the next best thing we can do to improve our learning machine is to feed it hard stuff. The best way to do this is by travelling. Travelling exposes ourselves to a new physical environment full of learning that we can't help ourselves from being insanely curious to explore. Reading is another awesome venue to find new, interesting parts of the world that provide great learning material for our machine. Wherever possible, we want to expose ourselves to people as our sources of learning. There is no better way to learn new information than deeply connecting with other humans, in person. 

Guiding our exploration to new parts of the world is our interests. The world is far to big to fully understand in our short lifetime, so we spend what little time we have on the parts of it that interest us the most. Whether it's exposing ourselves to new cultures we're curious about, reading books that interest us, or connecting with people we vibe with, our interests should be the guiding force. 

3. Improve learning methods. 

Once we have taught ourselves to learn most of the time, and exposed ourselves to new parts of the world that we're interested in, we can start to hone in on some of our learning processes. Guiding all of these processes is a deep curiosity about the world. The more intensely curious we can be to increase our knowledge and improve the way we live our lives through being a learning machine, the more success we will find in this pursuit. Ultimately, the goal is to find truth. 

Truth is that which has predictive power.
— Naval Ravikant
Another beauty! My favourite is still the first one of the three.

Another beauty! My favourite is still the first one of the three.

In the operation of our learning machine, we want to focus on truth, that which has predictive power. We want to be learning lessons from our experience that can better inform us about the world as we dive into the future. There are a couple fantastic learning methods we can use to turn curiosity into truth. 

1. Introspection. 

We can always be learning from ourselves. There are tons of ways to do this. We can be reflecting on our past. We can reflect on what's happening in our minds, asking ourselves about every thought we have, "Why am I having this thought?" We can be questioning our environments to ourselves in our head. Why is that that way? Why did that person make that choice? Why is this this way this time, when it was that way last time? We can do little experiments with ourselves, changing little things here and there to see what effect it has on our environment. We can run tests with the world, asking people a question one way, asking others a different way, and seeing which yields a higher quality response. By learning to observe our own learning machine, its weaknesses are obvious, and the solutions, if we actually take the time to introspect with ourselves, are obvious too. 

2. Questioning properly.

My greatest lifehack that I hope to pass onto every child in the future is to ask as many questions as possible. The more questions you ask, the better you get at asking questions. The better questions you ask, the higher the quality of lessons you gain from the world, and the smarter you'll become.

While everyone was trying to "fit-in" in school, I was asking questions about everything. Everyone hated me for it. They thought I was annoying, and full of stupid questions. But now, after over a decade of solid practice, my ability to ask the right questions is one I am most confident in. While everyone else was being scared, I was building resilience by having to defend myself from all their criticism from asking too many questions, and, I was getting better at the art of asking questions with all the practice. In your face, teenage bullies!

Questioning forces us to be actively engaged in the learning process. If we're asking a question, it's because we're obviously curious about whatever we're questioning, and the circle continues. The question gives us an answer, which is more knowledge, which makes us even more curious. The best way we can get better at questioning the world is to practice at it. The sooner you start looking silly, asking "stupid" questions, the sooner the knowledge you mine from the world will start to become higher quality. 

3. Focus on the smart stuff. 

When learning about any new part of the world, it's easy to get overwhelmed with information. It's easy to feel like we don't know where to start. If we can focus properly, separating the smart stuff from the dumb stuff, we will become a learning machine much faster. If we waste our time on the dumb stuff, the poorly researched stuff, the wrong stuff, then we'll improve ourselves much slower.

If we can take the time to search out the highest quality books and people to teach us about whatever part of the world interests us, then we will learn at a much faster speed. The more dense, higher quality the information that we expose our learning machine to, the faster it will be able to sift through all of the information to find real truth. If we're going through unnecessarily drawn out, possibly incorrect information from the weak minds of the world, then we too will form weak minds. 

And there you have it my friends, learning machines in a nutshell. In summary, we know that to be a learning machine at all, we have to be open to changing our ways. All improvement starts with some change, even if that change is in a "wrong" direction at first. Once we're open to change, we can dive into exposing ourselves to all of the awesome new parts of the world that interest us. We learn about these things faster by increasing the amount of time we spend thinking/processing the world. If we question properly, expose ourselves to the smart stuff, and work to learn more about the world at every moment, we will convert our curiosity about the world, using our learning machine, into valuable truth. 

You can try, but you will never be as cute as this learning machine.

You can try, but you will never be as cute as this learning machine.

2. Compound Interest

All the real benefits in life come from compound interest.
— Naval Ravikant

And what a genius this man is. Naval is a startup investor, with a cool blog here. He, along with other world greats like Warren Buffet, loves compound interest and advocates heavily for it. First, if we're going to internalize compound interest any further, we all need to get on the same page about what we're talking about first. 


Compound interest

Let's say I have some money, and decide to invest it in something, let's say I buy some wood, lemons, and cups for a lemonade stand. When I sell lemonade, I'll earn money. Let's think of this as interest, the money I earn from selling lemonade. Now I can do a number of things with this interest. I can buy some ice cream to reward myself. I can buy myself some food to eat, or use it to put a roof over my head. But, I can also use this money to open up a second lemonade stand. There is the perfect spot near my buddy Zack's house with tons of traffic. Let's say we go with this option.

So, I buy more wood, lemons, and cups for the second lemonade stand near Zack's house. For every dollar this lemonade stand makes, I am earning "compound interest". I have taken my first interest from my first investment, and used this first interest to make a second investment which earns second interest. This second interest can be thought of as "interest on interest" since it came from the investment I didn't use my own money for, but the investment that came from using my first interest money. 

This process of compounding can continue on forever as long as three criteria are met:

  1. I keep using the interest for opening up more lemonade stands, not for anything else (like buying ice cream). 
  2. I don't run out of places to open up new lemonade stands. 
  3. I find people to man each lemonade stand, ensuring they all keep operating to make money.

In short, keep putting all your money back in, and keep the game running. 

The flat line is what happens to our profits (interest) from investing in our lemonade stand if we spend them on ice cream. They don't increase. The curved line is what happens to this money if we continuously use it for more and more lemonade stands. 

The flat line is what happens to our profits (interest) from investing in our lemonade stand if we spend them on ice cream. They don't increase. The curved line is what happens to this money if we continuously use it for more and more lemonade stands. 


Compound interest doesn't just show up in money related things like buying cars, houses, and saving money. It's relevant to any new habit we build, like building our relationships, learning new hobbies, reading, and connecting with our families. The list goes on. All that needs to be happening for compound interest to be relevant is that something needs to be building. 

We already learned that we must focus on putting back all the fruits of our labour into putting in more labour, and that we have to keep the game running. Here are a few things that we want to avoid if we want compound interest to work in our favour. (think of them as metaphors)

Are you hungry yet?

Are you hungry yet?

1. We want to resist the urge to buy ice cream. 

When building anything, awesome things will come. It's easy to get sucked into using the fruits of our labour for easy wins like buying ice cream. Unfortunately, this is a major error. When we use our extra money to reinvest, we keep it, and we use it to make even more money. It's a double win. But when we throw it away by spending it on ice cream, it's a double loss. We lose our money, and any hope we have at using it to make money for us. 

What about thirsty?

What about thirsty?

2. We want to stay focused on the lemonade. 

If we have someone ask us if we want to buy a chocolate bar stand, we may feel tempted to change up the game. Not that it would be a way to guarantee failure to start opening up chocolate bar stands, it would just be taking on unnecessary risk. If we do one thing more and more, we learn more about it, and on top of the money we get out of putting our time into it, we accumulate knowledge interest. In our lemonade example, this might mean that on the tenth lemonade stand we open, we figure out that we can save money on using lemons by adding in water. This wouldn't have come if we opened five chocolate bar stands, five lemonade stands, and five orange juice stands. 

We want to stay focused on whatever we're investing ourselves into. The more we can focus our energy, and use the fruits of our energy (interest) to focus even harder on this thing, the more we will learn about it, and the faster our knowledge will compound too. 

3. We keep on working.

If we stop working, we stop earning interest, and the process slows down. If we close the lemonade stands for a day, we lose both the money we can gain from that day, and the benefit of having another day for our earnings to accumulate to open up more stands faster. It's a double loss. As long as we keep working, we keep our momentum, and the compounding machine keeps on rolling. 

Compound interest is an exceptionally strong idea for building and sustaining strong habits. When we change any part of our life, we're starting from ground zero, with just one lemonade stand. This is the hardest part. We're going to have to wait weeks before we have enough money to start the next one. But once we do, we'll have to wait half as long to start the third, and a quarter as long for the forth, and so on. The same goes with changing our habits. It feels like it takes forever to get a new habit to stick, taking tons of our energy and attention to make the change in our life. But, once we have momentum from some days of getting it ingrained as a pattern, eventually, sustaining this habit feels effortless. This is because of the compounding effects of our efforts. At first, we have to put tons of energy in. But later, as this energy builds on each other, eventually, the energy we have to put in to maintain a habit becomes very small. 

In summary, we can use compound interest to help us grow any area of our lives. As long as we focus on reinvesting the interest we receive on top of our efforts back into the thing we're doing at the start, eventually we'll get enough momentum to make large change happen easily. 

3. Societal Norms

There are some interesting things that happen when a group of people gets together. One of these things is what we'll call normalizing. A societal norm is the name for some of the "norms" a group trends towards. Let's think of some examples. 

Well, we have shoes, everyone wears those, so they're probably a good idea. We have marriage, everyone does that, which means it's definitely a good idea. And, we have our phones, which we're supposed to reply to immediately when we receive a message, because that's how everyone else does it. 

My beautiful feel, in their daily state of bareness, cut up from their intense fight with society. And mosquitoes. 

My beautiful feel, in their daily state of bareness, cut up from their intense fight with society. And mosquitoes. 

These are our norms, and when we take a second here to break them down, we realize that they are, for the most part, quite arbitrary. Not wearing shoes outside won't kill us, there are many happy, unmarried people, and I absolutely love the focus rarely checking my phone allows me. Just because everyone does something doesn't mean it's right, and doesn't mean that doing the opposite is wrong. 

In fact, when it comes to societal norms, it doesn't really matter what they are, but in principle, they have to be distracting us from living the life we want to live. If we're going to base how we live on things everyone else does, simply because everyone else does them, we're probably not going to live a life that is fully matched to what we want. 

It's so easy to fall into the trap of not questioning why we're making the choices we're making, as we find ourselves normalizing to be like everyone else in society, falling down the traditional path. It's easy because we're wired this way. Back when we existed in tribes, if we were banished from the tribe, for whatever reason, it was literally impossible live. We would die. But we are in different times now, with the same brain, so we must be aware of this. 

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the traditional path. And some norms of existing in modern society, like wearing clothes out in public, are good if we all stick to them, whether we like them or not. Otherwise benches wouldn't exist. And I like benches. But there is likely something wrong if we're out of control of the life we're living, unaware of society's influence on our decisions, and our "normal' lives resulting without our intending so. 

So I encourage you to be aware, especially next time you're making any large decision, to question both sides, and be honest with yourself about whether you're doing this for you, or for everyone else. 

Everything popular is wrong.
— Oscar Wilde
So posh, Oscar. Smart too. Rawr.

So posh, Oscar. Smart too. Rawr.

4. Confirmation Bias

‘Confirmation bias’ or ‘myside bias’ is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.
— Wikipedia

There are two attitudes we can have to new information. Either we can think that we're right about everything, translating new information to fit existing schema in our heads (assimilation), or we can be open to changing our view on the world, exposing ourselves to the potential of changing our world view (accommodation). We have a bias towards the former, while the latter gives us the best chance at gaining real knowledge in life. (further reading on assimilation/accommodation is here)

Built into us, as humans, is a deep fear of "being wrong." We could think of this as being related to the societal norms in number three - we don't want to be wrong about something, get banished from the tribe, and starve on our own. Fair enough. But, if we can step back and see our fear of being wrong for what it's worth, a mere perceived loss in social capital seems insignificant as a cost compared with the benefit of actually learning new, more accurate information about the world. 

When we think we're right about everything, we increase our chances of making mistakes. Especially if we keep this habit for years, we are likely to fall victim to using incomplete, inaccurate portions of the path to create false "truth" that we use to make decisions about the future. It's a dangerous path to go down, and makes embarrassment likely.

Plus, no one likes people who think they're right about everything. They're not fun to be around, they aren't that interesting, since they don't like learning more about the world. This attitude is repulsive, and definitely one we should work to avoid. 

Instead, having an open outlook on life, constantly looking for ways we might be wrong, might be the best way we can work towards designing a learning-filled life. The more we know, the stronger we are. And the more open we are to learning, the more we'll know! It's a fun little cycle. And there are levels to this. First, we can process all that we come across as potentially better information that what we have before, opening ourselves up to being wrong. But as a next level, we can actively seek out parts of the world that we know are very different than our current beliefs. The more we do this, the more well-rounded our knowledge will be. 

As a template, I will share the Socratic Method, as it was briefly explained to me once:

  1. It's really hard to know anything for sure
  2. So you or I can't be certain about much
  3. But let's give finding truth a try, proceeding with caution
With all those books, this guy definitely looks like he knows some stuff for sure! But nope. 

With all those books, this guy definitely looks like he knows some stuff for sure! But nope. 

5. Pareto's Principle

In the world, according to Pareto, there is an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. He says that most outputs come from just a select few of the inputs. So, since getting most of the way there is usually good enough, we can use this principle to figure out what the few inputs are, focus our energy on those, and reach results faster. Sounds awesome, right?

It's easy to get carried away, carelessly pouring our energy into inputs only to realize that we're wasting most of our time. Taking the extra time to pick the most important inputs before starting anything, though counter-intuitive, will save enormous amounts of time down the line.

Notice the arrow pointing at the sweet spot, where we start to lose output for each additional unit of effort. 

Notice the arrow pointing at the sweet spot, where we start to lose output for each additional unit of effort. 

This principle is useful virtually everywhere where work is being done, but I'll share three illustrative examples.

1. In understanding anything, a few big ideas get you most of the way there. 

How much of math is just iterations on the basic operations of multiplying, dividing, adding, and subtracting? According to Warren Buffet, there are just two big rules in investing: 1. Never lose money. 2. See rule number one. In learning languages, one can become conversational in understanding the few most important words of a new language. In storytelling, understanding how to design for a beginning, middle, and end is just about everything. 

2. When learning a new skill, focus on the single most basic thing. 

If you can do a double-lift very well, you can learn many powerful magic tricks. If you can "toss hands" well in cheerleading, many other skills become easier. If you can do the basic running man well for shuffle dancing, more advanced shuffling become a lot easier. 

I know him! Guys! I know him!

I know him! Guys! I know him!

3. Gain momentum easily by focusing on value right from the start. 

When starting anything, it's easy to get caught up in the details. When we waste precious starting energy on the unimportant, we build little momentum, and find it easy to quit early. If we can identify the most valuable part of whatever project we're starting, and focus on it, exclusive of other, less important detail type tasks, we can build momentum much faster and reach our goal in fractions of the time.

A great example is in starting a blog. It's easy to get caught up in branding, SEO, website layout, and watching months of YouTube videos on how to start a blog. Instead, it's much better to focus on where the value is: creating useful blog posts, and ignore the other stuff as long as possible. 

In short, if we spend time separating the important inputs from the unimportant at the start, and exercise the discipline to focus on these inputs for some time, our efforts will yield far greater outputs than if we applied an equal amount of energy to all inputs. 

*sidenote*

Many people call Pareto's Principle the 80/20 rule, which just puts a number to the ratio we have been talking about. Instead of just a few inputs, they say 20%, and instead of most outputs, they say 80%. I don't like to assign these things numbers, since the numbers are often off. Even if we could find the 40% of inputs that are responsible for 60% of outputs, we're better off then applying our energy evenly everywhere. Often, the relationship can be as extreme as 95/5 or 99/1. So, I rather think about it in terms of words/general concepts: most of the good stuff comes from just a few things. 

*sidenote complete*

For fun, here are 10 examples of the 80/20 principle, applied.

  1. School
    1. Understanding a few concepts well makes most of the learning easy.
  2. Weightlifting
    1. Just a few exercises can train all of our muscles.
  3. Dating/Relationships
    1. Building confidence in ourselves, and everything associated with this process, is most attractive. 
  4. Losing Weight
    1. By just changing breakfast to a couple eggs, beans, and vegetables for a month can spark 10-20 lbs of fat-loss.
  5. Starting Something New
    1. Getting a mentor and create a pattern disruption (e.g. move somewhere new) to maximize momentum building.
  6. Friendships
    1. Just a few of our friendships provide us with most of our feeling of companionship.
  7. Wealth Distribution
    1. Just a few people hold most of the world's wealth. 
  8. Salespeople
    1. In any given sales office, the few top producers bring in most of the revenue. 
  9. Travelling
    1. Tourists flock to a small area of the whole of any tourist country. 
  10. Success Advice
    1. Forming and maintaining a strong daily routine makes failure very difficult. 

6. Attention Residue

When you're in class, get a text from a friend about something unexpectedly important, and have trouble re-focusing on what's happening in class, the attention you put towards your phone is leaving a residue on your focus, preventing you from fully focusing on class. 

You call that a phone? More like an ability-to-focus-killing-machine if ya ask me.

You call that a phone? More like an ability-to-focus-killing-machine if ya ask me.

When we're moving around at high speeds, busy with many tasks, rarely taking time to slow down and digest our experience, our focus becomes much worse. It becomes clouded with residue from switching between all our little tasks. To prevent the build-up of attention residue, we can do three things. 

1. Stop it at the source.

The fewer times we task switch throughout the day, the less residue builds up on our lens of focus. This is the best way to fight attention residue, to prevent it from accumulating at all. We can do this by checking our phones much less, convincing ourselves that we're interested in the things we spend our time in, or changing our environments. We can change our environments in a number of ways, whether this is the people we hang out with, the hobbies we do, or the books we read, to things that we can't help being interested in. The more we're interested in the things we spend our time on, the less we will feel like switching tasks to easy things that are expensive on our focus and leave residue. 

2. Do less things. 

Designing our life to become more interested in the things we choose to spend our time on will make it easier for us to not task switch often. But, to make things even easier, we can reduce the number of activities we engage in in our life by cutting out what we don't like. This will make us less busy, and allow for more time for our lens of focus to clean itself. Plus, we will stop wasting energy on the things we don't like. That's a bonus. 

3. Take breaks. 

It's easy to move from this thing to that thing constantly throughout the day. Today's world moves extremely fast. When we do this, we don't give ourselves enough time to deal with our experiences throughout the day. When we can allow ourselves to slow down and take breaks, doing nothing, just sitting, or lying down, allowing our minds to dream, think, or wander, we are cleaning our lens of focus. It's difficult to allow ourselves time to relax, especially when we are so used to rushing everywhere all the time, but it's just like any new habit. Starting's hard, but once it's built, it becomes easy. And the improvement in focus is well worth it. 

Being able to focus properly allows us to get our work done faster so we have more time for the fun stuff. While at the time, it seems like we're just checking our phone quickly, the resulting cost on our focus is never worth the expense. Instead, we check our phone just like we do any other task, fully focused, for a good amount of time, until we've fully completed it. For our phone, this might mean leaving checking our messages until the end of the day, when we get home, and checking them all at once, not leaving any unread until we're done our checking session. 

Focus is the most important thing. 

7. Circle of Focus

Our circle isn't that big, so we best be using the space for stuff that's really important to us

Our circle isn't that big, so we best be using the space for stuff that's really important to us

One of the most beautiful errors to make is to use our precious energy to attempt to control what we can't. The beauty of these errors is in their simplicity. Simply, it is impossible to control something we can't, even with all of the energy capable of being produced by our entire being. So, if we don't want to waste our energy, it's worth thinking about whether or not we can influence the place we're spending it, before we actually spend it. 

Our time/attention/focus is so incredibly precious. Where we direct our attention/focus determines who we will become. What's interesting about our time and attention is that it is always within our control. If we can work to direct our time and attention towards things we like, our lives will gravitate closer towards being one we enjoy. If we are careless with our time and attention, other people will take it from us, for what they're interested in, and we'll be living in a way that we likely won't enjoy. 

We become like our environments. This means that the friends we pick, the job/major we choose, the content we consume, and the hobbies we have all shape us. They make us. So, if we want to become calm, but we're surrounding ourselves with angry people, we'll be getting further away from this goal. The same goes with consuming angry content. Our world's shape us. 

Then, our method of interacting with the world will involve us figuring our what we want from it, then going out and searching for it. However, it is much easier to do the opposite, which is listening to what our environments want for us, getting that thing, and then telling ourselves we want it. As an example, we can think of any social media newsfeed. The newsfeed wants us to scroll further, consuming more stuff, but we might only want to go on to see a particular friend's profile. But, we can't say no, so we scroll the newsfeed until we lose track of time, without even remembering to look at what our friend is up to. 

Hopefully, the more general concept of this method is clear: we figure out what we want before going out and allocating our time and attention to things, so that we can control our lives and match them to how we want them to be. Specifically for the internet, I have found a great programs that block our inbox before we want to see it, hide our facebook newsfeed, and give us a blank YouTube homepage. 

8. Presentation Matters

We can't directly communicate ideas (perhaps this will change soon). There are always layers between what we're actually trying to communicate, how it comes out, and how other people perceive whatever we're communicating. If we're not careful about these layers, what we intend to communicate isn't always what ends up getting received on the other end. 

This comes up everywhere. All advertising and marketing ever. It's not about the actual product, but instead how it's presented to the world, to whom, at what time, using what words, and what photoshop, and starring what people, and on and on and on. When talking in conversation, if we speak with a deep voice and stand up tall, people will hear us much differently than if we talk softly and hunch over. This principle comes up any time any idea is being communicated, which is a whole lot.

What we can take away from presentation mattering is understanding how to manipulate variables in such a way that the idea we're trying to communicate is received as honestly as possible. The first step is being aware of a game. Many people try to tell people things, they don't listen, and then they get mad at them for not listening properly. There is always a better way to use the layers differently, tailored to the audience, in such a way that the message is much clearer. 

Here are some of the layers explained. 

1. Audience. It's all about the audience. 

Before trying to communicate anything, we have to think about who is receiving the information. We want to learn everything about them so we can present our idea in such a way that they have the easiest time grasping exactly what we're trying to communicate. We never get mad at our audience for not being like us, thinking that our way is the "right" way, but instead, take their way of life, their perspective on the world as the right way, and mold our communication accordingly. 

These girls! It's about them! Guys too! Not you! 

These girls! It's about them! Guys too! Not you! 

2. Use every layer possible. 

They say the medium is the message, right? So, before we think about the message, we want to design every aspect of the medium for our audience first. To have a kick-ass message, we want to use as many of our tools as possible. Here is a list of some ideas.

A picture of marketing - there is a lot more than meets the eye - YOU CELL PHONE ADD MARKUP

  • Time - Are we presenting the idea at the time when our audience is most receptive to this type of new idea?
  • Place - Is our idea in the right location? How's the background? Who else is there?
  • Priming - Have we adequately prepared our audience in advance? Are they warm? Do we need a lot of priming?
  • Path - Are we introducing them to the idea along the right path, in the right order? Where should we put the punchline?
  • Source - Are we using sources that this audience respects? Do we need to research our idea more?
  • Frequency - When did we last talk to this audience? Are we giving them enough time to get hungry for our next idea? (great example)
  • Length - Do we have the right size of box for this idea? Should we be more brief? More dense?
  • Details- Did we dot our i's and cross our T's? Is there fluff/garbage around our idea that can be removed?

The list goes on, my friends. The point is that we want to customize as many aspects of the medium as possible to maximize the honesty of our message. 

3. Is this necessary?

So many of the ideas we feel the need to communicate are distracting. From the presenter's end, the fewer ideas we share, the more valuable our ideas will be perceived by our audience, and the more time we will have to put into presenting these ideas well. The best way to ensure we communicate awesome ideas is to vet ideas well right from the source. Before we start designing for our audience by customizing our medium, we want to be sure the idea even needs to leave our head. 

Bonus idea: The Audience/Performer Paradox

It is impossible to be performing in a play, and to be in the audience at the same time. We have to pick one or another. When we're presenting ideas to our audience, it's important we take a seat in the audience to get a good look at what our performance is like. But, it's impossible to do this as we're performing. So, we need to set aside time to look at our performances from an objective perspective, solely focusing on being the audience sometimes. This will allow us to create stronger messages. 

(a picture of someone on stage)- if you figure out how to be in two places at once, let me know!

9. Batching

Batching is one of my absolute favourite meta-concepts. Too bad it's at the end. Basically, the idea is that if we take things that require similar preparation and take-down, and we put them together, then we save time that would have normally been spent on individually setting up and taking down for each task. 

An easy one is laundry. Instead of washing all our clothes as we get them dirty, every single day, we save laundry up and do a big batch at a time. Checking our phone is another one. We usually wait for some messages to come in, and check them all at once, as opposed to checking each one individually as we receive it (at least this is how I do it).

I used this in an earlier post, but it's just too funny not to use again. 

I used this in an earlier post, but it's just too funny not to use again. 

For advanced batching, we can pair similar tasks together, not ones that are the exact same. For example, when we get into working mode, we could finish an essay, do some homework questions, and write that long e-mail to that friend of ours, all while setup at our computer and in the zone. Instead of having to do these things at three times during the day, we save two set-ups and two take-downs by doing them all at once. 

The real value of batching doesn't lie in the time it takes to set-up and take down things. Although, sometimes it does. If a stadium is normally an ice rink, but has to become a concert hall for a show, they would want to put as many shows back to back as possible, to avoid having to spend all the time switching the equipment over.

Concert halls aside, batching saves our focus. It's all about focus. It takes a long time for our brain to switch focus between things, but once it's there, we want to maximize what we can get done using this golden focus. That's why we get different homework done back to back, or check e-mail all at once. We don't want to have to constantly get into the e-mail zone, so once we're there, we might as well use our e-mail focus to the max, and get all our e-mails done. It's so difficult to get into a flow that when we get there, we want to make sure we have prepared batches to maximize the value we can get out of this state. 

As a more general application of batching, we can use working out as an illustrative example. If we focus tons of our energy to make our workouts extremely intense and short, using Occam's Protocol for example, we will find we progress very fast. As a general point in the world, when we are able to focus energy and attention into extremely small spaces, we will find rapid progress. We can also see this with focused programs at school like law, medicine, and dentistry. They are intense programs focused on a part of the world that make very high quality products (doctors, lawyers, and dentists).

Set-up and take-down costs are no fun, which is why it's great to batch the boring stuff, like errands, groceries, and doing homework. We can batch these things by doing these activities as infrequently as possible and making our batches as large and intense as possible.

We become much stronger people if we can increase our ability to intensely focus.


Doesn't that feel nice? Strengthening the connections between all the ideas in our head? Getting smarter (richer) feels absolutely amazing to me. Maybe I'm alone. Please join me. Don't want to be a loner over here...

But for real. These meta-concepts are bomb. I hope you have enjoyed absorbing them as much as I have enjoyed packaging them up to grow in your precious mind. I encourage you to pay attention to them in the coming weeks as you encounter new information, and feel old information sink into your brain more deeply. 

If you're really on the ball, you may find many of the meta concepts I left off this list. There are an infinite amount, so you're bound to find some. I hope you do. This is the ultimate goal, to be able to generate meta-learnings about the world on our own. Once we learn to learn better, our knowledge quality is going to be through the roof. 

And since the quality of our knowledge determines our quality of life, we'll probably find ourselves getting happier too. 

I hope you had fun friends. Your inner you thanks you for taking the time to better yourself. 

Much love <3 

/johnsamuelgray\

Congratulations! Your brain thanks you for growing it. Great work!

Congratulations! Your brain thanks you for growing it. Great work!

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