What Can We Learn from Millennials About How to Learn Anything Fast?

January 28, 2023

What Can We Learn from Millennials About How to Learn Anything Fast?

May 29, 2023

I had the great honor of working with a group of whip-smart Millennials during the last decade. One of the key things that was extraordinary about this team is that they could learn anything fast – any topic, any industry – in about 12 weeks.

As I approached retirement, I took the time to study them and distill their wisdom into accelerated learning tips, along with wisdom from several favorite authors on the topic of habits and learning.

Accelerated Learning Tips

Follow threads of curiosity to find content that sparks your interest.

Believe that you can learn anything. Approach learning with a beginners mindset and don’t be afraid to appear naive or ask a lot of questions.

You don’t have to go back to school to learn new things. Use modern media to accelerate learning - audiobooks, podcasts, blogs, videos.

Use curated learning resources to help find great content. Crowdsource your reading/ listening lists from others you admire. When consuming a book, see what sources are cited, and follow those threads to find another interesting book.

Books bring the highest ROI on reading because they are the most radically condensed form of knowledge on the planet. Read what stands the test of time. You get more bang for your learning time with books than with social media, newspapers, magazines. (The Art of Impossible, Steven Kotler, Chapter 9).

Audiobooks are a great learning hack. Listening to audiobooks opens a new realm of possibilities because you can listen “on top of” other life activities (walking, working out, cooking, cleaning, driving, commuting). This learning hack enables you to consume larger amounts of content (this technique is how many busy people manage to read 100+ books per year).

Use a twofer method. For each audiobook, also purchase either the hardcover or kindle version - to land insights and use for quick reference. Star key passages to quickly find them later. Underline essential quotes and ideas. Record your biggest takeaways inside the book's front and back covers. The twofer method is helpful in both landing insights and also being able to retrieve them later (it’s hard to go back and look something up in an audiobook). Blog: Use This Simple Technique to Get More Out of Every Book You Read | by Bobby Powers | The Ascent | Medium

Create Spotify podcast playlists. Hack Spotify’s playlist feature to create podcast playlists, to make it easier for you to access content on demand. For example, I was interested in learning more about companies innovating new ventures to benefit the environment, or ecopreneurship. So I took an hour to sort through different podcast series and created an “Ecopreneur Ventures” Spotify playlist.

Walk, learn and think. Take long walks, preferably in nature settings, and listen to audiobooks and podcasts.

Balance your consumption between historical and future focused content, to open your horizons to both long-wave and short-wave signals. Books tend to provide a deeper historical perspective, while podcasts are often centered on new trends and companies.

Develop a personal knowledge system that works for how you like to consume content and land insights. Explore www.Notion.com for a modern way to take notes, think, write and plan. It’s very flexible and accessible in a digitally native way across devices.

Find lost time. Perform a daily habits analysis to find pockets of time currently spent on social media, news doom scrolling, watching TV, long Netflix binge sessions, and free up time for learning. (Atomic Habits, James Clear).

Here are curated resources from favorite habits and learning authors, for a deeper dive. And use the accelerated learning tips to enhance your consumption of this content.

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear - start with this one because it helps you rethink habits to free up time for learning.

Art of the Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer, Steven Kotler - shows you how to get in flow mode and learn almost anything. In particular, Chapter 10 has a helpful “Five Not-So-Easy Steps for Learning Almost Anything”.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport - helps you carve out time for deep work, where you can get more done in less time.

Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career, Scott Young – interesting sources for the habits of ultralearners.

Shane Parrish and FS Farnam Street Blog, Accelerated Learning: Learn Faster and Remember More https://fs.blog/learning/

Blog: How To Read Academic Content Once and Remember it Forever | by David Handel, MD | Better Humans | Medium

Blog: How to Learn Faster If You Are Not a Genius | by Younes Henni, PhD | Curious | Medium

Colleen Drummond led KPMG’s Innovation Labs and is a retired business innovation executive and “me, my life, my wallet” thought leader. Rejecting traditional retirement narratives, she is busy innovating retirement - from a “rejuvenation year” to building a rich portfolio life.

MEA is offering a Reframing Retirement Workshop this spring: Mar 19, 2023-Mar 26, 2023 Join MEA co-founders Chip Conley, Jeff Hamaoui, Bob Laura and me as we push the boundaries of traditional retirement, critically questioning everything about it, and help you develop a new, more personalized framework for thriving in your next phase of life. It’s an engaging, intellectual and spiritual life stage with so many possibilities. It’s a great way to start your learning journey and get engaged in an event with like-minded people.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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