Review: The First 20 Hours
Aug20

Review: The First 20 Hours

A few years ago, Josh Kaufman wrote The Personal MBA… I loved it.  It’s like having a stack of business books condensed and covering most of the things you’d want to know if you happened to be searching the ‘self-help’ or ‘start a business’ books section.  It is by no means the only book you need, in fact, here’s a link to Josh’s list of the 99 (and growing) best business books to read . His new book, The First 20 Hours, is a very different project, it has more of Josh’s personal touch to it and is more about having fun (at least, in our eyes) than it is about business.  Why? It’s about learning. Josh’s book is written as a polite and easily digestible treatise on why you should learn something new.  It’s also a slight rebuttal to the interpretations of 10,000 hour rule popularized in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.  The idea being that maybe you do have to put an average of 10,000 hours in to your craft to be a world champion or a master craftsman, but you don’t have to be a world champion to play tennis effectively, or a master craftsman to make your own pottery.  A close listen to his talk or a read through of the first chapters (the most important are the first 3, arguably) should lead readers to understand that it’s not a definitive ‘do this for 20 hours and you’ve ‘learned’ that skill’ but a ‘do this for 20 hours and try to be smart and organized about it and you’ll almost always be surprised at how much you can learn in that time.’ The first three chapters detail everything you need to know about the way Josh recommends you start thinking about learning new things, the following chapters are personal stories about him learning new skills.  Truthfully, I read the first three chapters and couldn’t stop myself rushing off to brush up on my piano skills. The remaining chapters I read for fun on a sunbed and then bought the audiobook because I enjoyed reading it enough that I wanted to listen back for inspiration as I was beginning a new skill. There is no hard theory here, the book is Josh’s observations of learning and experience culled to make a great set of guidelines, rules, tips and encouragement.  Just as there is no book that will provide you with a chart of how to practice for 10,000 hours, all that can be offered is the encouragement to begin.  The chapters about him learning are enjoyable and surprisingly full of information on skills like Yoga, Ukulele playing, Programming and Touch...

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