Ultralearning With Scott Young: How To Learn Skills Faster

Scott Young

Canadian writer Scott Young learnt the entire MIT computer science curriculum in just one year, travelled around the world for 12-months without speaking english and has taught himself creative skills like drawing portraits.

In his new book, Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career, he’s condensed what he and others have discovered about learning hard skills fast.

I recently caught up with Scott and in this interview, he reveals:

  • Why he decided to write a book about ultralearning
  • How he approaches writing, research and self-editing
  • What new writers should do if they want to acquire skills like copywriting
  • The essential role of critical feedback for writers
  • What his writing and ideal early morning routine looks like

And lots more

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Transcript Below

Scott Young:                       So, the book Ultralearning, this has really been the book that I’ve been kind of wanting to write for the last decade, pretty much. So I started thinking about writing this book pretty much when I was doing the MIT Challenge, which was back in 2011, and when I had started that project I had been thinking already that, “Oh, I might …” Like this might be something I could maybe write a book about, and I finished the project and part of it was just … I was like, “Okay, I’ve just finished doing this project and I don’t really feel like also writing a book about the project immediately after,” and then also I think, just to me it wasn’t developed enough as an idea then, and so I put it on hold.

Scott Young:                       And then it took a couple more years, more projects, working on more things, getting introduced to other people who did this kind of ultralearning to really see what the actual idea was, or the picture was, and so I knew I wanted to write a book about learning. Learning has been a topic that has just been the obsession of my life for the last decade, so I knew I wanted to write a book about that topic, but it was hard to find an angle that I thought I really believed in, and I also thought was compelling, because I felt like I’m not a PhD.

Scott Young:                       I’m not like some Harvard researcher in cognitive science, so I felt like it was a little bit of a stretch to do a quote-on-quote science of learning book where the pitches I’m going to summarize, all the science we know about learning, I felt like, “Well, I’m not really in the best position to do that kind of book.” And I also felt like a book that was just totally self-indulgent and just going to talk about my own experiences writing a book would also not be that interesting.

Scott Young:                       So, it took a while to find this perspective, which ended up bing the idea of ultralearning as a distinct strategy for learning hard things, and then taking a bunch of other people’s stories, mixing them with my own, mixing them with some science and research, and try to come up with something actionable for people, but also something new that I didn’t see a book out there on learning that had talked about it in this way, because most books on learning, of course, talk about, “How do you study and get good grades?” And there aren’t that many on, you know, “How do you teach yourself hard skills that matter for you even when just passing a test isn’t your goal?”

Bryan Collins:                     Yeah, I mean, the book that it reminds me a little bit of was the 4-Hour Chef book. I suppose that’s a slightly different topic, which is-

Scott Young:                       Yeah. Well, there definitely have been books that have been similar. I think 4-Hour Chef is an unusual book because the title doesn’t make it seem like it’s about learning at all. So I’m not quite sure what was the initial intention for that because it’s extensively about cooking, but, really sort of deeply about learning, whereas I think my book is quite explicitly about the practice of learning.

Bryan Collins:                     And you’ve mastered a number of skills before you wrote the book. Everything from the MIT course that you talk about in chapter one to where you spent the year traveling and didn’t speak any English. So, which of those skills has made the biggest impact, I suppose, on your life?

Scott Young:                       Yeah. So, the biggest impact on my life. I think the one that sticks with me more is the language learning project rather than the MIT Challenge. Not to say the MIT Challenge … I think that had a profound influence on me, so I don’t want to discredit it, but I think, for me, the skills that I use more to this day, I think I use the languages a bit more. However, the MIT stuff is … I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about. They all have their own unique place.

Scott Young:                       The MIT Challenge as well, I think is interesting because I think that for a lot of people the way that they would be viewing that project from the outside is, “Well, this was project to get really good at programming,” and although computer science is related to programming, if you look at what I was actually studying in those courses and doing on a daily basis, if you wanted to just … If your only goal was “I want to become a really good programmer” that probably wouldn’t have been the way to do it. That it was much more math and theory and stuff, and so the lot of the takeaways, the things that I think now, or I remember learning that, and that are probably not the things people would have expected. Because I did do programming, but I also learned a bunch of physics and I had took biology classes and chemistry classes and I did a whole economics major in there, so a lot of the stuff I learned about economics I learned in that period of time as well.

Scott Young:                       And those were … Sort of part of the MIT philosophy was to get their undergrads … They wanted everyone who, regardless of their major, to have a firm grounding in sciences and those topics, and so I felt like I had got those benefits of that education, perhaps even more so than just being able to do a lot of programming.

Bryan Collins:                     One other thing I was struck by, is you’ve been writing and sharing your work online since, I think, the mid-2000s if I read your site correctly. So, you’re not somebody who subscribes to the idea that people are good at one or two key domains, but you can actually master an MIT course and you can also write a book and you can also teach through courses, which I think you offer as well.

Scott Young:                       Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryan Collins:                     So, but you would agree it’s possible for somebody to master different skillsets even if they’re a writer, for example?

Scott Young:                       Yeah. It depends on what you mean by master, right? I think some people use the term master to refer to an elite level of achievement, meaning that you have reached the top performance in the world, and if we’re talking about it like that, again, it does depend a little bit on the domain that we’re considering, but I would say that it’s unlikely that someone would truly master more than one domain just because very few people master even one domain, right? Like the vast majority of us are not masters of anything, but we’re okay at some things and that’s it.

Scott Young:                       So, if we’re talking about it in terms of producing cutting-edge research or being an elite performer in some field, then it requires a certain focus just because the timing that it involves means that most people never master anything.

Scott Young:                       Now, if we mean mastery to mean something less ambitious, just meaning that you are competent with a skillset, then it’s totally possible for people to learn dozens or more skills. So, it’s a little bit like learning a language, for instance. I think to get to a level where you could be comfortable in the language, that you could have conversations in the language, that you could travel effortlessly, that you could do what you needed to do effortlessly, I would say that it’s quite possible, not only for someone to learn five to ten languages, but to do so where learning languages wasn’t even the main focus of their life. Where you would just pick them up.

Scott Young:                       However, if you wanted to get to a level where you are doing like … Like you were totally bilingual, where you had no problems conversing at all. You were totally fluent, you could do a PhD dissertation in that topic, you could do all those things. Well, in that case, to get to that level probably requires living in that country that speaks it for a decade or more. So, this is the fine graining of when we’re talking about mastery or fluency in terms of languages, or really any skill, is that to get to this what I think … If we’re thinking about adequacy or like you’re competent in the skill, that’s actually fairly easy to do I think in a lot of skills. That you can get to a level where, “Oh, yeah, you’re pretty good at this,” it’s not that hard, but I think it’s also a mistake to equate that with the most elite level of skill you can reach, which really does require this thing.

Scott Young:                       So, when people are talking about, you know, “Can you master multiple skills?” I really want to think, “What’re we talking about here?” Because, is it possible to become an elite violinist at the same time as becoming a Nobel prize-winning physicist in the same time as becoming, you know, write the next Great American Novel and stuff? Maybe not, but could you write a novel, could you learn to play the violin, could you understand physics well enough? Yeah, of course. So, I think that just depends on what your goals are and what we consider when we talk about mastery.

Bryan Collins:                     One of the examples you use is how a new writer could learn copywriting as a skill, for example. So what would be the first step somebody could take if they wanted to learn copywriting, which is a particular discipline when in writing?

Scott Young:                       Yeah, so copywriting is a really popular one, and I think for a lot of the pragmatic writing that people tend to do, copywriting is probably an essential skill. So I don’t even think of it as being super separate from writing itself, but … Yeah, basically I would probably approach copywriting is to have some project where you are trying to write some copy. Now what that’s going to be is going to depend on your situation.

Scott Young:                       So, one of the woman that I interviewed for this book called [inaudible 00:11:24]. This was years ago that we had some interaction. She was working on this project and she was telling me that she was an intern at a new firm, and I think they did web design, web consulting, and then she got into the copywriting. No, she was already in an environment where copy was being produced, so it’s possible for her to slide in and write some copy for some of these things or do some copy even if it’s not assigned by her boss. Just write some copy and be like, “Hey, I’ve been working on this. What do you think?” That’s totally available to you.

Scott Young:                       For me, as a business owner, I’m often writing sales pages and things like that, so for me, when I write copy, it’s often for something that I’m trying to sell. And similarly, for you, you might have a little side project where you want to write copy for. You might want to use it. So, I always suggest starting with, “Where do you actually want to use this skill?” Whenever you’re learning any skill. Now, usually, you’re not wanting to learn copywriting in a vacuum, it’s for some purpose, and so that would be the first question is, “What is that purpose and where do you start there?”

Scott Young:                       From the second point, I would say I would probably do quite a bit of reading on copywriting. So read books about copywriting. What are the skills? This is not only good for meta-learning purposes to figure, “Okay, what are the skills that I need to get good in copywriting?” but give you some starting points for your actual practice, and then to do some kind of project where you’re writing a lot of copy. So, again, what that project exactly looks like is probably going to depend on your situation. If it were me, for instance, I would probably spend most of my time … You know, I have some stuff that I sell, I do have some sales pages already, so the copywriting project would probably be “let’s write a bunch of different copy pages, maybe even test which ones work better,” you know, that direct marketing approach.

Scott Young:                       If you didn’t have that, if you were doing something else, then maybe the copywriting project would look a little different on your end, but I think that’s the way I would approach it, is that there would be a large volume of practice combined with some books and some things to ground it in theory.

Bryan Collins:                     Yeah. That makes sense. That makes sense. You also have an interesting idea in the book where if you want to learn a new skill you should go out and speak to somebody who is better at that skill than you are. So, how can I go about doing that if I wanted to … Let me think of an example. If I’m running my own business and I’m spending more of my time managing the business rather than just getting it off the ground, so I want to learn some more leadership skills, for example.

Scott Young:                       Leadership skills. Well, again, I think this expert interview method, the idea behind it, is that we want to talk to someone who has this skill that we’ve learn and get a sense of how they acquired it and get a sense of how it impacts their goals, because often we’re not just trying to learn something on its own, we’re learning it because we think it will help with something else, right? So, one of the big reasons to do an expert interview is because sometimes when you dig into the field a little bit you realize, “Oh, this thing that I thought mattered a lot maybe doesn’t matter as much,” and so having that first contact with someone who’s done it before can give you a little bit of that clue-in.

Scott Young:                       The second thing I think is that, when you’re doing this expert interview, is that it allows you to chart, “How do people typically learn this skill?” So this doesn’t mean that you have to do exactly what they did. It doesn’t mean that you need to, you know, when they give you advice you need to stand up straight and follow it exactly, but rather it helps you map out what is the typical skill progression here.

Scott Young:                       So, if someone you identify is having good management or leadership skills and, you know, they might come back to you and say, “Oh, you know, I’ve been running my business for a decade and you just kind of learn it by doing it,” this kind of thing. Well, that doesn’t give you necessarily the answer for, “Okay, what should my ultralearning project be exactly?” but it does tell you, “Okay, this person who is good it at, how did they get good at it? Well, they were working in real leadership situations.” They weren’t just, let’s say, reading a book on leadership or something, as an example.

Scott Young:                       And so, I think that would be the starting point for conversations. The other thing that I try to drill into with interviews, is I try to look at, “What were aspects of either their environment when they were learning the skill or aspects of things that they did that maybe would’ve put them on a path to learning that skill well where others may not have.” So, the environmental piece is really important. So, for instance, if I was talking to someone who I thought was an excellent programmer and they told me, “Oh, you know, I worked on all these opensource projects and that put me in contact with the best programmers in this subfield, and that interaction with them and that feedback really improved my code.” That would be interesting, you know, as apposed to if, “Oh, they learn all their programming working on solo projects,” right? Or, “I work at this really big company and I had to have really good code because I was working with all these other people and maintaining code basis.”

Scott Young:                       So these are all interesting little details of how did they acquire those skills so that you might start to say to yourself, “How important is it that I’m working with other people to get to the level that I want, or how important is it that I focus on learning these sort of background ideas which otherwise wouldn’t be there?” So the expert interview method can sometimes be … It doesn’t often give you the exact formulation of what project you should do, but it helps eliminate or narrow you or otherwise direct your attention towards opportunities that I think might not be there.

Scott Young:                       So, even for me when I’m looking at people who are really good at writing books and I;m wanting to improve at writing, you sort of say, “Oh, okay. Well, this person … There’s a few obvious paths that people take to get good at writing,” and so even if I’m not going to take those paths, I need to be carefully paying attention to what kinds of experiences are they having on those paths that allow them to get good at that, whether that’s Academia or traditional journalism, or that kind of thing.

Bryan Collins:                     Did you use any of those approaches for writing this book?

Scott Young:                       Yeah, yeah. So I actually, I have a recording of an interview that I did with Cal Newport who wrote, of course, Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You and more recently, Digital Minimalism, and I had an interview with him … and, obviously, he’s a good friend of mine so the interview was a little bit more formal than it might otherwise have needed to be, but he was someone that, from the early point of writing this book, I kind of modeled, “Okay, what was he doing? How did he think about writing a book? What was the process that went in there?” So, this book, even for me, was actually very explicitly modeled off of Deep Work as the starting point.

Scott Young:                       Now, the ending point doesn’t look exactly like Deep Work, so I don’t want to make the idea that they are the same book, but when I was, you know, starting, “How on earth do I possibly take all these vague ideas and turn them into a book?” Deep Work was the starting point because I really liked how he had set up that book. Now, this book evolved in a different direction. One of the things that Cal Newport does for Deep Work is it’s about 50/50 why and then 50% how, whereas this book is more like 20% why and 80% how, and that just evolved organically from realizing that it doesn’t require much selling to convince people that being able to learn hard things quickly might be useful. It’s more, “I don’t know how to do that.”

Scott Young:                       So the book ended up becoming a lot more, “Okay, what’s the how? What are the principles? What’s the why?” Whereas Deep Work, I think, maintains that ratio because it’s a lot more, “Okay, I need to be focused isn’t too complicated.” It’s just motivating why that might be important and why you should consider that seriously. So the shift of the book is a little different than mine.

Bryan Collins:                     I like how it was summarized in nine principles. So did it take you long to refine … I suppose your years of learning different skills and speaking to people entities nine principles-

Scott Young:                       Well, I did have an advantage for that. Like definitely this wasn’t a book that I came to as a blank slate. I already came from the idea that like, “I could already write this book.” Now, the interesting thing was, is that this book really gave me an excuse to dig into the research, so the principles did evolve. So even though that I had been thinking about these topics for like eight years prior to writing the book and doing a lot of my own projects, interviewing people, actually going through and doing the research for each of the principles, and just research in general, shifted the sand beneath my feet a little bit.

Scott Young:                       So, originally there were seven principles, and some of them changed, so I think the two that got added were … I added retrieval and experimentation. No, experimentation was in the initial ones, so what was the other one that I added? I don’t remember.

Scott Young:                       I’m thinking back to the proposal that I wrote about three years ago for this book, but retrieval’s a good example of one which I had not even thought of as a principle going into it and then reading the research … because to me, I always knew that active recall and testing yourself was important, but I just saw that as being part of, let’s say, feedback. Where, you know, “Well, the reason you want to test yourself is you want to get feedback,” or I thought of it as being part of directness. “That you want to test yourself because the way you want to use the skill is testing yourself,” and it was actually only through the research and seeing, “Oh, no. There’s actually a different kind of cognitive idea going on here behind retrieval that there are studies where you neither have directness nor feedback and retrieval still matters,” and so that was an interesting discovery for me that people have actually done those studies. That, you know, teased these ideas apart.

Scott Young:                       So, there were a lot of little discoveries along the way. Feedback was another interesting one because I had gone into it with a strong pro-immediate feedback position, largely from Anders Ericsson’s work on deliberate practice, and then you dig into the research, and it’s like super complicated and like nuanced and there’s all these discussions about … I remember reading huge sets of papers on how important is the timing of the feedback, and, I mean, some of these ideas did not make their way into the book because they didn’t have a really super concrete suggestion, but a lot of them, even just around what feedback is useful and what role does feedback play in learning, I think I really updated a lot of my beliefs because I used to just have a simple view, “Okay, feedback’s good. You need feedback to learn,” to, “Yes, you need feedback to learn but there’s lots of ways feedback can go wrong,” and there’s lots of times where you can learn even absent feedback.

Scott Young:                       So, there was a lot of these really interesting digging into that happened only when I started really doing the research for the book.

Bryan Collins:                     And that digging into or that research that you described, Scott, did you do that research yourself or did you work with research assistants to help you on the book?

Scott Young:                       Oh, well, we’ll find out whether or not my decision to do the research all on my own was wise later on. Obviously, I did get to talk to a lot of experts. I did call people up, which was, again, not as hard as you think it would be. You always imagine these people, “They’re very busy, they’re not going to want to talk to you,” but most of the researchers I interviewed were like, “Yeah, yeah. I’ll talk about my research,” even if they’re otherwise very busy.

Scott Young:                       And, so I did have calls with people, but I will say a lot of it was just doing the work of reading it. So, I think sometimes, and I don’t want to be overly presumptuous here about my ability to criticize other reporters or other writers, but I think there’s sometimes this idea that all you need to do to understand a subject is to just pull up an expert and then have an hour conversation with him and just paraphrase what they said to you, and I think that’s misleading because in order to even understand what they’re saying to you I think you need to understand the literature.

Scott Young:                       And so for me I have, you know, up in my … At the top of my bookshelf, I have about five or six full binders with 100s of pages of journal articles and meta-analyses, and I have a bunch of monographs and textbooks on my shelf here because, for me, I felt like to have that conversation with the expert it’s not … Well, I need them to clarify points that I don’t understand, but I don’t want them to try to summarize this whole field of research in 15 minutes because then my paraphrasing of their summary is probably not going to be that accurate.

Scott Young:                       So, I’m hoping that I did a good job, given that I’m not an expert or not a PhD researcher myself, but I really tried to work hard to try to capture the essence of what these diverse fields of cognitive science are saying about learning, as well as trying to preserve some of the nuance. Trying to avoid simplifying things too, too much when we get down to it. So like feedback, which is the perfect example of, there’s this huge, rich set of research on how feedback matters, why it matters, this kind of thing. The social impacts of feedback, all these kinds of interesting effects, and so I think, for me, that was a big goal, was I wanted to use this book as an opportunity to really understand this subject more deeply myself. And so I think I wanted to take that opportunity.

Bryan Collins:                     I’ve been trying to understand that research and speak to the experts that you’ve mentioned. How did you go about organizing your day when you were writing the book or editing it?

Scott Young:                       Yeah, so I kind of divided … The format of dividing it into principles was nice because it allowed me to tackle each chapter as a module itself, as apposed to, “Okay, I’ve got to just do a bunch of research on learning,” and that’s such a huge field. Even some of these subtopics, like feedback, we’re talking about more papers that I could read in a lifetime, but at least when you have a narrower question of, “What is the role of feedback in learning?” Then you can look at systematic reviews and meta-analyses and a few monographs or something to try to like, “Okay, I’ve read a couple books on this. I feel like I have a gist of what people think about this topic.”

Scott Young:                       So, I think, for me, the modular nature of it meant that I tended to tackle chapters one at a time. So rather than do eight months of research and then try to commence that all into the book, I just worked on each principle chapter in isolation. But then I ended up rewriting a lot of them later, so I’ve probably rewritten everything in this book more than once, and that was just because sometimes I would write a chapter and then I would uncover new research or I would have read someone’s story and I want to use them for example X, and then I feel like actually they’re better suited for situation Y.

Scott Young:                       So, some of the stories got swapped around too, so I was reading a lot of biographies. A lot of stories didn’t make it into the book just because they didn’t clearly illustrate anything that I was trying to talk about. So I have a lot of stories that are still unused, but like, the example, Srinivasa Ramanujan, he was originally going to be in the chapter for intuition, but then I ended up using Richard Feynman for that chapter, and he moved over to retrieval because of his somewhat unusual learning strategy where he didn’t have access to a lot of formal education and he had to prove proofs on his own, and this unorthodox background also probably contributed to some of his quirks as a mathematician.

Bryan Collins:                     And how do you decide what skills you want to learn going forward?

Scott Young:                       Oh, I had a huge list. So, I have like a million skills I want to learn. Probably more than a couple lifetimes worth of things that I want to learn. For me, the decision of what project to pursue never comes from a super analytical position. It’s always, “Does this feel like it’s awesome? Does it feel like something I could get really excited about?” And so that is my major priority when choosing projects is, “When I think about the project do I get super excited about it?” because for me, that’s a real important driving point about the projects that require a lot of motivation, a lot of work, and so if I’m kind of like, “Ugh, yeah, I guess I’ll do this,” at the beginning, like, forget about it, right?

Scott Young:                       It has to be something … It is going to be work and it is going to require motivation, so I don’t want to say that I always just do the actual projects from that place of that, but the starting point has to be enthusiasm. The starting point has to be excitement and fun, and so for me … Yeah, like doing the MIT Challenge was because I found these courses and I was like, “I wonder if you could just do the final exams for degree.” Like that was the sort of light bulb moment of, “If you just did the final exams …” Like you weren’t trying to do all the other little academic, bureaucratic, hoop-jumping that you normally have to do in a degree, if you just simplified it to, “Could you pass the exams?” That got the gears turning of like, “Oh, I wonder what you’d be able to do faster or what you’d be able to change if your only goal was pass exams,” and later I added the programming projects, but that initial idea was like, “Oh, that’s kind of exciting. I like that idea.”

Scott Young:                       And then The Year Without English started as a trip and then we started talking about learning languages, and then somewhere, after several months of talking about the trip, there was this kind of like, “Well, what will be the …” Like the MIT Challenge had this very concrete, easy-to-understand goal, and we were trying to think about what it would be for this language learning project, and I didn’t want to do anything … I didn’t want to do Benny Lewis’s Fluent in Three Months. Not only is that his brand, but I also feel like that can backfire because even if you do learn a lot of the language sometimes people are critical because they don’t like your definition of fluency.

Scott Young:                       I think Benny Lewis has definitely gotten that critique sometimes. I think somewhat unfairly, but sometimes people will criticize him because he’s doing a “fluent in three months” project, whereas if he just did a “see how much I can learn in this language in three months” project people would probably be kinder to him about his goals. And so I didn’t want to fall into that position because I had no idea what level we would reach after each three month period of time.

Scott Young:                       So around this time I was talking to my friend about, “Well, I felt like this was the right way to learn it.” Like just complete immersion, and so we got this idea, “What if the project is not centered around an outcome but around an extreme method?” Like a mender’s case, that was The Year Without English, and that’s how the project got centered. And it worked way better than I thought it would, so even now I would recommend using this method even if you’re not looking for some kind of gimmick for a trap-trip you’re going on. You want to actually learn something, well, I would recommend doing something very close to that.

Scott Young:                       But, yeah, that was definitely something that just got really exciting because then it was … It wasn’t just, “Okay, we’re going to learn these languages,” but also, “What is the experience of not speaking English, basically, for a year, with a few minor exceptions, what does that feel like?” and I thought that was an adventure that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

Bryan Collins:                     I can imagine. I can imagine. Are there any particular skills that you’re learning right now, or are you just focused on the demands of the book?

Scott Young:                       Yeah, so, I’m not doing any big ultralearning projects. This book is occupying a lot of my time, so I’m doing a … What I would just call normal learning, but I mean, a lot of the principles of learning still imply, it’s just I’m not pursuing things with such vigor and intensity. So, there are skills that I am currently working on that I’m already … I’ve been practicing for a while, so I’m always learning Chinese. That’s always in the background of my life. I have a 10-minute a day learning Chinese habit that I’ve maintained for about a year now, and then I also do other Chinese I’ve been doing for the last five years.

Scott Young:                       One skill that I’m working on right now is I have got this book on machine learning. So, machine learning was a topic that I felt a little bit like it was understudied during my MIT Challenge because the whole deep learning, machine learning revolution came a little after that. Like I did that project in 2012, 2011, and that was just when deep learning was … It was before it had entered full height mode where it is right now, and so the class that I was taking from that was even older, so it was an even older AI class.

Scott Young:                       And while they did cover neural nets and support-vector machines and some machine learning algorithms, it was taught from a very theoretical perspective, and it was also taught without reference to the fact that we have deep mind and that it’s beating players at gold, that hadn’t happened yet. Or, the image recognition, self-driving cars, a lot of these examples had not reached, at least public prominence, even if they were being worked on in some laboratory somewhere.

Scott Young:                       And so, this is something that I’ve wanted to understand for a while, so I’ve been working through this book that’s doing that. So it’s a little programming project I’m working on. Oil painting, I don’t know, a few other things.

Bryan Collins:                     Yeah, a blockchain was one that stood out there as you were talking. And finally, what is your ideal early morning routine look like at the moment?

Scott Young:                       Well, it’s funny because people are asking me about what my daily routine is and it just so depends on the project that I’m working on. So right now, for instance, my life is going on podcasts like this, so I just look at my calendar each day, “Okay, I’ve got …” You know, right now I had a podcast at 8:00 AM, so I’m waking up at 7:00, having some coffee in the morning and doing the podcast.

Scott Young:                       When I’m doing a project, then again, it depends on the project. So the MIT Challenge, I was waking up 6:00, 7:00 and just studying all day. And so, for me, I tend to say my morning routine, I like to get to work right away. I find my most productive hours are right after I wake up. About an hour after I wake up until about lunchtime, and if I don’t get a lot of work done in that period of time, then not a lot of work’s getting done in the day. I never become more productive in the afternoon if I didn’t have a productive morning, so my goal is usually … Like I don’t usually eat breakfast or I usually eat a small breakfast. I eat breakfast and then I usually just wait till lunch. Just have some coffee and just push through it.

Scott Young:                       But if you get a lot of work done in the morning, then sometimes I can … You don’t even need to be active in the afternoon.

Bryan Collins:                     True, true. So, Scott, where can people find you and your book?

Scott Young:                       So my book, Ultralearning, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, wherever you get your books. I know some of the listeners might be in the U.K. or in Europe, so I will say that there is a teal green cover of the book, that’s the U.S. edition and then there’s also a yellow cover of the book that is the U.K. edition. I don’t believe there’s any difference in the content. Some people had asked me that, “Which one is your book?” They’re both my book. They just like to use different covers in different regions for some reason.

Scott Young:                       So you can get the book on any website that you get your books from, and you can find my website, which is scotthyoung.com. That’s S-C-O-T-T-H-Y-O-U-N-G.com, and not only will you be able to find my book there and any links to that, but there are also over 1300 articles that I’ve written over the past 13 years probably of writing articles online. So there is a ton and ton of ideas on habits, learning, writing, performance, all these kinds of topics.

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