How to Learn Without School

The last two episodes with Jocelyn Ngo and Kimber Lew had huge segments about learning. Jocelyn goes to graduate school while working a demanding job, and Kimber tells about her learning experience with Research Chefs on how to cook.

Education is indeed valuable, but some people have a degree and haven’t learned how to well, learn. Some people stop learning when they get a comfy job and that’s fine. It depends what you want in life.

After college, I felt like I’ve learned so much more. There are many avenues that I’ve learned, and I really want to explore this.

Here, I’ve chosen 3 avenues where I reminisce that I have gathered the most memorable learning experiences. I find books, stories, and failing ventures to be the most valuable pieces of knowledge outside of formal education.

From Books

As soon as I started my new job at 24, I started to buy audio books from the Phoenix Library. I listened to these during the long drives back and forth work. I remember listening to Zero to One by Peter Thiel and World War Z in the car driving back and forth.

By the way, World War Z’s audio book has people like Nathan Fillion, Mark Hamill and Masi Oka narrating parts of it.

After about a year, I switched to Audible which is an awesome deal because you basically pay $15 dollars for a book. Therefore, you can buy a $30.00 audio book for $15 dollars! (for example, Steve Job’s autobiography).

Though it’s harder for me to sit down and read, I do travel a lot and find the airplane a great time to force myself to read.

In any case, I read a lot of self-improvement and career books. Some of my favorites are Creativity Inc, by Ed Catmull, Originals by Adam Grant, Anyway You Want it By Derek Sivers, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. In fact, I’ve listened to all of these twice!

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I pick out 5 pieces of content from the latest food industry news to the greatest new products and leave my snarky comments every week.

Books in this category overlap and synergize in value and you can see the common threads in what their opinions are about success. You could argue that these authors know each other because they are in the same circle, but it’s worth a shot to follow their advice.

One common thread in these books? Do something new often.

From Interviewing

I’ve interviewed 50 food professionals using this podcast and I’ve also written comprehensive notes on each of these 50 people. Though I can’t recall directly the lessons they taught me, the benefits from not only doing these interviews but sharing them, has increased by credibility in the industry ten-fold (which is not much since I just started).

Within these 50 interviews, I have gotten better and better at asking questions. I dig deeper because now I am generally interested in all aspects of the food industry. I ask for advice on how to be innovative, or how to be a good chef, or even how to apply to a foreign university!

I can’t tell you in words how fulfilling it has been interviewing all of the food professionals we’ve had on the show and it’s made me less shy about hearing my own voice, it’s made me ask smarter questions, it’s made me sound more credible (I hope).

But most importantly, it has taught me that my words matter. And no matter if they matter to just one, or 2000 (we hit this for the number of downloads this month), having the confidence that your words have meaning is a very powerful skill.

From Failure

This podcast isn’t my first weird project. I’ve had more. Some with a lot of money put in it. I failed my first one horribly. So bad, I had to recover it from my tax returns. But hey, they call failure in the entrepreneurship industry: tuition.

Someday I’ll talk about it when I have more years under my belt, but basically, I realized that developing a product is only about… 10% of the work. 90% is marketing. I did some marketing outsource and got burned badly. So now I read marketing books often.

I’ve had successes and failures. I’ve scored good consulting deals, and I am still trying to justify if investing money for mentorship was worth it when my mentor’s business plummeted to the ground and failed so hard, he disappeared off the face of the Earth.

The more failure hurts, the more you learn from it. Unfortunately, that also means the more money you lose, the more it hurts. However, the failures I’ve had literally changed my life for the better. Maybe I’m just rationalizing, but I believe whole-heartedly the phrase “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

So let’s bring it all full circle.

If you want to change your boring life, do something new, often. You won’t regret it.

And never be afraid to email me.

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