Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career with Scott Young

November 24, 2021

The whole philosophy behind the Pursuit of Learning podcast is based on the love of learning. And one of the drivers for creating this podcast is ultralearning, which is a concept our guest today emphasizes in his book, “Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career.” Scott Young, entrepreneur, programmer, and author, joins us today to explore how we can outsmart the competition by mastering hard skills. Throughout the episode, we dive into some of the key concepts Scott covers in his book and how to implement these concepts in your journey of learning.

We start the discussion with a brief look at what Scott is currently working on and what motivates him throughout his life journey. Scott’s story of ultralearning started back when he was in university. We talk about how he got involved in extreme learning challenges that really pushed people to their limits. Inspired by these challenges, Scott pursued another extreme challenge where the goal was to finish the curriculum of a four-year degree program in one year without attending classes. Later Scott moved on to more of these challenges, going to four different countries where he mastered four different languages. Scott shares with us these amazing stories about his experiences and what he learned from them. 

Diving into the key concepts, we talk about the mindset. Scott emphasizes the value of developing a learning mindset and how the mindset we develop while going through the school system deviates from the mindset we need for learning things on our own terms. According to Scott, learning about learning is as important as learning itself. We talk about this concept of meta-learning and how we can use it to improve our learning efforts.  

Sometimes as we progress through our lives, we may reach plateaus where we don’t see significant growth or a change. Scott shares his wisdom on how to get out of plateaus and get on a path of learning and growth. We also talk about how to maintain focus, why math seems hard for many people, and why we need to question the ability of standardized testing methods such as IQ tests. Wrapping up the episode, Scott shares with us how we can grow our careers by combining seemingly unrelated skills to create a unique combination of skills that most people do not possess.

[01:22] Motivation in Scott’s World – We start the conversation with some of the fascinating things Scott is currently working on and what motivates Scott in his journey. 

[03:54] Ultralearning – In the early days of his career, Scott started writing through blogs, and in the same era, some of the unorthodox learning projects that he was involved in led him to look at learning from a whole new perspective. Scott shares with us the story behind his book, Ultralearning.

[10:04] Extraordinary Work – Scott shares his take on whether ultralearning is something outside the norm or something we all can achieve, given that we take a disciplined and consistent approach to our learning goals.

[18:14] Scott’s First Ultralearning Experience – We talk about Scott’s first experience of doing something a normal person usually does, what he learned through that experience and what motivated him to do it.

[25:15] Language Learning – Through ultralearning, Scott was able to learn four new languages in four different countries. Scott shares his thoughts on what that experience was like and what he learned while experiencing different cultures.

[34:17]  Learning Mindset – Schott shares his take on the mindset we usually develop going through standard formal education and the mindset that enables learning through our own projects.

[38:50] Meta-Learning – Meta-learning is this idea of learning about learning, says Scott. We dive deep into what constitutes meta-learning and how learning about learning helps us learn things better.

[44:13] Time Management – Scott talks about guidelines that help us decide how much time to allocate for different parts of an ultralearning project.

[51:00] Plateaus –   What to do when we reach a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress and how to get out of the plateau and get back on track.

[54:30] Focus – Scott dives into some of the problems that get in our way of focusing on our goals and how to maintain focus consistently.

[1:54:00] Directness & Retrieval – Scott explains two other key concepts he covers in his work and how they can help us in our journey of learning.

[1:20:00] IQ Tests – Scott shares his take on some of the standardized tests we often use in the education arena and the ability of those tests to properly assess the trait they’re meant to evaluate.

[1:30:00] Is Math Hard? – Many of us feel like we’re not good at math. Scott talks about some of the unique features of mathematics that make it infamous, some of the drawbacks in our education system that make math harder than it is, and some tactics to get better at math.

[1:40:00] Creating Unique Skillsets – Scott emphasizes how you can stand out from the crowd by developing multiple skills that seemingly do not overlap and combining them to offer a unique blend of skills. 


Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career

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