My Learning hacks with Matteo Forgione
We’re still waiting for Matteo to create his own microcourse on our platform. In the meantime, we had a talk with him about what kind of strategies he uses to learn better and faster.
Do you use any specific strategies, tools or “hacks” when it comes to learning?
Hacking the art of learning requires definition.
First I define to what point and purpose I want to learn something.
Sure you can learn plenty of skills or knowledge that has no point or purpose, but why?
So start with purpose. For example, in 2006 my friend gave me a 22-foot sailboat. I hadn’t sailed in about 15 years, but I had been planning on sailing again someday. So I took the opportunity and learned how to sail again, but this time the fact that I was a tenacious engineer and entrepreneur meant that I had a purpose. I wanted to be able to sail single handed, spend time with my friends on the water, and learn everything about the physics and tactics of sailing. That was the first summer of my life since the age of 10 that I didn’t skateboard on the weekends. I would read and study the physics and tactics of sailing obsessively and couldn’t sleep the nights before I would sail. When on the water I would test what I learned and try to experience it.
Knowledge is not experience.
They are not interchangeable. Book smarts are not the same as street smarts. Failure and pain are part of learning and experiencing. Above all, finding experts or someone who could coach me was also helpful. I spent 6 months on that boat, and went on to buying and mastering a 30-footer next, followed by captaining charters in the British Virgin Islands on bigger boats in amazing environments with my best friends and family.
The strategies I find most effective for learning incorporate a culmination of the following tactics: purpose, dedication, study, and iteration (PDSI).
Purpose means I have a real reason to learn. It could be for financial gain, or perhaps for health reasons, or possibly for entertainment or social reasons like my sailing experience. The purpose could be anything meaningful.
Dedication means I’m really going to put in the time periodically, whether daily, weekly, or monthly.
Studying means finding the right resources to dive into.
Iteration is the hard part; that’s where you apply what you’re learning, you fail, then try again, and question why you are learning something. Iteration is also a great place to teach someone else WHILE you are learning. When I was studying Physics at University I always learned more by teaching other students in my study group the same subject and problems that I was learning for myself.
There are some things I’m fascinated by that might only require study and dedication, because I can’t come up with a practical purpose, and I may not iterate or try to gain practical experience in the field. For example, I enjoy studying and learning about cosmology and quantum theory, but it currently has no real practical application in my profession. However, I do have the requirement to understand metallurgy and manufacturing using specialty metals, so a subject such as this requires all four (PDSI) tactics because business ventures rely on me mastering this subject.
How can people reading this apply this in their own lives?
Other people reading this can use this same method easily. I was raised with somewhat “old school” values, and even though I use technology for work and to optimize certain aspects of my life, I don’t spend more than 5–10 minutes per day on social media unless I have an actual purpose, and I don’t watch TV.
Start with purpose, then turn off distractions, find a nice quiet place whether it’s a public library or a cafe, schedule in an hour or two, and dedicate that time to studying and iteration. Then if applicable, go and try it out and experience the “AHA!” moments when you realize that you have really learned, and relish in that feeling of closing the loop of learning. I always enjoyed this loop of learning in skateboarding, when everything comes together in a split second in a weightless moment of effortlessness and riding away amazed at the process. That’s how you do it.