This Is Exactly How You Should Train Yourself To Be Smarter [Infographic]
The Thinking Tool That Self-Made Billionaires, Accelerated Learners, Technology Investors, Successful Entrepreneurs, Highly-Paid Consultants, Coaches, & Cultural Creatives Are Using To Dramatically Increase Their Success…
View the high resolution version of the infographic by clicking here.
Out of all the interventions we can do to make smarter decisions in our life and career, mastering the most useful and universal mental models is arguably the most important.
“Developing the habit of mastering the multiple models which underlie reality is the best thing you can do. “
— Charlie Munger
“Those who understand more of them and understand them well [principles / mental models] know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well. “
— Ray Dalio
“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang onto.”
— Elon Musk
Each of these luminary entrepreneurs use different words to essentially say the same thing.
I’ve collected the 650+ most useful mental models from the best mental model curators in the world. It is now the most comprehensive list in the world. And I’ve launched a free mental model mini-course to help you understand what a mental model is and how to apply it to your life.
This infographic is the culmination of all these articles. It is my personal list of the 12 most useful & universal mental models that I believe everyone should master first. For each mental model, I share the sub mental models that make it up and one paragraph explaining its significance.
This infographic matters because it would take 6,500 hours to master each of the 650 mental models that others have recommended. That’s a lot of freaking time! You probably aren’t ready to commit that amount of time to mental models… yet. By creating this infographic, I hope to save you dozens of hours determining which models to learn first.
If you’re interested in learning these models so you can use them automatically whenever you need them in order to make better decisions, then keep reading…
What Are Mental Models?
Mental models are descriptions of reality that apply across every area of our life, don’t get outdated, and provide immediate results by helping you make better decisions.
They are like little miniature mental maps of how a particular area of life works.
And when you learn them, it changes everything.
What Is An Example Of A Mental Model?
One of the most famous mental models is called the Pareto Principle. You probably know it as the “80/20 rule.” This mental models says that most of your results are going to come from just a small percentage of your effort or work.
Vilfredo Pareto, the man who discovered this principle noticed that 80% of the land in his area was owned by 20% of the people. He looked in his garden, and saw that 80% of the peas were in 20% of the pea pods. Then he realized that this was something like an organizing principle of life.
This phenomena applies across many domains including productivity, happiness, business, health, etc. Here are a few examples:
- 20% of relationships lead to 80% of happiness.
- 20% of exercises lead to 80% of health benefit.
- 20% of items on your to do list lead to 80% of productivity.
For example, by taking 30–60 minutes per day for prioritization, you can double your productivity. By auditing the relationships in your life, you can identify people you want to spend more time with and people you want to remove from your life. By looking at what experiences give you the most delight, you can begin to engineer your life differently.
The rule can also be inverted:
- 20% of relationships cause 80% of drama.
- 20% of clients cause 80% of the problems.
- 20% of foods you eat cause 80% of your sickness.
This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more places, but this basic version allows you to quickly get value from it.
Use Mental Models to learn faster, get smarter, make better decisions, be more creative, grow your business & career, and succeed in life…
- Have you been feeling information overwhelm lately, a new flood of information, that’s growing every single day? How do you find and learn the most valuable knowledge, especially when you’re busy with your career, business, family?
- Have you ever felt like you never have enough time or energy to learn? Do many of the books that you purchase end up never being read? How do you find time to learn when you’re busy with a career and family?
- Have you noticed how easy it is to forget what you read (after just a few days)? The question is: How can you apply the knowledge you learn to your life so that it’s there for you automatically, whenever you need it?
- Have you noticed that decisions in life are becoming more complex? How do you make better professional and personal decisions (when there is so much change and uncertainty)? How do you identify the 1% of activities that will give you 90% of your results? And how do you make decisions that you won’t regret later and that have the highest chance of success?
On a fundamental level, these questions get at the three keys of becoming a mental powerhouse:
- Learning faster
- Thinking better
- Making smarter decisions
And until now, there hasn’t been an organized tool-kit that you can learn and use for this.
My name is Michael Simmons, and my favorite thing to do in the world is to learn, apply what I learn to get a result, and then teach others so they get the same result. That’s why, throughout my whole career, I’ve read thousands of books and started education companies that have generated millions of dollars in revenue and impacted millions of people.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, I have written dozens of articles on learning for Forbes, Fortune, Time, Inc., Entrepreneur. I’ve built one of the biggest learning how to learn communities in the world (54,000+ people). Finally, I’ve created a Learning Ritual Course with hundreds of happy students who I’ve personally coached.
More recently, I’ve pioneered a learning system for professionals and entrepreneurs — which I have taught to nearly one thousand people around the world, which has helped me generate millions of dollars in business as an entrepreneur, and which has helped me build a Learning Lifestyle where I essentially get paid to spend most of my time learning, and where I get paid for my insights rather than my time.
In a moment, I’ll explain my “thinking tools” that will help you unlock the next level of success in your business and career.
I’ll also invite you to join me in an exclusive group of nearly 1,000 professionals from around the world who are using these tools to learn faster, improve their lives and succeed in business.
Successful entrepreneurs are using these tools to start and grow businesses, get more customers, make more profit. Investors use them to get higher returns. Thought leaders, consultants, and coaches use them to create original ideas, innovations, and valuable knowledge.
How I Discovered The Power Of Learning & Using Mental Models In Business & Life
“Will this article be read by anyone?”
That was the #1 question going through my mind as I pressed ‘Publish’ on my first Forbes article in April of 2013.
As someone with no email list or journalism background, my insecurity felt overwhelming. I feared my words would just be buried in the Internet’s sea of content.
In college, I had written hundreds of blog posts with the dream of becoming a writer, but things fizzled, and I feared the same thing would happen again. I knew what it felt like to be a mediocre writer.
So, I made a crucial decision…
Rather than just jumping in and making the same mistakes, I would take a step back and deliberately learn how to be a great writer.
Around that time, I stumbled upon and read Poor Charlie’s Almanack.
This turned out to be the one book that changed my life.
Written by a self-made billionaire and Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner, this was the first book to introduce me to mental models, and I immediately saw their power.
Mental models are descriptions of reality that apply across every area of our life, are always relevant, and provide immediate results by helping you make better decisions. They are like little miniature mental maps of how a particular area of life works. And when you learn them, it changes everything.
Two quotes from Charlie Munger, in particular, inspired me to start learning the best mental models in the world:
You can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back… You’ve got to have models in your head… You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework [integrated collection] of models in your head.
Fortunately it isn’t that tough because 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.”
— Charlie Munger
More specifically, these quotes inspired me to search out the world’s most successful article writers, interview them with the goal of uncovering their top mental models, and apply them to my own writing.
BOOM! Suddenly, my entire reality changed.
From the first article, my writing took off. Each article I wrote had over 10,000 people — the equivalent of a small stadium — read it.
As I “installed” more mental models in my brain, I became a better writer, and the audience increased from 10,000 per article to 50,000 to 100,000 to 200,000 today.
One night, I literally jumped on my couch like a little kid, elated that I was finally finding success and impact after so many years of struggle. The feeling of figuring out a secret formula and seeing it work over and over was exhilarating.
And the more I studied and wrote about mental models, the more I naturally started to use them in my life and business outside of writing, and the better results I got. This was a game-changer for me.
Here is one of the mental models that was particularly helpful…
The True Power Of The 80/20 Rule
Here’s another example of the 80/20 Rule: You’ve probably read that top venture capitalists make most of their big returns on just a few of their investments. It only takes one Google, Facebook or Uber investment to make you a billionaire investor.
Top Poker players earn most of their money winning just a few big hands. The key for them is to know which hands to bet big on, and which to walk away from. The key for them is to know which hands to bet big on, and which to walk away from.
This Principle Seemed To Work Everywhere
As I studied the 80/20 Rule, and applied it to my own life, I started to see the places where I could put just a little bit of effort, and get much bigger results.
One big example was how it changed my approach to relationships. Before, I had been going to lots of conferences and networking events, and basically trying to “meet everyone” in the world. I always felt a bit behind, and like I was constantly trying to fit in.
After I understood the 80/20 Rule, it gave me permission to focus on the few people in my life that really mattered. I focused on a handful of people I resonated with the most, and I concentrated on building deeper, more meaningful relationships. This really changed the game for me. By focusing, I not only learned more and got a lot more happiness, I also was able to develop deeper ties to some very influential and successful people. And again, it took me a lot less time!
When I applied the 80/20 principle to learning, this created a real paradigm shift for me. Nowadays, when I decide to study a new skill or area, I’ll buy maybe 10 or so books on the topic. But my mindset is to look for the ONE book that is the best “explainer” — and then to focus most of my effort on that one book. This gives me mental permission to “abandon” the books that aren’t as good, and dedicate my precious attention to only the higher-quality knowledge.
And again, this brings me much better results, in a fraction of the time. The 80/20 Rule provides way more leverage than simply working harder. We are all limited by the number of hours in a day and how much our bodies can handle, but when it comes to applying the 80/20 Rule, there are opportunities for 1,000 times the leverage!
In my work as a writer, the 80/20 Rule installed the mindset to focus on only those few key things that really mattered. In the past, I put all of my effort into writing books and articles. After learning about the 80/20 Rule, I started asking other writers what the 80/20 was for them. Very quickly, I saw that everyone mentioned that titles were a key to success. Previously, I viewed the titles as just an afterthought.
So now I have a system where our team dedicates 5 hours per article creating new innovative words and terms, and also testing the titles of the articles before publishing them. What a big difference this has made!
I wrote one article recently, using my mental models as the framework, and I basically created something that was “designed to win.” The result? A million people read it.
A Powerful Secret Mental Weapon
The more that I learned and used mental models in my thinking, decision making, writing, business… and personal life… the more I realized that I had discovered a secret mental weapon.
I was using thinking tools that most other people hadn’t discovered, and I was getting much better results in life. From bringing in new clients, to generating investment capital, to having a happy family, these new mindsets and mental tools were giving me a huge advantage… and amazing results.
I now had a systematic way to approach business and life. And it worked.
The results I was getting weren’t just a little better. This wasn’t a little 5 or 10% change. It wasn’t even a 100% improvement. This was 10x, and in some cases 100x. It was a big deal.
Then I Put It To The Real Test
After discovering and using mental models in my own life, I started teaching them to friends and clients. I also started using them when doing projects for other companies.
I used it with one client who had almost no audience. No readers, no shares, no viral success. I used my mental models to help them write an article, and they got 30,000 views on the first article, and then it started to go viral. I did the math, and this was 175x better results than they had ever gotten before.
Another article I helped another client in another industry write had 100,000 readers and 20,000 shares.
I helped write something for a client on Quora, and it went crazy and got a million readers.
Another client wanted to use article writing to generate sales leads and customers, and the article we wrote got a half a million views, and made them $100,000 in sales very quickly.
These models were working everywhere I tried them.
Because of my success with articles, I also had people hire me for six-figure consulting contracts. I began charging $250-$500 per hour as a coach and consultant. I even got a five-figure speaking gig from an article.
And today, when I write articles myself, they are read hundreds of thousands of times on average, and they almost always go viral. It’s a system. I have a set of mental models that I use, and they work.
Once I really understood mental models, and how powerful they were, I made a commitment to learning them for the long-term. I knew that I had discovered THE shortcut to getting better at anything in life quickly.
Of course, once I realized this, I wanted to learn everything I could about mental models. So I went online and started researching mental models, reading books about them, and finding experts who understood them.
What I Found Actually Surprised Me...
There were almost no good books about mental models! Charlie Munger’s book got me interested in mental models, but it was a unique gem. Almost no one else was writing about them.
And when I searched online, I found a handful of people who were interested in models. They typically had a big list of mental models that were important to learn — but they didn’t explain the models, how to use them, and how to apply them.
Because mental models were so important, I realized that I was going to need to roll up my sleeves, and figure this out for myself. I couldn’t believe it, but there just wasn’t a systematic way to learn the most important mental models for success in business and life.
So I began reaching out to experts who understood mental models, making friends with people who used them, and generally trying to hack into this domain. I even co-hosted a mastermind with a bunch of PhDs and other experts from different domains who were all experts with mental models.
As I did this, I made lists of hundreds of different mental models from different domains. I wanted to identify the most important mental models, learn them, and then start using them in my life. (And because I knew the 80/20 Rule, I already knew that it was going to be a small number of models that really made the difference — which turned out to be correct.)
Over the past few years, I have now identified what I consider to be the most valuable and useful mental models in business and life. And more importantly, I’ve started teaching them to a serious group of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and other professionals.
Introducing The Mental Model Of The Month Club
If you’re starting to understand the power of mental models, and you’re ready to go to the next level and learn the most important mental models to create success in your life, then I’d like to invite you to join our Mental Model Club.
Inside, every month you’ll learn one of the most important mental models and how to apply it to your life — in just 1–2 hours per month.
The Mental Model Club is an online course, community, and membership that teaches you the most valuable and useful mental models. We have almost 1,000 members from around the world, and we’re growing fast.
Inside the Mental Model Club, you’ll…
- Learn key mental models that are most critical for professional success (without feeling overwhelmed by all of the distracting information out there)
- Automatically apply mental models in your professional and personal life, without having to remember what you learned
- Use the right mental model in the right situation every time, so that you can think faster, smarter, make better decisions, get the results you want
- Avoid painful thinking and decision-making mistakes that set us back (most people aren’t even aware of these, because they are so hidden inside their minds)
Here’s What You Get Every Month…
✔ Your Mastery Manual
Every month, you receive one mental model in the form of a high-quality, comprehensive guide. I call it your Mastery Manual.
It’s the most condensed, in-depth explanation of any mental model that exists in the entire world. We take the best of what’s ever been said about the mental model, cut out all of the fluff, and organize it in a way that is easy and fast to learn.
In each Mastery Manual, you learn…
- A 101 Overview of the mental model (why it’s important, how it works, vocabulary, etc.)
- An advanced overview to give you the high-level summary, then an in-depth report that includes a more nuanced explanation
- Examples, tricks, and hacks you can use to apply the mental model to every area of your life and career
- Exercises, resources, & templates that you can use on a daily basis to integrate lessons in the manual and get results in your life.
✔ Your Monthly Masterclass
To help you learn your mental model knowledge faster, you also get a high quality, pre-recorded masterclass of the month’s mental model.
The monthly masterclass is deliberately designed as a standalone resource, so that you can get value right away — well, in just one hour of listening to it.
Here’s what you get in each pre-recorded masterclass:
- Concise “80/20” overview of the mental model: To help you understand and apply the mental model on a deeper level, I explain the most important ideas.
- Walkthrough of mental model exercises: I handpick exercises in the Mastery Manual, and coach you on using them.
- My answers to other Mental Model Club members’ questions: These are often common questions that people have about the mental model.
What Mental Model Club Members Are Saying…
“As a self-taught entrepreneur who has built five organizations (which employ over 60 people) on transforming education to include character building and skill development, I am blown away by the content in the Mental Model Club. Having read hundreds of books, without a doubt, it provides the most comprehensive training on mental models in the world. As an educator, I think we should be teaching everyone about mental models and, I’m impressed by Michael’s approach to teaching it.”
— Tijl Koenderink, Entrepreneur
“I’ve been a teacher, trainer, administrator and ultimately am an entrepreneur. I have been learning more from the Mental Models than anything else in my recent memory. The mastery manuals articulate concepts in a way that not only filled in my knowledge but gave me much better language to explain the concepts to others. The Mental Model Club provides actionable insights for a very reasonable price. I am enjoying being the first of my friends to recommend the club as it makes me feel smarter than everyone else who hasn’t found it yet.”
— Juliet Mee, Teacher, Trainer, Administrator, Entrepreneur
“I joined the Mental Model Club, so I could experience faster rates of growth in my personal life and career. The biggest benefit I’ve had from being a member so far is realizing how little of my potential I’m using and how much more I’m capable of. As a result of the 80/20 module I’ve 80/20'd my morning routine, what used to be a stressful anxiety inducing experience is now the cornerstone of me having an excellent day and has become a keystone habit. As a result of the goal setting module, I’m now enjoying a higher quality of life by spending more time in nature and more time with my wife. In a sea of intellectual mediocrity and information overload, the Mental Model Club is my 80/20 cubed of gaining actionable insight I can get to make real traction in my life.”
— David Pita, Project Manager, Digital Agency
“I joined the Mental Model Club just a month ago and not only my clarity has skyrocketed, since I no longer need to read a lot of books and lots of info. Because I know understand the mental models and thought processes behind them. Thanks to this club too, my business decisions are 10X better because I use the mental model checklists provided. As I scale to 7-figures this year this club is a must have for me. It keeps my thinking and mindset straight as I face some of the problems that come with scaling up.”
— Sergio Estevez, Entrepreneur
Try The Club Now For Just $1
As you become more successful in life, you have to do different things to get to the next level.
You can keep using trial & error, building your knowledge on a potentially shaky foundation. Keep risking making mistakes in your career, business and life.
you can get it right the first time, by investing in the Mental Model Club today.
When you register now, you’ll start by learning what we consider to be the most powerful mental model. You get a Mastery Manual and implementation exercises.
In less than an hour, you’ll be making better decisions, understanding the world better, and making better predictions and estimates about what’s going to happen.
Give Mental Model Club a try now: