Watch the video if you want to learn how to go from not knowing anything at all about a skill to being rather good at it in 20 hours. Josh Kaufman explains the findings of his 2 year research on the subject of learning a new skill….


Key points :

1) Contrary to popular belief, it does not take 10000 hours to learn and be good at a new skill, it takes round about 20 hours. This works out to 40 minutes everyday, for a month. This figure will  vary from person to person, but it is around this order of magnitude!

2) There is a system to learn effectively :

  • Step 1 : Be CLEAR about what you want to achieve at the end of it. When you imagine that you have learnt the skill, what does it look like? what needs to happen before you can say you have mastered the skill? what can you now do?
  • Step 2 : Break the objective down into smaller sub skills. He gives an example of learning how to play golf. It takes different skills to drive and to putt. Recognize the differences, practice them in sub sets, and pick the subskill that is most impactful for results and start with that first.
  • Step 3: Find resources to help you. Books, CDs, a coach, mentors….. Do your research. Pick 3-5 resources and identify the patterns that are similar to identify what is important. Then self correct!
  • Step 4: Removing barriers to practice. Remember set yourself up to win. If this skill is really that important, it deserves your focus and time. Honour your practice time.
  • Step 5 : Precommit to giving the 20 hours of focused practise time. This helps you evaluate if this skill is really important to you. This also helps you get over the barrier of frustration in skill acquisition.

3) This is not rocket science, it is something that we have been doing in all kinds of skill acquisition, not many of us have done it in such a deliberate strategic way.


When you are struggling to make a decision or to figure something out and someone tells you to go sleep on it, YOU GO SLEEP ON IT!!

It is when we are asleep that the brain is doing this work of pulling everything together and seeing how it fits together, how it summarizes – Dr. Stickgold

Dr. Robert Stickgold, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in his TED talk explained the effect of sleep on our brain’s capacity on formulating new truths by connecting chunks of information.

We get creative intrusions more when we are asleep, not when we are awake. In his talk he share many experiments his students conducted where subjects showed between 2.5-10 times better performance on tasks between participants that had sleep and no sleep between the 2 ability tests.

At the very end of the talk, Dr. Stickgold highlights a VERY important point (in my view) in that the way the brain processes information is not as we expected, it is multi-level process that connects experiences and information from past and works out what that logic will mean to us going forwards : It predicts the meaning we give to our tomorrow and thus influences how we decide to act.

whole brain in sleep - Dr. Stickgold TED

Print screen of slide shown at Dr. Stickgold’s TEDx talk

Enjoy the talk!

So perhaps the Spanish are doing it right, go on, have a siesta! 🙂

I must immortalize this video here so that I can watch it anytime.  I almost cried after the 3rd time watching this. This man believed in himself and did what he was told he could not do for 15 years. Watch this whenever life gets you down.

You are incredible Arthur Boorman.


Food and nutrition, Fun stuff

Junk Food is a science. I’m a food technologist, I should know

When given the luxury of time, product development is a calculated science.

I’m not saying this because I am a food technologist, I agree that cooking is a an art but with a scientific undercurrent. Furthermore, Sensory Science is called a science for a reason.

I read food technology at university and in our final year we had the good fortune to apply statistics in an exercise of product optimisation. We put people in little booths or rooms and run sheets of questions to map out (literally) every possible factor about the food item presented to them.  In the food manufacturing industry this is lucrative business. Sensory market research is expensive. Very expensive.  Big food corporations set aside hefty amount of their budgets to strip product ideas and prototypes to the fundamentals and to correlate consumer liking to those fundamentals. Then like blocks, we put those pieces back together to create the ultimate super food item. Continue reading

Fun stuff

Big Bad Wolf Book Sale – interview of the fair organisers

Thank you all who came to read my first post on the Big Bad Wolf sale! I was surprised at how well my previous post on the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale was received. Post readers were registering from all over the world and arriving via search engines in a way that was way more regular than usual! This just proves how popular this MASSIVE book sale is!

I was on the way to lunch when I heard an interview on Business FM of the 2 founders of BookXcess, the company who runs this book fair. Andrew and Jacqueline have acted on their passion for encouraging reading by giving Malaysians one of a few (or could it be the only) discount book stores in the country. Back in England, a visit to the discount book store The Works was part of my Saturday shopping routine. Other book discounters such as The Book People would hold book fairs at our workplace canteen where they bring the books to the customers instead of trying to pull customers to the website. Continue reading

Fun stuff

The World’s Biggest Book Sale – Big Bad Wolf book Sale

This is my first post since my move from England to Petaling Jaya. For the benefit of those not in the know, PJ is a satellite city just outside of Kuala Lumpur.

As I was packing my things ready for the move, I found myself being more protective of my books than my clothes despite the monetary value of the latter far exceeding that of the books. But hey, the value of education from books is ever increasing over our lifetime so why not ? 🙂

So imagine the excitement I was in when I visited the World’s Largest Book sale (apparently) at the Mines Exhibition Centre yesterday, shopping ‘basket’ snugly resting on my hip.

my shopping 'basket'

my shopping ‘basket’

World’s largest? Are you sure?

view form the entrance

view form the entrance

Continue reading