Friday Links

From the Web

Fluent in Three Months – This is the blog of Benny Lewis, international vagabond, octolinguist and all-round interesting guy. The blog explores his current goal of going from zero language skill to fluency in three months. My prediction: Benny will be joining the A-list of bloggers soon, if his writing continues as it does today.

Are You a Guitar Player or Club Owner? – Cal Newport explains the difference between hard focus and frenzied work:

Learning to play bluegrass guitar is not a lot of fun. This being said, however, it’s also not that demanding on your life: its daily time requirements are reasonable and it generates no stress. Furthermore, the effort will eventually provide big rewards, such as the experience of passing around the lead with a group of talented bluegrass musicians.

Compare this goal with the related pursuit of running the music club where such musicians play. Unlike learning the guitar, running a club is infamously demanding: It requires long, exhausting hours, and injects unhealthy amounts of stress into your life.  Furthermore, the rewards don’t compare to those experienced by the admired musicians entrancing the crowd.

Here’s the important point: most people are more comfortable becoming a club owner, even though the guitar player enjoys less stress and more rewards.

From the Archives

Aggressive Learning – “If you want to succeed, pick an easy target. If you want to improve, pick an impossibly hard target. Success in a goal and improvement are often opposite paths, so if you aren’t clear on which you’re trying to pursue, you may end up failing at both.”

Update for Learning on Steroids

For those of you who just dropped by, in early January, I will be launching a new program designed to help people implement rapid learning tactics in their life. Reading is easy, but action is what matters.

In addition to the holistic learning tactics that have been an ever-popular topic on this website, I’m also going to be including experts I’ve recruited to offer their own methods:

  • Benny Lewis – As mentioned previously, Benny was gracious enough to allow a one-hour interview to uncover exactly what strategy and tactics he is using to gain fluency in a new language in under three months.
  • Cal Newport – Bestselling author of student success guides, Cal shared his thoughts on beating procrastination and developing mastery in another one-hour interview.
  • Liam Martin – Entrepreneur and student success coach, Liam actually came to me because holistic learning improved his learning habits. He shared his experiences with holistic learning as well as offers the skills he teaches in his exclusive tutoring program.

I’m really excited about this program, but space will be limited to 100 seats for this first launch. So, if you’re interested, you should get your name on the prelaunch list now.

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  • Henri

    Cool. Just stumbled on your blog and there’s a lot of nuggets that I like here. See you in the next post Sir ;).

  • Jon | Adventures of the Fearle

    Not much of a bluegrass man, but I certainly picked up a few really good tips from that article over on that blog. I tend to like rock or blues

  • Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks for the link love 😉 And thanks again for the interesting chat!! Being asked the right questions gives me new ideas to formulate my learning methods! Looking forward to collaborating again some time in the future! 😉

  • Tyler

    Hey Scott, found your blog a month or so ago and have really been enjoying it. Best of luck launching Learning on Steroids.

    On the musician vs. the club owner. Very interesting perspective, but I think the “work” and stress involved in either profession depends mostly on the individual.

    Someone very uncomfortable in front of a crowd, really enjoys everything about running a business and loves music but doesn’t have the desire to perfect an artistic skill makes for a fantastic club owner.

    On the other hand, the guy/girl that can’t think about anything except getting home to practice, meets up with band mates 3 times a week to jam and just likes making people happy with their music is very well suited as a musician.

    To each his own, I suppose.

    The lesson I take from your excerpt is that people who want to do one thing but are afraid to pursue it due to a fear or limiting belief often create a situation much more difficult for themselves.

  • Scott Young


    Cal’s article spoke to me on a different level.

    The club owner is taking a stressful job, but doesn’t require mastery. The guitarist is taking a low-stress job, but requires years of prior mastery and practice. They are obviously just metaphors for this concept (some club owners may have mastered a skill set), but I think the concept is a powerful one.