Perhaps one of the most interesting and common little “issues” I think about with a lot of SuperLearning skills is the issue of usability. Indeed, some of the most skilled and advanced SuperLearners (and also the most famous, after the publication of Joshua Foer’s bestselling book Moonwalking with Einstein) out there are the competitors in the World Memory Championships. But, as competitor Ed Cooke recently said in a great podcast with Tim Ferriss, the types of skills developed by these athletes – memorizing thousands of random digits and stacks upon stacks of playing cards – are pretty unappealing to people with normal, well-developed social lives. Furthermore, as I’ve often said to our students on Udemy, just because I can read as many as 2-3 books in a normal work-day doesn’t mean that I want to, or even that I’ve ever tried to do so.
So what, then, is the point? Why, practically, do we enthusiastically develop these SuperLearning skills? Here are 5 applications that I’ve personally come up with over the last few years that make me very grateful to be a SuperLearner.
1. Remembering Names & Faces
Nothing is more practical and applicable to your daily life than remembering people’s names. In fact, in one of my favorite books of all time, How to Win Friends and Influence People, remembering and using people’s names is touted as one of the most effective and important skills for leadership, charisma, and rapport. Because most people cannot walk into a cocktail party, meet 20-30 people, and remember each of their names flawlessly, this ability makes you stand out quite a bit, and garners a lot of positive emotions from people you encounter. It’s also a very simple feat for most of our astute students.
2. Keeping abreast of the news
There are a number of very “high volume” subjects and fields that are constantly changing. For example, while not too much is happening in the fields of, say, philosophy these days, there is constant change in fields like technology or world news. Every day, there are new devices and software systems coming out, as well as many major developments in the world political sphere. This sheer volume of information can easily inundate most people, but as a SuperLearner, you can easily stay on top of subjects that interest you in much less than a day. I remember one interesting case in which I was traveling and disconnected from the world when the Malaysia Airlines flight mysteriously disappeared. A friend mentioned it to me in passing, and within 20 minutes I had read all of the articles on 3 major news sites dating back 3 days. Quickly, I was more informed about the situation than any of my friends.
3. Pursuing Improved Health
Another very high-volume field is that of health & medicine. Every day, there are new discoveries about physical therapy, movement, nutrition, and treatments for various afflictions and diseases. Not only that, but there is a tremendous amount of information already out there, which most people simply don’t have the ability to consume. For many years, I suffered from a great deal of knee pain, which doctors were unable to diagnose. X-rays, physical therapists, joint support supplements and more all proved useless. However, soon after developing my SuperLearning ability, I began devouring content on physical rehabilitation, and soon happened upon the pretty recent school of thought surrounding Trigger Point therapy and self mysofascial release. Whereas most people would be intimidated by a book-shelf breaking anthology such as Kelly Starrett’s Becoming a Supple Leopard, I sank my teeth in and read it over a few days. In fact, I recently re-read it, just to pick out some new and more advanced techniques for improving my hip mobility. As a result of this, my knees are better than ever. When you have the ability to read huge volumes of information from varied sources, you’re bound to come upon a lot of great solutions to your own health maladies.
4. Remembering more of your most treasured experiences
They say that the best ratio of happiness to expense is not in buying “things” but rather in buying experiences. I’ve found this to be very true. However, this makes it a great shame that many of us will not remember the vast majority of the details surrounding our most exciting experiences. From family trips to special holidays or once-in-a-lifetime opportunities; how many of those precious details do you remember?
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but the SuperLearning techniques our students acquire are readily applicable to the storage and maintenance of experience-related memory. By applying techniques like markers, dual-encoding, linking, and chunking, you can remember many more details in much more clarity, which you can enjoy again and again over the years as you share stories with friends and loved ones.
5. Achieving subject proficiency in record speed
As the story famously goes, one day I spoke to Lev and Anna and got them to agree to let me create an online course. Unfortunately, I knew virtually nothing about creating an online course. How would I record? What software and hardware would I use? What made an online course successful? How would I build a high-quality syllabus? How would I market? What about guaranteeing our success against 15-20,000 other Udemy courses competing for student attention?
Well, one afternoon, I sat down with my laptop, opened up about 40 tabs, and proceeded to inhale all the information about anything related to creating online courses or competing in massive online open marketplaces. About 3 weeks later, I would hit “Publish” and start a wild ride that none of us could have anticipated. Though ‘SuperLearner’ was my first ever attempt at teaching, much less creating an online course, today we boast 20,000 students and a spot in the top 5 courses on Udemy. THAT is the power of SuperLearning.
Today, as I dive into a number of crazy new ventures such as podcasting, writing an e-book, and working with telecom operators in Africa, I am thankful that I can apply my superlearning skills towards rapidly becoming proficient in just about anything.