Return on investing in learning and exponential growth

Learning is considered an exponential growth skill. However, not all learning is equal. Can we use the return on investment analysis for our learning experience? Sure! Do many people think this way? Not really. Let us go through the myths and realities of earning by learning.

How to maximize the full keytostudy offering?

The accelerated learning skills like speedreading and speedwritng boost your learning skills and allow exponential growth.

The productivity and visualization hacks allow avoiding the diminishing return traps and generating breakthroughs.

The investing toolset allows building a portfolio of skill, time and money so that the portfolio always grows.

The speedwriting and teaching skills allow spread our ideas and gaining a reputation. The added bonus: USING THE SKILLS ACTIVELY WE DO NOT NEED SPACED REPETITION.

And finally, the most important thing: reduce your risks. Prevent conflicts and burnout, impulsive, and emotionally unstable behavior. Some of the tips include healthy lifestyle, good teamwork, and smart hobbies.

As you will learn, I do not write about the obvious stuff. You can read THAT everywhere. What I try to build are revelations, associative networks that will fuel your growth. I do not view these very distinct disciplines as separate entities but as a part of something compact and interconnected. Occasionally I call this entity wisdom…

Below I address some of the words I used in this section.


Exponential growth

The investment theory is very simple here. Suppose we get a small interest on our investment. Then we add this interest to the main amount and invest again. Do this several times and the aggregated amount gets very impressive.

Applying the same idea to personal growth is also simple. Invest in good education with a highly paid job. This will provide a very high income. Do not spend it, but pay your debt and invest. Eventually, you will get rich.

This is a fool-proof way to become a millionaire by the time you retire. Very few people actually do this. Even fewer people have any idea how to invest the time and money beyond the first or maybe second degree, and an apartment.

Applying similar principles to non-monetary domains is even harder.

Diminishing returns

At the other extreme position is the law of diminishing returns. Using the same tools we need increasingly more efforts to get better results. This is also an exponential law, only this time the exponent is applied to the effort we need to invest. This is the domain of grit and hard work. Work twice as hard and get a 10% improvement.

Of course, this is also an important part of our lives. True mastery in anything is very hard to achieve, monetize, and keep. However, the potential pay-off is immense. With enough proficiency and creativity, the way we do things changes and there is a breakthrough.


Most of us need some sort of certification to achieve the breakthrough we need or to generate enough surpluses for a reasonable investment strategy. Probably 80% of our readers are just before, in the middle, or immediately after some sort of certification.

Not all certification can actually generate personal growth. For example, knowing foreign languages is often correlated with higher status and pay rate.  People who know languages have more networking opportunities. They are open-minded, and they proved they can do something hard.

Now you could use the same energy and learn investment management or family budget planning. Or maybe you could acquire a new programming skill. Maybe some job-related certificate, or even a certificate allowing a second job. That would probably increase your income faster and more directly than languages.

Time vs money

You invest time. Say each hour is worth just 20USD. And you invest money, say 1000USD.  If you invested 2000USD and saved yourself 200 hours, you have wonderful returns.  Usually, people do not feel this way. Why? The time we save is rarely our prime time at the best time spot of the day.

We have a surplus on time when we come home. This time is ours, and yet it is not very valuable.  Probably after a long work day we are too exhausted for a second job. Even if we could work, our main employee might not like it and taxation could be high. Also, our life satisfaction is important. Depression can be very expensive, as it is translated to impulsive actions, health risks etc.

So we are pretty happy to spend our evenings on something that is fun. Learning history, playing guitar, riding a horse or high-end gaming might be correlated with higher income or not but there is no causality. Smart people, often highly stressed people, tend to relax this way and learn life skills as a byproduct.

Monetary equivalent

To have any chance to calculate return on investment we can do certain tricks.

  1. Assign a monetary equivalent to all hours of all days. Not necessarily a flat rate.
  2. Use an interest rate. For example 5% annually. If I invest something now, I expect to get 5% more at the end of the year. Everything above that is great.
  3. Compare alternatives. E.g. have several possible action plans. Procrastination is not exactly an action plan. If you really do not know how to spend your time, think of something productive you like to do, including arts or sports.
  4. Outline full alternative. If the activity you consider will increase the stress level, add a balancing activity to reduce the stress level. For each activity provide both time and money.
  5. Try to equalize the happiness levels between the activities. Add some extras to make all things comparable. If you do something you do not enjoy, you will buy expensive toys or eventually do something really stupid.
  6. Add bonuses for your personal preferences. If you are really talented one way or another, maybe anything else will pale in comparison.

Reputation as a growth engine

In big projects, we cannot do everything alone. Reputation opens the doors of the potential clients and collaborators and pulls the best talents to help. Beyond some glass ceiling, we cannot produce more ourselves, so we work with others.

There are several ways to build reputation, including speedwriting and teaching. As an added bonus, we gain understanding and long-term retention without spaced repetitions.  E.g. we revisit the materials while we communicate with others.

The reputation itself grows exponentially, just as our network of friends and collaborators if we do not do anything stupid.

Prevent conflicts and burnout

Smart people do stupid things for various reasons. Some of these reasons are sort of fate. Others are easily preventable.

The number one reason for crazy mistakes is burnout.  We are naturally impatient and want more. The progressive overload principle or venturing out of the comfort zone, or simply relying on willpower to “power through” are nice to deal with local issues. When we are constantly using these principles we get traumas. In sports the traumas are physical. With us, it is mainly stress and burnout.

Another source of stress is conflicting. Many conflicts are easily preventable by diffusing emotions from what we read or do. Apathy is often preventable via the opposite technique of anchoring. Most of these techniques can be taught in one session, and they are immensely powerful.

Skill reuse

We build our skills as a pyramid. Memory and visualization are basic skills. We can reuse them for everything we do. For example, there are many kinds of markers with different uses.

Speedreading, productivity skills (flow and pipeline), and self-regulation (anchoring and defusion) are the next level of skills. We use them to get things done tactically.

Above that, we build creativity, speedwriting, collaboration skills, and more.  These skills work in everything we do. I think I have a dedicated creativity-related section in each of my courses. And each of these sections discusses a  very different aspect of creativity with a separate set of skills in each case.

Next, we need to choose smartly our goals and make sure we benefit in the long run. Here we calculate return on investment, realign values, and commit to expertise.

Only then, after committing to specific expertise, our skills become harder to reuse. Something like statistics or programming skills are still very generic. However, very soon we get very specific expertise, like convolutional neural networks, and then skill reuse becomes harder.

What to expect?

Basically learning this skillset is the best education money can buy. I cannot promise you 100% success rate acquiring the skillset – unless you invest in Anna’s coaching and allocate several years for all the fine details. The skillset is a recipe for a decent life: low risks [we leverage wisdom not courage], almost certain multimillion portfolio at the age of retirement [need decades for exponential growth], extra life satisfaction. Each time you qualify from a masterclass you triple some skills and half some nuisances. At ~12 masterclasses you can expect a better life. I simply do not know a better investment. If you do, please teach me.


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