Scott Young — Ultralearning, How to Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career
Simplify your life. Do less, better.



Scott Young on quickly mastering hard skills, acquiring knowledge, and becoming good at things that seem impossible to you right now.

Scott H. Young is an author, entrepreneur, and ultralearner. After learning MIT's 4-year computer science curriculum in less than twelve months, Scott taught himself four new languages in a year. In his book Ultralearning, Scott shares the principles and methods that he and other ultralearners employ to quickly master new skills, acquire knowledge, and become good at things that seem impossible to you right now.


Favorite quotes

  • "All of us are learning. Otherwise, we would be rocks."
  • "Ultralearning is not just a philosophy of learning one thing [and getting better at it] but a constant process of taking on projects and learning new things."
  • "Most people don't do [what would probably work better for learning] because it's kind of scary or frustrating or a little uncomfortable at first."
  • "Learning is any change that happens in the brain that makes you do something better."
  • "There are mental and emotional obstacles that often prevent us from doing what [we] know would really make sense for learning better, because we're afraid or think it will be too frustrating or challenging."
  • "[Deliberate practice] is overriding the habits and patterns that you form."
  • "I'm always learning about learning."
  • "[The Feynman Technique] forces you to articulate what you understand and what you don't."
  • "Paper acts as an extension of your working memory. [Writing things down] is a kind of cognitive enhancement that allows you to think more intelligently about ideas."

Episode links


People mentioned


Episode notes

  • Scott Young. [0:28]
  • Career. [4:31]
  • Going full time. [8:37]
  • Monetizing. [11:05]
  • Writing the Ultralearning book. [12:52]
  • Guinea pigs - "[There isn't such a thing as] ultralearning conventions." [15:09]
  • Pushing yourself. [18:21]
  • Flow vs. deliberate practice. [26:12]
  • Ultralearning principles. [29:22]
  • Self-directed and intense. [35:34]
  • Why does ultralearning matter? [39:48]
  • Can anyone learn? [45:17]
  • Your learning approach. [49:28]
  • Directness. [53:34]
  • The Feynman technique. [1:02:01]
  • Rubber ducky. [1:05:33]
  • The mindset of experimentation. [1:06:23]
  • Constraints - Performance and creative constraints. [1:09:24]
  • The Expert Interview Method - What advice did Cal Newport give to Scott for writing his book? [1:12:23]
  • Masters and mentors - Avoiding the mythical "complete mentor." [1:14:56]
  • Role models. [1:19:06]
  • Cal Newport and James Clear. [1:20:37]
  • Daily routine. [1:22:38]
  • Is your life simple? [1:23:16]
  • Complexities. [1:23:49]
  • Team. [1:24:44]
  • Habits. [1:26:18]
  • Meditation. [1:27:45]
  • Rituals. [1:28:35]
  • Commute. [1:29:44]
  • Working from home. [1:29:54]
  • Sports and hobbies. [1:30:37]
  • Work hours. [1:31:24]
  • Email. [1:32:57]
  • Distractions. [1:33:51]
  • Social media. [1:34:45]
  • A list of ideas. [1:36:46]
  • Curating your work. [1:37:45]
  • Disconnection. [1:39:39]
  • Boredom. [1:40:58]
  • Healthy tech. [1:42:13]
  • Digital clutter. [1:43:28]
  • Workflows. [1:44:52]
  • Away from screens. [1:45:36]
  • The story about who you are. [1:46:17]
  • Successful people. [1:49:25]
  • One sentence to the world. [1:50:28]
  • What would you tell your 20-year-old self? [1:50:46]
  • Paranoid. [1:53:54]
  • Book (and other) recommendations. [1:54:55]
  • Spaced-repetition systems. [1:55:53]
  • Connect with Scott. [1:57:15]
  • What's next? [1:58:15]
  • Slowing down. [1:59:53]
  • See you next time. [2:01:04]
  • Scott speaking Spanish. [2:01:32]

Thanks for listening!


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Theme song Sleep by Steve Combs, under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.

August 6, 2019

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