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  • 💥 The Fastest Path To Proficiency and Lean Information Diets

💥 The Fastest Path To Proficiency and Lean Information Diets

Welcome to the Action Digest, where the rubber meets the road, the ground is hit running, and all irons are struck while hot!

Coming up in your weekly dose of momentum:

  • 👾 We learn the approach that propelled a solo game designer from amateur-status to producing a multi-million dollar blockbuster within four years.

  • 🚀 A world-leading expert on rapid skill acquisition reveals his golden rule for achieving proficiency in record time.

  • 📚 We explore one framework and one question for building a leaner and more efficient information diet.

P.s., you can check out editions 1-12 here in case you missed them, including insights such as the playbook that Coco Chanel used to rewrite the world of fashion and go from orphan to multi-millionaire, winning creative strategies from Stanford designers, and the motivational memos that turned around a failing soup company.

Seriously, there are some gems you’ll appreciate in these earlier editions. ;-)

1. Just Dive In

Sometime in 2011, after yet another job application was rejected, Eric Barone decided it was time to up-skill. Eric knew that learning to code would improve his job prospects—but he couldn’t afford to go back into formal education. So Eric took an alternative approach to sharpen his coding abilities: he committed to building a video game, by himself, from scratch. 

With no budget and no team, Eric's journey into game development began with a simple avatar. “I didn’t really have any sort of deliberate plan or anything,” Eric admitted, “I just had my intuition as to what was the next important thing I should work on.” "And when it came to pixel art or other things that I had little experience in, I just dove in and did my best.” 

But then something peculiar happened. “As I started to work on the game and my development skills improved, I started seeing all the possibilities.” “At some point I realized this could be legit. I could become a real indie game developer. So I went for it, redoing stuff, making it better.”

Eric proceeded to teach himself every aspect of video game production: coding, art design, script writing, sound scoring, and more, relying on forums and blogs when obstacles arose. “As time went on I started to get better at these things through hundreds of hours of practice.” “I just persevered and forced myself to learn. You realize the thing that you thought was good actually isn’t. You realize why and you improve on it. And that’s just an endless cycle.”

Four years later, his self-taught project had transformed into Stardew Valley, a game that sold half a million copies in two weeks and soon made over $300 million. When a Reddit user asked Eric how he went from novice to expert, Eric responded: "I never really participated in any game jams or anything, I just set a huge goal and then adopted a mindset of never giving up until it's created."

Eric’s success is a testament to the power of project-based learning, a method that facilitates deeper knowledge acquisition through the active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.

2. Learn It Where You’ll Live It

Scott Young is an expert on rapid skill and knowledge acquisition. “The best way to learn pretty much anything,” Scott writes, “is to plunge in and try doing it. Be direct.” 

However, Scott has found that the most popular methods of learning are indirectthey are detached from the actual activity we want to excel at. “We want to speak a language but try to learn mostly by playing on fun apps, rather than conversing with actual people. We want to work on collaborative, professional programs but mostly code scripts in isolation. We want to become great speakers, so we buy a book on communication, rather than practice presenting. In all these cases the problem is the same: directly learning the thing we want feels too uncomfortable, boring, or frustrating, so we settle for some book, lecture, or app, hoping it will eventually make us better at the real thing." 

The problem with indirect learning is that it rarely equips us with what we need to actually achieve our goals. So Scott insists upon a golden rule to avoid the trap of indirectness: “learn in a situation which is closely tied to how you want to use what you learn in the future.” 

Scott believes directness is superior because “instead of learning things in the abstract, you make direct connections to the settings in which you eventually want to apply new skills and competencies. Admittedly this is hard, but the end result of doing this can be quite impressive.”

3. Finding Your Reason To Learn 

As the VP of audiobooks at Spotify and co-founder of Anchor, the world's biggest podcasting platform, Nir Zicherman often encounters eager entrepreneurs hungry to launch their next big idea. They usually tell him something along the lines of, “I’ve hired some contractors to build a minimum viable product, but paying them has been expensive. So that’s why I think I need to raise money.” But Nir’s response is often unexpected: "Stop looking for a technical co-founder—become the technical co-founder."

In 2010, Nir was a second-year law student but was inspired to start his own company after watching The Social Network. Unfortunately he lacked any technical skills. "I had startup ideas but no clue how to build them," Nir recalls. His search for a technical partner was fruitless, leading him to a pivotal realization: It was time to teach himself. 

Early on, Nir realized he needed to make a server that hosted some data, so he dove into a relevant programming book on C#. From there, it became clear that the data needed to go somewhere, so he read about HTML and Javascript. Each new problem led to a new search for information, “the changes needed to be stored and tracked, so I bought some books about databases. Necessity is the mother of invention—or, in my case, education.”

His self-taught journey didn't immediately lead to successful startups—his early prototypes never took off. However, the skills he acquired were invaluable. Nir landed a software engineering job, eventually working at companies like Aviary and Adobe, where he built backend systems serving millions daily.

When his technical mastery and entrepreneurial spirit finally culminated in the founding of Anchor, Nir served as the technical half of the leadership team. His journey from law student to tech leader underscores his advice to founders: "There is no greater motivation to learn something new than an ambitious, exciting goal you hope to achieve. To the founders who have that big idea, I say: Congratulations on finding your reason to learn."

💥 ACTION PROMPT

When you next find yourself:

  • Needing to learn a new skill to advance in your career

  • Procrastinating on pursuing a goal due to a lack of knowledge or skill

  • Inspired to start a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to be better at

Ask yourself: which real-world project could you launch to accelerate your learning?

4. Action Steps Are The Lifeblood Of Projects

Every successful project is essentially just a long chain of completed action steps. 

This means that action steps are the most important components of projects—they are the oxygen for keeping projects alive. 

No action steps, no action, no results. 

This is why so many of the leaders interviewed in Making Ideas Happen reported having a system for capturing and tracking action steps across their various projects. 

Over the years, the Action Method team aggregated all of these best practices and refined them down to a single, simple, solution.

Its layout serves as a constant reminder to convert your notes and ideas into action steps, and gives you a single source of truth for what you need to do next. 

So before you begin designing the next blockbuster video game or billion-dollar app, be sure to kick your project off with a fresh copy of the Action Method journal

“Gone are the days where I walk out of a meeting with long notes and no clear understanding what I need to do. These notebooks keep me on track.”

Tina Roth Eisenberg, founder and designer

5. Will You Use This For Something Immediate And Important?

In his renowned book, The Four Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss prescribes a low-information diet to readers. 

In order to make time for what matters—like bonding with loved ones, making meaningful progress on our goals, or simply being present with life—Tim advocates for no news consumption, no mindless web surfing, and, above all, no unnecessary reading. 

The only information that Tim’s diet caters for is…


🔐 This insight, that reveals the framework and question that Tim Ferriss uses to guide his information diet, is for premium subscribers (yep, this weekly digest is reader supported). For the price of one fancy coffee per month our research team will agonize over the lessons learned from world class creative leaders and teams who make ideas happen, and send their tightly summarized conclusions directly to your inbox on a weekly basis. What a proposition, huh?!

☕️ Join us and help make this weekly action catalyst for creative minds a sustainable project.  

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We’ll leave you with this…

“When I view my own life, however, the biggest differences have come from projects, not tasks. These are large, complicated efforts that span anywhere from a month to a couple of years. It’s by choosing these wisely (and actually finishing them) that I’ve seen the most significant leaps.” 

Scott Young

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