How to "Snowball" Your Learning | TEDx Interview

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This video is sponsored by short form. Hey guys, it's Justin here. If you're new to the channel, I'm a former medical doctor and now full-time learning coach and learning consultant. I did a tedx talk on learning. If you're looking for one video that kind of summarizes what I'm about and the work that I do, that's probably the one to watch. I think you'll really enjoy it. But this tedx talk was pretty well received and I had a couple students from Hokusai gakuan University in Japan contact me because I had some questions about the content. So I did an interview with them. They asked me a bunch of questions, a lot of really great exploration into it. So if you've watched The tedx Talk already and you want to dive into a little bit more in this video I'm going to do some demonstrations of the techniques. I'm going to clarify a few things, make a little bit more practical, give you a little bit more guidance on it. I'd recommend that you watch the tedx talk first and then leave a comment on that one and then come back to this one and then dive into this one for a deeper discussion. It's broken up into two parts and this is the first part. The second part is on language learning. Hope you enjoy it. You both had a look at my tedx talk. Is that right? Yeah, yeah, cool, and you had a few questions that you wanted to ask me. Yeah, first question. Okay, first is not about the main topic in the Ted talk, but I'm curious about the motivation. You said you studied our vote in high school. What is your motivation? Why you are able to study abroad for nine months? The truest answer I can give you is probably not the best answer. So the reason I was so motivated, I think, was really just because of a few things. First of all, I don't think I'd ever really tried that hard before in my life, so for me, part of it was a test. I wanted to challenge myself. I want to see how hard I can work.

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I almost wanted to prove to myself that I'm a certain type of person that can work this hard, and I think that was important to me and that's something that has stuck with me ever since. You know I've finished, obviously, all of that sort of stuff, but even now I still see myself as a hardware Orca. So that was one reason. The second reason is that I just didn't think that much about why I wanted to do medicine. I didn't know a lot.

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I knew more than probably most people going into medicine, but most people going into Medical School know absolutely nothing about what it means to be a doctor. Most people have never looked at what medical school is like. Most people have no idea what the medical training looks like. They don't know what the daily life of a doctor actually involves or looks like. They often don't know what the sacrifice really means.

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They don't know what type of content they're even going to be really learning. So most people going into medical school have never really explored that and they've never looked at Alternatives. In my experience I've worked with obviously thousands of students entering into medical school. I found that most of these students they think you know what they want to do, you know what job they want to have, and then they once they think, oh, I want to be a doctor. It's just they stop thinking because once you say you want to be a doctor, everyone around you is like, oh, yeah, yeah, good, good, good, you know, doctor is good, doctor is good. So they feel like, oh, this is a good decision, this is a good decision. They don't think about it again and they don't think about other Alternatives. So for me, I was going into it with a very similar mindset. Actually, I thought about it but looking back on it, I knew nothing and because I was ignorant, I wasn't chasing medicine as a goal. The goal that I was chasing was the concept of what I thought medicine would mean for me, and what it meant for me was a fulfilling life, the life that I want to lead.

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That's the concept of what I was chasing, and I was very motivated towards chasing that, but I don't think it was ever really about medicine itself for me, and I think it's quite rare most of the time for young people to really understand the career that they're entering into anyway. So it was partially I was trying to prove something to myself and partially I was just blindly rushing in the title. I was learning about hot and running pyramid, and I think pots and running pyramid are very similar.

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Yeah, so are you asking about the difference? Yes, yeah, so what the pyramid you're talking about is Bloom's tax on. I mean, it's the levels of Mastery, of learning. I think that's what you're talking about. So there's overlaps, but they're not exactly the same thing. So higher order thinking skills are the broad thinking skills that are involved in achieving higher order learning. So that is critical thinking, the ability to think relationally, comparing and contrasting. So those types of thinking result in higher order learning. So higher order learning is in some cases within the bigger field of higher order thinking. Does it make sense? Yes, you mentioned about Snowball Effect in a pep talk and the more I learned, the more easy I run new things. How broad the snowboard effect work? I mean, like if I study medicine and business administration, it is effective, each other to some degrees, yes and no. The Snowball Effect is talking about the idea that when you learn something because you have more to create relevance with, you have more things to associate with it, it becomes easier to make sense of other things.

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You know things are more relevant because you have more things to find it relevant to. So, for example, a newborn baby: they don't know anything, so nothing is relevant to them because they don't have prior knowledge or experience. And someone that's in their like fourth grade, a very, very- you know- young, they have very, very little knowledge, whereas someone that's 17, 18 years old they have more knowledge about.

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So more things are relevant if you know more things, and that's the idea of the Snowball Effect. So when we think about different topics and Fields, often a field or a topic is called a topic because there are a lot of relationships between the ideas within that and then, when there aren't as many relationships, that's where the topic ends. So that's why we would say, for example, physics is a different topic from accounting, because there are some Concepts that are related, but not very many. But if you think about a topic like physics versus chemistry, then those two are considered separate topics but actually in some instances they're actually the same thing.

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Physics and chemistry become the same thing. So that line is very blurred. So it depends on how closely related the two topics are. If you study business, administration and Medicine, there are probably some things that will overlap: methods of thinking, Frameworks, processes. Maybe a certain type of administrative framework reminds you of a framework in medicine or Healthcare Management. So there will be some overlaps, but obviously it's going to be less than another topic like, for example, just biology and Medicine, which are more closely related. So the Snowball Effect is essentially infinitely broad.

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But number one: you never know what is going to be relevant. Sometimes it's something in your hobbies or you might have watched something on TV or seen something in a movie, and that's the thing that becomes prior knowledge, that helps you learn something you know. You don't watch the movie because you think it's going to help you learn this thing, though it just happens, it's just a coincidence, so you never know what knowledge is going to be useful in what way, and it's a bit of a spectryou said about. Step two in a tip book is group information together, and it is important to prioritize the information right, and I didn't understand what prioritize is and how to do that. Okay, so I want you to tell me, let's say, eight different concepts within business: admin strategy, potential customers, Network effect, advertisement, president, companies, top person, competitive strategy, cost leadership, reaction.

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So this is what lower order thinking looks like. Okay, we've got these words: lower order learning. Is this competitive strategy? What does that mean? Okay, competitive, and you read about it. What does that mean? Okay, okay, I remember what it means. Okay, potential customer: what does that mean? What is potential customer? Okay, what are the attributes, characteristics, of potential customer? Okay, what's Network effect? That's lower order learning, not very effective. This is Middle, slightly Higher Learning is okay.

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So what's the difference between the network effect and advertising advertisements? What's the difference? Okay, what are the similarities and differences? Actually, I want you to think about this. You don't have to tell me, but I want to think about it. What's the similarities and differences between blue ocean strategies and competitive strategy? What are the similarities and differences between, yeah, Network effect and advertising, between competitive strategies and cost leadership? Okay, so you see how we're comparing now. Right so now what we can do is we can group. So if we have competitive strategy, potential customer, Network effect, advertisement, president, cost leadership, blue ocean- how can we group that information? Let's think about three or four groups that we could create to put all of those Concepts in. Okay, and I want the groups.

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So that might be something like: okay, we're going to put competitive strategy in Blue Ocean together as types of strategy and then cost leadership as types of strategy, and we're going to talk about potential customer as its own group by itself, and then we're going to talk about, let's say, reach as Network effect and advertisement, and we're going to talk about organization and within that, right now, there's just President. Right, so now we'd have four different groups. Okay, but we could have another group. We could have all of the concepts that have the letter a, p in it: competitive strategy, potential customer, president, okay, so those three would be in a group that has the letter P, okay. So now you see, we can group it that way. Or we could say all the words that have only one word versus two words. So president, advertisement, those would be one group. And then competitive strategy, potential customer, Network effect, that will be another group, you see.

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So some of these groups are not very helpful, it's not meaningful, and so grouping is about finding similarities and differences and then creating groups based on those similarities and differences. Prioritizing is about finding the group and the structure of the groups that makes it seem like it makes the most sense, it feels the most relevant. So if we were to group it in terms of, let's say that we create a group that says strategy, and inside the strategy there is competitive strategy, blue ocean, cost leadership, and then we've got another group that says people and insight, that as president and customers, and then there's another group that says marketing and that's Network effect and advertisements, okay, so those groups make more sense. But what we want to do is we want to to think about how the groups also relate to each other.

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So, strategy, why are we grouping this strategy? Why is strategy an important group, why don't we group it something else? You know, why don't we have one that's about communication? Why don't we have a group that's called networking? Why don't we have a group that's called systems and processes? Right, why are we calling it strategy? So when we think about that and recognize that there's multiple ways we could group, we have to make a decision about which type of group actually makes the most sense for us, and the way that we decide that is based on whether that group that we've created seems like it connects to the other groups nicely.

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So if we call strategy, then we can see a cable. Strategy is important because it leads to customers. So we'd have a relationship strategy to customers. Well, right now we've grouped president and customers together under people. So now that group doesn't really make sense because strategy doesn't just lead to people, because it's not leading to the President, right. So now maybe we want to change the people group so we'd have strategy leading to outcome, and under underneath, outcome is maybe customer as well as other things.

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You know, profit, Revenue, cash flow- these types of things might fit under outcome and our president is out by itself. So where does President go? So now we have to think of another group that we would put that into. So we might think of that as the organization. So we'd have organization that uses a strategy to achieve an outcome. In an under organization you'd have president, but you'll also have vice president, employees, Human Resources, all these other things right, organizational systems, protocols. That might be an organization. Now we've got Network effect and advertisement. Where do they fit? Well, that could be the link between strategy and outcome. It could be strategy to marketing to outcome, and on the marketing you'd have advertisement and network effect.

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So now we can understand this topic very easily, would say we have businesses that are organizations and these organizations use strategies to produce a certain outcome and the way they do that is through marketing. Within an organization you have a president and all these other things. Within strategy there are multiple different types of strategy, like competitive strategy or blue ocean strategies with cost leadership, and then under marketing, we have Network effects and advertising, and then under the outcome, we have more customers. We've got you know whatever it is and you might think: well, the customer then has enough influence on the marketing, so there might be another arrow going back to marketing.

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So now these relationships can start building. Do you see how that works? So that's the difference between prioritizing and just making groups. You see, it's actually completely different. It's a much higher level of thinking. You're not just saying: there's a group, there's a group, there's a group. We're thinking: if I group this way, how does that affect this group? But then do I have to change this group to make that fit this one? But then this one doesn't make sense. So how can I group that? Well, if I do it this way, then this doesn't make sense. I have to start again. That is about prioritizing. That is the highest level of thinking.

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Well, one of the highest levels of thinking, and that's what you should be spending most of your time learning, thinking about that lower level stuff, about what is competitive strategy. What does it mean? What does it mean? You don't have to do that. You can do that later. If you forget, you can then pick it up by doing that. But if you start with higher order thinking, you will probably just not forget it in the first place because you're thinking about it so deeply.

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You're thinking about it so much. You don't have to spend time and effort deliberately trying to just memorize it and what happened by itself. You can always go back and do it in reverse. Anything that you ended up forgetting, you can then memorize. Yeah, did that answer your question? Yes, okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, wait. How are you meant to do any of that when you're learning from books, when you're learning from multiple resources, when there's so many different ideas? Every every book seems to be saying a different thing. What do you mean to do to balance that? The way that you can do this practically in a time efficient way- and my opinion is to use a app such as a sponsor for this video: short form.

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Now, as many of you will know, short form does these book guides where they'll take a book and they'll do some summaries of it. Pull out the main points and you can get a very good gist of the main points and the actionables from each book that you're reading. These are non-fiction books, by the way, covering basically every different genre that you can think of: business, finance, time management, you know, habit building, learning, whatever it is, but the main benefit is that short form does a lot of heavy lifting for you in terms of comparing some of those ideas between different books. It's very difficult to compare ideas if you didn't know the idea existed in the first place and if you didn't have a particular book. So this is a great example. Like there's a book here that's called made to stick, which is about you know, there's some very basic principles about learning related to this.

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However, there's another book also which is not on my shelf. I I don't know where my book has gone. Okay, there's another book that talks about ideas that are related to it but actually contradicts some of the things in that book. Now, you would not really know that unless you already read that book or are already familiar with the primary research, which most people are not. So for me, when I'm exploring new subjects that I don't already have good expertise on, I will always turn to short form first, because it's a much higher chance and I'm going to catch ideas that are unique and then give me a springboard to read that book further as well as explore other books that my knowledge is actually more holistic.

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You don't want to be that person that is like a really strong opinion about something because you've only read one angle of it and you're not aware of the conflicting, contradictory angles for that particular topic. So they have new books that are being released every single week in vote for books as well. If there's not one, that's already in there currently massive library, and if you use my link in the description, you can sign up, get five days unlimited access and a discount on your annual subscription as well. So if you are interested, you can check out the link in the description. It's shortformcom, Justin sung. And now let's get back to the video, because our new has a great question: which is you right, like soccer?

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And then which? And pay, write on paper or use tablet or something which is good? I would always recommend a tablet if you can afford one with a Pen stylus as well as an infinite canvas app, right, you don't want to have a four page size. If you're using a tablet and your tablet doesn't have Infinite Canvas, there's no point using a tablet. You know you may as well just use paper. So you want to be able to, because all the time you're thinking, okay, I need to move this around, I need to rearrange things. You want to do that very quickly and easily. We talk about the note taking. I think I usually take notes being note taking. I usually even I want to remember what the professor said and explain. Is it good to like brainstorming, not taking that thing that we did with a higher order thinking before: yeah, you want your note-taking to just help you to do that. Just focus on that. Just focus on writing whatever notes will help you to do that process in your head. You never want to be thinking about note-taking as the purpose. The purpose is never what you're writing down. The focus needs to be what's happening in here.

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You can do whatever you want out here, but this has to be right. If this is not right, this doesn't matter. If this is great, you don't even need this, okay. So yes, you can do some mapping. You can write some other things. Now there are hundreds of thousands of ways that you can write notes the right way. The best way for you is going to depend on partially what you're comfortable with and what you're able to do, and that's about growing the skill you start with where your company possible and you slowly, slowly shift towards something that's a little bit more advanced.

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But mostly it's just about how you're thinking about things, right. So you might start off by just writing down a few key words about what the lecturer is telling you, what your professor is saying, and just writing a few keywords. But in your mind, when you're writing those keywords, what are you doing? Is it just I'm writing keywords? What is it as? As I write them, I'm always comparing, looking for groups, thinking about how it could flow and structure together right. So, out here, on paper, for an advanced learner, this is what note taking will look like in a lecture.

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Okay, that's what note-taking looks like if you're an advanced student. There's not much happening out here. This is what's happening inside, though. It's taking information and thinking about it, synthesizing it, bringing it down, extracting the keyword, writing down that one keyword and thinking about how that relates to every other keyword that's on the page, and then taking more information in and seeing: is that right relevant to this keyword? Is it a different keyword? Can I put these two keywords together in a group note? That doesn't make sense. Can I do this one in a group note? That doesn't make sense. Okay, new information. This is a new keyword. Okay, I'm gonna write that one down. How does this relate together? Does that make sense? Can I form a group here? Can I relate that group to this one? If I group this, then can I create another relationship in this direction? Okay, no, that doesn't make sense, or that could make sense. Maybe it makes sense. I'm going to write that down- this possible group. So the note taking is just keeping track of thoughts, so that you've got something to come back to as reference. The learning happens in your head, though, okay. So I know that's not a easy answer, but if you start with very linear note-taking, then you can take steps towards it. First of all, start writing list notes. You just have to be become comfortable with having less on there and spend more time thinking about things. And then, once you've written list notes, start handwriting some of those notes. Handwriting during lectures is great because you can't write fast enough to write down everything, so it forces you to be very selective with what you're writing. And then you can start working with using some non-linear notes. Mapping things out, creating some relationships can be very simple: just one word, One arrow. That could be the starting point. But then, as you get better and better and you're training yourself over time to think faster and to make this higher order thinking your default habit of thinking, then you'll be able to have more: three concepts, four forming groups. As you go and then eventually you'll get to the point where your rate of thinking is much faster than their rate of speaking. So you're just taking information and you can very quickly synthesize it, and then you're just waiting for anything new to pop up right, and when you retrain yourself to do that, you're literally becoming smarter, right. So this approach takes time. I've got a program, obviously right, and I'm training people through this step by step. Even with step-by-step guidance, it can take months to get to a point where it's where you're really able to do it. So you have to be patient. But even if it takes a long time, still start taking those steps towards it, because every step you're getting better.

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You don't have to become a master to be good enough, like if you're playing the violin. You don't have to be a master to enjoy your playing right if you're playing anyway and you are terrible. Any amount of improvement is making things better. So, yes, it might take months or even years to fully Master this, but in the first three days, four days, you're already gonna start seeing some benefits, and those benefits will just keep stacking and stacking, and stacking and stacking. We want to ask about you, Nick, at next: and how are running and the happiness connected? That's a big question. I found that they're very connected in a lot of ways, especially in Asia. Students study a lot and first of all, it's not very enjoyable to do something that you're bad at.

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Most people are not very good at learning. Even people that think they're good at learning are usually not amazing at learning. They're just not bad. So for most students that find studying very boring, very tedious, not engaging, very stressful. And then there's exams, and there's exams are high pressure and they're difficult and it's very competitive. There's a lot of anxiety and a lot of stress. So then you're spending your time thinking: I hate studying, I hate studying, I hate studying. But what if it's not enough?

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What if I need to study more? What if they ask this in the exam? So your life is a combination of boring, tedious, monotonous, with stressful, anxiety and pressure. So that combination I don't think can lead to happiness or fulfillment. So learning how to learn gives you a lot more control. You know what you're doing. You know the outcome it's going to have. When you walk into an exam, you shouldn't think: I wonder how I'll do. You should know how good you will do when you enter into an exam. You should know what type of questions you are prepared for, what type of questions you are not prepared for because maybe you don't have enough time. You should know. You know how good your studying was and the effect that it's going to have. Right, there should be a level of confidence there, but that confidence comes from control, and that control comes from awareness and insight. You have to know what to do to learn in the right way in order to have that control. And the good thing is that not only does that make things less anxious- there's less pressure, you're more confident- but also the human brain enjoys learning.

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It doesn't enjoy doing random things that are not effective over and over again, which is what most people do with their studying. So most people hate studying, but that's only if you're. Studying is not leading to learning. If you are learning correctly, it's actually a very enjoyable process. Most people really like learning things. They may just hate the process that they're using to achieve learning, but that's a problem with the process, not a problem with the learning right. So when people learn to learn, not only do they become more confident and it's anxious and less stressed, but they also feel happier and they enjoy the process more. And if you're spending three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten hours a day studying. It's like the majority of your life. That used to be terrible and now you enjoy it. And actually, because you're more efficient, you can study less. So you can do other things too, like I don't know play, you know, go out with your friends or watch some movies or whatever you want to do. You can do that now because you have the time and you also have time to sleep, so you get proper sleep. You get eight, nine hours of sleep every night because you can afford to sleep that much, whereas before many people are just paying all of that time studying or, if they're not studying, stressing about not studying.

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In my experience, learning to learn and just overall life happiness are very, very correlated. Actually, one really interesting thing is that people form very strong beliefs about themselves based on their experiences with learning. If you're not normally good at school, you say over years of time you just think I'm just not smart enough. I can't do that because I'm not smart enough. I used to get that a lot from people that you know used to look at medical students and think, oh wow, that sounds great, but I'm not smart enough to go through medical school. I can't do that. So all of these beliefs that people form about themselves- I can't get that job because I'm not good enough, or I can't get that promotion because I don't know enough- all of these thoughts come from experiences that we've had where we didn't get the result that we wanted.

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You know, when we're a child and we're like sparkly eyes and we're like, oh, everything is possible, and then you can do anything, and then you fail and you fail, and you fail and you fail, and then you start believing: okay, maybe I can't do anything because maybe I'm not good enough. But those experiences are not reflect active of you as a person or your intelligence. It's reflective of your method and your process. If you never learned to walk on your feet and you always walk on only your hands, and you want to run 100 meters, you may think I just can't do that because I'm just not fast enough. Or actually, if you learn to walk on your feet instead of on your hands, you will be fast enough.

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So it's about the method and sometimes the methods that people use. They have only used that one method for their entire life. They don't even see that it's possible to use another method, but actually it is, and this is the exciting thing about modern day: the research that's out right now it's showing it is actually possible to use a different method and therefore it redefines what's possible for you. So not only are you happier in the moment, but your opportunities are opened up as well.

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Do you have any Vision or goal about running or education? What I've been talking about this entire time was the limiting beliefs that people have about themselves, thinking that they're not smart enough, all of those sorts of things. That's something that I think I want to change. The method of studying that I'm talking about, that I teach. It's a matter of time before this becomes normal. 50 years from now, people will just learn this way. It will just be the expected way of doing things. It's just that the current state of knowledge is not Advanced enough. Yet I want to be the person that pushes that- this new method of doing things that's more fun, that's more effective, that opens up opportunities, that allows people to be Freer and less stressed. I want that to be just normal and I'd like to be one of the Pioneers that pushes that through, because the research is there and I'm not the one that's doing the research like there's other people that are much smarter than me doing the research that's publishing this stuff.

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It's just that people aren't putting it together because there's so much of it, and you know the people that we think should put it together- our professors and our teachers. They don't have time to put it together, they barely have enough time to just teach. You know, we can't expect them to look through thousands of Articles of research and then practice that and then use it in their classroom and then get feedback and then tell it to the researchers and then they research more and they bring it back, and we can't expect that. You know, whereas I'm in a position where that's all I do.

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I just sit in between and I just bring it all together, and I think that puts me in a very rare position where I can actually start pushing this message through to help researchers, to help teachers and to help students as well, and I would like that to be normal one day. Not 50 years from now, 10 years from now. That's my vision. Awesome, thanks for the great questions. It was good, okay. Well, have a great rest of your morning. If you have anything that you want to ask me again, you can just send through an email. Alright, see you bye. Thank you, foreign [Music].