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Publisher's Summary

"Learn anything... fast!"

Take a moment to consider how many things you want to learn to do. What's on your list? What's holding you back from getting started? Are you worried about the time and effort it takes to acquire new skills - time you don't have and effort you can't spare?

Research suggests it takes 10,000 hours to develop a new skill. In this nonstop world when will you ever find that much time and energy?

To make matters worse, the early hours of practicing something new are always the most frustrating. That's why it's difficult to learn how to speak a new language, play an instrument, hit a golf ball, or shoot great photos. It's so much easier to watch TV or surf the web...

In The First 20 Hours, Josh Kaufman offers a systematic approach to rapid skill acquisition: how to learn any new skill as quickly as possible. His method shows you how to deconstruct complex skills, maximize productive practice, and remove common learning barriers. By completing just 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice you'll go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing noticeably well.

This method isn't theoretical: it's field-tested. Kaufman invites readers to join him as he field tests his approach by learning to program a Web application, play the ukulele, practice yoga, re-learn to touch type, get the hang of windsurfing, and study the world's oldest and most complex board game.

What do you want to learn?

©2013 Worldly Wisdom Ventures LLC (P)2013 Worldly Wisdom Ventures LLC

Critic Reviews

"As a father of three, practicing neurosurgeon, and global journalist, I don't have a lot of free time on my hands. The First 20 Hours is a practical guide to learning beyond our mid-20s, when our brains are fully developed. Josh's book will inspire you to pick up forgotten hobbies and chase elusive dreams." (Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.6 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5.0
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  • Story
  • Grady
  • Denver, CO, United States
  • 06-16-13

Finished the thesis early in the book

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Maybe someone in their early 20s with little experience in their life might like it.

Would you ever listen to anything by Josh Kaufman again?

No.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Josh Kaufman?

Not sure. Really not going to.

What character would you cut from The First 20 Hours?

I'd kill all the stories about things he learned in his past.

Any additional comments?

Seriously, he finishes his thesis early in the book. The rest is just fill. He talks about how he learned yoga and computer programming (that's all in the past). This was all about 20/20 foresight. How about talking about his thesis and then actually applying it to something he knows nothing about. Write about that. Write about how it's something he wants to learn, but is fighting with all the self doubts, frustration and aggravation of finding the motivation to do what he intellectually wants, but has trouble finding the discipline to actually learn. Prove that thesis. Don't just introduce the thesis and then look back into the past about how it worked for things he already learned. Don't talk about things he had to learn for his business. I have to do that all the time. I have to learn about things I could care less about because I have to do it for my business.<br/><br/>All in all, this book talks about a thesis that could be stated in 3 lines. Only focus on learning one thing at a time. Devote the time to do it and don't let any other learning distractions stop you from this goal. And finally, think before you do. Plan how you're going to learn and do it intelligently. I have a problem with that idea because it all falls back to 20/20 foresight. You can't learn what's important and what isn't until you learn something about it.<br/><br/>In the end, this was a brief thesis that didn't need the full space of a book. It makes money for the author because it's not a brief article that he can put on his website--it's a book. And this book is a waste of time and money.

185 of 204 people found this review helpful

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First 3 Chapters are enough

The book has a great start and fullfilled my expectations. The you get 30min of yoga history and you just stop listening.

45 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Keshav
  • Union city, CA, United States
  • 06-16-13

Learn by doing it.

First -- you're listening to a book instead of reading it because you wan to "read" faster than actual reading. So, for anything you wan to learn (or want to burn down your learning bucket list), you learn by doing it. Based on his experience and research, Josh has come up with 10 principles for learning enough to enjoy.

1. Choose a lovable skill
2. Choose the target performance level
3. Learn one -- only one -- at a time.
4. Deconstruct the skill to sub skills
5. Get the tools to help you start practicing the skill asap.
and 5 more.

Key emphasis on the getting to doing and acquiring skill, tips creating the environment to sticking to it makes all the difference in this approach. First few chapters will move to action -- a great success for any book by any measure.

The book also details Josh's successful application of these techniques to learning Yoga, web application, Go, touch typing, ukulele and windsurfing. I treat this as bonus.


36 of 41 people found this review helpful

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Disspointed

Would you try another book from Josh Kaufman and/or Josh Kaufman?

I don't know.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I don't know.

Have you listened to any of Josh Kaufman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The First 20 Hours?

All stories telling me how do yoga, programming, playing go, sailing, etc.

Any additional comments?

The author has some great advice for learning but the meat of the advice comes in about the first 45 minutes and the rest is just telling me how to do yoga, program computers, play GO, sailing, etc., stuff I'm not interested in, nor did I want to learn about. I realize the author is trying to use those as examples as to how he learned something but it was ridiculously detailed and certainly took him more than 20 hours. I feel like the rest of the book was decdicated to plugging his wifes Yoga video and his other computer businesses and his "20 hour" website. <br/><br/>It real waste of my time and my money for this book!

38 of 48 people found this review helpful

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Very enjoyable book. His ideas sound so right.

I can see why some other people didn't like this book. But that does not matter, because I thought this was a great format.

The first three chapters covers methods for skill acquisition, and the remainder of the book are the authors experiences while using his system to acquire 6 new skills. I thought his 6 stories of skill acquisition were quite good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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more about yoga than learning

What would have made The First 20 Hours better?

focus on the art of learning, or rapid skill acquisition. I understand using something like yoga as an example of how you do RSA, but for about the last hour I've been listening to how to actually DO yoga, which doesn't interest me. I didn't want to hear about what you learned about yoga.

What do you think your next listen will be?

something else.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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a diary not a road map

What disappointed you about The First 20 Hours?

Totally hogwash , this book has nothing to do with practical life. In my opinion a scam

What was most disappointing about Josh Kaufman’s story?

Not a road map rather a look what i did without an ounce of proof

What didn’t you like about Josh Kaufman’s performance?

Scam

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

First chapter

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Lots of talk way to much filler.

Would you try another book from Josh Kaufman and/or Josh Kaufman?

No

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Did not get that far

Would you be willing to try another one of Josh Kaufman’s performances?

No

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger and disappointment

Any additional comments?

So much of the audio book was devoted to stories and that's fine to warm us up to the strategies but at chapter seven I found myself a bit angry at having listened to a very long talk on yoga positions, history,what he got out of it and Antonio Banderas younger look alike all the women had crushes on... and very little on new strategies... <br/><br/>basically save yourself money just devote yourself to 90 minutes of intense study if you can't study 90 minutes build up to it.. remove distractions and make time for study daily at roughly same time... there free ... I was victimized by the old bait and switch.<br/>I paid for learning strategies and received a book on how to fill hours of the listeners time and do it sounding gooooood.. .. (Yes Josh has a good voice)<br/>What a waste. <br/><br/>Shame on you Josh. You got me but I'm returning the audio book for my money back. I want my time back also but that's gone and I feel ripped off. <br/><br/><br/>

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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A few key points make a worthwhile read

Where does The First 20 Hours rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's in the top 20% of all the personal improvement books I've listened to.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The First 20 Hours?

It reinforces the idea of Deliberate Practice, which I first heard about in "Talent is Overrated".

What about Josh Kaufman’s performance did you like?

Any time an author is reading his own book, it's going to be hit or miss. Fortunately, Josh Kaufman read it well. Having the author read his own book wasn't a negative at all.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The notion that you don't have to be a black-belt expert at everything. That if you want to learn something, spend 20 hours learning it in an effective manner and then you're good enough to move on to another skill.

Any additional comments?

I wasn't a huge fan of all the examples - how he learned Go, or to type, or to program, etc. Seemed a bit like filler. But it's worth listening to nonetheless.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A Shrill and Vacuous Petard

If I LEARNed ANYTHING FAST from this shrill and vacuous petard, it's that I would do much better to spend at least 20 seconds to scan the reviews before taking the Audible bait on a Daily Deal.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jen
  • 02-24-15

Good Essay not really an audio book

What disappointed you about The First 20 Hours?

Kaufman is clearly passionate about his topic but its more of an essay than a full book.<br/>

What could Josh Kaufman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Less lists more substance when describing how he learnt each subject.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

lists lists and more lists

Any additional comments?

the first 20 pages are very good and they have made me get off my couch and pick up my ukulele. His TED talk on the topic is worth a visit

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gym Addict
  • 05-02-14

Pretty Disappointing

Would you try another book written by Josh Kaufman or narrated by Josh Kaufman?

Yes, I like his writing and his narration is very good

What was most disappointing about Josh Kaufman’s story?

Got to say I am a little disappointed with it. Essentially 2/3 of the book are the case study examples of the new skills that the author decided to learn. Unless you are really interested in learning how to do yoga, web programming, touch-typing, play the Ukulele, the board game GO or windsurfing for yourself then the majority of the book can be pretty boring and somewhat tedious. <br/><br/>All the actually useful information and takeaways from the book (unless you are interested in the above skills) are in the first 3 chapters (40 pages) & the final 2 pages of the Afterword at the end.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • sarah
  • 07-15-13

Not a good listen

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I'm not sure who would want to listen to this book - somebody who wanted to learn how to do yoga? the book went through all the yoga positions and how to do them? I have done yoga I really didn't need anybody to tell me how to do it? I thought it was going to give me a game plan for learning some sort of framework but it didn't.

Would you ever listen to anything by Josh Kaufman again?

No

What didn’t you like about Josh Kaufman’s performance?

the content

Any additional comments?

Don't buy

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Morrison
  • 06-03-15

Disappointed

What disappointed you about The First 20 Hours?

after such a brilliant first book this really missed the mark.it seemed very repetitive and self serving

Has The First 20 Hours put you off other books in this genre?

no

Would you be willing to try another one of Josh Kaufman’s performances?

prob not

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointed

Any additional comments?

none

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew Ebling
  • 04-26-15

Insightful and inspiring listen

Although others have criticised this book for only being a few chapters of "meat" followed by examples, I found the examples to be the realisation of the meat of the book - the application of the principles contained.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Theo
  • 01-22-15

Very good listen

He highlights what we know we should do with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. It is then up to you to make decisions about what you want in life

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-01-17

Ukulele

I am now planning on learning how to play the ukulele!
Thanks for the idea!

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  • DGL
  • 09-07-17

Just the right amount of info

Having listened to this book I feel I have enough information and practical advice to make a start and confidence I can commit to seeing my next project through. The examples were really useful, but as advised, I skipped the ones that I wasn't as interested in.
Really enjoyed listening to the experiences of the author. Very easy to relate to. Would recommend to anyone who has 10 projects, half finished!

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • 03-27-17

Short version... practice and apply yourself. Done

Could have avoided such detailed explanations of what he learned. Instead, would have been helpful to have had more detail around focus tips, learning methods etc.

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  • Rik
  • 05-21-15

Very inspiring

I've just finished listening to this and am about to start again to try and embed it!

Highly recommend!

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  • Cigdem
  • 05-08-16

Too much irrelevant background detail

Great idea and decent first chapter but it lacks sufficient relevent and quality content to fill an entire book so it's stuffed with way too many irrelevant details about the hostory of yoga and descriptions of physical yoga poses. Irrelevant and a waste of time.

If the 4 Hour Chef was available on audible then I'd recommend it as an alternative book for how to learn to do new things quickly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 05-08-17

Worst book I've listened to.

If you want to listen to someone explain every task they perform this is for you. I couldn't stand this book.