Ultralearning

Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career
Narrated by: Scott Young
Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
Categories: Business, Career Skills
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,425 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Future-proof your career and maximize your competitive advantage by learning the skill necessary to stay relevant, reinvent yourself, and adapt to whatever the workplace throws your way in this essential guide that goes beyond the insights of popular works such as Extreme Productivity, Deep Work, Peak, and Make It Stick.

Faced with tumultuous economic times and rapid technological change, staying ahead in your career depends on continual learning - a lifelong mastery of new ideas, subjects, and skills. If you want to accomplish more and stand apart from everyone else, you need to become an ultralearner. 

Scott Young incorporates the latest research about the most effective learning methods and the stories of other ultralearners like himself - among them Ben Franklin, Judit Polgar, and Richard Feynman, as well as a host of others, such as little-known modern polymaths like Nigel Richards who won the World Championship of French Scrabble - without knowing French.

Young documents the methods he and others have used and shows that, far from being an obscure skill limited to aggressive autodidacts, ultralearning is a powerful tool anyone can use to improve their career, studies, and life. Ultralearning explores this fascinating subculture, shares the seven principles behind every successful ultralearning project, and offers insights into how you can organize and execute a plan to learn anything deeply and quickly, without teachers or budget-busting tuition costs.

Whether the goal is to be fluent in a language (or 10 languages), earn the equivalent of a college degree in a fraction of the time, or master multiple skills to build a product or business from the ground up, the principles in Ultralearning will guide you to success.

©2019 Scott Young (P)2019 HarperAudio

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    5 out of 5 stars

The best book on learning, and I read a few!

A few years ago I read every book available on deliberated practice. The concept of 10.000 hours, talent overrated, to practice the things we are afraid of. I liked it all, and tried to implement in my life. But I didn't have enough motivation to pursuit one particular subject for so long.
Then I read Scott's book. And at some level it is about deliberated practice too, but it talks about a bigger concept that makes all the difference. The reason WHY!
This book was recommended by to me through a course I took on Coursera. The amazing teacher Dr. Barbara Oakley taught me a lot about learning how to learn already, and when this recommendation came into my inbox, I decided to give it a try.
Thanks Scott by all your effort on researching and writing a master piece like that. I will start my ultralearning project on education as soon as I finish this review.
P.S. to Scott: I am from Brazil (Portuguese native speaker) and I learned English most by myself. I visited the USA only for one month. It was really nice to know you came to Brazil to learn Portuguese. I hope one day we can meet and talk in both languages about learning projects. I wish you all the best!

59 people found this helpful

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I Thought I Already Knew Something About Learning

TL;DR
This book isn't about using the Cornell notes method, deliberate practice, and how you can use mnemonics to remember anything (although it is covered a bit but not even encouraged), it goes so much deeper. Scott, the Author, lays out a framework and approaches to learning that you must customize for your chosen subject to master, your timeframe, and strengths. James Clears quote in the forward explains the soul of the book, "Passive learning creates knowledge, Active Practice creates skill."

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a real thing. That is what hit me when I listened to this book.

A little background for where I am coming from. I have taken the popular "Learning How To Learn" Coursera course, as well as taken a studying course from my college. I have a lot of books on thinking, the brain, and similar topics. I even listened to one of the premiere books on memory "Make It Stick".

None of those books prepared me for the wealth of knowledge within this book.

Maybe you are like me, and thought that spaced repetition was the end-all, be all to learning (in fact it is more for retention than learning itself). When you crack open this book, you soon find out there is a thing called Metalearning. I was like, I know what that is, that is learning about how to learn, right? Wrong! Metalearning is learning about how to best acquire a specific skill or knowledge in a specific domain. This concept blew my mind. I had insights like this happen over and over again when I was listening to this book. It hit me again when he talked about when and where you should use Ultralearning, and what the different learning approaches are. I felt infantile and like I had just stepped out of the darkness and into the light of my own lack of understanding, but it was too good to stop, I had to know more.

He goes on to lay out 9 principles that you can use as the foundation of an Ultralearning project, things such as directness (actually doing crap), drill (Attacking your weak points), retention, and intuition to name a few. Each one is explained very well and has concrete examples in the way of stories to help you understand the concept further.

Scott lays out that you don't need a huge 3 month swath of time to do an Ultralearning project, but you can tailor it to your needs and demands on your time. I really liked this part because it plays well with the balance of having a family, full time job, part time jobs, and hobbies. He also explains that you can use the techniques within the book during your normal learning routines, be they at work, or in school.

This is not the kind of book you read once and put down, it is the kind you come back to to reference techniques as you need to. I know I will be rereading sections of this book and taking notes now that I have listened to it.

Cons (Or What to Improve)
It would be nice to have a reference that would boil all of this information down in an easily consumable form. In fact, I plan on making one myself and will post the link here when it is done.
It would be nice to have coaching that would guide you through the process of becoming an Ultralearner, a good worksheet could also help with that.
The subtitle to this book is also a little bit of a misnomer because there wasn't enough application in the book to "Outsmarting Competition, or "Career" but I think it can help you do those things.

98 people found this helpful

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This is Worth A Ton!

I have a sincere interest in lifelong learning. And i do learn. However Scott really helps you understand that if you don't clearly articulate what you want to learn, maybe break it down into more manageable bits, establish a path and then use practice or drills or repetition as appropriate it will go the way of many things. Nowhere. It's a terrific book and I've listened to it twice already. Read his blog as well!

12 people found this helpful

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Excellent book about a great skill

If you are a self-teaching person who loves to continually learn and master things, this book will be useful for you. I'm already an auto-didactic person, and I still learned a lot of strategies and tricks. Highly recommended.

19 people found this helpful

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ULTRAMEMORIZATION

Or ULTRATRIVIA. Either of those options would have been a better title for this book.

This book was recommended to me by a colleague who said they felt it had parallels to my own journey. The book starts off about how college education does not prepare students for real world jobs. It talks about gaining some real world experience first to get that job. As of this review, I am a month shy of my 30th birthday working in a software engineering role that requires a PhD. I have no degree. I dropped out of college due to my perception that their education strategy was more about blind memorization of fact sheets than comprehension of the topics. After I left, I went on a self education journey that continues to this day, ten years later.

While young and I both came to the same conclusion over the effectiveness of college, the difference is that I sought another approach (mentor-apprentice, comprehension over memorization) and he doubled down (teacher-student, memorization is what matters). Although he says throughout the book that application is the most important part, he drools over stories of blind memorization such as a trained Jeopardy contestant and a french-language scrabble champion who doesn't know french; he just memorized the french dictionary.

My other gripe is that I believe that Young's interpretation of having "learned" something is very shallow. He mocks the idea of mastery requiring 10,000 hours, and flaunts his abilities as a "programmer." At one point during the book, he starts discussing how a programmer learning throughout their career may learn about if statements and for loops, and later learn about while loops. There is no later. These concepts are mere pages away from each other on any introductory programming language book you can pick off the shelf. While he likely believes he is a master coder, he is unable to see that he is not a software engineer nor a craftsman.

There are some key takeaways you can take from this book. I didn't know it, but I've been an ultralearner all my life. Sitting down with intense focus to learn a new subject is fruitful. However, I would focus on repetition and comprehension more than blind memorization.

56 people found this helpful

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I will listen to this a second time taking notes

I came out of this Audible wanting it to continue. The outline and conclusions struck a chord based on my previous experience learning new concepts or subjects. The ones I find myself remembering the best over time can be traced to many of the pillars described in this book. It’s five stars from my perspective!

5 people found this helpful

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Ok

A lot of this is common sense. Some of the stories were interesting but a lot of saying the same thing over and over.

10 people found this helpful

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Monstrous Book.

This book is mind blowing. It's the most complete system for learning I've seen! I was finding it hard to find new paradigm shifting materials after spending my last relentlessly focusing hundreds of hours on learning. This book hast pointed out some tremendous holes in my self created processes and I'm excited to reach a whole new level!

4 people found this helpful

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Good for professionals trying to expand

I am a solid 30 years into my career, and I’m looking to expand my skill set to adapt to the modernization of my industry. This book was wonderful for giving me some ideas on how to speed up the process of learning new skills. Definitely worth a read whether you’re at the beginning of your career or the end.

3 people found this helpful

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Inspiring

This is a book I've been waiting to read for a long time. My journey through college was punishing as a 1st generation university student and being too poor to feed myself. My takeaway was a BS degree plus a lot of fear. Still, I never backed down from learning challenges in my career and have built an impressive set of skills.

This book would have helped me in a massive way from the past 25 years since earning my degree. But fortunately, I now have a model for the next 25!

6 people found this helpful