A book by Josh Kaufman “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!”


You’ve probably heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. But 10,000 hours is a full-time job for FIVE years…

And anyway, where does the 10,000 number come from? It’s from studies on how long it takes to get to the top of an ULTRA-competitive field. Then, we played a society-wide broken telephone, so it became: “it takes 10,000 hours to become good at something,” and eventually: “it takes 10,000 hours to LEARN something.”

That’s just NOT true! We can actually learn something well enough, in JUST 20 hours.

First, de-construct the skill you want to learn. Imagine your end goal, and break it down into smaller and smaller steps to get there. For example, instead of “play the piano,” you could pick a specific piece, and then break it down into the skills for each section of the piece.

Second, learn just enough theory to be able to self-correct. The goal is to get to practicing as fast as possible, but first you need to know some theory in order to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it.

And third… practice!

Now… To see results, you want to practice the SMART way. One- break down your practice into short bursts, and two- push your brain to the limit. It’s very much like working out: to grow a muscle, first you have to tear it. If you’re just going through the motions, you won’t see any results.

So just like with many things, the 80/20 rule applies to learning as well. For example, you don’t have to know hundreds of chords to play the guitar… you can actually play most pop songs with just a handful of chords. Learning the basics can yield tremendous results!

Josh Kaufman

Book Author

Josh Kaufman is the author of three bestselling books:

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business
The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast!
How to Fight a Hydra: Face Your Fears, Pursue Your Ambitions, and Become the Hero You Are Destined to Be
Josh’s research focuses on business, entrepreneurship, skill acquisition, productivity, creativity, applied psychology, and practical wisdom. His unique, multidisciplinary approach to business mastery and rapid skill acquisition has helped millions of readers around the world learn essential concepts and skills on their own terms.

Josh has been featured as the #1 bestselling author in Business & Money, as ranked by Amazon.com, and his books have sold over a million copies worldwide.

Josh’s TEDx talk on The First 20 Hours is one of the top 25 most-viewed TED talks published to date, with over 22 million views on YouTube.

Josh’s research has been featured by The New York Times, The BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Fortune, Forbes, Time, BusinessWeek, Wired, Fast Company, Financial Times, HarvardBusiness.org, The World Economic Forum, Inside Higher Ed, Lifehacker, MarketWatch, The Independent, Bloomberg TV, PBS Next Avenue, CCTV, and CNN’s Sanjay Gupta MD.

Josh has been a featured speaker at The Aspen Ideas Festival, Stanford University, World Domination Summit, Pioneer Nation, Microconf, BaconBiz, Google, and IBM.

JoshKaufman.net was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Entrepreneurs” by Forbes in 2013.