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MetaLearn

MetaLearn helps you learn anything...fast. Whether you’re building a business, learning a language or picking up a sport, you’ll learn the principles and techniques needed to succeed, as well as gaining insights from the thought leaders driving the global learning revolution.
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Jul 13, 2017

Our natural instinct to compete with others can be a powerful motivator for learning. As someone who's naturally competitive, using competition has definitely worked well for me in the early stages of learning a new skill and if you're wired in a similar way I'll be surprised if it hasn’t worked for you too.

But anything in excess is its opposite and being overly competitive can also harm your ability to learn if you don’t manage it properly. It’s easy to focus too much on the competition and not enough on yourself.

The truth is there will always be people who are better than us and we need to accept that. If we can, then we can allow ourselves to celebrate others’ achievements and use them as inspiration for pursuing our own.

In this short episode, I'm joined by Will Reynolds - writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner. We discuss a range of topics including:

- The benefits of competition in learning and how to use it constructively
- How competition can harm learning if it’s not kept in check
- How to compete with yourself over an extended period of time

So whether you're looking to use competition to start learning a new skill or just want to try competing with yourself for a while, this episode will give you everything you need and more.

Jul 11, 2017

Mads Holmen is the CEO of Bibblio, an API platform helping knowledge publishers and learning platforms deliver smarter content recommendation.  Bibblio’s clients include the likes of the University of Cambridge and Oxford University Press as well as the BBC and YouTube.

As Herbert Simon said, an information-rich leads to “a scarcity of what information consumes - attention.” We’re currently living in a world where there is a continuous battle for our attention online and this manifests itself in everything from addictive games to fake news, which fundamentally affects our learning and lives.

Mads is someone who has thought very deeply about the ideas behind online media and has a great understanding of the algorithms and business models driving the attention economy, which makes him the perfect guest to discuss these issues with, both from an theoretical and practical perspective. In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The systems driving the attention economy and how to live and learn in a world full of distractions
- The structural problems that drive fake news and how to spot and deal with this online
- The fundamentals of AI and Machine Learning, explained in a way that a 5 year old could understand

This episode is like a crash course in digital literacy - so whether you’re looking to understand the structure of the attention economy, manage your time better online or get a deeper understanding of AI and Machine Learning, this episode will give you all that and more.

Jul 6, 2017

We all want to be perfect at anything we learn but these expectations of excellence are often unhelpful and more often than not they leave us in a state of paralysis. 

Very often, the reason we don’t act on our desire to build that business, learn that language or master that new sport is because when we get started, we’re not going to be very good and this will quickly shatter that illusion of perfection that we’ve fantasised about so vividly.

In this short episode, I'm joined by Will Reynolds - writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner. We discuss a range of topics including:

- Why perfectionism hurts learning, and the rare exception where it helps
- The difference between having high general expectations and low specific expectations
- Simple strategies to overcome perfectionism and keep making progress

So whether you're looking to overcome perfectionism and start learning that new skill or fine tune your balance between over ambition and slacking, this episode will give you everything you need and more.

Jul 4, 2017

Kevin Kelly is the co-founder and executive editor at Wired magazine, and one of the world’s leading technologists. He’s the author of several bestselling books on technology, including his most recent work, The Inevitable, which outlines the 12 technological forces shaping the future.

As the writer William Gibson once said, “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet” and in the coming decades, technological progress will transform all aspects of our society, including the way we learn. 

So it’s in our interests to understand the dominant trends and prepare ourselves for what’s to come so that we can ride the wave rather than be crushed by it.

As a leading technologist and the co-founder of the world’s leading technology publication, Kevin is right at the cutting edge of progress, and is perfectly placed to shed light on the core issues driving the global learning revolution.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to build the learning superpowers needed to thrive in the 21st century
- The technological forces shaping the future of learning and education, including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Kevin’s insights on skill acquisition developed over a lifetime learning

You’ll also hear about Kevin’s formative experiences from dropping out of college to backpacking around Asia, as well as his current learning projects and a series of unconventional beliefs that most people would disagree with him on. 

So whether you’re a tech enthusiast looking to broaden their thinking in the space or a technophobe who wants to familiarise themselves with the forces that will transform all aspects of learning and education, this episode has you covered.

Jun 30, 2017

In Western society, many of us have now accepted the belief that productivity and efficiency are the foundations for success and happiness. While having some systems in place is important to reduce stress, the truth is that many of us stray towards the other extreme by trying to control everything about our environments and ourselves.

Not only does this obsession with control reduce the quality of our learning and daily experience, it can also harm the creative process by getting us stuck in fixed routines that prevent us from pursuing novel experiences.

In this short episode, Will Reynolds, writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner, joins me to discuss a range of topics including:

- The problems with worshipping at the altar of productivity
- The importance of constraints for the creative process
- Why productivity and creativity are not always competing forces and how to balance them

So whether you're curious about about productivity techniques, want to learn more about the creative process or want to find a way to balance these forces in your life, this episode will give you all that and much more.

Jun 27, 2017

Nelson Dellis is a 4x US Memory Champion and one of the leading memory experts in the world. He’s also the Founder of Climb For Memory, a non-profit charity that aims to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's research through mountain climbs around the world.

Memory is a critical part of learning anything but we’re never taught how to use it properly. In fact, many people simply assume they have a bad memory when the truth is that all of us have the capacity to remember astounding amounts of information.

Nelson is a perfect example of someone who started out with an average memory like the rest of us and trained himself into one of the world’s leading memory athletes through consistent deliberate practice.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The techniques Nelson and all competitive memory athletes to memorise everything from names and faces, to decks of cards
- The importance of regular mental training for mental health
- The life lessons Nelson has learned from mountain climbing

You’ll also learn what it’s like to climb Everest and Kilimanjaro, compete at the World Memory Championships and memorise 200 names in 15 minutes. So whether you’re a beginner just looking to remember more names at work, or want to memorise huge quantities of information, this episode will give the principles and techniques needed to succeed.

Jun 22, 2017

"What's the point of school?" is a question that’s been asked for hundreds of years. It’s a question that some of history’s greatest thinkers have spent their entire lives trying to answer.  

But we still don’t seem to have an answer that most people would agree with. If anything, the debate about what should be going on in schools and universities is getting fiercer with every year that passes.

In this short episode, Will Reynolds, writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner, joins me to discuss a range of topics including:

- The difference between learning and education and why it matters
- The harmful mindsets that education instils in us and how to combat them
- How the method of teaching has evolved in schools across history

So whether you're curious about the effects that the educational system has on us or just want to learn more about what some of history’s greatest thinkers have contributed to the debate, this episode will give you all that and much more.

Jun 20, 2017

Will Reynolds is a videographer, writer and all around MetaLearner who has become a regular fixture on the MetaLearn podcast in our weekly short form conversations on learning and skill acquisition. 

We’re currently living in a world where it’s possible to learn almost any skill given the resources we have available for almost no cost. But taking advantage of these resources, learning hard skills and making a living from them is not without its challenges. 

Will is a perfect example of an autodidact who has taken control of his own learning and taught himself skills, including writing and videography, that he now earns a living from. 

In this conversation, we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to go from novice to getting paid for new skills like videography
- The importance of cultivating transferable MetaSkills
- The lessons we can learn from autodidacts like Eminem and Frank Zappa 

So whether you’re looking to pick up hard skills and get paid for them, upgrade your transferable toolkit or navigate the challenges of being an autodidact, this episode will give you all that and much more.

Jun 15, 2017

Technology is changing the way we learn. Gamified learning apps, live webinars and online degrees are now an increasingly common part of the learning landscape and personalised learning systems are already being tested in classrooms.

This shift has brought some fresh thinking to a field that’s been desperately in need of it. But because of this, many have framed digital tech as a magic pill that will solve all our educational problems, without considering its drawbacks.

That’s why I believe we all need to think more critically about how we interact with digital technology on a daily basis, because the secret to learning well with it is not related to which devices we use, but to how we use them.

In this short episode, I'm joined by Will Reynolds - writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner. We discuss a range of topics including:

- The best ways to filter information online to get to the good stuff quicker
- The importance of working diversity into your content consumption
- How to protect your precious attention in the digital economy

So whether you're looking to leverage technology more effectively in your learning, filter content more efficiently or stay focused in a world full of distractions, this episode will give you all that and more.

Jun 13, 2017

Uri Bram is the bestselling author of Thinking Statistically, a book that explains the essential concepts in the field in a clear and simple way. He also consults for major international organisations, and speaks at businesses and non-profits about using data and statistical thinking effectively in the real world. 

In a world that’s becoming increasingly driven by big data, understanding statistics is becoming increasingly valuable. But even if you don’t want to become a data scientist, understanding statistics can help you avoid common thinking mistakes and make better decisions in your everyday life.

Uri is someone with a remarkable ability to explain complex ideas in a simple, entertaining way with wit and flair – and he’s not only done this with statistics, but a range of other disciplines including music, game theory and writing.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The key statistical principals that everyone should be aware of
- Whether understanding musical principles makes you a better musician
- How to learn complex skills from experts

You’ll also learn how big data is like teenage sex, why Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are bad models for success and why eating ice cream doesn’t necessarily increase your chance of drowning in the summer! 

So whether you’re math-phobic and looking to gain a basic understanding of statistics, or already consider yourself a data maverick this conversation will give you a whole range of useful insights that you can take away and apply to your own life.

Jun 8, 2017

Anyone can learn another language - regardless of how old they are, where they live or where they work. But the thing that holds most people back is a series of limiting beliefs, which mean that they rarely end up getting started or get demoralised so quickly when they do that they give up within a few weeks!

That's why it's so important to unlearn a lot of the ideas that we absorb from the world around us - especially when they're ones that stop us from making progress in the thing we want to learn!

In this short episode, I'm joined by my friend Will Reynolds - writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner. We discuss a range of topics including:

- Whether there is a "language learning gene" that most great polyglots have
- Whether immersion is important for the language learning process
- Whether children are actually better language learners than adults

So whether you're looking to learn your first foreign language, or have learned one or two and feel that it's not your strong suit, this episode will eliminate any doubts you have about your abilities and give you the tools needed to make real, tangible progress.

Jun 6, 2017

Gabriele Oettingen is a Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg and a bestselling author. Her research focuses on human motivation and goal setting, exploring the impact of the way we look at the future on our emotions and behaviour.

We’re living in an age where positive thinking is all the rage – from pop music to political speeches thee message is the same: think positive, focus on your dreams and they’ll come true before you know it. The problem with following this advice is not only that it’s empty and hard to action – but that it can actually reduce your chances of achieving your goals.

Gabriele Oettingen has spent twenty years researching the science of human motivation and discovered time and again that conventional positive thinking falls short. By changing the way we think about the future her research has proven that we can become healthier, improve our personal relationships and perform better at work.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How people normally set goals and what they’re doing wrong
- The pitfalls of positive thinking and how to avoid them
- The practical tools you can apply to get better results in your life

So whether you’re looking to make some major changes in your life or just level up that extra one per cent, you’ll learn the practical strategies needed to change your mindset and habits in order to achieve your goals.

Jun 1, 2017

If you’re someone with multiple interests, you’ve probably been branded a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None” more times than you can remember. And those of us with many interests sometimes struggle because we can’t be put into a box and labelled as an expert in a specific field.

But during the Renaissance, a polymath was seen as a perfected individual, someone who had mastered intellectual, artistic and physical pursuits. Hence the term “Renaissance Man” that’s still often used to describe people with multiple interests to this day.

In this short episode, I'm joined by my friend Will Reynolds, who is a perfect example of a polymath and MetaLearner because he’s taught himself a whole range of skills including writing, playing the guitar and videography – and importantly he’s been able to make a living from these skills.

We discuss a range of topics including:

- The lessons we can learn from great polymaths like Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Johann Goethe
- Where society's obsession with specialisation comes from and how to deal with it
- How to balance exploring different fields with focusing on getting things done

So whether you're looking to balance your multiple interests, make progress on your learning projects or learn from the great polymaths of history, this episode will give you all that and much more.

May 30, 2017

Ellen Langer is a Harvard psychologist widely known as the “mother of mindfulness” and is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles on mindfulness over the last 35 years.

Mindfulness is becoming more and more of a buzzword these days but very few people actually understand it and even fewer know how to apply it in their everyday lives. But there are few things that can have a bigger impact on your learning and life than improving your awareness of yourself and the world around you.

Ellen is the perfect guide to the field of mindfulness because she takes a clear, no nonsense approach, devoid of the mysticism that often surrounds it. This makes her ideas easy to digest and more importantly, easy to apply in practice.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- What mindfulness actually is and how it differs from mindlessness
- Some of the most common learning myths and how to combat them
- How to keep learning fun and avoid it becoming a chore

So whether you're looking to finally understand mindfulness, uncover some of the learning myths that we're vulnerable to at school or improve your awareness of your own learning, this episode will give you all that and more.

May 24, 2017

Simon Peyton Jones is a computer scientist who currently works as a researcher for Microsoft and has built his own programming language, Haskell. He is also chair of Computing at School, which was central to the 2014 reform of the English curriculum that made computer science a foundational subject.

As our lives become increasingly influenced by computers, it's surprising how few of us know anything about how these devices work. We don't all need to become programmers, but understanding the core principles that are behind our favourite websites and apps is important when we spend so much time on them.

Simon is uniquely positioned to offer insight into the field, given his many years of research and application and his experience teaching computer science as a Professor at University level.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The core computer science principles that everyone should understand
- The importance of focusing on ideas, not devices, in computer science education
- Simon’s view on whether there’s a tradeoff between technology and humanity

‍So whether you want to become a programmer, understand the basic principles behind computers or hear an industry insider's views on to how to manage the use of technology in schools, this episode will give you all that and much more.

May 9, 2017

Jeff Cobb is a thought leader in the field of lifelong learning and the author of the bestselling book, Leading The Learning Revolution. He also runs a popular blog and podcast, and is the founder of Tagoras, a learning consultancy.

As we move from a knowledge economy to a learning economy where we need to acquire new skills everyday just to stand still, the importance of lifelong learning is rapidly increasing and opportunities in the space are huge.

Jeff is someone who is uniquely placed to view the lifelong learning industry from a big picture perspective given his many years of experience and the range of different clients he has been involved with.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The main trends driving the increased demand for lifelong learning
- What makes good educational content and what should be avoided
- How the shift towards mobile is likely to affect the future of learning

So whether you're looking to start a business in the lifelong learning market or are just curious about the latest trends in the space, this episode will give you in depth insights from an industry insider.

May 2, 2017

Ed Fidoe is one of the founders of School 21, an innovative new school in Stratford, East London that's reinventing education by preparing its students, aged 4-18, for the 21st Century.

For so many people, school was characterised by drudgery, rote learning and the stress of exams. But school doesn't have to be that way and there are plenty of people trying to reinvent education for the 21st century.

Ed is one of these people, and along with cofounders Peter Hyman and Oli de Botton, he built a school from scratch that aimed to rebalance head (academic success), heart (character and well-being) and hand (generating ideas, problem solving and making a difference).

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The core skills needed for the 21st century and how to develop them
- The process of reinventing education and the challenges ahead
- The effective and balanced use of technology in classrooms

So whether you're a parent thinking about how to manage your children's eduction or are just curious about innovation in education, this episode will give you a series of fascinating insights from an insider's perspective.

Apr 25, 2017

Barry Schwartz is an acclaimed Professor of Psychology who recently retired after 45 years of teaching at Swarthmore College. Barry has also written three bestselling books on the Paradox of Choice, the Meaning of Work and Practical Wisdom and has done a series of popular TED talks on those subjects.

Practical wisdom is something we could all do with more of. It’s close to what the Ancient Greeks called phronesis - a general understanding of how to live a good life and the decisions we should make.

Barry has spent years studying the subject and even had the opportunity to teach a class on it at Swarthmore, which makes him perfectly placed to offer insights into the topic of wisdom.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to become wiser using tools to learn from our everyday experience
- How practical wisdom could be applied to improve the educational system
- How to make better choices in a world of infinite possibilities

So whether you're looking to make better decisions in your life, learn from your everyday experience or just get a little bit wiser across the board, this episode has you covered with actionable principles and strategies you can apply now.

Apr 18, 2017

Barry Pousman is the founder of Variable Labs, a Virtual Reality company that creates immersive experiences to help people develop soft skills.

Virtual Reality is likely to be a game changing technology for a number of industries but its impact on education in schools and businesses will be huge.

As someone who's running a company at the cutting edge of the industry, as well as filming his own VR experiences, Barry is perfectly placed to offer insights into the potential of the technology.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How learning in VR accelerates the development of soft skills like negotiation
- The potential for VR to revolutionise education in schools and universities
- How VR differs to other storytelling mediums like film, audio and books

So whether you're curious about how VR can help you learn new skills or want to know more about it's impact on the educational system, this episode will give you insights from the cutting edge of this revolutionary new industry.

Apr 11, 2017

Kalid Azad is the founder of Better Explained, one of the world's most popular maths websites that makes hard concepts easy to understand. After studying Computer Science at Princeton, Kalid spent a few years at Microsoft as a program manager, founded a Y Combinator startup, and currently works as a developer.

For many people, maths is the subject they used to hate most in school and they carry this fear of numbers into later life. But it doesn't have to be that way - and understanding basic mathematical principles can be both fun and useful.

Kalid uses an intuition first approach to explain difficult ideas in a way that anyone can understand and this makes him a great person to talk to about any subject or skill including his current profession of computer programming.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to get better at maths and why some people find it so hard
- The secrets behind great explanations of tricky concepts
- How Kalid has learned skills from coding to snowboarding and weight training

So whether you're looking to get better with numbers, learn to code or pick up physical skills, this episode will give you the actionable principles and techniques needed to succeed.

Apr 4, 2017

Niklas Jansen is the co-founder of Blinkist, an app that distills the core insights from non-fiction books into 15-minute summaries that you can access from your smartphone or tablet in written or audio form.

If you're someone who wonders about how to apply what you read in everyday life, then the app is worth checking out, because the short summaries or "blinks" cut away the excess and drive you to take action.

Niklas founded Blinkist with three friends in 2012 and the business has since gone on to raise Series A funding and acquire over a million users.

In this conversation we discuss a range of interesting topics including:

- How Niklas started the business and learned the skills of entrepreneurship
- How to apply what you read and use Blinkist to learn more in less time
- How Niklas and his co-founders create a learning environment at the business

So whether you're looking to build your own business, remember more of what you read or learn better from your coworkers, this episode will give you actionable strategies that you can apply today.

Mar 28, 2017

The MetaLearn podcast has reached the big 5-0. The show is now in 127 countries with listeners on every continent and is growing rapidly – in fact in the first 3 months of 2017, the podcast had 40% more downloads than the whole of 2016!

In today’s special episode you’ll have the chance to hear my reflections on learning and education after fifty episodes of the podcast. I'm interviewed by Joshua Fields, who was the very first guest on the podcast.

Josh is a mental and physical health expert with qualifications in hypnotherapy, NLP and mindfulness meditation and is also a blogger at the Huffington Post, contributing on mental health, entrepreneurship and economics.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- My main reflections on learning based on my insights from the podcast
- The lessons I’ve learned from working as a lecturer and teacher
- My views on the future of learning and the educational system

So if you're interested to find out what I've learned after 50 episodes of the podcast, look no further than this special episode.

Mar 21, 2017

They're two words that get thrown around a lot but what exactly is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

Knowledge is something closer to what the Ancient Greeks called Episteme – a specialised knowledge in a particular field or an ability in a skill that's descriptive or explanatory in nature.

Wisdom is something that’s harder to define but it’s closer to what the Greeks called Phronesis – it’s a more general understanding of how to live a good life and the decisions we should make.

In this episode I discuss the differences between knowledge and wisdom, and the insights we can draw from them, including:

- Knowledge comes and goes but wisdom lasts
- Knowledge is additive and wisdom is subtractive
- Knowledge Can Be Taught But Wisdom Must Be Learned

So whether you're looking to make better decisions in your life or become more practically wise, this episode will give you actionable insights that will help you think smarter and make better decisions.

Mar 14, 2017

Ben Medder is a movement coach who has trained in martial arts, athletics and parkour. He’s taken inspiration from the likes of Ido Portal, best known for his work with MMA fighter Connor McGregor, and the Fighting Monkey and Evolve Move Play Methods.

Many people don't identify as being athletic but physical skills can be learned like anything else. While you're not going to become the next Usain Bolt by doing a few sprint sessions, it's easier than most people think to get good at a sport.

As someone who has learned and taught a wide range of physical skills as a coach, Ben is perfectly placed to give advice on the most important elements of picking up new sports or physical practices.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- Ben’s advice to people looking how to move better and pick up a physical skill
- The parallels between parenting and teaching in different contexts
- The role of movement and sports in the educational system

So whether you're looking to learn karate or kayaking, football or fencing, this episode has you covered with practical strategies you can apply straight away.

Mar 7, 2017

In modern society, learning has become synonymous with taking in information passively and retaining it. Students view teachers as people who are supposed to deliver information into their heads so that they can recall it when required.

But this is the one of the most damaging misconceptions we carry into our lives because the truth is that all learning is active. It isn’t a process of having something done to you – it’s a process of you doing something to yourself.

The best teachers all understand this – and know that their main role is not to build a whole fire for their students - it’s to ignite the spark of inspiration that will help them build and feed the fire themselves.

In this episode I discuss some of my main insights about teaching including:

- The teacher’s role in society and how it’s changed throughout history
- The qualities and characteristics that I think make great teachers
- The things we can learn from other educational systems who value teachers

Whether you're involved in the educational system or not, you'll gain insights that will help you reflect on the role of teachers in your life and help you become a great teacher to others, whether at school or in life as a parent or friend.

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