How I Learn Things Online (Way More Efficiently)

How I Learn Things Online (Way More Efficiently)


There’s a reason why I say that there’s no other time period that I would prefer to live in. The things that you and I have access to and often take for granted were practically inaccessible to almost all humans that came before us. Do you realize the gravity in what I’m saying right now? I think the single best investment that you can make in life is in yourself, and perhaps the most useful skill that you can acquire in this day and age is learning how to learn. So in this video I’d like to share with you guys how I learned things online because while information may be accessible, which is huge, it’s quite the journey to go from incompetence to competence and figuring things out. First, a little bit of context. There’ll be timestamps in the description if you want to just skip to the action. I never went to college and I have no intention of ever going. I firmly believe that this is the best decision that I ever made as an American in the 21st century. Anything that I would have wanted to learn is available online, just without the crippling debt. However, I also recognize that that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. It all depends on your circumstances and what you’re interested in. This video is not about college. I already made a video about that, but it is hopefully to show that more is possible online than you might think. Like probably a lot of you, I hated high school with a burning passion. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. This was not because I was bad at it. On paper I was actually pretty good I had a GPA of 4.15 But the thing was that I was very skilled at only learning what I knew I needed to know to pass my classes. I look back at my time in American high school and feel like I learned practically nothing of value. Except that on Wednesdays we wear pink. Can’t believe I just said that. Okay, so back to the Internet. There’s info on pretty much anything out there. Just a few weeks ago I made a two-part series on learning Italian in seven days, and that’s just one example. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. So let’s identify what I think are the two main challenges of learning something on the internet. One: There’s a lot of BS out there. The truth is the bar of entry to posting content online is extremely low in most cases. That’s both one of the best things about the Internet and also one of the worst. All that basically means is that you have to learn how to sift through the dirt to find the gold. And there’s a lot of dirt, and a lot of gold. Anyone can tell you how to edit a photo nowadays, which is cool and all, but most people have no idea what they’re talking about. And two: Lack of discipline. It’s easier to be told what to do and play a passive role in life. I’m convinced that a majority of people live like this. The good news is that discipline is like a muscle which means there’s something you can do about it. Also, you only need a little bit to make a massive impact on your life. Perhaps the most Important thing to keep in mind is that you should have an objective. If you’re intense about this like I am, then you probably want to strive to distinguish yourself from others. That makes you valuable. Having a goal is crucial because it’ll keep you from getting lost in the sea of information that’s out there. Are you trying to become a 3D animator for Disney? Do you want to make Norway’s best Mexican food? Write it down. This goal might change and that’s okay, but it’s good to have a North Star. Alright, so what you’ll need: An objective and a bit of discipline, like I mentioned earlier. A desire to learn, and an internet connection. Duh! Okay, now let’s try to understand what we’re attempting to do here. Noel Burch is credited with developing what is known as “The four stages of competence” or “The conscious competence ladder”. You might be familiar with this, so I’ll just briefly cover it. When you start learning something new, you don’t know what you don’t know. You’re clueless about how clueless you are. This is called unconscious incompetence. Alternatively you could watch Jamie Windsor’s video about why bad photographers think they’re good. We’re going to take filmmaking in my case. Okay, when I first picked up a camera almost four years ago, I didn’t even know how to set the focus, let alone tell a story or create a feeling. “I do not know anything about using a camera… and that’s exactly why I’m trying to use one right now. I would like to learn.” Kind of hurts to watch that. Okay, so when I’m learning something new online, the first stage that I go through is what I called the absorption period. You need to cast a wide net and get a better understanding of the field that you’re getting yourself into. Books, podcasts, videos, articles. Get different perspectives, something about what you’re interested in attracted you to study it in the first place, but it is during this stage that you’re going to discover if this has the potential to become a real passion of yours or not. You can’t know until you’ve tried. Next, if you’re like: “Okay, I want to go with deep with this” First of all, congrats. That’s an exciting feeling and now you’re in stage two. I call this going straight to the top. Basically, it’s essential to distinguish quality info from useless or low-quality info, This is super important because it’s just not possible to consume everything that’s out there and the low quality stuff, which is most stuff, is just not worth your time. Now there are many ways to go about this, but my personal favorite is to find people that are at the top, the experts, and become a disciple. This is not black and white. But again the more time that you can commit towards studying from people that really know what they’re talking about, the better. How do you find these people? It’s not an exact science, but things I generally look for are clear signs of mastery in their craft. This is usually evident in people with a lot of experience and/or successful careers. Does their work speak to you? That’s also really important. Being mindful that people with really big followings aren’t necessarily good at what they do, they might just be really good entertainers or marketers. Also, if you’re getting bombarded by ads by them, that’s usually a red flag. Here are some examples. Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Sam Ovens and Tim Ferris put out a lot of incredible info. Marketing or blogging? Seth Godin. Filmmaking? Peter McKinnon and Brandon Lee. How about photography? The more specific you can go the better. Thomas Heaton is an amazing resource for landscape photography, while Joanie from “The Bite Shot” focuses on food photography. Want to learn how to negotiate? ‘Never split the difference’ by Chris Voss, a literal former FBI hostage negotiator. Listen to what they say and also study what they do, and treat it like you’re learning from the best. Take notes. Application. Next, it literally doesn’t matter what you do. You just have to apply what you are absorbing so that it can become a part of your long-term memory, a legitimate skill. Absorbing info online is so powerful but it’s also not the full equation, and you’ll lose most of it if you don’t use it. Give yourself creative projects. Have a goal to work towards. This is a wonderful way to build up a portfolio at the same time, by the way. There are a few things more fulfilling in life than accomplishing something new with a new skill. We’re going to use my journey as a filmmaker as an example again. In early 2017, I remember watching a Sam Kolder video on YouTube, and realizing that I had made practically no progress on the technical side of filmmaking in almost two years. This is a very depressing thought and it was also holding me back as a storyteller. So I dove headfirst into all the tutorials and videos out there. Then I selected a personal interest of mine, France, and my experience in that beautiful beautiful country, and made myself create a series of three short films where I tried to apply absolutely everything that I was learning. Sound design, color grading, fancy schmancy transitions, just everything. I spent at least a month on each video and let me just say I feel like I’ve never learned so much so quickly. From there, you’re well on your way. Obviously the process doesn’t end there, but that’s more than enough to get started. With time, this process gets easier. It actually gets more intuitive. You will get better at identifying useful from useless information, and that’s like a superpower, I swear. To recap: Stage 1, absorb. Cast a wide net and learn as much as you can about the field that you’re getting into. Stage 2, go straight to the top. This is a very effective method of distinguishing high quality from low quality information. In stage 3, apply what you’re learning. Finally, you may have noticed that I’ve never done a sponsored video on this channel. That is not an accident. My criteria is pretty strict. I have to use the service, it has to improve my life, and I have to like it enough to recommend it to a friend. Now, this video is sponsored by Skillshare and I can hardly think of a better fit for a sponsor on this channel. They’ve got over 25,000 courses on pretty much everything, from productivity to photography. I think this is the future. It’s an amazing way to get started, learning something new, or like I said, going straight to the top and finding a highly qualified teacher. I’ve been using them lately to continue learning how to cook. Definitely useful info if I don’t want to lose a finger in the kitchen. I’ve also been enjoying this course by Ami Vitale on documentary photography. I actually also used Skillshare a couple of years ago, when I was studying filmmaking and photography very intensely and I loved it. I think the reason I like them so much is that it feels intentional, you know a little more curated, more worth my time, basically. By checking the reviews and what people have to say of different courses you can largely bypass this issue of absorbing low-quality information that’s a little bit more difficult to navigate elsewhere on the Internet. Also, it’s insanely affordable compared to higher education or other avenues of learning. An annual subscription is less than ten bucks a month. Craziness. I’ve teamed up with them to offer a two-month free trial to the first 500 of you guys that use the link in the description below. Believe me when I say we haven’t even come close to harnessing the power of the Internet. If you enjoyed, hit that subscribe, and bell button so you can keep up with my future content. You can follow my progress on Instagram , or you can sign up to my newsletter where I sometimes share bonus material to go along with some of these videos. Alright. Thank you so much for watching. I’ll see you guys soon.

100 thoughts on “How I Learn Things Online (Way More Efficiently)

  1. Thank you for this video. You inspired me again. I like learning things with the internet (actually i learned how to speak english with it) i studied a bit of chinese and german too. I kind of lost motivation when i started working, and the idea of having to go to college really worries me. I wanted to study graphic design but i couldn't afford the career so i decided to study another subject that i liked (psychology) and learn about graphic design by myself with the help of the internet. This makes me happy, to think that i still can learn what i want without having to go to college. I also think that college it's not too necessary, but here were i live people decide your worth based on if you have a degree or not, it's part of the social norm, sadly, and it puts me a step closer to getting a better job (probably). But still, learning new things is something i truly enjoy, and i know it can help me a lot in life, so i won't stop learning. You're right, we're lucky to live in this era of information. Again, thank you, you motivated me again.

  2. I've learnt alot from your video and I hope that I could create content as motivating yours! thank you for sharing and keep creating these awesome videos!

  3. Hey bro…I watched one of your videos recently, and you were talking about possibly selling your "merch" at some point, like the shirt you were wearing with the little cone/weather balloon looking picture. First, I'd change that logo. It almost makes more sense, especially with what you talk about and focus on (which is great) to have the little location icon (matter of fact, it's right under the video next to "Mexico City". That makes more sense for YOU…because most things are getting back in touch with yourself…meaning the location of everything is within, or that's where you need to start, or something like that. I don't know. Think about it.

  4. It's so funny that you said, "take notes …" @6:24 because that's exactly what I am doing. Taking notes on your video and it's helping me, thank you.

  5. Summary:
    {He never went to college; tho you can learn most of that info online (w/o the crippling debt). Also, Note: this isn't for everyone.}

    Two main challenges of learning online:
    1) There's a lot of BS out there as the bar for posting online is very low. You gotta learn how to sift through the dirt to find the gold.
    2) Lack of discipline. Sadly many have atrophied here. Good news, it's like a muscle. Objectively exercise it [have a goal]. See: "Plans are Useless, But…" by Art of Manliness (article)

    Have an:
    1) Objective and
    2) A bit of discipline
    3) Desire to learn
    4) an internet connection [duh]

    Hierarchy of Competence

    Stage I – The Absorption Period
    Cast a Wide Net. Learn as much as you can about the field of work.
    Stage II – Go Straight to the Top
    Distinguish Quality info from the BS ⬆.
    FIn the best experts at the top and deep study their work
    Stage III – Application
    Find a way to apply what you've uncovered through learning.
    Use it or lose it!
    That's it.

  6. This is my first vedio of yours , I don't why you have such a great power to inspire others , I actually don't follow others words , I always wanna do what I wanna do but you're such an awesome person

  7. This is great. I have a similar story, never went to college. Taught myself everything. Step 2 I hadn’t that about before, good advice.

  8. You said to ~look for those that exhibit mastery of their craft…then, subject by subject, you offered examples in the form of written works… Unfortunately, what first struck me as awkward, admittedly, turned into laughter… But, hey, whatever… there's always more to dive into…(?)

    BUT, then you said you went to France to learn about filmmaking! Well okay!

    What specifically did you learn about film & filmmaking in France & why did you reject it?

  9. Sometimes your B-roll makes no sense. In fact, most of the time. Regardless 99% of it is awesome. Good product. Great video.

  10. This was the YouTube’s most useless video I have ever seen! Seeing this babble-boy, one Will know without a doubt who on YouTube thinks too much about himself and totally lost contact with himself… there are good videos on YouTube, sure, but this is ridiculous garbage filmed to make You believe is unique… total waste of all of our time! YouTube should shut down this channel, fast!

  11. I see your point, but if you came out of school literate (not only able to read, but also to use some Maths and basic science to sort out what you read online), then school has done its job. The rest is actually on you, as you have found out.

  12. This video is so helpful!! I am starting my Masters in Online Media Marketing and I am going to apply these tips. Also I loved the edition of the video and the fact that you live in Mexico City which is were I come from.

  13. Nathaniel, did you know that Norwegians have a weird and obsessive relationship to "Mexican" tacos, or was it just a coincidence?

  14. Thank you so much for this video! It was so useful to see how you went through this process of learning a new skill and helps me to go through this process by myself! Thanks Nathaniel and greets from Germany 🙂

  15. Just got into skillshare because of you and I already love it ! Thanks for the trial, I'm pretty sure I'll pay for it afterwards tho. No shit, the quality as well as comprehensibility of most classes is really convincing and motivating the hell out of me 🙂 always keep on learning & self improving !

  16. My begest problem interesting , eg today I have power to study some subject and next day or few days I can not do it , I want advice like a video

  17. Geometry dash makes my brain think fast

    Minecraft makes me creative

    YouTube makes me learn words i never have heard of

    School makes me depressed -_-

    Video games makes me happy 🙂

  18. Although, university can be good for learning a different way of approaching content within certain contexts, rather than just seeing new content. That would also be accessible to someone looking for it on the internet but may take longer/may not have the same rounded collection of sources (unless certain papers are found which refer to enough of the others).

  19. I kind of feel like I can trust your advice. Some channels I’m not sure I guess that’s what you mean by low quality.

  20. i understand that practicing this makes you better at it….sifting through the dirt does become easier with time…i participated in a competition called the world scholars cup…over 2 years of doing research for it i went from research noob to really good at it…so yes…practice will make you better.

  21. This guy gives such great advice with amazing visuals. I had to rewind back several times to catch up on what he was saying because I kept getting lost in the mesmerizing visuals. 😂 What a legend! 🙌🏼

  22. Thanks for my 2 free months on SkillShare! I wanted it before but after watching a few of your videos tonight, I feel motivated to just get things done. Thank you!

  23. I love coming back to this video! Also, I would like to recommend Khan Academy (Science, Exam Preparation, Maths, Business topics) and Open Learn (by the Open University) to learn FREE high-quality content online

  24. Your video is so insightful. Can you tell me what basic settings you use when you shoot? Like what fps, is it 4k, how you color-grade, etc. I'm just beginning to learn photography and video editing and I'm excited!

  25. I am such a big picture person. I didnt notice how brilliant your camera work was until you mentioned it. I love your work. Though I think you give college a bad rap by focusing on the schools of yesterday. But that may just be a difference in definition.

  26. I can honestly say I’ve learned more by watching documentaries and reading books (content which actually interests me) than I did during my entire traditional education, including post secondary. If I had one piece of advice to give others, one piece I wish I had been given when I was younger, I would tell people to only learn about things which interest them. Not good at math? Don’t bother. Don’t like to write? No need to. It takes MUCH less effort to learn something you’re naturally interested in or good at than it does to learn something you don’t want to know about. The reason for this? Simple. You won’t need information which doesn’t interest you in the future. You’re going to end up avoiding uninteresting topics in real life and in your professional life, so why bother spending time memorizing it in your academic life? It’s precious wasted time which could be spent learning 10+ new topics that you do like, in exchange for a single topic which you know nothing about and don’t particularly enjoy discovering ☺️📚🤯

  27. We take things for granted.
    We take Everything for granted.
    The Sun, wealth, Knowledge and even our bodies.
    If we are good in something that we don't want, we take it for granted. We won't know what we have on till it's lost.

  28. You said a very interesting thing: quite often the so-called experts are just skillful marketers. This means it's becoming more and more difficult to find high quality content online.

  29. I want to learn a language but they throw terms at me and it blows me out of wanting to learn it. I don’t know what I need to do. I’m clueless on where the track starts and I’m on it. Any help?

  30. The problem with self education is that it is a solitary experience. Studies clearly show that the amount of time we spent PHYSICALLY IN THE SAME ROOM WITH OTHERS dramatically increases our immunity response as well as provides many mental health benefits. (assuming of course the people in the room with you aren't extremely negative). We're livign in a world now where it's difficult to get people physically together to do anything and one way of doing this is attending an actual class somewhere where you see the same people regularly and develop a rapport with them.

  31. Filmmaking Peter McKinnon? That's goes back to your point just cause he's got alot of Followers doesn't mean he knows what he's doing. Hes for the YouTube community, if you want to learn actual filmmaking with actual story, learn about cinematic lighting not YouTube lighting. Knowing the color grade to set the tone of your film. You would never go to Peter for that. He's a great marketer for lifestyle vacation B-Roll shots and highlight reels. But when it come to real filmmaking people got to search elsewhere to learn. We have real Directors and cinematographers giving advice on actual films. They explain why it was shot this way. The reason for the lighting and the reason for the tone. If people want to become filmmakers they have to search for people that are actually within the industry teaching you about actual films. Not someone running around the snow Alps, showing you slow motion shots of everything as they speak in the background. There are filmmakers and video shooters, just like they are picture takers and photographers..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *