Are you majoring in the right type of knowledge?
Michael: “Are you applying only 1% of the 80/20 rule?”
“Four steps for learning how to learn: 1. take in information and data, 2. algorithm and processing, 3. experimentation and action, 4. feedback.”Michael Simmons, https://mentalmodelclub.com/
Find out how Michael uses his “double time”, what the “learning loop” is all about, what FUNRUC means, and how to get faster through experimentation.
“No great author ever said that the key to being a great novelist is typing faster.”Michael Simmons, https://mentalmodelclub.com/
Michael Simmons is a Writer and a writing teacher whose writing has been read tens of millions of times in publications like Forbes, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and TIME.
Michael co-founded his first business, Princeton WebSolutions (PWS), when he was sixteen years old. PWS was later rated the #1 youth-run web development company in the nation by Youngbiz Magazine.
So today we’re speaking to Michael Simmons, who is a writer and a writing teacher. And his writing has been read tens of millions of times all around the world, in publications like Forbes, Fortune, the Harvard Business Review and TIME. And I am really, really excited to speak to you today, because I’ve been a bit of a stalker, I suppose, is the best word to describe it for the last year or so. And I joined up to his Mental Models Club almost a year ago. And I’ve been really enjoying learning from Michael. So today, I’m really excited. So Michael, welcome.
Thank you. That was a really I’m really excited.
Talk to me about the Mental Models Club, because like, for me, I was, there’s lots of different things that are impressing me about the mental model club, I’ll tell you a few of them. One is that you only deliver one mental mental model a month. That’s number one, I’d like to talk about that. And number two is the absolute depth, it’s like having a book every month, and I am in awe of the depths that you provide once a month. So talk to me about the mental model club, and why did you come up with it? Why are you doing it in this way?
Well, you talk about the idea of constraints. One constraint I’ve had in my writing that I think is really helped is this idea of soul market fit. I try to write about things such that even if they were never published, I would still be really happy because I enjoyed the process of writing. And because I learned a lot. So slightly selfish aspect, in a way. But it also what I think is really powerful about it is I think, number one, the emotions come through in your writing. So if I’m like a kid in the candy store the whole time, I think that comes across, it guarantees that I find the time for it, because I’m really just like, oh, man, I really want to get to this, how do I do it? It’s kind of like Netflix shows. If there was a really good one you want to watch and it’s 9pm. And you don’t have the time. But this the episode ends and it’s on a cliffhanger, you will find the time to watch the next episode. Yeah, I like having writing like that.
And I think what you’ve done as well with the model with the mental model club, and tell me your thinking on this is you’ve you’ve played the Netflix game, because I am always desperate for the next month’s model. I’m like, give me the next month model to me that I can see the least. But you only you only release one a month. So talk to me about that. Why did you do it that way? Why don’t you just give us everything in one go?
I would say two things. Number one is information overwhelm you imagine getting like 15 books are 30 books at once. That’s a lot. So we really tried to order it from the starting from the most useful and universal. And from there, and no mental models are kind of like, you know, picture. I’ve never used this analogy before, like atoms or atoms could combine with lots of different things like oxygen, about hydrogen and, and so the models work really well by themselves. But they also combine really well. And there’s a exponential effect that as you do more, the applications become exponential.
I like this idea of because this overwhelmed, who isn’t, he doesn’t feel this, this little bit of overwhelm. At the moment. I know for me, if you gave me them all in one go, I know what I would do, I would dive to the one that sounded most exciting, which was probably the least useful, but it sounds most exciting. read that and then be overwhelmed with that one and then not come to the most important one. So you said you deliver them in the most useful and most important first. So what’s the first one that you deliver?
The first one we start off with is the 80/20 rule. It’s one of those that people have often heard of, but they may be applying 1% of it. And we just show how to, you know, you can do a positive version that in a lot of domains, there’s positive feedback loop, so that a small percentage of things accounts for the majority of the output. So even you look at things like celebrity or wealth or impact. You know, a few individuals organisations can create a disproportionate amount where when it comes to let’s say height, there’s never going to be someone who’s, you know, 100 feet tall or 1000 feet tall. You know, it’s
we have to mention that you are like at least 1000 feet taller than me. Yeah, we are the shortest and the tallest. I think in the real. The 80/20 knows that you are absolutely right. People think I know the 80/20. I know the 80/20. But when I read and it is a book that you deliver every month, it’s so you know it’s over 100 pages of in detail content when I read your version of the 80/20 your book. It made so much more sense. It made I could apply it to more areas. And because I couldn’t then dive into the next model, I had to think about it gave me that pause and chance to think about it. So I think your model is really, really good for the learner. Tell me about why it’s good for you the content creator.
Yeah, well, a few different reasons. One is, I really saw that there’s different ways of learning. And so there’s certain types of knowledge that are immediately useful, but they have a short shelf life. In other words, you could learn about the latest tool and something but then in a year, parts of the knowledge could be outdated, or in five years. And there’s other knowledge where the shelf life is the rest of your life. And the value increases over time. And so I really am a big fan of compounding. And it’s amazing how powerful it is. And it’s often not applied to learning. And so I thought, Okay, I’m going to be learning several hours per day, for the rest of my life, I want to build a base of stable knowledge that I could apply anywhere in my life. And that I can really build on top of the other knowledge versus having knowledge, I’m constantly it’s becoming outdated, I’m not sure which part of it’s outdated, and so on. So that’s one reason that I really valued mental models.
You know, the other the extreme would be, let’s say, I learned French in high school. And I’ve not nothing wrong with French, but I spent six years learning it, and I never used it afterwards, I just like, wow, that’s crazy. I’ve spent so much time on that I’ve never used it, versus let’s say a model like the 80/20. Every single day, I’m using it I’m thinking about of all the things I could do, what are the 20% of the things that are gonna create 80% of the impacts in the day? I’m thinking about it with my my kids and wife, what are the things that I know that that I really, that will have the biggest impact on them and feeling this connection, and letting them know that they’re number one for me? And then I think about it with learning and all the things I’m learning.
And so I’m also then inverting it and thinking about, okay, what are the things that I really want to avoid during the day that caused the biggest, negative. So for example, I tracked my triggers, I think triggers are, you know, we’re, we’re all triggered several times per day, different ways. Sometimes it’s just a small thing, we just feel it, and then it kind of goes away. Other times we feel in the background, and then it kind of impacts our day where we see an email, it triggers us, and then we go on to the next task, but we still feel anxious. And then other times we have a trigger where we lose it. And then you know, we say something we didn’t really mean and we feel bad about it. And so it’s amazing how just a little bit of somebody just says something a certain way, just to let you know, it can be even be 10 second thing, and all of a sudden, we’re living in a different world. And so that’s an example where I’ve been applying 80/20.
And it’s all there any other mental models that you apply to that because I think trigger I think you’ve hit on a really, really important thing, though, because, you know, like you say, you get up early and I trip over a dog, trip over a dog things happen. Everything seems to collide and crash and chaos. From there. What is there any other any other models that you use to help you when you’ve been triggered?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. Well, I should first say, this is a newer one for me, because I’ve, in the past been a lot more on the intellectual side, and so on through coaching and support that I really spend better at noticing my emotions. So for me, you know, really the first step for me is logging that I really like logging for a few different reasons. Number one, I just helps me notice it more before I wouldn’t I’d be triggered, but I wouldn’t know I was fully. So it helps me just realise, Okay, wow, this is happening a lot. Therefore, it helps me to value it more. I could see how it’s impacting me different areas. And then I would say number two, by logging, it helps me look back and see the patterns and say, Oh, interesting. You know, for whatever reason, something I feel like something’s unfair. That’s a big trigger. Or I feel like I let someone down. That’s a really big trigger. And I feel guilty.
Yeah, yeah. And you just a couple of things there. one that’s most important is you mentioned in your bio, that I read was that you have this ability to see patterns. And I’m like, Oh, God, I such a fantastic ability. So when you say you have the ability to see patterns, what does that mean?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. Well, let me think about what wait way to answer it. Well, I’ll say I teach a course on learning how to learn as well and thinking about learning and there’s different ways we learn. So one way is you find an expert, and you know, maybe that person has written a book or something else. And you learn from them. And then, and that has its advantages, but it has its disadvantages as well. And then there’s another form of learning that’s often underutilised, which I call platform learning. So, platform learning is, we live in a world now where, for example, the article writing, I could look at, there’s a tool called buzzsumo, where they’ve analysed over a billion articles. And so I’ve spent over 1000 hours just in the data in about Sumo and trying to find patterns. When I’m thinking about a book, I wrote a book when I was younger, but I’m really thinking about working another book now. And one thing I did as I spent, my people in my team spent about 50 hours, taking all the New York Times bestsellers, and looking at the ones who have been on the list the longest, and then looking at patterns for those. And that when you look at learning that way, the benefit is, rather than just getting one person’s perspective on it, you can get a global view throughout time of what actually is performing. And who are the very best people who are creating the consistently creating the best results, not people who are one hit wonders, or celebrities wear anything they write, it’s gonna gain traction. And so I practice the skill of looking at lots of data, and then finding patterns that I could then test.
And it’s a skill. So it’s something that we could learn. So I can learn to be better at identifying spotting patterns, if I apply some of the techniques that you you’re teaching, for example, mental models.
Yeah, and a very basic way to do it is number one, find the data source, it could you could licence a data source like I did with buzzsumo, you could cobble it together, like I did with the New York Times bestseller list where there’s all these PDFs I had to put into an Excel sheet. But so once you have the data, I tried to then get it into an Excel spreadsheet and look at it. And so the principle there is contrast in cases. So for example, if let’s say you’re seeing trying to understand what a dog is, and I gave you this dog, five images of a dog, but at the same exact dog, then you would think, oh, a dog has to be this shape, or it has to be this size, always. But I had contrasts in cases where I see okay, a dog I see a chihuahua is five pounds, and a dog who’s 100 pounds, I see some have short hair, long hair in different colours, I helps me narrow out the things where there’s variation and realise, okay, all of the images of dogs, they have this thing in common. And when you have it in the format of a spreadsheet, and you’re seeing all these diverse cases, it’s actually often fairly obvious what the patterns are. But you would never see them. If you’re just being the casual book buyer, or looking at your social media newsfeed the pattern you it’s much harder to see the patterns.
I think one of the problems as well for me, I’ve been running some experiments on myself, for your social media, you will never see the contrast. And you tend to get smaller and smaller and smaller world where you only see the things that are confirming what you already think a dog looks, for example, and I’m doing an experiment at the moment where I am strangely heading off in different rabbit holes, not my usual enjoyable rabbit holes, but to type to try and break the echo chamber to look for the contrast to find the edges a bit more. So a really, really like this idea that, that we can get better at pattern recognition, by looking for contrast by looking at the data by not being casual about it or being more deliberate about it. Because I think for me, your your mental models club is asking me to be deliberate about what I’m thinking. And that’s what you’re telling me about how you learn. It’s deliberate to talk to me about this idea of deciding what’s going in rather than just allowing any old stuff to get into the brain.
Can you guys, can you ask that question in a different way? Just I want to make sure I answer it right.
Yeah. So we can we are bombarded with information. And one of the things that I think is really powerful about you is that you chose for example, for your mental models club, what’s the most important thing I want to learn? And then you delivered that learning and then you carried on building the mental models plug in the things that are most important. So how do you make that a deliberate process? How do you know what you want to learn next? How do you know what you want to deliver next?
Yeah, that’s a good question. The my first part of the answer is very basic in that, Okay, number one is learning how to value learning. And then if you value learning, then it’s a function of how much you learn as a function of how much time you put in, and then your learning rate. You can kind of think about like the compound interest formula, it’s a function of your principal that you put in, and then also your interest rate. And so number one is putting in the time and finding the time for learning. And that could be deliberate time that I set aside on the highest energy. It could be double time, I call if I’m taking a walk or driving somewhere and listening to something, it can be after a meeting, let’s say after this podcast, we were having a debrief, or after the next writing project, I have a debrief with the person I worked with. And okay, what did we do, and those are examples of setting aside the time and then learning rate.
I think about the, we have, in our course, the idea of a learning loop, that there’s a universal learning process that all organisms or a systems go through in order to learn whether you’re a rabbit, a human, complete machine, which is you take in data, you process and make sense of that data, that’s over computer, that’d be an algorithm, then you take action and test it in the real world or experimentation. And then you get feedback from that. And then that feedback helps you go through the loop, again, better and faster. So the four steps are taking information and data. Number two is algorithm and processing. Number three is experimentation and action. And number four is feedback. And so it’s one of those also system where the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. So a lot of people, there’s a weakness.
So for example, some people, they’re taking in tonnes of information reading a lot, but they’re never so like, take book writing, they’re actually never just publishing and getting it out. They’re not taking action. They take lots of classes, but not writing it. Maybe they’re journaling, but not doing publicly. So that’s often a big type. And then on the other extreme, there could be someone who’s really, really good at taking action on everything. But they’re always reinventing the wheel, and learning through trial and error, versus really getting the great data. And then the feedback. One is really, really important, but often forgotten that we all have these huge blind spots of things that we information we avoid, because it’s painful. And people were subconsciously training the people around us to not touch that blind spot. And so we’re taking action, but we’re getting a inaccurate feedback on our actions. So it hurts our whole process. So I didn’t.
So that was a broader model of how I think about learning, and then more directly to your question about how to choose what to learn. I think about it in terms of a few different categories of multiplier skills. So the acronym I use is FUNRUC, that it should be useful future.
So the F is for a future that imagine difference between something you learn and never use, and then something you’re going to use for the rest of your day, the rest of your life guaranteed. And so not just thinking about immediate,
Then the U is useful, that something you could use in your life, pretty basic, then, N is for now. So it’s now and in the future. R is rare. So this is one that people often miss is that in a market, part of what’s valuable, what makes something valuable, is how this supply are the rareness of it. So for example, if you have a skill that no one else in the world has, let’s say you were the only person in the entire world that knew how to teach people how to write books, that’s very different than if a billion people in the world are already proficient at that skill, then your skill is going to be a commodity. And so one of the ways to get this rare skill sets is to just focus on things, reading books and articles that no one else is reading in your field. And I was I learned this through mistakes and trial and error is where I was just I thought for the beginning part of my career, I thought, Okay, I got to stay updated on the latest articles in my field. And that’s the key. And I realised, at best, I’m always just staying up to date with everyone else. But I’m always behind a little bit. And the big transition for me was learning about network science, when I was writing for relationships about with Forbes. And so as soon as I started talking to people, I started to write articles where people were like, Oh my god, I haven’t heard that before. So and I just realised and then now I’ve just just done that over and over. I’ve tried to find fields that are just are incredibly powerful, but no one that I know is exploring them.
Tell me the rest of the letters and then I’m coming back to that. Oh yeah.
FUNRUC, so U is universal. So a lot of times when we’re learning something we can, let’s say I don’t know you’re in a field of grass and how to make grass grow faster. And all the knowledge you learn is just about making grass go faster, if you switch that field, you can’t use that knowledge. But those the way of learning knowledge or certain types of knowledge that are really apply across different fields. And that’s part of the reason I love mental models of you know, learning the 80/20 rule, or positive feedback loops, things like that, you can apply it in your personal life, your professional life. And so the return on investments a lot higher. And then the C is complementary. So certain knowledge, when you combine them together is has a very big multiplier. So for example, if someone’s really, really good a product and creating great product, and then they learn sales as well, then that’s really a great multiplier, or sometimes somebody is really heavy on one thing, and they’ve never learned sales or persuasion. So they’re constantly undercharging not having clients, even though they’re good at the technical skill.
Brilliant. Okay, I love that acronym. We got an article about that, that I can share to people. It’s not yet it’s just in our course. It’s another model here multiplier skills, mental model. Ah, so if they join the mental models club, they’ll get that one when we get them. Yes is fantastic.
Michael: And you get you do a seven day trial for your mental models clubs. So people can you know, it’s a $1 trial, one trial trial. Fantastic. Okay, so that’s it, I’ll put a link to that for people to get started.
Debs: Okay, so and this idea of reading the latest information in your industry, and keeping up with the latest information industry industry, I find that fascinating, because like, also, you said earlier about learning something that you’re never going to use again, I’m an electronics engineer, oh, my God, I did I’ve got a first class degree in electronics. I’ve never used that in my life. It was just it, I learned a lot about learning. But it didn’t really help me very much in my career. So choosing the right is a very sore point for me choosing the right thing to learn, to, to go ahead. And, and this idea of combining the right thing to learn but also reading wider than your industry, that those two combine that that that creates the fantastic combination of skills and information that very, very few people in the world will have. So,
you said I did it wrong a lot. Not by mistake. Tell me what you did wrong. You had you. You had to learn this way. What happened? What went wrong?
Yeah, as as I learned, well, I feel like a lot of things as you know, learning how to learn is a skill, I didn’t even realise that until pretty far in, and most people don’t. And how we learn learning is we don’t really learn it ever in school. And the context we learn it in school, in some ways is hurtful, because we’re studying for a test. And so in the world of studying for a test, the keys are memorization in speed reading, so a lot of people the first questions they have on learning how to learn are related to those two. But you know, focusing on speed reading is like, you know, focusing on being more productive by typing faster, typing faster, you know, will help you write more, but it’s not going to be the fundamental thing that makes you a great author. I’ve never heard one author say once that that’s the key to typing, typing faster is a key to being the next great novelists. No. And so, you know, I’d see one of the first mistakes I made.
So I got lucky I got I started becoming fascinated by learning at a young age, I started a business and 16 I started spending hundreds of dollars per month, all the money that I made in the business, investing in learning because I saw Oh, wow, everything I want to get better at in the business. Somebody already written a book about it. And so why I’m happy to spend $20 doing that, because it’s just been great return.
And so I think the first mistake was, basically let’s say I wanted to learn web development, which is the one the first things I learned. I would just buy any book. My criteria was somebody written a book, I must be really good. It must be I could learn a lot from it.
So then I realised Okay, a lot of people who write books aren’t experts, too, are they’re not worth the world class expert. And there’s a really big difference between learning something from a world class expert and somebody who’s, who’s good. You’ll get fundamentally different strategies. So then, afterwards, my next filter was okay. I shouldn’t get all the books. I You just get books from people who are successful. But then I learned that there’s all these biases that some people are successful. A lot of people happen to be in the right time at the right place. In other words, you know, they’re they’re positive, hardworking people. So they have these base traits. But there’s an element element, there’s a large lock part of it, and they take credit for that. And Nassim Taleb has a book called fooled by randomness. Yeah. And one of the favourite examples is, you just think about flipping a coin, that somebody is flipping a coin a billion times, you’re gonna have somebody who flips heads 1000 times. And it just, it’s gonna seem crazy when that happens. And of course, they must be a great coin flipper. But that’s not always the case. And give me one second, my dog is trying to get into the room.
So you were telling me that coin flipping?
Yeah, so then I realised over time, and I also met a lot of entrepreneurs, and I can kind of see that some people either tell their story, and you can you, you know, you see the ambition are very hard working, but there’s just an element to be in the right time in the right place. And so, the biggest the latest flip for me was realising that, okay, how do I find people who are successful, extremely successful in their given area or their, in their expertise, not because of their one hit wonder or lock alone, or celebrity, but because of skill. And so I created a more strict criteria. And it’s still not perfect, but it’s a lot more strict, which is, you know, people who’ve been successful multiple in a really big way, multiple times, even in different industries. And or people who’ve had a business and then it just, they keep on reinventing it and go into new categories, like Amazon would be an example, they start off selling books, then he went into, you can be okay, he just got lucky starting books, a book business, right at ecommerce at the right time. But then they started to go into AWS and created some of the biggest companies there. And all these now they’re, they’re doing so much. So you know, people like Jeff Bezos, or Elon Musk, or Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, you’ll have these incredibly long track records.
You know, granted, I know that now that there’s criticism of them, you know, now because they’re so wealthy, like, you know, there’s a wealth disparity. And also, there’s a backlash against tech. And they’re not, they’re very diverse. So I’ll admit that. But I would also say that there’s just so much to learn from them. And what I saw is that there’s a very, very different way of thinking. And that’s how I actually got into mental models of realising that. They, when they went into a domain, they basically created a map of it. And then stress tested that map of different models.
They thought in models. Yeah.
I want to sort of flip around a bit. I’ve got so many different questions, and I’m trying to work out which to keep us within our time slot, which is the question that’s going to give us the most. So I’ve got three questions that for me are really important. So I hope we’re going to hope I’m picking the right questions. The final question is going to be I want to talk to you about your blockbuster writing programme. And in particular, on that question, I want to talk to you about the launch and how you shared information about such a fantastic launch. But I want to back up two more things. First. One is what systems do you use to it? But actually, it’s a joint question. That’s the two questions you are active on Twitter massively active on Twitter, you are you have half a dozen Facebook groups, I’ve lost count of how many Facebook groups that are incredibly active. So one is one part of this double part question is how do you get so much output and two? Is it because you’ve got a system and if so, what’s the system? Tell us what how you manage this fantastic volume of really interesting content and don’t get overwhelmed what’s what’s your system? How does it work?
Well starts off with that soul market fit. I’m learning about things I’m just fascinated about. So putting in the time, then the second model would be I call it more like to sell your sawdust model that you picture a lumber mill. You know, their main business is selling lumber and chopping up the lumber. And in the process of doing that, there’s all the sawdust on the ground. And that’s considered a waste product. But actually, no, that could be a product and turn into a product and of itself. And writing I saw writing was very similar. So I start off working on blockbuster articles. So I’d spend 60 hours just on one article. And in the process, I would come look for quotes, and then pick up 20 quotes, and then pick three. And then I would research that you can read a lot of articles, as I was reading an article on Elon Musk got to read the book about him, I’d read the profiles, and it would take a few ideas from it, and throw it throw away 95% or, and I might learn about mental models, and then just not use a lot. So I just saw the number one, there’s incredible amount of waste, in the sense of there’s things that would be valuable if I found the right format.
So the Facebook groups, Twitter, are all examples of me selling the sawdust, just enjoy something I was already doing. And then now turning it. So we have, for example, we have a smart quotes group that started in February has about 16,000 people in it now it’s growing by about 1000 people per week. And all it is, is we put one or two quotes per day into that group. So we take and so now rather than a quote just being component of an article, it is the article, it’s the whole content piece. And what that also helps us is understand patterns of quotes, what you can also see what quotes perform a lot better, and things like that. So there’s kind of it’s another source of data as well.
And so you’re actually using your sawdust, your output, to get feedback from the market about what’s interesting to see the patterns that are interesting to you. You’re creating kind of like a really virtuous circle.
Yeah, to use your language Minimum Valuable Asset(tm). Yeah, that is thinking about what are all the things that going into the process. And there’s, you wouldn’t think about all of the ways. So let’s say for me coming up with an idea, I read books, so I have to search books, and I have to find the best book. So people love book recommendations. But and so that alone is powerful. then same thing, I find a lot of people that serve people I really like, okay, these are people, great people to follow. So you can make a recommendation of thought leaders you like, for example, I did a post and are learning how to learn group about Nassim Taleb and why I admire him as a thought leader. And then as I’m writing, there’s never there’s always moments where I’m like, oh, wow, that’s a really interesting thing. So I could take that extra. And maybe that wouldn’t be a good fit for the article I’m working on. But that could be a great quote for the smart quotes group, or another group, I want to launch in the future about book excerpts. And so if I’m just reading a book, naturally, the process of sharing the information is linked with the learning.
And one of the mental models. This is one that I’ve coined is the explanation effect, that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others. Yeah. And so it’s great because it helps me learn the things better. And it gets a feedback loop going and helps me help other people build a better reputation. Get built followers. And now across all our different platforms, we have about 10,000 new followers per week.
Wow. I mean, that is quite, quite seriously impressive. I know that lots of my clients would be just slightly pleased with that type of number of following every week. So how much I want to know more about the nitty gritty of actually doing so like I can understand the mental process. Now. I’ve got that. But what’s the nitty gritty? I mean, you’ve got Ian, your sidekick? I don’t know how you name what together? Do you have administrator? Are you two guys, you the guys that like just make everything happen?
Yeah, that’s a good question. So I, there’s a key part that I didn’t mention is, so I work with someone, AJ Nair, who’s great, who’s able to take, let’s say, I write an article, he’s able to really good at finding the parts that he feels are the most interesting, and then chopping it up into a short post, and then putting it into Facebook groups. So I’m not writing all the Facebook group content, as well. So there’s that as well.
Yeah. Because otherwise, when would you have time to think?
And one thing I guess the third thing is, you know, I there’s a model of what is a thought leadership business. And I feel like it’s, it’s really a lot more people are becoming thought leaders and valuing it before, you know, you had to get a publisher or an editor at a magazine to get published. Now anyone can publish. And it’s becoming more important. You know, maybe for fewer a CEO or an entrepreneur, you kind of purposely stay below but now even people Like Elon Musk, he’s done 12,000 tweets, which is just crazy that he’s done that, and it’s really impacted him. He is such a brand that, you know, it almost definitely has a huge impact on the stock price. And so there’s so the question is, what does what’s the ideal way to do that. And, you know, I believe that the leverage you can get from being really good at the skill of creating content and understanding virality and having rare and valuable ideas is really high. So I really try to guard my time. And my goal is doing three to four hours per day. I’m not always lucky because it gets as you try to build a system that I’m spending more time on the system and so, but I do my very best to really guard that time and fight for it. Because it’s very easy to you know, for meetings to come up or other things that that hurt that.
And you need time to be with your cat and dog. Yep.
Nine animals in the house right now.
Nine. Oh, gosh, we’ve got in the house probably about 16
Oh my gosh. Wow.
guys, so yeah, I got beat dogs, little dogs. But I’ve got to you’ve also got to keep God time for organising your bookshelves in colour code, because that is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen for a really long time. I love it.
Yeah, my I got headshots for the first time in 15 years. So I’m no longer 24 years old on the internet. And my daughter was kind enough to help me organise a bookshelf for it.
Brilliant. I love it. It’s such a smart way of doing it. I am. I have such an eclectic mix of books from so many different years. And I love the colour coding books. I think I should do that. Yeah, yeah, I think everybody should do I think I’m going to start a trend for you like follow Michael clicker bookshelf.
Okay. There’s even places where you could buy colour coded book, like, let’s say you don’t have enough to lose you can I think there’s an Etsy site or something like that.
What does probably an interesting pattern in in your colour of the books as well, I’m sure that you’ve probably been thinking about, you know, what, how many books are red, blue, and maybe there was like, maybe there’s some interesting pattern in there. But what
I actually hadn’t thought about that, but it is interesting that college colour books, like there’s no purple books or y, red, yellow and blue as almost… Interesting.
Right? Okay. Now, one thing that’s most important to me that I want to talk to you about now is the Blockbuster Writing Programme. Now, you launched that a little while ago, and you put a post out that same talked about the launch and how fantastic it went. Tell us about the Blockbuster Writing Programme. What’s it all about? How could we get on it and where to go find it.
It’s a live programme, we do one or two times per year, two times. And we just started our third cohort in July. And it’s a year long programme, where there’s a and we really where we have we wanted to focus on helping people get mastery and results. Because what I realised during the first two cohorts is that as much as we try to cram everything in, it does take time to develop the skill, to develop the mindset, and to get that momentum and feedback and all of that. And so I feel really, really good about that. And it’s helping people with online writing. And so getting they’re finding their trademark idea that they’re known for how to package it into an article such that it rises above the noise and spreads virally, and that they can use the content to get into top publications and to build their business.
Where do we go to get that? I mean, so. So I know that you say goes cohort by cohort. So when’s the next enrollment? And how would we find out about it?
The next enrollment is going to be in the fall. We haven’t gotten an exact date yet. But the web, our website is beseminal.com.
Okay, I shall make a note of that in the links below. So, okay, I’m going to ask you the question I ask everybody. So we’re coming to the end, because I promised I wouldn’t go over too much. The question I’ve been asking everybody and lots of people have been struggling with this question is, when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Ah, given the nature of what I do, I’m constantly doing that, I would say. So even this morning, I was reading a book on sentence diagramming. And the reason is, I have a there’s an art I want to become better at visualising the writing. And there’s somebody I found who I really admired through doing the the date look at the data and and while this person Just consistently creating stuff, I had a coaching call with her. And I realised Wow, she’s just not unconsciously competent, where she just does it just know, she very much knows what she’s doing. So she recommended this book, I’m gonna have a second call. But it’s, I never thought I’d be going back to sentence diagramming and practising the visuals. And I just bought this very early stages at trying to get better at doing art, which I haven’t done since high school, early high school.
I bought a pad about a year ago now for that very same reason to draw to scribble to two because I have my little own scribbles all around, but to put them on a pad and then actually be able to do something with them afterwards. So yeah, and I noted recently, so is this. These are basically your, your images that you’re producing at the moment are, they’re just beautiful. They’re fantastic. They’re beautifully branded. But they’re so succinct. There’s just some fantastic. Is this because of the work you’ve been doing with your pad?
And yeah, I’ve spent two Saturdays diagramming is new. But I decided I really want to learn this in May or June. So I’d probably put about 50 hours into. And I’m also working with a designer now as well. But just studying the patterns, this goes back to platform learning of trying to find the patterns of great visuals and trying to get it down to the basic, very basic level of almost like with math, you get it down to there’s numbers, then there’s operators like plus minus sign and things like that.
Yeah. And what I’ve been trying to do is when I’ve been on conference calls or calls with people, I’ve been trying to draw what they’re saying, and what’s, and then like, Oh, my God, anyway, is a crap the rubbish drawings. But that doesn’t matter for them. who hadn’t thought of doing that? It makes a massive, massive impact on their way of looking at what they said.
Yeah, wow, that’s awesome. That’s a great way to practice that skill as well.
And also keeps me concentrate. Because I’ve been on so many conference calls in the COVID conference calls, whatever you want to call them. So many, and it’s like, sometimes you just drift off, but it’s worth concentrating the mind on what they’re saying.
Yeah, that’s awesome. I have to use that.
So this is a lot of fun. Yes, really awesome questions. And I was honoured to be on.
And I think that perhaps next year, when you’re into writing your book, maybe we can have another call and I’ll interview you again to find out how your books going. And then you can share your your progress with the book that would be fantastic for people. Okay, so thank you, Michael. I’m gonna put all the links in below where people can find out everything about including the Blockbuster Writing Programme, and maybe join you in the fall for the next cohort. Thanks.
Michael on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeldsimmons/
Referenced in the recording:
APPLY TO SEMINAL: https://www.beseminal.com/
Mental Model Club: https://mentalmodelclub.com/