Summary of The First 20 Hours

How to Learn Anything...Fast!

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The First 20 Hours book summary
You need 10,000 hours of practice to gain mastery, but only 20 hours to become usefully proficient at most skills.


8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


This is a wonderful – if flawed – book. Readers will benefit from the first three chapters, wherein author Josh Kaufman explains his logical, effective “rapid skill-acquisition system.” The “Afterword” and the “Note to the Reader” are also helpful. However, unless the specific skills intrigue you, the chapters in which the author goes through teaching himself yoga, the game of Go, computer programming, windsurfing, touch typing and the ukulele are not as useful, though the author intends them as positive demonstrations. In these case history chapters, any clear sense of Kaufman’s program – and how a reader might apply it – disappears beneath an unnecessary welter of terminology and jargon specific to each endeavor covered. Rather than looking to this manual as an aid in learning those particular skills, savor Kaufman’s journey to discover how you can quickly develop competency in new areas. His first principle is to focus on something you always wanted to learn. The author does not discuss how his techniques work in a corporate setting, but training professionals will immediately see the value of applying his system. getAbstract recommends Kaufman’s effective rapid skill-acquisition process to anyone who wants to gain a new skill quickly and to those who teach skills to others.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why you need only 20 hours of concentrated practice to become proficient at a new skill,
  • How to use the “rapid skill-acquisition” process, and
  • How to apply 10 skill-acquisition principles and 10 learning principles.


“The 10,000-Hour Rule”
In 2008, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule in his bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success. Based on research by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University, this principle states that gaining superior expertise requires at least ...
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About the Author

Josh Kaufman, who wrote The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, specializes in teaching professionals how to amass business knowledge.

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    Guest 3 years ago
    I think the author is using 'feel good' logic here. The fact that the 10.000 hours rule is inpractical for most people doesn't undermine its validity. And learning a language or a musical instrument for 20 hours won't you bring anywhere. A better approach is to focus on the process rather than the result, a method described in "The Practicing Mind" by Thomas M. Sterner.

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