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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2013
This book can helpfully be summed up in a sentence...choose a skill, work out what you want to achieve from this skill, do a small amount of research around how to acquire the knowledge to achieve your set goal, then spend a minimum of 20 hours trying to get to your goal! Other than that and a diary of several skills the author set out to achieve, this book offers the reader very little else.

This really is a difficult book to review, because for the uninitiated or perennial non-achiever, this book may just be the nudge in the right direction (and therefore worthy of 4+ stars), otherwise if you've read up on topics like the 80/20 principle, agile methods, project management 101, then there is unlikely to be anything new in here for you (2 stars or less).
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During my university days I used to read a lot of self development books. But after moving into the demanding world of programming, I did not find time to read any books on this topic. I opted for this as the title was appealing. At least the title appeared too good to be true.

Author motivates us with the first few chapters itself. The write up on quality pots in chapter 2, was an excellent motivation to become a learning addict. The mistakes I have been making till date was, I didn't keep my toolset ready and I did not allocate time for acquiring my skill.

I read only the first 3 chapters in detail. From fourth till ninth, the author is discussing his own experience and how he is acquiring the skill. So I went through the first kick off sessions and then the closing sessions skipping the detailed instructions.

I was doing some breathing and fitness routine every now and then. After chapter 4 I regularized this a bit as morning time was allocated for the same.

Went through the Programming chapter in detail page by page as I'am also involved in the profession. Applied the steps to enhance my skills in new technologies in my own (programming) area. This chapter also helped me to keep the fire burning in my existing projects and breathe life into some of my old skills. There are a lot of details on ruby programming. In future, If I ever need to learn ruby, I think I have found the correct place :-)

The touch typing chapter was useful in giving us a list of websites where we can test our typing skills. This chapter also explains how our brains work when we sleep and why before bed is the best time to learn a new skill.

I browsed through the chapters on acquiring Go and Ukulele paying attention ONLY to the beginning and end to understand how the 20 hours concepts are used. Picked up a few good proverbs from Go. Since I wish to learn the Nunchaku (Maybe after I retire), I will comeback at a later date to read the chapter on Ukulele and follow the methodology.

I may use the concepts in the chapter on windsurfing to guide my daughter on her physical activity classes at a later date.

Again went through the final afterwards chapter in detail.

I'am not sure why so many reviewers have given a bad rating on the pretext of author moving away from topic. Actually author clearly states that, these are his goals and we could substitute this with our own goals. Author has only explained how he is preparing to encounter a to be acquired skill. Reviewing the method at the end of every chapter is an important read.

In brief, this has boosted my confidence of acquiring ANY new skill / Reactivating old skills
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2013
i thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. i have read a few books on accelerated learning which have helped, but the use of examples from the authors life really helped me to understand the basics to learn anything new fast... i have since started to learn to play the ukelele following this method and i have to say, i really feel comfortable with it :)

i would recommend this book to anyone with an interest into learning new skills but don't quite know where to begin, i great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2014
Like sooooooo many Americans authors of non-fiction, the author here turns an interesting idea into a boring book with page upon page of padding. Verbose chapters and examples that say, well, nothing. This gist of this book would make a great magazine article, or blog, but as a whole book it is a killer. When will publishers listen to what readers want?!!! If you want fat-free non-fiction, get something in the Teach Yourself range.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2013
Wide range but nothing nothing that grabbed me and most of the key points are common sense.
Set goals, define skills and practice!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2013
After reading the first three chapters of this book, I was certain this was going to be a five-star book. Mr Kaufman manages to explain the basic tenets of rapid skill acquisition clearly, convincingly, and yet concisely, and his plan for the rest of the book sounds solid: standing by the principle that practice trumps theoretical learning, the remaining chapters will be case-studies of rapid skill acquisition. Great idea!

Sadly, the case studies don't deliver on the built-up expectations: there's too much "what", and too little "how".

Take eg the chapter about computer programming: Mr Kaufman explains (and he doesn't do a bad job) such details as what loops and conditionals are, and what SQL queries look like, and how you wrap those with an object-relational mapper, and how he used sites like Stack Overflow and Hacker News (great choices, incidentally) to find lots of information in a very short time. That's all well if this was a book about programming. But it's not: what I would have hoped to read about at this point, is how, approaching the subject of programming as a novice, he managed to seek out two such high-quality resources - if you're completely new to something, how do you recognize quality? That is a relevant problem for "the first 20 hours" of anything, and something I could take into other areas than programming.

Similarly, in the same chapter we learn all kinds of details about Heroku and Sinatra and DataMapper and what not, when actually I don't care so much what software stack Mr Kaufman chose, but rather how I should go about choosing so quickly, in a domain that is all new to me? Mr Kaufman rightfully warns that one can easily get stuck reading Stack Overflow all day without making choices, but he doesn't explain how to avoid that trap - how much preparatory research is enough, and how much is too little? Did he set himself a time limit? What rules of thumb make him decide that it's ok to copy "git" commands without looking them up, while a "bundler" warning prompts him to read about that library (and spend a section on it)?

In the end, I come away well-impressed that anyone could learn so much about yoga and programming and the ukulele etc etc in so few hours, but I'm still not clear how I could become as fast.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2013
I came across this book in a well known bookshop when visiting London recently. The title intrigued me so I bought it. It turned out to be another one of those books where the best bit was the title.

This book offers nothing new. There is no special formula for acquiring a new skill other than commonsense an a bit of logical thought. Furthermore this book is mainly full of the author's learning experiences of windsurfing, computer programming, a Chinese game, practicing yoga, etc. The only relevant bit was the first few pages of the book. The book suggests that the big formula for learning something in 20 hours dedicated learning time is:
1. Choose a lovable project.
2. Focus your energy on one skill at a time.
3. Define your target performance level.
4. Deconstruct the skill into subskills
5. Obtain critical tools.
6. Eliminate barriers to practice.
7. Make dedicated time for practice.
8. Create fast feedback loops.
9. Practice by the clock in short bursts
10. Emphasise quantity and speed

That's it. If you were expecting something different you will be disappointed. That's what I spent my £12.99 on. What a waste!

As always, buyer beware!
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on 2 September 2014
Bought the kindle version because the paperback is printed so small that I could not read it even with spectacles, and the paper quality is awful.
The book is a very good read. I have taken the principles and instigated them in my work place.
I now encourage engineers to get stuck in, make sure your safe then go for it, stop spending ages. what can go wrong is not will go wrong. Would encourage reading as it is not yet another self help book. The free Web stuff pages do not work for me, but that may be me using the wrong browser.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2013
As I think another reviewer has put the first 3 chapters of theis book are excellent and if the book had stayed in a similiar vein I would rate this book as a 5 star for anyone who would like a counter-point of the view of the 10,000 hours of practice is required to master a skill or subject (which I know is a often misquoted fact).
That as its basic premise the author hits the target but its afterwards the 6 or so chapters where it was suppose to demonstrate pratical application that I felt the book falters.
To be fair he ably demonstrates the emotional effort required to learn a skill that means normally most give up when the going gets tough which he had explained very well as a basic tenet in the first quarter of the book but I struggled to carry on charging through the book with the same momentum I had built up at the beginning.
I still think a very good book and provideds a very good way to build confidence in tackling something new, just think future readers need to be prepared to change gear 4th chapter onwards and that is why I have given 4 out of 5.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book and found it to be an excellent and inspiring read.
After reading a great deal about the '10,000 hour rule' as detailed in Outliers: The Story of Success it was refreshing to see how Josh Kaufman approaches rapid skill acquisition in as little as 20 hours.

If you enjoy memoir style stunt literature as I do, or simply enjoy reading about real life case studies you'll find this book valuable. Some of the case studies may not be of interest to you, but you can take the premise of how to approach the 20 hour skill acquisition and apply that to any area of interest.

This is a valuable book to add to your success library if you're committed to becoming a 'Niche Expert' or if you fear you suffer from 'multiple niche disorder' and have a passion to pursue a great many interests and don't know where to start!
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