The Learning Curve Visualized: What happens when people give up

Anyone who has become an expert in a field will often be asked by a novice the same inevitable question “How did you become such a great singer, or dancer, or actor, etc”. If you observe carefully, the answer consistently contains something in the fashion of “It’s hard work, you have to earn it.  Nothing comes easily.  If you really want it you can get there too, there’s no secret”.

And I agree, there is no magic secret to become great at anything, it’s all hard work, even when you have a natural talent.

However, that part saying “It’s all hard work” does hold a secret. It’s the secret of how learning works.

Although many people got to the stage of mastery in at least one specific thing in their life, we just tend to forget how it all works. One important success in your life was to stand upright. How ridiculous would you be if you stayed down the learning curve saying “You know what? Screw it! Tired of trying to walk, I’ll just crawl on the floor”? Another major learning success was to ride a bike if you can, to swim if you can, then to get a driving license if you got one by now…It all follows the same pattern, THE LEARNING CURVE.

Phase 1-2-3 is where most people give up thinking "Screw it...I'm tired of this, I am making no progress". PS: I did NOT produce this graph with a Comic font!

I wish this curve was printed in all elementary school books after the cover page (along with basic knowledge of men vs. women communication and behaviour rules) to remind us how learning works. When you feel like putting aside something you’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn, do keep going. In learning, continuing pays off. It may not work in finance when you do bad, nor in romantic relationships, nor in a shitty job, but it works for learning.

Said differently, the Pareto Principle applies: Do I really want to permanently lose 80% of a time investment that yielded 20% of the results, when the next 20% of efforts could yield the missing 80% of the result?!

Sometimes you not only need to be consistent in learning, but also to make changes that will critically allow you to make progress. For instance, if you take a dance class once a week, or anything else in arts, you could do that for ages, progress would be slow until you decide to practice more often. That’s the aw of frequency. So in a nutshell, this article points to what I believe is the top reason why people give up, they have forgotten the law of persistence. There are other laws in learning theory besides persistence and frequency, they’re really good to know. For further reading on the Fundamental Principles of Learning you may start here…I won’t allow you to give up that!

The Magic Virtues of Mind Maps

Mind maps are a tool used to represent ideas or virtually any form of data in a hierarchical way. It allows you to build trees of information and link clouds between each other. I was very sceptical about their usefulness when I was first introduced to them. After a year of use, I can only highly recommend their universal use.

There is 3 things everyone should be tought to use since an early age :

  1. Calendars
  2. 4-screen todo lists and no other kind of todo-lists.
  3. Mindmaps

All of these should be linked, although not much seems to be done out there…ANYWAY

What do Mind Maps look like ? This :


So why use a mindmap ?

A mindmap is meant to remove from your head whatever new idea you have. It has shown to allow more new ideas to come as well as relieving the brain from the pain of remembering.

Have you had those moments where you think about something (to do, to offer someone, to buy …) you know you should write it but you over trust your memory and tell yourself “Mhhh…ok this is good I’ll have to remember it”…Statistically, you either forget, or it comes back much later only when the right context is there to retrieve that idea left under a pile of dusty brains.

The virtue that results from this is a faster throughput of ideas. Save your brains for generating ideas, remembering them can be done outside your brain. As you put a rough idea of something, the next vision of it will be more defined, and other random ideas might come up and somewhat link to the main idea. The connections can be drawn on your software.

Basically, I strongly recommend their use as a brain supplement. It really does work. You’ll be generating ideas and linking them outside your brain and let your brain shit-free and running at nearer to full potential.

The use of mind maps is particularly pertinent in situations where you have difficulty focusing and making progress.

That’s probably more useful to men that women, whom generally tend to be able to think deeply about one thing at a time while women I would say are more like to already use mind maps in their head. Women indeed have a much better ability for looking at the big picture and taking everything into account. We men think linearly, step by step.

What software to use ?

Like for todo lists or calendars, don’t spend time looking for the best. Use that energy to be disciplined and constently use whatever tool you have chosen when it should be used. Otherwise it’s like looking forever for the BEST gym and end up going there only once a month…

There is also online collaborative versions. One out of many is MindMeister.

I use FreeMind on Linux. It is available on Windows and Mac as well. The interface could be much more improved but it does the job. More information on mindmaps and softwares can b found on this dedicated blog.

Manhattan Napping Salon

Neither fundamentally innovating nor world-changing, this business idea doesn’t go however without getting my support. It’s about offering not products or services, but experiences, the meaningful kind.

French Entrepreneur Nicolas Ronco started in Manhattan a napping salon. Now you have an alternative to maintain a flexible lifestyle if your job application for Google was rejected.

For 12 USD, you get to take a nap in a very comfortable long chair, with mood-changing colorful light effects, the music and smell of your choice.

No alarm clock to wake you up, a sunrise is simulated to get you out of sleep in a most natural and smooth way.


The debriefing of the CEO is absolutely right, an insane number of people just lack sleep. Many take pills, or insane amounts of exiting drinks and foods. Very few however realise the critical aspect of sleep in everyday life.

The concept could be widely extended to provide a comprehensive in-town relaxing facility, a sort of second home in town where you can go get a nap, but also take a shower, shave etc… in a nutshell a facility where you can take over the comfort experience that you didn’t have enough time for at home.

Singapore And Creativity: Two Separate Islands?

The first thing that shocked me a few weeks after my arrival in Singapore is how bureaucratic the whole system is. But to a certain extent that’s fine when you come from a country like France.

The real problem is the lack of flexibility, or shall I go further and say creativity.

Typical example: Suppose you need to get something from a certain service. BE SURE that they will never adapt or change, not even exceptionally, their standard procedure. Instead they will stupidly follow the rule step by step, as written on the paper and told earlier by their boss, without ever questioning the process or thinking of new more efficient ways to do it. It’s often useless to negociate, even very diplomatically, they will only make them angry as they will perceive it as a lack of respect to what they are telling you over and over again: “No sir, as I told you twee times alweady, dis is di only way we can do it”.

Eventually they will seem like being creative and suggest alternatives, but which are not convenient at all, and once more they would be just following the section B in their standard procedure.

I was a while ago very tired of hearing this sentence in France: “It’s like this because it’s like this, it has always worked like this so there’s no reason why it should change”. But really here it’s worse, it’s more “It’s like this, it does not necessarily always work, but it’s like this and no other way”. Hum…

It seems people are so afraid to lose their jobs because of not having followed the exact (and often not so optimized) STANDARD PROCEDURE.

But when you look at education in Singapore, this is just a consequence of it. The government (often described as a “major corporation” by Venture Capitalists) does not want people to question things too much and be creative. You don’t want troublesome people digging into the corporation‘s economics and practices. So I suspect education  to drive you to be a good citizen since very early age, a good money earner but mostly spender (Singapore is the only shopping center that has a chair at the UN) and do many kids that will spend even more…

You see how in France, if people know you, they may not follow bother you anymore with standard procedures based on trust, and will move on to a more human, trusting and efficient way of dealing with you. NOT HERE.

If you need to show your card to get in somewhere, you may be bound to do this for the rest of your life even if there is ONE same security guard…why would he risk to lose HIS job just to make YOUR life a little easier?!

The whole country sells to its citizens the fake impression that they have strong potential and that they are innovative and creative. Some rare cases really are, but this talk becomes major bull when generalised because most Singaporeans ARE tremendously closed-minded followers and rule-obeyers. They know they got this remark in the past, and (surprisingly) reacted through all those initiatives to proof themselves they are creative. Eventually they will convince locals they are creative, but locals don’t have the same definition of creativity as in say Europe, obviously.

The government promotes entrepreneurship in Singapore, they are very brave! They just need to design a way to grow social and political followers, with engineering or business creativity. It’s not very easy: creativity is a lifestyle, not something you turn off and on depending on whether you are considering politics or your own venture. There are some very internationally famous Singaporean based companies: Creative Labs (audio systems) is one of them. But this is really the one in a million kid that stands out the mass.

Although the symptoms tend to vanish with higher levels of education, even the most. educated circles, namely NUS students and staff, suffer from a daily lack off creativity…to the point that there is ironically barely enough to even question it.

If you have experienced any obvious lack of creativity/flexibility please post your anecdots in comments.

A Healty Entrepreneur Lifestyle Far From Stereotypes

There is a number of seducing aspects of being an entrepreneur and running you own company.

As for any other job, one is how it is IMAGE. For most jobs there is no real danger or risk in giving a lot of importance to the image you are giving through your job. But when it comes that of entrepreneur, you should really avoid trying to fit the perfect image of the entrepreneur as it is by far the least healthy.

Ask people around what caracterises an entrepreneur, they will all say “Busy all the time, stressed, no breaks, working at night, lacking sleep, caffeine addict”. How healty is that? You don’t seriously think you can be successful, happy and healthy on the long term like this, do you?

It may be fun punctually in time to have those crazy periods that turn out to be great memories later. But forget about making it your everyday style of life as an entrepreneur, unless you plan for diabetes resulting from stress and some cancer from maltreating your body.

Here is a nice article from “How to Run on Fumes“, that presents elementary tips to be at the top of your health and efficiency. Longing for healthy, joyful, extraordinary and successful entrepreneurship adventure through life, I fully support this article and hope you will find interest reading it.

16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School

Very insightful content. I used to like to convince myself that I am too busy and have to many things to do. This article helped me realize how to save time, reduce stress, and handle more stuff and better!

I particularly suggest the Parkinson’s Law. You well read it and say “Yeah, that’s so true…”.

Also, if like him and I, you need to WRITE DOWN everything because you have a very bad memory, consider joining this cool Facebook group.

>> Read the article.