How to Build an Idea

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”

Larry Bird

Having an idea and working on an idea are two very different things. I’ve got a million ideas—most of us do—but only a small percentage of us see them through.

I’ve been experimenting with only discussing ideas I have done or am ~currently~ working on. I love talking about ideas. I love coming up with ideas. Things like how to market your new book our how to improve your business.

But talking about an idea is only part of the equation. And when it comes to talking about our own ideas, we often talk more than we walk.

Think of it like translation.

You have this thing, this idea in your head, this dream, this drive and it’s currently in “Spanish” but in order for it to become real, you need to translate it into “Japanese.” The problem is we don’t know Spanish or Japanese. So how do we get what’s in our head out into the world?

We’ll talking about it works. Talking about an idea makes it real-ish. But nobody wants “ish.” Nobody wants to be a wantrepreneur. Nobody wants to be ~almost~ an artist, or ~almost~ a dancer. We want to be the real deal.

Talking unfortunately is one step forward, two steps back. Maybe in the future, we can talk to our AI voice assistants and they’ll code our app ideas for us. But until then we have to build it ourselves.

We need to start building things.

Talk feels like progress, but in reality, talk alone rarely makes the dream happen. It’s a tool we need to use, but it’s not going to build our dream. What other tools will help translate our ideas into reality?


The ability to design, write, code, film, photograph, jam, cook—create with our hands gets us there.

Talk gets us close, but skills get us to the goal.

When you know how to write, you know how to paint a picture with words. You are fluent in storytelling and communication. You can make a string of common words look like new imaginative worlds no-one has seen. You can sell and market your ideas and—if you’re really good—perhaps even distort reality around you.

When you know how to design and code, you can take a simple name, like “Facebook” or “Tesla” and make it more real. You can design a logo, a website, an algorithm, a schematic, a robot, a factory.

Skill is how we translate our ideas into something more than ideas.

We do we build an idea? We learn some skills and start using them.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1107

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Who are Master Learners? (Learning Playbook) — Part 2

My goal of becoming a master learner (the micro skill of learning) isn’t about being a know it all. As much as I would love to dominate the next time I play trivia night at a local bar, that’s not the end goal for me. I want to become effective at learning so that I can use those principles and tools to teach myself other things I care about (such as music, writing, and design). Learning is a fundamental skill that can improve every aspect of our lives. What do you do when as soon as you graduate college everything you learned is outdated? What do you do when you want to build a product but don’t know how to even start? What do you do when you’re industry changes on a dime and you have to either learn the new ways or fizzle out? Becoming a master learner means you can *learn anything.*

By knowing the principles of learning, we’re building a playbook or foundation of always stay current in our careers and the areas we care about. (More creativity and abundance, less friction, and anxiety)

So the question is who are masters of learning that we can learn from? Who makes learning look easy?

What resources do they recommend?
What questions do they ask?
What habits do they have?
Who do they learn from?

The first three that come to mind in today’s age are Elon Musk, Tim Ferriss and James Altucher.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla, (PayPal) and a plethora of other innovative (rock ’n roll) companies leading the charge to change the world, had this to say about learning on a Reddit AMA a couple years ago had this to say:

“I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying,” he insists. One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

In other words, Elon has mastered the art of learning.

Tim Ferriss writes (The Four Hour Workweek, Body, Chef, Tools of Titans and his most recent Tribe of Mentors) and podcasts about deconstructing “world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc).” On his podcast, he pinpoints the habits, tools and tricks of experts and experiments by applying what they know to his own life. What’s interesting about what Tim does is he doesn’t look for just the talented, he looks for world-class performs who on the surface shouldn’t be good at what they do.


James Altucher, writer of Choose Yourself, Reinvent Yourself (and million other great books) and podcaster (The James Altucher Show) is another avid learner who is a huge fan of uncovering the micro-skills of a skill. What are the 50 to 100 micro-skills that make up a skill? James also does something I’m a huge proponent of, which is stepping out of your comfort zone and doing what scares you.

The question is are there any patterns in the way they learn?

I can see 5 actions they all do:

  1. They study and apply the art of learning.
  2. They are avid readers.
  3. They absorb knowledge faster by connecting and befriending world-class experts.
  4. They learn from top-level performers in various fields and from historical titans.
  5. They make bold moves — they challenge themselves, take calculated risks, and do what others don’t.

I’m positive there are a ton other people who are great examples of master learners (and I’ll kick myself for not thinking about them later)

Other Master Learners from History:

Leonardo Da Vinci
George Bernard Shaw
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Benjamin Franklin
Bruce Lee
The Wright Brothers
Nicola Tesla
Malcolm X

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Learning Playbook: Resources on How to Master Learning — Part 1

Yesterday I made a list of the micro-skills of mastery, skills that if mastered will create massive improvements in all areas of our lives.

Tonight I want to talk about learning. My aim here is to start building a master learning playbook to teach myself (and anyone like me) how to master the art of learning. Why learn how to learn? Because learning is a universal skill that affects all aspects of our lives. By becoming a more effective learner, you will be able to develop any skill, trait or habit you desire.

Questions I have:

Q: How can we teach ourselves to learn? (Learning how to learn — or meta-learning if you want to get fancy pants-y)

Q: What are the books, blogs, courses, tools and other resources we can add to our learning playbook?

Q: Who are Masters of Learning that we can learn from? How makes learning look easy?
    What resources do they recommend?
    What questions do they ask?
    What habits do they have?
    Who do they learn from?

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Books baby, booooooks:

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin 

Learning How to Learn by Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger II

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss (A learning book disguised as a cookbook)

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review Classics by Chris Argyris

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live by Tony Schwartz

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright

 Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations by Joseph D. Novak

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

Mind Mapping: Improve Memory, Concentration, Communication, Organization, Creativity, and Time Management by Kam Knight

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


I’ve started reading Be Excellent at Anything, and have read The Art of Learning and I’ll be diving into these in the coming months so expect full reviews here on the Renaissance Life.

Did I miss any books? Let me know.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Fundamental Skills of Mastery

Q: What are the foundational skills that affect all areas of our lives? What are the micro skills that other skills/pursuits are built upon? (design, entrepreneurship, writing, public speaking, etc)

Or perhaps a better question: If I learned how to ________ would it completely change my life?

The ones I can think of at the moment are:

  • Learning: Going from A to Z on a topic.
  • Understanding: Absorbing what you learn for use.
  • Reading: Reading to learn; Learning to read.
  • Thinking: Connecting ideas, analyzing, memorization, remembering, applying and questioning everything.
  • Health & Wellness: Understanding how your body, mind, emotions, and spirit works. Knowing what foods work for you and how to use them well.
  • Moving / Exercising: Knowing how the body moves. Knowing how to move your body.
  • Teaching: Restructuring what you understand and have learned for others to understand.
  • Psychology: Knowing how humans think. Knowing how you think.
  • Mindset: Positivity, affirmations, belief. Vision, power, confidence determination, resilence.
  • Talking: communicating your thoughts and ideas eloquently. witty, thoughtful, clever, agreeable.
  • Connecting: relating with others. Building community.
  • Hearing: Listening, feeling music and soul. Intuition.
  • Dancing: Expression through music and moving. 
  • Seeing: Observing others and yourself. Seeing what others don’t. Making interesting connection.
  • Acting: Charisma. Facial and Body Expression.
  • Playing: Letting lose. Having fun. Knowing what you like. Washing away anxiety and friction.
  • Applying: Taking action, executing, taking calculated risks, minimizing fear.
  • Creativity: Imagination. Expressing your ideas and mind. Seeing, making connections and applying them in new and interesting ways.
  • Ideation: Creating, brainstorming, making connections with other ideas, or from observations yet to be seen.
  • Pattern Recognition: Seeing and connecting ideas that make up larger themes about how the system/world works.
  • Numbers: talking and seeing with mathematics. Understanding probabilities. 

I’m sure I’ve missed some. What’s interesting is the interconnection between these skills. By improving and mastering the fundamentals, we can apply it anything we want to learn going forward.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”Bruce Lee

“I can’t say it enough that learning how to learn is one of the greatest skills anyone can have. It’s why I advocate that everyone go to college.”Mark Cuban

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”Ernest Hemingway