This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Jonathan Levi. Jonathan is a serial entrepreneur and lifehacker born and raised in Silicon Valley. He’s the author of the blockbuster “Become a Super Learner series,” founder of Superhuman Academy, and host of the top rated podcast, Becoming Superhuman.
And he’s just released his latest book, The Only Skill That Matters.
Jonathan has taught hundreds of thousands of students what it means to be superhuman and live richer, fuller, healthier, and happier lives.
And it all stems from asking one simple question, “How do you know how to learn?” I can’t wait to explore this with him and have him share what he has learned along his entrepreneurial journey.
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Jonathan has always felt like a misfit. When he was young, he was the quirky kid in class and had ADD. His parents didn’t want to medicate him and things worked out ok until he got into his early teens. He had trouble keeping up and learning and keeping up socially. Even some of his friends turned on him and made him the butt of their jokes. He went through several years of depression and contemplated suicide. He felt worthless.
Then he discovered entrepreneurship. His first stab at it was as a DJ for parties. He then started doing web design. He realized that through entrepreneurship he could develop and improve himself. It helped to understand that if he can be good at entrepreneurship, he could be good at other things and develop into the person he wanted to be.
The way he got our of depression was through accomplishment – but also learning about being the type of person he wanted to be. He realized his self-esteem was based on who he was, not what he wanted to achieve. Learning and the ability to learn is what made the difference. After graduating college and selling his business, he went to an accelerated MBA program where he met some individuals that were experts in accelerated learning. Jonathan immersed himself in learning this skill.
What does it mean to be superhuman?
- It is our generations renaissance man or woman.
- These are well rounded people that have it all dialed in and have control through all aspects of their lives.
- They are solid financially, in their relationships, in great health, etc. Beware of the word “average.”
- Being superhuman is as simple as beating the average.
At the 10 min mark, Jonathan and I talk about how being superhuman is also about the standards you have in all areas of your life…
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” ― Robert A. Heinlein
Explain Pneumonic Training…
- Memory is a ticky challenging thing. We all know what it is like to forget things.
- There is no learning without memory.
- There are essentially “cheat codes” to the human brain.
- We are a product of millions of years of evolution and the brain spends a certain of energy on certain things.
- For example, 70% of your sensory processing is visual.
- Our brains have a huge capacity to memorize certain things – specifically smell and taste – and then visual.
- Pneumonic training is creating visual symbols that they remember and organizing them in their minds
At the 17 min mark, Jonathan goes through an example with me on how to use pneumonic training to learn a different language.
- The key is to creative a vivid picture in your mind and association what you want to remember with it. The picture can almost be absurd and outlandish, so it is easier to remember.
- But memories can get cloudy the more we access them. Each time, we take them out, they can change.
- But the first step to memorize is to listen intently and be focused and present.
What can people do to read and comprehend at a higher level?
- Improve your memory capability first.
- If you move your eyes less, you can read faster.
- Understand and learn how to minimize subvocalizing.
Tell us about the “slipstream technique…”
- Jonathan tells the story of how it started…
- Slipstreaming is figuring out a way to work with someone who is doing what you want to be doing.
- It is finding very unique, standout ways of getting in the door, getting buy in, finding opportunities, and learning from the top mentors in the space you want to be in.
Tell us about the Only Skill That Matters…
- The only skill that matters is improving the ability to learn.
- By learning to learn better, you can open any door you want to.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in building your businesses?
- Jonathan sold his first business after he turned 24 – an INC 5000 business.
- He took away a lot of scars and realized one thing he did not want to do is “be in a business where he shipped “widgets” all over the world.”
- He took everything he learned about learning and figured out to build great online courses.
- He was very weary of going for big for the sake of going for big.
- He started Superhuman Academy as side business to bring in some income and as things do with entrepreneurs, it has taken on a bigger mission and thus has become a much bigger business.
- To build anything you will have to sacrifice things to make it succeed.
At the 43-minute mark, Jonathan and I have a discussion about what it is like to have our eyes opened up to bigger possibilities and be shown by others what can happen in this world.
- Imagine if you could have no constraints, what would it take to be able to fund that? How would you change your business to be able to do that?
- The trick of getting around incredible successful people that can help you level up is not to compare yourself to them, but learn from them, and if possible seek their help.
Best advice for an entrepreneur starting out?
- Understand your market.
- Understand your customer.
- Have your customer lined up before you create your product! Have interested parties ready to go.
At the 47 min mark, Jonathan talks about Brain health….
- First, your brain is indistinguishable from you. You are the summary of your memories, thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc.
- If you don’t take care of it, you are losing a part of yourself.
- Additionally, your brain is the only organ you neither replace of live without. You can transplant other organs, even your heart, but not your brain.
- The brain is an incredibly sensitive organ, so your sleep, earing habits, exercise, etc. all help it to be its best.
Jonathan’s favorite quote: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” ― Robert A. Heinlein
Jonathan's Misfit 3:
- Life is not prefix, it’s a la carte. You can choose your life the way you want and arrange the parts however you want.
- Happiness is a choice. You choose how you perceive the events of your life, how you respond, and how you frame them in your life.
- No matter what you want to do or achieve in life, the only thing standing between you and getting it is learning and that is why learning is the only skill that matters.