Best method for learning new things fast

When folks wish to be taught a new matter, web analysis alone just isn’t sufficient.

In Gong‘s early days, one in every of our largest hurdles was learning about speech-to-text expertise. We knew we wanted it to research telephone and video conversations, however we had no thought the place to begin. Had we simply typed “speech-to-text” into Google, we might have gotten over 780 million results, with no approach of distinguishing helpful guides from advertising blogs.

Firm blogs will be shallow, Web optimization-driven, and a part of an ulterior agenda. High-quality Web optimization prices tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. So, what you typically see in prime search outcomes (and let’s face it, how many people browse past the primary web page or two?) come from excessive advertising budgets, not essentially prime experience.


As an alternative, begin by drilling one degree under that: Attain out to somebody in your community who is aware of what they’re speaking about.

It’s step one in what I name the “Spiral Method.” The Spiral Method consists of 15-20 conferences with precise human beings and refers back to the steadily deepening information you get as you go. Importantly, it doesn’t imply abandoning Google. When you acquire the important thing learning coordinates, use Google as a supplemental instrument, refining info that you just collect from conferences.

Right here’s how the Spiral Method works.

5 steps of the Spiral Method

Step 1: Determine your matter and attain out to educated folks in your community.

As soon as you recognize your matter, head to not Google, however to your shut circle or LinkedIn.

Likelihood is, you recognize 50 folks personally who know extra in regards to the matter than you do. (To not point out 5,000 extra folks one diploma out.) When you’ve recognized a handful of educated folks, attain out, and ask them in the event that they’re prepared to have a brief dialog with you about your matter.

Step 2: In your first assembly, prioritize high-level info.

The target of your first assembly must be to establish main ideas, which you’ll dig into because the spiral deepens. You’re making an attempt to develop into a bit bit smarter, a bit bit extra knowledgeable. The total contents of the primary assembly might go over your head. In the event that they do, don’t fear. Your purpose isn’t to digest all the info proper out of the gate.


Amongst different ideas, my first speech-to-text assembly launched me to the idea of “phrase error fee,” a essential metric in evaluating the standard of machine translations. Armed with this and different ideas, I took a extra knowledgeable stance in subsequent conferences.

Step 3: Ask them who else you must speak to.

As with every networking course of, the Spiral Method depends upon turning one connection into many. In the midst of your dialog, different names will naturally come up. Don’t be bashful about respectfully asking for intros.

Step 4: Repeat this course of till you’ve spoken to 15-20 consultants.

In between conferences, use Google to refine ideas that you just culled from the earlier assembly. As soon as I had “phrase error fee,” I may search particularly for that, learning the way it labored, what constituted a “good” one, and many others. I did the identical for “acoustic fashions,” and different key ideas in speech-to-text expertise on the time.

Your preliminary community possible doesn’t have trade consultants, however as you progress by the collection of conferences, you’re ready to have the ability to attain true consultants. By that point, you’ve developed a superb understanding of key terminology, challenges, and market notion, and may have a deeper dialog with them.

One factor you’ll be taught from consultants that you just can not be taught on the web by yourself is the place the market, or sure expertise, is trending. The web will comprise details about the previous, the current, and all out there futures. However consultants who dwell and breath within the discipline can normally inform the place it’s heading—and even when their viewpoint is subjective, you possibly can sense the final course.

Step 5: Measure your progress by asking your self how a lot new info you realized from every dialog.

When you’re doing this effectively, your learning fee naturally declines with every subsequent assembly. By the fifth assembly or so, possibly 60% of the knowledge you collect is new, whilst you’re in a position to converse intelligently on the opposite 40%.

In my speech-to-text spiral, I hit some extent round assembly #15 the place we mentioned 20% new info and 80% ideas I already knew. By assembly #20, I didn’t be taught something new. When assembly #21 felt the identical, I knew I’d maxed out my non-professional learning. I’d gone so far as I may go with out getting a level within the topic. By that point, I knew the place we wanted to move, and, most significantly in that case, who I would wish to rent to make it occur.

Ideas for a profitable Spiral Method

How you conduct these conferences is equally as essential as what you be taught from them. The Spiral Method basically means asking folks—lots of people—for favors. So a profitable spiral depends upon a respectful, skilled method.

1. Be respectful of different folks’s time (ask for brief conferences)

Informational conferences ought to final, at most, half an hour. Recognizing that you just’re going to unfold the learning course of throughout 15-20 conferences, make it your purpose to be taught a number of new things in every assembly, holding them at a handy size for your connections.

2. Ask particular, related questions

As an alternative of asking, “Hey, are you able to inform me about speech-to-text expertise?” I requested folks particular questions that they had been certified to reply. These days, entrepreneurs typically come to me for assist. After they ask questions on matters inside my realm of experience, nice conversations observe. After they ask questions not remotely associated to my skilled expertise, I can inform they haven’t carried out their analysis, and the conversations really feel like a waste of time.

3. Be courteous and grateful

Say “Thanks.” Ship thank-you notes. Even take into account sending a present, if it appears acceptable. Gratitude leaves an enduring constructive impression on folks — particularly individuals who did you favors.


By the tip of this course of, you should have made a number of vital achievements:

  • Gained deep information on a new matter
  • Enabled wise, clever enterprise selections
  • Strengthened your community of related professionals

It’s essential that you just pay it ahead — even when the folks reaching out to you might be distant connections. If folks exhibit the identical traits that made your Spiral Method profitable, assist them alongside in theirs. Humanity improves by mutual help — by quite a few interlocking spirals.

4. Don’t hesitate to make use of it outdoors of labor

I’ve used this method not simply for work, however in private tasks as effectively.

For instance, earlier than beginning Gong, I used to be concerned in establishing a new native public elementary college. As a gaggle of oldsters, we wished to affect the college’s pedagogic course to be healthier for the twenty first century. However, we didn’t know something about public schooling. So, we began by speaking to lecturers, then to high school principals, then to schooling directors and tutorial consultants. We ended up understanding that project-based learning was the fitting method for our group, and we had been in a position to affect town administration to move in that course. Our skill to make an affect hinged on our skill to develop experience on a subject we didn’t have a clue about at first of the method.

So, subsequent time you end up desirous about a new matter or thought, strive the Spiral Method as an alternative of web analysis alone. What occurs simply would possibly shock you.

This article initially appeared in Minutes and is reprinted with permission.