Improve your business, yourself and your team with rapid skill acquisition- Interview with Josh Kaufman


Today’s interview is with Josh Kaufman, the author of the #1 international bestseller “The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business”. However, today’s interview is about his new book: “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything….FAST!” Thanks go to the folks at Penguin/Portfolio, particularly Richard Lennon, who facilitated the setting up of the interview.

This interview follows on the back of my last interview: Delivering Fanatical Levels of Customer Support – Interview with Fabio Torlini of Rackspace and is number sixty-one in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Josh:

    • Founded The Personal MBA – Master the Art of Business website, as a way of learning everything that an MBA had to offer but without the expense. It subsequently turned into an international best-selling book and other things.
    • The website existed for years before the book deal. The reason that Josh did it was because it made sense to him and by developing it and sharing what we was learning other people got value out of it too.
    • His new book: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast is both an out-growth of The Personal MBA and a new project.
    • The interesting thing about The Personal MBA as a book is that it treats business as a skill and something you can kern to do and get better at.
    • Josh took this principle and wanted to apply it to anything to equip readers with a method to help them ‘Learn Anything Fast’.
    • Josh makes a distinction in the book about learning and skill acquisition.
    • The method helps people take a Minimal Viable Product type of approach to acquiring new skills i.e. what do I need to learn to get started doing something?
    • This is a great method of getting started doing new things as it deconstructs the learning process.
    • The biggest barriers to doing or learning new things are more emotional than intellectual.
    • The book is quick to summarise the theory but backs it up with case studies of the application of the method to the following six areas: Programming, Yoga, Go (the Chinese board game), Ukelele, Windsurfing and Touch Typing. All of which are skills that Josh developed.

  • The reason that he picked those areas was that he wanted a broad range of subjects and a combination of skills that covered both motor skills and thinking skills and things that you can do professionally and things that you do for fun.
  • Josh says that one of the reasons that he used case studies was that as a ‘teacher’ he had to make sure that the ‘method’ works before he can teach it.
  • Applying these principles to corporate executives, leaders and entrepreneurs: If you want to have a satisfying career then there are skills that you can learn that will help you perform better, do more things, grow your business, your team, develop your career etc to get to where you want to go in a quicker, more direct way.
  • This method also helps with the ‘lack of time’ element that all of us suffer from.
  • However, deconstruction of skills to allow for rapid skill acquisition is a skill in itself.
  • Therefore, to help get started and access the ‘rapid skill acquisition hub’ that Josh is developing, learn from Josh and others sharing their stories on rapid skill acquisition in other areas that don’t appear in the book, purchase a print, ebook, or audio edition of The First 20 Hours, then email a copy of your receipt to You’ll then receive an email with further instructions.
  • There are already lots of examples from people doing really cool things.

About Josh (taken from his bio on his personal website)

Josh Kaufman is the author of the #1 international bestseller The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business as well as the upcoming book The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast. Josh specializes in teaching professionals in all industries and disciplines how to master practical knowledge and skills.

Josh’s unique, multidisciplinary approach to business mastery has helped millions of readers around the world learn essential business concepts on their own terms. Josh’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Time, BusinessWeek, Wired, Fast Company, and The widely-acclaimed Personal MBA manifesto and recommended reading list has been downloaded over 1.28 million times from

The Personal MBA has sold over 130,000 copies worldwide to date, and has been in the top 0.1% of all business books sold on since its publication in January, 2011. On publication, the international edition of The Personal MBA was the the #1 bestselling business book in the United Kingdom, and remained #1 for two consecutive months. The Personal MBA has also been used as a textbook for business courses at Stanford University, New York University, Howard University, and Portland State University. hosts over 50,000 readers every month, and has been visited over 2 million times by readers all over the world since its founding in 2005. Josh’s work has directly saved prospective business students millions of dollars in unnecessary tuition, fees, and interest by providing an effective, affordable, and debt-free method of learning fundamental business principles.

Prior to developing the Personal MBA full-time, Josh worked in brand management for Procter & Gamble’s Home Care division, where he lead multi-million dollar projects that encompassed P&G’s entire value chain, from new product development to delivering in-store marketing campaigns for key customers like Walmart, Target, and Costco. Before leaving P&G, Josh spearheaded the development of P&G’s global online marketing measurement strategy.

Josh’s current projects involve online training programs, live training programs, ongoing research in business and skill acquisition, writing, and programming. His brain is insured by Lloyd’s of London.

Due to research projects in progress, Josh is currently unavailable for speaking, consulting, and corporate training engagements.

You can connect with Josh on LinkedIn here and Twitter @joshkaufman. Do check his books: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast and The Personal MBA.

Photo Credit: Jitter Buffer via Compfight cc

5 comments On Improve your business, yourself and your team with rapid skill acquisition- Interview with Josh Kaufman

  • Adrian, I like the idea of the “minimum viable product”

    I see this as the Pareto principle at work. What must you know that gives you 80% of the benefit.

    The only question I have though is this approach puts you an a position of being jack of all trades and master of none. So where do you draw the line? How much of a skill do you need to have?


    • Hi James,
      That’s a good point about being a jack of all trades and master of none. I guess it may come down to context. What I mean is that if you are working for yourself or starting something new then I can see the value of developing a broad range of skills that help you get stuff done and get started. Meanwhile, if you work in a larger organisation then the approach should be focused on new skill acquisition in your given specialist area. Does that make sense?

      I’ll also ask Josh to comment.


  • I like this post, enjoyed this one thanks for posting .

  • Hi Adrian, I enjoyed the podcast with Josh and look forward to more in the future. Thanks for posting this!


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