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Badass question

 
Tomas Linhart
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Hi Kathy,

after reading the summary of the book at Amazon, I'm still a bit confused what's this book about. My assumption is that it's about beeing successfull in a competition of others doing more or less the same as you do (in general). If I'm correct, who is the target audience of the book? Who can gain the most of it? I've read quite a lot of managerial books about the topic. The books are fine to read (I like the most books from Hammer and Goldratt), but actually there's nothing new in them - they repeat thoughts known for decades and suffer from the halo effect. Something tells me your book is different. I'd like to know where it differs ;-) Also, in couple of points, what you thing are the key ingredients to make users (our customers) really happy?

Thanks,
Tomas
 
Kathy Sierra
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Hi Tomas,
This is an excellent question and I think many people are having the same thoughts about this. It's an unusual book and simultaneously targets several areas and several potential audiences. That's not a strategy I'd normally recommend, but this book is sort of a first of what I hope will be a series of books on these topics, with the others being more focused on some subset of what's in the book.

The audience is -- at the highest level -- anyone who wants to help someone else (including themselves!) become meaningfully better at something. The overall premise is based on a product being competitive not because of how it was marketed or even how it was designed but because of the impact it had on the user's ability to DO something new and better as a result, and about what can really happen if you truly start thinking from this POV. It touches on every aspect from product design to support to marketing.

The most important aspect of the book, in my opinion, is the POV. But most of the book is about actually understanding and applying it.

But over half of the book is on the science around expertise development, but wrapped within the context of motivation as nobody is going to get better at something -- or use something -- if they can't stay motivated to keep working at it. But the motivation side is itself presented from a scientific perspective on how motivation actually works and how to best help people's brains, and that includes everything from the marketing to the UI.

This is not a book I expect to make a difference overnight. It's going to take time for people to figure out what it is, what it means to *them*, and how they want to apply it. The initial feedback has been fascinating, and as I expected -- it means different things to different people. What people do with it next is the question I am most looking forward to discovering.

If there were a secret subtitle, it would be: "how to actually get better at virtually anything, and potentially an order of magnitude faster..." I believe the science on which the book is based actually supports that. But it offers some very counter-intuitive ideas in a few places, and that will take time. Some of it involves letting go of things *I* believed and worked on and was good at for a very long time. But in the face of overwhelming evidence, the best move for me was to just give up on my old ways of doing things and start considering what the 'new' way would look like...

In my OWN life, it meant several things, including I went from literally *last* place in the U.S. in my particular horse discipline to now 10th in the U.S. -- with the same horse. The fun part was I was simultaneously applying these principles to both myself -- for my improvement -- AND to my horse. Quite an interesting challenge, but one that worked precisely because much of the science the book was derived from either originated from or has been validated in animal studies as well as humans. The parts of the brain where real, deep, pattern-matching learning (and motivation) come from are parts we share with other mammals and not the part we -- humans -- are so proud of -- the higher-level 'thinking' parts. This is a tough one to reconcile for people who -- like me and all of you -- value the thinking parts of our brains.
 
Tomas Linhart
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Thank you for your answer, Kathy. Well, it seems the book is definitely something I'd like to read :-) Something a bit different from what I thought it would be, but in a good way.
If there were a secret subtitle, it would be: "how to actually get better at virtually anything, and potentially an order of magnitude faster..."

This subtitle reminds me of Josh Kaufman's book "The first 20 hours - How to learn anything... fast!". Maybe you share some ideas, or at least the goal? :-) Also, you know Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, fast and slow"? Not exactly the same topic as your book, but my by-now favourite "brain science" book. Gave me a lot of explanations on how our brains work and how can it often trick us.
 
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