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Photo credit: Heisenbergmedia


Jack of all trades, Master of none. In my short working history, i realised how specialised and specific skills are highly sought after. These professional and specific competencies usually brings along deeper insights and greater value in targeting specific issues in specific sector. However, we do hear of the rare and occasional instances where people like Elon Musk defy usual boundaries and do what almost all of us can't do - be expert specialists in multiple fields. Ie. become a master of all trades and build 4 multi-billion companies in 4 separate fields.


The article, "How Elon Musk learns faster and better than everyone else" distilled it to his vast knowledge repository developed by his vorocious reading appetite and also his acute ability to transfer learning.


Elon Musk is also good at a very specific type of learning that most others aren’t even aware of — learning transfer.

Learning transfer is taking what we learn in one context and applying it to another. It can be taking a kernel of what we learn in school or in a book and applying it to the “real world.” It can also be taking what we learn in one industry and applying it to another.



Elon does it via 2 main steps:

1. Deconstruct knowledge into fundamental principles

2. Reconstruct fundamental principles in new fields


Distilling down various approaches in a field to its commonalities and differences. This analysis helps him draw out principles that ring true across the diverse options. These principles he then bring to a new field, and try to apply them to create new solutions.


Keith Holyoak, a UCLA professor of psychology and one of the world’s leading thinkers on analogical reasoning, recommends people ask themselves the following two questions in order to hone their skills: “What does this remind me of?” and “Why does it remind me of it?”



As we build up a reservoir of “first principles” and associate those principles with different fields, we suddenly gain the superpower of being able to go into a new field we’ve never learned before, and quickly make unique contributions.



Building up this reservoir of "fundamental principles" can only happen when we put together a series of approaches to a issue. when we share the various approaches or angles to the same challenge. Also, with numbers come strength. We all wear different hats in different capacities, different experiences and definitely vastly different perspective on the same issue. Gatherhere hopes to start and champion this idea of knowledge sharing to build this very reservoir - for the sector to gain the superpower of being able to go into our or other fields with renewed eyes, and like the article mentioned, make quick unique contributions.


As we connect with sector professionals of varying expertise and experience, roles and responsibilities, how can we find fundamental challenges or areas that cut across the different sectors (Children & Youth, Eldercare, Disability, Mental health etc) and then make new linkages that we did not see before?


With this reservoir, and the connections supplying the reservoir, how can these new insights and linkages lead to co-creation of new and effective innovations for the sector?


Will you start your "60 books a month" by committing to taken ownership of your own learning? - Tap on and contribute resources in Gatherhere.

Practice finding similarities and differences to distill out fundamental principles - Share and document them in your blog or network

Do not miss out connecting with other professionals and see how these fundamentals can be applied across context and situations - Find out whos on Gatherhere and fill up your profiles too!