We are living in a thriving and rapid age of information. Day in and out, new trends and data come out, making business owners and leaders alike drowning to keep up to date. This episode’s guest has created a solution. Joshua Wöhle is the CEO of Mindstone, a software that allows people to go through self-directed learning online and help them stay on top of practices to lead more effectively and keep up to date on everything that’s out there. He joins the forum to share with us all about Mindstone, along with great insights on utilizing the Internet as a resource for learning and removing the barriers that make navigating information difficult. Joshua takes us across executive learning and the information diet that pushes the importance of active engagement. Follow along to this conversation and find out how founders can learn faster, remember more, and get things done!
We’re here with Joshua Wöhle. He’s going to be talking about how founders can learn faster, remember more, and get things done. As we get ready to introduce Josh in a moment, I want to tell you a little bit about the show and what we’re trying to accomplish here. Our intention is to engage, energize, and elevate your employees and your company. We’re coming together as a group of professionals to meet with other professionals in the industry, bring some great practices, and elevate the industry as a whole.
Here’s a little bit about our hosts in this episode. We have Sumit Singla. He is a well-known industry expert on People Strategy in India. He also helps us a lot here at CompTeam. I’m thrilled to have him. Also, we have Char Miller. Char Miller is a small business expert. She’s got a lot of experience in HR and also People Strategies. She worked with some large health firms and organizations in the past. Now she’s a serial entrepreneur in a lot of different businesses. She’s a coach for executives who want to improve their careers and show up better. I’m so happy to have Char. She’s also the leader of Mountain & Sea Health Advocacy as well as the coaching. In addition, we have Wendy Graham. Wendy Graham is also a member of CompTeam. She is a Training and Development and Talent expert. We’re happy to have Wendy here. She’s a wonderful resource to have. Thank you, Wendy.
We have Howard Nizewitz. Howard Nizewitz is a rewards expert and systems expert with deep expertise in the financial systems and those industries and technology as a whole overall. Howard is a great resource for everything, like compensation and systems. Thanks, Howard. We have Joshua Wöhle. Joshua is the CEO of Mindstone. Joshua is set out to create this wonderful software to allow people to go through self-directed learning online and pull out that quality information to help them stay on top of practices and be able to lead more effectively and keep up to date on everything that’s out there. Joshua, I know that one of the key things leaders have is staying on top of all the information. We’ll dive into this detail in a moment. One thing I would like to know about you is a little bit about your background, how you came about creating Mindstone, and how you help people.
Thank you very much for having me, first of all. The question can go on long, but I’ll try and keep it a little bit brief. I am Dutch by origin. I grew up in the Netherlands. I was about 13 years there and 10 years in Switzerland. Now, I’m several years in London. I am a computer science background. I started my first business when I was sixteen. I built websites for my friends of my parents and then friends of their friends.
Before you knew it, we were about 30 high school students building websites for private banks across Geneva, which was an interesting time. After computer science, I started a company called SuperAwesome. That became the biggest kids’ technology company in the world. It was acquired by Epic Games in the summer of 2020, the creators of Fortnite. When we started SuperAwesome, I had already taught my folks that one day I would spend my time learning and education.
I have a big passion for learning itself, having been exposed to every learning experience you can imagine, from entirely self-directed to fully guided, from entirely in-person to entirely remote, and everything in the middle, including high-intensity exec coaching, workshops, or things like that. I always thought that the internet as a resource for learning was massively under-exploited and that anything you would want to learn online today, you can, if you know where to go, if you are at ease with technology, and if you are motivated enough to continue trying when things are hard. Lots of people will tell you, “We’ll make learning easier.”The Internet as a resource for learning is massively under-exploited. You can learn anything you want to learn online today. Click To Tweet
I’m not one of those. I’m not saying that learning is easy. There’s clear scientific evidence that when learning is easy, you’re not learning. What I did think is that if you could remove some of those barriers and unlock the power of the internet to help people help themselves and help people learn from everything that’s available, that would be a massive opportunity. I set out to do that when we sold the company to Epic Games. I was trying to figure out, “Where do I spend the next twenty years of my life?” I’m not old enough to retire yet, so I thought this would be worth my time for the next twenty years or so and hopefully make a difference.
Thanks, Josh. I’d like to focus on two main areas in our discussion here. 1) How can leaders stay on top of all this information that’s out there? 2) How can they help their teams consume the right information, develop their careers, and so forth, and have some development to aspire to? Now, when we’re looking at all the information out there, there are tons of different ways to learn. There’s the traditional setting that we’ve seen in schools. Now there’s the online bit and so forth. Plus, there are a lot of freelancers and gig workers that are experts in the field that we can also harness to get their expertise. What has been the history of executive learning? How has that worked for us? How has it not worked for us? What is in the future?
There are lots of different parts of that question, so I’ll try and answer as best I can at least based on what I went up to see. Fundamentally, as a society, we have gone from a world where access to information is scarce. Access to information was a differentiator in a society where access to information is universal and instant. Even though we have gone through that change, where I must say executive training is a bit more on the edge of the forefront of changing some of that, it’s still often more reliant on the dissemination of information rather than the proper evaluation, contextualization, and application of that information. That is where the majority of the effort should go.
When the half-life of skills is getting reduced every single year, you can easily reason through that the shorter the lifetime of the value is skill, the more your ability to learn is the differentiator. By the time you have learned something, if you’re not learning it fast enough, it is outdated by the time you start applying it. It’s that ability to learn. Decades ago, the ability to properly read and write was still a thing that we were working on as a society. Nowadays, it’s that ability to learn that is the key to staying on top and developing our leaders over time as well. We are vastly underinvesting our time and resources in helping people become better learners.
That is fascinating when we think about the past. You’re right. Centuries ago, there was a large amount of the world that didn’t even know how to read. Having access to resources such as libraries and so forth was privileged information. Now, we’re in a situation where we’re just flooded with data and things from all over the world. We’re thankful for the internet and so forth. Still, there’s some privilege around data and some societies and so forth. The one thing that all this data has brought us is some of it is good, and some of it is not good. Some of it can be polarized and can be extreme. How does a leader look at the information out there, being able to filter it down to something that’s going to be purposeful for them and know that they can trust the information and go forward?
There is less of a clear answer to that question. Nowadays, that’s one of the biggest problems that we have. Because we’ve gone from this information-poor to an information-abundant society, even the people that are good at triaging the information they pay attention to, you would still find very strongly diverging opinions now on what the right system is. There’s a spectrum. There is much more information on the internet than there is on TV. There is some filtering that happens on TV. You have some advantages of that. You have the disadvantage of not seeing the full spectrum. The biggest change is an active attitude to what I call your information diet.
Over the last decades, as a society, we have become much more knowledge-intensive when we have this entire knowledge information industry where the treatment of information becomes the core differentiator. Exercise disappeared from our lives. We are now much more active in thinking about our fitness routines. Many years ago, had you asked people what their exercise routine would be, most people would have put this into the realm of athletes, and people didn’t necessarily incorporate it into their lives. As a society, we have now adapted as exercise on a day-to-day has disappeared from our lives, so we have to actively think about it.
The same thing is true for information, which is that we used to have to look for it. The idea of triaging it and looking at this information diet wasn’t a thing, but an active attitude now to filtering your sources, figuring out where you are getting value from, and evaluating the sources from which you get information so you either dial it down or dial it up. That active attitude is probably the best advice that I could give. Everyone will end up with their own decisions on which ones they think they should dial up or down. Don’t let it passively affect you. Don’t just sit there and take whatever comes at you. That’s the best, I would say.
Isn’t there a danger when you start filtering it and using your own internal biases to get information that clicks with you versus getting general information and knowledge?
Absolutely. What I’m not advocating for is just following the people or dialing up what you agree with and dialing down what you don’t agree with. That is part of the reason how we got to where we are now, which is more and more polarizing because that’s indeed what people have been doing. Social media is a very big part of this because whatever creates the biggest spat online is the thing that gets amplified the most, and it creates more camps and all of it. This active attitude to an information diet should have your broccolis, brussel sprouts, and all of the things that you might not necessarily want to eat but know you should. That’s exactly why I think the information diet is a good example because it’s not just what you want. It is what you need.
I like the way that you classify this as an information diet in comparing that. It’s important. We need to have a diverse diet of food to be healthy, and the same on the mental side if we need to be thinking about not eating all the sugar all the time or the things that we need to think about things that are going to give us the best perspective that we can use going forward. Like you were pointing out, such as exercise and even diet health, a lot of us don’t have the expertise to know what is good for us. Do you see experts in the information coming out to help guide us on places to best consume material as experts in industries and so forth? What are your thoughts there?
There’s a role for experts. We used to live in a world where the gatekeepers of information were the ones deciding what information you were exposed to and what information you weren’t. I wouldn’t advocate going back there. There’s a role for experts that we can take into account. You wouldn’t rely on somebody else’s ability to read to consume all the books you want to read and get all that information. I would say you shouldn’t be relying on somebody else to relay all the information you think you need to make your decision and worldview either. We as a society should build up everyone’s ability to learn and everyone’s critical evaluation ability to make up their own minds. That is more important even than reliance on experts, even though there’s a very strong role for experts to provide signals to prod us to go deeper.
This is a place I know Sumit that it would be good for you to talk about, which is the diversity, equity, and inclusion piece on this, because we consume information from across the world. A lot of times, we have to put ourselves in their shoes. We need to understand the context in which they are providing that information and how it is meant to be consumed by their society. It’s the extremes, like the Ukraine war situation, where Russia is putting out material in their own culture about advocating for the war and so forth. In the US and, and I’m sure many other places around the world, we use specific language that shows our bias and viewpoint on on those pieces that are for the consumption of people here. Sumit, what is your thought on consuming information from a global perspective and making sure that we’re thinking about the different diverse cultures that are involved?
That’s a very interesting question, Sam. I’ll talk to the point about stepping into people’s shoes first. The inclusion theory now or the practice is don’t try stepping into people’s shoes because you’ve got no idea whether they’re wearing size elevens, high heels, or Crocs. It’s a better idea to ask them, “How do you feel in your shoes? What can I do to make you feel better?” It’s much more relevant from a global perspective because we tend to make assumptions that based on the culture and the context that I’m in, these solutions or whatever we are talking about would apply to the other person as well.
Information can be modified to suit the context. Since you brought up Russia, apparently, one of the things they’re doing is using Peppa Pig to spread their version of propaganda. They’ve modified Peppa Pig to get messaging across. You’ve got a child at home that’s not something you can tune out of. You can stop watching the news and a lot of other things. I say this as the parent of a child. Peppa Pig is non-negotiable. There’s also a positive lesson to be learned from this.
If you’re giving your audience messaging that is difficult to escape from, like something that you know will be consumed, you can make it powerful and strong, especially in the inclusion and diversity context. It’s a fine line, in my opinion. What we’ve seen in Adidas and the entire controversy that’s blown up goes to show whoever you are sponsoring, if they make a misstep, it can dilute your own brand value irreparably. That piece is global irrespective of where one is. Those are some universal points out there.
Josh, can you tell us a bit about how your tool can help with the issues we’re seeing with information and so forth?
First off, I want to comment a little bit on the inclusion. There’s a cultural context to anything out there, but there is also such a thing as what is true and what is not. It is true that there are some things that happen and some things that don’t happen. If you say that the thing that happened didn’t happen, there is also an objective truth to some aspects. There are areas where there’s much more subjectivity when the truth is in the eye of the beholder. Depending on how it impacts you, there’s a whole lot there. I don’t think it helps to deny that there are facts in some cases. It comes back to helping people evaluate the sources in front of them.
It is a sad situation that people are tuning out of the news, hoping to take refuge in Peppa Pig, and still finding themselves exposed to what they’re trying to dial out of. I don’t think the solution is to put your head in the sand and hope that nothing’s going to reach you. Stopping to eat is not going to be a healthy diet either. Where we’re hoping our tool is going to help people is to highlight what they’re consuming, how they’re consuming it, what other viewpoints might be, and helping them control how much they consume.
One of the problems is information overload. I don’t know about you, but probably many of us would have 50 tabs open in our browser or a bunch of bookmarks with the idea that, “I’ll read them one day.” You never read them, and it’s okay that you’re never going to read them because not all of this information is meant to be engaged with. What we want to help you with is that when you have that 30 minutes to consume the next piece of information, we want to help you not just consume the thing that’s right in front of you but to look back over what you had put aside and figure out how you’d spend those 30 minutes the most effectively.
Like in our professional lives, when you try and optimize for what is your priority at work, you might spend the night before planning your day ahead, which some people do this in the morning. You try not to make it a consequence of the day that happens to you. You try and actively plan what you get done. Where we can help you is to actively engage with the information that you think is the most important to get to, not just the thing that’s the easiest to access. That’s where we hope to make a difference in the consumption of an information diet.
I want to know how.
We are only at the start of this journey. We have only been going for a few years. It’s a small company, but there are a bunch of different things that we can look at. There’s the source from which information comes. It’s the idea that we control or help you keep your information inbox under control so that you don’t end up with 500 pieces of content in there. I don’t know if anyone here used to be or is a pocket user, for example, where I was for years. You put a lot of stuff in there, and at some point, it hit this critical mass where I no longer want to go there because when I go there, I get this dreaded feeling of, “I have 300 articles in there. It’s going to take me a week to read them.”
I actively have a bad feeling of wanting to go in there, which is because I was stupid enough to put everything in there in the first place. It’s the bad habit that got me there. We want to help you control that habit. If you have put something in there that was newsworthy but time relative, and it’s in there for three weeks, we’ll quietly put it in your archive. We will remove it from your inbox. You don’t have to look at that. It doesn’t matter if you’re already three weeks have passed, and it was a time-sensitive issue. You don’t have to have that in there anymore. We help you stay in a positive mindset about your engagement with that information so that when you have the time, we’ll help you optimize for that.
The intent is that your tool’s going to help disseminate this information and help put it in a practical format where people can digest it in certain intervals that are going to be best for them in real time. What other things are you seeing leaders need when it comes to digesting information to where they can use it? One is that you can consume the information, but the next is you got to use the information or take action upon it.
This is where the remembering more the learning comes in. A lot of us would probably agree with this idea that we consume quite a lot of information, but if a week later you try to remember what it was, you’re in this thing, “I know I read this thing. I told myself I was going to go and do this differently, but I no longer know exactly where it was. I can’t find it anymore,” it becomes a little bit hard. Remembering information is not an easy thing. If you can’t remember it, you cannot apply it. One of the things we do is force a more active engagement with the information that you end up consuming.Remembering information is not an easy thing. If you can't remember it, you cannot apply it. Click To Tweet
It’s very simple things like providing you with some highlight tools and allowing you to add notes alongside the information. The highlight tools are not just simple highlighters but multiple categories of highlights. Categories don’t matter, but the fact that we force you for a split second to choose a type of highlighter that you engage with is enough to engage a different part of your brain in a slightly different way that improves the amount that you retain from that. Not to mention that we store every highlight that you make, so if you ever wanted to go and look back at the important bits that you highlighted over time, you have a catalog of every single piece that you highlighted across videos, articles, podcasts, or anything that you find.
This is the other thing that we do, which becomes a little bit nerdy. For those who want to go a little bit deeper, we place the highlights on what’s called a spaced repetition algorithm. There’s an ideal at which your brain is exposed to information if what you’re looking to do is to retain that information. We’ve known this across a bunch of different industries. The idea of being exposed to a brand name 5 to 7 times in the same week before you remember the brand name is touching upon the same idea and trying to hit that frequency, not all at the same time, but spaced over time so that you optimize for the retention of it. It’s been proven over and over.
I’m talking about hundreds of studies here. There are no fringe signs whatsoever. The effects are between 40% to 80% more retained information for the same amount of time that you’re spending with the material. Those are massive differentiators. The other bits that I do, which the product doesn’t yet, but will over time, is I have the practice of a daily learning journal where very simply, at the end of the day, I go through the day and note down, “If I could do the day again, how would I do it differently?” I note that down and put those on a spaced repetition algorithm. This is the thing that I do manually. Every day, I look back on my learning log from three months ago and from a year ago.
That, for me, is key to figuring out two things. One is it exposes me to this space repetition, which is just to reinforce it. Second, it’s to hold myself to account. Based on what I learned three months ago that I noted down that I told myself I was going to do differently, am I, today, actually doing it differently? If not, is that because I changed my mind or because I forgot? It gives me another opportunity to digest and either actively decide, “Yes, this is still something that I should change.” Sometimes the good surprise is I end up saying, “I have changed this. That is a win. I somehow grew.” It happens sometimes. Those are some of the things that are important that you can do, and that will become more and more important as one’s ability to learn becomes the biggest differentiator.One's ability to learn becomes the biggest differentiator. Click To Tweet
Wendy, you being a learning and development expert on these pieces, repetition has been a long tenet of how to remember and apply information. This makes sense. What are your thoughts on this overall?
The thing that gets me is being conscious about our behavior. I find this fascinating because I’m obsessed with habits on how we create habits, change habits, and add habits. I’ve read a lot of books and read some books many times. I go back to them. For me, this is fascinating. I was mentioning to Josh when we got started that I used to say I don’t watch TV in a judgy way about people who watch TV, but I realized, “How much time do I spend on my computer?” This was before I had a smartphone. Now I’ve got a smartphone, so I’m spending even more screen time, so it’s like a joke.
I’m still spending time looking at a screen. It may not be a TV. It might not be watching TV shows, but what other kind of junk or good stuff am I consuming? It’s the fact that so many people are in scroll mode. They certainly were there before the pandemic started, but this pandemic has caused people’s habits to go into some crazy frenzy because there was so much anxiety and unknown. People lost their jobs. People don’t have income. There are all of these factors. I could die from getting sick. All of these things were in our world before the pandemic. It just brought it to the spotlight.
It’s fascinating to be conscious about our habits of what we consume. I’m conscious about what I consume in some ways, but this would take my information absorption to a more conscious level. That’s what I think is fascinating. I feel pretty inspired now to think about that, think about my habits, and put some structure around it. I was curious, Josh. To use your tool, what’s the time investment to set up the parameters and filters or whatever so that you’re getting what you want? I was curious about that.
Now, the time investment is zero or very close to zero because there are a bunch of defaults. We are not yet amazing at allowing people to adjust them manually. We have a set of criteria that help you prioritize some of them. It’s a little bit opinionated now. There will be more over time where people will be able to adjust those as time goes on. The mechanism is automatically removing things that are too old, while those things are independent of the personal context. We will help you with that on day one. The app is free to use, so anyone can go in and try it out. If you have any feedback as well, let us know. We are still actively improving it. There are lots more to come.
Where can they find that tool?
Either in Google Play or the app store directly and on desktop machines as well. If you go to www.Mindstone.com, you can find it there.
There’s one thing I want to dive into a little bit more that we talked about this before our session as far as the learning and productivity paradox. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
I find this interesting. It’s only while building Mindstone that I fell upon it, which is this idea that when you ask people thriving in the workforce in an information-intensive environment, “When do you learn? How much time do you dedicate to learning?” 99 or 98 times out of 100, the answer is, “I don’t have time for this.” Initially, I thought like, “There might not be a market for what we’re doing. Nobody had time for that stuff.” When you go 2 or 3 levels deeper, when you ask people, “What do you actually do on your day-to-day?” they start to describe like, “I read all these articles online. I listen to podcasts. I try and figure out what it means for my business, how the world is changing, and how we should adapt. I might write some notes for the rest of the team. Maybe we repurpose it to put it out externally to either my clients or on social media.”
You realize very quickly that people are spending 2 or 3 hours of their day consuming information, selling it, and passing it on, which, in essence, is learning. It is exactly what is happening. If that is not learning, I would like somebody to give me a better definition of what learning is. Taking on information on one hand, figuring out what it means for you, and adapting your behaviors accordingly, is learning. They would call it productivity. This is one of the interesting things where, over time, as the education system has failed to produce what we need in the workforce, there is a negative connotation that people have with learning.Learning is taking on information, on the one hand, figuring out what it means for you, and adapting your behaviors accordingly. Click To Tweet
When you talk to them about learning, they’re like, “No, I don’t have time for this,” because they instantly think back to a classroom. They instantly think back to the experience they had, which was not useful to them. What they are all doing is learning on a day-to-day basis. As a society, we need to rekindle our joy and affinity for the idea and the word of learning because it is so critical.
Until we are actively acknowledging that, it is much harder to help someone understand how they should actively engage with their information diet if they already have a negative attitude to learning to start with. You can’t help an alcoholic stop drinking until they acknowledge they have a problem. It’s very similar here. If you have a negative attitude to learning, it is going to be hard to help you adapt to this new world. The first step is to try and undo some of that.
One of the things I want to point out is that you mentioned that some previous institutions for learning, such as college, university, and schooling overall, have failed us in some aspects. Some of it is not their fault either because the world moves so quickly. There’s another piece on that. A real-time piece that executives and leaders are dealing with is that they’re finding that some of the people coming through these learning systems aren’t quite prepared for the workforce. An example is Google has its own training program that is open to everyone to participate in and so forth. What do you think the future of these institutions is? How are they going to adapt?
Part of this comes back to the conversation we had before. We have gone from an information-poor society to one overloaded with information. Our current institutions have been built to disseminate information. The entire idea of a lecture is because there was one person that could read that had access to a book that could disseminate the information to 300 people in one go. That was the most efficient way to do so because that was the reality, but we stuck to that way of learning and education even though the world has changed dramatically. That access to information is no longer a differentiator.
The universities that will survive are the ones that realize that soon. They need to go from a situation where they are relaying content to a situation where there are purely about the engagement, contextualization, and application of that content. The idea that you are studying the textbook of a certain professor purely because they are the ones giving the class is crazy nowadays. There might be much better information out there. Everyone in the class has access to that, so why aren’t you using the best information somewhere and maybe the professor right in front of you can help you explore that content?
The classmates around you can help you explore that content, contextualize it, figure out how it applies to you, and what you can learn from it. I’m a big proponent of in-person learning, even though we are entirely digital. There’s a strong place for it, but the way that it has been used nowadays, most of the time, is entirely wrong, in my opinion. Everyone that’s gone through the high-performance thing, it’s never been in the type of environment where you sat listening to somebody else. I can do that on YouTube nowadays. You can get the best speeches in the world instantly. It’s contextualization and everybody else around you that makes it come to life that creates the sparks that help you learn.
Through this transformation, lots of universities are going to disappear. The long tail, the ones that neither have the brand nor adapt fast enough, will simply no longer be around twenty years from now. The main reason for that is if they stick to the value proposition of content dissemination, the people are adapting and putting a lower and lower price tag on that, and they will no longer be able to sustain themselves as businesses in that way. There’s a dramatic shift ahead, even though there is still a very strong place for the best universities that are able to adapt.
Here’s one of the things I want to mention. I know that this learning and development process, as my dear friend Wendy knows all about it, we desperately need it in organizations to be more progressive and more in the learning and development space. In some of the positions that I’ve had, I’ve been over the learning and development function with multiple employees. I recall sitting with the executive team and talking about the number of learning hours our leaders or employees needed to go through to be more progressive. Sadly, in an old-fashioned way, we would look at the learning information systems and evaluate the number of courses our leaders would be taking. Did they get that SHRM certification or that process improvement certification, etc.?
We were constantly looking at ways to make it more progressive. What you’re talking about makes so much sense because a leader that takes 25 hours worth of learning information system tool education hours or a leader that’s trying to get to a certification course is on such information overload and so much over volume and clutter about information that what they walk away with is not necessarily the most meaningful or the most influential in their position.
What you’re talking about makes a lot of sense. For executives to reevaluate their whole learning talent management strategy is so key. I believe that it’s going to happen. It is happening. The freight train is going down the mountain, like it or not, but executive leadership teams need to embrace this, brush off the old learning talent strategy, and reinvent themselves to help our leaders be more effective in the learning space. You’ve hit a real target here, and I love learning more. Thank you for sharing.
I’m very happy to do so. To bounce off of that, the longer-term vision of what we are trying to create here is we’re trying to remove these barriers to learning. We’re trying to build a world where opportunity is restricted by what you know and your willingness to learn rather than who you know and where you came from. The idea here is that every article you read, every podcast you listen to, and every video you watch is an opportunity to learn. Currently, it is going into a void, but what if one day, and this is the thing that we’ll be working on, what if there was a trace?
What if you could create a digital CV that looked at everything you engaged with and quantified the skills that you are taking from that independent of where you get them, whether you choose to go through an in-person course or choose to do this at 6:00 AM from a podcast as you go on your run and are able to extract from it? They are all learning experiences. It’s just that now we live in a society where one stream of this is getting captured. It might take the form of a certificate, a degree, or something. Another form is going entirely unnoticed or uncapped. That’s the bit, which we think, is a very big shift coming. I’m excited about it.
One of my questions here is that often we talk about the fact that attention spans are growing shorter and there’s information overload. Don’t you think that’s a little bit of a contradiction? I couldn’t be bothered to go through training that HR is constantly pushing at me, but at the same time, I’ve got the time to binge-watch two seasons of House of the Dragon on whichever site is streaming it. Is there an attention problem? Is it more like if you sell the idea to me, and if I find meaning in it, I will consume it?
There is a little bit of both. There is an appeal in certain types of information over others, just like I do sometimes go to McDonald’s and have a Big Mac meal. It happens. There is a difference between doing that every day versus doing that from time to time. There’s a difference when you have a Big Mac right in front of your home versus when it is a little bit further away. The systems you build for yourself that put these behaviors further or closer to you are where you have real agency.
I’m a big believer in habit creation. It was Wendy. The habits you create are not necessarily about trying to control yourself. We all have impulses. We all have things that feel short-term really good that are long-term bad for us. Where you have agency is creating systems and habits for yourself that put those bad experiences further out and the good ones closer to you. That’s where the difference is made. You’re entirely correct. We’re not going to remove Netflix, but purely Netflix the entire day is not the answer either.
As we wrap up here, I would like our readers to know a little bit more about how they can get started with Mindstone and the pieces you offer to allow people to be successful in that effort in learning and so forth. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Mindstone is an app on both Apple and Android devices. You can download it there. The idea is pretty simple. We come across information all the time. Most of the time, when we come across it, it might not be the time that we have to engage with it. It forces you into a choice often for a while. Lots of people would keep tabs open, thinking they might come back to it later. They might bookmark it or something. They’re pretty clunky tools to try and find things afterward. If you keep too many tabs open, your computer will grind to a halt very quickly, and then it crashes, you open it again, and they’re all gone. That happens a lot.
The first thing that we allow you to do is when you come across a piece of information, whether that’s an article, a video, or a podcast, with one click, you can save it to Mindstone. It puts it there out of you. You don’t have to engage with it at that point in time. If it’s a video, we automatically extract the transcript. It’s the same for a podcast. When the time comes, and you have 30 minutes where you want to actively engage with this information, you can quickly go through the information you set aside. We provide automated summaries. To be clear, not for you to think the summary is the content. I’m not a proponent of that at all. If you think you can condense a two-hour piece into two minutes and absorb all the information, you’re probably wrong.
What it does allow you to do is make an additional judgment column if the information is something you want to actively engage with. Rather than spending two hours digging into something, you can spend 30 seconds to double check, “Is this thing going to be relevant to me?” If not, we saved you two hours by quickly archiving it and going to the next thing instead. On the apps and on the web, you can then dive into these articles, podcasts, and videos, and then you can engage with them at a deeper level. You can highlight the important pieces. You can add notes to them. You can comment and share them with others if there are particular pieces that you think are sparking ideas that might be relevant for your respective fields and how they might affect the day-to-day. It might be relevant to a colleague that you quickly want to ping.
Think about Google Doc-type comments, but on any type of information you find online. It allows you to have that conversation and go a little deeper. It catalogs it all, so it makes it very easy to find it later. If you want to look at all the latest numbers from articles in the learning and development space, you can look at the highlighter type numbers for articles that were tagged, “Learning and development.” It pings up all your highlights from those categories and allows you to bring them back up. It also serves as a second brain in that way.
Thank you so much, Joshua, for sharing your information. This is a tool that I’m going to sign up for right away and take a look at. That looks like we’re all good with questions. If anybody has any additional questions, please reach out. You can either drop them in the online forums that we have or on your platform of choice. You can reach out to me directly or contact Joshua through his website. Once again, Joshua Wöhle, the CEO of Mindstone, thank you so much for joining us. This was enlightening. I enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much, Josh.
Thank you very much for having me. I enjoyed the conversation as well. If anyone has any more questions or wants to go deeper, you can also find me on Twitter @JoshuaWohle, so feel free.
Perfect. Cheers. Everybody, take care. We’ll see you next episode.
Joshua Wöhle was born in the Netherlands. In his younger years, he built websites and created a company with 35 other high school students making these sites. Eventually, he moved to London to shape his computer science background, given that he was a self-taught developer. He attended a 3-year Computer Science program at King’s College. After many self-learning adventures in his life, Joshua set out to create a product that would allow people to go through self-directed learning online but in specific learning pathways and allow them to learn faster in the process.