How To Become Smarter: A Step By Step Guide To Improving Your Intelligence | NICK SARAEV | Skillshare

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How To Become Smarter: A Step By Step Guide To Improving Your Intelligence

teacher avatar NICK SARAEV, Communication, Productivity & Tech

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Why Become Smarter

    • 2. Mental Models

    • 3. Social Intelligence

    • 4. The Mathematical Mind

    • 5. Reading For Intelligence

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About This Class

Congratulations on reaching the end of How To Become Smarter: A Step By Step Guide To Optimizing Your Intelligence!

You can find the updated list of mental models here.

The point of our course is to be able to apply concepts in a practical manner. I want you to walk away from each video with real, actionable skills - not just dull theory.

With that being said, it's time for a short assignment: the intelligence checklist. This will help you internalize and better understand how the concepts you've learned in the last half hour apply to the real world.

To better understand this assignment, there's a difference between passively watching and actively thinking. The latter is what helps cement the knowledge and ideas presented in this course in your mind.

A disclaimer, though: in order for this assignment to mean anything, you have to be willing to be completely, 100% honest with yourself. Don't let your ego get in the way of your self development. If it helps, pretend that you're critically evaluating someone else - a friend, a coworker, or even a random person on the street.

Meet Your Teacher

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Communication, Productivity & Tech




Hi there,


Welcome to my teaching page. I'm Nick - a productivity & body language coach with a passion for nonverbal communication, productivity, & self improvement. I've been featured on major publications like Popular Mechanics and Apple News, and I run a body language YouTube channel. All in all, I have over thirty thousand students online.


A little bit about me: I'm a body language coach & technology enthusiast with a background in behavioral neuroscience. I love helping people overcome social anxiety and bloss... See full profile

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1. Why Become Smarter : Hello there. My name is next arrive, and this course was made with the explicit mission to help you improve your intelligence. Now, since the dawn of time, human beings have hungered for more. We've always wanted more knowledge, always wanted more power. Mawr of resource is more intelligence. We've always at the end of they wanted to improve our condition and expand our horizons and our capabilities. So it's no surprise that you're here. It's no surprise you're watching this right now. Don't feel guilty for wanting more. It's literally what human beings are about. It's what we've done since we migrated out of the African savannah tens of thousands of years ago. Now, whether you're looking for a competitive edge at school or work, or maybe you simply want to think faster, think longer. Think better you here because you think that your current level of intelligence could be made much better now. Luckily, becoming smarter isn't actually as tough or is impossible as most people believe, so long as you're consistent and you don't self sabotage constantly with poor lifestyle choices. Poor self talk, poor self thought. You're already ahead of the vast majority of the human population. One of a bunch of share with you in this guide is a powerful, instantly actionable Syriza's steps that will show you how to become smarter and ultimately had improve your cognition. Improve your intelligence. This course is short, it's efficient. It's basically a checklist. And if you can check every single box, you will significantly expand your ability to think and your condition. So you want to come smarter, stay tuned and start at the next video. I myself will see you there, too. 2. Mental Models: Hi Knicks arrive here. In this video, we're discussing the second and probably the overwhelmingly best way to improve your practical intelligence through mental models. Now all problems in life could be bold down into conceptual models. The models that we internalize ultimately allow us to deal with similar looking problems, inconsistent and intelligent ways. So if you want to become Smer, one of the easiest and the most high return on investment methods is to spend a handful of hours every single day, just two or three learning as many mental models as possible. The more mental models you know, the more problems you'll be able to categorize using these models and also be the more consistent you will be able to solve them. Let me give you a quick example. Let's say your girlfriend broke up with you. That to you might be a highly specific and very nuanced problem. Right? There's all these emotional consequences and so on and so forth. But if you take away the facts, we take away your girlfriend. You take away the time you spent together, the break up all the details. What you're left with is a much simpler mental model the mental model that somebody doesn't want to spend time with you even though you want to spend time with them. Now they have this incredibly simple model. Instead of being stuck solving this one problem, you can leverage historical instances of how other people have dealt with this problem to better improve the outcome of this particular situation, right, instead of experiencing only one or two past instances of having been broken up with before , now you're able to draw on the knowledge of hundreds, if not thousands, of solutions to more general problems of people not wanting to spend time with you. I mean, your solution will be that much better as a result. So talk about what mental models are all day. But what are the mental models you should be learning? In truth there, hundreds of thousands of depends in on you once you want to get. But the best place to start is by learning the top 10 on a website called Farnham Street. It's a website dedicated to helping you make better decisions for brevity sake. Since you're here, I'm actually going to briefly go down. Ah, few of the mental models in this video and a link the rest of the description. But I think you should be wearing the first month Somali you should learn is the idea that the map is not the territory. Any philosophers washing this will quickly see its resemblance to the Plato's cave allegory or the allegory of the cave. Now, I'm not gonna dive deep into that. But suffice to say, the map is not the territory is the idea that any map of the world that you use is necessarily compressed because if it wasn't compressed, it wouldn't be useful. When you use Google maps, for example, using a map, you see a Tooni top down description of your environment. You're using this because it's useful. It allows you to navigate effectively, right, even though on the maps you can't see the bush right next to the log right in front of you . It's still useful because it provides you un compressed information that matters, and it's ultimately things that allow you to get from point A to point B. Consider this for a moment. What do you think would happen if instead of this mapping A to D top down representation right? It was actually a lot higher quality, so so that to the map. Let's say it was a three D virtual reality reconstruction of the exact path they're walking . If that were the case, if you added all that information to the map, it would stop being useful. Why? Because it would be no different than real life. This model says there's a certain level at which details starts hindering you rather than helping you in this way the map of the world that each of us have in our heads, our perceptions, the way things are, the models of our friends and our family, the prototypes we have in our mind, these air, not the territory there just the map and the map isn't the truth. But even though it's not the exact truth, it's not the exact representation of the world. It's so good enough that allows us to approximate and make decisions quickly and efficiently. And if you're already smart, you'll actually realizing that all mental models are in and of themselves encapsulated in this one mental model. All models are maps of the broader territory of reality. Now, the second mental model that most people should learn is the idea of having a circle of competence. Essentially, this means you should always focus on making decisions from a position of rationality and knowledge rather than one of ego. If you begin making decisions because of your ego, you're now playing on a less than ideal version of the game, and your outcomes will suffer as a result. Now this extends to conversation with friends, conversations with family decisions in business, right moves in chess. All of these outcomes are worse if you make these decisions by factoring in your ego rather than your pre existing knowledge, so don't function from ego function from capability. The third model you should learn is the idea. First principles. Thinking was recently popularized by Elon Musk, one of the driving forces behind how he built Space X. If you break it down, first principles works like this. Instead of going top down instead of relying on past information, ask yourself if there was no established system or if there was no established order for solving this problem, how would I do so in the most efficient and effective manner Starting from zero? This model is especially important in entrepreneurialism, in business, right Because most big companies have these very established borders, they very established ways of doing things. The reason that these exist is because nobody just asked Hey, could it be done better when somebody like Ellen Moscow when somebody like another disruptive entrepreneur comes in and operates the first principles quickly find the opportunities this big slow companies have missed? Just cause they've never stopped. Ask themselves, Hey, if we operate the first principles, can we do this better? The last months of model be touching on here is a day of second order thinking. It's the idea that instead it is looking at the consequence of your actions. You actually look that consequence. You look at the consequence of the consequence of your actions. So in chest, for example, successful players don't just look one move ahead. They look 234 even five moves way ahead of their opponents. They see how their opponents are likely to react the next move and move after that and so on and so forth. Keep in mind the most. The rest. The world will only ever look at the consequence of their actions on one order. But if you can look and plan for the consequences of those consequences to two or three orders. You will dominate the rest of the areas of your life. That's all for mental models. Hope uglier minds there. Stay tuned for the next video. We're gonna be talking about people. 3. Social Intelligence: all right. Hey, guys, it's me again. In this video, we're talking about a little known method of improving intelligence that's actually staying sufficiently socialized. It's working on your people skills. What's the biggest problem of most self proclaimed geniuses? Generally, they're insufferable to be around. As a result, they don't often get to spend time with many people. And believe it or not, this actually is substantial negative impact on future intelligence and the ability to stay Nero degeneration free the ability to avoid disease like Alzheimer's dementia and so on. Many studies this point have consistently shown that people that are more social have younger looking brains is because socializing staves off dementia. It improves your help, and it ultimately helps you build a better life. Now, I don't know about you, but I'd much rather my brain ages like Halle Berry rather than Val Kilmer on the way to get there, is by making substantial efforts to remain social. Now you can see how socializing for intelligence makes sense when you consider that one of the core differences between human beings and are admittedly not so intelligent ancestors is our capacity for complex communication. In many ways, our ability to communicate is actually the main reason that we're still not swinging from trees and eating ass for later. A few ways to remain consistently social would be. And please keep in mind that these were very simple. I'm not gonna give you a road map to how to be social. They're not. Groundbreaking, um number one. Join a club. Join a group that meets semi regularly bonus points of its for sports fits for recreation or something that gets your cardio number two. Right. Spend some time with friends or family at least once per week. Helped build your relationships. Reduce your stress. And this is ultimately going assist your friends in your family because they're gonna appreciate the fact that you care. Number three. Don't close yourself off to new relationships and new experiences be on the lookout constantly for opportunities to meet new people whether it's talking to a stranger on the bus are helping on elderly woman across the street or maybe asking a cashier how their day is going anyway. That takes us the end of a short video and socialization. I will see you in the next one. Stay tuned 4. The Mathematical Mind: thinking mathematically is one of the hallmarks of intelligence. Understanding mathematical concepts like statistics, algebra, calculus and so on on a deep level will allow you to solve problems and make difficult predictions very easily. Now, the only question is, how do we actually improve our math skills? Because I will be honest. Most of you, myself included. Absolutely suck in math. A quick story for you guys. When I was younger, I excelled at school. Generally, probably 95% of time. I took behavioral neuroscience. This is historically difficult subject, and despite many objections, I crushed it consistently for basically four years. I kick butt at physics, chemistry, you know, anatomy, physiology, you name it. I got a pluses in, and I was figured that that made me smart and very capable. I was thought I was just a little better, but I wasn't all that lasts until my last year when my academic advisor told me, Nick, you need to take a first year math class in order to graduate. Yeah, sure. I was pretty pissed, right? I never thought I'd have to do math again. I was already starting the panic, but eventually I figured, Hey, maybe the reason I don't like Mathis's. Last time it took, I was 18. Maybe it's only scary if you're ah, pimply faced 18 year old doesn't know anything. Why don't I go and give it a good shot? Yes. What happened? Math completely destroyed me. I studied all day, stayed all night, basically all the time, and I still barely made it through with a C, which, to be completely honest, was the minimum grade required to stay in my program. I just barely scraped by. On top of that, the single math class costs me on my honors designation, which to me was basically the foundation my life at the time. It was a very big deal, and it killed me for a little while. Here's what I know now that I wish I knew back then. Math isn't actually intrinsically difficult. It's simply taught more often than not by people with savant Lake intelligence that don't understand how other people learn. I'll be open and saying, I think most math teachers absolutely suck. This is my unofficial, non empirical theory, but I do. I think there's certainly some great ones out there that make it all worthwhile. But I believe that the vast majority of math instructors provide un intuitive solutions and poor planning to their students, which ends up reflecting poorly on their grades. Now mouth just isn't. Of course, math is a way of thinking. It's a way of approaching problems of conceptualizing the relationship between numbers and variables and understanding why things change rather than just that they do change now. Math is not necessarily about being smart, though please know that smarter people do usually tend to be better at it. Math is a way of looking at every problem, from the bottom up from first principles point of view without presuppositions, without preconceptions and without, ah preordained way of doing things. As you work through solving each problem, you basically had to build your understanding of each component from scratch and helps you learn and helps you grow that much more. Now the issue with most of us is we've just been taught it from top down. You learn the formula, then you learn how to apply. You'll never learn why it exists in the first place. I find it really funny that the vast majority of mathematical derivations are rote, memorized and certainly the mass majority of time not understood on. It's unfortunate cause. Derivations are actually critical to developing an appreciation for the beauty of mathematics. But the vast majority time academia ignores entirely because most students just don't get school. Never teach you this, not cause they're evil, not because they don't want you to succeed. But just understand that learning mathematics this way is simply not economical at scale. Public education. OK, where the majority of you received your math education would rather cater to the lowest common denominator than they would uplift a choice. Few people. And that's understandable. Given the responsibility of society. We need to make sure that culture works. So the big question is, how do you improve your math skills? Well, look, if you truly do want to learn this, then you have to go outside academia. I've crowdsourced dozens of books and how to improve your mathematical intelligence analyst . A few them down below, but if you really do, you're going to have to put some time in. All right. A few books you might want to check out ones that have certainly helped me and helped. A few other people are math better explained. God created the integers. A mathematical apology journey through genius and calculus by strength is the first calcalist, but actually understood. Now, look, all of this won't happen overnight. In all likelihood, it'll probably take you guys months, if not years, to get a strong, even somewhat shaky understanding of mathematical fundamentals. Personally, it took me close to nine months. 3/4 of a year. I spent about 20 minutes per night on average. I worked my way through from the top to the bottom, and I gained a solid appreciation for a lot of mathematical fundamentals. But even me, I'm still a beginner. So anyways, to summarize, mathematical thinking is an important component of intelligence. The best part is it could be measurably approved with a little bit of effort. If you suck it math. Don't think that all hope is lost because you can get better. You just more often than not need to step outside of academia and start digging. Start with the resource is that have talked about. Start with the research in description and go from there. That's it for this video, guys. I'll see in the next one where we're gonna talk about how to read the right books 5. Reading For Intelligence: Hey, what's up, guys? Knicks arrive here now, In this video, I'm gonna talk about what to read to maximize your intelligence. A quick disclaimer I find the rest of this course was all empirically validated. But this video has no such scientific backing. Everything here is strictly my opinion and my opinion alone. I encourage you not to take it as fact, but certainly do take it with a grain of salt. Now, if you're like most people watching this course, you probably read about one or two books per month, maybe one book every two weeks somewhere on that neighborhood. And most of these are probably nonfiction. You will spend your free time learning about history. You spend your free time learning about business, self help, finance so on and so forth, mostly because the authors of these types of books insists to you that reading their content will make you a smarter, more intelligent, more well around in person. And many of you guys have been collecting hundreds of such books across dozens of genres for years. Now, most of the time, see, really hoping that the intellect of these authors write these grand brains. May 1 day rub off on you. What you find is book after book. All you ever seem to remember once you finish is a boat load of irrelevant dispirit fax that ultimately mean very little to you or anyone else. Sure, you're probably gonna seem smart to your friends during a evening round of trivia. But is that really were so insistent on reading books every single day? Probably not. You want to improve? Granted, many nonfiction books are incredibly powerful because facts are leery the foundation of knowledge, after all. But I find that many of them fall prey to the consistent problem of stating the same concept in different words over and over and over and over again. Now you'll find this is especially true, the self help charmer whose books The vast majority The time can literally be summarized in a single sentence. It's this one. Hey, you work harder, you'll be more likely to succeed at what you do. It's not exactly frickin rocket science. Now the question remains. What do you read to become smarter? You can certainly read nonfiction. I just don't think it will help you so against popular opinion. I don't actually think most people need to read more. Fact based nonfiction books actually believe that most people would benefit massively by reducing the amount of non fiction that they read and instead increasing the amount they consume of another, less commonly recommended or spoken of literary genre, which is straight fiction. Yeah, fiction. This means stories. It means fake. It means fabricated texts where a protagonist goes through adversity and most the time comes out of the other side stronger for it now. The specific genres are irrelevant. You can listen to or read science fiction, fantasy, drama, intrigue at the other day, not super important. What is important is that you need to make a strong, concerted effort to start putting yourselves in the shoes of the characters that you read. What I mean by that is you want to feel what they feel you want to, uh, take with the experiences that they're on, both good or bad, and ultimately use them to expand your emotional palette. Put yourself in the shoes of the characters beyond that, which is constrained by history or the laws of nature, like you have to be infected nonfiction and instead let yourself run against the walls of human imagination, which in my opinion, is actually much more conducive to improving yourself. Now, at this point, I myself personally read several 100 fiction books, maybe 1000. At this point, I'm not 100% sure the specific names and the characters most stories that I have read are now lost the time because, like I mentioned earlier, I made no effort to document my reading when I first started, and I made no effort to care about specific fax for factoids, right? Most of this stuff is important anywhere. What is important is it. Through reading these stories, I basically got to live a moment in another person's head. I got to witness their rises and their false. I got to see how they dealt with problems and came up with solutions and was personally witnessed how they overcame adversity to succeed, which are all very important lessons to learn for your own life. Don't get me wrong. You can totally learn these lessons there nonfiction as well, especially history. I mean, history is literally written by the people that succeed in overcome adversity, but the bottom line is you're less likely to since chronic readers and nonfiction arm or often myopically focused on the end goal, which is knowledge than the experience or the journey that helps you get there. It's not their fault, either. It's just how most nonfiction books or marketing, right? It's to improve your condition and to gain knowledge. So if you are looking to improve your intelligence and your currently not reading fiction, or if you have some adversity to it, try it Today. You don't have to start with the frickin Lord of the Rings or some crazy Victorian era literature like Tom Sawyer. All right. All you need to do is go down to your local used bookstore, pick up a recently trending historical fiction or some drama that you've heard off. I promise you guys will be worth the $4.50 it'll probably cost once you work your way through it, you know, feel what the protagonist feels understand the rises and their falls and all the in betweens. If by the end you don't absorb, it looks a little bit of that person. If they don't start living inside of you in your personality maturity, both don't change just a little bit. Then you can go right back to what you're doing before any. That's all for this video. I hope you took some of what I was saying regarding fiction, and I hope you're better off for it. That also caps off the short course. Ladies and gentlemen, from the bottom. My heart. I do want to thank you for watching Hope away. If you like this one, you'll absolutely love some of our other courses. Check up the biography. Stay in touch. I personally wish you the best of luck on your journey to become smarter and a better person, but