Lucas Root started developing his learning strategies in college. He then launched himself into Wall Street in the Mergers and Acquisitions world. He shared a room with some of the most brilliant minds in the business world, trying to solve huge problems. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, Lucas viewed this as another opportunity to learn. With his aptitude, he could catch up with the rest of the people in the room.
He used the skills he developed in the meta-learning area to fight his way out of being the newest, least experienced guy in the room. He quickly became on par with those who had been in the industry several decades more than him. He designed a learning strategy that allowed him to shorten his learning curve. And with it, he propelled himself forward at work and in his personal life.
Lucas is a big proponent of continuous learning. As with all things, it requires initiative and determination in taking on challenges. To be a competitive entrepreneur in today’s global marketplace, you need to adapt to the ever-changing world. While real-life experience is invaluable, your knowledge needs to be consistently evolving. You need to be able to discover new ways of relating to people and situations. You can achieve that through lifelong learning.
In 2017, Lucas Root founded SGIC Consulting. He is now a business consultant, strategist speaker, and startup mentor. He has helped many businesses, especially small businesses, come up with a fail-proof strategy. His story shows us that being able to learn quickly is a massive advantage in being able to adapt to and thrive in your current environment. In this episode, he will discuss his perspective on learning, what it is, and his own learning strategy.
I hope this conversation with Lucas boosts your thirst for learning and gets you on the move.
Covered in This Episode
[1:45] Life After College
[8:11] Transition to Mentoring Small Businesses
[12:23] Entry Points Into Working with Lucas
[15:44] Love of Learning
[19:33] Learn at a Faster Pace
[23:57] Our Brains Are Biological Computers
[29:38] Schedule a Time for Learning
[35:34] Take Action on What You’re Learning
[37:05] Chunking: The Art of Optimizing Short-Term Memory
[43:17] Attending to Basic Needs: Diet, Sleep, and Exercise
[44:49] Workout Routine and Flushing Out Cortisol
[47:32] Level Up Your Learning Ability
[48:45] How to Contact Lucas Root
Chris Ippolito 1:22
Lucas Root 1:23
Chris Ippolito 1:24
Welcome to the “Get Coached Podcast,” glad to have you on. The topic we’re going to be talking about, I geeked out over it for a few months, but we’ll just leave that as a little cliffhanger. I’d love to start off the episode with if you could share your story of how you got to be where you currently are at.
Lucas Root 1:45
Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me. After graduating college, I launched directly into Wall Street in the mergers and acquisitions world on the project side, I was helping to implement a merger or a divestiture. What’s really cool about what I was doing was I had amazing access to some of the most incredible minds in the business world today who were grappling with huge challenges and huge problems. Because obviously a merger or a divestiture, it doesn’t happen when both companies are doing great, typically it happens when one of the companies is not doing so great. I was in this position where I was exposed to some amazing business problems and working with some of the most capable minds in the world of solving those business problems. This was intentional, I followed that track to be able to learn from some of these people. Not anyone in particular, but that market.
What you find, particularly as a young project manager in that world, is that 100% of the time you feel like you’re behind and you’re trying to catch up to every single person around you. Which is great, every single person around you is smarter than you, knows more than you, has more experience than you. This is a phenomenal place to be when you’re trying to ingest an enormous amount of information quickly. But obviously it’s a challenge, as well, because in order to be able to have a seat at the table, to some degree feel like you deserve to have a seat at that table, you have to be able to grow into those very large shoes that you’ve decided to create for yourself very, very quickly.
Chris Ippolito 3:40
Yeah. Did you ever experience the imposter syndrome? That feeling and sensation of, “What am I doing here? I don’t know if I belong here.”
Lucas Root 3:54
Yeah. Actually, no, believe it or not.
Chris Ippolito 3:57
Oh, good. Good for you.
Lucas Root 3:59
I never felt like I didn’t belong, I always felt like I was the least experienced in the room. When you’re in a situation where a whole bunch of people are trying to solve a problem together, you don’t necessarily question being the least experienced person in the room or at the table, you don’t necessarily question if there’s a place for you.
From my perspective that preempted the problem of imposter syndrome, which I totally understand where that comes from because I was there. But we were all working together hand in hand doing the best we could at the jobs that we had. Again, let’s keep in mind half the people in that room were coming from a business that was not doing so well. Still incredibly capable, intelligent, and an amazing amount of experience, but for whatever reason their business wasn’t the strong one in that room. My job was to put these people together in a way that was cohesive, and I was good at that. I wasn’t good at their jobs, but I was good at my job.
Chris Ippolito 5:11
Yeah, you brought your own strength and skill set to it. Because that’s an interesting world. I had a career in the world of finance, and we talked a little bit about this in our intro call. Where when you’re around large numbers like that, you almost get desensitized to it, it’s such a weird feeling. Now somebody shares a story of, “Oh, this person made $200,000,” and you’re like, “Oh, that’s nice.”
Lucas Root 5:48
“That’s nice, Tuesday.”
Chris Ippolito 5:49
Because you’re just so used to hearing numbers in the millions or hundreds of millions. I think you had mentioned there were a couple deals that were in the billions of dollars.
Lucas Root 5:58
Yeah. Two of the deals that I worked on were multiple billions of dollars. In one of them I was personally responsible for $2 billion over the course of less than a year. Yeah, huge numbers. You’re 100% right, it changes your perspective so much. In my career I’ve managed $2 billion in one year once, one time, it wasn’t every year, year after year, but one time. I’ve hired 9,000 people, or been directly responsible for that hiring, and I’ve fired 7,000 people.
These numbers are so monstrous that when I personally made the decision to start mentoring small businesses, the numbers in small businesses, which matter and are meaningful to the people that are there, shocked me. I don’t mean this in any way to be belittling, but just it was a real re-centering of my focus when I sat down at the table of a small business that was doing $750,000 a year in revenue. I was like, “What?” Yeah. It was good, it was a good way to be re-centered and shocked, because those numbers matter to those people.
Chris Ippolito 7:24
Yeah, absolutely. What led you to where you’re at right now? You went through the career of the mergers and acquisitions. Because you’re not a business coach, I should say that. Because a lot of my guests are business coaches or have ran multiple, multiple businesses and we talk a little bit more from their entrepreneurial experience. Your journey has been a little bit different in that you’ve been just around big business and success for so long that that’s where you learned. Now you mentor, you offer your time to small businesses to help them out. What’s that story behind that transition?
Lucas Root 8:11
Yeah. It’s a good one. I was on Wall Street for 17 years. Over that time what I started to realize was that, for no bad reason, all of the consulting companies in the world are doing the best they can to snatch up all of the best talent, the people that have the experience that I have out there. They’re bringing those people to bear on very large companies. What that means is that the middle market companies, people with 500 to, say, 5,000 employees, they can’t compete for that knowledge and instead they’re left competing for knowledge that’s different, not necessarily less but different.
Say somebody starts a business, runs it for three years, then the business crashes and burns. That person is an incredibly valuable asset. Middle market and small market people are competing to get that person who’s been through the heart and soul of starting a business and trying to keep it afloat, but hasn’t been through it 15 times. By the time they’ve been through it 15 times, that person is likely to get snatched up by, let’s say, Deloitte or Accenture because the experience of some of their businesses succeeding and some of them failing is enough of a value-add for Accenture to grab them and bring them to bear where I was in mergers and acquisitions. Which is cool, but parallel to the point.
I realized this is what’s happening, all the best knowledge is going to the top of the market. Again, not a bad thing, it’s just what’s happening. I said, “I have all that same knowledge, I’ve made some good money, I’m in a position where I can afford to do some consulting for some midsize companies that can afford to pay me and bring that knowledge to those midsize companies.” Then split off a piece of my time, let’s say I do 80% consulting and 20%, instead of charging for my time, I look for opportunities to bring my knowledge to bear in a much wider approach. Mentoring for some small businesses that really need a little bit of extra help, speaking to audiences like yours and on stages, so that I can share some of my experience and some of my knowledge to people who need it now and can’t necessarily afford to pay Accenture’s fees.
Chris Ippolito 10:45
Right. I think it’s one of the biggest barriers to getting guidance, whether it’s through a professional coach, a consultant, whatever it be. Which is why another aspect of the podcast when I started it was around mentorship. Because it was actually mentorship that led me down this path. Unfortunately I thought the name “Get Mentored” was a bit of a weird name, I thought “Get Coached” was better.
Lucas Root 11:19
Chris Ippolito 11:20
Yeah, hence why I went there. Unfortunately there was also a podcast which was a big influence for me called “The Mentee” by Geoff Woods, so that name wasn’t available. Anyways, just to give a little context to the story behind “Get Coached.”
Yeah, I think that’s awesome. I love the fact that you’re at that point where you’re wanting to pay it forward and add value to an audience, to a market, to an area that there’s definitely a need. There’s value there, for sure. The way you’re delivering it, I mean you can’t really get much better than offering your time at no cost. I’m sure there’s standards that you hold as far as whether you’re going to work with them. Do you mind sharing maybe how do you decide who you’re going to work with and obviously make sure that they maintain a certain level that is to your standards?
Lucas Root 12:23
Yeah. I have three different, let’s call it, entry points into working with me.
Number one, you have to be a crazy awesome business. A perfect example of this I can give you is the Prowess Project, this is a business that I’m working with. Ashley Connell, the leader of the Prowess Project, she started this business to help moms who are coming back to the marketplace after having a kid. It’s hard for me not to swear out of how much I appreciate that, but that goes right to my heart. I absolutely love what she’s doing and I can get behind that without any question. That’s number one. I’d say it’s probably hard for those people to get noticed by me, but she did.
Number two, I mentor for one specific MBA program, INSEAD University in Paris. They have businesses that come through as a part of their MBA. The MBA students start businesses, some of them, and those businesses submit themselves to their incubator, which they call the LaunchPad. Any of the businesses in the LaunchPad can petition to me as an advisor.
Those two, there’s no way I’ll ever get paid for the work that I do. Sometimes they reimburse me for the travel that I put in and stuff like that, but only sometimes, not even always that. I do that really truly just because, as you said perfectly, I’m paying it forward and I believe in, one, the LaunchPad and, two, the Prowess Project and other businesses like that that are just really, really heart-centered and something that just I need to see them succeed.
Then the third is I’m an advisor through a VC. That one is not free. That one, as the businesses generate value into the VC, the VC pays out some of that value to the advisors.
Chris Ippolito 14:44
Well, you’ve got to get paid sometimes, right?
Lucas Root 14:47
You’ve got to get paid sometimes, for sure. I mean you can’t keep doing what I do forever without getting paid, without question. It’s not even a question of selfishness, I can’t bring my gifts to the market if somebody isn’t helping me pay my bills.
Chris Ippolito 15:03
That’s right. There’s obviously a lot of value and a lot of expertise that we could talk about. Something top of mind for you was the concept of learning how to learn, or another way of saying it is meta learning, but there was a certain phrase that you said that really caught my attention. I’ll hand that off to you to talk a little bit about your journey as far as how you’ve come about developing that skill set.
Lucas Root 15:44
Cool. Like I said, I’ve always been deep into learning. My wife, when she first met me, I was in my 20s at the time, don’t take this the wrong way, she looked at me and she said, “Have you done time?” We still laugh about this. But what she was getting at was I’m in my mid 20s, I was incredibly well read, very well educated, and it just didn’t make sense to her. She was like, “People don’t typically have the kinds of depth of knowledge that you have unless they’ve done time.” As she’s gotten to know me, she’s come to appreciate that I’ve built a process around the way I learn, and she has started to learn some of that. She has her own process, which I respect.
I’ve always loved learning. Through high school, through college I really enjoyed learning. In college I got three degrees in four years without doing summer school just because I so much enjoyed the process and the material. But then I move into this mergers and acquisitions world which, as I mentioned to you, even the well experienced guys in the room probably still feel this way. But me, I was in my 20s. I knew I didn’t know anything and I’m sitting at the table with these guys. I was at a table once with something like 35 people in the room that had a combined thousand years of experience. Me, I had three. I was three of that thousand years.
When you’re trying to keep up with that kind of experience and the depth of skill that these people have, you have to get good at getting good, you have to get fast at picking up speed, you have to get great at learning to learn so that you can catch up with the expectations that you have of yourself, let alone what’s needed of you by the other people in the room. As I grew into those particular shoes, the shoes of the guy who can learn what’s going on in the room faster than anyone else, that became one of the strengths that I brought to the table. I left Wall Street at 17 years, I don’t think I was ever in a room with anyone other than an intern who had less than 25 while I was doing the work I was doing. None of the people ever had the 10, 12, 15 years’ experience that I had, they had twice that. Being able to learn incredibly fast was the thing that allowed me to continue earning my place at that table.
That’s how I got there. It starts from this genuine enjoyment of knowledge and information. To the point of consuming knowledge and information the same way people consume junk food, but knowledge and information isn’t junk.
Chris Ippolito 19:06
No. There’s junk inputs, I would say, but I’m sure the stuff you were putting into your mind wasn’t really the junk food version of that stuff.
Lucas Root 19:17
Well said, well said.
Chris Ippolito 19:20
What’s that process look like? Maybe high level, run us through what it would be that you would do to learn something at a faster pace than the average person.
Lucas Root 19:33
Yeah, awesome. There’s a couple of different things. First, I like to separate learning into two functional categories. The first is ingesting information. That’s not the same thing as learning, you can ingest a whole bunch of information and still not know what it is. A lot of people think of this as memorization. Interestingly, rote memorization is actually something I’m very poor at. However, I have learned how to ingest information in a different way.
Actually, before I get too deep into that, there’s ingesting information, then there’s integrating that information into your skills or your knowledge. That’s the learning part, in my opinion. A lot of people think of learning as the two of those things together. When you separate them, then you have access to those two things in a different way. I hope you’re with me so far, it’s still very general.
Chris Ippolito 20:40
Lucas Root 20:41
What I do is I separate my day into different functional chunks. In order to ingest information very quickly, I look at the different places in my day where I’m in an ingestion information state. From a brainwave perspective, any of the people that are listening and know this, you know that if you’re in beta brain state, then your brain is primed to ingest information. Not just any information. If you’re reading math or trying to look at architectural diagrams, those probably aren’t going to come in as easily. But if you put them in a contextual framework that your body is expecting, then beta brain actually makes it very easy to ingest information very quickly.
For example, I like to go for a run at noon every day. Typically you get into your beta brain state during your run as you get into what you call the zone. For the average person who wants to implement some version of what we’re talking about here, look up a podcast, like yours. The nice thing about podcasts is that they have a format that makes it very easy for you to align it with something like an hour-long workout. As you’re warming up in your workout, you’re not in beta brain state yet. You’re still in the warm-up stage in the podcast. We’re talking about who we are, maybe we’re talking about some of our background, we haven’t gotten to the deep information part yet.
As you move in the podcast into that section where you’re talking deep information, that’s probably about the time in a workout that you’re moving into beta brain, where you’re focused enough on the performance of your body that your executive processor has to turn off in order to allow your body to continue functioning. When that happens, the information that you take in that’s contextually primed, and you did that contextual priming at the beginning of the podcast, the information you’re taking in that’s contextually primed gets downloaded directly into your brain. It’s very cool.
Chris Ippolito 23:08
It’s more evidence that our brains are really just computers.
Lucas Root 23:12
Yeah. I can talk about why this is.
Chris Ippolito 23:17
Oh, for sure. I want to add because they’re computers, that’s why things like this work. A lot of the very cool tricks, tips, hacks, or whatever term you want to use, when they talk about it, I always think, “Oh, jeez, that’s like when I read about things about people hacking computers and technology.” To me there’s so much correlation that I’m just like, “Man, that is so cool.” Our brains, they’re biological computers, really. You were saying you can explain it, please do.
Lucas Root 23:57
Well, what I mean is I can tell you where it comes from and why it has to be that way.
We’re a very interesting animal. This is something I can get into very deeply, as well, maybe in a different conversation. We’re a predator, we know that we’re a predator because our eyes are in the front of our head. But we don’t have any obvious predator abilities. We can’t run fast, we can’t jump high, we don’t have incredibly big jaws that can sink teeth into hides, we don’t have any claws. It’s not obvious what our predator ability is. Well, it turns out that our predator ability is actually skill sets. Very cool, right? Interestingly, it’s not adolescent skill sets, it’s not individualistic self-focused skill sets that make us capable predators. It’s adult skill sets. That is priming what I’m going to get to next.
In order for us to be able to grow into adult skill sets, teamwork, communication, strategy, the things that make us effective as a team, leadership, the social coordination of a fluid leadership scenario, these are all adult skills. In order to make us effective at learning these, A, well, B, quickly, C, we need to learn them in the context of the culture of our tribe, we needed to have a way to ingest the information of our culture, our tribe, and the skills that our tribe uses well very, very quickly. Our brain is actually sitting in this beta brain state until we’re somewhere between the ages for four and six years old downloading everything.
Chris Ippolito 25:59
I can attest to that. You were saying before four and six?
Lucas Root 26:02
Yes, before four and six.
Chris Ippolito 26:04
I have a six-month-old and watching him take in all these new things for him, yeah, I’m in awe of what is happening. I wish we could see inside their brains as far as how that data is being collected, processed, disseminated, all of it. Because it’s so fascinating to watch him observe, learn, and develop these skill sets week over week. All of a sudden he’s able to pick something up, whereas last week he couldn’t, he didn’t have the dexterity to do it. Or when we go outside for walks, it’s a bit of a new environment, the wind is blowing or it’s sunny and there are shadows, just the way he stares at it and you can see him trying to process it, “What am I observing?” It’s so cool.
Lucas Root 27:04
Yeah. A human baby, as opposed to, say, a horse that comes out already knowing everything that it needs to know in order to survive. The reason that we’re different in this respect is that we need to be in that download state because culture of the human tribe, of the human animal, the complexity of culture is our competitive advantage. It’s inside culture that we maintain these adult skills that make us capable predators.
Chris Ippolito 27:40
A friend of mine read a book, I believe it’s titled Born to Run, have you heard that one, read it?
Lucas Root 27:46
I have. And I’ve met the author.
Chris Ippolito 27:48
Oh, cool. His explanation to me as far as the premise is that there’s a theory that one of our predatory advantages was actually our endurance, the fact that we could hunt our prey over very long distances to the point where they would just get so tired that it’s like, “Okay, now we’ve got that easy kill.” If you combine those two, the capability of building endurance and running long distances, then combine it with the skill set of developing skills and working in a team, that’s a pretty formidable combination, hence why we got to where we’re at.
Lucas Root 28:35
That’s right, that’s how we conquered the world. It can be nothing else. I mean think about what an animal will do if you start chasing it. Every animal out there is faster than us. You chase it a little while, it will run out ahead, circle back, get into the pack, and now you don’t know which one is tired anymore. Without the teamwork, which is what I’m calling adult skills, teamwork, communication, coordination, strategy, leadership, culture, without the capacity to work together as a team of 5, 6, or 10 hunters, we have no chance against that animal.
Chris Ippolito 29:16
It sounds like the beginning phase of your learning process is around the beta, focusing on the beta as almost timing when to consume that content because your brain is just more receptive and absorbing it better. What’s the next part of it?
Lucas Root 29:38
A little bit of planning and routine. Beta happens, for me, three times a day every day. The reason it happens three times a day every day is because I created a routine in my life that brings that beta in two extra times. It happens for everybody at least once. As soon as you wake up, you’re in beta state. You know when you’re in it. You’re walking around, you feel like you’re in a fog, maybe you go to the bathroom. It takes you 10 minutes to get a cup of coffee, where if you were doing it at 2:00 p.m. it only takes 30 seconds. You’re in beta state and your brain is still in that download mode, instead of the process and execute mode.
I do beta an additional two times beyond that. You can make your beta shorter by, let’s say, having a cup of cold coffee sitting on the side of your bed. You get up, you drink a little bit of that coffee, you do some jumping jacks, boom, beta is done. Or you can work hard to make your beta longer. There are lots of different reasons people do this. For example, everybody who wants to remember their dreams, they pull out a journal, they sit in bed, they start journaling. I don’t particularly worry about my dreams, although plenty of people out there are telling us we should. I respect that. I extend my beta so that I can get into a learning state, download that information, and stay in that beta state while I’m downloading information.
I do, I get up out of bed, which could end your beta, but for me it doesn’t. I walk over to my living room, I load up a podcast, and I get down into meditation pose. It’s not really a deep meditation, really the point is I need to stay in beta long enough so that the content portion of the podcast that I’ve loaded up starts to spit out the information that I’ve been priming myself since I got up for. First, the routine was to extend the beta at the beginning of the day. Second is to create two other beta opportunities throughout the day.
William Faulkner has a very famous quote where he says, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at 9:00 a.m.” What I love about this is today in our society we think of artist inspiration as something that doesn’t come. When it strikes, you go to your art room and you start painting furiously for three days, then you collapse. Which is cool, I love it when I see that, but his quote points out to us that there is an alternate path. We can actually, ironically, schedule inspiration. I use that same method. Rather than to schedule inspiration, I schedule beta brain because I want to be learning, I want to be downloading information.
I do it the second time during the day with my daily run at noon, then I do it a third time in the evening, sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 typically, while I’m cooking. Again, it’s a moving meditation. I know it sounds a little bit weird to think about cooking as a moving meditation, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience.
Chris Ippolito 33:18
I’ve not, but I’ve heard of it before. I believe it was actually Tim Ferriss. Because when he was going through his process of writing The 4-Hour Chef book, he worked with some pretty renowned chefs and I’m pretty sure that’s where I read it, or it was in one of his conversations on his podcast. But I have heard that idea of cooking being almost a meditative practice.
Lucas Root 33:50
Yeah. That’s funny, he’s a smart dude.
Chris Ippolito 33:54
Yeah. What we’re talking about right now, I feel, is something that he would be really into as far as planning out the beta phase of learning and downloading. That’s really how he made his career, was learning how to learn new things, but do it in a very efficient way. Hence why this is such an appealing topic to me, he was really one of the first entrepreneurial type books that I got into, then it was his podcast that really got me into podcasts. Yeah, a lot of inspiration or influence there, for sure.
Lucas Root 34:35
That’s very cool. Yeah. Anyway, basically I schedule my inspiration in terms of scheduling and prolonging the beta states that I get into. Number two is the structure that I build around it. Then that’s for ingesting information. As I mentioned before, that’s the first half of learning. The second half is to integrate that information into either a body of knowledge that you have mastery over or into a skill.
Chris Ippolito 35:08
How does that look? Because I feel like the ingesting part, I would say most people could develop that routine or that skill set fairly easily because it’s relatively passive. But I think it’s that next part where some people would struggle a little bit.
Lucas Root 35:34
To give an example. I actually did this. I’m sure you’ve heard people coming from Europe or Asia who come here and have barely passable English. When I was much, much younger I volunteered at a college to work with the students that were here to learn English and to just have conversations, go out and spend time with them, have conversations with them so that they could translate their learned English into conversational English. This was a piece of where I developed the idea that you could learn the knowledge of a thing without necessarily having learned the skill that that knowledge theoretically corresponds to.
Language is a perfect example. I’m sitting there at a table over ice cream with somebody who got perfect scores in their English exams, in last semester’s exams, and we’re having a very hard time communicating effectively. Now clearly my English isn’t the challenge here, I’m a native English speaker. It could be that there’s a skill to communicating with somebody that doesn’t speak your language, perhaps I didn’t have that skill. But that wasn’t the purpose of us sitting there, it wasn’t me building that skill, it was them building the skill of my language.
If they had a perfect score, i.e. they ingested the language well, but we couldn’t communicate, it means that their knowledge bank hadn’t been integrated into their usable skills. Your question was, “How do you do that?” Well, a couple of different ways. I do a thing called chunking. Obviously the short answer is the only way you do it is by using it. You don’t become a good archer by thinking about becoming a good archer, you do it by going out on the archery range. But there are ways that you can cut corners on this, as well. It looks the same as the way that we ingest the knowledge. First, I build a process around maximizing the value of the knowledge that I’ve already ingested in the integration that I’m about to do.
Think about it like this. Your psyche, your mind, really likes to know what’s expected of it. It likes to know what’s expected of it, in addition it likes to know that it’s only going to be doing something for a short period of time. It’s almost like if you treat your brain as a separate entity, the computer that you’re working with, it has preferences. Its preferences are like a short-form essay, “Tell me what is about to happen, give me the content, make it short, then tell me what just happened.”
I do this with something I call chunking that I learned from Sean Modell, somebody you can look up, more than several years ago, a long time ago. Chunking. First, I spend about two minutes priming the information that I’m about to spend time integrating. This is the intro to the essay. Then I spend five minutes building a list by hand on paper, building a list of exactly what I’m about to cover, like a session outline. Then I spend one minute organizing that list in order of challenge, but not top down.
I want the most challenging thing first, the second most challenging thing last, then I want the easier things in the middle. Because your brain likes to work with the beginning and the end of a chunk of information harder. I don’t know why, it just likes to do that. That’s part of why your brain likes to know what’s expected of it. Give it its list, give it a time expectation so that it gets good at working harder at the beginning and the end because of that. Then you’re working through, let’s call it, an inverse bell curve, you’re working through the challenge from hardest to easiest to hardest.
Two minutes priming, five minutes list building, one minute reorganizing the list, 30-minute chunk working through. If you’re trying to learn archery, this is a weird one, I probably would spend two minutes visualizing the archery, visualizing me shooting a perfect shot. I don’t think you need five minutes to do a list of how you’re going to shoot, but I would have different challenge shots for my 30-minute chunk of work. I would do the hardest ones first, easiest ones in the middle, then the hardest ones last again.
Then at the end reverse. One minute deconstructing the list, five minutes looking through the list and making sure I covered everything, replaying it in my head, then two minutes priming it for moving it from the front of your brain into long-term memory.
Chris Ippolito 41:15
Right. In total that’s less than an hour.
Lucas Root 41:20
It’s 46 minutes.
Chris Ippolito 41:22
Yeah, I was going to say I think it was around 45. That’s really cool. Because obviously a very common excuse, we’ll just use the proper word here, a really common excuse for not learning new things is time. Yes, time is important. The argument we can make there is it’s more about prioritizing than finding time, and all that kind of stuff. But you’re suggesting that a lot of the work is done almost in a passive way, as far as ingesting the information. Then it’s 45-minute chunks to apply and really burn it into your brain so that you’re properly learning it.
Lucas Root 42:15
The computer term, “burning it in,” that’s right.
Chris Ippolito 42:18
Yeah. I think that’s something that most people, if it’s important enough to them anyways, I think that’s something that they could look at and go, “You know what? I can schedule 45 minutes a day or every other day to work on that skill set that I want to develop and learn.” Then in the meantime I’m making sure to ingest the content and the knowledge that I need to during my beta brainwave phase, beta waves, beta mode. I’m trying to think of a fun way of saying it.
Lucas Root 42:55
I like “beta mode.” I always call it beta brain state, but I like “beta mode.”
Chris Ippolito 43:00
“Beta mode,” there we go. We have just coined a new term.
Well, that was a lot of fun. Is there anything extra that you would want to share that maybe I didn’t ask a good question on as far as that learning process?
Lucas Root 43:17
Yes, actually. Thank you for asking. Surprisingly diet, exercise, and sleep affect your learning a huge amount. I mean everybody needs a different amount of sleep, maybe it’s six and a half hours, maybe it’s nine and a half hours, whatever the amount of sleep you need. If you’re going to be learning something important the next day, make sure that you get that amount of sleep and that it’s high-quality sleep.
Additionally, I don’t know why, I’m sure somebody out there does, but our brain likes to eat sugar, our brain prefers to use blood sugar. Ironically, if you eat a high-sugar diet, your brain doesn’t work as well. I don’t fully understand this mechanism, I’ll be honest, but I do know that this is the case. To me, when I turn on the light switch and the light bulb goes on, that’s enough for me. I’m sure there are people out there that really understand this mechanism better, but it turns out eating a high-sugar diet makes your brain perform not as well. I personally choose not to eat a high-sugar diet because I like my brain to perform well.
Chris Ippolito 44:36
Yeah. Exercise, there’s a lot of evidence behind that one. What’s your personal workout routine look like? Is it just the run or do you do a little bit more than that?
Lucas Root 44:49
I do more than that. My workout routine is a little funky, actually. After I get out of beta state in the morning, I do 10 burpees, a very short but very intense workout. Followed by a long walk. You probably know all about this, I do that to help my body flush the cortisol that’s in the blood. It turns on your brain faster. I wait until I’m done with my beta brain state before I do that. But as soon as I’m done with my beta brain, I want that cortisol out. Every single day. I do another walk at 10:00 a.m., I do my run at noon, I do another walk at 2:00 p.m., and I do another walk with my wife at 5:00 p.m. In a good day I break 20,000 steps.
Chris Ippolito 45:42
I was going to say you’re definitely cracking 10,000.
Lucas Root 45:48
Yeah. In a good day 20,000. 15,000 is about my goal. I feel like if I haven’t hit 15,000, it’s either one of those days where you just can’t get off the couch. Which is okay, those happen, too. Or my in-laws are in town. Then, in addition to that, I go to the weight room for 10 minutes a week.
Chris Ippolito 46:16
10 minutes a week, that’s it?
Lucas Root 46:18
Chris Ippolito 46:20
I would assume then you lift quite heavy, right?
Lucas Root 46:24
Heavy and slow.
Chris Ippolito 46:26
Heavy, slow. Probably close to your max weight possible, right?
Lucas Root 46:33
60 to 90 seconds, 7 to 10 reps.
Chris Ippolito 46:38
Okay. Yeah, I’ve heard that approach before. Because it’s just about duration of keeping the muscle under stress.
Lucas Root 46:46
Time under tension.
Chris Ippolito 46:48
Yeah, “time under tension,” that’s the proper term. Yeah, I like that. That was a methodology I was using for a while and I really enjoyed it. Then I made a shift to go more into gymnastic strength training, body weight stuff. But that’s obviously a very different conversation.
Well, you know what? We’ve covered a lot, that was a really cool conversation. I like to wrap things up though with one question to try and help the audience know what to do next. With everything that we did discuss, what’s that one thing you would suggest the audience take action on so that they could level up their learning ability?
Lucas Root 47:32
Awesome question. I hope you don’t mind me doing three, because it’s too hard to do just one.
Chris Ippolito 47:36
Lucas Root 47:37
Number one, stop getting on social media first thing in the morning. That beta brain state that you have absolutely naturally first thing in the morning is too valuable to use for anything other than an intentional knowledge download. Number two, schedule your day, use your routines, and make sure that you maximize the value of anything that you’re doing, cooking, running, to ingest information. Number three, learning is not that hard. You build a little bit of a structure and just execute. 45 minutes.
Chris Ippolito 48:15
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s really good advice, very much appreciated. It’s reminding me of some of the things I should reincorporate into my daily routines. I’m feeling motivated, I think tomorrow is going to be a new start to learning something, a new skill set, I’ve just got to pick what it is.
If people wanted to learn more about you or reach out and connect, what’s the best place for them to find you?
Lucas Root 48:45
Yeah. I’m very active on Instagram, @lucroot.
Chris Ippolito 48:52
Perfect. I’m sure there’s other places, but I’ll make sure to include those in the show notes.
Lucas Root 48:59
Chris Ippolito 49:00
Cool. Well, that was a really fun conversation, Luke. Do you go by Luke or Lucas? Because you said Luke there, it caught me off guard.
Lucas Root 49:08
Yeah. Online Luke, in person Lucas.
Chris Ippolito 49:12
Okay. Well, thank you, Lucas, for being a guest. That was a lot of fun and I’m sure we will stay in contact and have some further conversations.
Lucas Root 49:22
Yeah, you’ve got it. Thanks for having me.
Chris Ippolito 49:24
You’re welcome, take care.