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Ep. 437: Anders Ericsson Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Anders Ericsson
Anders Ericsson

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Michael Covel interviews Anders Ericsson. His new book is “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.” Starting around high school, Anders became interested in how he could best improve himself. When he got to college he studied how people could achieve above average performance. He did a study showing the number of digits average people could repeat back correctly. The average number was about 5-7 digits. After an hour of practice they were able to repeat about 20 digits correctly. With even more training one student was able to get 70 digits in a row. This showed Anders that the mind can improve with the right kind of practice. Performance is trainable and purposeful practice is key. One major component of successful practice is immediate feedback on whether you are accurate or not.

Michael moves onto a study Anders did on taxi drivers in London. They have to go through extensive training to drive the streets of London. They are average people, but train for many years to be able to pass this taxi driving test. After learning over 10,000 streets and different connections there brains actually changed. He compared bus drivers in London, who did not have to go through the same training, to the taxi drivers. The same changes did not occur in bus drivers brains like the taxi drivers. They did not have to master all the streets but rather just master certain routes. Michael asks, “If they stop their taxi driving profession, does the brain regress?” Anders says that yes, without practice your mind will revert back to the old state.

Next, Michael and Anders use Mozart as an example of nature vs. nurture. His father was a musician and taught young children how to play instruments. Mozart was able to learn many of the musical distinctions that he was famed for because he started so early, around age 3-4. Any child at that age is able to learn the things Mozart learned, however it is virtually impossible as an adult. This moves into the idea of brain plasticity. It is important to realize that you can’t push your child to learn longer than they want to learn for. About 30 minutes is their limit. Beyond that, they lose their capability for deliberate practice. Deliberate practice helps raise the bar and get you better than you were before.

The next example of extraordinary talent brought up are master chess players. They don’t look at pieces individually, but rather base their actions on pattern recognition. They see structure and see where attacks may be successful. Grandmaster chess players are able to play blindfolded and against 25 or so people simultaneously. These are skills that are acquired and practiced. Stephan Curry is also used as another great example of an extraordinary achiever. If you understand the practice an individual does then you can see their improvement over time. Michael asks, “Has anyone said that their improvement was easy?” Anders said that he has been studying this subject for over 30 years and about 50 people have said that improvement came easy, but after talking for a few hours, their answers change. Michael then asks about the validity of the idea that 10,000 hours makes you an expert. Anders says he hasn’t seen that 10,000 hours is a magical number. You need a lot of practice, but there are no magical boundaries. When people count the number of hours that they have done something, and it happens to add up to 10,000 hours, then that doesn’t make you an expert. For example, if you have driven 10,000 hours, that doesn’t make you an expert.

Lastly, Michael circles back to the importance of deliberate practice asking about the difference between youngsters and older people seeing the benefits of deliberate practice. Anders says that unfortunately most younger people that are so focused as a child in their performance don’t go on to have careers in the field they were pushed into. Those who chose and want to be in the sport they are in usually go on to continued success. Deliberate practice alone doesn’t make you successful. You need to have a sincere desire for what you are doing.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Discipline and practice
  • Solo and group practice
  • Flow state
  • Social Motivation
  • The late birthday rule
  • 10,000 hours of practice
  • Nature vs. nurture
  • Brain plasticity

“To optimize the benefits of deliberate practice you have to be in control of your own training.” Anders Ericsson

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Ep. 436: Tom Bilyeu Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Tom Bilyeu
Tom Bilyeu

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Michael Covel interviews Tom Bilyeu. Tom is the co-founder and president of Quest Nutrition. He is the consummate entrepreneur who went from running a successful tech company to starting all over and developing Quest Nutrition. He has created his own narrative for entrepreneurial greatness.

Tom started out as what he would describe as a “good employee,” with never questioning the system. He didn’t take high school seriously but when he started college he buckled down. He heard that the brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25 and that helped shape a large part of his 20’s. Watching ‘The Matrix” at age 22, he realize that he wanted to be in control of his own life. Around age 26 he met his business partners with whom he would start his first company.

In 2012 his tech company was named the 42nd fastest growing tech company in North America. Soon after that, he had a talk with his partners letting them know he wasn’t happy, wasn’t having fun anymore, and wanted out. His partners felt the same way, and they proceeded to sell their company at the height of their success. Quest Nutrition came out of the folding of their prior company. They chose to go into the nutrition business by asking themselves “How can we deliver value to people.” Tom and his partners were told over and over again by factories that they were not able to produce the product they wanted to make, and the factories were right. They ended up buying their own equipment and re-engineering it to produce a nutrition bar unlike any other on the market.

Tom says that the combination of unbelievably good tasting food coupled with horrific ingredients makes for the worst kind of drug. Sugar affects the brain just like dopamine. Evolution has instilled a need for sugar in our brains and has brought us where we are now. Tom spent a long time learning about, from a metabolic state, what is nutritious for your body. The “auto pilot thought process” is one thing that Tom really works with people on. He works with people to focus on what their subconscious is telling them to do, and decipher what is right from wrong.

Michael asks Tom to go into international regulations. He says that dealing with all the different regulations can make a person go crazy. He doesn’t think that we should legislate sugar or saturated fat out of people’s diets. People should be able to have free choice. Tom’s life has been based on mastering one baby step after another and accomplishing everything with discipline and practice. Whether you are trying to get better in leadership, finance, or in relationships, everything is a learning experience. The more you attack something the more it continues to get better.

Lastly, Tom talks about letting go of the need to be right. He got to a point where he built his self esteem around being right. He soon realized that, that was actually helping him move further away from his goals. He switched his belief system over to focusing on identifying the right answer faster than anyone. There are so many that just want to protect their ego with being right, but as soon as they learn to let that go, a whole world opens up.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Discipline and practice
  • The Quest belief system
  • Escaping the Matrix
  • Tom Bilyeu’s ultimate reading list
  • Being authentic
  • Obesity
  • Autopilot thought process
  • International food regulations
  • Letting go of being right
  • Reaching your true fans

“Do that which moves you towards your goals. Do not do that which moves you away from your goals” – Quest belief system

“You can learn what you need to learn, and if you are willing to accumulate enough skills, there really is no limit to what you can do.” – Tom Bilyeu

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No Way Covel! Yes, Way!

I saw this:

This actually would be my one and only criticism of Covel. He makes it sound like ANYBODY can successfully create and follow a mechanical system and make money like clockwork. IMO most people are not cut out for it…The amount of discipline required is zen-like.

First, putting aside ‘trend following’, and just considering any worthwhile endeavor, people CAN & DO make anything happen in life. The Talent Code and Talent is Overrated both make a strong case against this position. Second, my book The Complete TurtleTrader is an even better response to the “everyone can’t do it” line. The story of how an actor, a musician, a drug dealer, blackjack players — novices — made millions is inspirational. I am the first one to say that the Turtle story almost seems like fiction, but it’s not.

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