Using the Feynman method to learn, create content or products, and become an expert

Do a quick Google of “The Feynman Technique” and you’ll come upon a plethora of results explaining how Dr. Richard Feynman became such a celebrated physicist and professor (aside from having a charismatic personality that still captures people’s imaginations).

In a nutshell, the Feynman technique (or method, rather; a technique generally uses a tool!) is what the character Niels Bohr, in Michael Freyn’s play Copenhagen, repeatedly exhorts Werner Heisenberg to do: explain things in such a way that Margrethe, Bohr’s wife, would understand. If you hang out with physicists, you’re going to understand a thing or two, but unless you’re a physicist yourself, you won’t understand everything – and it doesn’t help when you’re talked down to (or not at all).

  1. Choose anything you want to know. Write it on paper.
  2. Teach it to a child, from start to finish.
  3. Circle the gaps of things you can’t explain, don’t know, or questions that arise. Go to the source material and find an explanation. Create a new page for them.
  4. Review the subject and simplify it.

It makes so much sense that within two weeks of finding out about it, I published my first Feynman project. It’s on a topic I knew well from a past life; having done an Amazon search for available books on the topic, I thought it worthy to share my thoughts and experience.

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Who are you, really?

In designing and writing these products, I had to consider that even though the problems I’m addressing are common – seeking yourself, seeking your opportunity, seeking a bigger mission, and opening oneself up to voluntary action – I’m not just designing a solution just because I went through them. I’m writing it for very specific types of people, some of them not like me, and some at specific change points in their lives. And so I need a customer avatar for these people.

Where do you land here?

I thought about what kind of person needs my perspective, and who instead needs more practical tools. I also thought about who might not be well-served by the literature and support that’s already out there. I also thought about how I wanted people to feel when they read my tools, and (I’m not quite ready to go here yet) how I compare to some of the most dominant self-development players out there.

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