The Power of Optimized Learning and Entrepreneurial Success



Aug 16, 2023 β€’ 3 min read


The Power of Optimized Learning and Entrepreneurial Success

Learning and success are intertwined in fascinating ways. Whether it's the optimal error rate for training or the strategies employed by successful entrepreneurs, there are common threads that connect these seemingly disparate topics.

The 85% Rule for Learning, as proposed by Scott H Young, suggests that both humans and machines achieve optimal learning when they succeed around 85% of the time. This finding aligns with the observations made by Barak Rosenshine, who discovered that successful classrooms maintain an 80% success rate. While these studies come from different theoretical backgrounds, they converge on the idea that fine-tuning the level of support based on the success rate can enhance learning outcomes.

Lev Vygotsky's zone of proximal development further supports the notion that tasks slightly beyond our current abilities, but achievable with assistance, maximize learning. This implies that a certain level of difficulty is essential for growth. When faced with a text that is too easy to comprehend, we tend to invest less effort in creating a mental model of its content. In such cases, introducing greater difficulty forces us to retrieve background knowledge, thus promoting a deeper understanding.

Anders Ericsson's model of deliberate practice sheds light on how plateauing at suboptimal levels of ability can hinder progress. Becoming too comfortable with automatic skills limits our potential, emphasizing the importance of continuously challenging ourselves to reach higher levels of mastery.

Robert Eisenberg's theory of learned industriousness adds another dimension to the discussion. Difficulty not only influences learning but also plays a significant role in motivation. Success on difficult tasks can be invigorating, while failure can be demotivating. Understanding this dynamic can help individuals maintain the right balance between challenge and achievable goals.

Drawing a parallel to the entrepreneurial world, we find Whitney Wolfe Herd's remarkable journey as the cofounder of Bumble. After experiencing sexual harassment at her previous employer, Tinder, she sued the company and went on to establish Bumble in 2014. Her determination and resilience paid off, as Bumble reported impressive revenue growth, reaching $417 million in the first nine months of 2020.

Wolfe Herd's success story exemplifies the power of perseverance and the willingness to overcome challenges. Like the 85% rule for learning, she found her sweet spot in the highly competitive online dating market. By leveraging her expertise and partnering with Andrey Andreev, a seasoned entrepreneur, she was able to carve out a niche for Bumble.

The parallels between optimized learning and entrepreneurial success are striking. Both require embracing difficulty, pushing boundaries, and maintaining a growth mindset. To apply these insights to our own lives, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace the 85% Rule: Strive for a success rate of around 85% in your learning endeavors. Tailor the level of support and difficulty to find the sweet spot that promotes growth and deep understanding.
  • 2. Embrace Difficulty: Don't shy away from challenging tasks. Push yourself slightly beyond your comfort zone, seeking assistance and utilizing your background knowledge to overcome obstacles.
  • 3. Embrace Persistence: Just like Whitney Wolfe Herd, embrace persistence and resilience in the face of adversity. Learn from setbacks, adjust your strategies, and continue to pursue your goals with determination.

In conclusion, the 85% Rule for Learning and the journey of entrepreneurs like Whitney Wolfe Herd reveal valuable insights into the nature of success. By understanding the importance of optimized learning, embracing difficulty, and cultivating persistence, we can unlock our potential and achieve remarkable accomplishments in various domains of life.

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