It's Time to Develop Your Repertoire


Imagine having the ability to commit 10,000 pieces of data to memory. And you can recall and perform each part instantly and effortlessly.

Now, I’m not talking about useless facts, numbers or information.

I am talking about 10,000 words of the wisest intelligent fanatics in history.

That is the equivalent of memorizing and performing word-for-word 36 Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Addresses, over an hour of Warren Buffett’s lectures, 8 Martin Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream speeches, or nearly the entirety of Socrates Apology speech.

Those stories of triumph and failure word-for-word could be yours. You can know them so well it’s as if those intelligent fanatics are living in your mind. Meaning that their wisdom is etched into your brain for the long haul. And that experience can be used as a guide for you to make wiser decisions today.

What is the total time investment to accomplish such a feat? I say thirty hours of hard work spread over many days.

Seems impossible, right?

Well, it’s not.

Recently I joined a band and I did just that. In a month’s time I had to memorize 15 songs. In total, those songs are composed of a little more than 10,000 notes and chords. It took me about thirty hours of practice. Now I can play all songs note-for-note from memory.

I’m nothing special. My natural memory is average, maybe even lower; I can barely remember what I did last weekend.

Musicians accomplish this amazing feat of learning all the time.

And musicians aren’t different from anyone else. We just have figured out an efficient system of uploading, storing and leveraging the best of what other people have already learned.

Musicians build what is called a repertoire. A repertoire is a collection of songs that the musician is prepared to perform from memory. Amateur musicians have a few handfuls of songs memorized. Professionals have a hundred songs or more in their repertoire. Others, the rarer few, might have a repertoire of many hundreds of songs. And it doesn’t take them long to internalize new songs into their repertoire.

A repertoire serves two purposes. Obviously a repertoire provides entertainment for an audience. It is also practical. A repertoire of other people’s music shortens the time to learn instrumental technique, music’s overall rules and exceptions. In other words, a repertoire helps the musician reach their own unique style quicker.

In short, good musicians are competent vicarious learners.

Investors and entrepreneurs have the same challenge: how does one become an intelligent fanatic in the most efficient way possible?

Fools learn by experience only. Wise men/women prefer to profit by other people’s experiences, to be vicarious learners.

How can we be effective vicarious learners?

Simple, steal from musicians. Build up your repertoire of intelligent fanatics.

You can read here how I, step for step, do it in music. And in our online course Standing on the Shoulders of Giants I describe how I use the same techniques when studying intelligent fanatics in business and investing. You get this course for free when you become a member.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


I was reminded this morning of an additional thought from Abraham Lincoln on learning from others:

“Fishes, birds, beasts, and creeping things are not miners, but feeders and lodgers merely. Beavers build houses; but they build them in no wise differently or better now than they did five thousand years ago. Ants and honey bees provide food for winter; but just in the same way they did when Solomon referred the sluggard to them as patterns of prudence. Man is not the only animal who labors; but he is the only one who improves his workmanship.”

Humans are the only animal on earth that can gather and use the experiences of the past as capital for our work in the present. Don’t let all that time saving experience go to waste.

Learn like you did when you were learning language as a child.


The idea presented in this piece is very interesting and useful, as is the course. Everyone must watch it and use it.