Based in Vancouver, Canada, this is a blog by Michael Argast. My areas of interest include travel, economics, technology, the environment, personal development and other eclectic topics.

Tools for personal development...

In Compound Interest I discuss the importance of personal development and self-improvement on your career. A small investment over a long time means significant increases to productivity, compensation, etc, played correctly.

Here are some tools I recommend for you to consider:

Feedly (RSS reader).

RSS, for those who aren't familiar with it, is a web standard that allows you to use a tool to automatically consume content from sites as they update, without having to visit the site directly. Popularized by the now-defunct Google Reader, RSS allows you to consume content for many sites in a fraction of the time it would take you to visit them individually. This is great for sites that update infrequently, but frankly the value of having a single reading pane for all your favourite content, the ability to get a summary and only drill down on articles of interest means this is a fantastic way to stay on top of your favourite sites and content without spending hours a day.

Overcast (Podcast player - app).

If you haven't discovered podcasts yet, you're missing a trick. Many talented individuals and groups record regular podcasts, and they're a great tool for learning new things - regardless of skill area or industry. I'll start you off with a favourite podcast of mine - the Tim Ferriss show. In it Tim Ferriss interviews world class performers (think Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ray Dalio, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Maria Sharapova, etc, etc). In addition, Overcast has nice features like skip-ahead/back 30 seconds, speed up playback, etc. Podcasts use RSS to autodeliver to your player as well, so it's a great way to be on top of new content as it becomes available. I love podcasts for downtime - driving around, at the gym, on transit, etc.

Your library card/app.

I read a lot of books. You should, too. If I bought every book I read it would cost me hundreds of dollars a month, which is a lot. And while reading the dead tree version isn't as convenient as a Kindle, it's nicer (IMO). That being said, your local library app probably offers two important features. Most libraries offer digital books for downloads, although selections can be limited. More importantly, they offer the ability to place a book on hold. At any given time I'm usually reading 4-5 books (mix of non-fiction, fiction). I keep a list of recommended books in a note on my computer, and when I clear a few by reading, I put new ones on hold with my library app. My library system also does interzone transfers, so I can pick up from the local one a few blocks from my house.


I don't know if I picked this up from Tim Ferriss or what, but one of my newer techniques (from the last few years) when I want to pick up a new skill area is the interview. I'll find 10-15 people who are deeply skilled and experienced in an area I want to learn about. As an example, a few years ago, I took on Marketing responsibilities at TELUS, and needed to ramp up fast. More recently, I went out as an independent consultant, and likewise had a ton to learn. Come with a list of questions you want answers to but let the conversation wander to find unexpected wisdom. Take lots of notes.

Memrise (app).

Learning a new language? Need to memorize the capital of all 50 states or all the countries in Europe? Memrise is basically an advanced flashcard system that utilizes brain science to reintroduce you to words/information at appropriate intervals to lock it in your brain. Incredibly effective - free app and website versions. Duolingo is also a good option for languages.

Honourable mentions:

Tools I've played around with and liked but aren't part of my daily routine include Blinkist (book summary service), Jigspace (awesome AR visualization tool for various science topics like how a battery works), HelloChinese (using to help accelerate my Mandarin learning, love the feature where you speak and it helps assess your speech and tone), Runkeeper (my go-to running app for training, split tracking, etc), Headspace (one of these days I'll get into regular meditation) and 5-minute Journal.

Did you find something new or useful on this list? If so, please share with your friends. Have I missed something you use and would recommend - add a comment below.