Bruce Rich’s insatiable quest for knowledge

Published by | Friday, August 24th, 2012

Bruce Rich has watched 25,341 videos from the video library. Thought of in a different way, he has consumed 52 full days worth of knowledge. It’s like watching eight hours of educational TV every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for a complete year. It’s like watching the complete Star Wars saga ninety-five times. member Bruce Rich in a room that has 508 certificates of completion lining the walls and the floor.

Bruce Rich has completed 508 courses, and has the certificates to prove it.

The amount of time Rich spends watching educational videos may seem outlandish. But if you’ve read Outliersyou are familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s rule that 10,000 hours of practice leads to mastery of a topic—a competency. Most of us have worked on something for 10,000 hours, so Rich is unique only in that he’s mastered two and one-half competencies. Think of it like a master’s degree.

“I very seldom watch TV,” says Rich. “I get up early and do training instead. My son says I’m off in my own little world.”

During the daylight hours, Rich is the president of Hot Off The Press, Inc., a commercial printer located in Des Plaines, Illinois. He’s worked in the printing industry for 40 years, starting with letterpress, moving to offset, and now supplying brochures, catalogs, and banners. His next goal is supplying web sites and mobile app development for his customers.

“I have a customer with 100,000 products on his web site,” says Rich. “I made some suggestions, and now he wants me to take it over. I need to learn more before I take that on, but shows you everything you need.”

Rich uses a couple of tricks to speed up his learning. Because he’s paying close attention while watching, he speeds the playback to double-speed, then slows it down when he needs to practice an example. He uses the exercise files and transcripts to preview and review the material.

“Deke moves fast,” says Rich. “Pausing the playback is crucial. When you’re doing the exercises, your hand is getting trained.”

Bruce Rich enjoys learning, and his customers benefit from his newfound knowledge. Rich used information from Deke McClelland and Chris Orwig to improve a product shot for Stewarts Coffee in Chicago. The company was thrilled with the results: a coffee can without hotspots.

“Customers see the certificates on the wall, and when they realize I’ve taken a course in something, they ask me for help,” says Rich. “I use the videos on to preview software before I buy it, and use it to research customer recommendations.”

What’s next? Rich swears he’ll be taking a break after he finishes the series on Adobe Creative Suite 6. But then…

“A friend wants to write iPhone apps,” he says. “I’ll need to learn some Cocoa and Objective-C.”

Perhaps Rich should start clearing another room for the next 500 certificates.

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20 Responses to “Bruce Rich’s insatiable quest for knowledge”

  1. aaron porter says:

    That is a very impressive feat. Congratulations to Mr. Rich!

    This article brought to mind a suggestion that I had been meaning to make the past couple of weeks to, incorporating a variable speed component into the video player. Since Mr. Rich seemed to already be studying with this component I did a little searching and discovered all I had to do was use a different video player by changing my prefs.

    Oh Joy!!!

    Now if only there is a pill to give me the attentions span of Mr. Rich.

  2. I’m very much in the same boat. I’m wrapping up my undergrad and preparing to start grad school. I figure that I’ve got another three years or so of being able to dedicate my free time to learning, and I’ve wrapped up 40 courses since March. At the moment I’m learning web development, even though I’m a film student, and other students have started offering me money to design portfolio sites for them.

  3. Jeremy Hawes says:

    I can’t say I’m quite that dedicated with educational videos, though very great points nonetheless. I really liked that concept of 10,000 hours leading to mastery – That would be 8 hours a day 7 days a week for about 3 years… or skip weekends and stretch it to 4 years and some change.

  4. Bruce Rich says:

    Thank you for a magnificent article and splendid comments!

    I wish everyone studying on – great success. It’s been a long journey and I am a few months away from finishing my CS6 Master Suite training. The amount of knowledge I have gained from these tutorials is enormous, and allows me to work extremely fast and efficient.
    I recommend to all my customers and friends.

    To everyone at keep up the Great Work.

  5. sam says:

    I cannot even imagine doing this – stamina must be incredible. What a desire to learn!

  6. Joe Cappuccitti says:

    I can’t say enough about Bruce. I am the accountant/marketer/etc at Stewarts Coffee, and Bruce has done incredible things with our design work, brochures, banners and labels. The artwork almost looks better than the real coffee cans. The amount of time and sweat he has put in definitely shows in his work. He is relentless, and is never satisfied until the product is 100% perfect. Thank you for providing Bruce with all the necessary tools to become one of the best in the area. And i hope we have had some input with Bruce and his long hours by provinding him with delicious Stewarts Coffee. Ha ha. Cheers.


  7. stephanie says:

    He’s gonna need a bigger room!!!
    Great job Bruce
    I would expect nothing less from you!

  8. Lou Blazquez says:

    Congratulations, Bruce! You can do so much more without TV. I don’t have any reception so I get more done, like working for my writer’s certificate and newsletter, but not nearly as much as you. Good job!

  9. Ivan says:

    Great inspiration!

  10. Ludwig says:

    Congratulations to Mr. Rich.
    Lynda surely should give him a honorary lifetime subscription!

  11. Aviad Sar-Shalom says:

    This is my ultimate dream, to just sit infront of a big screen with courses being played inthe background till i will retire

    The problem is my wife and my two kids, and a full time job that I have.

    So the only option I have during the day to watch lynda and upgrade my skills are:

    1. While I am hoding the baby to sleep, my wife stop nagging me, so I can watch 15 minutes of lynda videos via my iphone

    2. Searching in lynda videos for a particular subject like RSS, and watch the first 5 videos on it
    while I am at work

  12. John says:

    Knowledge without Action is useless. It makes a great story for your website but in reality, what has he really accomplished? If you don’t keep practicing something you will soon forget how to do it… This seems like what he’s doing by switching from program to program.

    The comment Bruce made in reference to designing a website for a customer says it all: “I need to learn more before I take that on…” WHAT??? You have completed over 500 Courses!?!? If you can’t apply what you “Learn” you are simply wasting your time.

    I’m not saying this to HATE on Bruce, I’m sure he is a really cool guy, I’m simply saying this because I used to do this very same thing. I would study, learn, practice without actually going out and taking action. Once you learn that you will never be perfect and get out there in the real world and take action you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.


    • Hi John,

      You might be surprised at what Bruce has done with his knowledge. He runs a small business, constantly adapting to the needs of his current (and new) customers. Bruce has an interesting backstory – he has remade himself several times over the course of his working life.

      In short, he’s not just an inert sponge, watching but not learning, learning but not doing. Bruce invests in himself every morning, looking for opportunities to re-invent himself should the need arise.


  13. Kevin says:

    I think it is a great accomplishment! But at the same time there is a point of diminished returns with learning things in this way I feel. I agree with John, that if you don’t regularly use it, the skill set quickly diminishes. And Lynda only gets you to a point of basic competency, you need to create with the software or tool on a regular basis, do “the grind”, to begin to create professional results. I went to art school, and many people leave that 4-year environment not able to create at a professional level, despite the amount of time they invested–it often takes a lot of real world time, working with people better than you, working in a professional environment to become adept.

    I love Lynda, but it doesn’t really go super deep into many subjects as far as I can tell. It gets you to a basic point, but to really master the programs or techniques, I think you need to find more advanced tutorials or mentors. For instance, I’m a 3D animator/VFX artist. I love There is nothing close to their level of depth on Lynda.

    I really do think it is an accomplishment. But I think it is often better to hire people to help supplement areas you are not good at. If you want to start making smart phone apps, it might be a better idea to hook up with a working programmer, rather than spending copious amounts of time studying coding. You might not have a great aptitude for it either and it will be time better used for other things. I do think there is value in understanding about things. But the visionary or boss doesn’t need to peel the carrots, just come up with the plan.

    I would tone down Lynda training and spend more time with friends or family. Or else dive deeper into your areas of real interest and become a master.

    Best of luck!

    This is only my 2 cents and I could be completely off base.

  14. Edd says:

    John, I think he is doing the best thing a man can do, learning and re-inventing himself. He is making an investment in himself and that is the best investment a man can make. Besides learning new things help you keep young, hopeful and ready for new challenges, and there is no such thing as inert learning. It becomes part of you and you don’t know when you would need them. Just like people who hated math at school because they wanted to work at a job like be a nurse and find out that its the same math that they are using at the job they loved. So no learning every gets wasted. I think Rich is setting himself up so that he never fails and is ready for any changes that come along in life business and technology.

  15. Nats says:

    I agree with John that if you don’t apply your knowledge you usually don’t really understand what you are being taught and ultimately forget it.

    I learned 3dsmax on Lynda and whereas I watched several courses when I actually picked up the software and started using it I found I knew nothing about actually using the program in a practical sense. It was then that my learning really began and now about a year later using the program for real life projects I feel I am getting to an advanced level. Lynda is great for initial learning and concepts but to really learn something you have to use that program in a practical way.

    So whereas I respect Bruce for his dedication to learning I also wonder how much knowledge he has retained from those videos. I would imagine the only programme he has found useful are those that he has used subsequently in a practical sense.

    Nothing wrong with learning as long as it has an ultimate useful purpose.

    • Dennis Macharia says:

      I thought i was crazy over Lynda’s training, probably coz everyone else thought so. I simply cannot stop; i want to know as much as a person can know and with time become the best all-round IT specialist. I just completed my Undergraduate and realized that technically i know nothing. Thanks to Lynda, i have learned object Oriented programming, graphics design and am now starting to master 3D modelling and animation. It’s great to know there are many like me out there. Congratulations to Lynda, all the trainers and also to Mr Rich for the Inspiration.

  16. Ralph Kipnis says:

    Known Rich for about 30 years. Surprised by this time that his head has not exploded with all his mental energy with all the knowledge he has accumulated.
    He continues his quest for whatever is out there in computer technology.
    Amazing !

  17. Joanne says:

    Bruce, you are an inspiration. Amazing the amount of time you can accrue if you don’t watch the boob tube!

    And what a FASCINATING debate about learning from videos vs. real world application that has arisen. It hits at the very nature of fruitful education itself. Love that you’ve cited Gladwell’s 10,000 hr theory – I think about that all the time. I think both components are equally important: instruction obviously is critical, but you have to get in there and play & discover, too. Talk about being a sponge – that’s what you were as a kid, and think of how much you learned in those 0-10 yrs of life because of playing. Absolutely watch as many videos as possible, but don’t forget to leave some time to play & experiment yourself afterwards. I think that’s the balance.

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