What if your favorite celebrity sat in your living room and taught you everything they know?
You’d get MasterClass.
Interest in this platform has increased dramatically since the world went into lockdown in March this year.
There are over 90 classes by famous instructors, such as Gordon Ramsay, Malcolm Gladwell, and James Patterson.
In my epic MasterClass review, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about the hit platform. I’ll explain how it works, how much it costs, and why it’s become my favorite new hobby.
I’ll then reveal what I think are the 25 best classes.
If you want to know whether MasterClass is worth it, and which classes you should watch over the Christmas holidays, you are absolutely in the right place.
Let’s get started!
- 1 What is MasterClass?
- 2 Is MasterClass worth it? Yes, for these people…
- 3 How practical is MasterClass?
- 4 How MasterClass works
- 5 What makes MasterClass different
- 6 How much does MasterClass cost?
- 7 Is the annual membership good value?
- 8 Are there any special deals?
- 9 Does MasterClass have a free trial?
- 10 The pros and cons of MasterClass
- 11 Why it’s the perfect hobby this Christmas
- 12 The 25 best MasterClasses to take
- 13 In conclusion: Is MasterClass worth it?
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass’ pitch is simple: A-grade celebrities will teach you the thing that made them famous.
Misty Copeland teaches ballet. Garry Kasparov teaches chess. Natalie Portman teaches acting.
The instructors bring an astounding level of expertise and insight to their courses.
You’ll not only learn new skills and different ways of thinking, but also get a glimpse behind the scenes in fields as diverse as acting, professional poker, cooking, and literature.
Although MasterClass is 5 years old now, it’s really exploded in popularity in 2020. People have cottoned on to the fact that it’s a pretty big deal to have so many famous names sharing their skills, insights, and experiences.
The other thing you need to know about MasterClass is the videos.
Videos are the backbone of each class. A typical class includes around 15 videos each averaging 10 to 20 minutes in length.
And they are a joy to watch. The quality, intimacy, and production value of every single video is Hollywood-level. While a big name instructor may lure you in, you’ll stick around by the entertainment value of what you watch.
For me, MasterClass has become a better alternative to Netflix — instead of binge-watching mindless television, I learn something new while being entertained.
You really can just sit back on the sofa and enjoy MasterClass the same way you would Netflix.
Is MasterClass worth it? Yes, for these people…
I think MasterClass is absolutely worth it.
For a lot of us, 2020 has been a tough ride. I found MasterClass to be the perfect outlet to redirect my energy and learn fascinating new things in the process.
However, if I have to narrow down who MasterClass is most worth it for, these people would be it:
- Fans of online learning who enjoy high-quality video lessons
- Hobbyists looking for something new to pick up
- You’re looking to expand your skills in a particular creative pursuit
- You want a new avenue to channel your creative energy.
That’s a fairly broad group of people and for good reason: I think most people can get something pretty great out of it.
Who is MasterClass not worth it for?
The simple fact is MasterClass isn’t traditional online education.
If you’re looking for live instruction, education that’s accredited, or something you can put on your CV to improve your career prospects, MasterClass doesn’t fit the bill.
MasterClass isn’t designed to be a replacement for college-level courses.
How practical is MasterClass?
A misconception I come across frequently about MasterClass is that it’s not very practical.
That it’s a nice way to indulge your creativity, but you won’t benefit in any direct way from taking these classes.
From my experience, this is flat wrong.
Sure, taking Neil Gaiman’s class doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily write a best-seller, Simone Biles won’t give you the secret sauce to doing the Arabian Double Front, and Chris Hadfield won’t get you onto a shortlist at NASA.
And that’s perfectly fine with me.
Because I’ve learned some really valuable skills from these MasterClasses that I’m applying in my everyday life.
- I’m a better cook from Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller’s classes. When I say it’s “my turn to cook”, my wife is now delighted rather than fearful.
- My body language is stronger from watching just one video from Chris Voss. I’m better at picking up body language cues from those around me too.
- I sometimes tell a ripping story now, thanks to David Sedaris (my family and friends will back me up on this)
- Heck, the structure and flow of this MasterClass review is better for the writing classes I’ve watched.
The truth is that most of us aren’t budding superstars…
… But there is a lot in life we can get better at, and MasterClass is terrific for helping us do this.
How MasterClass works
Each MasterClass consists of short, to-the-point video lessons ranging from 5 to 25 minutes in length.
As I mentioned above, these videos are beautifully produced and captivating to watch. You can easily get addicted.
Here’s what you get in a typical class:
- Video lessons
- Access to Community discussions.
The video lessons that are the standout feature of each class though.
A typical class might include around 15 videos each averaging 10 to 20 minutes in length. This is long enough to cover the main point of the lesson but short enough that it won’t drag on.
In fact, a really good MasterClass will make you want to breeze through all the lessons at once (though you’ll absorb the material best if you slow down!).
The workbooks correspond to the video lessons and provide extra activities and references to deepen your understanding of the material.
Finally, the MasterClass community can be hit-or-miss depending on the class, but overall I’ve enjoyed having this feature. Some of the discussions are quite useful for troubleshooting problems and receiving advice, for swapping writing drafts, and so on.
What makes MasterClass different
MasterClass is a unique platform in more ways than one.
This is what makes it different from other online learning platforms:
- A-List instructors: This is definitely MasterClass’s main hook — every instructor on the platform is an A-list celebrity. MasterClass changed the game by connecting people at the top of their fields with online learning, giving fans the opportunity to learn from their favorite writer, filmmaker, athlete, pop star, astronaut, and more.
- Top quality video production: No expenses are spared when it comes to MasterClass videos. They have the same production value that you would expect from a high-budget movie, with professional camerawork, lighting and audio. That’s why MasterClass doesn’t have hundreds and hundreds of courses available — every course is done with the highest production quality.
- Netflix-like subscription service: I may be wrong, but I don’t think I can remember an online learning platform going with a subscription model before MasterClass. For the price of a few cups of coffee every month (more on pricing below), you get access to their full library of classes on the platform. This gives you the opportunity to explore all your possible interests instead of just sticking to one or two courses to save money.
Since you can enroll in a MasterClass anytime you want, you don’t have the “traditional” experience of working through the course on pace with other students.
Some may miss the companionship of a student cohort with the same schedule.
But on the other hand, this flexibility obviously has its advantages! You can take each class at your own pace, no matter how fast or slow. And you can enroll in each class immediately upon joining, rather than waiting months.
How much does MasterClass cost?
MasterClass Annual Membership Special Deal
MasterClass sometimes offer special deals. This link will take you to the current cheapest price.
You have one option when you sign up: the MasterClass annual membership.
This costs $180, which gives you access to every class on the platform for one year.
MasterClass used to offer individual classes for $90 but they stopped doing this a few months ago.
Is the annual membership good value?
MasterClass is such a unique platform that it’s hard to compare to anything else.
But let’s give it a shot.
The $180 price tag equals $15 per month, which is less than most people’s Netflix subscription. It’s also about the price of a movie ticket each month.
MasterClass is also much cheaper than any college course. Although you won’t get any accreditation, Neil Gaiman, Ron Howard and Natalie Portman aren’t on the staff of any college either.
Given the incredible quality of the videos and the caliber of instructors, I think MasterClass is excellent value.
I tend to view MasterClass as entertainment as much as I do education.
This year I’ve been treating it as my new Netflix. But instead of absentmindedly watching reruns of sitcoms, I’ve been learning fascinating new skills from the people I most admire.
Are there any special deals?
MasterClass sometimes offer special deals on their annual membership.
The most popular is the 2-for-1 deal which they offer several times throughout the year, including over holiday periods. With this deal, you buy one membership and can gift the second annual membership for someone else.
I think it makes a great Christmas present.
Does MasterClass have a free trial?
Although we all like to try before we buy, MasterClass doesn’t offer a free trial.
However, they do have a 30-day money back guarantee. If you find that MasterClass isn’t for you, then you can cancel your subscription any time within 30 days and get your money back.
The pros and cons of MasterClass
While there is a lot I like about MasterClass, my experience with it hasn’t been perfect.
Here’s a concise summary of what I like about MasterClass and the things I think could be improved.
Why it’s the perfect hobby this Christmas
As you can probably tell, I’ve grown very fond of MasterClass, especially this year. It’s provided many bright moments in a bleak time.
Why does MasterClass make a great hobby over the Christmas holidays? A few reasons:
- It’s actually multiple hobbies in one. You can take lessons on chess, writing, gymnastics, and cooking all on one platform. This makes MasterClass an effective way to indulge your curiosity in multiple areas.
- Many MasterClasses cover topics that are extremely useful for home life. I’m thinking especially of cooking classes, but activities like interior design and writing are also ideal for long days at home.
- MasterClass is engaging and educational. It sparks my curiosity. The structured lessons really walks me through concepts systematically, and I can tell that my skills are steadily building.
- It’s good value. You get a lot for your annual subscription. And the workbooks can be downloaded as PDFs, meaning you get to keep them forever.
- MasterClass can be a social activity. Join MasterClass with a friend or family member and work through a course together. Or reach out to your fellow students in a class through the community, which has been a nice feature in this time of isolation.
The 25 best MasterClasses to take
I began taking my first MasterClass out of curiosity, wondering if it was worth the hype. 40+ classes and counting, I’m a massive fan of the platform.
By now you’re probably wondering which MasterClasses are a cut above the rest.
Here are my thoughts on the best MasterClasses to take as we approach the Christmas holidays.
The best classes for cooking
Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking
I don’t enjoy cooking. The thought of spending time in the kitchen is enough to send chills down my spine.
But stuck at home with more time on my hands, I decided, why not? I’ll take Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass.
I was stunned by how much I enjoyed it. It wasn’t so much about improving my cooking (this wasn’t hard—my skills were seriously limited).
What I loved was how inspirational the class was. I learned about success at a much deeper level. Chef Ramsay built the class around finding balance between passion and work. He urges you never to forget why you started something in the first place.
And along the way, I learned what to do with a raw fish besides put it back on the grocery store shelf.
Gordon has put together a two-part MasterClass, which means that there is a wealth of information.
Part 1 guides you through some fundamentals: How should you organize your kitchen? What tools and utensils do you actually need? He teaches methods to improve your knife skills, break down whole chickens, and make the most of vegetables.
Part 2 seemed really intimidating to me at first. It’s all about creating “restaurant recipes at home,” such as crispy duck with red endive and spinach. To be honest, I’m not sure I knew what an endive even was, and I’d never cooked up duck before (and certainly never made it pleasingly crispy).
So I was astonished when my homecooked version of this recipe actually turned out edible. Delicious, even! Gordon communicates and demonstrates his methods, techniques, and recipes so clearly that even a novice chef can follow along (and of course, you can always pause or replay the videos as needed!).
Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques
There are over 6 hours of video in Thomas Keller’s class, making it one of the longest available. He doesn’t focus so much on individual recipes. Rather, you learn about his food philosophy and techniques.
This made the course really enjoyable for me. I’ve never been particularly passionate about cooking, but I do love to be creative. By the end of this class, I experienced an emotional connection with the food I had made.
In Part 1 of his course (comprising an astounding 36 video lessons), Thomas covers vegetables, pasta, and eggs. These are three foods I eat quite often, so I found the lessons and demonstrations incredibly practical. Thomas taught me techniques to bring the best out of each ingredient: for example, I learned how to enhance carrots’ sweetness by glazing them.
Thomas also takes you through the numerous ways you can cook with eggs, from homemade Hollandaise sauce to meringue to poached eggs to omelettes. The possibilities are endless, and I really appreciate that Thomas picks a simple ingredient and then approaches it from multiple angles.
I often fall into a rut of buying the same basic ingredients and making the same basic meals every time. Wth this MasterClass, I may still buy the same old ingredients, but I have the knowledge to try new things with them.
Part 2 dives into meats, sauces, and stocks. So, if you’re vegetarian, you’ll want to give this one a miss, but otherwise, you can learn a huge amount about working with meat.
You’ll gain confidence in selecting meat cuts, whipping up the perfect fried chicken, and using technique such as braising and pan roasting.
Gabriela Cámara Teaches Mexican Cooking
As Gabriela Cámara explains, “I grew up in a family where food was the glue of everything.” This MasterClass really highlights the joy in cooking and important role food has played throughout history in bringing people together and making everyone feel welcome.
Gabriela’s restaurants include Contramar in Mexico City, Onda in Los Angeles, and Cala in San Francisco. Her approach to food is really refreshing, with a focus on fresh ingredients from local sources and a creative fusion of flavour while maintaining a distinctively Mexican feel.
This MasterClass walks you through making fresh tortillas, raw salsas, tacos al pastor, huevos rancheros and more. There’s excellent variety, which means that each class covers a new set of skills and set you up to adapt and experiment later.
Throughout the class, Gabriela emphasizes the importance of quality ingredients, attention to detail, and good hospitality. Having completed this class, I have a new level of confidence in cooking a variety of Mexican foods.
The best classes on writing
Judy Blume Teaches Writing
Judy Blume’s course has been on MasterClass almost since the beginning. She’s a children’s author, well-known for writing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and Blubber.
Blume helps you discover the process of writing that works best for you. She does this by sharing anecdotes about her own process, along with a number of case studies.
In addition, she covers topics such as: how to handle rejection, find an editor, and deal with censorship.
I especially enjoyed Blume’s discussion of “how to get in touch with the child within.” It mirrors something I’ve written about the inner child.
I think Blume’s class is best-suited for aspiring writers who feel the passion to write or have an awesome story locked up in their minds — but who haven’t yet figured out how to create the habits and routines required to write consistently every day.
Personally, this is something I’ve learned over the years and I’ve already developed an affective writing process. Blume’s class encouraged me that I’m on the right track and gave me a few new ideas.
Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
I truly loved this class!
Malcolm Gladwell is a great performer. He’s interesting to listen to, has great stories to share, and also seems to have a real passion for helping people move past writer’s block and just start writing.
In the beginning, he’s honest about never having done something like this before. He says that this class is a chance to reflect on his own career.
His key message? Writing is a calling. It has a higher purpose and is one way we can fulfill ourselves as human beings.
In a way. Gladwell’s class is about so much more than just writing. Sure, it has a focus on character arcs, structuring your writing, and getting a process down. But it’s also packed full of inspiration. It’s very human.
James Patterson Teaches Writing
Just about everyone knows that James Patterson is one of the most successful writers today. He’s a true master at his process. From outlining to editing, James walks you through everything he does to come up with amazing best-sellers over and over again.
If you’re already a James Patterson fan, this course is perfect for you. He’s funny and easy to listen to, and his wisdom transcends the course. It’s one you’ll be listening to for a long time to come, especially when you hit writer’s block.
Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing
Do you love The Handmaid’s Tale? If so, you already know and love Margaret Atwood. She’s the creative energy behind the amazing show, based on her book, and in this MasterClass, she covers essential topics in creative writing.
If you’re struggling to finish a novel, to develop compelling characters, or encountering other common creative writing problems, check out Margaret’s uplifting MasterClass for some inspiration and insight.
Margaret Atwood has worked hard to get where she is, and she really excels in research, plotting, and narrative.
Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
Neil Gaiman is so fascinating to listen to, and, with his many awards, it’s no wonder he was chosen to lead a MasterClass. He talks about writing short fiction, world-building, and creating dialogue that flows off the page.
These are some of the toughest things that fiction writers grapple with—and if you’re one of them, I highly recommend you try Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass to learn more about the art of storytelling.
The best classes on entertainment
deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production
Canadian electronic dance music (EDM) producer Joel Zimmerman, aka deadmau5, is one of the best-known music producers on the scene today. I certainly didn’t know much about this field before taking this off-beat, unconventional MasterClass.
For me, this MasterClass was fun because of how novel it was: Over the course of 23 video lessons, deadmau5 took me on a whirlwind tour of his craft, giving me a whole new appreciation for EDM and the work that goes into it.
He demonstrates his own creative process and shows you how to build your own home studio, develop melodic structures, remix other artists, perform on-stage, and beginning a career in producing.
We reviewed deadmau5’s full MasterClass here. Our main takeaway:
“This MasterClass has a lot of personality. It’s snarky, funny, and one that I think, should not be taken too seriously. If you know deadmau5, then you know what you’re in for. Will you learn a lot You’ll learn a lot technically, for sure. You’ll learn how to develop your own chord structure. deadmau5 will teach you the basics of his approach to gain structure, EQing and limiting. The course covers a lot on music production.
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“However, I believe what you’ll learn is something you can’t find anywhere else. You’ll get the wisdom, the inspiration, and the chance to get an inside look to a true EDM master’s creative process.”
Natalie Portman Teaches Acting
You may know Natalie Portman from her roles in Black Swan, Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta, Annihilation, Star Wars, Jackie, or The Other Woman. She began acting at only age 12 and has built an impressive résumé over the last 2+ decades.
Her MasterClass draws on her extensive experience, drawing back the curtain to give you an inside look at the acting world. Whether you’re an aspiring actor yourself, or simply curious about acting, this class is well worth taking.
Some of the topics apply to life in general. I may not be an actor, but I love learning about new forms of creativity and using my imagination. I also enjoyed her demonstration of what it’s like to work on a film set—her tips on collaborating well, keeping your energy up, and communicating clearly are relevant in a variety of contexts.
Natalie Portman’s MasterClass covers topics such as approaching a new role, playing a real-life historical character, working effectively with directors, improvising, green-screen acting, dialect coaching, and more.
As you can see, this is a wide-ranging course that touches on so many different facets of acting.
The best classes on journalism
Bob Woodward Teaches Investigative Journalism
I was surprised to discover Bob Woodward had given a MasterClass! He’s someone I’ve admired for a long time.
In 2005, I did a Master of Arts in International Relations and studied American foreign policy with a strong focus on the Iraq war of 2003.
Two of Woodward’s books, Plan of Attack (2004) and Bush at War (2002), were required reading.
Woodward provides detailed accounts of the Bush presidency and explores why and how decisions were made.
His key mantra was always to report on the facts, not opinion.
I think it’s more important now than ever to have journalists learning the trade from people like Bob Woodward. Here on Ideapod, we have a readership in the millions of people monthly, and I want our writers (including me) to make sure we work in similar ways to him.
One of the key lessons imparted by this MasterClass is on the importance of changing course as you work on your story. You’ll learn more about the story as you delve deeper, and you need to keep an open mind about which direction to take. Let the facts steer you, not your pre-conceptions.
Finally, the class finishes with a brilliant rallying cry to journalists to continue fighting for the truth. Bob Woodward may not be the most charismatic of instructors, but I firmly believe that the message is vital.
Robin Roberts Teaches Effective and Authentic Communication
An Emmy-winning journalist and co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” Robin Roberts is a pro at performing in front of a big audience. Effective communication is a huge part of journalism; you need to connect with your audience and get your message across.
This MasterClass helps you do that.
What makes this class so great is its broad appeal. As Robin emphasizes, “I cannot think of any line of work, anything that you’re doing, that you are not going to benefit greatly by being able to communicate effectively.”
This is a relatively short class with 11 total videos, but make no mistake: There are a lot of useful tips packed in there.
I especially enjoyed her lesson on public speaking, which includes advice on preparing for a speech, knowing where to direct your eyes, and using body language. Robin is a warm and engaging public speaker herself, and honestly I feel like I learned a lot just by observing what she does and emulating her techniques.
Robin Roberts’ MasterClass covers topics such as negotiation, body language, and interview skills. Her class is all about being your best, most authentic self while forging stronger connections with other people.
She advises you to “make your mess your message”: What does that mean?
We all have struggles and challenges in our lives—whether illness, divorce, unemployment, or something else. Robin speaks candidly in this class about her experience with cancer and encourages you to use whatever platform you have to make the world a better place for everyone.
I love this reframing, which helps me to look at my own struggles as opportunities to make a difference.
The best new classes in 2020
MasterClass has added some fantastic instructors to its line-up in recent months. With multiple new courses in business, dance, music, writing, and more, there’s something for everyone this year.
It’s a good thing your MasterClass subscription (which at the time of writing costs $15/month, billed annually at $180/year) comes with access to all classes so you can explore everything the platform offers.
Some of the new MasterClasses really stood out to me. So, in addition to all the MasterClasses up above, here are my recommendations for the best MasterClasses to take in 2020:
David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor
NYT bestselling author David Sedaris has made his fortune by simply being hilarious and relatable, and by turning life’s little moments into gripping stories for everyone to enjoy. I decided to take this class because I figured, if nothing else, it was sure to be entertaining.
In his course, he talks about how to turn observations of the world into stories that connect with an audience. He has a calming and funny presence that makes you want to keep watching.
If you’re a writer who wants to better your craft, this is a great MasterClass to take. But I also learned some things that I believe make this class worthwhile for everyone. David’s MasterClass is about writing, but it’s also about people.
Connecting and learning about other people often leads to great stories, but it also helps you learn something really important: mindfulness.
When you’re living in the moment as David suggests, you learn so much more about life, and you’re a lot happier too.
Overall, this is a great MasterClass for anyone interested in writing, though I firmly believe that this course has something to teach us all. Everyone has a story worth telling, and this class teaches you how to tell them.
In this class you will learn how to:
- Turn bad experiences into something positive.
- Observe and live in the moment.
- Expand on already finished ideas.
- Turn comedy into something meaningful.
- Connect with an audience.
- Revise a story.
- Grow as a writer.
- Write without worrying about being published.
Misty Copeland Teaches Ballet Technique and Artistry
Misty Copeland was the first Black woman to be promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, and she’s one of the best-known ballerinas in the world. I, on the other hand, don’t really dance.
So what can a non-dancer learn from a professional ballerina?
Well, as it turns out, a lot.
Misty of course covers ballet techniques, but in addition to that, she is a true artist. Her talk of artistry really makes this class incredible. Her MasterClass combines specific skills and techniques with broader discussions of creativity.
If you’re a dancer, you’ll love listening to her lessons and watching her breathtaking performances. In addition, she talks about how she got to where she is today as well as inclusivity and diversity in the dance world. This would be the perfect MasterClass to gift a young dancer—it’s a hard field to break into!
In Misty Copeland’s MasterClass, you’ll learn how to:
- Increase your confidence and find a fresh perspective.
- Embrace your power.
- Handle criticism.
- Perform more gracefully and compellingly.
- Execute fundamental ballet techniques such as temps lié and ronds de jambe.
- Identify potential mentors and create relationships.
- Support and contribute to diversity and inclusion in artistry.
Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty
If you love makeup, you already know who Bobbi Brown is.
She’s one of the most successful business icons in the world. Her makeup brand is used by celebrities, and she’s created a brand that people love.
Personally, I don’t wear makeup, but I still enjoyed diving into something new! Much like cooking, writing, or dance, makeup is a form of artistry, creativity, and self-expression. So if you do wear makeup, you’re likely to enjoy this course and get a lot out of it.
She offers a number of practical tips and demonstrates techniques clearly. This class is a fantastic introduction to applying makeup, especially if you’re new to makeup and don’t know where to start. I imagine this class would also be helpful to anyone wanting to change up their usual look, try something new, or gain a deeper understanding of why certain colours and techniques look good together.
Not only is Bobbi a makeup artist, but she’s also a fantastic business professional. She talks about her general philosophy and outlook on life.
In Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass, you will learn about:
- Bobbi’s beauty philosophy.
- The history of makeup.
- How to use colour.
- Which makeup products are most useful.
- How to use makeup to frame and define your face.
- How to take care of your skin.
- The perfect smoky eye.
- A quick one-minute makeup routine.
- Common makeup mistakes.
- How to ask for help.
- Running a business.
Doris Kearns Goodwin Teaches U.S. Presidential History and Leadership
The U.S. presidency is undeniably a position of great power.
This MasterClass will naturally interest many U.S. citizens, but it should also appeal to anyone curious about the nature of power and how governments operate. It’s fascinating to hear about some of the challenging decisions or rash mistakes that past presidents have made.
Sure, you can Google “U.S. presidential history” and get the basic facts. But with Doris Kearns Goodwin, you get a lot more.
Doris is a Pulitzer prize winner and a renowned historian. And her lessons are far from boring.
She puts a fresh spin on history. What I mean by that is she makes the past seem so immediate and relevant to my life. Doris prompts you to reflect on whether and how we can learn from the past and shows you how historical perspective deepens our understanding of the present.
I was surprised by the broad range of topics covered in this class, ranging from practicing self-care to becoming a more effective leader.
This is one of the most captivating MasterClasses I’ve taken so far, and I didn’t really expect that going in. Take this class if you’re a businessperson or a leader (whether of a country, a company, or a team), or if you aspire to hone your leadership skills. Or if you’re just curious about history!
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s MasterClass teaches you:
- How to become a great leader.
- Why emotional intelligence is so important.
- How to lead a team successfully.
- How and why to build strategic partnerships.
- Why to prioritize self-care and time to relax.
- How to make better decisions.
- The best way to deliver a message—either good or bad.
- How to built a platform and find your voice.
- How to create a legacy.
Bob Iger Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership
Arguably one of the most enjoyable MasterClass instructors I’ve encountered, Bob Iger is so much fun to watch. He’s the CEO of Walt Disney, and he’s put together a fantastic, information-packed MasterClass.
Bob walks you through simple business strategies and shows you how to enact them in the real world. It doesn’t matter whether you have a multi-million dollar business or are just starting out, this course will help you take the best approach to the business you’re working with.
The videos are relatable, funny, and often heart-warming. So, if you’re a Disney fan or run a business, this is the perfect MasterClass to take in 2020.
Bob Iger’s MasterClass will teach you about:
- Effective time management.
- How to set your priorities.
- Creating a business strategy.
- How he acquired Pixar from Steve Jobs.
- The importance of negotiation.
- Creating value with your brand.
- How to expand your brand and push its limits.
- Learning what consumers really want.
- Making complex deals with other companies.
- What you need to be successful.
- Why advocating for a better world is the most important thing you can do.
Sara Blakely Teaches Self-made Entrepreneurship
Not everyone takes a traditional path to the top, and Sara Blakely is well-suited to show you how to forge a less conventional path. An entrepreneur from the start, she built a billion-dollar business.
Despite plenty of nay-sayers, Sara persistently believed in her ideas and abilities. You may recognize her from ABC’s Shark Tank or know her as the founder of Spanx.
There’s a difference between entrepreneurs and businesspeople that often comes down to mindset and approach. If you’re an entrepreneur or have plans to start a business, Sara Blakely’s MasterClass will show you how bring your ideas to fruition.
She’s entertaining to watch and is a very personable instructor.
In Sara Blakely’s MasterClass, you will learn how to:
- Find your purpose.
- Develop your idea.
- Get into the entrepreneurial mindset.
- Figure out a prototype and overcome common mistakes.
- Make and test your product.
- Become a master of sales and undertake marketing case studies.
- Generate popular buzz around your product.
- Come up with pricing.
- Position your product on the market.
- Build a successful company culture.
- Find a support system.
- Manage self-doubt.
Danny Elfman Teaches Music for Film
Movie soundtracks are so integral to creating a film’s atmosphere and building suspense. Sometimes you may not even consciously notice it — but it’s there in the background performing an essential role. Have you ever wondered what goes into creating a film score?
Famous film composer Danny Elfman shows you his process.
From fast-paced action sequences to quiet romantic moments, Danny knows just how to use music to make the most of a scene.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this class, but I ended up enjoying it immensely. Unsurprisingly, it’s tailored to people who love music, though it would also be of interest to film fans. There are some useful tips in there about managing your time and improving workflow, but overall I’d say it’s best for people who really want to create music.
Danny Elfman’s MasterClass covers:
- Learning to listen to the film director.
- Telling a story through music.
- Using different melodies to match the themes.
- How to build emotion with music.
- What really went into creating Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- How to work with a disorganized mind.
- Working through doubt.
- The various films that Elfman has worked on.
Chris Voss Teaches the Art of Negotiation
I sat down and watched this whole MasterClass in one day; that’s how good it is. Chris Voss is absolutely gripping, and you even get to listen to him in action as he shares footage from actual hostage situations.
And then I went through the class again, this time more slowly, to absorb everything and practice each lesson. I fully expect to use what I’ve learned from Chris’s class in my daily life.
Just think about how often in your life you want something or are trying to convince another person of something. Chris’s advice is useful in those situations and helps you turn a potentially adversarial negotiation or debate into a true collaboration.
What can you expect to learn in Chris Voss’s MasterClass?
- How to approach a negotiation as a collaboration.
- Practical techniques such as mirroring and labeling.
- How to deepen your understanding of other people’s perspectives.
- How to use different tones of voice for different results.
- Tips in real-life situations such as salary negotiations.
- Reading body language and speech patterns.
- Bargaining skillfully.
- Why learning the art of negotiation can change your life.
Kelly Wearstler Teaches Interior Design
Kelly Wearstler is an absolute visionary when it comes to interior design. She’s not afraid of drama: bold colour, daring prints, and creative use of texture and material.
Why is Kelly’s class especially perfect for watching in 2020? Well, you may have noticed that we’re all in the middle of a global pandemic that has many people—including me—spending a whole lot more time at home. It’s more important than ever that you truly enjoy your home and feel inspired by your surroundings.
Interior design can tell a story, create a mood, and make your everyday life function more efficiently.
Kelly’s MasterClass walks you through how she has accomplished this in her designs and gives you an idea of how you can transform your own space. True, you may not have the square footage or huge budget of a celebrity or fancy hotel, but Kelly’s tips on colour, pattern, lighting, and furniture can be applied to any space.
Here’s what you’ll learn in Kelly Wearstler’s MasterClass:
- How to make the most of the space you have.
- Why storytelling and interior design go hand in hand.
- Where to look for inspiration.
- How to embrace the history of a building or neighbourhood in your design.
- How to work with colour.
- How to choose lighting.
- What questions to ask yourself before starting a new project.
- What life as an interior designer is like.
- How to make a design come together into a cohesive space.
Dr. Jane Goodall Teaches Conservation
Several early lessons explain how Dr. Jane began her work in Gombe, outlining the challenges she faced and the questions she was hoping to answer. She offers fascinating insights into animal behavior and animal intelligence, with a particular focus on chimpanzees, her specialty.
I came away from this course with a deeper respect for animal intelligence and the relationship between humans and chimps.
The video lessons then turn to broader concepts such as “Climate Change,” “Water,” and “Land.” She appeals to us all to reframe how we think of water, waste, trees, and the environment. Despite the many challenges we’re facing today, she urges us to have hope and outlines her top strategies for advocacy and communication.
Take this MasterClass if you want to learn about:
- Animal intelligence and behavior.
- How Dr. Jane made her famous breakthroughs.
- The complex interconnections between humans, animals, and the natural environment.
- How chimpanzees develop, learn, use tools, and relate with other chimps.
- The threats facing our planet and many animal species.
- How we can make simple but meaningful changes to our food habits.
- How to advocate for change and communicate clearly.
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening
Ron Finley, aka the “Gangster Gardener”, is a down-to-earth instructor who can help you transform a plot of barren soil into a lush green garden. He’s got a no-nonsense style and focuses on really practical skills, showing you how to grow your own vegetables and herbs.
During the 2020 lockdown, many people have become interested in cultivating gardens and growing food. The good news: You don’t need a huge backyard. Ron shows you how to make your own containers and planters from common household items.
Even in a small apartment, it’s possible to set up a small herb garden or grow some colourful flowers to brighten your mood.
Ron’s love and respect for nature shines through the screen; after every video lesson, I felt inspired and eager to get my hands dirty. He also touches on his personal story and speaks to how important it is that we all have access to healthy, nutritious food.
What will you learn from Ron Finley? How to…
- Make your soil fertile.
- Maintain a compost pile.
- Create planters.
- Grow your own food.
- Expand your garden in a cost-effective way.
- Express your creativity in the garden.
- Build stronger communities through gardening.
Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration
Okay, chances are most of us will never go into space. But have you ever wondered what it would be like? How do astronauts train for their voyages? What’s life in space like on a daily basis?
Chris Hadfield is here to tell us.
As the former Commander of the International Space Station, he has unique insights into space exploration and does a great job breaking down his experience in this MasterClass.
This is a fairly long MasterClass with 29 video lessons in all. If you’ve ever wondered exactly how rockets work, he’ll tell you. Curious about how spaceships are designed? He’ll compare different designs such as the Apollo and Gemini. Want to know what astronauts up in the ISS do all day? That’s in this class too.
Chris is an inspiring figure and has a calm, relatable manner of speaking. As he expresses, this class isn’t just for rocket scientists and astronauts; it’s for everyone who feels compelled to explore. In his words: “I think exploration of the unknown — whether it’s the unknown of the universe around us, or just the unknown that’s within each one of us — we can all work that into the reality of life and be joyful.”
I highly recommend this class, especially if you already love sci-fi, astronomy, or adventure.
What will you learn about in Chris Hadfield’s MasterClass?
- Adapting to new situations.
- Exploring new places and ideas.
- Daily life in space and how astronauts pass the time.
- How rockets work.
- The emotional and physical sensations of a rocket launch.
- Keeping calm and level-headed in high-stakes situations.
- Design of the ISS.
- Tips for training and learning efficiently.
- What humans will need to live on another planet (such as Mars).
- Chris’s thoughts on the future of space exploration.
Simone Biles Teaches Gymnastics Fundamentals
Have you ever wanted to instill greater discipline in yourself? Improve your focus?
These are necessary skills for any athlete, and Simone Biles is no exception. This MasterClass is specifically about gymnastics and will likely appeal the most to young aspiring gymnasts who were wowed by Simone’s electric Olympic performances.
This course covers skills (both basic and more advanced) for the uneven bars, floor routines, balance beam, and vault.
I’ll admit: I didn’t follow along with most of the gymnastics exercises here. I’m not sure I’ll be doing cartwheels on the balance beam anytime soon. That said, Simone is a personable instructor and these lessons will undoubtedly be useful for anyone who is actually a gymnast. Plus, I did try out some of the simpler moves, and found Simone’s tips and instructions to be very helpful.
What did I personally get the most from?
Lessons on overcoming nerves and fear, getting into a good competition-day mindset, and setting goals. Simone urges you to learn the fundamentals of any sport thoroughly before rushing to try more advanced, flashier tricks. In addition, she talks about establishing a good working relationship with coaches.
Simone Biles’ MasterClass covers:
- Cultivating discipline.
- Basic and advanced skills on uneven bars, floor, balance beam, and vault.
- Improving your mindset.
- Calming nerves.
- Preparing for a competition.
- Moving on from mistakes gracefully.
- Establishing and reaching goals.
- Communicating well with your coach.
- The challenges of being a young professional athlete.
Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography
Annie Leibovitz has taken so many famous photographs. Chances are you’ve seen her work, even if you haven’t realized it. Photography can seem very simple; most of us have camera phones or point-and-shoot digital cameras nowadays, and it’s easier than ever to take a decent photo.
But with some creativity and technique, you can take your photos to the next level and create a truly thought-provoking work of art. That’s what you’ll learn in Annie’s MasterClass.
She’s most famous for her iconic portrait photographs. Since I habitually take horribly unflattering photos of my family and friends, I was excited to get her tips on capturing a good portrait.
One thing she recommends is producing a photo series and telling full photographic stories, since a lone image is inadequate for capturing anyone’s full complexity.
This course almost has the feel of a traditional university classroom at times, since Annie interacts directly with photography students in several lessons. I love hearing her advice to them and her feedback on their work and thinking about how it applies to my photography.
In this MasterClass, you will learn how to:
- Come up with a creative concept.
- Use lighting.
- Think about the role of the surrounding environment in a portrait.
- Interact with your portrait subject.
- Take better pictures of your family and friends.
- Use self-reflection to hone your craft.
- Improve your technical skills.
- Prepare for a photo shoot.
- Develop a digital post-production process.
In conclusion: Is MasterClass worth it?
Thank you for reading my MasterClass review — we’ve certainly covered a lot of ground here!
When I first dived into MasterClass, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Yes, being taught by A-list instructors sounded great, but would they actually bring their A-game to these classes? Could a celebrity also be a good teacher?
After taking dozens of classes, my expectations have been more than exceeded.
What I like most about MasterClass is how humble and inviting the instructors are. They all seem to get a genuine kick taking you behind the scenes of the thing that made them famous.
Gordon Ramsay on how to develop passion for food. Natalie Portmon on using your imagination. Robin Roberts on communicating more effectively in everyday life.
These are the sort of things you won’t be able to learn anywhere else.
If you want to invite some more inspiration into your life, check out the MasterClass website here.