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Welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy Life with Krisstina Wise. Jim Kwik is the CEO of Kwik Learning and Founder of SuperheroYou. He is also a memory & speed-reading expert, social entrepreneur, and international speaker who discusses subjects such as memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. People assume Jim was born with this uncanny ability to memorize things, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jim’s brain power was developed after struggling for years and years with a traumatic brain injury.
You can also click on the time stamps below to jump to those specific points in the conversation.
What We Covered
- [05:00] – Remember, change isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
- [11:00] – Jim explains what he learned when he was preparing to run a marathon.
- [20:35] – When it comes to a certain age, does our memory begin to fade?
- [26:15] – How does memory work?
- [37:00] – It feels amazing to have someone who is 100% present with you.
- [38:00] – Has it always been easy for Jim? Of course not! Jim shares his biggest struggle.
- [46:45] – If you’re learning something new, and it’s particularly challenging, Jim recommends that you take it slow.
- [47:00] – Remember, you’re not alone!
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[Tweet “No matter your age or your background, everyone can have a better brain.”]
[Tweet “Our brain strives on two things: Nutrition and novelty.”]
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Read the Transcription!
You are at the intersection of wealth, health, and happiness. Welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy Life.
Hello, and welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy Life, the show about becoming wealthy without sacrificing your healthy. Each week, I interview a countercultural thought leader to bring you a unique millionaire mindset. I’m Krisstina Wise, bestselling author, Millionaire Coach, and your personal guide to money, health, and happiness.
Today, I tackle money wealth with Jim Kwik. Jim, the CEO of Kwik Learning is widely recognized around the world as an expert in speed reading, memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. He is the founder of SuperheroYou, an annual conference featuring top experts, i.e. superheroes in various fields. For two decades, Jim has served as a mental coach to students of all disciplines, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and CEOs, and leaders across the world. Some of his clients include companies like Nike, Virgin, GE, and Fox Studios, as well as top universities like Harvard, NYU, just to name a few. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Use Your Brain to Change Your Age”. I like that one. Jim and I go way back. If you’re ready to hear some mind-blowing – haha, get the pun? – millionaire secrets, you’ll absolutely want to listen to this episode. This is part 2 of a 2-part interview. If you missed part 1, be sure to check out last week’s episode in order to catch up.
And I’ve heard you say before, I don’t know exactly how you say it but our habits, we make our habits and our habits make us, and you talked about patterns of power. How much are we, like a product of our patterns and just are almost– I mean we’re not even aware of them. We’re just going through almost like robots everyday versus for being very conscious like what are my patterns? What do I want to choose or what can I change to breakdown to these tiny habits, to change the habit maybe?
Yeah. I really do believe self-awareness is a superpower. It takes a level of presence to be able to reflect on yourself and then just notice what we’re doing, because most of our learning is unconscious. What I mean by that is most of the stuff that we learned — let’s just break it down. Let’s even think of music like the lyrics to songs. How many do we know by heart? Hundreds, right? Hundreds. But how many do we formally sit down and just study? Probably very little of those, right? Because we learn the best when we don’t even realize we’re learning, it’s unconscious.
I think one of our greatest gifts and our greatest chance is our unconscious mind because that’s where we’re learning all the time. The challenge though is that because it’s unconscious, we don’t realize the things that we’re doing, that it might be sub-optimal like in our habits, like where do these habits come from. They usually came from when we’re a child, and I don’t think any of us sat down or were sat down when we’re a child that said, “Okay, and let’s consciously decide what we want in life and break it down into steps, routines, and rituals, and resources, to be able to cut those things. I would say that it’s important. The two areas that I think are the biggest leverage is really organizing the first hour of your day, and the last hour of your day, and when I say an hour it could be the first 30 minutes, 90 minutes, whatever it is, because that’s the time when you have the most in — for most people it’s the time we have the most control, right?
During the day and you’re in work, you’re fighting fire, you’re dealing with clients, it’s not asking control but the first hour, and so how you map out that first hour, those habits, I think they are really important. This is another reason why, besides setting yourself for peak efficiency, right, knowing you’re going to do it, it also helps to preserve your mental energy, right? We all have a certain level of mental vitality throughout the day, and after that it fatigues. It’s areas like decision fatigue, right? That’s why you never want to make a decision when your mood is not in that place, when you’re tired, when you’re angry or you’re feeling fearful, rarely does the best come out of us, right, when we make good decisions. We rarely make those kinds of good decisions. A lot of people, though, spend so much time making decisions on things that just don’t matter, and they wasted their decision-making energy there. When it comes to something that’s like the million-dollar decision they have to make for the business, or for their kid’s future, or for their health, or whatever, it’s a suboptimal decision. And so, people struggle with decision fatigue.
That’s why a number of leaders, they streamline their life. They figure out ways, even before they could afford to get something like a private chef or something like that, they would figure out ways to streamline their life. Even at an extreme example, when people say Tony Hsieh, or they see Mark Zuckerberg, and they’re always wearing the same sweatshirt that says Zappos, you ask them why, and they’ll say, well, they just have 20 of these shirts. It’s because they don’t want to think about, “What should I wear today?” and they don’t want to put energy towards that because they have all these other responsibility. I would say setting up your first hour and then your last hour, especially that last hour, because how you end that day is so important, especially for your sleep. Sleep is so critical for your body, but it is so essential for your brain. People think that they go to the thing, and when you ask people, “How do you build strong muscles,” and everyone is like, “I work out.” You know, that’s part of it, but you’re actually building the muscles when you rest, right? When you sleep.
Same thing with your mental muscles. You can stretch them and learn new things, but if you’re not sleeping, you’re not consolidating that information. You’re not moving it from short-term to long-term memory. If you’re not sleeping, you’re not cleaning out all the plaque that’s in our brains and all that stuff. So that last hour is so important for you to be able to shift into this parasympathetic kind of mode where you’re not watching your computer screen, you’re not being hit with all this blue light all the time that prevents or reduces the amount of melatonin that we’re doing. And so, we’re all addicted to this.
I could tell you, every time we meditate, because I think mindfulness is so important. Some of the most successful people, I find that most of them have some kind of practice for themselves, it’s not that you have to do it for — I mean, yes, it’s great to do 15, 30 minutes, or whatever each time you’re doing it, but it’s the exercise of being present where if a thought comes in, every time you bring it back to your center, then you’ve built those mental muscles for your focus. So every time you feel like grabbing the phone, and the average person grabs their phone, touches their phone about 150 times a day, which I think it’s a lot larger more recently, obviously. So, every time you feel like doing it, but you don’t do it, you build some resilience towards it. And so it’s harder but it’s easier in the long run. Like, it takes energy and willpower sometimes to make a habit to get some momentum and to be doing it for a few weeks until it becomes more routine. But once you’re doing it, then it takes hardly very little energy. It’s kind of like a spaceship going out of the Earth’s atmosphere. 90% of the fuel is being spent just to get out of that huge gravity well, but once it’s out, you could just go like this, and you’re like Superman, Superwoman, and you just go on, because that’s like your habits. It take a little bit of energy to create it, but once you have it, it gets a lot easier.
Yeah, and you touched on a really important point there that it really does start with self-awareness, and we all need to gain that superpower, because if we’re not aware of the habits that are thwarting our dreams, our desires, our intentions, then we can’t change those habits. Sometimes it’s hard to look at ourselves under the microscope and be real with ourselves.
Completely, and even the fact that people are still here listening to this, I have to commend you because change is not easy, right? So, again, we’re not saying it will be easy, but we’re saying it’s going to be worth it. And so we want a goal that going back to just procrastination, you want something that — we always hear about smart goals, and those are really good to make them specific and measurable, action oriented, realistic and so on and so forth.
You know, I always talk about HEART goals. The H stands for healthy, like making your goals healthy and the ecology of your life, especially making health on your goals like that. I think the E is very important in HEART. E stands for enduring. Because, there’s times when you’re just going to want to give up, and are you setting goals that are going to get you through to endure those inevitable setbacks that we’re going to have?
The A in HEART stands for alluring, and the alluring is kind of like enduring, but learning it, for me, when I use that word, it’s like we don’t hear it very often, but our goals of learning, are they attracting you like a magnet, pulling you towards it? Because, you can’t push a rope, but you could pull it, right? Like a magnet? And that’s how I think we need goals to be solely attractive and learning to us. I think that’s important.
The R in HEART stands for relevant, and I think this is really important because I think a lot of people didn’t learn as well as they could back in school because they didn’t see trigonometry or history, and they didn’t even see how it was relevant to their life. Like they’ll talk to their parents like, “When do you use sine, cosine, x hypotenuse? When do you use that?” So, relevancy is very important to learning. But, when you’re setting goals, how is it relevant to a problem that you have? How is it relevant to your deepest values?
Finally, the T in HEART stands for truth, and not to get Kumbaya, but I think that a lot of people set goals and it’s not really their goals. It’s like the goals they adopted from their parents, or the goals of their neighbors, like keeping up with the Joneses. They’re saying these goals are goals from their co-workers. It’s not really theirs. So, what’s your truth? Because I think, ultimately, when we talk about self-awareness, for me, success and fulfillment comes down to self-awareness, which is knowing yourself, like knowing your true self, and getting raw through exercises you could do, in reflection, journaling, and all these things that you could do. But, knowing yourself and then once you know who are, then be who you are. Because sometimes people can know who they are, but they’re not really congruent with that’s how they’re showing up every single day.
Excellent, and you alluded to something else that I wanted to question in a little bit deeper is health. So, how important is it to really learn how to learn and to be a learner, a reader, this growth mindset, curious. How important is being healthy? A healthy brain, a healthy body. You mentioned nutrition and novelty, but we talk about, “What is a healthy brain?
Right. I think there’s 10 elements for having your optimal brain, or what I call the superior brain, and I’ll go through the 10 really fast. When I go through it, as you’re listening to it, every single one of them are going to be common sense. There’s not one of them that will be like, “Oh, that’s not going to work,” or anything else like that. But, as we heard many times from many thought leaders, common sense is not always common practice. So, maybe as you’re coached for this part, as whoever’s listening to this, you’ll go through it, and there’s a difference between a dabbling mindset and a mastery mindset, and I feel like a dabbler will be like they’ll dismiss. They’re dismissive. They say, “Oh, I know that already,” and I think the masters, my experiences are, is they get so good at practicing the basics. It’s going back to at the conference that you attended, the Superhero Brain Conference. We had the daughter of Bruce Lee, Shannon Lee, talk and it was wonderful talking about her father’s approach to mastery and lifelong learning, and his philosophy on growth and everything. And he has this quote that says that — Bruce Lee has this quote that says he had never been scared of anything, but what he’s scared of is he’s not scared of the person who’s practiced 10,000 kicks once, 10,000 different kicks once. He’s scared of the person who’s practiced one kick 10,000 times.
When you think about that and how that applies to things, it’s like you might hear something, but maybe you could hear it in a new way so we’re actually deploying. So, these 10 things that are key for being healthy, because I think health, in a lot of ways, is your wealth. The greatest wealth gives you the energy to go out there and pursue your passion to do things that you’re supposed to do. So 10 things for unlocking your superhero healthy brain is a good diet. And this is in no particular order, but we know you are what you eat. Literally what you’re eating becomes who you are, and so you want to be careful of that. I always think that — there’s a billion books on this from people who are much more qualified than I, because I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor or anything else like that. But, what I would recommend is people going and getting blood tests and seeing their food sensitivity. It’s really great. They put it in, “Hey, this is red, this is yellow, this is green. Red, you want to stay away from. Yellow, have it sparingly. And green, go for it,” right? Who knows if we’re eating a food on a regular basis that’s actually causing a lot of the challenges that we have. So, good brain diet: walnuts, avocados, wild fish, and so on, berries.
So after that, I would say number 2 is killing ANTs. If you want good brain health, killing ANTs, and that’s borrowing that from Dr. Daniel Amen who also spoke at our superior brain conference, and the ANTs are automatic negative thoughts. Because, we are we, but we are kind of like what we think. We’re not ultimately just what we eat or just what we think, but it’s hard, right?
So we are our thoughts, and I would tell people this is that I remember I was preparing for a marathon and I was reading a book, and one of the chapters was the psychology of running a marathon, and it said this, of verbatim, because I’m the memory guy. It said, “Your brain is like a supercomputer, and your self-talk is the program it will run.” So, if you tell yourself you are not good at remembering names, you will not remember the name of the next person you meet because you program your supercomputer not to. So, killing ANTs are killing automatic negative thoughts that I would say that the tweetable for this is, “Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.” Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk, and so you want to keep it positive, right? Because, here’s the thing, if you keep it negative and you start, “Oh, I’m just Alzheimer’s runs in my family, I’m getting too old, I was just not smart enough,” whatever it is, if you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them, and that’s the challenge. So, if you fight for limitations, you get to keep them. So, avoid negative self-talk, killing those ANTs.
Number 3, I would say, that’s good for brain health is exercise. That’s a given, right? This is indisputable. If you want a better mental acuity, mental focus, better memory, move. And primarily, through evolution, your brain is there. Its number 1 reason it was there originally was to control your movement. Movement is so key. So, the takeaway from this is as your body moves, your brain grooves. As your body moves, your brain grooves. So, literally, as you move your body, you create more neuroconnections, and there’s certain exercises that are just, in particular, even better than some. I pick juggling because it’s a very powerful exercise. We do it at all of our conferences and everything, but jugglers actually have more weight matter and more brain mass, if you will, and everyone can learn how to juggle in a few weeks on YouTube or whatever. It’s free, you learn how to do it. Just roll up some socks and they won’t bounce away or roll away, and just do it over a couch or a bed, practice those juggling. The other reason I like practicing juggling also besides building more brainpower, is in order to juggle three balls — you only get two eyes. You can’t see any one of the three, but you just soften your gaze and you literally see — the more you relax your eyes, so as you’re juggling, you could see more here in your peripheral vision, and that’s a similar state you want to do when you’re speed reading, because if you can take in more of the words, you can read through it, obviously, faster.
So, movement, right? And the important thing about all of this is you need to schedule it, because if you don’t schedule it. If it’s not in your calendar when you’re going to work out, you’re not going to do it, because it will be the first thing you cut is the stuff that’s going to serve you the most. Like, “I got to finish this,” and the things you cut are the things that are most important to you, often. So, exercise.
Number 4, brain nutrients, very important, and what I mean by that is we live this fast lifestyle that we’re on planes, and you go try to grab food at the airports or whatever they’re doing, I would say that not all the nutrients is in our standard diet, and so maybe we need to supplement with that.
Number 5, I would say positive peer group is so important. So, who you are is, yes, you are your thoughts, you are what you eat, but you’re also who you spend time with, which is why I love your community like this. Like, these are the bonds then, because what we find that your health is not just limited to your biological networks, or even your neurological networks. It’s your social networks that Dr. Mark Hyman, who also spoke at Superior Brain Conference that you were at says that whether or not you smoke or not, for example, has less to do with your biological networks and more to do with your social networks, like if your friend’s friends smoke, it’s going to be a larger influence on your lifestyle. So, positive peer group, when it comes to your brain, is are you around people who are just brain-friendly? Are they encouraging you, are they challenging you, are they upleveling you, and teaching you, and so on? Holding you accountable?
Number 6 is a clean environment. So, if you want your brain to really thrive, you want it to be in a clean environment, and I mean, yes, clean as in you know how your external world is a reflection of your internal world? Like, you clean off your desk or you clean off your desktop on your computer, and all of a sudden, you have a sense of calm or peace. Your brain feels like a little bit more focused. So, you want to clean your environment, but also clean your environment of toxins. So, when we talk about health, I think a lot of people are — You are going to realize people have been exposed to molds or different things in their environment. The lighting, fluorescent lighting has been proven not to be really good for your eyes or for brain processing and such. Clean air, clean environment all around. So, that would be number 6.
Number 7, and again, when I’m going through this, you can say, “Oh yeah, but I’m really not really being true to my negative self talk, or I really have to work my time.” It’s usually one or two things that is if you put your energy there, it just unleashes everything. And so, number 7 is the one you and I have deeply shared value with around sleep. Because, nobody knows the value of sleep more than the person that’s struggling with their sleep, and we just talked about that during this conversation. I think sleep is the biggest life hack there is. If you’re not getting this amount of sleep — We had a sleep expert speak at our — but also, sleep is still important.
Number 8 is brain protection. If you want a healthy, vibrant brain, you have to protect your brain. So, wear a helmet and avoid things where you could be in accidents and such like that.
Number 9 is my favorite. It’s new learnings. New learnings, which is if you want to create more brain cells and more connections, you need to stimulate yourself. But, this is also you have to schedule it, right? So, that schedule every single day, like when I’m going to do my 30 minutes of reading, or my hour of reading and such, but you need to schedule it for yourself. And so, I think we’re always learning, and if we’re not learning, we’re sliding. So, that’s important. But, everyone who’s watching this already has that as a huge value, otherwise they want to talk to us two in this conversation, right?
Finally, number 10, and this really is the one too. Because, this one, if you don’t fix it, could leak into all the other areas, and it’s the one we don’t really feel all the time because it’s kind of like a fish, they don’t sense the water because it’s there all the time, is stress management. So many of us live in a constant state of anxiety and stress, and we don’t even feel it because we’re so used to it. We’ve gotten comfortable being uncomfortable in a bad way. I’m not talking about positive stress.
There’s obviously positive stress when you’re working out and you’re challenging yourself as you’re upleveling yourself to be successful in these areas. I’m talking about anxiety, the overload, all the other things. Stress management is something that we don’t usually get a feel of it. Like, I remember I spent a few weeks in the Amazon rainforest, and it was an incredible journey. I mean, we came across an indigenous tribe, we were their very first Western contact ever. By the second night, we were having dinner with them, this village, we were playing with their kids the next morning. I mean, shamanic journeys, it was intense. But, from there, I got on a plane to fly into LA into LAX, and in that, as we’re descending, you see the traffic, you see the smog, you see the billboards where you’re being marketed to, and it’s just you don’t realize this is all the time. So, how often do we take time to really nourish ourselves, to really be good and kind to ourselves? Whatever it is that releases stress and gets us in a parasympathetic space is so important.
Now, these are the 10 things that I focus on because I think that with the 80-20 rule, what moves the needle for most of it, it’s usually this. But, when you do an audit of your life, in which area do you feel like you can do better? Is it your environment, is it your stress levels? Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep, maybe it’s your self-talk, maybe it’s your diet. Maybe something as simple as getting some fish oils, whatever it is.
But, it could be that it’s the metaphor of the stone cutter. They’re pounding this stone all the time with the stake and they’re going, and they do a thousand hits, and nothing happens. And all of a sudden, they do one more hit, and it just completely splits. Now, was it that last hit that did it? It was all of them leading up to it. So, maybe if you look at these 10 areas and there’s one area that you’re just neglecting, and you add some time, and energy, and talent in that area, maybe you’ll cut that stone, and then you’ll have that breakthrough you’re looking for. Or, you’ll have a breakdown and then maybe the breakdown will lead to a breakthrough. That happens also.
Well, something, like you said, as simple as nutrition, and getting the right nutrients for the brain is necessary to have a brain that can focus, and engage, and think, and problem solve. But, if we’re living on these really bad diets, and a lot of sugar and caffeine, and the stimulation from the environment that, yeah, all those things, we’re not even conscientious to the fact that they are making some sort of impact, either positive or negative, and probably more on the negative side.
So, we’re really approaching the end of our time together. You’ve been so generous to be here with us, so thank you. A couple more questions I have, a little bit more technique, is as your superpower is your memory, and anyone listening, please watch Jim, and your jaw will be on the floor when you see his abilities. But, when it comes to memory, I’m guessing that there is sort of a belief out there, a common belief that, “Once I get to a certain age.” We sort of just accept that our memory goes, and, “Oh, I don’t remember names anymore.” How many times have I heard people say, “Oh yeah, I’m older now. I can’t really remember things.” Is that true? I mean, do we lose our memory with age, or is it just we’re not using our brain or training our brain in a way that keeps it sharp?
So, there is a certain amount, as we grow older, that things slow down, because that’s the natural progression over things, and slow down in all kinds of ways, certainly. So, there are ways to — the best ways to stave off, according to research, one of the best ways of staving off brain and aging challenges is constantly working out your brain. Like committing yourself to lifelong learning, always reading and having those kinds of conversations, that’s a huge mover. So, I would say focus on any of the 10 areas that — so, when we talked about one-third of your memory is predetermined by biology, two-thirds is in your control, when I’m listening to these 10 things, like a superhero brain, that’s the two-thirds that’s going to make the biggest difference. So, I would say that what I tell people is that there’s no such thing as a good or bad memory. There’s a trained memory and an untrained memory. There’s no such thing as a good or bad memory. There’s a trained or an untrained memory.
If you have memory challenges, yes, part of it has to do with living in this world, where the demands of distraction and things are getting distorted, there’s so much information overload. It’s like people feel like learning nowadays is like taking a sip of water out of a firehose. There’s just too much. So, that’s a reality. But, the other reality is we weren’t prepared for it, because back in school, we had three R’s: reading, writing, arithmetic. The fourth R should have been recall, remembering, retention. Because, Socrates said, “There is no learning without remembering,” and what we know is that memory is not so much a noun. It’s not you’re having this memory. For me, memory is like more of a verb. It’s a process. Do you know what I mean? So, it’s not something you have, it’s something you do. So, a lot of people, though, when they see somebody who has an extraordinary memory, like they can learn a language, or they can give a speech without referring to notes, or they could remember everyone’s name, or whatever their memory, or they’re at least really good at their career, remembering facts and figures and everything. You could look at that and you could say, “Well, that’s really great. That person is just gifted,” and walk away. Or, you could look at that person and just say, “That’s incredible. How are they doing that?”
Because, I do believe, again, that there’s always a method behind the magic. There’s always a method behind magic. Just like when you see wealthy individuals, there is a method that got them from — if they didn’t just inherit and they’re an outlier that built it with limited resources, there is a method that they used, right? As somebody who has great health also, there’s a method that they’re using, right? So, the same thing with their memory in that it’s not something that you have. It’s something that you could do on a regular basis. It’s just whether or not we make the choice to be able to do that. So, I think it’s that important elements, we just cut some of the learning elements here, but motivation is key to learning, because if you have no motivation — like, I think I could uplevel everybody in their memory and their brain power if they come in with two criteria. That they come in and they’re driven, they have some level of motivation or drive to make things better, and number two, that they’re open-minded. And what I mean by that is somebody could be very motivated, but if they’re not open-minded, they’re not going to learn anything brand new, or somebody could be very open-minded, they could be very teachable, but they have no drive, and that’s not going to work. Because, if they have zero motivation, zero times anything is just zero, right?
So, I think, as we talk about the superpower of self-awareness, is maybe we do this self-audit with ourselves and tell ourselves that, ultimately, we are responsible. And I really think responsibility is the starting point for all of this. It’s not that we’re a victim. It’s like people tend to feel like they are a thermometer, when really deep down, their truth is they’re a thermostat. Like, a thermometer is something that the functionality of a thermometer, it just reflects what the environment is giving you. It’s a reflection of the environment. But, a thermostat is different. You set a thermostat at a temperature, or a standard, or a goal, or a mission, or a vision, and once it’s set, the environment raises to that standard, right? And that’s what I think, ultimately, is going to be the difference that makes the difference with successful people is they — and we all react as a thermometer. “Oh, the weather is crummy, or the economy, or look what’s going on in politics,” or whatever’s going on can make us feel a certain way.
But ultimately, if we’re speaking truthfully, what’s most honest is how we feel as a decision that we’re making, and that there’s a gap between stimulus and response, and in that internal gap, we could decide what something means to us, and I think when we take responsibility for how we feel, and what we focus on, and what we’re going to do in life, our life is playing at a whole different level.
Yeah, and there’s that part, like we talked about. There’s the two parts. There’s that front part that’s required, and then like you said, there always is a method to the magic. So, I think one thing that I learned from you that was really eye-opening is that when it comes to memory, that there are practices and techniques to use to improve one’s memory, and even part of what you taught was how memory works. So, would you share a little bit about that? Because, I think that can really help those that do have the motivation and the drive. But what to do? Like, how do I even remember names easy as PIE is one technique, and MOM is a technique. But, the different techniques, they can be practiced and learned for someone like myself that couldn’t remember somebody’s name two seconds after they introduce themselves. I’m much better at it now because I learned from you how memory works. I learned the technique, practiced it, and now believe me, I’ve got a lot of room to continue to grow, but I’m so much better than I used to be by practicing.
And that’s the thing. So, the bad news is that it takes practice, but the good news is it doesn’t take as much as most people think. We’re going to be meeting people anyway, so practicing this stuff is very important. There’s three stages to your memory. All the memories that you have inside of you got there through these three stages. First, information is encoded, and then it’s stored, and then it’s retrieved. Information goes in and it’s encoded in a certain way, and then it’s stored in a certain place, and then it’s retrieved from that place. Information is in there for the most part. There have been studies done where they stimulate a patient’s brain and they’ll remember when they were 10 years old to the point where they could read signs right off the road on a family trip. They’ll do a process of hypnosis or something called age regression where they’ll take some people down to when they’re 9 years old, and with 95% accuracy, they’ll tell you what day their 9th birthday was, because that memory is there.
It’s on unconscious, right. You know that actor’s name, but you can’t remember it to your friends, and then three hours later, you’re just driving, and then what pops up? I find this incredibly fascinating. So, all the magic lies in how is it encoded, where is it stored, and how do you retrieve it, right? The magic comes from those first couple of stages, and what I mean by that is when you’re encoding information, this is a good starting point. Information tied to emotion becomes a long-term memory. Information tied to emotion becomes a long-term memory, and we know this because if there’s a song — is there a song that brings you back like years or decades, because that emotion brings back the information? Is there a — maybe it’s not a song for some people, maybe it’s a smell. It could be cologne or perfume, an essential oil, a food that’s being cooked, or something, and it just brings you back decades. Or something you eat to bring you back, right? Because, emotion tied to information stored that memory, good and bad, right?
So, one of the ways you can encode how our strategies work is we take the principles of recall. When you remember things the absolute best way, there are certain traits that are there or principles that are there, qualities that are there that aren’t there when you’re forgetting things. So, one of those things is adding emotion. Because, one of the ways kids will learn very well is they use their imagination, they have a lot of emotion there. How fast can kids learn stuff compared to adults sometimes? Really, really fast. In actuality, adults can learn just as fast as children. Children just have a lot of free time compared to adults.
So, when I want to remember something, I would say, “Well, how do I make this fun? How do I make this interesting to me?” Because, if your emotion, if information tied to emotion becomes long-term memory, a lot of people, when they’re learning something, their emotion level is like a 0 on a scale of 0 to 10. And 0 times anything is 0. So, a lot of people don’t learn stuff because they’re not stimulating themselves. So, for example, and this is a gross simplification, but you have three parts to your brain: you have this reptilian brain, and a mammalian brain, which a lot of memory and emotions are processed, and you have this like neo-cortex, right? You have a left brain and a right brain, and your left brain is logical in its words, and it sounds — it’s like how most people read, but your right brain is the experience of it.
This is a gross simplification because it’s a lot more complicated, obviously. But, just on your right brain, if this is logical brain on your left side, your right side then is imagination, creativity, it’s your emotion, it’s your visualization. One of the reasons we could get people reading so much faster is a lot of people read left brain where they just hear the words and they’re pronouncing the words in a linear fashion and language but they’re not experiencing it.
We have techniques for people to acclimate their right brain, but whenever you can add imagination and emotion, you become more of a whole-grained learner. So, it’s like you’re not limited. Most people are trying to type like this with two fingers, when they actually have 10 fingers. People who do this don’t have to work quite as hard. This people has to work five times harder because they’re only using two of their digits as opposed to someone who’s using 10, right? So, all of that quick learning is all about working smart instead of just working hard. If you’re going to work hard, then work smart, definitely.
I would say for the key to memory is those three stages: encoding, storing information and retrieving it, and the area you want to really focus on is how you make things more memorable, literally. You don’t remember if it maybe rained about a few weeks ago, but if somebody poured a whole thing of orange juice on your head years ago, you would remember it, because it’s outstanding, and it’s funny, or it’s emotional, or it’s visual, all of that. Those qualities, you’re like, “How do I take something that’s ordinary and make it so extraordinary, I could never forget it?” It’s like, “Oh, that takes a lot of work.” No, it actually takes a lot more work trying to find where you put your phone, or where you put the car keys, or embarrassing ourselves about, “What’s your name again?” You’re talking to someone for 20 minutes, and you forget your name, and they have the audacity to remember your name, so that makes it really awkward. Then, somebody comes, and you’re in a position where you have to introduce people, and you have to play all these games, and everything else like that. But, when you look to somebody, Krisstina, and just call them by name, it’s the sweetest sound to a person’s ears.
Like, when you’re going back to motivation, just making it a priority, because I think when it comes to business etiquette, the number one networking skill there is on the planet is remembering people’s names. Because, when we talk about emotion, think about one of the first words that we all learned how to write. It was our own name, right? Think about the positive love, and reinforcement, and encouragement we identified and connected to that. A name is the sweetest sound and it’s the most important thing to remember. So, if you just make it a priority, you’re more likely to remember it, independent of techniques. I believe we set up some free gifts for your audience and your community as a thank you for training to participating and listening to this conversation, and they’ll learn exactly there are seven steps on how to remember names. Oh, this is how to memorize Jim’s 10 keys for unlocking your superhero brain. This is how you read faster, like that.
But, the mechanics are important. But, when you said like MOM, the simple acronym I do for memory, and this motivation, so tune into your motivation why you want to learn something, like someone’s name. The O is observation. Because lots of people blame. They’re forgetting names, they’re blaming their retention. It’s not your retention. It’s your attention, completely. So, most people aren’t forgetting something. They’re just not paying attention. They’re not having the focus, and I think that’s the superpower is focus and concentration. And the final M in MOM, motivation, observation, the final M is mechanics. There’s a reason why I put it last. It is so vitally important, but you still want to be able to have a reason motivated to be able to learn something and you still want to be able to pay attention. And the mechanics help supercharge the whole process.
That was one of the biggest aha’s for me in remembering names was to actually look at the person versus, I think, so much times we’re trying to think about what we’re going to say that we’re not focused on them, and just as simple and silly as it sounds, it’s silly because it is so simple is just to look at the person and to look at their eyes or their key features, and then to match up their name with how they look, it only takes a few seconds, but it’s totally different than being in my head and not present with the person right there with me. And that alone, regardless of the mechanics and some of the techniques to remember, has made all the difference.
It is the difference that makes the difference. And, again, it’s not always the sexiest tip or anything. It’s always the fundamentals that’s going to make the biggest difference for people. So, making it important and just paying attention to somebody, because you’re right. A lot of times when somebody’s learning someone’s name, there’s a lot of stuff going on. So, they’re looking out around, and who else is in this room that I want to meet? Or, if they’re not distracting outside, the distraction is going on near. They’re talking to themselves and they’re not thinking about what the person is saying. They’re thinking about how they’re going to respond to the person.
One of my favorite books of all time written by Dr. Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the incredible study on most effective people, and they practice these seven habits on a regular basis. One of them was “sharpen the saw”, saying that if you need to be able to cut all this wood, it’s better to sharpen your saw first and then cut the wood, and not cut all the wood and then sharpen your saw. And that’s what I feel about reading. If anyone’s going to be reading for anything, we have a reading course for people, and if people could read faster, it makes sense to do that first and then make you read faster throughout everything.
One of the other habits besides sharpening the saw is seek first to understand then to be understood. Seek first to understand the person and then to be understood. Because ultimately, I think it’s one of the deepest human needs we have is to be seen, is to be heard, is to be understood by individuals.I think that’s what you do. That’s the gift you give somebody. That’s why they call it “present”, because you’re present with somebody. That’s what people want most of all. Because, you could feel when somebody’s there, especially women, they’re exceptional at this. If you’re talking to a woman and your gaze or your thought goes anywhere else for a split second, the feminine can really feel that.
It’s one thing I’ve always really admired about Brendon is that when he’s present with you, he’s 100% present with you, and it feels amazing to have somebody that’s listening. You can tell that they’re looking in your eyes, they’re listening, they’re fully present. There could be a bazillion things going around and trying to yank for his attention, but if he’s there with you, he’s there with you, and I remember how that felt, and I thought, “I want to do that for others.”
Yeah, and here is it going back to this is genius leaves clues, that if somebody is good at something, it usually came through discipline and effort. You know, they chose up that way publicly. So, it’s a skill anyone can learn.
So, two more questions, and these are two questions I ask every guest. So, the first question is that when you get to a certain level, obviously, it’s so easy to think, “Oh, well it’s so easy for Jim. He’s successful. He knows all these celebrities. He’s got this amazing business.” Sometimes, it looks really easy, like it’s just straight to the top. So, I always like to make sure in every interview that I ask, “Has that always been easy?” Since adulthood, can you share at least one struggle, or breakdown, or moment when you’re like, “I’m not so sure.”
I will. I don’t talk about this publicly, but I’ll share it because if it serves somebody who’s listening, even one person, certainly, the people I like to role model, because I think one of the fastest ways to learn is to find a coach, or somebody who’s been on that path, or role model, and the role models I like to learn from are people who, against the odds, you would understand that they weren’t the level of success that they were because they didn’t have the background, they didn’t have the education, they didn’t have the resources.
Now, I think success comes from not just your external resources, but your internal resourcefulness. Because, growing up, my parents immigrated here, so we had no money, I had no education, I didn’t know anybody at all. To answer your question, one of my biggest struggles of recent in my adult life besides my learning challenges. So, my big struggles growing up was I was one of the most challenged learners that I knew, and then I also had a big fear of public speaking. Because, when you feel like you’re the boy with the broken brain, you don’t connect with a lot of people, and you don’t express yourself because you don’t feel like you have a lot of value. So, I would be one of the kids that I would do the book report. But, if the teacher asked me to present it in front of the class, I would lie and say I didn’t do it, and I would take a failing zero and I would throw out my book report, because I was that phobic. So, it’s funny that my biggest challenges growing up were learning and public speaking, because the universe has a sense of humor, because that’s what I do. But, it’s still not comfortable for me. Like, even me going on stage, I still get, more than anyone I know, the butterflies and anxiety, because it’s not my natural essence. I do it because I feel like I have a moral obligation because if I could help people and help them avoid what I went through, then I’m going to do it, right?
A more recent example of my struggles was going back to sleep, and this is why I emphasize sleep very often. I don’t talk about this. I never posted about this, but for the past three years, I only slept about two hours a night, and when you can identify with this. You know when people get — if anyone listening to this, you have one bad night of sleep, the next day, things are not the best ever. You’re very short-tempered, you can’t feel productive, you got terrible headaches and migraines, you can’t look at a computer screen, all these issues.
Mine, I tried everything, and most people, when they have a problem, they say they tried everything, but when you dig deep to their issue that they have with their health, or their wealth. They’re wealthy in one areas of wellness or wealth is you say they’ve tried everything, but we ask them to write it down, most people, if they’re honest, have only tried two or three things, but they blow it up in their minds and say, “I’ve tried everything.” I literally could write down 300 things I’ve tried, comprehensive list, everything from nutrition, to unconscious stuff, to healers, to grounding pads, to blackout curtains, to everything, and nothing really moved the needle. I had this surgery because I had sleep apnea obstructed, so I couldn’t breathe.
That’s why I just had a surgery recently, which is why it’s difficult to talk, but I was excited to be able to share with your superheroes, but I had, over 120 times a night, I would stop breathing, and when I say “stop breathing”, each one of those are measured by at least 10 seconds. So, essentially, every single night, somebody was coming and choking me 100 times a night, and I would wake up suffocating. And I would use a CPAP device, and a dental device, and everything that I’ve tried, nothing was moving the needle.
I went in for surgery, and I was reluctant about it because I’ve heard of a few that just really didn’t turn out well, but I went through it, through my research, found somebody, and it worked. But, for the past three years, I know what it feels like to be 24/7 just frustrated, just tired, just spent. When you have all these dreams and desires and you’re doing everything right, and then life throws you a curve ball out of nowhere, it’s just like you wonder, “Why me? Why is my body or my brain betraying me?” These are the challenges, right? Because, the biggest challenge is what it does to your brain. I wasn’t not sleeping because my brain was active. My brain was completely quiet. It was serene, it was just the oxygen levels, and when I’m getting below 80% levels of oxygen to my brain, the challenges that go along with that, the brain fog, the forgetfulness, the mental fatigue. So, it forced me. I would say that that’s been my most recent struggle since the surgery, which was only about a month ago. My sleep has doubled, which is moving in the right direction.
But, it’s forced me, when I was commenting on your state, and only if you come through experience, that I know what it feels like to not have any kind of resources inside of me and still having to go on stage and still coming and getting on a flight across the world to be able to perform. And I would say that if you’re struggling right now, that maybe that there’s a reason, that through going through this breakdown, that there’s going to be a breakthrough. I could go through, if I’m honest going through my life, some of the biggest challenges led to the biggest results in my life. I don’t think, and I was talking to the universe and I’m like, “I didn’t need three years to learn this lesson, but I’m glad I did, and I don’t take it for granted.”
So, for another example is every single month, I learn something new. Every single month for as long as I can remember, I’ve had these skills, because I need to feel what it feels like to not know how to do something, because I feel like that makes me a better coach. I’m taking flying lessons. I’m not really good in closed spaces, and I get vertigo, but I do it because I’m like, “Say that again?” I want to feel like what it feels like to not know, to be uncomfortable doing that, because not only will it make me a better person in terms of growth. I put myself in the comfort, but it will also make me more sensitive and more empathetic to somebody.
When I’m talking to them about reading three times faster, or talking about something that’s even possible in their mind, that’s what I’m feeling when I’m saying, “Oh, get on this surfboard, or get on this boat, I feel the same exact way.” If you’re going through something right now, keep at it, work smart, learn from your mistakes, pivot when you need to, and keep going, because here’s the other reason you do something is when you find your why is people are watching you. You’re struggling right now, there’s so many people who would totally give you an out and totally understand if you quit, but when you don’t, you inspire people with your grit and with your grace, and that’s the real gift that you give people.
Yeah, and another quote that I’ve heard recently that really stuck with me is we can do hard things, like you can do hard things, and in knowing that, and I love — I mean, there’s such a really big lesson in what you just said of how important it is to put ourselves in that place of be comfortable being uncomfortable.
But when you’re a beginner at something, you feel like an idiot. I mean, you just feel like stupid, and it’s a very insecure, uncomfortable feeling, but it’s that type of, I think, uncomfort that is the biggest growth, because when you have the grit to get through that and do it anyway, and keep doing it when you feel stupid and think, “I can never learn this, and oh my gosh, what are people thinking of me because I’m just — look at me. I look like a beginner,” but it’s like doing it anyway, and then realizing there’s just so much confidence that comes out that when you realize how much later that, “Wow, I’m actually decent at this,” and teaching ourselves that we can do hard things and we can learn hard things.
Yeah, and I think there’s two things that people could do that would empower people is number 1, it’s not your fault. Because, most of us weren’t taught how to do these things. None of us are born and crawled out to the hospital waiting room, start speed reading a magazine. It’s a skill we learned, and so if we weren’t taught it, then it’s not really our fault. So, I would say if you’re new to something, you’re taking up something brand new, then if it’s going a little slow for you, then be patient, because it’s not your fault, because most of us never really learned how to learn.
The second thing I would say is you’re not alone. I mean, how good of a feeling is it to know every time — I promise you, I get in front of thousands, tens and thousands of people all the time and I say, “How many people have trouble remembering a name? How many people read a page of a book and forget what they just read? How many people were in the shower and forgot if you shampooed your hair, or forget where you parked a car?” Everyone’s hand were raised, raised, raised, and it’s like a big support group because like, “Wow, I’m not the only one who’s going through this stuff.” I would say that whenever you’re tackling something new, be patient with yourself, be forgiving with yourself, be kind with yourself, and it’s that uncomfortability that usually happens right before you have that breakthrough. And you have to get comfortable with chaos and not understanding things, because that’s where you do learn it. Because, when you’re not putting yourself in that space, we’re just not growing.
Exactly. Alright, well one final question, and you’ve already covered a lot of myths, but I like to ask every guest, because I try to do some mythbusting, and really introduce people to some unconventional thinkers and doers, and that only unconventional thinkers and doers, obviously, they have some unconventional beliefs, I think. So, based in your life, it can be just professionally, personally, or what you see that you travel the world, you meet with all types of people, what’s a myth, maybe, that you come across most often where you just hear it over and over again, and you’re just like, “Ugh, I just want to bust that one.”
So I’ll give you a couple, because the first one, I’m just repeating that we just do as a theme on this, saying that their learning or their potential, their memory is fixed, and that’s a complete myth. A complete myth. That’s not fixed like our height, our shoe size. There’s growth. So, all of us have room for improvement, and so if you feel like you’re too old, or too whatever to fill in that blank, then it’s absolutely not true and it’s a lie. So, you don’t want to believe that. And there’s all kinds of ways to be able to get over it, and that’s a conversation for a different time. But, I think our intelligence being fixed is a misnomer. Even the IQ test has been debunked. It’s only testing for something that’s very specific areas of intelligence, and people feel like your IQ, is your intelligence is fixed all throughout your life, that whatever it was when it was 8, it’s going to be the same when it’s 88. So, that’s a complete myth.
We also know that it’s a myth that we use only a small fragment of our brain. We actually use all of our brain, or at least most of it. So, it’s not like the 10% or the 2% that we once thought. It’s actually all of it. But, how we use it is different. So, how somebody who’s had a trained, that has gone through a curriculum of brain training uses their brain way differently than somebody who didn’t have access to that training. They could be using all that brain, but how you’re using it is differently, if that makes sense.
The last myth I would mention for people is I would go back to this myth of responsibility, and I’ll share this because you’ll see behind me is Iron Man, and I always believe in SuperheroYou, I call it, the Y-O-U, which is our best self, that we are the superhero that we’ve been waiting for, and I really think that so many people are waiting for Superman or waiting for Superwoman to save them, but we ultimately are the superhero we’ve been waiting for.
Recently, I got to introduce two of my superheroes together. It was Sir Richard Branson and Stan Lee. Not Stanley, but the co-creator of Iron Man, and Fantastic Four, and Avengers, and X-Men. We’re going to dinner and I ask Stan, I was like, “You created this pantheon of superheroes that I love. Who’s your favorite?” He’s like, “Jim, my favorite is Iron Man.” I’m like, “That’s amazing,” and he’s like, “Jim, who’s your favorite?” and I was like, “My favorite is Spider-Man, because Spider-Man, really, he was picked on, he was bullied, he couldn’t fit in in school, and I felt like that was me,” and when I said Spider-Man, without a blink, he goes, “With great power comes great responsibility,” right? We’ve all heard it, we don’t remember when we heard it, but it’s like in our DNA, but we’re all on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, right? I’m like, “You know, that’s funny, Stan, you’re right. With great power comes great responsibility, like when you have great power, like you’re the president of the United States, you have a great responsibility,” and I was like, “Of course, I mentioned l mentioned Kwik Thinking, which teaches you how to think out of the box, and differently, and invertedly, and everything.” I was like, “The opposite is also true. With great responsibility comes great power.” With great responsibility comes great power.
I think a myth comes from one of the lies we tell ourselves is we’re not capable, or we’re not responsible, or we’re a victim. We’re at the response of things. But, we actually have the ability to respond proactively, and what I mean by that is when we take responsibility, we have the power to make things better. I think there’s a myth that people think that discipline – here’s another myth that goes in line with responsibility – is that discipline is a prison. A lot of people feel like, “Oh, I have to work out, I have to go drink this green juice, I have to clean the juicer here, I have to write in my journal, I have to do this with my kids, or I have to move for 30 minutes, whatever it is,” and then they always say, “I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this.” But, when you change your “got” to “get”. “I get to work out, or I get to work with my kids, I get to read today, I get to journal,” everything opens up.
Simple one letter from “got” to “get”, and everything opens up. Because, when we take responsibility, discipline is not a jailor. Discipline is complete freedom. Because what’s a jailor is when you can’t get yourself to do something you have to do, then you are in prison. So, I think the other myth going along the lines is discipline. People don’t want to be disciplined because they want to be free and they want to be out. “I don’t want to plan the first hour of my day. I want to be spontaneous.” When you are disciplined, it allows a level of freedom that most people will never experience.
I totally agree. So, to close, and to really book in the close, I want to say, again, a public thank you. I don’t think you really realize how you’ve really helped me regain my brain, and I’ve learned so much from you. I’ve probably attended every conference of yours since after I got back from being sick as well as some personal coaching at your house. So, I really admire you and I value your work and thank you for what you do, because I know you’ve helped millions of people, but I’m one of those.
Thank you, and I want to congratulate you also in being such a force of inspiration. I think the world needs modern-day superheroes. I see your cape flowing on the back. Because a superhero, they have two traits, right? They found a unique ability, or a strength, or a talent, or a superpower. But just having a superpower doesn’t make you, necessarily a superhero, because you have to use that superpower for good. So, I want to thank you right back for the good that you do. And I want to thank everyone also for being here with us also, for exercising your superpower, for being present here, and committing yourself to lifelong learning.
Well, thank you, and where can my listeners find you?
We created a brain gift for everybody. You know, we worked with your team, and we put together a training for people more on speedreading and memory like more in the how-to-do-it’s’, like the step-by-step procedures. So, they can go to jimkwik.com/wise. Jim Kwik, and that’s K-W-I-K, my real name, jimkwik.com/wise, and you get to get all these amazing brain training videos. There’s no cost, but it’s our thank you for playing full out and showing up for this.
Well, thank you, and we’ll put that link in the show notes to make it very easy for everyone. Well, thanks again. I really appreciate you and your time, and thank you for being here with us.
Thank you, Krisstina. Thank you everybody.
And so ends another episode of the Wealthy Wellthy Life. This was one more millionaire mindset that will make you wealthy while keeping you healthy. Before you leave, if you want to learn how to become rich, healthy, and happy, then sign up for my free money training at mindfulmoneywebinar.com. You will learn my signature formula for transforming your life from debt into a healthy multimillionaire. It’s the only money making system that makes your health your number one asset. It’s helped thousands of others and it can help you too. If you’re curious how it all works, visit mindfulmoneywebinar.com and sign up today. Again, that’s mindfulmoneywebinar.com. Remember, it’s free. And as always, be sure to subscribe to my podcast to make sure that you catch next week’s millionaire mindset. This is Krisstina Wise, your personal guide to having it all, signing off. Here’s to living a Wealthy Wellthy Life. I’ll see you next time.