[08:12] About Jim Kwik
[10:16] How Jim Became a Memory and Learning Expert In Spite of a Serious Head Injury as a Child
[21:43] Do We Only Use Part of our Brain?
[27:58] How Technology Can Make You Stupid if You Use it Incorrectly
[35:53] The 5 Stages of Learning
[40:20] Something to Learn From Jim’s Conversation with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger
[42:34] Five Easy Ways to Remember Names Better
[51:37] Speed Reading Tips from Jim
[1:06:31] The Jim Kwik Diet to Achieve Maximum Brain Function
[1:09:05] Jim’s Ten Keys
[1:14:04] Jim’s 4 videos
[1:17:55] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield. At the time you are listening to this, I am off the coast of Florida somewhere taking a free-diving course. So I’m likely a hundred feet down the Pacific Ocean underneath a boat getting eaten by a shark. But I still wanted to bring you an episode so, do I have a doozy for you. It’s Jim Kwik. You’ll learn more about him in a minute.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“A light switch just went on. I’m like this aha and I started to understand things for the first time. I started to focus. I started to read 2, 3, 4, 5 times faster and all of a sudden my grade started to explode but then so did my life”. “And so what I do is I’m like a personal trainer for your brain to make your brain more fit, and more agile, and stronger, and more explosive. And it can be done, right because your brain is like a muscle. This mindlessness that were in you know, we’re multi-tasking everywhere and we know that multi-tasking is not real. It’s an illusion that we’re actually just switching from one thing to another and just switching costs to be able to regain our focus.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks its Ben Greenfield here, and my guest in today’s podcast is Jim Kwik. And yes, that’s his real name k-w-i-k. Jim Kwik and Jim is very, very quick. He can actually learn things much faster than mere mortals like you and I. Take reading for example. Most folks read at about two hundred to two hundred and fifty words per minute which is also called wpm, but Jim can read heavy science material at five hundred wpm and light fiction at upwards of thirteen hundred wpm, and he remembers the stuff he reads. I’ve seen Jim on stage memorizing the names of every face in the crowd and big strings of random numbers. A lot of us struggle to remember like the seven-digits of a phone number, but Jim can remember phone numbers all day long. Hundreds of them.
The fact is though that Jim isn’t necessarily special as you’re gonna learn in today’s podcast episode. He doesn’t have some kind of natural super powers. He’s had to learn all these stuff. And in today’s episode you’re gonna learn how you too, can pick up a lot of these things that Jim does regardless of your age, or your background, or your education, and you can get your brain to work better. Jim helps a lot of people. He worked with the cast of the X-Men. He advices celebrities and high performers like Will Smith and Elon Musk. And today, you’re gonna learn his amazing story how he kind of became one of the smartest guys as one of the fastest brains on the face of the plant and how you can use a lot of his techniques to achieve what you want to get a better brain for yourself. So, this is gonna be really cool episode. Jim’s a great guy. He’s a wealth of knowledge. So sit back and get ready to soak this stuff up. Jim, thanks for coming in the show, man.
Jim: Ben, thank you so much for having me and hello to everyone who’s listening. Looking forward to this.
Ben: Yeah, it’s gonna be fun and like I just mentioned you didn’t start off. You weren’t born you know, holding a science novel and reading the fifteen hundred wpm. So how did this all happen? How’d you become a memory and learning expert?
Jim: Ok well, you could say that my, you know to add a cliché phrase but my inspiration really was my desperation. When people see me do the things that you see me do onstage memorize a roomful of people’s names or hundred random words in out of order, numbers you know, hundred number forwards and backwards. I always tell people afterwards I don’t do this to impress you. I really do this to express to you what’s really possible coz as you said, everyone could do this and no matter their age or their background, their career or their diet or education, you name it, their gender. It’s just we weren’t taught that. If anything we were taught this lie, this lie that we’re not smart enough or that our intelligence, our learning, our potential, our memory is somehow fixed like our shoe size and we know from all the research we learn more about the human brain in the past twenty years and the previous two thousand years, and what we learn is that it has an incredible capacity to focus, to think, to absorb information, to retain information way beyond what people once thought. And so it’s not fixed and if anything we were taught that lie and I know this from personal experience.
I wasn’t always able to do these things. In fact, when I grew up, I grew up with severe learning challenges. And a lot of people don’t know that about me. When I was, the impetus of it was when I was 5 years old I had a really bad accident in kindergarten and I had head injury and some brain challenges and that lead to this string literally, like a decade and a half of learning disabilities.
Ben: What happened?
Jim: I took a really bad fall head first into an iron grate radiator and I got knocked out and as a 5-year old kid.
Ben: Like one of those super-duper like hard radiators that you see against the wall?
Jim: And it was a little bit crazy and I remember just waking up in the hospital and it’s scary and at the age of 5 right, when you don’t have a real sense of identity and…
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Jim: You know, I was out of school for a while but when I came back I just didn’t understand things. I didn’t you know, growing up in elementary school, junior high even in high school I wouldn’t understand what teachers would talk about. I had really a lot of problems focusing. I didn’t have a memory to speak of. It even took me an extra couple of years longer than all my friends to learn how to read. And so it’s a real challenge and when I got to college, I was really excited because I was like, ok no one knows me here. I could start fresh, show the world, show my family, show myself that I can really succeed and not have to struggle and suffer and when I did, it actually got worse. And at that time I was ready to quit school freshman year and a friend of mine, I was in New York. A friend of mine was like, why don’t you come visit and go home for the weekend to California and see my folks, and why don’t you go and come with me and get some perspective. And I decided to do it. I’ve never been to California before.
When I get to the family’s home, the family’s extremely successful, I mean, beautiful home on the water and stuff but they were just besides the wealth they were happy, right? And the father walks me around his property right before dinner and asked me a very innocent question. Asked me how’s school? You know, something you would ask an eighteen year old, right? And I just, I honestly I just break down. I start crying. And to this complete stranger, because I had so much pressure and I tell him that I have to tell my parents that I’m gonna have to quit and I’m not just not good enough for this. It’s not meant to be and he asked me a very innocent question again so he was like, why are you in school? You know what you do wanna be? What do you wanna do? What do you wanna have? What do you wanna share? And honestly it took me by surprise coz that’s not a question I’ve ever asked before but you asked a new question you get a new answer and when I go to that response he says stop. And he takes out of his back pocket a journal. And I always thought like twelve year old girls carried diaries and wrote on diaries but he takes a couple of sheets out if the journal and he makes me write down my goals.
And after a while, I don’t know how much time went by but I write 50 things on there you know, like a bucket list before anyone knew what a bucket list was, and when I was done with the exercise I just started folding the sheets to put in my pocket and he reaches out and grabs it then he just starts reading it. And I start freaking out coz I don’t expect like somebody to look at my intimate dreams and my goals, and my desires, and my fantasies. And I don’t even know what he’s thinking and the guy’s obviously very successful and he looks at me right in the eyes and says, Jim, you are this close to everything on this list. And he’s holding his 2 index fingers spread apart about ten inches. And I’m thinking, you gotta be kidding me, right? You give me 10 lifetimes I can’t crack that list and he takes his index fingers and he puts them on the side of my temples. The side of my head and you know, implying that it was my brain, between this close and like my head here.
Jim: And he takes me into his home into a room I’ve never seen before. It’s wall to wall, ceiling to floor covered in books, and now I’d be really excited about seeing that room but not at that time but I mean, he starts grabbing books and starts handing them to me. And I start looking at the titles and there are biographies of men and women in history and some very early personal growth books I mean, Ben the old school stuff like the Norman Vincent Peale, Power of Positive Thinking. Psycho Cybernetics, you know, mind. And he says, Jim you have to read one of these books a week if you want the things on that list. And I’m thinking, are you kidding me? I’m a horrible reader. I have not been listening. I can’t even keep up with school. I’m ready to quit and he looks me right in the eyes and he says, Jim, he said don’t let school get in the way of your education and I was like, wow! I didn’t even know back then that there was a Mark Twain quote but I was like, that’s fair and yet, that’s a nice quote and yet I still can’t read all these. And then he has the audacity he reaches into his back pocket and takes out my bucket list which he still has and he starts reading every single thing line by line. And honestly, Ben a lot of the things on that list were things I wanted to do for my family, you know things that they can never afford, they would never do for themselves and with that extra leverage I agreed to read 1 book a week. So now I’m back at school and now I’m at my desk and I have a pile of books that I need to read for school and a pile of books that I wanna read for my life. And in order to do that I don’t do the things that you teach to your listeners, to your audience. I don’t take care of myself. I don’t make self-care a priority. I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I’m just living in the library. I’ve no social time. I’m not working out. I’m not doing all the things that are good for my wellness and peak performance. I just live in the library and one day as you can imagine.
Ben: You mean that was then?
Jim: That was back then.
Jim: Coz I was trying to keep up with all the school work and all of these books I told my mentor I would read so I’m living in the library and I hit a wall and the wall came in the form of me just passing out from sheer exhaustion. I fell down the flight of stairs at the library. I hit my head again and I wake up in the hospital. And now at this point I wake up and I’m hooked up to all these IV’s coz I’m very malnourished. I’m very underweight. I weigh a hundred and seventeen pounds. So it’s a scary place. I thought I died and maybe a part me kind of wished I did and I think there just has to be a better way and when I had that thought the nurse came in with a mug of green tea and it had a picture or a drawing of a pretty famous iconic genius it was Albert Einstein, and it had a quote on it. One of those quoting mugs. And it said, everyone is heard a million times at different adoration something to the effect of the same level of thinking that’s created your problem won’t solve your problem, you know that whole idea of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, and that’s what I was like. It was my problem. I was thinking, oh I promise I’m a really slow learner. I was like, well how do I think differently about this problem? I was like, well maybe I can learn how to learn faster and I thought, well, how do I do that? I thought, school. And I picked up a course bulletin with all the courses to choose for next semester and I saw hundreds of classes and all the classes were classes on what to learn. Math, History, Science, Spanish but there are zero classes on how to learn, right? How to think. How to be creative. How to solve problems. How to focus and concentrate. How to read faster. How to remember things. I always thought you know, there should have been a fourth R. They teach you 3 R’s in school; reading, writing. Arithmetic. But what about a fourth R retention, you know? What about recall? What about remembering? You know, Socrates says there is no learning without remembering.
And so anyway, I started studying that. My whole mind was set around this riddle. How do I work my brain? How’s my brain work so I could work my brain better? How’s my memory work so I could work my memory? I started studying everything on brain science, adult learning theory on multiple intelligence. Anything I get my hands on to help me basically hack my own mind and fix my forgetfulness and all the issues that I had and in a short period of time about 60 days into it a light switch just went on. It’s like this aha! I started to understand things for the first time. I started to focus. I started to read 2, 3, 4, 5 times faster and all of a sudden my grades started to explode but then so did my life. And how I ended up teaching it and us having this conversation now is you know, once you get that kind of results in your life you can’t help but share with other people, right? I didn’t understand why we weren’t taught this back in school coz we were very ill-prepared. And I started tutoring and one of my first students, she was a freshman in college and she struggled with the speed reading for about a week, but then a light switch went on and she ended up reading thirty books in thirty days. Isn’t that amazing, Ben? If anyone can read this thing in history like 30 books and go to Amazon pick out 30 books, have them shipped to you and just read them in a month. Like how amazing would your life be? And I wanted to find out not how she did it, I wanna know why and I found out that her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given 60 days to live and the books she was reading were books to save her mom’s life. And I can’t even hardly talk about it now, but I get a call from her 6 months later and she’s crying, and crying, and crying and I find out their mother did not only survive but was really starting to get better. Doctors don’t know how or why they caught a miracle but her mother attributes it a hundred percent to great advice she got from her daughter who learned it from all these books.
Jim: And that’s where I realized that you know, ideas are learning that knowledge is power then learning is a super power. It’s your super power. It’s the biggest fulcrum to be able to move things in your life. To be able to multiply and magnify your life is your ability to learn and that’s why I dedicated my life to showing people how to get more out of their minds and get ahead.
Ben: I wanna ask you about a few of your techniques here when it comes to things like speed reading and memorization but before I do, I hear this thrown around all the time and wanna get your take on it. The fact that or the idea that we only use a certain percentage of our brains for like 10%, 1%, 5%. What’s your take on that? Do we only use part of our brains?
Jim: Yeah, everything I talk about is very functional. And so, I like to take the theory and turn them into techniques that are really practical. I’ve heard all of the same things that you have also. You know, Einstein virtually said that we use like 10% of our brain, I read that and I know Stanford University later on came out with 2%. I read something recently one ten thousandth of one percent like we have enough brain power to last us a million lifetimes. It keeps on going down you know, all of this seventies had something to do with it or what. But the latest research is actually saying we actually use our brain. It’s just how we’re using it is very inefficient. It’s the equivalent of me being if like I was a really good typer back in school coz I wasn’t good at anything in school, but when I used to visit my grandmother she would have this, no toys but rusty, dusty typewriter. When I took typing back in middle school, I picked it up and I had this 2-finger technique and I did really well with it but when the teacher asked me to use all my fingers it felt a little bit differently and such. I just think we learn in a different way. They say that we use all our brain but it’s how were using it is not as productive or as high performance as it needs to be. And so, I like to be able to optimize that for individuals and show them how to absorb information. How to concentrate. How to be able to solve their problems and how to remember it more in less time.
Ben: Ok. Got it. so it’s not a really clear biological like how much of our brains that we actually use but your goals is just to teach people how to use as much of it as they actually can.
Jim: And it comes coz I think people use all their brain but their potential is nowhere near their potential, right? So people could for example, move around and use their body but they’re not expressing it as way that does as someone like you and a lot of your audience. What I love about talking to yourself and to a lot of your listeners is your high performers. You know, you’re going out there and you’re ready. Some people are already top of their class and they just want to up level to the next level. And so what I do is I’m like a personal trainer for your brain to make your brain more fit, more agile and stronger. More explosive and it can be done, right because your brain is like a muscle but it’s use it or lose it. And then too [0:24:17.1] ______ people usually have with their cognitive ability’s usually when their out of school because sometimes when they graduate school they feel like their learning is done, and when they retire sometimes they retire their brain and their body is not far from that. In fact there’s a lot of correlation when we talk about health and high performance that keeping your brain active actually helps you keep live longer.
On the cover of Time Magazine they had the super nuns (inaudible) that what these nuns living well in through the eighties, ninety a hundred above. They wanted to find out what’s the secret to longevity. Part of it had to do with their faith and their gratitude but the other half had to do is they were dedicated life-long learners. I mean, they were having deep conversations. They were reading a lot. They were doing puzzles. They were doing all these things keeping their brain alive and then actually help keep them alive longer and also added more not only years to their life but also life to their years also as well.
But one of the biggest challenge I might say your brain is like a muscle is we live in this age, they call it now digital dementia. People suffering. And I don’t know if people can relate to this right now. It’s a new kind of buzz word in health is that even if you’re in your twenties listening to this if you feel like you’re more absent-minded, like you’re taking a shower, you can’t remember if you shampooed your hair, you walk into a room, open up the refrigerator and just forget what you’re looking for. Or go to a store to buy that one thing at Whole Foods and you come back with a whole grocery bag except for that one thing. Or you forget a name or you forget where you put your keys or where you parked your car. All those things, you know, part of it is mindlessness that were in your multi-tasking everywhere. And we know that multi-tasking is not real. It’s an illusion that we’re actually just switching from one thing to another and there’s switching cost to be able to regain our focus. So people who are more productive are people who have more focus. But not only that it’s how we’re outsourcing our brains to technology.
Think about years ago how many phone numbers we used to know back then, but now we outsource our memories to our phones like our phone numbers, our emails, our calendars, our to-do’s. It does simple math for us. It helps us get up from here to there but because our brains aren’t getting the exercise it would normally get, we’re having these memory lapses. I was talking in front of thousands of doctors and somebody gave me this term actually this situation where because of technology like GPS we’re outsourcing our brains looking for a third party device to tell us when and where to turn. It’s actually they’re not getting early detection of things like dementia or Alzheimer’s because they’re not realizing when they would normally have memory loss and they’re not going to the doctor to get it checked it out.
So this is a real situation. I believe that technology is great. It makes your life much more convenient but in other ways it’s crippling. It would be the equivalent of, Ben you know somebody getting in the car to run an errand that’s 2 blocks away. They’re using technology as it might be convenient but their body is not getting the exercise, right? Escalator or elevator they’re not taking the stairs and not building the muscles and we know with your brain with things like neurogenesis, neuroplasticity. Neurogenesis, genesis meaning birth, you could create new brain cells until the day you die. Neuroplasticity, you’re saying your brain is like plastic and you could create new connections by having new thoughts and novelty. Einstein’s brain wasn’t bigger than anyone else is if anything, it was a little below average but he had more density in different parts of his brain because he would run these thought experiments and he would create this neuroplasticity. All these connections between brain cells that I would just imagine it being a communication device where these wires are just so interconnected and you just have amazing ideas, and thoughts, and intelligence.
Ben: Yeah. I don’t know, man. I don’t know about the technology thing because for me it helps me to keep a clear head, right? Like when I can goggle something quickly and get it off my plate or when I can use something like Evernote to get rid of ten things that are jumbled around in my brain. For me, the way that I work is I can then write a creative chapter in a work of fiction much better because I feel like I have a clear head, or I can sit down and learn the finger-styling on a specific guitar piece because I don’t have all those distractions. So for me, I think it depends on how you use technology.
Jim: Completely and also use our brain. You know some people they outsource their brain and they don’t use their brain for higher levels of thinking and creativity, right? And again, I love technology and I use all of the different apps and my phone you know, a lot of times is my best friend. The challenge is so I believe in getting information out of your mind and organizing it and having clear thoughts. You know, like your brain like your mind on water. For me, what I like to apply these things for is similar to like when we talk about reading, for example. And you have books on your shelf, and yes we can always reference this information and yet it’s one thing to have something on the tip of your tongue it’s another to have it like at our metal fingertips where it’s a part of a (inaudible) in a book and you absorb the book and organize it in a way that you could actually teach a class on the one thing, or on essentialism, or on whatever you could to create or whatever reading. So it’s the habit is part of your organized knowledge base. That’s what I wanna get people to and I’m all for creativity and decision. We have our whole programs. Our programs online are speed reading memory programs we’re in a hundred fifty countries and a lot of it is based on expressing that information once you learn it. How do you express it, and then teach it to others, and write about it, and publish it and stuff.
Ben: Yeah, it reminds me of one of my favorite books growing up, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The section where he meets Watson and he says, I believe after learning his name I don’t remember if this is the context for sure but it was something that Sherlock Holmes got introduced to, and he said, “now I’ll do my best to forget it”, and his reasoning there is that every time you have to add knowledge into your brain you might forget something that you knew before and his powers of deduction come from keeping a clear head that isn’t jumbled about with a bunch of facts. So yeah, I think we walk a fine line between like using technology and outsourcing facts versus keeping it.
Jim: And I love, just on this topic of the idea of mindfulness. My mind is not racing other that when I want it to be. I have my mindful practices every single day, multiple times a day and the thing is it shows the opposite. Like everyone knows, like you could go out there and double your knowledge base and you can know twice as much as your field but you’d be more valuable to others, and certainly in the workplace and the opposite is also true if we lost half our memories, we would lose a lot and so all I’m saying it’s not just memorizing facts but having it in a way that you would apply it and comprehend it. And understand it also because there’s a difference between being able to just write and memorized a certain formula or a certain date in history and actually apply that information to higher levels of thinking and comprehension. That’s where I like to spend the time and I like to show people how to remember the things that they wanna remember and remember it long term. I mean, people could read a book or go to an incredible event and then 2 days later they don’t realize there’s a learning curve but there’s also a forgetting curve like why go to a business conference or go to a high performance health event and then 2 days later they say you could lose up to 80% of what you learned. And that’s a travesty because you’re always trying to gain to be able to catch up.
Ben: Yeah, returning to that concept of kinda like retiring or dying or using the brain like a muscle so that you don’t lose it. Do you personally go out of your way to pick up new skills, or new tasks, or learn new things on a daily or on a weekly, or on a monthly basis? Do you have any kind of system or rule that you follow to just like pick up new things?
Jim: I do, and one of the things that I just think is very important for everybody is, this is a lifestyle for me, right? Much like what you teach is you live it and I had to spend some time with as you mentioned, Will Smith on the set of a new superhero film that’s coming out and I’m a superhero geek and this is my life. I had trouble reading in school and I taught myself how to read by reading comic books late at night when everyone thought I was sleeping. It’s something about the stories and illustrations just brought it to life. But you know, he has this phrase where he says that he doesn’t have to get prepared because he stays prepared, you know what I mean? And then a part of it is our lifestyle. I’m sure you could roll out a bed at four o’clock in the morning and people could ask you about things and you could do it because you live it, right? And so, part of what we’re talking about and keeping things up to date with our brains something I live all the time is your brain thrives like neurogenesis and plasticity. It thrives on having the proper nutrients. The proper amounts of oxygen and novelty, right? Just like our bodies do. And so I think it’s important always to keep on learning and that learning only stops when we die coz when we’re green we grow and we’re [0:33:42.5] ______.
That being said, yes I do. For 4 years I read a book a day. I don’t quite do that right now. I like to get people reading at least, on our student’s online reading one book a week which is very, very doable coz an average person reads about a book, a book and a half a year. And our students read the upwards of fifty-two books a year, and so I think reading is really important because the half-life of information now is tough, right? With more [0:34:09.3] ______ and the amount of information doubling at dizzying speed, you know what we know now is often outdated. So I would say that reading and spending thirty minutes a day reading is just not only good to be current on what’s going on in you field of expertise but also it’s great to exercise, I mean there’s nothing better than reading especially the speed reading to keep on walking and jogging or sprinting. It’s like the difference between people’s reading and speed reading and so I think reading is very, very important to stay up to date.
Ben: There seems to be something different neurally that’s going on when you read though. Like reading for me, I think perhaps in that way, I may be a little bit like you seem to be with reading it almost is something that you digest with great veracity and it comes very easily and I’m kind of the same way with reading. I love to read and I’ll pick up books and digest them extremely quickly but it’s at the point where it’s not that challenging to read. And the way that I understand it is that the more that you do something, the deeper that you carve those pathways in your brain that become comfortable with those specific activities. So for example, I also write a lot. I have since I was about 7 years old and writing comes very, very easily to me but then you know, for example I’m learning to box right now, and my head is just spinning the whole time with just 6 different punches for boxing. My coach will tell me throw a one, a four and a six and if you’re to tell me to read for twenty minutes I just breeze through it but just doing something as simple as throwing a one, and a four, and a six for 5 minutes in a row makes my head spin. Can you get to a point where you get so comfortable with something that you’re doing a lot to make you more intelligent or to keep your brain turned on that you need to figure out a way to make it more difficult or you need to introduce something new?
Jim: A hundred percent. And so I’m all about the challenge coz I think you know, as they say with challenge comes the change, and so, with reading and deepening the groves talk about that and talk about habit building, and stuff like in that field I would say that again, the difference between reading a 200 words a minute which the average person does, a reading at 400 to 500. Essentially, reading something at 15 minutes normally takes an hour and still getting the same value and comprehension, and understanding, and recall of it is totally different exercise. And so, part of just like with working out it’s a lot of it is you stretch, and then you stabilize, and then you rest, and then you stretch again. And so that’s a lot with the learning even up leveling people and their reading abilities. You know, people think that they should be such a great reader because they have been doing it for 2, 3, 4, 5 decades. But that’s not true. It’s the equivalent of that same saying people say they have 20 years of experience in business or whatever, but some of them have only had one year of experience twenty times because if you just repeat the same thing you’re not getting any better because it’s not just the practice of doing it it’s the training and the stretching that does it, right? Just like when you’re working out with your body. And so taking it to new levels, I would say that the levels of learning that we know in adult learning theory, we know the first level of learning anything is this level of unconscious incompetence. That’s unconscious, we’re not aware of something. Incompetent, meaning we can’t do it. We don’t know. We don’t know. So for instance, speed reading, most people don’t realize every single person listening to this call it double or triple their reading speed with no sacrifice to their comprehension. So they’re unconsciously incompetent. They don’t know. They don’t know.
The second level stage to get to and this goes back to the habits and learning 6 different punches for example. The second level learning is conscious incompetence. That means you’re consciously aware that you’re incompetent. You don’t know how to do it.
The third stage of leaning is a stage of conscious competence. Conscious competence is a stage where you are competent you can do this skill but it takes your conscious coz this is conscious competence attention and awareness, right? And so some people for example, they could type or they could drive the car but they have to consciously pay attention to that act.
But the fourth level of learning is really at this stage you wanna get people to. That’s the stage of unconscious competence. Unconscious meaning you’re not aware of it and you’re competent. That’s the level of second nature and the only way to get that from stage three to stage four where you’re consciously competent to unconsciously competent second nature is through that practice and rehearsal coz every single time that you do it you know, you’re creating these pathways in the nervous system that allows you to do it easier a second time. And you know in this interval training and this spaced out repetition helps you to do that.
Now the fifth level, I would say I would add another level on to that is the level of mastery which you’re well aware of because you’re a student of that and some people say it takes ten thousand hours I think it can be done a lot less than that obviously coz I teach that as learning. But that’s the stage where you’re an expert on your one of the notables in your space for. And so anyway, going back to this, I would say that anything that doesn’t challenge you is not really changing us that if you’re not stretching, if you’re not feeling uncomfortable, then you’re not about to have that breakthrough and they say that that would break down that would break through. I often feel like people’s success is directly correlated to their ability to withstand like that chaos or that uncomfortable.
Ben: Yeah. I don’t know, man there’s some biohackers who would disagree with you and say that you could hook yourself up to electrodes and learn to meditate, you know, very easily.
Jim: Oh, sorry and I’m friends with a lot of these people and they come over to the home and stuff like that, and I do that. And I’m adviser on a couple of brain tech companies and I’m all for slowing down and making it easy. It’s just for me to be able to build the muscle it still requires some kind of stretch or some kind of effort and the metaphor, I’m not saying wholeheartedly across the board. Like for example, I got to watch the Manny, the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight. I got invited over there to be with Sylvester Stallone and I was just like, I won’t go to the circumstance to allow that to happen, but I’m over his house and it’s him, myself and Arnold The Terminator, and after watching it and the fight itself was really disappointing but it allowed for a lot of conversation, and the 3 of us just literally the 3 of us on the couch watching this, and this was a weird sight where just like, who photo shopped me in that image? But I asked them like, what’s the difference between that and a champion, and Arnold comes out and says like, “the champion as you’ve heard before was in terms of [0:41:01.0] ______ people who could get through that pain period,” right? I remember asking Stallone about something I didn’t really wanna do and stuff and he asked, you know, is the pleasure worth the pain? And they’re very highly sensitized, these 2 gentlemen who have accomplished a lot with their bodies and knows maybe and their careers. But going through that uncomfortable spot, I think like even with speed reading like I teach people in the beginning it’s a little bit uncomfortable just like lifting weights or doing different exercises and stuff like that, but it allows me to get the growth. And that’s more my attitude.
Ben: Yeah, that’s sounds like a couple of good guys who watch a fight with, by the way, man.
Jim: (laughs) But I mean, going through those uncomfortable things like, I just got out of cryotherapy this morning and I just like, and I don’t know how you feel. I’d love to get your opinion offline about it, but it’s just like sitting in that chamber and it’s full body, I’m just sitting there and I wanna leave but getting myself to push through sometimes, and I’m not saying it’s dangerous or anything like that, but just to experiment myself coz that’s when you wanna be able to show up in life. Like when you’re out there and being able to push through what’s uncomfortable to get on stage, or to meet that person, or to show up. Coz I think how we do anything is how we do everything.
Ben: Yeah, I throw my kids in one of those every morning cold bath. Just to toughen ém up a little bit before school. I do that too. I’m in there every morning for about ten minutes in a cold bath we have outside. It’s good stuff. I do like it.
So I wanna delve into through your techniques. So here’s a biggie. It’s simple, I think but a biggie. Names. So you meet somebody, you freaking forget their name like 5 minutes later. Maybe it’s a girl that you think is cute and you’re embarrassed coz you can’t remember her name. Or a business colleague who you know you need to impress and now you’re again embarrassed because you can’t remember their name. How can you remember names better?
Jim: Ok. So I’ll give you a number of distinctions. And that’s really what I think a coach does is they know stuff coz they made it their study. And just stream of consciousness I’m gonna give you some real usable things, everyone. First of all, we know why it’s important, right because I think out there it’s like not only what you know which is accelerated learning point it’s also who you know and who knows you. And so part of that is remembering them and things about them and then also, people also it’s so rare you remember someone’s name. So when you actually remember someone’s name, you really stand out. When you go walk into a room meet twenty strangers and leave saying goodbye to all of them by name, they all remember you.
So it’s something that’s so important. And so I would say, remember there are 5 things that are important. I would say, Dr. Mom. D-r-m-o-m and I’m just using an acronym here so people who I guess can’t write it down because they’re working or they’re driving they’ll still remember it. The D stands for decide. And I would say this. I might not even go into the visualization of how I remember names and everything. I’m just getting to the psychology coz I really do believe 80% of success is still gonna come to the mental part of it. And so having the attitude that you decide to do something or you decide to remember it is gonna greatly increase your chance of being able to remember it, alright? So it sounds kind of funny but most people aren’t used to making real decisions. What a lot of people do is they’ll talk about things that they prefer or things they might be interested in but they don’t really decide. If you walk in through this decide you’re gonna remember 3 people’s names. You’re gonna do it, right?
Jim: And so the R in Dr. Mom stands for relax. And again, this is so common sense but it’s not common practice. One of the biggest obstacles to effective reading, to effective memory, to study in the next level is getting rid of stress because when you are in stress you create cortisone, and adrenaline, and it’s really great for fight or flight. It’s not good if you need to take a test. It’s not good if you need to give a talk publicly. It’s not good if you need to be able to remember someone’s name. So you need to be able to relax.
I would say the mom is really important. The M stands for… let me say this. Let’s say if you’re listening to this right now and you’re horrible with names, and you just can’t remember anyone’s name but we have a suitcase here of a hundred thousand dollars cash if you just remember the name of the next person you meet, you will get that cash or if you’re non-profit or whatever. And of course, everyone’s gonna remember that person’s name, right? So the M stands for motivation. So I just wanna point out that everyone will remember that person’s name when they’re incentivized to do so. So it had nothing to do with their potential and nothing to do with their capability. It had everything to do with whether or not they were motivated. So M stands for motivation. And so I would say is, you wanna remember someone’s name and this is the thing, we remember the name of the people that were motivated also. Like you think about someone that you mentioned, someone you’re attracted to, or someone you wanna do business with. You know, someone you’re motivated you’re much more likely to remember the person’s name. So it’s a simple tactic to be able to remember names. Just ask yourself, why do I wanna remember this person’s name? Because if you can’t come up with a reason, you’re not gonna remember that person’s name but even trying to come up with a reason like, I wanna show this person respect. I wanna practice these tips I learned from Jim Kwik. I wanna do a business deal, whatever. Just come up with a reason that will help you remember their name because here’s the tweetable; reasons reap results, right?
Jim: We’ve all read the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. Always start with why. I believe there’s a success formula. I caught H cubed that you know, you can affirm things in your head all day. You could visualize things. You could think things positive thoughts about what you want and the goals that you want, but if you’re not using your hands, had hands to where the H is then usually what’s that taking action on and what you’re thinking about usually what’s missing is that second H which is your heart. Your heart which symbolizes emotion. The energy of motion coz you can’t stir a parked car. You need fuel and so what’s your why? So ask yourself, why do you wanna remember this? Why do you wanna learn this language? Why do you remember this act? Why do wanna remember this person’s name?
And the O in mom stands for observation. Observation. And this is the thing a lot of people they blame their memory, it’s poor. They blame their retention. It has nothing to do with their retention it has everything to do with their attention. And the example I use for this is the first time I got to meet the President Clinton. And a lot of people know he’s an incredible communicator and connector. He’s got this charisma. A lot of people don’t know he’s got an incredible memory. An incredible memory for people. And you know, the first time I met him I was like how do you do it? What memory tricks are you using or techniques are you using? And he looks at me and says, “Jim I don’t use any of these techniques even though I know that it works”. It’s like, I find out that his grandfather would take the grandchildren in Arkansas and tell them stories, but afterwards he would quiz them to really see if they were listening and paying attention. Last time I was with him, I was at a charity event. I was sitting next to him at a charity event with 2,000 people. And there were some really amazing people at that table. Like it just worked out that way. Branson was on there. Forest Whitaker, Ashton Kutcher, his twin brother. I put and post a picture on Instagram looks kinda interesting to be seen there, but like I’m talking to Bill and I also noticed that he has this incredible memory but incredible powerful presence. A very powerful presence. I think his powerful presence comes from being powerfully present. Well, the reason why I’m saying that is when I’m at that table there’s 7 other people much more important and notable than I am and certainly in that room and that table, but when he’s talking to you it’s like nobody else in that ballroom, the 2,000 people don’t exist. Because he’s looking right at you and he’s present. You could tell he’s not talking to himself. He’s not looking over your shoulder and that’s so rare nowadays right, Ben? Like you were so out multitasking and looking around and just want to meet a lot of people and take a lot of names whatever, but people really been on the phrase. People don’t want your gifts or your presents. They want your presence. And I think his incredible memory comes from being powerfully present. If you take the word like what we’re talking about observation. We’re talking about the word listen. If you scramble the word letters in listen, it actually spells the word silent.
Jim: And most people when they’re meeting somebody they have this inner voice inside their head which is also that same voice that keeps them from reading faster. Something called sub vocalization. Meaning, we say the word so we can’t read any faster that we talk. We also use sub vocalization, vocal meaning speech, sub meaning like a submarine under. Inner speech if you will? And so, but the other thing is like a lot of times when you’re meeting somebody you’re talking to yourself. You’re not even thinking about what they’re saying, you’re thinking about how you’re gonna respond, and so you’re not even present. And so I would say another tip on remembering names is just observe and be silent.
And finally, the last M in mom, Dr. Mom is the mechanics. And these are the tools. The techniques. The step by step strategy on how to remember speech without notes. How I teach actors how to remember line for word for word scripts. How to learn a foreign language. How to learn any of these things numbers that I do onstage but the mechanics I put last because if you don’t decide and you don’t relax, you’re not motivated and you don’t observe, the mechanics aren’t gonna support you.
Ben: I like it. Dr. Mom. D-r-m-o-m. Cool. I hope you’re taking notes if you’re listening in. And by the way, I am going to have the show notes for this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kwik, that’s bengreenfitness.com/k-w-i-k. If you wanna go refresh yourself on some of the stuff Jim is talking about.
So Jim, in addition to remembering names better, something that I personally struggle with. I know a lot of other people do to, you’ve also mentioned about the concept of reading a book a day and reading faster. Now, when I first had to learn to read more quickly it was in college when I got handed about ten books during the first quarter of my learnings at a liberal arts school and I was told that the next Monday which was a week later, I would need to come in having had read each of those books. And the only tip that was given to me was to simply follow simply follow along with my index finger as I trace down through the books and to just use the finger as a tracer as I went through the book. That didn’t seem to work out too well for me. But I’m curious if you have specific speed reading tips that go above and beyond the index finger tick?
Jim: I do. I do and you know, obviously we do a whole like 7-week course on this but I’ll give you some real fast reading hacks if you will that people could use. So it’s a difference between learning a skill and learning something that can help improve it a little bit. So I’ve taken every reading program over the past 23 years that exist, and I’ll give you some commonalities of what works and what sometimes doesn’t work.
So the purpose of reading is you want greater speed and velocity but you also want greater comprehension coz you don’t want one without the other. There’s a Woody Allen quote that said, “I took a speed reading course. I read War and Peace. It’s about Russia” (laughs). That’s not the goal. And so traditional speed reading is exactly that people associated with skimming, or scanning, or just getting skipping a lot of words and getting the gist of what you read, and for me a lot of my client base for online programs they’re like doctors, they’re like lawyers, they’re attorneys. And you don’t want your doctor just get the gist of what they’re reading, right? This is kind of important and so I would say that a few things that you have to overcome in terms of obstacles to effective reading. And I’ll get to a couple of hacks on it. Really quickly, what keeps you from reading faster and getting better comprehension? Number one is lack of education. We’re not born with the ability to read, and so it comes through training and the last training class you took on reading probably you were 7 years old. So most people still read like they’re 7 years old and so that’s why they’re challenged because the difficulty and the demand has increased so much, but how we learn is still that of like when we we’re children.
The second obstacle is lack of focus. So you have to fix this, right? And so one of the myths or the rumors, or the lies that are out there says that if you read faster you won’t understand as much and I test tens of thousands of people every single year, right? I mean our online programs like I mentioned to over a hundred fifty countries, I get a lot of feedback. I find out the faster readers actually have better comprehension because they have better focus, and just to put this to rest just so you understand, your brain is like this unbelievable super computer but when we read we feed the super computer one word at a time. I can’t talk too slow coz I’m from New York. But did you even notice that if this conversation was like that slow people’s minds what would they naturally do? They will start to daydream. They will start to wander. They will start fall asleep. They will start thinking about other things. Isn’t that exactly how most people just talk about their reading that when they’re reading, they start to wander. They start to daydream. They start to think about other things. They start to fall asleep. Like how many people actually use reading as a sedative? You know, like can people have a token book by the side of their bed that they’ve been reading for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. They use reading. And think about the emotion, boredom tied to that activity and because for long term memories it’s just information combined with the emotion becomes a long term memory. Information combined with emotion becomes a long term memory but if reading is like a dull, boring activity for you, that same emotion is gonna be linked to that information and you’re not gonna retain it. And so if you’re feeding your brain so slowly, if you don’t give your brain the entertainment it needs it will seek entertainment elsewhere in the form of distraction. And that’s what distraction a lot of people is is they’re reading so slow, they’re not giving their brain enough stimulus so it thinks about other stuff. It’s similar to driving. If you’re driving like fifteen, twenty miles an hour, you’re not really thinking about the act of driving. You’re drinking your coffee, you’re thinking about the dry cleaning, you’re talking to somebody, half of it you’re texting. You’re doing 5 or 6 different things coz you’re only going 15 miles an hour. But if you’re racing cars going down straight aways at 200 miles an hour taking these hairpin turns, you’re not thinking about anything. You’re not trying to text. You’re not thinking about the dry cleaning. You’re just focused in what’s in front of you. That’s reading. And so the second obstacle is focus.
And then the third obstacle I’ll just give you is the thing I mentioned before sub vocalization. How do get rid of that inner talk? Have you ever noticed, Ben like when you’re reading something you hear that voice inside your head reading along with you?
Ben: Uhm, yeah.
Jim: Hopefully, it’s your own voice that’s talking unless it’s somebody else’s voice. Again, the reason why it’s a challenge is it’s your reading speed is limited to your talking speed and not your thinking speed. That’s why we can listen to podcast at 1.5 or 2x because you could think that fast easily for most people. It’s just you can’t talk that fast.
Jim: And so that’s the challenge, but you really need to pronounce the word like computer to understand what a computer is. You don’t. John F. Kennedy is said to have read 800 to 1,000 words a minute but he’s on record as having a speech maybe 300 words a minute or 700 words a minute he’s not pronouncing, and so why do you have to do that? Ninety-five percent of all the words you read on a regular basis are words they call sci words, you see them a hundred thousand times you don’t have to pronounce them every time. So those are just some of the obstacles that affect. And so for example, if you were to hack this, a couple of things. Across the board a visual pacer has been shown to improve your reading speed because it helps you with your focus and it also helps prevent a fourth obstacle to effective reading which is regression. Regression is going back and back skipping and rereading lines back and they say upwards of twenty percent of the [0:55:11.0] ______ research you’re buying to could be spent just rereading stuff out of bad habits and being unconscious about it.
So using your finger, now traditional speed reading is what you said. They’ll take your finger and go down the page, right? Or they’ll make fancy finger motions like an S going down the page or a Z going down the page. The challenge is you’re missing big gaps of reading, right? You’re missing big gaps of understanding that’s there. But they say using a visual pacer like your pen, a highlighter, a mouse on the computer, your finger as you underline the words. Don’t skip anything and that number would be twenty-five to fifty percent. Now I don’t expect anyone to believe everything I’m saying because ultimately you’re the expert. What I would say is it’s all theory until you test it. So pick up a book. Read for sixty seconds. Count the number of lines you just read in sixty seconds. Pick up where you left off. Read. Just underlining lightly with your finger. Don’t skip anything. Don’t do any fancy finger motions like they teach other things. Don’t skip anything and just underlining the words with your pen, a highlighter, your finger. That second number after you time it for sixty seconds will be on average twenty-five, fifty percent gain. Which people will think it’s like a lot. A fifty percent increase in anything is tremendous, right? It really adds up.
Jim: Now to get better at that if you wanna be even more efficient, what you do is you move in from the margins. So for example your eyes when it’s focused it’s called a fixation, right but you have a little bit of peripheral vision going to your left and to your right. So as you’re underlining the words if you imagine going in from the book an inch from the left and an inch to the right, so your finger doesn’t go all the way to the margin. It goes up to about an inch, your peripheral vision will pick up the rest of the words. So you’ll be able to pick up other twenty percent on that alone, well at least.
Another thing you could experiment with which I’ve had really good success with over the past twenty years and just now science has been able to back this up more is I actually recommend to use a very specific hand while you read. You know, when you’re talking about left hand or right hand because I started seeing anecdotally I started seeing early on a correlation between the fastest readers they tend to be musically inclined. They tend to be women, but they also tend to be left-handed. And I would experiment with this and I’ll give a couple of reasons why. But by using your left hand we know through these cross-laterals that God-forbid you know somebody who had head trauma on the left side of their head or a stroke on the left side of their brain. If there’s paralysis it will manifest on the opposite side, right coz one half of your brain controls the opposite half of your body and vice versa. We know that there’s a brain body connection and what researches has shown there’s also a body brain connection. That using your body in certain ways actually stimulate your brain.
And so, I say using your left hand it helps stimulate the right side of your brain. And now this is a gross simplification but I would hypothesize that you could test in your own real results is that your left brain they say, this is again simplification in what we have in like thirty seconds. Left side of your brain is logical, right? Language, sounds, linear words. But the right side of your brain, if your left side is logical, your right side is creative, right? It’s imagination. It’s visualization. Its emotion and so most people for reading it’s a left brain process but right brain is actually where all the meaning is. So you’re not just hearing words with left brain, you’re experiencing with the right brain. Like for instance, I had a student go through our online speed reading course and I see him on the street and he’s like, “Jim, I have a really quick story for you”. He’s like, “I was recently rereading a book that I read during your class and it was totally different the second time after I graduated from your program”. I was like, “Well, tell me about it. What was the book?” And he said, “It was The Old Man and The Sea”. I was like, “Oh Hemingway”. I was like, “Why was it different the second time? I don’t think Hemingway updated the book recently, and he said that when he was in the class he was practicing with it coz I let people choose their own material. So it doesn’t take time, it actually makes time since they have to do it anyway, and we worked to practice into their training and their own real life. But he said the second time I read it after going through the training, he said I felt like I was in the book. He said I could smell the ocean. I could hear the ocean waves. I could smell the ocean. He said I could feel the sand beneath my toes. He said the one thing I didn’t like was the smell of the fish.
Jim: It’s kinda funny but that’s the rich right brain creativity. You’re imagining it, you’re in it, you’re feeling it. And so by using your left brain it might help to stimulate the right side of your brain that helps you comprehend more also.
And the other thing I’ll just mention is there is this study done by Dr. Lawrence Katz. He did this study with these seniors. He wanted to find out how to keep their brains alive, and agile, and memory functions as we grow older, and came up with all these like little neurobics. Little activities you could do with your body to help stimulate your brain as you grow older and a lot of that is using your opposite hand while you eat. It was like after you seem brushing your hand with the opposite hand that kind of takes it up to stimulate your brain to new activities. Just like what you’re doing with music or martial arts. They say it like, ballroom dancing is very good for your brain. Anything to put your mindfulness into your muscle is gonna be good for your brain.
Here’s a tweetable; as your body moves, your brain grooves. As your body moves, your brain grooves. Actually helps support, enables you to learn besides all the different chemicals that you’re releasing as your body moves also coz we know that people listen to podcast on the treadmill or as they’re working out.
Jim: You learn more like doing that. That’s just a simple biohack. You know, there was a study done at Oxford University a couple of years ago saying jugglers have bigger brains. A little lead by learning the act of juggling actually built more white matter inside of your brain, so it’s just amazing. That’s why I love everything you’re doing by keeping people moving ‘cause that’s why the brain is there. It’s primarily there to just be able to guide your physical movements.
Ben: Yeah, you know about the brain-derived neurotropic factor right, and how that gets released when you’re moving. The interesting thing is it gets released specifically when you’re doing chronic repetitive motion like running, or jogging, or cycling because the BDNF somehow gets freed up and the blood flow allows that to basically find its way to your brain versus when you’re say lifting weights. It somehow stays on a more muscular level and so if you do want to get smarter while you listen to something like the podcast episode you’re listening to right now, move with something like running, or swimming, or cycling even more than like lifting weights even though you’re probably gonna get smarter either way if you’re listening to this.
And by the way, Jim I wanna throw in and get your quick opinion on my tip for speed reading which is never turn the page backwards. And that help to get my attention too if I know that that’s my last chance to see that page for some reason I retain it when I follow that rule as I read a book.
Jim: I love that and that’s the other thing also is just having the framework. I teach thing called Fast and it’s a frame and I love to give it to your people, but one of the tips to be able to learn something faster is just to also teach it to somebody else. Like come in with the attitude like when you listen to this podcast every single week and you’re gonna teach it to somebody else. It has a different level of ownership and makes it personal coz information come inside your mind. Either through listening to it on an audio like we’re having now or through words through your eyes. But in order to be able to put it back out to be able to write about it or to be able to express it verbally, you have to really do something in your brain with it to own that information. And if you went to listen to a podcast but before I had the attitude, I’m gonna teach whatever I’m gonna learn here to a very specific person and think about how you’re gonna do it. You will take notes differently. You will ask different questions. Post different questions and you would organize the information totally differently to able to express it out. And that’s why as a writer, as you know by doing it makes you such a better expert because you have to own the material. And even when you write and you listen to something and you teach it to someone else you’re not using their exact words. You’re using your own words for it, right?
Jim: So if you have so much more of your nervous system, this feedback will be so important.
Ben: It’s true. A lot of people ask me how I know a lot about fitness and nutrition, and a big part of it is I have a weekly Q & A podcast that I’ve done for 8 years.
Ben: So for 8 years every single week and I’ve missed maybe 2 weeks out of those 8 years I’ve had to answer people’s questions about fitness and nutrition, and by teaching people over the airwaves about their bodies, and fitness, and nutrition it’s helped me to retain that so much more clearly. So yeah, it is really true that when you teach it you gotta learn it well.
Jim: Yeah, and when you teach it you get to learn it twice.
Ben: Yeah, that’s part of it too. Yeah, you have to learn it and then you gotta spit it back out. So I have one other question for you because we do have a lot of listeners who are into their bodies, and into physical function, and into things like nutrition, and diet, and there’s a lot of stuff floating around out there about nutrition for optimum brain function and diet for optimum brain function. So do you follow a specific diet? Is there a Jim Kwik diet?
Jim: (laughs) I wanna be very responsible for and so it’s hard because yes, I have something that works for me. I don’t know if people are bio individual but this is not my area of expertise. So you would be in even much better position to be able to talk about this but I could share my personal lifestyle a little bit of what I do each day to kind of have optimal brain performance and focus, and to be a better learner coz I think the best holds really important for it. That being said, the nutritionist, or psychologist, or anything that ends in the list, so I just wanna be very careful not to diagnose or treat or anything.
So for me, yes I think the diet is number 1 because I think you are what you eat. And so (inaudible) foods, and I do indulge in what they say are just brain healthy foods like certain nuts like walnuts, and avocado, and my fresh wild salmon, and stuff like that. I [1:07:37.9] ______ for food and I really make sure I get oxygen in my body. I mean, I’m not just saying about going into a chamber which I do and I have certain breathing patterns and routines I do when I wake up first thing in the morning and when I go to bed at night. But on top of just the foods I eat, I’m even more conscious about making sure I’m hydrated. I’m getting enough clean air because I feel like those 2 are more important for me personally. I know like if I ever get tired, I always go to this thing hydrated and make sure I’m breathing because your brain (inaudible) percent of your body weight probably, but it uses 20% of the nutrients as you know, but a lot of people’s posture is so bad and they’re slump over, and they clasp their diaphragm and their lungs, and the lower 1/3 of your lungs really absorbs the majority of all the oxygen into your bloodstream and stuff.
I eat everything organic and local and I juice every single day, and on top of that I’m really big on greens. They work for me. But again I stay away from gluten. But for me I’m an individual I just had full spectrum hormonal food sensitivity so I just from that kind of you know, quantified-self kinda place. I just kinda see what’s in my green zone, my yellow zone and my red zone. What I should absolutely stay away from and I do that. I do intermittent fast in the morning. I don’t really have a whole meal until midnight personally. I really want to talk about stuff.
My ten key: so 1/3 of your memory for example is predetermined by genetics and biology and that’s about the number that researchers have agreed on about 1/3 of it, but that means 2/3’s completely in your control. So the 2/3 for me that I focus on in terms of lifestyle encompasses ten things. Number one is a good diet, right? Number two is killing ants, and ants I got from Dr. Daniel Amen automatic negative thoughts because your thoughts are things. And here’s the thing when you say you have a horrible memory or you’re not smart enough or you can’t learn this or it’s difficult, your mind I remember you know, like preparing for marathon and I’ve said this verbatim coz memory expert but there’s just one chapter was on psychology that said, “your brain is like a super computer and your self-talk is a program that will run, so if you tell yourself you’re not good at names, you will not remember the name of the next person you meet because you programmed your super computer not to”. And so you always have to be careful with your automatic negative thoughts because thoughts are things, right? And here’s a tweetable; your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk. Right, so I’m gonna go, is it ok, Ben I go through these ten quick things for my lifestyle?
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, let’s hear ém.
Jim: And the thing is not one of these things what people debate, but again a coach is not someone who says something brand new. Just reminds you of out of these tens which of these ten things are you not optimizing or you’re neglecting.
So number one a good diet. Number two killing your negative thoughts ants. Number three is exercise coz we know that movement, exercise is good for your brain period. Anything that’s good for your heart is good for your head. And they always do these tests and you know when people are more physically active they’ll do better on mental Q memory that’s across the board. Number four is brain nutrients. Which I know you know a lot about. If you’re not getting the nutrients, the protective elements and nootropics whatever in your diet, maybe you wanna supplement. Number four is brain nutrients. Number five positive peer group. That’s big because a lot of people, yes you are what you eat and yes you are your thoughts but you are also this the average of the people you spend the most time with and positive peer group is this. They talk about eagles you know, like being an eagle or being a duck or what have you but I’m just saying, are the people you’re spending time with are they encouraging you? Are they teaching you? Are they challenging you? Are they kind or are they supporting your better brain, right? And that’s number five.
Number six is clean environment. They say that your external world is a reflection of your internal world. You notice if you clean your room, or if you clean your desk, or if you clean your notes like just with Evernote or something like that you have a clearer brain. I would say number seven is sleep because we have an epidemic of sleeplessness. I don’t know how people are getting away with these little sleep people are getting, but we know that sleep is critical for the brain. It’s critical for good decision making. It’s critical for creativity. It’s critical also for long term memory because where you’re consolidating and you know, they say, when you build a muscle people say it’s at the gym, but you build them when you sleep, right? When you restore. When you rest same thing with your brain. You may call these connections but when you’re dreaming and when you’re converting everything short term or long term very critical. We just hold the thing on how to remember your dreams which I think is important also. That’s number seven. Number eight for your lifestyle is brain protection. I would just say somebody who has had a number of concussions and head traumas. Make sure you just protect your brain. Be there. Be active but wear your helmet and use common sense. That’s number eight.
Number nine is new learnings. So important, right? And I know I don’t have to say that to you or anyone listening coz you’re listening to this. You’re a lifelong learner. Make those new connections coz that’s how you make neuroplasticity. It’s either new thoughts or new behaviors to create neuroplasticity. And finally, number ten stress management. Again, we talked about cortisol adrenaline and everything that goes on in your body when you’re stressed but make sure you have protocol in your body to be able to rest. And you know, I have a flow tank that I go into every single morning and I have my meditation. I use these simple brain apps, head space whatever you name and use, and things that I’d like to support and some technology to be able to do that and make sure you have some quiet time to get rid of that stress for whatever activity helps you to do that. And I just say these ten things coz maybe hearing ‘em coz I don’t think anyone would debate any of them. But just like, yeah I’m not really getting enough sleep or really this one person in my life is really negative and it’s really not in my mind, or really I’m not really managing my stress very much or whatever. I’m really committed to new learnings by listening to a podcast a day or reading something every single day or something like that. Or maybe I need a supplement with some kind of brain nutrients, or vitamin B’s, or my omegas, or whatever.
Ben: Those ten things are things that we could probably do an entire podcasts on for each one of them. Those are really cool though. Everything you’ve got here in terms of your system, your methods for reading faster, your methods for memorizing names, the ten tips that you just went over. I know you’ve systematized a lot of this stuff. I know you have some of it available on your website, but as we’re running up against time I’m curious. How can people go and learn more or even I think you have courses and things like that online. What’s the best next step for people if they decide that they wanna just take this to the next level?
Jim: Well, thank you and I have a gift for everybody that you and I talked about. I made a series of 4 videos and it’s me on camera teaching you how I would learn any subject or skill faster. And so one of the videos is dedicated to that. There’s another video on how to memorize these ten things forwards and backwards and give a speech for example talking points without notes. Then there’s another video specifically we talked about Dr. Mom and that final M was mechanics which is the strategy on how to remember names. So I did another video for you on how to remember names. And special for your audience just as a thank you, Ben. I really appreciate everything you’re doing because being a conduit for all these information for people getting it out to people in very usable ways, ways that are also entertaining and engaging.
So people can get these 4 videos they can just go to jimkwik.com/ben, and the only thing with my last name is jimkwik it’s k-w-i-k, k-w-i-k. And that really is my last name. jimkwik.com/ben and there you can have instant access to those 4 videos and I hope you enjoy. If anything, our programs are all on kwiklearning.com k-w-i-k learning dot com. It’s the R speed reading course or memory course, our thinking program and we have this program especially designed for students and study skills. And then the last thing I would say is I would love to connect with each of you on social media. On Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. It’s all at jimkwik k-w-i-k. And you mentioned that thing with the X-Men and that’s my cover photo for my Facebook page and my Twitter. It’s me and the entire cast of X-Men. There’s a whole story, back story about it that I think people get some interesting insight on how to reach not only set goals but also get their goals, and there’s a link in my cover for that also at jimkwik.
Ben: Nice. Nice. And folks, if you’re listening in, Jim is the real deal. I’ve had a chance to hang out with him and he really is an intelligent real person who loves to teach people how to learn stuff fast or how to do a lot of the things that we just talked about today. So I highly recommend that you check out his videos. So those are at jimkwik.com/ben. If you want the show note from today’s episode they’re at bengreenfieldfitness.com/kwik and Jim, thanks so much for coming on the show today and sharing this stuff with us.
Jim: Ben, thank you so much for having me and everyone, thank you so much for listening.
Ben: Cool. Well, folks this is Ben Greenfield and Jim Kwik signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
You've been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting-edge fitness and performance advice.
My guest in today's podcast is Jim Kwik (yes, that's his real name).
Jim Kwik is really, really…well…quick. He can learn much faster than mere mortals.
Take reading, for example. Most folks read at a rate of 200-250 words-per-minute (wpm). But Jim reads heavy science material at about 500 wpm and devours light fiction at upwards of 1300 wpm. And more importantly, he can remember everything he reads.
I'm seen Jim on stage, memorizing the names of every face in the crowd. And long strings of random numbers. Many people struggle to remember all seven digits of a phone number. But Jim can remember phone numbers all day long. Hundreds of them.
But Jim isn't special. He doesn't naturally have these superpowers. They were learned. And if he can learn them, anyone can learn them – regardless of age, background or education.
In today's podcast, you're going to discover the amazing story of how Jim went from a childhood brain injury to being one the smartest guys with one of the fastest brains on the face of the planet.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How Jim became a memory and learning expert, even after a debilitating head injury…
-Why you shouldn't let school get in the way of your education…
-Whether it's true that we only use part of our brains…
-How technology can make you stupid if you use it incorrectly…
-The three stages of learning you must know…
-The exact process and system Jim uses when he sits down to learn a new skill or task or language…
-What you can learn from Jim's recent conversation with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger…
-Five easy ways you can remember names better…
-Jim's top tips for becoming a speed-reader who actually remembers what you read…
-The specific diet Jim follows to help his brain achieve peak function…
-The 4 free videos that you can get from JimKwik.com/ben…
-And much more!
More about Jim:
Jim is founder of Kwik Learning and a widely recognized world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance and accelerated learning.
For two decades he has served as the mental coach to students and seniors, entrepreneurs and educators, and advisor to many of the world’s leading CEOs and celebrities.
After a childhood brain injury left him learning challenged, Jim created strategies to dramatically enhance his mental performance. He has since dedicated his life to helping others unleash their true genius and brainpower to learn anything faster and live a life of greater power, productivity and purpose.
Jim’s cutting edge techniques, entertaining presentation style, and impressive brainpower feats have made him a frequent and highly sought out trainer for top organizations, with clients that include Virgin, Nike, Zappos, SpaceX, NYU, GE, Fox Studios, Harvard, and Singularity University, and his online courses are used by students in over 100 countries.