[00:01:08] Podcast Sponsors
[00:05:59] Guest Introduction
[00:10:28] Effects Of Coronavirus To Jonathan's Quality Of Life And Productivity
[00:13:14] The Ideal Quick Learning Model
[00:20:59] Daily Routines, Biohacks, And Wearables
[00:30:44] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:05] cont. Daily Routines, Biohacks, And Wearables
[00:39:37] Nootropics And Smart Drugs For Enhancing Cognitive Performance
[00:44:44] What “The Only Skill That Matters” Is
[00:51:48] How To Become A “Superlearner”
[00:56:56] How To Use Visualization In Your Learning
[01:01:15] What Jonathan Is Learning At The Time Of The Recording, And How
[01:04:02] Hours of Learning Each Day
[01:06:14] The Readwise App
[01:10:18] Closing the Podcast
[01:11:28] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Jonathan: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. Time and time again, not only have I learned, but also my students have learned and demonstrated that if you can learn, you can kind of skate to wherever you want to go. We're not retiring at 60, we're going on, or hoping to. So, if every five years, your knowledge becomes obsolete, that is 10 times you need to reinvent yourself. That's crazy.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Question is should I spit out my gum before I tell you about today's sponsors or should I just keep chewing it? You guys love it when I make salivary enzyme production sounds on the podcast, don't you? No. Seriously, I'm going to take it out.
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Well, folks, it's no secret that we live in changing times, not just because of, at the time this podcast is being recorded, a little bit of a pandemic going on. But also, we live in changing times because over the next decade, knowledge workers on our planet are going to change a lot. My guest on today's podcast thinks that every knowledge worker is going to become either invaluable or obsolete in pretty much any industry. So, he wrote this book called “The Only Skill That Matters” because he wanted to answer questions like how we can possibly hope to keep up with these emerging technologies, and how can we learn and unlearn and relearn fast enough to stay relevant in the world to come, and how can we adapt and respond to things like worldwide pandemics or the replacement of jobs by automation or artificial intelligence.
And this book is not just a book that teaches you how to make yourself valuable in any career, but it also teaches you how to read faster, how to remember more, how to become a so-called super learner, meaning that you learn memory techniques taught by world record holders and competitive memory athletes, you learn how to double or triple your reading speed, enhance your cognitive performance, improve your focus. There's a lot going on in this title so I had to get Jonathan Levi on the podcast to talk about this book and some of the questions that I had after going through it.
Now, he is a podcaster himself. He has a wonderful podcast called “The SuperHuman Academy Podcast.” He's got a bunch of different programs on super learning, this online training portal called The Superhuman Academy. And what I'm going to do for all of you listening in is I'll link to Jonathan's website, everything he has going on if you want to take a deeper dive into super learning, in the shownotes, which you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/theonlyskill because the name of the book again is called “The Only Skill That Matters.” Jonathan, I didn't even have a chance to tell you this, by the way, but I was so impressed by your book from a learning standpoint that I homeschool my twin boys and I assigned it to them as one of their weekly book report books. And they actually not only absolutely loved it, but they both came to me and told me that it actually was helping them read books a lot faster, which is amazing.
Jonathan: Oh, wow, man. I'm honored and that's what it's all about, like it's all about empowering people to go out and learn. It's not about just the learning how to learn, it's what are you going to do with this skill that I teach, and that's so cool. That just touches my heart.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Jonathan: Thank you.
Ben: And I want to get into what “The Only Skill That Matters” actually is and how you would define that. But before we do, are you in Tel Aviv right now?
Jonathan: I am, yes.
Jonathan: I'm still waiting for that visit from you, by the way.
Ben: Well, I've been to Tel Aviv twice because I used to go over to Israel and do health blogger tours, like tour health spas and high-end restaurants, and I did the triathlon up in the lawn–what did they call it? They bill it as like the hardest half iron man in the world. I'm forgetting–the Israman, the Israman it's called.
Jonathan: Yeah. I remember. I remember you telling me about it.
Ben: Yeah, And I think it's because the Israeli Chamber of Commerce, who was putting together these trips, they thought I was a Jew because my name is Benjamin Greenfield, even though I'm technically not, although genetic testing reveals I am indeed 25% Ashkenazi. I had never advertised that or anything and they brought me over for a while I think under the impression that I was a good little healthy Jewish blogger.
Jonathan: I actually assumed that you were as well, so.
Ben: Yeah. No. My grandfather, my grandfather is Jewish, but I'm not biologically Jewish in that respect because my father is adopted. But Tel Aviv was amazing. That's a vibrant city.
Jonathan: Oh, yeah. Well, not so much right now, but in general, yeah, absolutely.
Ben: Is it on total quarantine shutdown right now with the virus?
Jonathan: Pretty much, yeah. I'm actually really grateful that our government has acted really, really quickly and resolutely and just said, “Every day, it's been a new broadcast, and every day, it's been a new set of restrictions.” But I'm happy about it. I think it's the responsible thing to do. So, yeah, we're pretty much locked down.
Ben: What's a hyperproductive guy like you do when you're on shutdown or because you're doing a lot of things virtually, and also an author, did this not really change a lot for you?
Jonathan: This hasn't changed much of anything for me, if anything I'm more productive, right, because no one's asking me to meet for coffee and pick my brain. The only real difference is my wife, who normally works in an office, is here with me during the day, which is really nice. We work once or twice a week, which I normally do, but we're a fully remote team so it really hasn't impacted us that much. It's just changing what we're marketing, how we're marketing. We want to be really conscientious and we don't want to look or feel like we're using this as a ploy or a hook. But really, we do want to see the opportunity, so we're playing that fine line of what can we deliver to people because I do believe we're uniquely suited. We create educational and engaging content that people can use, which is a much healthier, better alternative to Netflix or video games. So, we are in a unique position, but we want to be mindful and respectful of the fact that we're in that position.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, I hear you. I've run into that a little bit myself. Like even just this morning, like a half-hour ago, I tweeted out some of the antiviral effect that melatonin has been shown to display for coronavirus, right? And when I put out something like that and include a link to the research, as a supplemental tweet to that, I wrote, “Here's the melatonin that I use,” because I use this liposomal form of melatonin, and I have all my pretty links memorized. So, I just write, “Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/melatonin. This is the one I use.” And then when I'm doing stuff like that, I'm kind of thinking at the back of my mind, “Geez, I hope this doesn't look like I'm trying to profit off of the worldwide pandemic. It's just like I have these systems that I use for linking.” And yeah, it's tricky, but yeah, I understand you got to be kind of sensitive to ensure that you don't look as though you're trying to make a worldwide sad and serious pandemic into some kind of a cash grab.
Jonathan: Yeah. And yet you want to help.
Jonathan: You have knowledge about how people can improve their health right now. And maybe you're not a virologist, but if anyone knows how people can exercise to keep themselves optimistic and healthy and positive during this time, like you're the guy. So, you don't want to just shut up during this time.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And I am definitely not a virologist, nor am I an immune disease expert, nor am I a physician despite the fact that people are always tweeting me asking about the strange growth on their underarm.
Ben: Twitter is a great place to get medical advice, let me tell you. That's how I want to get medical advices via 180-some characters. Anyways, the thing I wanted to jump in and ask you about is schooling. Education, learning is a huge part of your book. And obviously, with this pandemic, schooling has changed really dramatically. I mean, in the State of Washington where I'm at, kids aren't going to school, and they probably won't be for at least another six months. And now, they are at home, hopefully, not sitting on the couch as I've actually–it's kind of sad. I've seen a lot of people just wandering around still vaping nicotine and weed, and there's a lot of people binge-watching Netflix. And hopefully, the kids aren't sitting around at home with their parents watching them smoke and watch TV. But I do know that these children are beginning, many of them I know, to look into some of these online learning platforms that have exploded in the past couple of weeks. I think even Zoom, the video conferencing software, their stock I think is actually looking really good right now just based off of how many businesses are turning to that for remote meetings.
And I'm curious for you, when you step back and look at educational models, do you think this will kind of nudge us towards a different or a better educational model? And could you noodle a little bit on what you think a good educational model would look like? How would you, if you had kids, and I don't recall if you do, take a stance when it comes to their education? Or what do you think is a good model at this point based on what you've learned about super-learning thus far?
Jonathan: I think as we move towards a more progressive model of education, we cannot underestimate the role of customization, right? So, when people ask me, “How would you like to see technology used for education?” It comes down to customization and tailoring the educational experience because we know from all the research that there are certain requirements that the adult brain needs. One of them is it needs to know that what it's learning is practical and immediately applicable to the person's own life. Our brains are incredibly powerful filters. And this is why–I don't know how old your kids are, Ben.
Ben: They're 12.
Jonathan: Okay. So, you have literally just recently started hearing, “Dad, when am I ever going to use this?” Although maybe not because you homeschool them.
Ben: Yeah. I nipped that in the bud, although the question came up because they went to private school from second to fifth grade. And then I began to delve into books like Free to Play and Unschooling to University and realized that the joy that a child derives from the social aspect of school and being with their friends, et cetera, is at about age 13 overwritten by the tests, the homework, and them learning or being engaged in activities that they may or may not have a passion for. And one of them did, during math homework, actually ask me, “Why am I –?” I don't even recall the calculation he was doing, but he asked me, “Why am I using this? What is this for?” And I remember feeling helpless because I was at a loss for words and I thought, “Geez, I actually don't know when he would ever use this.” So, yes, that has come up.
Jonathan: Yeah. And so, that's a big part of this requirement for adult learning, right, is we need to know that it's practical and applicable, we need it to be connected to our own experiences. The older we get, the more we feel that we have a fully formed world view, and anything that we learn needs to be connected in some way. We need to honor the learner's prior experience. And I think that's the best way to use technology, right, is allow students to go off on their own, I call it learning journeys. And the same way that I'm sure your kids do, Ben, because they're homeschooled and you give them assignments like, “Hey, you like this book? Okay. Go ahead. Here's three more that you can read.” So, that's a big one. I think the way that education has worked where you have 30 kids in a classroom makes that very, very hard for even the best teacher to customize the learning experience for all 30 plus, sometimes, students. And that's a big one.
And you touched on something also really important. You see, I'm the online education guy. I have built online courses. We've done hundreds of thousands of enrollments through our programs all over the world, every country, and some places that aren't even countries. I consult many top thought leaders. I build online courses for some big names. All I do is live, think, and breathe online education, and yet over the years, what I've learned is that people really need three things when they learn. They need the information, that's obvious. We're all flooded with information. But they also need accountability and community, and those are the two hardest things to create in online education. That's why I think–
Ben: Yeah. I agree.
Jonathan: –at the highest ends, you see people creating interactive Facebook groups. You see people like us, I've spent the last eight months of my life training and certifying an army of coaches who go out and hold people accountable. Every week, check in with them, “How's your reading speed? How's your memory this week? What are we going to do?” So, I do think that technology can help with that a lot because if you have a child or an adult who's learning something that no one else is interested in, say he or she is the only student in the class that's interested in astrophysics at the age of eight, in the past, what would you do? You would try and put that kid. Once a week, they'd go to the local community college and try to simulate community. And today, technology can allow us to do that. So, that's my hope is that this creates somewhat of an awakening that people say, “Hey, I can learn with people all over the world and create that community.”
Ben: Yeah. And I think that you can weave together online learning and community involvement pretty elegantly. That's really the way that we've structured the boys' unschooling curriculum, for example, is they've got online tutors and they're using Zoom and Skype meetings to meet with many folks, and they are engaged online in many cases. And also, offline at home doing things like watching documentaries and reading books. But then the small team that I've assembled to help out with their education is every single week identifying–that's very tough right now because we're on lockdown, so it's less than the past couple of weeks, but identifying local classes, local meetups, local organizations, local adventures that the children can then engage in taking what they've learned online, and then going forth into the local community and practicing that.
So, sometimes that also manifests in travel with me, right? So, we did a whole block in the Middle East four months ago, Middle Eastern art, Middle Eastern cuisine, Middle Eastern architecture, everything from cooking at home and making falafel and hummus to building the Lego model of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. And then I took them on a two-week trip to Oman and to Dubai. And so, sometimes it's travel as well. But yeah, I think weaving together the online and the offline is the key because what you just said, the two missing things, accountability and community, that's huge when it comes to education. And I don't want to be that parent who has kids who are just burning their eyeballs out in front of the computer. I want them getting out and practicing this stuff out in the real world, so to speak.
Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's the part that a lot of people, especially in the online education world, miss. And by the way, not just in the online education world, in the traditional publishing model world as well. Someone writes a book and people can learn a lot from a book, but there's no community in a book.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, I agree. Well, before we get into what this only skill that matters actually is and why, I want to have a little fun because you're a very productive person. I've seen what you're doing. I know you churn out a lot. You're hyperproductive and you learn a lot of skills as well. And I'm curious if you could walk me through some of your non-negotiables when it comes to your daily routine, whether it'd be fasting tactics, biohacks, supplements, like what are you doing over there in Tel Aviv to juggle all these balls and produce the empire of learning that you've created?
Jonathan: Yeah. Well, first off, thank you. That's very flattering coming from you, ben. There are a couple non-negotiables and I want to preface this by saying I am also human. And so, some of these non-negotiables sometimes don't happen when the world is on fire and there's kind of crazy stuff going on. But there are a few things that won't surprise anyone, meditation, sleep, nutrition, and exercise. So, I want to give your audience, who are very savvy, give them some not so common ones. I have a gratitude practice. Hal Elrod got me into this and–
Ben: Oh, yeah, I know Hal.
Jonathan: –really reinforced it.
Jonathan: And yeah, I figured. And I think there's probably someone like myself out there listening going, “Okay. Yeah, gratitude, great. I'm grateful.” But when you make it a daily practice, especially in times like this–like I looked at my wife the other day and I said, “You know, the whole world is so scared and all I can see, and all I can think about are the things that I'm grateful for. I'm grateful that we're healthy, I'm grateful that we live in a home that we love, I'm grateful that our marriage is healthy enough, that we're enjoying this time together. I'm grateful for the men and women serving right now in the hospitals.” I had a list of like 60 things that I was grateful for, and I thought to myself, “As someone who struggled with depression and anxiety for many, many years, how amazing is that that in this situation, the only thing I can think of is gratitude?” So, that's one.
Ben: Yeah. And by the way, my audience loves the practical. How are you engaging in a gratitude practice? Is this when you're laying in bed in the morning, had a slip of paper that you're writing on? Is it the end of the day? Or what does it look like for you?
Jonathan: Yeah. So, I wake up in the morning, again not every morning, most mornings, I wake up, I'll meditate because my eyes don't want to open. I will meditate after a glass of water, of course, tall glass of water, meditation. Then I'll do some gratitude journaling. And often, what I like to do is I'll do my Wim Hof breathing during the journaling. I know that you're not supposed to move, and I can't hold my breath as long because of all the oxygen the hands require. I know all that, but it gets me over that hump of, “Oh, this is going to be unpleasant. I'm going to feel dizzy.” So, it just makes that all go really, really [00:23:50] _____. So, I will try to write out–mm-hmm?
Ben: Oh, sorry to interrupt. So, this Wim Hof, the pranayama technique that he uses where you're doing–are you actually getting through a round of that, like whatever, 30, 40 breaths, however many, and then on the actual breath hold and the breath lock while you're holding your breath doing your journaling?
Jonathan: I'm doing the journaling throughout the whole thing. So, I actually use the Apple Watch app, which tells me fully in, let it go, fully in, let it go. I know the rhythm well enough that I kind of just tune it out while I'm journaling. And then when he goes stop, I have it all memorized. “Stop, hold the breath, start the timer.” So, then I'll start the timer and then I'll just keep writing. And really, I see —
Ben: I didn't know he had an app.
Jonathan: Oh, it's a great app and it has Apple Watch app that will do the timing and measure your heart rate while you're going.
Ben: Is it just called the Wim Hof App?
Jonathan: I think so, yeah.
Ben: Alright, I'm going to find it. I'll link to it in the shownotes for you guys. Interesting. Okay. Cool. Got it.
Jonathan: So, I find that I'm big on like the atomic habits and stuff. So, making it easy and making it pleasant. And I realized the reason I was putting off the Wim Hof method was it was super unpleasant for me. I even, when I interviewed Wim, I was like, “Tell me honestly, does it ever get better because every time you feel like you're going to pass out?” And so, it was about making it easy for me. So, to get to the practical you asked, I try to write out about 20 things I'm grateful for. Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less, sometimes they repeat, sometimes they don't.
It really is the case. It's kind of like exercise, like if someone has never done it, you're not going to give them this regimented routine. Just move your body and then we'll work on the kind of like finer technique. The same is true for me with gratitude, right? It's like if you're just starting, just think of three things every single day and write them out. And I have to give credit to Ben Hardy because he got me on journaling and it's just fantastic. It's such a wonderful way. He taught me that there are two different kinds of journaling, right? There's journaling about your goals, and creative thoughts, and ideas, and dreams, and what you're grateful for. And that's all good and I do that.
And then I also do the basic historian work, he calls it, like, what's happening in my life? What am I feeling? Just having a record. And that's really helpful for me as well because I can go back, like you know me, and I know you and I share this, Ben, like we quantify a lot and we want to keep tabs and track and record and quantified self-type thing. Remind me, by the way, to tell you about my new favorite wearable device. We'll get to that.
Ben: Okay, okay.
Jonathan: So, it's nice to know like when I am sitting around with my wife and I go, “You know, I've done the work so I'm very self-aware and I meditate a good amount.” So, I can look at myself and go, “You know, I'm not as happy as I feel I should be.” And then I can think back to myself and say, “When was I happy?” And I can flip through my journal and go, “Oh, I was really happy in April. What was I doing?” And then in April, I discovered that I was spending a lot more time in nature, a lot more time in the sun, and as a result, I was happier. It becomes very easy to kind of like do this. And so, that's another one of the routines.
Sleep in this household is–what's the word in English? It is sacred. And this was like a really, really tough thing when I moved in with my now wife and we started learning each other's routines because some families don't treat sleep as sacred. It's like someone's sleeping so who cares, you know. In my household, sleep was always sacred. And for me, sleep is sacred. And I don't mean sacred as in like–I kind of get in bed at like 10:30, and then I'll maybe read on my phone, and then I'll fall asleep, and then I'll get up. No, sleep is sacred. I try to be in bed by 9:30 at the latest. I try to be asleep at 10 o'clock if I'm not doing some kind of live broadcast, if there's not a pandemic breaking out where I need to be on phone calls with my team. I'm asleep at 10:00. I try to be up at 6:00. Consistency is more important than anything with sleep. I guess I would say consistency and sleep environment.
Ben: Meaning, regular sleep-wake times?
Jonathan: Yeah, exactly. My whole house is set up for optimal health and performance. All the lights in the house are color adaptable. So, I can make sure I have no blue light. After 7:00 p.m., all the lights start to fade. They turn lighter colors. In the morning, the lights are white. All the blinds in the house are connected to Alexa. So, I'm getting tons of natural light throughout the day. All my workspaces, whether I'm working in the living room or working at my desk or working at WeWork, I've positioned my life and weighted it out so other people have left WeWork so that no matter where I am, I have natural light. I'm not using fluorescent light, and on and on and on, and there's a million different things.
They keep me productive. One thing I do want to share on the topic of productivity, and I realize I'm kind of all over the place, planning. Planning is so important. I often say that a good day starts the night before in terms of knowing what you're going to do, getting to bed at the right time, but I have gotten into the habit of planning far ahead because if you are reactive, then you are at the mercy of whatever makes the most noise, whether that's emails, phone calls, the latest thing that someone on your team or one of your colleagues wants you to do. Whereas if you're planning a week or even a month in advance, like, what am I going to be doing this week? What are my top objectives, my crucial results?
And then my biggest thing right now, I heard this amazing thing from Keith Cunningham, the original “Rich Dad,” like “The Rich Dad” that Robert Kiyosaki wrote about. And he says that a change in priorities without a simultaneous change in resources is just fantasy. So, it's like, all right, I'll give you an example. Like you say you want to train for that triathlon. Have you shifted around your resource allocation to block off the time or is it, “I'm going to train for that marathon”? And like, when? When are you actually going to do it? What are you going to sacrifice? So, when I say things to my team, like I'm thinking about writing another book, the first step is look at my calendar and what month of my life or two months of my life am I going to block off.
Jonathan: When I say to them, “I'm really interested in developing this new product,” it goes straight into my calendar what am I going to sacrifice. So, I personally work–I do two strict focus days and two strict buffer days per week. So, on a buffer day, you'll never catch me writing. On a focus day, you can't reach me. And then I have one flex day. So, today's a flex day, which could have been a free day, could have been a focus day, could have been a buffer day. And that's taken from Dan Sullivan.
Ben: I like that.
Jonathan: So, really, really being deliberate about where my time goes.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show to tell you about how to not eat. That doesn't sound fun, does it? Well, it turns out of course you're no doubt familiar with all of the anti-aging and cellular autophagy benefits of fasting, and you may have even heard my podcast with Dr. Jason Fung. Well, Dr. Jason Fung, who is one of the world's leading authorities on fasting, wrote a fantastic book on fasting. He has helped this company called Pique Tea create teas that specifically support fasting. But their teas are all triple toxin screened for heavy metals, pesticides, toxic mold, which a lot of teas shockingly have.
And then what they did was they loaded them with compounds that nourish your gut bacteria like theaflavins. They also added things that enhance digestion like bergamot rind is a really good one. And they call these their fasting teas because the main thing I've noticed in using them is that they completely shut down your appetite. So, you're getting this dose of full-spectrum active plant compounds along with this, if you're using their bergamot fasting tea, which I think is the best one in my opinion, the best tasting, and it seems to work the best for shutting down your appetite.
Then you're also getting this bergamot that they import from collaborate Italy, and it's a super-duper high-quality bergamot, which again enhances digestion, but also satiates your appetite tremendously, and it tastes really good, too. So, there's a bunch of other teas that they make. They have a matcha tea, they have a cinnamon tea, they have a ginger green fasting tea, but this bergamot green is really good. So, they're going to give all of my listeners a special discount if you go to piquetea.com/ben, P-I-Q-U-Etea.com/ben. And they're really cool because they're in a powder form so you don't even need to steep the tea. You just dump it into hot or cold water and it works perfectly. So, Pique Tea, P-I-Q-U-Etea.com/ben. And they already applied the discounts to my special collection of teas, so there's no need for a code. You can just go see all my favorite teas and get what you want.
And then finally, there's also this really cool company that just came on board to sponsor the show, and they make a sock, but what they use in their sock is lab tested, true graduated compression, which is the kind of compression that's medically proven to help the circulation of blood from your feet back towards your heart. And then they add smart silver antimicrobial technology to these socks to prevent odor-causing bacteria. They've got a padded toe and heel cushion. They've got slide-free cuffs that keep your socks up all day. These are kind of like the Tesla of socks. They're like the Tesla of socks. Yeah. I just made that up on the spot. But they actually are a universal useful and very affordable gift to yourself or anybody else, and especially if you exercise, you spend a lot of time on your feet, game-changer. So, they're going to give all my listeners a 20% discount at comradsocks.com/kion. So, you go to comradsocks.com. It's spelled as “C”, comradsocks.com/kion, and Kion is spelled with a “K”. So, comradsocks.com/kion. And your 20% discount code is BEN20, comradsocks.com/kion. Use code BEN20. Enjoy those socks, baby.
That's interesting too about the priority and the resources. Like these past two weeks, I decided I really wanted to intensively dive in with my children on breathwork heat and cold. Meaning, just use this large amount of time I have at home with them to walk them through everything that I wish I'd have learned when I was a kid regarding how to use your breath to control your physiology and enhance your immune system in this case. And the problem is of course that it takes a good 30 to 40 minutes every day for us to do this, for us to warm up the sauna, go in the sauna, do all the breathwork, then go out in the cold and practice the relaxation in the cold.
So, I usually do a, kind of intense, like 45 to 60-minute afternoon workout most days. And what I did was I sat down, I wrote down a bunch of really short 15-minute routines for my own workout. So, now in the afternoons when I normally do 45 to 60 minutes, I shout to the boys when I'm about to start my workout. I tell them, “Be in the sauna in 15 minutes.” I go do my workout for 15 minutes. It's like a Tabata set, 100 burpees, a second Tabata set, boot, like super intense. And then I meet them in the sauna, but I had to do that. I had to make that shift because I can't invent time, I can't fabricate time. So, yeah, I absolutely agree, when you make a big goal, you can't just assume there's going to be an extra hour in the day to be able to achieve it. So, I'm on board with that.
Jonathan: It's never going to happen. Now, I have a question for you real quick.
Ben: Oh, go ahead.
Jonathan: I imagine, when I think of Ben Greenfield and all that I know about you, I imagine you have a cold plunge or like you have access to cold year-round, right?
Ben: I have a river near my house that stays pretty cold because it drains out from the Coeur d'Alene Lake, which gets a lot of–but that's about two miles from the house. So, we go down there in the summer sometimes. It's kind of funks. There's also a rope swing so it can make your cold thermo just that much more enjoyable. And then at home, we have one of these aquatic fitness pools, the type you see Michael Phelps advertising in airplane magazines. And I have that and simply do not heat it. And so, in the fall, the winter, and the early spring, that's typically at about 45 to 55 degrees.
And then finally, for the warm summer months, I have something called a Morozko Forge, which is a done-for-you ice bath, a big beautiful stainless steel tub that they ship to your house. It's got a UV and an ozone filter on it, so you don't have to worry about putting chlorine, or as many people are doing food grade hydrogen peroxide into the pool, and it maintains about 32 degrees, meaning like break through the ice to get in Fahrenheit even when it's 110 degrees outside. I can see it right now. It's right outside the door of my office. So, that's my summer go-to when I really truly need to get cold. So, yeah, I'm surrounded by enough shivering devices to be able to use cold year-round.
Jonathan: I love it. Yeah. That was what I was hoping is I'm looking for the brand of which is the Ben Greenfield [00:37:05] _____.
Ben: The Morozko. The Morozko is the one to go for. They have a $2,000 unit and I don't think the $2,000 unit has the filtration system on it. And then I think the fancy one with all the filters and everything is about $6,000. So, you could get the cheaper one and then just use, for example, food-grade hydrogen peroxide in that one. Now, you mentioned a–I think a biofeedback tool that was a non-negotiable for you or a new toy that you really like?
Jonathan: Yeah. So, I test a lot of wearables. People send me wearables as I'm sure people probably send you a lot more wearables.
Ben: Yeah. I'm curious right now if what you're about to mention is something I have, but let's hear it.
Jonathan: Okay. Have you tried the Dreem, D-R-E-E-M?
Ben: The headband that measures your brainwaves while you're asleep?
Ben: I have. I couldn't get the damn thing to stay on because I'm a side sleeper. Every night, I'd wake up and it'd be cockeyed on my head.
Jonathan: Me, too. I fit it great and I love it now. Keep in mind that you're in the U.S and they haven't gotten FDA approval for the pink noise yet, which stimulates deep sleep. I got to test that out and I won't sleep without this thing, and I'm coming off of–I've worn an Oura ring for like years and this thing changed my sleep and I've done it. I've interviewed all the sleep experts. I mean, you know you've interviewed most of them as well. This thing changed my sleep. I love it so much. And as the learning guy, I can tell you like my brain is sharper, my memory is clearer, it's just amazing.
Ben: Interesting. Well, I might have to give it another go at some point. I also experiment with this Ebb device, E-B-B, which cools the head. This is based on some Stanford University research showing that cooling of the head downregulates some of the racing thoughts that you get, for example, in the frontal cortex when you wake up during a night of sleep or as you're trying to lull yourself to sleep. And it runs–kind of like that chiliPAD will run cold water underneath your body while you're asleep. This Ebb runs cold water around your head. And I also found that to be effective as I did find the Dreem to be effective for quantification, although I haven't tried the one with the pink noise feature. But again, just difficulty with my side sleeping position. So, maybe I just need some kind of like healthy glue, healthy non-toxic glue to keep this thing fixed to my head. I don't know. There's got to be some secret.
Jonathan: They come with adjustment bands, which is hard to find in the packaging. And I adjusted mine down because I had the same issue before.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Well, maybe I'll give it another go. One other question for you before we get into this most important skill, the only skill that matters, and that is–I think I'd be remiss not to ask you if you're into any type of like nootropic smart drugs, microdosing, anything like that for enhancing cognitive function or memory or anything like that during the day if you have any favorites.
Jonathan: Oh, yes. Quite a few. So, I was prescribed Ritalin for most of my adolescent career. That's the only way I got through school. I maintain a prescription not for creative work, but for when I need to sit through boring meetings and things like that. I do have ADD. Anyone who has it will tell you. The Ritalin doesn't make you smarter. In fact, I don't think it's one of the best nootropics out there, but for someone like me who's a eight quick start on the Kolbe scale, it helps me play well with others. My favorite neurotropic right now is actually Four Sigmatic‘s mushroom coffee. I think it's as effective as something like an Adderall and it's all natural, and it has 40 milligrams of caffeine like in terms of ease of use because it's just brewed coffee. In terms of how subtle it is, it's also phenomenal.
Ben: And are you talking about the coffee packet they have that is blended with lion's mane and chaga, that particular blend?
Jonathan: Yeah. That one's also great. I personally prefer the actual ground coffee that they send and it's got the lion's mane in it. So, I will brew that in a French press, and I love it. I've tried all the like piracetams and aniracetams and L-theanines. This is another category you know as a podcaster people will just send you stuff and it will show up in your mail. And none of it has ever performed for me as well as that. There is a runner up for me, which is yerba mate. Again, I kind of tend to go to one of the two extremes, like all the way to the pharmacological, the Ritalins or–I'm blanking on the name right now, the limitless drug. It's the third one.
Ben: Oh, the modafinil, Provigil, that one?
Jonathan: Yeah. Exactly, exactly.
Jonathan: So, either if you're going to do it, go all the way, or if you're not going to do it, stick to the natural stuff. Yerba mate is great because, as I'm sure many people in your audience know it, not only has caffeine but it has the other two xanthine chemicals, theophylline and theobromine. So, it's vasodilative. It can actually slow your heart rate while giving you the mental stimulation of a caffeine. I used to have this habit like if I was working with someone, writing together or doing something and I wanted them to focus and not distract me, I'd give them that instead of coffee, and then I would just have like uninterrupted brilliance from them for six hours.
Ben: Yeah. The composition of mate in terms of some of those extra theobromine molecules, and the other one is the–not that [00:42:44] _____ it's not zeaxanthin, it's–you just named it.
Ben: Yeah, theophylline. And it's also got some chlorophyll in it, as well as some saponins, and a few other antioxidants that coffee doesn't have in it. I've heard that from many people. For me, yerba mate, and it might be because of just of my unique metabolism, it gets me a little jittery. But what I found was that that theobromine hit and the dopaminergic response that you get to it, I'm able to simulate that with cacao. And actually, Tucker Max turned me onto this because he's not a coffee drinker, but he told me about these organic cacao nibs and cacao shells from this company called MiCacao. And what I do is when I'm foregoing a cup of coffee, which actually due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, I've been focusing more on immune system enhancers than just coffee in the morning. I'm making big batches of that MiCacao and then dropping in a few packets of the Four Sigmatic chaga into that.
So, my morning brew right now is basically chaga with cacao. It's pretty amazing. It doesn't give me quite the pick-me-up as a nice big black cup of coffee, but that is a pretty amazing blend, and then a really cognitively demanding day such as talking to Jonathan Levi and having to have my brain turned super-duper. I actually didn't do this this morning. I just did the chaga and the cacao. So, if I found some stupid on today's show, that's why. But usually, I'll top that for a real, real good effect with the Qualia caffeine-free Mind. And it's not got caffeine in it, so I don't get any additional caffeine on top of what I'm getting from the cacao. But that triplicate the chaga with the cacao, and then the Qualia Mind thrown on top of that seems to work amazingly.
Jonathan: That sounds fantastic. I haven't tried Qualia. I got to research that one.
Ben: Yeah. You should give that one a go. It's a very, in my opinion, a very well-formulated. It's got about 42 different ingredients in it.
Well, we could probably geek out on our personal routines for a really long time. And I do want to later on just ask you a little bit about practically how you've learned something lately using some of the tactics in your book or what you're learning of late. But we'll come back to that because the title of this book is “The Only Skill That Matters.” What is the only skill that matters and why do you think that's the only skill that matters?
Jonathan: Yeah. Well, I'll quote Alvin Toffler, who wrote “Future Shock,” and say, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” And my life experience has taught me–I mean, going from being a depressed suicidal kid with failing grades, no skills to speak of, no self-confidence to where I am today. The difference between point A and point B was learning, right? I believe that we are the sum of our knowledge and experiences. And if you want to be better, do better, live better, it comes down to the knowledge and the application of course of that knowledge.
And so, the only skill that matters is, do you have that underlying metaskill of being able to learn anything quickly and effectively? If tomorrow you decide the whole world is changing and I want to go into a new industry because my job waiting tables may not be a stable income for me anymore and I would love to get into software engineering, are you able to dive into that subject or any other subject and acquire it quickly and confidently? And to me, it's the only skill that matters because there are a lot of skills out there that matter, but if you can't learn effectively, you can't acquire them. And people always love to ask me, “Well, what about?” There are so many things in life. “Well, what about this? What about physical skills?” And to which I reply, “Eight years ago, I had chronic knee pain, chronic shoulder pain. Today, I have no pain. I mean, maybe not the best shape of my life given that I haven't left the house in three weeks, but I'm in pretty damn good shape and it came down to learning how to use my body to become my own physical therapist, my own personal trainer, and my own nutritionist.”
People have often asked me, “Well, what about interpersonal skills?” I didn't know how to hold a conversation. When I was 13 years old, I definitely didn't know how to stand up on stages in front of thousands of people. And you can learn these skills, and I did learn these skills. I learned my way into a happy marriage. After nine years of being chronically single and unhappy, I decided to treat it as a learning challenge and say, “What do I need to do and what do I need to learn to become the kind of person who is happily married?” And then I just did it. So, time and time again, not only have I learned, but also my students have learned and demonstrated that if you can learn, you can kind of skate to wherever you want to go.
Ben: Yeah. It reminds me a little bit of something that I read from Naval Ravikant, who I love. Great guy to follow on Twitter, really good kind of modern philosopher and thinker. And he has five–I think he calls them the five skills that everyone should know, but each of them requires learning, right? So, if we took your idea that we need this only skill that matters learning, then what would it be that we'd want to learn to enable us to have success in any element of life? And according to Naval–and I can link to an article that he wrote in the shownotes for you guys, which again are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/TheOnlySkill.
But he says, “Coding, statistics, game theory and persuasion, economics and storytelling through visual communication.” He says if you have those five skills, you can be successful in any career. And I've even seen it made even more simple and simplified as reading, writing, arithmetic, logic/programming, and a rhetoric/persuasion. Like those would be the five skills that whether you're going to be a lawyer or a physician or anything else are going to serve you well in life.
Jonathan: Yeah. I was going to say I would add a couple on there. One of them is writing, right? Because if you can't communicate your ideas intelligently, it doesn't matter how much knowledge you have in economics or negotiation, you need to be–and I guess he covers that a little bit with persuasion.
Ben: Well, with persuasion or with–you could argue that storytelling through visual communication is technically writing. I mean, to a certain extent.
Jonathan: True. And I would add onto that. I mean, I guess this is persuasion, but I would say people skills, right? Like the ability to learn people's names and bios, and know what they're interested in, and maintain communication. I mean, one of the books people are often surprised when I say this, like what book has most impacted and changed your life? And for me, it's Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Because it doesn't matter how smart you are, if people don't like you, it doesn't matter.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I agree. And maybe you could say that the persuasion psychology that he recommends, you could make an argument that that actually falls into that bucket. But yeah, it is interesting because regardless of which five you think exists or whether you think there are more than five or less than five in order to gain knowledge or proficiency in any of those, you must be able to learn. You must be able to know how to learn, right? Whether it'd be coding, or statistics, or persuasion psychology, or economics, or storytelling through visual communication, you have to be able to know how to learn.
Jonathan: Absolutely. And do so confidently and unlearn what you already know. I think so many people treat learning as this like charge up for the first 20 years of your life and then just go. And people don't understand you should, in every generation, be a lifelong learner. But now, someone exiting medical school today, their information and knowledge will be largely obsolete within a decade. And that same person is hoping to be in the workforce for longer than ever.
Ben: That's a very scary example because there are many doctors who actually have allowed their knowledge to become obsolete.
Jonathan: Yeah. But by the way, that's the best-case scenario. If you're a software developer and you went to Stanford Computer Science and Engineering, give it five years, everyone's writing on new code platforms, there are new standards, new technologies. I mean, it's crazy. And so, imagine our generation is going to be in the workforce for longer than ever before. We're not retiring at 60, we're going on, or hoping to. And so, if every five years your knowledge becomes obsolete, that is 10 times you need to reinvent yourself. That's crazy.
Ben: Yeah. It's nuts. This idea of learning, I think you–I don't know if you coined the term, but you wrote a whole book about becoming a super learner. What exactly would a super learner be?
Jonathan: Yeah. So, a super learner is someone who is able to quickly and effortlessly learn any subject and implement what they are learning. I don't know if I coined the term, but we certainly trademarked it.
Ben: Now, what would be–and I realize you have an entire book on this, so I don't expect you to teach everyone in a few moments how to become a super learner, but what would just be like the path that one would embark upon to learn how to learn with that amount of proficiency and efficiency to where they could classify themselves as a super learner?
Jonathan: Yeah. Great question. So, when I embarked on this journey, I had already taken a couple speed reading courses and I–you know, I'm a geek in that way. I like to learn about my brain and my body, and yet I discovered that I was sorely lacking in some key fundamental kind of foundational skills. So, the first thing I teach in all my courses, in all my books is I stop and I explain to people how their brain actually works. And the metaphor that I like to give sometimes is when I teach someone how to drive a manual car, you can tell them what to do or you can tell them why to do it. If I tell you, “Just push the clutch every single time, you need to change a gear,” well, you don't actually understand what's happening. And there's a lot of times you should push the clutch when you're not changing a gear as an example.
If you actually understand the mechanisms, then you become free to kind of use the hardware in ways that you wouldn't have been able to before. So, our education system says, “Just review and study and repeat.” Actually, that doesn't work. I mean, we know it doesn't work and simply by helping people understand how the brain works. I'll give you some concrete examples. Most people go through life thinking that they are an auditory learner, or a tactile-kinesthetic learner, or a visual learner. The research is actually very, very clear. We're all naturally wired to be visual learners.
Some research done as recently as 2017 by the [00:54:00] _____ Center has shown that there's actually no such thing as memory without some visualization or some novel visual stimuli. What that means is if you go to the highest levels of memory sport, people who can do things like memorize 187 names and faces in 15 minutes, people who can memorize pie to thousands of digits, people who can memorize a deck of cards in under 14 seconds, they all use the same technique. It's visual mnemonics. It's creating novel and unique visualizations, connecting those visualizations to our existing knowledge, which is tricking our brain into thinking that it's related. We talked about that early on in the podcast using your existing knowledge. And then at the highest levels, it's organizing those memories into a structure.
And no one is telling students this. I mean, if you sit down with your sons and you tell them, “Okay. Today, we want to learn–” let's just say, “Today, we want to learn all the different neurotransmitters in the brain just so we understand what is serotonin, what is dopamine, what is acetylcholine, all these things.” And you turn those things into fun visualizations, right? So, serotonin becomes their friend Sera from their soccer group. And Sera is–she has DJ headphones on and she's listening to the tone. She's like toning in, tuning in, right? So, it's a visualization of Sera tuning. And then you explain that what kind of music were visualizing her DJing, and that indicates that serotonin is one of the hormones associated with X, Y and Z. So, you create these fun visualizations. How much more interesting is that than me just telling you, “Oh, yeah, serotonin is a neurotransmitter and it's involved in positive emotions”? It's so boring, right? And you can do this for anything you want to memorize.
Ben: Is this very similar to the Memory Palace technique?
Jonathan: This is it. Yeah.
Jonathan: Once you get up to the higher levels and you've mastered this ability to memorize anything. And I know it sounds like a cheap parlor trick, but at the end of the day, people say, “Well, okay, that's memory. What about learning?” And I say, “What do you think learning is if not memory?” Right? You need to be able to get this stuff into your brain.
Ben: Speaking of cool skills for life, by the way, and we talked about like breathwork and cold and heat being good skills to teach kids, my boys actually took a course with Jim Kwik when we were at Mindvalley University in Tallinn, Estonia last year and they learned the entire Memory Palace technique. Now, talking to you right now is actually refreshing my own memory that I'm not quite sure how much they've actually kept up what they learned in that. And so, whenever I have things that come up during the day that I want to revisit, I mark them down and we talk about them at family dinner. So, I'll be bringing your book at family dinner tonight and reminding my kids about the importance of visualization. And maybe we'll do a little exercise together.
Is there some kind of exercise someone could do with just a few simple objects to begin to learn how to use visualization to memorize something or to learn?
Jonathan: Absolutely, yeah. Normally, what I love to do is I challenge people to go to the grocery store without a shopping list that actually visualize where they're going to pick up each of the things because the truth of the Memory Palace is we all have memory palaces and we all know how to use them. I don't know how your marriage is, but I, for some reason, once I got married, once that ring went on my finger, I lost the ability to know where anything in the house is. So, every time I ask my wife, “Honey, where are those scissors, you know, the good scissors?” and she tells me, that's a memory palace.
Every time you go to one of those hardware stores and you ask someone and he goes, “Oh, it's aisle three about halfway down,” that's a memory palace. We all use this and our brains store thousands of these memory palaces. You could tell me the five different grocery stores you go to, where the fresh avocados are, for example. And so, we all use them, it's just a matter of learning how to repurpose them. And so, an exercise that I would give people is take literally anything that you want to memorize. For example, memorizing the names of all your co-workers' kids, right, and then create a memory palace.
Just imagine you're walking through the grocery store and every aisle is a different co-worker and you're visualizing their kids sitting on the different shelves. And so, Sera becomes someone you know named Sera. And if it's Christian, then you imagine a cross, and on and on and on. And you can do this again for anything. So, whatever you're excited to memorize and learn, if it's foreign language vocabulary, if it's Bible verses, if it's physiology, geography, you can do all of that with this one powerful technique that was discovered 2500 years ago.
Ben: Interesting. Yeah. I wonder, have you ever come across any type of like, not an online learning but like a physical game for kids that teaches them how to use the Memory Palace technique? Something like a board game or a card game or anything like that?
Jonathan: I haven't.
Ben: It'd be interesting. I'm going to look into it because we always play board games at night as a family. It'd be interesting to see if there's a good one that we could gather around the dinner table and play with just to keep this stuff top of mind for them. So, that's a great tip. I think even in your book, you say that's how to triple your memory, this idea of imagining pictures in your head.
Jonathan: At least, yeah. I mean, I say triple because a clinical study at Radboud University actually proved that people were able to triple their memory, but I've seen students 10x their memory. I can't make that claim because the research shows triple your memory, and that it's long lasting. When they tested these people, I think it was six months later, they still had the effects of the Memory Palace. And it was like 20 minutes a day for a few weeks that they studied. It's just incredible. This was the first time I discovered–Ben, when I discovered this technique, it was the first time my eyes were open to the fact that there are real world superpowers, right? Like as a kid, I'd always wanted superpowers. My superpower that I would love is telekinesis. And then it was like at age 24, you discover, “Oh my god, there are actual superpowers out there.” Like there are people who can memorize 1500 people's names. They go to a conference for the weekend like you went to Mindvalley, they memorize everyone in the room's name before they even get there just going through the app.
Ben: Holy crap.
Jonathan: And then you discover folks like Wim Hof. And then you discover like all this crazy stuff that people are doing with immunity and insane stuff, right? Then this is why my podcast is called SuperHuman Academy because what I discovered a decade ago now is you can actually learn how to be superhuman, and that's like the coolest thing ever to me.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I dig it. I don't think anybody's going to be shooting laser lights out of their eyes anytime soon, but yeah, as far as everything from manifestation, visualization, changing the immune system, altering physiology, I mean, even the gratitude practice you're doing to the effects on blood pressure, decrease in plasma cortisol, I mean, these ways that we can tweak ourselves and change our humanness, our human biology without actual exogenous substances, it actually is pretty nuts.
The question I have for you next is for you, being such a big fan of learning, I'm curious what you are learning right now and how you are learning it, something you're excited that you're really digging into right now, that language or musical instrument or whatever. What are you learning and how?
Jonathan: So, I have recently, because I'm at home more and I'm not learning as much Olympic weightlifting as I would like to be, I have dived back into the piano and I'm trying to learn a bunch of different songs from my favorite artists in the entire world, which I recommend everyone even if they don't speak Hebrew at checkout. Idan Raichel, I think he's just the most magical pianist on the planet. So, I'm learning a bunch of his different songs right now, and the way I'm learning it is essentially what I teach, right? So, I'm creating visualizations. Fortunately, I already have the foundation. That was my project last year is learning some basic music theory, like, what are the scales? What is the circle of fifths? I have that all committed to memory palaces.
So, when I look up a song and I realize that it's just C, and then a G with the emphasis on B, and then it's F, so I'm able to leverage. I mean, learning is very much this kind of like snowball type thing. So, that's one thing I'm learning right now. I'm getting back into copywriting because my team is so overwhelmed with all the different stuff we're putting out. So, I'm studying copywriting a little bit more and a little bit more of–again, we talked about writing in persuasion and influence. And languages right now I'm on hold, so I put my Russian on hold. My Hebrew is already pretty much there. And those are the main learning things. And I'm always reading a ton. I'm reading right now about five different books. So, I'm in the middle of the “Road Less Stupid” by Keith Cunningham. I just finished “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”
Ben: Oh, yeah, that's a good book.
Jonathan: I finished another book two or three days–I reread Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I'm also reading “Anna Karenina.” And I'm reading two different books in Hebrew as well. So, I'm in the middle. I'm not at all monogamous with my reading right now.
Ben: With this information era and the mass availability of courses and the ability to learn, I sometimes feel guilty at the end of the day that I haven't spent enough time learning a new skill. And sometimes, like last night, I had set up the entire day. I really wanted to get a good half hour on the guitar. And it turns out by the time the day finished, I basically played my children a new song that I learned in the five minutes before they went to bed and played to them for five minutes, which gave me a total of 10 minutes of kind of half-assed learning.
I'm curious, how much time per day does a guy like you spend learning a new skill?
Jonathan: Yeah. So, deliberately, kind of clean pure learning. I'm lucky if I get in a full hour a day. There's also a lot of learning in what I do in my job. I try to block off at least an hour a day, but I try to do that resource allocation. So, I have a two-hour date with myself every Saturday. It's on my calendar.
Ben: I love that.
Jonathan: Everyone on my team can see it. My wife can see it and it literally says, I'll read it to you, it says, “Reading, leave me the hell alone.” And that's just what I do on Saturdays. I try to read–I also try to take at least two Tuesdays a month as learning days. Again, it does not always happen. Today, it did not happen. I'm doing so many different podcasts and so many different everythings. But I try to do a full learning day once to twice a month, and those are like my favorite days. If I could just get paid to learn all day, which I kind of do, I get paid to learn and create online courses and stuff like that, and that's really cool, but I'm happiest when I'm learning.
Ben: Yeah. I agree. And of course for us being podcasters, we are learning–like I've already learned a ton from you just in the past hour, but I sit down every Sunday and on Evernote–on Evernote, I kind of plan out my week and then that all gets put into busy cal. And I wrote a note to myself for this Sunday to consider setting aside that one to two-hour block perhaps on the following weekend in which I can actually lock myself away in my office and feel justified doing so if I calendar it because we know that when you write something down in calendar, it all of a sudden makes it super legit. So, I'm actually going to try that. I'm going to see if locking myself away on a weekend for one to two hours just lets me–at this point, really, I want to record an album on the guitar. And so, for me, it's guitar for sure that would be, but I love that tip.
Jonathan: Well, and keep in mind, your job, Ben, is to learn.
Ben: I know. Yeah, yeah. Sometimes it's less of the health fitness supplements, biohacks that I want to learn, and I just want to learn a skill. You know how it goes. Sometimes you just want to learn something that has nothing to do with your actual job. So, you mentioned that you returned to a book, I believe it was Dale Carnegie, and this is actually I think in respect of your time, the last thing I wanted to cover with you. I have now a top-shelf on my bookshelf. I don't recall where I heard this tip of simply taking the books that are the big wins, the hell yes is for you, setting those aside in a certain part of your house and having those as books that you come back to on an annual basis rather than simply reading new books year-round. So, I have a shelf with about a dozen books, like a few of Joe Dispenza's books, and I think “A Values Factor” book is up there, and just some books I found. There was some really thought-provoking this year.
But you actually talked about in your book this app or this service called Readwise that allows you to take books that you've learned and keep them top of mind. And I'm trying to wrap my head around how to actually use that. How do you use Readwise exactly?
Jonathan: Yeah. I love Readwise. So, basically, what it does is you connect it to your Kindle account, your iBooks, your pocket, like every place that you're doing reading, and it downloads all your highlights, and then it just spits them back to you by email either every day or every week. And what I like about it is for years I've been teaching and teaching people like, “Take all your highlights, put them into Evernote, review them periodically,” but it's a discipline thing, right? Like, it's so much more exciting to read a new book than it is to go back and review an old book, and I'm guilty of that. Like once in a while, I would go through the books. Like if I needed to write a sales letter, I would pull up my highlights and flip through them from a great copywriting book that I read over the years.
But this makes it easy, right, because we all want to be at inbox zero. As you said, I'm a huge productivity nerd, so I try to get to inbox zero. And this just puts it in my email inbox and I have a rule with myself, I've never broken it, like that is the one email, I never just archive without reading. There's a lot of other emails I don't read, I just archive, but that's the one that's holy. Every week, I get about 20 highlights from all my favorite books and it prompts me to sometimes go back into those books and read a little bit further.
Ben: So, if it's syncing with something like your Kindle books, obviously, there's a little bit of an issue there in terms of, if you like me read a lot of paper books, have you found a good way to actually allow you to get these weekly reminders with your paper books?
Jonathan: Yeah. They got that figured out, too. You just connect it to your Goodreads account and it'll pull in all the books. It'll match them up against all the ones that already has highlights, and then it'll give you the most common highlights.
Ben: Okay. So, you're getting the most popular highlights. I got you. So, yeah, that makes sense because even though it might not be highlights that are exactly personalized to you or what you folded over or highlighted, you're at least getting the best of the best of that particular paper book by syncing it with, for example, a Goodreads account?
Ben: I like that. Okay.
Jonathan: Yeah. And you can add your own as well. You can actually import them, which is pretty cool.
Ben: Maybe I'll pay an assistant to come over to my house, take all my physical books with every page folded over and highlight and just upload them all to Goodreads sometime and outsource that to some, I don't know, some high school student who wants to go through my books. Wow, man. There's a lot here. And at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/theonlyskill, what I'm going to do is I'm going to link to this book, which is fantastic, super quick easy read. Like I mentioned, my twin 12-year-old boys have both read it. They liked it. And the other thing is that Jonathan has a lot of, as I mentioned in the introduction, courses, particularly his SuperHuman Academy. He also has a Branding You Academy, and he has a podcast, and he has previous books that he's written including the one I mentioned about how to become a super learner. So, what I'm going to do is just give you all the Jonathan goodness if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/theonlyskill. And he's also got, like I mentioned, a podcast. You can hear him interview a lot of super learners and super-smart people.
Jonathan, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us, man.
Jonathan: My pleasure, Ben. It's really my pleasure. I know your audience, they're really sharp people, they're really interested in optimal performance. Make sure in that blog post, you link them. I want to give everyone a free copy of my book.
Ben: Oh, cool.
Jonathan: We're shipping them out. So, we've got I think 2,000 of them in a warehouse somewhere and I've been assured by my shipping team that they are two meters away. They're keeping six-foot distance, but they're still shipping out books. So, you can include that link in the shownotes. It's freelearningbook.com.
Ben: Freelearningbook.com. Cool. I'll put that. Which book is that?
Jonathan: That is this book. That is “The Only Skill That Matters.”
Ben: Amazing. Okay. Cool. I'll put that in the shownotes. And I think the half-life of coronavirus on cardboard is only like five or six hours anyway, so you guys will be fine. You'll be fine, trust me.
Ben: Alright, man. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. Again, for everybody, including a link to get this book for free, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/theonlyskill. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Jonathan Levi signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
We live in changing times. In the next ten years, every knowledge worker on earth will become one of two things: invaluable or obsolete. No matter the industry, the pace of progress and new information is faster today than ever before in human history—and it's accelerating exponentially.
In this new reality, how can we possibly hope to keep up?
How can we learn, unlearn, and relearn fast enough to stay relevant in the world to come?
How can we adapt and respond to situations such as worldwide pandemics and the replacement of many jobs by automation or artificial intelligence?
In his new book, The Only Skill that Matters: The Proven Methodology to Read Faster, Remember More, and Become a SuperLearner, my guest on today's podcast, Jonathan Levi, unveils a powerful, neuroscience-based quick learning methodology that'll have you reading faster, remembering more, and learning more effectively in no time. You’ll master the ancient techniques being used by world record holders and competitive memory athletes to unlock the incredible capacity of the human brain. You’ll learn to double or triple your reading speed, enhance your focus, and optimize your cognitive performance. Most importantly, you’ll be empowered to confidently approach any subject—from technical skills, to names and faces, to foreign languages, and even speeches—and learn it with ease.
I enjoyed this book so much that I shared it with my twin twelve-year-old boys, who both wrote a book report on it, and I thought you'd absolutely love this title (and the deeper dive I take on today's podcast with Jonathan) as well.
Jonathan Levi is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, and keynote speaker born and raised in Silicon Valley. At the age of 16, he started an eCommerce company that would go on to become one of Inc.’s 5,000 fastest growing companies in America before being sold in 2011. Since 2014, Jonathan has been one of the top-performing instructors on the online learning platform Udemy. He then snowballed this success into the launch of his rapidly growing information products company, SuperHuman Enterprises, which produces such products as the award-winning SuperHuman Academy Podcast; the bestselling Become a SuperLearner®” print, digital, and audiobooks; and numerous other online courses through its own online training portals, SuperHuman Academy® and Branding You™ Academy.
Jonathan’s media products have been enjoyed by over 250,000 people in 205 countries and territories. His latest book, The Only Skill That Matters, was published by Lionscrest in 2019 and details his own journey and the techniques that anyone can use to learn faster. Jonathan holds a B.A. in sociology from UC Berkeley and a Master’s in business from INSEAD. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with his wife, Limmor.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How the coronavirus has affected Jonathan's quality of life and productivity…10:30
- Jonathan's team is remote, so there were no drastic changes
- There's a fine line between sharing useful information and profiting off of a global pandemic
-The ideal quick learning model in Jonathan's view…14:18
- Don't underestimate the role of customization and tailoring to the individual's needs
- Needs of our brains:
- We need to know that what we're learning is practical and applicable to our own life
- We need it to be connected to our own experiences
- Best use of technology is “Learning journeys”: Allowing the individual to go off on their own, learn at their own pace
- Customization is very difficult in the best of circumstances with the traditional model of education (25-30 students)
- The 3 things people need when they learn: information, accountability, community
- Identify local resources (classes, meetups, etc.) for the community element
-Jonathan and Ben's daily routines, biohacks, and wearables…21:17
- Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning
- Meditation in the morning
- Gratitude journaling (20+ things)
- Benjamin Hardy – Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life
- Wim Hof breathing during the journaling
- Two types of journaling:
- Goals, dreams, etc.
- Basic historian work (a record of your life)
- Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Sleep is sacred in the Levi household
- Blinds are connected via Alexa to allow max sunlight in the house
- Planning is essential
- If you're reactive, you're at the mercy of that which makes the most noise
- “A change in priorities without a change in resources is a fantasy” – Dan Sullivan
- Aquatic fitness pool Ben mentions
- Morozko Forge (code BENFORGE for $150 off)
- Dreem (code BEN to get 10% discount)
- Oura Ring
- Ebb device
- Chilipad (code BEN25 for 25% off the chiliPAD / BEN15 for 15% off the OOLER)
-Nootropics and smart drugs Jonathan uses for enhancing cognitive performance…39:53
- Prescribed Ritalin most of adolescence
- Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee (code BENGREENFIELD for 15% off)
- Yerba Mate
- Ben's morning brew while focusing on enhancing the immune system: Chaga and cacao
- Qualia (caffeine-free) Mind (code GREENFIELD2019 to save 15%)
-What “the only skill that matters” is…45:00
- The only skill that matters is being able to learn quickly and effectively
- Book: Future Shock by Alvin Toeffler
- “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
- Jonathan overcame chronic pain to get into top shape by learning how to be his own physical therapist, nutritionist, etc.
- Five Hard Skills Everybody Should Learn from Naval Ravikant
- Also people skills and writing
- Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Unlearning what you already know is just as important as learning
- Knowledge acquired today will likely be obsolete in 10 years in the best-case scenario
-How to become a “SuperLearner”…51:55
- A SuperLearner is: “Someone who is able to quickly and effortlessly learn any subject and implement what they're learning.”
- Understand how your brain works
- You can tell people what to do, or tell them why to do it
- We're all naturally wired to be visual learners
- There's no such thing as memory without some sort of visual stimuli
- Similar to the Memory Palace Technique
- Mindvalley University
-How to use visualization in your learning…56:57
- Go grocery shopping without a list
- We all learn visualization; the key is knowing how to re-purpose it
- This will triple your memory at minimum and help you retain the info you learn
-What Jonathan is learning at the time of the recording, and how…1:01:15
- Learning piano pieces by Idan Raichel
- Studying copywriting
- Books Jonathan is reading:
-How much time Jonathan spends learning each day…1:04:00
- 1 hour minimum
- 2 hour “date with myself” every Saturday
- Two Tuesdays per month as learning days
-Tips on using the Readwise app…1:07:00
-And much more
Resources from this episode:
- The Only Skill that Matters by Jonathan Levi
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Future Shock by Alvin Toeffler
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Road Less Stupid by Keith Cunningham
- Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Willpower Doesn't Work by Benjamin Hardy
- Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
– BGF podcasts:
- Ben Hewitt, author of Home Grown
- Judy Arnall, author of Unschooling To University
- the Mind Pump guys
- Conquer The Cold And Get Quantum Leaps In Performance In This Exclusive Interview With The Amazing Iceman Wim Hof and The Iceman Returns
– Tools and Equipment:
- Aquatic fitness pool
- Morozko Forge (code BENFORGE to get $150 off of any Forge)
- Dreem (code BEN to get 10% discount)
- Oura Ring
- Ebb Sleep device
- Chilipad (BEN25 for 25% off the chiliPAD / BEN15 for 15% off the OOLER)
– Food and Supplements:
- Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee (code BENGREENFIELD for 15% off)
- Yerba Mate
- Qualia (code GREENFIELD2019 for 15% off)
– All Jonathan Levi:
- SuperHuman Academy
- SuperHuman Enterprises
- SuperHuman Academy Podcast
- Become a SuperLearner
- The Branding You™ Academy
– Additional resources:
- Christian Gratitude Journal
- Benjamin Hardy – Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life
- The Wim Hof Method
- Wim Hof Method app
- Five Hard Skills Everybody Should Learn from Naval Ravikant
- Mindvalley University
- Idan Raichel – learning piano pieces
- The Memory Palace – Cooperative Story Telling Game for Kids by Peaceable Kingdom
- The Readwise.io app
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