The Jay Kim Show #41: Jim Kwik (Transcript)
All right. So, have you ever been to a conference or a networking event where you’re meeting a bunch of people and then you meet someone, shake their hand and then literally forget their name? Or maybe you find yourself reading a book and you get to the end of a page and you have no clue what you just spent the last five minutes reading. I find myself struggling with this all the time, which is why I was particularly excited to speak with today’s show guest Jim Kwik. Jim is a world renowned expert in speed reading, memory improvement and optimal brain performance.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of five and so he struggled to keep up with his peers in reading and learning. And so he survived by learning a few strategies that dramatically enhanced his mental performance. Now he coaches some of the world’s most famous actors, CEOs and celebrities.
So, today’s episode runs a little bit longer, but that’s because it is highly actionable. Jim shares some good quick tips and strategies that you can use right away to improve your memory and brain performance, which is I think something that we could all use a little help with. So, let’s jump right in to the show.
Jay: Hi Jim, thanks so much for coming on the show. We are very excited to have you here. For our listeners that are tuning in, that might not have heard of you or aren’t familiar with your work perhaps you could give us a quick introduction and let us know what you do for a living.
Jim: That sounds great Jay, and thank you everyone who’s listening. My name is Jim Kwik. I have a company called Kwik Learning and I help people to learn quickly. And it’s a question I get it’s always about my last name, my last name really is Kwik. I didn’t change it to do what I do with a name like Kwik, you could say my destiny was planned out. I had to be a runner in school, lot of pressure when your shirt says Kwik right on it. I have to be careful when I’m driving because the worst name to have on your driver’s license when you get pulled over for speeding is the name Kwik because you’re not-
Jay: That’s true actually.
Jim: You’re not going to talk your way out of that speeding ticket. And finally I have … My mission is helping people to learn quicker and faster because I find that if there’s one skill to master in the 21st century it’s the ability to learn rapidly. I’m sure you feel it Jay and everybody who’s listening. There’s so much information coming from every direction, podcasts and websites and emails and everyone goes out and buys books to help themselves, like self-help books, but they end up sitting on the shelf and they’re not being read and they become a shelf-help and not self-help and it doesn’t really help anybody.
So, I teach people how to … Primarily I’m a personal trainer for your brain. Just like a personal trainer for your body makes your muscles stronger, faster, more agile, more flexible, younger, a stronger, that’s what I do for your mental muscles. I want to make your brain faster, smarter, more focused, more agile, more youthful, more energized so that you could go out there and read faster, so you could go out there and remember more, so you could go out there and learn any subject or skill faster. So you could basically be like a mental superhero.
And I feel like everybody has this gift, no matter your age, your background, your career, your personal history, your level of education. Everyone has this untapped genius inside of them and I love helping people to unleash it.
Jay: That’s incredible. I’m actually really excited to speak with you because I’ve seen some of your work and I’ve seen you on some other shows and some of our friends other shows that I follow, our mutual friends and I think it’s incredible. It’s like you said, everyone wants to tap for this and unharness this superpower if they can in their brain, but a lot of people think that they have some sort of limit. So, you have a very, very interesting and fascinating and inspiring story on how you came about to become a brain expert, do you mind sharing that with our audience?
Jim: Absolutely, I’ll give you the quick version, pardon the pun. I think everybody has an origin story and my inspiration really was my desperation. When people see me on stage they’ll see me memorize 100 people’s names forwards and backwards, or an audience will give me 100 words, random words or 100 random numbers and I’ll memorize them forwards and backwards and I always tell people, I don’t do this to impress you. I do this to more express to you what’s really possible because every single person listening to our conversation right now could do it also, we just weren’t taught how to do it, if anything we were taught back in school a lie. A lie that our intelligence, our potential, our learning, our memory is somehow fixed like our shoe size. And research into the brain in the past 20 years has proven that work we’re grossly underestimating what we’re capable of mentally and I’m about closing that gap.
So, my origin story was, people see me do these demonstrations and maybe they think because I’m asian or something that they [inaudible 00:05:48] memorize all these things, but I always tell people I actually grew up with learning challenges and a lot of people don’t know that. I had very bad head injury, brain trauma when I was five years old and it didn’t awaken some kind of genius superpowers, if anything I was slow. And it took me more time to learn how to learn, to understand things, focus, concentrate. My memory was very bad in elementary school. It took me an extra three years just to learn how to read because it was so difficult.
I actually taught myself how to read late at night by reading comic books because something about the superheroes journey made it come to life and I felt like, “Wow, I could really do this.” It gave me hope. Anyway, I struggled all through elementary school, grade school, middle school, high school and I was … When I got to college university I thought I could start fresh, start over and I wanted to make my family proud because they immigrated from China to the United States and we lived in the back of a laundromat and they worked so many jobs and I really wanted to show them that I could do it.
In actuality I did worse and I couldn’t keep up and I was really hurting. And a friend was like, “Okay, I know you want to quit school but before you do I’m going to go home see my family this weekend, why don’t you come with me and just get some perspective before you tell your folks that you’re going to quit school.” And then I was like, “Okay, I do.” And then I find also that, Jay, getting perspective is so important in life. Sometimes if you’re an entrepreneur and you hit a road block it helps to be able to get a little distance, changing the place of the people that you’re spending time with changes the way you look at a problem.
So, I go to their family’s home and they’re pretty well off and the father is walking me around his property before dinner and asks me a very innocent question, he says, “Jim, how is school?” But that’s probably the worst question you could ask me, because I just go, I just break down, I tell him all my learning challenges and problems, I tell him school is not for me, ready to quit, don’t know how to tell my parents because I’m the oldest of three kids and I want to be a good example for my younger brother and sister.
And he goes, “Well Jim, why are you in school?” And the power of questions, Jay, is also very important, because I find that as … I know you have listeners and all walks of life students and entrepreneurs and everything, but asking good questions will give you good answers because ask and you shall receive and it changes your focus. Anyway, he asked me this question, like, “Why are you in school? What do you want to be? What do you want to do? What you want to have? What do you want to share with the world?” And honestly I didn’t really have a lot of answers, but he kept on asking me and he forced me to actually write it down on a piece of paper.
And when I was done, I thought the exercise was done I start folding the sheets of paper to put in my pocket and he grabs the sheets right out of my hand and I’m like, I’m freaking out because I’m like, on there has my intimate dreams and goals and fantasies of my life and some stranger’s looking at it and reading it. And what he’s done I have no idea what he’s a say but he spreads his index fingers, he has two hands apart about a foot, he says, “Jim, you are this close to every single thing on that list.” And I’m just thinking, there’s no way, give me 10 lifetimes, I’m not going to crack that list. And he takes his index fingers and he puts them on the side of my ears, like my temples, meaning it’s my brain is going to be the bridge and the answer, the key.
And he takes me into a room of his home that I’ve never seen before in someone’s home. It is wall to wall, ceiling to floor covered in books. Can you imagine? Like I’ve never seen a library in somebody’s house before. And remember, I grew up learning challenges, and books, I don’t love books. So, for me it’s like being in a room … Let’s imagine someone is phobic of snakes, it’s like being in a room of snakes. What makes it worse, he starts going shelf to shelf handing me snakes to be able to read. And when I look at the titles of the books there are these biographies of incredible men and women in history and some really early personal growth books, like Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Thinking and just the magic of thinking big.
And he says, “Jim, I want you to read one book a week.” And I’m like, “You got to be kidding me.” And he’s like, “Jim, if you want these things on your bucket list, on your goals list, you got to read one book a week.” And I just go, “Sir, I’ve just told you I have learning challenges. I told you have too much school work. I told you … ” And I start fighting for my limitations. And I find in life when we’re on our road, whatever road we are to success, sometimes we hit these struggles. And the problem is when you fight for your limitations, like I’m too old or I don’t have the money or I don’t know the right people I don’t have the education. When you fight for your limitations you get to keep them. When you fight for your limitations you get to keep them.
And I’m fighting for my limitations and I have learning challenges and can never get this stuff and have too much schoolwork. And when I said schoolwork he looked me right in the eyes and he says, “Jim, don’t let school get in the way of your education.” And I was like, “Oh.”
Jim: And I didn’t even realize that was like a Mark Twain quote back then, but I was just like, “That’s really clever.” I said. And yet I can’t read all these books, I have midterms. And then very smart man, he takes out my bucket list, which he still has, and he starts reading every single one of my dreams out loud.
And something about seeing this stranger, who’s obviously very happy and successful, say out into the universe and hear my dreams in another man’s voice, it shook my mind, my heart, my spirit, something fierce. And honestly there are a lot of things on that list, were things I wanted to do for my family, things that they could never afford or they would never do for themselves. So, with that extra leverage we know the power of motivation. So, the lesson here is motivation is key to learning. So, understand why you do the things that you do and those are my wise.
So, with that leverage I agreed to read one book a week on top of my studies. So, now, fast forward, I’m back at my desk at school, I have a pile of books that I have to read for school and I have a pile of books I promised to read to this man for my personal growth. I already couldn’t keep up before, but now I sacrifice everything, I just live in the library. I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t work out, I don’t spend time with friends. I mean, it’s a recipe for disaster. And one night I end up passing out late at night. I fall down a flight of stairs in the library, I hit my head again, Jay, and I wake up in the hospital two days later.
And at this point I’ve lost … I thought I died. I was down to 117 pounds, that was like 50 pounds less than what I weigh now. And it’s like … I was hooked up to these IV’s, malnourished, and I thought, “There has to be a better way.” And when I said that to myself, there has to be a better way, the nurse came in with a mug of tea and on that mug had a picture of a genius, the opposite of what I thought I was, Albert Einstein. And it said this quote I’ll remember forever, we’ve all heard it in different iterations, it said, “The same level of thinking that’s created your problem will not solve your problem.” The same level thinking that’s created your problem won’t solve your problem.
And you think about, as you’re listening this, what are your problems that you’re facing right now and Einstein’s true, he’s right. The same level of thinking that’s created your problem, it won’t get you out of that problem. So, it made me ask this new question, “What’s my problem?” And I’m like, “I’m a really slow learner. I have a very slow brain.” I was like, well, how do I think differently about it? Maybe I could learn how to learn, maybe I could have a quick brain.
And I’m excited about this because I’ll tell you what happens right after that, the Kwik Brain is … We launched our own podcast teaching people how to have a quick brain and I think that having a quick brain … For me how I got it was I spent the next 60 days studying the brain functionally. So, I wanted to understand this riddle of how my brain works so I could work my brain, how my memory works so I could work my memory. I picked up every book on personal development around the mind, around memory, around adult learning theory, around speed reading.
And then about 60 days into it a light switch went on, Jay, and I started to understand things, I started to focus, I started to had better retention. And with all that my grades started to get better and then my life started to get better along with it. And the reason why I’m here talking to you to this day is one of my very first students, she was a freshman, I was tutoring her, she read 30 books in 30 days, imagine that. I mean, imagine going and picking up 30 books and reading 30 books in a month. And she read 30 books in 30 days and I wanted to find out, not how she did it, but why she did it. And I found out that her mother was dying of terminal cancer and was given 60 days to live, doctors gave her. And the books she was reading were books on health and wellness, she wanted to save her mother’s life.
Anyway, six months later I get a call from this young lady and she’s crying, crying, crying and they’re tears of joy. I find out that her mother not only survived but is really getting better, doctors don’t know how, they don’t know why. Doctors call it a miracle, but her mother attributed 100% to the greater by she got from her daughter, who have learned it from all these books. And that’s where I realized that if knowledge is power, learning is your superpower.
Jay: That’s incredible. That’s an incredible back story, and thank you for sharing that Jim, that’s amazing. So, I think that, some of the takeaways there is obviously what the … Sort of the goal setting and actually physically having … Defining that why are you doing this. I think that’s probably the most powerful exercise that someone could do, is to figure out why they want to learn and what the motivation behind that is, and hopefully it’s not something like a sick relative or a parent that is driving to do this, but that can be the most powerful motivation in the world, is if you have a strong why.
So, let’s fast forward a little bit. Now you work with a lot of celebrities, CEO’s, entrepreneurs as well, as well as actors and famous people to help them train their brain. So, let’s talk a little bit about … You bring up an interesting point. So, with the reading part. And here’s something that I struggle with as well. So, I like to read as well and I try to read about a book a week. So, entrepreneurs, they all swear by reading as being one of the key sort of pillar for learning, and it’s very obvious why. It’s someone else’s experience is all distilled into one small concise novel.
But when it comes to reading my challenge is basically, I’ll read and I’ll read and I’ll read and I’ll highlight, I’ll take notes. And then afterwards I’ll kind of forget a lot of things in the book. And so I’ll have to go back and I’ll be like, “Wait a minute, this is not right because I’ve read it and I’ve actually … I’ve been present while I’m reading it and I’ve been taking notes, but then I’ll still sort of forget things.” So, Jim, are there any sort of tips that you can give when you’re reading or maybe even when you’re engaging with people, on how to retain or recall that sort of information later on, other than just taking notes.
Jim: Yeah, absolutely. So, you’re right, leaders are readers. And that’s a given. Majority of people will read, if you’re thinking about this, most people read about two or three books a year. It’s kind of anecdotal. We have quick reading students, speed reading students in over 150 countries online, and so I get some interesting data. But they say that the average CEO reads four to five books a month. So, reading is so key because if somebody has decades of experience and they put it into a book and you can sit down and read it in a few days and you could download decades in a days is like major. I mean, so amazing.
So, the challenge is, is have you ever … I’m talking to everyone who’s listening. Have you ever read a page in a book, got to the end and just forgot what you just read? That can be a big issue. You go back and you re-read what you just read and you still don’t know what you read. In terms of productivity that’s a big challenge. So, everything what I do is around quick learning, quick reading, quick recall, quick math. Everything is about saving time because that’s the one thing you can’t get back. And they say that the average person has to read four or five hours a day just to keep up. Think about the websites and the emails and the business plans and the magazines and bill books, everything just to kind of keep currents, like taking a sip of water out of a fire hose.
Everyone knows that there’s a learning curve, what people don’t realize so much as there is a forgetting curve also. And so what happens Jay is … The number say that when you …. Someone learn something and they listen to a podcast or they read something in a book or they go to a conference, within 48 hours about 80% of it is gone from the memory, and that’s a real [tragedy 00:19:03]. I mean, just because putting all that effort in.
So, I’ll give you a couple of quick tips, in terms of why it happens and how to fix it, and hopefully just the big thing is just employing it. There’s two parts to reading. There’s reading speed and there’s reading comprehension. And if anyone’s ever taken a speed reading course traditionally it’s more skimming, skipping words, getting the gist of what you read. That’s not reading. I mean, maybe because I grew up with a memory background and I grew up a learning challenge. It doesn’t make sense to read something if you’re not going to remember it.
Jay: The technique that I’ve seen before is kind of like what you just … You have margins in the page and you only try to read within the margins, like-
Jim: Yeah. They’ll take their finger and they’ll put it like right down the page, but then you skip everything on the left and right side. Or they’ll teach something called S-forms where they’ll take your finger and make one S, big S on the page and you pick up some key-words, that’s why you get the gist of what you read. But the problem with it is, like my clients are literally the who’s who in Hollywood and the CEO’s and attorneys and doctors, you don’t want your doctor to get the gist of what he’s reading, you want them to retain it.
Here’s a couple things. So, reading speed and comprehension retention, all important, all three elements. What keeps us from reading better. Number one is just lack of education, that’s just the first supervillain, because we’re not taught. You think about reading, it’s not something we’re born being able to do, it’s something we learned, but when’s the last time you took a class called reading? I mean, how old were you? Probably eight years old. And so the demand, the difficulty, there’s so much more now than since you’re eight but most people still read as if they were eight years old. So, that’s number one problem.
Number two problem, and this is the big one, is lack of focus. The reason why a lot of people don’t remember what they read, no matter if they’re taking notes or whatever, is they don’t have this original focus concentration. And focus is kind of an interesting thing when we’re talking about reading speed, because if I ask the average person to … If I ask them to read faster, what will happen to their comprehension? That person will feel like their comprehension would dip and go down if they had to read faster. But in truth is, for the most part, the faster readers have the better comprehension.
The faster readers actually, for most part, have better comprehension because they have better focus. And that means that your brain is this super computer, the most incredible processing device on the planet, yet when you read you feed this super computer one word at a time. And I can’t even talk that slow. Even if I did then this podcast would be like five hours long. And notice when I started to speak slow, what did your mind naturally do?
Jay: It drifts away.
Jim: Yeah, it drifts away, if I talked longer it would wander, it would get distracted, it would think about other things, it would fall asleep. Now, tell me that’s not how most people read, same symptoms. When they read they get distracted, their mind drifts away, their mind wanders and they start falling asleep. I mean, how many people use a reading to help them sleep, they use it as a sedative. And that’s the wrong association to have to reading, because the key to long-term memory for what you read is this.
Information combined with emotion becomes a long-term memory. Information combined with emotion becomes a long-term memory. And you know that because if you eat a certain food it can take you back years, to when you were a child, maybe it’s a song or maybe it’s a smell, it will take you back years because emotion combined with that information made a long-term memory. The problem is, is most people, their emotion they feel when they’re reading is zero, zero times any of the information in the book is zero, and that’s why a lot of people don’t remember, because there’s not a lot of emotion there. And school trained us to be bored and sit passively and not emote, and so it’s a challenge.
Here’s the big challenge though. When it comes to focus, how do you improve focus? You improve speed. This is what I mean, if you’re driving really slowly in your neighborhood you’re not really focused on the act of driving, what are you focused on?
Jay: Something else.
Jim: Yes, something else. You could be drinking coffee, some people are texting even though they know they shouldn’t, but they could be talking to someone in the car, they could be thinking about the bills, five different things when you’re going slow. But let’s say you’re racing cars and you’re going max speed down a straight away, you have more or less focus. A little bit or a lot, you’re completely focused on what’s in front of you, you’re not trying to think about the bills or trying to text somebody or doing anything else. And so all of your attention, your observation, your concentration is what’s in front of you, because the speed focus and the focus gives you the comprehension, and the focus gives you the memory.
Jay: So, just by focusing I would think that you would probably … A dramatic increase right off the bat, if you just consciencely focus on say reading.
Jim: Exactly, but the speed especially, because the speed requires … So, here’s the thing. Your brain is a super computer, when you read you feed it one word at a time. Metaphorically you’re starving your brain, you’re starving your mind. And if you don’t give your brain the stimulus it needs it will seek entertainment elsewhere in the form of distraction, in the form of mind wandering, in the form of falling asleep, and that’s the thing. So, most people read so slow and their brain gets bored and that’s why it starts distracting itself and that’s why you don’t remember what you read. And that’s a big challenge. So, speed equals focus, focus equals comprehension and comprehension equals retention. That’s a big, big lever mover for people that want to remember more of what they read, is challenging themselves to read faster.
And it’s true though. Like most people listen to podcasts, I know I do, I don’t listen to it at just normal speed. You could pump it up to one 1.5 or 2.0, you could understand much faster than you could talk. And that’s the really big obstacle to effective reading, the biggest one that keeps you from understanding answer and reading faster is people don’t know what this is, most people, it’s called subvocalization, subvocalization, what does it mean? It means, you notice when you’re reading something to yourself you hear that inner voice inside your head reading along with you, hopefully it’s your own voice, it’s not like somebody else’s voice.
The reason why it’s a challenge to everyone that’s listening is, if you have to say all the words inside your head in order to understand what you’re reading, then you can only read as fast as you could speak. To say it another way, that means your reading speed is limited to your talking speed, not your thinking speed. And the truth is you don’t have to pronounce 99% of the words that you come across ever, because you’ve seen them hundreds of thousands of times, so you don’t have the say it out loud to understand it. And the fastest readers, they don’t subvocalize or they subvocalize very little and that’s what we do in our … Reason why our online training programs or full courses are so popular is because we help people to reduce that subvocalization so they could read so much faster that way.
Jay: Very interesting, so here is another thing Jim, so … And this is classic. I think that’s very applicable to sort of entrepreneurs and people, a lot of the audience listening in, it’s the classic conference networking, you’re meeting 100 people at a conference, handing out business cards, left, right and center, shaking hands and literally there’s no chance that you’ll be able to remember anyone’s name, let alone try to follow up and have a decent conversation with them.
So, what are some of the quick strategies and tips that you could give that helps you just sort of be more present and more aware and maybe even retain their name very quickly on a rapid basis, multiples basis when you’re at a conference and you’re trying to network and trying to maximize your time there?
Jim: Remembering names, Jay, as you know, is the number one business etiquette networking skill bar none. It is. It gives you such a huge advantage when you go to a conference. You go there and let’s say you meet 10 strangers and when you leave saying goodbye to each one using their name, they all remember you. So, remembering names, incredible superpower, and like all the other superpowers that we teach it’s learnable.
So, there’s no such thing as a good or bad memory, there’s just a trained memory and an untrained memory. There’s no such thing as a good or bad memory, just a trained memory and an untrained memory.
Jay: Which is actually very … It’s hopeful for all of us.
Jim: Yes, exactly. And I’m just a living example of that. So, what I would say is a couple of quick tips on how to remember names. Well, first of all, a name is a sweetest sound to a person’s ears. And it’s really hard if you’re an entrepreneur or you’re in sales or you just want to have a nice relationship with somebody, it’s hard to show them that you’re going to care for them, their family, their future, their health, their finances, their business, whatever it is you’re selling them, if you don’t care enough just remember their name.
So, I know of so many deals, like huge multimillion deals that were broken by forgetting a name or calling someone a different name. I’ve also seen on the other end people remembering names and it just created lifelong friendships. Because when you ask somebody their name, again and again, saying “Sorry, I forgot your name.” What are you communicating to that person?
Jay: You don’t care.
Jim: Yeah, that you don’t care. And people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, a few key points. I always tell people to remember first of all MOM, M-O-M. And this is the starting point for our memory. And this applies to all memory, but we can apply it towards remembering names specifically. Let’s say somebody has trouble remembering names, but that let’s say that there’s a suitcase of a half a million dollars US in that suitcase, and I know you have listeners all around the world, but the equivalent of a half a million US in the suitcase, it’s all yours or for your favorite charity if you just remember the name of the next stranger you meet. How many people are going to remember the person’s name? How many?
Jay: Everyone. Everyone will.
Jim: Now the whole world just overnight became a memory expert. So, the reason I bring this up is I’m challenging everyone as your brain coach, it had nothing to do with your potential, it had nothing to do with your capability, it had everything to do with whether you were motivated to do it. So, the M in MOM stands for motivation. And we’ve mentioned that in my story in terms of what my motivation is, but always start with why. So, when I first learned these skills, I’m very good with names obviously, I would ask myself, “Why do I want to remember this person’s name?” I would just consciously say, before I even meet them, “Why do I want to remember this person’s name?”
Maybe it’s just to show this person respect, maybe it’s to create a new friendship, maybe it’s to make a deal, maybe it’s to practice these techniques that I’d listen to on the Jay Kim’s Show. So, if I can’t come up with a reason though, I won’t remember the name, because here’s the takeaway, reasons reap results. Reasons reap results. You need the motivation, the motive for taking action. I remember I did a talk in Silicon Valley and afterwards Bill Gates comes up to me, because he was in the audience, and we started talking about learning and ask him if he could have anyone superpower, what would it be? And he says, “Jim, the ability to read faster.” And I was like, “Oh, I could totally help you with that.”
We start talking about the future of education and I was taking it from an approach of accelerated learning theory, I mean techniques. And he was approaching education in future education with technology and somebody was listening in and said, “Is there anything else that’s missing?” And we both say at the same time, “Motivation.” Because a lot of people know what to do when they have the technology to do it, but they’re not motivated. So, understanding human motivation and the most important person to motivate is yourself.
So, first ask yourself why you want to remember person’s name. The O in MOM stands for observation. Observation. A lot of people, they’re not forgetting the name, because what they’re doing is they’re blaming their retention, and it’s not your retention, it’s your attention. And I’ll say that again. When you get forgetful and you forget someone’s name it’s not your retention, it’s your attention. The art a memory is the art of attention. And I could tell you, leaders are readers and also leaders have an incredible capacity to show their care by remembering people’s names.
I remember the second time I got to meet President Bill Clinton and I was blown away because he remembered my name after meeting me just once. And that’s a leadership’s skill, because I remember asking him. I was like, “President Clinton, how do you remember my name? I’m a memory guy, what technique and all that.” And he doesn’t use … He’s like, “Jim, I don’t use any memory technique.” And he tells me about his grandfather in Arkansas and taking the grand kids, telling them stories in the living room and then … But afterwards he would quiz them to see if they were paying attention, which is really interesting, to see if they were observing.
Anyway, when I was sitting at dinner with him, there are pictures on my Instagram, but it’s like Forrest Whitaker, the Oscar winner is there, Sir Richard Branson is there and Ashton Kutcher is at the table, and then it’s me and Bill Clinton and it’s pretty wild table.
Jay: That’s incredible.
Jim: But I remember talking to him, but when I was talking to him he wasn’t paying attention to anybody else at the table. It’s like I had his full attention. He wasn’t looking over my shoulder even though there’s many more important people in the room right. It’s just, he has this incredible charisma, he’s incredible connector, he’s a great communicator, he’s got an incredible memory, an incredible presence, but I think his incredible memory and his powerful presence comes from being powerfully present. So, I’ll say it again, and all of us can do this. His incredible memory, his powerful presence with people comes from being powerfully present with people.
And that’s the opposite of what most people do. Most of the time they’ll go to a conference, and very rarely do you feel someone’s undivided attention. Lots of times you-
Jay: You’re looking over your shoulder.
Jim: Exact. Who else is in the room and who else is more important, or if they’re not distracting themselves by looking, they’re talking to themselves. In fact, I find that most people … They’re not really listening to you, they’re just waiting for their turn to speak and they’re thinking about how they’re going to respond. And if there’s a conversation going on with you and a stranger you just met or you and you, you are going to pay more attention to your internal conversation. So, a lot of people aren’t forgetting the name, they’re not hearing the name, they’re not observing the names. So, the O in MOM is observation, paying attention.
Even if you write the word listen, what we’re talking about President Clinton, listen, you write that word down. If you scramble the letters it spells perfectly another word. Spells the word silent. Silent. And that’s all you have to do. If you want to remember names first check in with your motivation, ask yourself why, give yourself a couple reasons and you’ll remember. And then O is observation, just listen and pay attention.
And notice like what I’m talking about, I teach people how to do everything, from names and numbers, speeches that I know, it’s the languages, formulas, facts, jokes, where you … Anything, remember what you read, anything. But if you just had the motivation to remember somebody, that you cared about somebody and you just were present and observing them, that’s just good human qualities, just caring and being present with people. So, the kind of memory training that we do just makes for just better quality characters and people, where you’re just motivated and care and you’re just there and present and not distracted. Because that’s ultimately what people want, they don’t want your gifts, they want your presence.
Jay: It’s like manners 101.
Jay: Makes you a good listener.
Jim: Exactly. And the final M in MOM … Motivation, observation, the final M is mechanics. And the mechanics are the tools, they’re the tips, they’re the strategies on how to read faster and how to improve your focus and how to remember musical instrument, how to be able remember a dance, how to remember anything you need to remember step by step by step. And those are things that we’ve talked for 25 years, but I just like putting the motivation and observation there first, because I do believe half of success is just psychology.
Jay: Got it. Okay, well, thanks for sharing that. MOM, I’ll have to remember that for the for the next conference that I go to. I’m fascinated with the people that you get to work with and interact with. I mean, these celebrities are untouchable to most common people and I think it’s great, it’s just incredible that the life that you’ve built for yourself and being able to connect with these sort of people, celebrities. So, you work with a lot of actors, I guess, on memorizing scripts and what not?
Jim: I get to work with …. Yeah, I mean, I’ve done programs for everyone from Elon Musk over at SpaceX to Will Smith, the actor, Forest Whitaker, the cast of The X-Men. I mean, for actors specifically, I help them speed read their scripts, I help them be focused and present on set. I help them to memorize their lines and those are all very useful in Hollywood. So, there’s a big … Just like, a lot of successful people, they have voice coaches, they have business coaches, they have personal trainers, they have their coaches. And for me, I’m the brain coach. If people want to get more than the 10% they think they’re using of their mind, then I help them to be able to light up the other parts.
Ultimately we use all of our brains potential, it’s just we use it differently, some people just use it much more efficiently than others and they’re able to get magical results. But for me, I’m not a big celebrity person. I mean, it’s one of those things where it’s just … I like helping people who are helping a lot of people, who are inspiring a lot of people and that’s a leverage point for me, meaning that if I’m working with the CEO, like that 200 officers at General Electric or something of that nature. They get to go out there and do a lot.
So, if I get to work with the cast of X-Men, because I love superheroes and I get to make them a little bit better, then their art is going to be able to that much more touch, their tens of millions of fans and I like scale. Personally I’m very introverted and I don’t like to spotlight even though I’m on stage a lot and on video and such, but I just want to help people, because I was labeled the boy with the broken brain back. Literally a teacher said that to another adults not thinking I was paying attention.
And my thing is, everybody right now, if you feel like you’re struggling, that you can’t keep up, that you can’t catch up, that you’re falling behind, I’m here to say it’s not your fault. We all grew up with the 20th century education that prepared us for 20th century world, and a 20th century world was working factories, it was working on assembly lines, and that’s what our education system was. One size fits all, cookie cutter approach, everyone’s the same, sit quietly by yourself, don’t talk to your neighbor and that system is broken. We live in a world with autonomous electric cars, cars that drive themself on electricity. We live in a world where they’re building space ships that are going to other planets like Mars. But our vehicle of choice when it comes to learning is like a horse and buggy, and that’s how prehistoric it is.
And my goal is to help people. Show busy people very simple quick brain hacks so they could catch up, keep up, get ahead. So, they can learn faster and achieve more in a shorter period of time, because that’s … Out two greatest assets that we have as entrepreneurs are just human beings. Number one is our brains, because we’re not paid for our muscle power anymore, we’re paid for our mind power. It’s not our brute strength, we’re paid for our brain strength now in this knowledge economy, because knowledge is not only power, it’s profit. I don’t just mean financial profit, that’s obvious, the smartest people are making the most money because the more you can learn, the more you can earn, especially when you do to shift and iterate and pivot and everything, change and outthink everybody else.
But also, all the treasure of your life, just like that young lady read 30 books in 30 days and improved her mother’s health. You can do that for your relationships. So, the mind is you’re number one asset, but on the outside your brain, the other asset you have is your time, because a time is the one thing you cannot replace. That’s why we called our podcast Kwik Brain, because it’s like activate the two most valuable assets you have to be able to save time using the number one wealth creating device on the planet, three pound matter between your ears called your brain. But your brain doesn’t come with an owner’s manual, so it’s not user friendly. So, when I said MOM, motivation, observation, mechanics, in the podcast, in our programs and all my classes, my conferences, all I’m teaching is the mechanics on how to do this. How to learn a language, how to give a speech without notes, how to learn 500 new vocabulary in minutes a day. Just the things-
Jay: That’s great.
Jim: How to read faster and remember this and … I’ll do all the things that people need to do because we’re not taught that in school and I really wish we were. And that’s that’s why I created this show, because I want the world to be able to benefit from all this information.
Jay: I think that’s incredible, Jim. And I think that you know the beauty of the modern internet based economy and just the world now, is that you don’t have to be a celebrity and we can have access to some of the great stuff, the great work that you’ve put out there. You have a bunch of course offerings on your website and you mentioned your podcast, Kwik Brain, maybe you could give us a little … I know you just launched it, congratulations on that, can you give us a quick two minute overview on what you talk about in your podcast?
Jim: Yeah, I appreciate that. If people like my style of teaching, the podcast just came out and I’m excited for that. I’s called Kwik Brain, my last name, you said spell it, right? K-W-I-K, Kwik Brain and you could find it where you’d find podcasts and you can also go to kwikbrain.com, K-W-I-K brain.com. And that’s our private Facebook community, also where you can connect with me. You can get show notes there and you can post questions for future episodes. And every episode is about 15 minutes. So, it’s just … You can sit down and you can just binge a bunch of these. And I go right into right away. And it’s basically for busy people. They’re brain hacks for busy people who want to learn faster and get ahead more and that’s really the passion.
Jay: I think I’ll definitely be checking it out and I’m sure a lot of my listeners will be as well. Jim, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. I had a great time catching up. Thank you for the actionable insights that you provided for our audience and we … You’ve already given us where we can connect with you, both at jimkwik.com and your podcast.
Jim: I would just say that thank you for all you’re doing. I love coming out to Hong Kong and maybe we can get together next time on there and set something up and I want to appreciate really everyone, all the listeners that … Because if the people are listening, even at the end here, you’re special kind of person and I respect that, that you’re dedicated to growth, that you’re dedicated to lifelong learning. And so any questions that you have for me and for Jay, just tag me in social media #jimkwik, that’s on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter. I’m very responsive, so I would love to hear what you thought about this episode and just at Jim Kwik, K-W-I-K.
Jay: That’s awesome. Thanks again Jim. I have one last question actually for you and it’s it sort of, has to do with what you do, and I ask a lot of my guests this. How do you want to be remembered as? I mean, you obviously have become somewhat almost of a household name now, you know you are the memory expert, the brain optimizer, you’re that guy. Is that who you want to be remembered as? If you could have one thing that’s people say when we’re not all around anymore, who is Jim Kwik? How you want to be remembered?
Jim: I would like to be remembered as the man who never died. No, that was … I appreciate that question, that’s a really great question, when we talked about the power of questions. I’d like to be remembered as the person who remembered others. That’s for me. I really do believe the thing that we can honor people the most is honor their memory. So, I want to be the guy that is remembered for remembering other people. And there’s a Bruce Lee quote also that just really resonates with me, he’s one of my … Just I never obviously had the opportunity to meet him, but I’m close with his family and his daughter recently spoken at my last event. We’re talking about his father, her father’s approach towards mastery, but has this quote saying, “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”
And I would echo that everybody who’s listening, is what you’re doing every single day worth remembering. And I wish everybody listening this, that their lives be full of so much life and so much love, and so much laughter, and so much learning.
Jay: Awesome, so inspiring. Thank you so much Jim. I really appreciate the time and again, thank you so much for the for sharing your story. I know that’s that’s a vulnerable and intimate part of your life, but it really … I think is going to resonate with our audience, and thank you for the tips as well. And we’ll definitely check out your podcast. Congratulations and best of luck on that.
Jim: Thank you Jay. And thank you everyone.
Jay: All right, take care.
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