Brain Training to Become Limitless: An Interview with Jim Kwik

Brain Training to Become Limitless: An Interview with Jim Kwik

What follows is a transcript for the podcast: Your Life With a Better Brain: How to Learn Faster and Achieve Everything You Want

Sub-section topics within the interview include the following:

  1. Jim Kwik’s Transformation After a Traumatic Brain Injury
  2. Learning How to Learn
  3. Having the Right Mindset
  4. Demystifying Motivation
  5. Focusing on Your Mission
  6. Using Technology Wisely
  7. Integrating Mindset, Motivation and Methods to Become Limitless
  8. FASTER Acronym to Learn Anything Faster
  9. Learning Something From Everyone
  10. Self-Reflection as a Tool for Learning
  11. Technologies to Boost Learning
  12. Limitless the Book

Jim Kwik’s Transformation After a Traumatic Brain Injury

Heather Sandison, ND: Welcome to Collective Insights. I'm your host today, Dr. Heather Sandison, and I'm joined by JimKwik, the creator of Kwik Brain. So welcome to the show, Jim.

Jim Kwik: Thank you so much for having me, and thank you everybody who's listening to this. I'm really looking forward to this conversation.

Heather Sandison, ND: So you struggled as a child a bit after a brain injury, and we're told you basically didn't have the ability to learn the way the other kids in your class did. Can you tell us what happened?

Jim Kwik: Yeah. No, I mean, I know we're going to be talking about in this conversation how have this limitless brain. But I was very limited growing up, and I feel like this conversation we're about to have, some people are surprised to hear that. Because when they see me speak at conferences, sometimes I'll do these mental feats where maybe I'll have a 100 people in the audience stand up and introduce themselves, and I'll remember all their names. Or the audience will give me a 100 numbers or a 100 words, and I'll remember them in and out of order.

I always tell people, "I don't do this to impress you, I do this to express to you what's possible," because the truth is, everybody listening could do that and even more. It's just we weren't taught. I think, if anything we're taught a lie, and I talk about it in the book that a lie stands for a limited idea entertained. It's not necessarily a truth, it's something we collectively maybe accept or we put energy towards, and those lies are really BS. They fall into these belief systems that hold us back in our mindset. But that was my mindset.

When I had the accident I was five years old in elementary school. It happened in class, and after this traumatic brain injury, my parents said I was never quite the same. Whereas before I was very energized, very curious, post accident I became very shut down. I had processing issues, teachers would repeat themselves or my parents would repeat themselves over and over again, and I kind of learned to play the game and pretend I understood, but I didn't really understand. I had poor focus, poor retention. It showed up really obvious in my ability to read. It took an extra few years to learn how to read. The words, when you got in those circles, and the book finally got to you, and you had to read out loud was very terrifying for me because I would look at those words, and they were just symbols. They didn't have any meaning to me.

I remember when I was nine years old, it took me extra few years to learn how to read. To catch up, but when I was nine years old, I was holding the class back, not understanding the lesson. I remember I was being teased by other kids, and I think the teacher, with good intent, was trying to defend me. But I remember her saying was, "That's the boy with the broken brain." Kind of justifying to the kids or trying to say, "Hey, this child has some challenges." But all I remember was broken brain, and that label became my limit. It kind of put me in a box, and that's really the theme of the book is in what area do people feel like they're being held back, and maybe it wasn't that they felt like they were not enough, or they felt like they weren't smart enough, but some area. That label, again, was my identity.

"Adults have to be very careful their external words because they become a child's internal words.”

Adults have to be very careful their external words because they become a child's internal words. So that became my internal conversation in my head every single time I did badly in school, which was like all the time. Every time I wasn't picked for sports, which was like all the time. I would always say, "Because I have the broken brain." So I faced these challenges all through grade school, and I eventually, at the age of 18, I learned how to adapt, and I learned how to learn skills and a mindset, and tap a level of motivation that really took me below normal performance to normal to what some people would say above normal.

Learning How to Learn

Jim Kwik: Since I was 18, for the past 28 years, I've been teaching people what I learned along the way, and field tested it, based it on in this book and on our programs, and as Kwik Brain, as you mentioned, our podcast. We teach just the neuroscience applied towards performance. Especially accelerated learning, because I feel like that's the area where there's a real big gap in our education system, where we weren't prepared for the world we live in right now, where especially now at the time we're recording this, the world has changed, and there's a new normal.

People [inaudible 00:04:44] what is the future of work? What is the future of education? I feel our ability to learn how to learn is one of the most important, if not the most important skillset because we live in a rapidly evolving, changing lifetime right now where industries appear overnight and businesses, everything has changed. So our abilities to adapt, and while technology is driving a lot of change and jobs are going to AI and automation, the ultimate technology I feel was the one we're born with, the one between our ears. So I wrote this book to be an owner's manual for our brain, which is our greatest asset that we have, and teach people how to learn as opposed to always what to learn. Because people learn, they can apply it towards the things that matter most to them.

Heather Sandison, ND: So, Jim, the limitless model, can you break down for us, how do you learn how do you learn?

Jim Kwik: Sure. So for me, the limitless model really is the answer on how learning how to learn, and also unlocking your full potential. It has three parts. If everybody who's listening to this could imagine three intersecting circles. It would most like Mickey Mouse. So you have a circle, circle, circle. Two ears and a face. Everyone could draw that out. Even if you can't draw it out, just imagine it in your mind.

Top left circle is the first part. Now, these are the three forces that keep us from not only faster, but also maybe hold you back. So think about an area of your life that you feel like you're not making progress. It could be in your learning, it could be in your reading or your memory, or it could something in your relationship. It could be in your career. But an area where you feel like you're in a box, and there are three dimensions that keep you in that box. Three forces. These are the same three forces that will also liberate you from that box. So I call them these three Ms, and they are these three circles that intersect. So each of these circles intersect with each other, and then all three of them intersect in the middle.

Having the Right Mindset

Jim Kwik: So the first circle is your mindset. So if you want to learn faster, there is a certain limitless mindset, and you have to dissolve these limiting beliefs that we talked about; these lies. Limited ideas entertained for our review. Now what falls under mindset? This is your attitude, your assumptions about something. Maybe it's your attitude and assumptions around learning. Or it could be your attitude and assumptions about the world. Or how something works. Or your attitudes and assumptions about yourself.

So what would fall underneath in that circle would be things like what you believe is possible. Do you even believe it's possible to read a book a week? Or to learn a second or third language? What you believe you're capable of, which is different than what you believe is possible. What do you believe you're capable of, would fall underneath that circle. What you believe you deserve could fall underneath that circle also as well. So somebody can learn the methods of accelerated learning, like the programs you mentioned to read faster, improve their focus, improve their memory. But if they have a limiting belief, their mindset, that I'm just too old. Or I'm stupid, or I just have a horrible memory. Our brain is like that supercomputer, and your self talk and your beliefs are the programs it will run.

So if you tell yourself, "I'm not good at remembering people's names," you won't remember the name of the next person you meet because you program your supercomputer not to. So that's our mindset, and the reason I put it there is again, you can learn the great method, but you can still be in that box if you feel like you're not capable of it yourself or you're not smart enough, and that'll keep you there.

Demystifying Motivation

Jim Kwik: The second M that's intersecting with it is your motivation. Now when I say motivation, if it's a little bit of a loaded word because different people have different interpretations of the word motivation. Some people feel motivation is going to a seminar and listening to music and getting really pumped up and excited about something. They're motivated to read a book a week, or they're motivated to change their life in some way. Then the next day, they find they're not motivated as much. I think that's a common experience that we've all had.

So I really went through, and I wanted to mystify and decode sustainable motivation. Not something that's often referred to as a hot bath that cools down; you have to warm up every single time. But role modeling individuals for the past 28 years, and working with really high achievers, if I was build the ultimate human motivation machine, the ultimate human being who's just always motivated, I realized that there's a formula, and it's three steps. All right, three parts to this formula. Then you can apply this to your kids, you can apply this to yourself, or you can apply this towards your team.

The formula for sustainable motivation is P times E times S3. P times E times S3. Now, what does the P stand for? The P stands for purpose. That in order to be motivated continuously, not where kind of like the Limitless movie some people are familiar with, with Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, where Bradley goes from zero to hero by taking this pill. But then it wears off 24 hours later, and so does his motivation as well. He becomes a genius and focus and everything. There's no pill, but there's a process. So this is the process, and there's a process for motivation. We don't have motivation. We actually do it.

A lot of the book is basically taking words that we use to hypnotize ourselves, like they're nouns. But you don't have creativity. You don't have focus. You don't have concentration. You don't have motivation. These are all things you do. By taking it and making them a verb, it allows you to make change. Right? To use a process. It's just like your kids. They don't have focus. They don't have motivation. It's something that you teach them to do on a regular basis.

So what's the formula? The P is purpose, and that's meaning you have to have a reason to be motivated. So the clear evidence that you're motivated for something is not what you say or even a feeling that you have. It's that you're doing something. Right? Somebody can't say they're motivated to book if they're not regularly. Somebody can't be motivated to have a fit body if they're not working out. Right? No matter what they say or how they feel, unless they're doing it. So they need a reason, and that's the purpose.

So how do your uncover, it doesn't have to be your life purpose, but it certain can. For me, my passion is what lights me up. One of my passions is learning. For me, my definition of purpose is what lights other people up. So my passion is learning. My purpose is teaching people how to learn, so I can light other people up with my passion. So I do take people through a process of finding their, in a little bit distinctions with their life purpose, because if you can align it around those actions, then you become pretty unstoppable.

Focusing on Your Mission

Jim Kwik: I work, there's not a day that I don't. My mission is because I had the broken brain, is to leave no brain left behind. I just want everyone's brain to interact with, whether it's a podcast, a book, a video, anything that it's better off because of it. I never lack motivation. Now, coming back to an area of your life where you feel like you're in that box, maybe motivation is holding you in that box. Maybe you have the ultimate mindset, this limitless mindset, it's possible and you deserve it, but you're not motivated. Check in with your purpose. Do you have a reason? Allow yourself to feel that reason also.

Both pain, or something that could be pleasurable, meaning that if you don't feel it, it's not real. That for me, success goes from your head to your heart to your hands. That you could visualize a goal in your head, but if you're not acting on it with your hands, you're procrastinating, you're putting it off. Check in with the second H, which is your heart. What are all the benefits? What are the consequences of doing it and what are the consequences of not doing it also as well? Of making that change in your diet? Let yourself feel that pain, over five years, if I was to tell you that you have made absolutely no progress in your life, how would that feel to you? Just allowing yourself to do that, to motivate yourself to do that now. So that's P.

Then my my mind comes out and says, "Okay, somebody has purpose. Are they always motivated. Is there ever a time that they're not motivated?" I was like, "Yes." There are, that I could think of an exception. If they're missing the E, which stands for energy. So somebody can have a reason to exercise every single day, but if they are low on energy, like maybe they spent the last two nights with their newborn, or they're so stressed out because of what's going on in the world, and it's affecting their sleep, that will affect their motivation, because they lack the energy.

Somebody could say, "Oh, I'm going to read an hour a day. I'm going to read a book a week because I know leaders are readers." They can have all the reasons, and feel like, "Oh, I want to be my expert in my field," and all the benefits that will come from it. But if they're still not doing it, maybe they had a big meal, and they're in the food coma, right? Or maybe they're motivated, they have reasons to start that business, but they're around a lot of energy vampires in their family that just really bring them down. They suck all the energy, and they can't get themselves to do it. So energy plays a big role, and we talk about different things you could do to optimize your sleep, manage your stress, an optimal brain diet, and those kind of things that give you energy.

Finally, my mind went back, and said, "Okay. Somebody has purpose. They have reasons for doing this thing, and they have abundance of energy. Do they always perform? Are they always motivated?" I thought, "No." I can think of specific examples where somebody has both of those things, purpose and energy, and they still are not motivated. Why is because that last part is this goal is either too big or its too overwhelming. Or this goal is too confusing. Maybe that their goal is they want that perfect body, or they want to find their soulmate and live happily ever after. Or they want their kids to be able to get straight As, or whatever their goal happens to be. Have that amazing career and everything.

But it's too big, and if it's too not defined, S3, stands for small, simple step. So basically what'll keep someone from being motivated is this is too intimidating, or it's not clear, or it's too overwhelming. So how do you break it down into a small, simple step? The question I would ask everybody to ask themselves is, what is the smallest action I could take where I'm making progress towards this goal, and I can't fail? Something along those lines because it requires very little energy and very little effort. So it's not like working out an hour a day. It's putting on your running shoes. It's not maybe reading 45 minutes a day, it's opening up the book. Or reading one sentence.

Most people will never stop there. In the book we talk about habits and habits design, in talk about Dr. BJ Fogg, who've we had on our show numerous times, and he's like tiny habits. Flossing is good for your longevity, oral hygiene, and yet some people don't floss. So he's like, floss one tooth. Don't floss all your teeth. Just floss one tooth. Then I call them small, simple steps. I feel like that's the key for motivation. So if there's an area where you just can't understand why your partners or your teammates or your family, your child, or yourself, you're not making progress, check is it their motivation? Or is their energy level? Or are they making it too big, and they are not breaking it down to a small, simple step? Because little by little, a little becomes a lot, right?

Then finally, last M in the model are the methods. These are actually the strategies, the process for accelerated learning. What I refer to that's called meta learning. Learning how to learn. We talk about five pillars specifically that I think are super powers that we all should have been taught back in school, and these are really more intense right now because of technology and how technology amplifies these challenges. 

Using Technology Wisely

Jim Kwik: Digital deluge, which is overwhelm. It's good for parents and entrepreneurs, everyone listening to this to be aware of what's holding us back. So digital deluge is one of them. It's just too much information, too little time. So that's why I think super powers, modern day super powers are speed reading and studying skills. Studying technical information.

Digital distraction. Every ring, ping, ding, like, share, comment, just driving us to distraction. So how, super power's focus. A third power is focus. Then what about digital dementia, where we're highly reliant on technology as a memory storage device, and we're so forgetful. Not that you want to memorize 500 numbers or 500 phone numbers, but if you lost the ability to remember one, or a conversation, or something we just read or something we were going to say, or someone's name. So I think the fourth super power should be memory. But that's not taught in school.

Finally, the fifth one is digital deduction, and this is interesting because I think Heather Sandison, ND, you might see this with the kids today. They're testing them on their analytical ability, and they don't have the analytical ability to use critical thinking like previous generations, in some part to technology, because technology's doing the thinking for you. Through algorithms and everything, and so we weren't taught analytical reasoning abilities, how to make decisions, how to solve problems, and so I think thinking is something that should have been taught back in school.

School teaches you the what of those five things: what to learn, what to think, what to focus on, what to study, what to remember. But now how to do those things. That's the methods. Now, when you're looking at the model, the reason why I sad the methods aren't enough; because just knowing what to do, common sense is not common practice. You need all three. So where mindset crosses over with motivation, that crossover is an I that stands for inspiration. Sometimes you have motivational speakers, or people are books on mindset, a great book out there is called Mindset, which I would highly recommend.

Where it crosses over, you have inspiration. Inspirational authors or inspirational movies or inspirational experts, if you will. Where mindset crosses over with methods, you have this everything is possible mindset, and you have this limitless mindset, and you know what to do. But it stays in your head, and that's ideation. Second I. I alliterate everything, obviously, just to help make it memorable. So you have inspiration and ideation. Then where motivation crosses over with methods, you're motivated and you know the methods you use. That's a third I, which is implementation. But you might still be stuck in that box because of what you believe you deserve or what you believe you're capable of, or what you believe is possible.

Integrating Mindset, Motivation and Methods to Become Limitless

Jim Kwik: So where all three of them intersect, that middle spot, where all three Ms and all three Is intersect, you have a fourth I, which is integration. Integration, for me, that's like integer, like you're whole. That's just who you are. That's a limitless state. The reason why it's so important for accelerated learning is going back to me, my mindset was that I was broken. So that was affecting everything after that. My motivation was a little askewed. I had the reasons, because I wanted to make my parents proud. I had some energy. I had some sleep issues when I was a kid because I was pulling all these all nighters, which probably wasn't really great for my sleep hygiene.

But I also wasn't breaking things down into small, simple steps. Then also with the methodology, I was using old, antiquated ways of learning, which is like rote repetition, kind of forcing it or some vocalization while I'm reading or regressing what I'm reading and back skipping. These bad habits I picked up when I was a child. So the good news is all these limits are learned, and all these limits can be unlearned. That's what I'm excited about.

FASTER Acronym to Learn Anything Faster

Heather Sandison, ND: So, Jim, how do you put this model into action? If I wanted to take that first small, simple step, what would be that step?

Jim Kwik: Okay. so we want to recognize that learning how to learn is so important. So we have real reasons why. What I would do is, I use acronyms to help people to remember everything and be able to share with their family and friends. So right now, one of the things that people could do is just remember this acronym, FASTER. I'm going to go through it really, really lightning fast. But these are six things you could do to learn any subject or skill faster. It is an acronym. The F. I would encourage everyone to take notes as you're doing it, because there is a forgetting curve. This is really to overcome, they say within 48 hours of learning something on a podcast, that 80% of it could be lost just in forgetting. That goes to what you read, that goes to a lecture or a conference. So how do you mitigate that? So obviously taking notes is a great way of capturing it.

So FASTER. The F stands for forget. You're like, Jim, you're a memory expert, why would you talk about forgetting? Really simple. You want to forget about what you already know about a subject, because that will keep you learning slowly. The idea that you were saying that you know this already. We all have this habit, but I feel like what keeps us from mastery is that line, "Oh, I know this already."

The people who are really amazing at what they do, they love the fundamentals. They love really getting good at the basics. So what I would say is temporarily forget about what you already know. In zen, they call it a beginner's mind. Have this childlike mind, so you can learn anything. It's cheesy, but it's true. Your brain's like a parachute; it only works when it's opened. So forget about what you already know temporarily so you can learn something potentially different.

I would also forget about distractions. We know, and I document the research in the book, that you can't multitask two or more cognitive activities at once. It's just, when people feel like they're multitasking, they feel like they're saving time, but in actuality, it's taking more time, that when you switch, they call task switching, it used up two things: it uses up more time. It could take anywhere from five to 20 minutes to regain your focus or your flow. It also uses energy. You also burn more brain fuel, more glucose, when you're going from one activity to another. So stick to one thing, and if something comes in your mind, when you're listening to this, for example, when you're trying to learn, just write it down, so you can release it.The other thing I would forget, besides what you know about a subject, and distractions, things that aren't urgent, important, are your what's possible. Temporarily suspend what you believe is possible.

The A in faster stands for active, meaning that just a reminder to learn something faster, you have to be involved. The human brain doesn't learn through consuming information, through consumption, it learns better through creation and co-creation and creativity. So meaning that learning is not a spectator's sport, but sometimes in school we are taught that implicitly, that you're just sitting there, sitting quietly by yourself, and you're lectured to. But that's now how the human mind loves to learn. It loves to get more active, and your nervous system, you can utilize, more of your senses you can utilize, the more you're able to understand, the more you're able to retain.

So how can you be more active in your learning? Taking notes could be one way of doing it. Right, I have a preference for whole brain note taking. Mind mapping or I teach a way where you take a piece of paper and put a line down the page. My personal preference is handwriting notes. I see the convenience of doing it digitally, because for storage purposes, for sharing purposes. It's just I've seen a number of studies where people who hand write notes, as opposed to type notes, actually have better comprehension and better recall. One of the reasons why is nobody could possibility hand write as fast as I could speak, or somebody could speak, so it forces you to be more active in your mind, and start filtering and asking yourself questions about what's important here?

So my way of note taking is on the left side I actually take notes, on the right side I make notes. So on the left side, I capture information. Like the three Ms, and how to read faster. I capture it. Great quotes, I'm capturing on the left side. But on the right side I'm creating. So if my mind is going to get distracted by my imagination, I'd rather it go on the right side of the page. What am I writing down? Mostly the answers to three questions. How can I use this? Right, so I feel like that's a big creativity question. So I'm learning something, and I'm asking, "How can I use this?" Then I'm writing down, "Why must I use this?" Then I'm writing down, "When will I use this?" That's how I take knowledge and turn it into a practical direction and results. So that's me being active, is taking notes.

Another way of being active is asking questions. Because most people will not remember. They'll read a page in a book, get to the end, and just forget what they just read. You realize when you deconstruct what's going on in their mind, is they don't have compelling questions they're trying to get the answers to. Even when you think about standardized tests, those traditional educational tests where they have you read reading comprehension, like pages of paragraphs. Then all of a sudden at the end there are 10 questions you have to answer, and you're like, "Oh, I didn't realize that's what they wanted me to know." But if you just read those questions first, and then read from the beginning, then you're like, "Oh, there's an answer, there's the answer, there's the answer."

I would remind you that the only things you're going to learn are the things that you have questions about, and questions are the answer, in fact. So ask a better question, you'll get better quality answers. Ask something that no one's ever asked before, you'll get answers no one's ever gotten before. I think that's where a lot of innovation comes from. I read a great book called The Structure of Scientific Revolution. It talks about that the majority of all innovation usually comes from people outside of an industry. Whether it's fashion or automotive or whatever. Because it takes somebody from the outside to ask a new question. It takes an Elon Musk to look at the car industry and say, "With today's technology, how would someone go about making a car?"

Right? Because they're not built with the same paradigm going through somebody who's inside of the jar and not able to see the label from the inside. So you ask a new question. So they're really powerful questions. How can I use this? Why must I use this? When will I use this? Another powerful question is coming to another part of the T later on is teach. How can I teach this to somebody else. That's a powerful question. So that's the acting in this. Making it very active.

The S in faster stands for state. State is just very simply, it's like a snapshot of the mood of your mind and your body. I feel like the state we learn something is so important because going back in school, the primary state, I don't know. What do you think most kids are feeling back in school?

Heather Sandison, ND: As you're talking through this, I remember sitting in medical school, and just being totally slumped over, exhausted from staying up all night to cram one test for another, and I was in naturopathic school, right? So I was eating pretty well. I was pretty clued in. But of course, I had test anxiety, so I wouldn't be able to sleep the night before. There was a lot going on in that year, drinking from the fire hose of information, and I so wish I had some of these tips at that point.

Even when you were talking about forgetting, one of the jokes that my med school friends and I have is like, "Oh my gosh. All that stuff that forgot we knew." Right? There's all that stuff that you learned, first year anatomy, and then if you don't look at the bones of the foot again, you just don't remember it. So really the things that I feel like I remember from medical school are the things that I use every day. When really, I learned a ton of stuff, right? I knew it all for a test at some point. Can you speak to that a little bit? What about all that stuff that we forget? Is that important? Or did our brain decide it's not?

Jim Kwik: Yeah. One of the things we'll talk about. I mean, part of it is the state you learn something in. So obviously med school could be from our doctor clients, and my client friends, some parts of it, depending on, I don't want to make a gross overall [inaudible 00:30:46] statement, but can be dehumanizing, where they really push you, and as part of the process, it's not necessarily ideal situation for your brain to be under to go extraordinary amount of hours without sleep and rest, and that's what I was referring to, state. When we're low energy or we don't know the relevance, or we're bored or exhausted. Information by itself is very forgettable, but information combined with emotion becomes more unforgettable, and if the emotional level or the energy level is zero, anything times zero becomes zero.

So we have to remember that all these things, when we talk about the power of energy, and getting ourselves involved, and asking questions about how can I make this relevant to myself? A lot of people forget things because they're like, "When am I ever going to need to know this?" So even children, especially children, they don't see the relevancy, so it keeps them in a state where they're just disconnected and not engaged. Because they don't see how it applies to their life. So state is a big thing.

The T in FASTER stands for teach, so learning with the intention of teaching somebody else would definitely help a child learn faster, would definitely help us learn faster. If everybody had to give a presentation on faster tomorrow, you would re-listen to this with better focus, more concentration. You would take better notes, you would ask more questions because in order to be able to learn it, here, I feel we don't learn it unless we can do it, and we can teach. So in order to be able to relate it by speaking it or writing it down for somebody, like as blog post, then we don't really know it. Because something magical happens from when you hear this and it goes in your ears or through your eyes, as you're reading, or if you're reading it, into your brain, to be able to express it out your mouth or through your hands in writing. You have to really own that information. So teaching is so important.

Then the E in FASTER stands for enter, which means entering into your, I think the top productivity performance tool that we have is our calendar, and if it's not entered into our calendar, it doesn't really get done. So we schedule doctor's appointments or PTA meetings or meetings with investors. But you don't always schedule your own learning and your own growth. So I feel like some people do not work out because it's not on their schedule, and then they're going to bed and they're like, "Oh, I didn't work out again." But when you put things down on paper, and you enter in, or in your phone, then it's more likely to happen.

Then finally, going to your point of one of the reasons why you might not remember all the bones in your foot or something other than that, is the R in FASTER stands for review, because we do know that there's a consolidation process to go from short term to long term memory. The process of learning something once doesn't always do it. Now, here's the things. In physics, there are three elements and variables. There's frequency, there's duration, and there's intensity. Right? So if somebody wants to build their bicep, they could use frequency, they could do lots of curls. Or they could use duration, they could spend a lot of time working on that treadmill or something. Or they could do it so intense they could bring down those microfibers so intensely that you get the same kind of similar result, but the benefit is you don't have to spend frequency and duration take time.

Just like if people think about marketing, you could build your sales through frequency, lots of sales calls are long sales videos. Or you can make marketing that is so intense it just goes viral and it's just, "I have to have that." Same thing with your learning. You could repeat something over and over again, frequency. You could study long hours, duration, or you can learn it more intensity, more emotion, and more of your senses. You could visualize it. You could hear it. You could feel it. You could get more involved, and maybe just you won't have to repeat it as much.

But the R in FASTER stands for review, that your variable to retain information by reflection, by spacing it out over time, and so when you're reading a book, you could read a chapter, and then take a moment, and before you start another chapter, just review that chapter, or have scheduled reviews. They call it spaced repetition. So maybe like an hour later, you could review something and day later, maybe a week later, and then it becomes just part of your longterm knowledge bank.

So that's six steps to just how to approach any subject or any skill, with that framework of just forgetting what you know about something, being active, managing your state, learning with the intention of teaching, entering your learning in a calendar, and also reviewing the material before you go on to new material.

Heather Sandison, ND: [inaudible 00:36:01] this is really powerful stuff, because I'm often recommending [inaudible 00:36:01] incorporate a new diet into their lifestyle. There has to be, all of these elements need to be there for that to work. [crosstalk 00:36:06] it's really interesting to hear you [inaudible 00:36:10] this framework, and then I think I can apply it professionally is, there's so many things people know they should do, but then they have trouble actually implementing. So being able to offer someone this framework to say, "Okay, here's how you can go get on the ketogenic diet." Or, "Here's how you can go get on the [crosstalk 00:36:29]."

It's so powerful too, this will change everything, right? Even, I can't tell you how many patients maybe feel stuck in their job or in a relationship that isn't that healthy, and having this framework to take control of their life and make some different decisions, and really unleash that unlimited potential is just really neat. Thank you.

Jim Kwik: Thank you, Heather.

Learning Something From Everyone

Heather Sandison, ND: Yeah, so who are some of your mentors? Who did you learn a lot of this from?

Jim Kwik: So I have a global belief that I can learn something from everybody. It feels like kind of an easy answer, but it's something I live by. I feel like everybody has a different set of life experiences, even children, especially. It allows me, it makes it interesting for me because I go to a lot of conferences, because I speak at a lot of events. I'm waiting for the next speaker, and I'll just notice what the audience is... I'm very curious because when you're feel like you're broken, you just pay attention to everybody else and watch what they're doing, right?

Let's say, occasionally there's a speaker that's just putting the audience to sleep. I don't want to fall asleep because that's not a good state for me to be in right before I go on stage, and I'll just curious. I'll ask myself a question, and I'll say, "Wow, this person is amazing. How is he putting everybody to sleep all at the same time?" I'll actually bring that energy or that state or curiosity, fascination, bewilderment into my life, and I feel like everybody has something to teach us.

I spend a lot of time in senior centers. I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's, and so those early experiences or inflection points kind of put me on my path of learning challenges and brain health issues with my family, and so I just me made me very interested in this. But I spend a lot of time with seniors, and I feel like I learn so much there. Because there's so many amazing stories and so much wisdom that's there. So I'm polishing off their memories, and I also hear the things that they maybe regret, and I get a lot of, it hits me because especially what's going on right now in the world, it just reminds you that we have this lifetime here to figure it out. Why aren't we living like sometimes we're on fire? A little bit more fire inside of us? That we're running towards the things that matter to us.

So I learn from children, I learn from seniors, I learn from everybody. Also you can learn from somebody as an example because I believe the life we live are the lessons we teach. So I'm always learning from people. People could also not only be examples, but some people could be warnings, and you could learn from their example of what you don't want also as well.

So my mentors growing up were books because I didn't know anybody. I didn't have that kind of network of people that were just those achievers or people in certain areas [inaudible 00:39:56] healthy or role models there. Great business icons or I didn't know any of that, so I my best friends were books. I mean, it's weird because I had these, I never really finished a book in high school. So I think my teachers would have been very surprised if I read a book, much less wrote a book. But I feel like everyone learns something.

Even when I'm watching television. I'll go through, and I just look at it pretending I'm that character and what I feel, and what I would go through, decisions I would make. But I want to be active because I don't think learning is a spectator sport, but I don't think living is either. I feel that my mentors are all around us, and so even my dog. I had my dog at my feet when I wrote most of this book, and just zest. I think you learn from everything. So.

Heather Sandison, ND: [crosstalk 00:40:46] what a great invitation to just be open to, I certainly can catch myself being a little judgmental. Like, oh, okay that person doesn't know as much, or I don't agree with the first thing they said, so I'm not going to listen to the rest. But it's such a neat invitation that you're offering here. Everyone has something to teach us, even if it's just to be an example of what we're not interested in. Or that curiosity, why is this coming up in me? What's going on there, and can I go a little deeper and learn something, even if it's about myself. Which I [crosstalk 00:41:24].

Self-Reflection as a Tool for Learning

Jim Kwik: I think, this is interesting to me because we can learn through books, certainly. I think it's wonderful if somebody has decades of experience, and they can sit down, somebody could read that book in a few days, and download decades into days. I think that's a wonderful advantage. But also learning from your relationships. I think a lot of the people that are close to us sort of serve as mirrors for ourselves when we're vulnerable. So we have to self-reflect, and I think a lot of this knowledge is self knowledge. While you can learn from mentors and people, also learning from yourself and trusting yourself, I think is part of the process.

I think what's going on right now is a huge opportunity for us to get clarity on, I think self awareness is a super power, and so while we're all cocooning and physically distancing ourselves I feel like is an opportune time to get clarity on our life, and just zero based thinking. What's most important to me in my life and my career and my family and my time? Are my actions aligned with those values? I think we can learn from that, because I feel like life is about knowing yourself, and then being yourself. Having the curiosity to know yourself, then having the courage to be yourself. Because that's totally different. Knowing yourself, once you know who you are, having the courage because other people's expectations and their opinions and fear of looking bad.

It definitely, it's hard. We're sometimes wired not to want to make mistakes or want to fit in someone else's box, and that will keep you from learning, for sure. Meaning children, they don't have that same level of concern of other people, like the way that they look, and I think children, one of the reasons why they learn so quickly is they're willing to make mistakes when they're learning to walk or talk or anything else. But adults will take one salsa lesson, and just like, [inaudible 00:43:36] not going to do that again because we don't want to look back.

Technologies to Boost Learning

Heather Sandison, ND: Technology and how that applies to learning. You've talked a little ways about how it can be helpful in terms of entering things into your calendar or your phone or your computer. Then talked also about how it can be super distracting. So do you see technology, and especially in this time of COVID, I won't ask you to predict the future here, I don't think anyone can do that right now. There's so much uncertainty. But how do you see maybe potentially technology changing the way we learn? Is there any technology in particular that you're actually really excited about seeing applied to learning?

Jim Kwik: Yeah, so I love this question. I think that I mentioned while we are cocooning, and this nice metaphor for metamorphosis, is like we're going through a life cycle right now, and we're in a cocoon, and we're alone with our own thoughts, and our own doubts, and our fears, and maybe even loneliness, right? So I don't use the term social distancing because you and I are being social right now. But I think it's more physical distancing. So I don't want people, just a reminder that technology allows this to happen right now. But classrooms, they're not regulated or limited to four walls. That people all around the world are going to listen to this conversation because of the benefits of technology.

For me, technology is not good or bad, it's just useful or not. Technology, like fire is technology. It could cook your food, or it could burn down your home. It's just how it's applied. My big concern when it comes to technology, and I'll answer your question about learning, is just more using it just out of habit, and unconsciously. When we're mindlessly picking up our phone just because we've been conditioned to do so because of dopamine floods and everything else with every like and share and cat video that we watch. It can be very addicting. So my understanding for me is just to do it mindfully. If you're going to do it, and that's your downtime, and this is your [inaudible 00:45:40], then do it without guilt. Do that.

Enjoy your Netflix if that's your time to decompress, and use it thoughtfully. Right? Because otherwise it's over time is probably not very sustainable for if you want to be able to grow and be able to give at your highest potential. So technology for me is like technology is a tool for you to use, but if technology is using you, then who becomes the tool in the equation?

So I am excited about this. I remember years ago I gave a talk in Silicon Valley, and afterwards, Bill Gates was in the audience, and he comes up to me, and we start talking about the future of education. I'm talking about it from an accelerated learning theoretical standpoint, and he's talking about it from technology. Then somebody listening, this whole group gathered around, and saying, "Is there anything missing?" We came up with the same answer. It's human motivation. That's why that we spend so much time talking about your purpose and energy and small simple steps because human motivation, a lot of people can know what to do theoretically and have the tools to do it, and still not do it. So tapping into our motivation.

But going back to the ultimate technology, I still think the ultimate technology is our brain, and more people update other technology like their phone or their apps more than they update and upgrade their mind, if you will. That's when I'm really excited about just as a brain coach or brain trainer, I want to have this conversation that you and I are having about accelerated learning and mental fitness and keeping your brain, your mind, your thinking capacity sharp.

When it comes to education especially, I love it that your podcast, my podcast can go out to countless people. Who knows, that if somebody's listen to this in some village, and that child becomes the next Malala, or they solve cancer or something because they learned how to look at a problem in a new way, or they were inspired to take new action. So I think technology is absolutely amazing.

As much as I am excited about AR and potentially VR, I don't think VR is quite there yet, but AR I'm pretty excited about. But I like using the technology of our imagination, our creativity. Things that aren't going to be outsourced to AI and robotics and automation. Because creativity is a super power. There's no limit to your creativity; there's no limit to your imagination. I think that's a technology in itself. When you go through these thought experiments in your mind, and you imagine it, and then you take that invisible and you make it visible, I think that's really exciting.

But children, I wish imagination and creativity were classes back in school. Because I think it's the ultimate technology. Because what we can do with the human mind. We've discovered more about its capabilities more in the 10 years than the previous 1,000 years, and we found is we're grossly underestimating that power and that potential. So I think that's the ultimate technology.

That being said, I think that it's remarkable that we can have a Skype call or a Zoom call, and still be connected and learn and inspire and how technology is something that we can use that makes our life much more convenient. I just don't want to be dependent on it so it cripples us. Because again, just if technology is doing the thinking for you or the remembering for you, then you don't have to exercise your own muscles and build those analytical skills or those memory skills. Just like technology of, if you take a Lyft to go five walks when you could have walked it, there's a physical toll. If you take the elevator when you could have walked up four flights of stairs, there's a physical toll. I'm just saying mental fitness is important nowadays as physical fitness, and technology is a tool for you to use, and it's convenient. Just don't let it cripple you.

Even when people could learn like this, I still think it's so valuable. My mother's a school teacher. She became a school teacher, a special education teacher, of all things, when she first started because she wanted to help me, and she became very passionate about children who were struggling. I don't think it's about how smart a child is. It's not how smart you are, it's how are you smart? Finding out how you learn your best.

Nowadays we could reach more people, and I think that teachers, we can learn from the greatest teachers online. We have unfettered access right now to the geniuses everywhere. We have more access than President Clinton did when he was president, to information, so that's not the challenge. But I love the physical and the emotional intelligence that comes with working with a coach or a facilitator or a teacher. They can take these lessons and turn them into experiments where we can more out of it and go deeper with it.

I like the social learning that's going on right now. So I'm very excited. I'm not one of those doom and gloom people, where technology is the root of these challenges, but I [inaudible 00:51:09] if it's used intelligently, it can use to enhance not only our performance, but also our level of happiness.

Limitless the Book

Heather Sandison, ND: [inaudible 00:51:19].

Jim Kwik: So we did something really special. I want this to be the most read book of the year. Not the most bought book of the year. That would be great, amazing also. But I want people to really use it and finish the book, and not let it sit on your shelf. So when people pre-order the book at, they can turn in their receipt there, and I'm going to give them a brand new 10 day program, and for people who are working or learning from home, this is the program where we actually go through and teach you how, the model. Kind of like a 3D model, and then walk them through how to overcome limiting challenges and beliefs, and then how to tap their motivation, and then basics in speed reading and memory, so when the book arrives, you're just going to read that.

Also I'm going to gift everybody, included in a pre-order, when you receive the book, we're going to do a four week book club. I've never done this before. But this idea, where the book has four sections. We're going to spend one week on every single section, and I'm going to teach you how to read it and also how to remember it, but most of all how to apply that section in your life. So we're going to do four weeks like we're doing right now, kind of like on video. So I want it to be very well read.

Then the last two bonuses we're doing are two bonus chapters that came out of demand. How do you apply limitless towards your team? If you're an entrepreneur, you have three people or 3,000 people, how do you build learning organizations? Also bonus chapter on limitless children for parents out there who want to take this model and apply it to your 12 year old.

It's available on April 28th. If you're listening to this before that, you could go to and actually get those bonuses right now. Yeah, and [inaudible 00:53:09]. I'm going to actually challenge everybody. Because I want to thank you so much, Heather, for just this conference conversation, and your thoughtful questions and presence. That I want to challenge everybody to take one small, simple step, which is to teach something that you learned in this conversation with somebody else. So maybe you could express it as taking a screenshot of this podcast episode, and tag us both in it. I'm @Jimkwik, K-W-I-K.

Share your one takeaway. One thing you're going to do because of this conversation, or one thing you learned, and so what happens is there's butterfly effect that maybe your friends and family seeing it, it'll create a ripple effect. I will actually repost some of my favorites because I want to see what people learned, because when you teach something you get to learn it twice. I actually have a few more galleys left, which are kind of like the pre-book. I'll actually send one to one random person who posts that as a thank you for being involved.

Heather Sandison, ND: Oh, that's exciting. Thanks. I can tell you that teach, the T in FASTER, is definitely something I've noticed in the past. Whenever I signed up to be a teacher's assistant, or whenever I signed up to teach something or when I teach it to my 12-year-old. I know it so much better. when I teach something to patients as a clinician, I know it so much better. So that reminder is super, super helpful. That's been a big takeaway with me is to engage with any information as if I'm going to teach it. I've experienced it, but I didn't pick it up that I should just do that every time.

Jim Kwik: I know. The benefit is you learn something for the benefit of it gives you. But the other reason you want to learn something is the benefit it can give others. Right? You learn so you can earn in whatever ways, financially and otherwise. Learn, earn, so you can return. You can give, and we can light another candle. There's a ripple effect. Just right now how there's, things get spread. Whether it's a virus and fear. Other things spread also. Kindness. It can spread like that and compassion, wisdom. Ideas. They can all spread like that also as well. I feel like the world needs more and more of that right now. All that stuff is free. Kindness is free. So we should be sprinkling that everywhere right now.

Heather Sandison, ND: Absolutely. Jim, thank you so much for your time. It's been a real pleasure, and I certainly have gotten so much value out of our conversation. I already got so much value out of your podcast as well as I started in the list. I feel very fortunate to have gotten one of those pre-versions. I won't tell you that I read the whole thing yet, but I'm excited to get the 10 week download from you, because I really, this is such a perfect time to put it into practice at home. We have a little bit less commuting, less grocery shopping, less shopping, shopping. I've got a little extra. So thank you so much for all of the value that you're bringing. I certainly am personally excited to dig in even more.

Jim Kwik: Thank you so much for everything that you and the team are doing. I wish everybody who's still listening to this. You're amazing if you're still listening to this because I feel like we're kindred spirits. We're on this adventure to live and realize our fullest potential. So we have more to be able to give. So I wish your days be full of lots of love and learning.

Heather Sandison, ND: To you as well. Thank you, Jim.

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