The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 10 months ago

Tips from the International Man of Memory You Can Use Today w/ Chester Santos


If you had the superpower of a flawless memory, what would you do?

How many fights could you have avoided with your spouse?

How much further in your career could that superpower take you?

Well you don’t have to fantasize about it when you can achieve it.

According to International Man of Memory, Chester Santos, U.S. Memory Champion and author of Mastering Memory, his champion memory isn’t a superpower — it’s a skill.

And it’s one anyone can learn.

In this episode, Chester shares his secrets, including:

  • Why the inner workings of memory are something you can hack
  • The 3 secrets to remembering anything
  • How you can apply memory techniques to improve your life and career

This post includes highlights of our podcast interview with Chester Santos, U.S. Memory Champion and author of Mastering Memory.

For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. 

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

You're listening to the BDB revenue executiveexperience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teamsto optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies, were tools andresources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three,two, one. Welcome everyone to the BDB revenue executive experience. I'myour host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about memory, that thing that, as we get older, we often find becoming less reliable and but itremains critical to not only to our success but also to our self improvement.To help us, we have with US Chester Santos, the international man ofmemory. He's one of the world's foremost experts on memory training. He's helpedthousands of people around the world to realize the benefits of an improve memory andsharper mind, and has appeared in New York Times, Wall Street Journal,San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, USA Today, PBSCNN and various other television, radio and print media all over the world. Chester, thank you fortaking time and welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me, Chad. I'm really looking forward to talking with you. All right.So before we jump into the topic of memory, we always like to giveour guests an opportunity to expose themselves a little bit and ask an odd question, so our audience gets to know you a little bit better. And obviouslyyou're passionate about memory and we're going to talk about that, but I'm curiouswhat's something else you're passionate about that are listeners may be surprised to learn.SURPRISED TO LEARN? Possibly close up magic. That's a been a hobby of mineover the years, but really it's developing skills in as many different areasas possible, lifelong learning, which probably isn't surprising to people. So Ilike to develop new skills. One has been close up magic. Lately,on learning Russian, how to speak Russian. So I'm always working on learning somethingnew. All right, so I have to ask why Russian? Well, the Russian now because I'm dating a Russian Cra but the mother of inventionexactly. But I've also worked on Korean...

...over the years. Different languages isokay, excellent. Appreciate that. And so now let's talk about the concept. membery. What you know? What got you into memory? How didthis become a passion of yours? Well, it, you know, pretty rent. It's pretty random. How it all began. I was just flippingchannels one night I happen to catch a segment on ABC's two thousand and twenty. That evening news program I caught a segment on the United States National MemoryChampionship and it just sparked my interest because I would often get the comment frompeople. People would say to me, wow, you have a really goodmemory, and with those comments in the back of my mind, when Icaught that episode, I thought, Hmm, you know, maybe I could dowell in this competition. But I quickly found out when looking into thebest people in the United States, I found out that although I was probablyabove average in terms of memory to begin with, I was nowhere near thelevel of the top competitors in the USA Memory Championship, memorizing hundreds of digits, hundreds of names, decks of playing cards in just minutes. So that'swhen I started doing a lot of research into what are the ways as faras how can we take our current memory ability and magnify that to bring itto a much higher level? So I experimented with a lot of different techniques. Based on my research, I found what seemed to be working best forme personally. I stuck to training myself in that small subset of techniques untileventually I did manage to win United States Memory Championship, and since then I'vespent the last thirteen plus years training other people around the world in techniques thatI feel can benefit them right away in their career, personal life and alsoin academic studies as well. And when... comes to working with people aroundmemory, I mean this is depending on the age and how people are approachingit. Could be a sensitive thing for some people. It can be frustrating, I'm sure, for others. But when you sit down to work withindividuals to help them, you know, improve their memory, what do yousee? What's the largest challenge you see most typically? Yeah, the mostcommon challenge that I think people face is getting over the belief that you eitherare born with a good memory or a bad memory and there's really nothing youknow, it's not. It isn't an area that can be improved upon,or if it is possible to improve it's going to be incredibly difficult. So, in fact, anyone, you know, everyone out there, no matter whatyour current level of memory ability, you can dramatically improve it with justthe right techniques and a little bit of training and practice, and the wholeprocess can be a lot of fun. So people are usually first exposed tome via, you know, the media, and I always try to make interviewsfun interesting provide some sort of interactive exercise. Of Hope that we cando that at some point today. Or they're exposed to me through one ofmy presentations that I give around the world that I try to really, injust a few minutes, make it clear that with the right approach, it'samazing what you will be able to do in terms of your memory. Andso I probably, like unlike most of our audience, I have a passionthat kind of Geek out on neuroscience and so for our audience, can yougive them some context about how memory actually works them can underlying mechanics of it? Yeah, so memory is a series of connections in the brain. Weare able to learn new things the more we actually have stored into our memory. So learning and memory will always come down to creating a connection in yourmind between something new that you're trying to learn and something that you already know. So in fact, the more that... already know, the easier itbecomes to learn new things. So it's the opposite of what a lot ofpeople think, or maybe it's just an excuse that people use. I oftenhear people say, you know, I don't want to learn all of thisuseless information. I don't really want to stuff my brain with anything that Icould just look up right. You hear that a lot nowadays, especially aspeople become more and more dependent on electronic devices. But in fact that isnot how memory works. It will not fill up. If there's is,if there is a limit to human memory, we're not going to find it inour lifetimes. In fact, you can stuff your brain with as muchinformation as possible and that's going to benefit you in terms of your future learning. What gives you a gives you a deeper well from which to drawn,to form opinions, perspectives, to choose which actions or which directions you wantto go. I've often seen people who don't take the time to, let'ssee, engage with knowledge as much as rely on Google like that the universalknowledge terminal. So having the ability to cram more into your head or keepmore there, I think is an important focus for people. It's I don'tsee a lot of people focusing on it. So very excited to have you onthe on the show. I'm curious. I can't remember if it was anHBR article. I can't remember I read, but I remember seeing something. You're reading something about how, over time memories change or the way thattheir accessed. Is this true from your perspective or have you seen this bethe case when you're working with individuals out there? Yeah, I understand,I believe what you're hitting on there, but that wouldn't be my area ofexpertise. So I believe what they're probably talking about is especially in the caseof episodic memory. So you know your birth how you remember, for instance, and a birthday party from when you were ten years old, how youremember it today, maybe ten years later,...

...certain details might be altered. Soit's episodic memory. Experiences that we have do change over time. That'snot really my area. My area is more semantic memory, so facts,figures, processes, procedures, and I'm really focused on the business applications andalso how to apply it to university work as well. Okay, so yeah, that is it really necessarily my area, how episodic memory changes over time.Well, and I think that's an important distinction right for the audience,there's the concept of sonic versus semantic, and so when we talk about havinga powerful semantic memory, there's principles, right, that you've come up withand kind of curious to have you kind of break down the top three fourS, top three principles of having that powerful semantic memory. Yeah, thethree main principles that will always apply, no matter what type of information,facts, figures, processes, procedures, names that you're trying to commit tomemory. The three principles will always be one visualization. Try to turn theinformation in some way into something that you can picture, something that you cansee in your mind, because we are very good at remembering things that wesee. An example I'll give. I'll give it in terms of names.Will get into names maybe in more detail later if there's time, but I'mjust going to use this to illustrate what I mean in terms of the powerof visuals. You go to a party, you meet a lot of New People. Two weeks after that party is over, you're talking with one ofyour friends that was there with you at the party, and your friend describessomeone to you. Hey, Chad, you remember that attorney that we metat the party a couple weeks ago. He's also a member of the tennisclub. As your friend goes through the description of the person, a lotof times you can picture them in your mind, right. You might evenbe able to visualize or pull up in your mind an image of what theywere wearing that night when you met them... the party. But a lotof times you can't manage us to remember the name. Your friend also can'tremember the person's name and it's really frustrating to both of you, right.So that illustrates there that when it comes to dealing with people, we tendto be pretty good at remembering people's faces, right. We can pull up animage of what they looked like in our mind, but we're not nearlyas good at remembering the name. This makes sense when you think about it, because when we interact with people in various ways, we see the face, right, the face is recorded into our visual memory, but we don'tsee the name. It's something much more abstract to the brain. So it'sjust a good example of how good we are remembering things that we see,but when we don't see it's more difficult. So principle number one is try toturn the information in some way into a visual in the case of names, like, if the name is Mike, I might visualize a microphone. Ifthe name is Alice, I might picture a white rabbit because that remindsme of Alice in Wonderland. And again, I can get into names and moredetail later if there is time, but really I wanted to introduce thepower of visualization. Principle number two is, after you have the visual try toinvolve more and more senses as you can, because as you do thatyou will be activating more and more areas of your brain and you'll be buildingmore and more connections in your mind to the information, making it easier toretrieve it later on. So, speaking of the neural science aspect of memory, which isn't not necessarily my area of mine is more the techniques that youcan learn, there is an episode that I start in of PBS has NovaScience. I'm sure a lot of people have heard of that show. Istart an episode titled How Smart Can we get? Or people can just Googleme, Chester Santos and PBS if they check it out. They'll see meperforming some memory feats on the show.

And then I trained David Pogue.People might also know David Pogue from the New York Times and CBS News.I trained him on the show and after that they had some people that specializein the neural science. They had some brain scientists on the show and thebrain scientists explained for people watching at home. Okay, how did Chester pull thatoff? How did David pogue pull it off with just just a littlebit of training from Chester? The brain scientists confirmed that it's because, withthese memory techniques that I've mastered over the years that I help people to learnthat we'll talk about today. With these techniques we're recruiting more of the brainto help us, areas of the brain that most people don't involve when theytry to commit things to memory, and part of that is learning to useadditional senses in order to activate more of the brain. So that's the secondprinciple, more senses. The third and final principle is simply, while youare seeing and experiencing all of this in your mind, try to make itcrazy and usual extraordinary in some way, because there is a psychological aspect tohuman memory, and that is all of us, without putting forth any effortat all. We tend to remember things that catch us by surprise. Theyare strange, unusual, extraordinary, right. So if an elephant crashed into theroom that you're in right now, chat, if that actually happens atthis moment, you would probably remember that for the rest of your life,even forty years later, you might tell the story. You're never going tobelieve this. I was interviewing this memory guy for my show and while wewere doing the interview and elephant just crashed into the room, it might bestuck in your brain forever without you even trying to commit it to memory.And although scientists actually don't to this day, they don't understand exactly how that worksin the brain, how something goes in a long term memory in onesecond stays there forever, whereas other times we spend weeks, months on tryingto get things into long term memory and we find it difficult. Although itisn't fully understood, we just need to...

...realize there is that aspect to howhuman memory works, that psychological aspect, and then we can apply it tothings that would be useful. Remembering names, to get more to business networking,remembering presentations and so on. Excellent. All right. So when we weregetting ready to set this up and stuff, we wanted to make surewe left some room so that we could kind of do it demonstration or anactually size and so this is kind of where we're at. And so Ikind of going to turn it over to you and and have you do anyexercises with me, I guess, and see how it goes. Cool,I'm glad you're up for it, Chad. I am going to use you asthe Guinea pig here. I'm going to have you try to commit along list of random words to memory. The whole exercise, I think,front to back. We'll take about five minutes or less total. You're goingto do your best commit this list of words to memory and people listening tothe interview can follow along. It's going to be monkey, iron, rope, kite, house, paper, Shoe, worm, envelope, Pencil, river, rock, tree, cheese and dollar. Now, when I recitedon't worry people usually and tip intimidated by that's a normal reaction if this werea live presentation. Usually at this point I can see people in the audiencelooking at me as if I'm a bit crazy. They think there's no waythey're going to be able to remember the list of words, not unless Igive them a long time to do it. And if they were to attempt itat all, they would usually how would usually commit something like that tomemory? You'd usually write it out over and over again, read it overand over again, recite it to yourself over and over and to you feelthat you've drilled it into your head. That approach. Without approach, youare not making the most efficient use of the brain to a code information intomemory. If you manage to finally drill it into your head, it willonly be in the very short term. So if I were to ask youthe word list in a few days, you would probably remember close to zeroof those words. But we're going to...

...use a different approach that will makeit it's going to be a much more fun and interesting approach and it's goingto be more easy and you're going to it's going to be much easier andyou're going to have retention in the long term of the list. So we'regoing to keep those three main main principles that I went over earlier in mindto and we're going to use them to build a little story. So Iwant you to just visualize what I describe to you. The first word wasa monkey, so I just want for you to visualize a monkey. Thatmonkey is dancing around, it's making monkey noises, whoop, whoop, whoooo, whatever monkey would sound like. I'm working on the monkey impression, butthe point here is to try and see and hear that monkey in your mindand again the listeners can fall along with this. The monkey now picks upa gigantic iron, because that was the next word, like you would ironyour clothes with. So the monkey is dancing around with this gigantic iron.The iron starts to fall, but a rope attaches itself to the iron.Maybe you even feel the rope. Maybe it feels sort of rough. Allright, so really interact with it. Feel the rope. You look upthe rope. You see the other and of the rope is attached to akite. The Kite is flying around in the air. You reach up andtry and touch it. Maybe it's just out of your each, that kite. The kite now crashes into the side of a house. Really see itsmash into the House. The House, you notice, is completely covered inpaper. For some strange reason, it's completely covered in paper. Picture thatI was. The next word I had given. Out of nowhere, ashoe appears and it starts to walk all over the paper. Maybe it's messingup the paper as it's walking on it. That shoe. Really see that shoe. The shoe smells pretty badly, so you decide to investigate and seewhy. So you look inside of the shoe and you find a little wormcrawling around inside of the shoe. Really...

...see that smelly worm. The wormjumps out of the shoe and into an envelope. Maybe it's going to mailitself or something, I don't know. Envelope was next. Out of nowhere, a pencil appears and it starts to write very quickly all over the envelope. Maybe it's addressing the envelope that Pencil. The Pencil now jumps into a riverand there's a huge splash like you wouldn't expect when the pencil hits theriver. The river, you notice, is crashing up against a giant rock. It's crashing up against a giant rock. The Rock flies out of the river. It crashes into a tree. This tree is growing cheese you probablyhaven't seen a tree like that before. This one's growing cheese, and outof each piece of cheese shoots a dollar. A dollar comes out of each pieceof the cheese. Last word I had given you was dollar. Nowyou may already know all of those words actually, but I'm going to replaythrough this story and about one minute or less and in your mind you're justgoing to re visualize that entire story, replay through in your head. Sowe've got the monkey. It was dancing around with something. What was itdancing around with? It was an iron. Something attached itself to the iron.It was a rope. The other end of the rope attached to akite. The kite crashed into a house. It was covered in something. Whatwas it was paper. What walked on the paper? It was ashoe. What was crawling in the shoe? It was a worm. The wormjumped into an envelope. What wrote on it? It was a pencil. The pencil jumped into the river. The river was crashing up against therock that flew into a tree. What...

...was the tree growing? It wasgrowing cheese. And what came out of the cheese? It was a dollar. So now you should be a will too, pretty easily recall the listof random words by simply playing through the story in your mind. Each objectthat you see in the story will give you the next random word. So, Chad, just give it a try, take your time, do your bestand people listening to the interview can fall along and see how well theydo. All Right, here we go. All right, so there was amonkey playing with an iron. Went to drop a rope attached to it. Yeah, rope. And then I look up and there's a kite.Got It. Crashes into a house covered in news paper. In my headit's newspaper paper. Got It. Yeah. Then there comes this giant shoe outof nowhere which smells really bad, and look inside. There's worm caughtit that jumps into an envelope to mail itself somewhere. Yeah. Then Pencilcomes out to address it. Then there's a splash. NOPE, there's pencilgoes into a river. Got Its rivers hitting a rock. Uh, Huh, rock, it's ree yes, he's growing doll no, she's growing cheese. Yeah, she's coming dollars. Hundred percent. You got a hundred percentcorrect their chat, and I probably won't forget that because of that visual isvery cartoonish in my head, but I've got that visual up there going on. Yeah, really well done. They're under pressure. I mean, Ijust sprung that on you in the middle of an interview. Thank you forbeing up for that. You did really well and people will definitely remember thateven weeks later. And if you just do one mental review a few weekslater, you will remember even long terms.

So these types of techniques, combinedwith spaced repetition reviews spaced out over time, or very good for longterm memory. I get people emailing me even many months after giving a presentationsomewhere. They'll email me just wanting to show that they can't believe they stillremember all of the words in order. It's and it's an amazing combination ofthose three principles that you talked about. So let's get take it to thenext level when it comes to business. You know, how do you seethis playing out in business? Or can you give us an example of somebodyor a company or that you worked with and how it kind of came tofruition? Walk US through that story. Yeah, so there are just somany, so many business applications. If we're going to stick to talking aboutthe simple story method for now. If you'll take it a little bit furtherand learn how to turn those images into mental note cards, you could,for instance, give a presentation and from memory, minimizing the amount of notesto use, minimizing the amount of slides. Are always going to be a muchmore effective and persuasive speaker if you can do that. So, forinstance, if I were going to give a talk about healthcare in the UnitedStates, always a hot topic for discussion here in the UST, I mightstart, I might start my first image with a stethoscope. You know thatthe doctor uses to check your heartbeat. That's just going to represent the broadtopic of healthcare. First thing I want to hit on in my presentation talkabout with audience is the high cost of healthcare in the United States. Imight imagine out of the stethoscope hundred dollar bills or shooting out of the stethoscope. The next thing I want to cover in my presentation is that under currenthealthcare programs, a lot of times, in order to get something covered,we have to find a way to navigate through or cut through a lot ofred tape, maybe wrapping itself around the hundred dollar bills is all of thisred tape. So that should give you... idea of how you could applysomething as simple as the story method to giving a presentation. So I've givenpresentations all over the world, sometimes even with some famous professors, and althoughthey may be a world class expert in their field, the comment cards mightnot reflect the best scores because presentation sometimes is, you know, here slidenumber one on my research, here slide number two on my research. There'sa lot of charts and graphs. People start to fall asleep. And anotherproblem is, and I've experienced this attending even while I won't say but justsome really famous people's presentations. I get a bit confused in that they're sayingone thing but they're slide is as of a chart and you're kind of confused. Am I supposed to be reading the the Chart Right now? Am Isupposed to be reading the information on the slide or am I supposed to belistening to them? So it can be distracting. Right I think it's alwaysgoing to be more effective if you can minimize the amount of notes, minimizethe amount of slides. So that's one thing, but this could also bepreparing for a client meeting. Right, you're meeting with a client or potentialclient trying to sell your services. Right, five to ten key things you learnabout them, about their business. Five, ten key things you learnedabout their competitors, ten key ways as to how your product offerings, yourservices, can benefit them. Right, when you are able to do thatin a client meeting and just demonstrate that you know all of this right,demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, people have so much more confidence in you andyour abilities. We always want to do business with those people that we perceivedto be the most of an expert in their particular field. Also, youknow, we perceive intelligence when someone seems to have a razor Shart memory.And in today's business world, when people tend to be very dependent on electronicdevices, they're not really preparing all of...

...this information for meetings. They don'tthey aren't able to demonstrate that knowledge. When you're able to do it witha little bit of memory training, you're much more memorable in business nowadays.Yeah, I love that. I love it all right. So let's changethe direction here a little bit. You're obviously, you know, you're travelingthe world, you're given presentations is probably people that want to get in frontof you and and sell you things or get some ideas in front of you. And I'm always curious to know when somebody doesn't have a trust to referralsomebody in your networker fersman and they still trying to capture your attention. Whatworks best when somebody's trying to capture your attention and earn the right to timeon your calendar? Yeah, so I would say it is doing that research, demonstrating in some way their knowledge, their expertise. So that might getthem the call. But I've had, you know, I've been a oneman business now for twelve plus year, since two thousand and eight is whenI started, and I've had to hire all sorts of professionals, marketing,Pr Tech, and when I have that initial call with someone, if Ijust, you know, granted I'm on the extreme and given what I do, but hey, you know, if they answer a lot of my questionswith you know, yeah, have done a little bit of work in thearea, but I'll have to do some research rich and get back to youor refamiliarize myself with that particular topic. I'm just not that impressed and Iwill never hire that person. On the other hand, when I've met with, you know, people I'm thinking about hiring and my perception is after thecall, wow, they really know their stuff, this is clearly the expert. I've gone out of my way in certain cases to pay even more thanI originally budgeted for for that particular project because I want the person that's justreally impressive, that I perceive to be the expert. So I guess myanswer is do a lot of preparation,... it, do whatever you canto show that you were a cut above the rest and that you are trulythe expert in that particular field. And I think maybe also to I'm givena passionate answer to this, maybe because I've had to hire so many differentpeople over the years to do so many different projects. Also, another way, I think, is you know that you can get more referrals, ofcourse, is to do just an extraordinary job, and I've just unfortunately hireda lot of people over the years that I wasn't that impressed with their theirlevel of components, I guess, in their particular field. So you've gotto do whatever you can to up up your knowledge and skills. Love it. I'd so our last question. We call it our acceleration in sight.If you can give one piece of advice to sales, are marketing or professionalservices people, one piece of advice that, if they listen to and started apply, you believe would help them exceed their targets, what would it beand why? Yeah, I think I started to hit on it and myprevious answers. Just really do the best job that you possibly can't keep upskilling, I get upskialing, if that's a word, or not upping your skillsto really make sure that you are at the top of your field so thatwhen you do complete project work for someone, that they are going to refer youto their friends, family members and colleagues. Again, I've hired alot of people over the years that just weren't. Again, I'm picky,I think someone someone that's, you know, dedicated the time to become a memorychampion. I have a strong educational background as well. I mean I'vejust hired marketing and PR people over the years where the copy that they wrotehad some grammatical errors or the logical for the the there wasn't a logic tothe flow their writing and things like this. I felt like I was dealing witha B or c student or something, and I'm grading there, I'm gradingtheir work. I feel like a...

...lot of times I could have donea better job. So you don't want that to happen. I mean youreally whatever you might be currently weak in, spend some time to work on developingthat. Always work on up skilling, upping your skills so that people willbe very impressed with your work and then you're going to get referrals.Love it, Chester, I can't thank you enough for taking time to beon the show. If listener wants to reach out to you, learn moreabout what you do or engage with you, where would you like us to sendthem? Yeah, if people would like to further develop their memory skills, they can go to memory school dotnet. I would visualize a giant fishing netmaybe to remember that it's dotnet. So memory school dotnet. I didset up a special code for your audience. It would just be be to be. So the letter be the number to the letter B, so bto be is the code. I said it to be valid for fifty uses. So the first fifty people to use that code will be able to getstarted at memory school. Dotnet without any enrollment FEA at all. Excellent.Thank you very much again, and thanks for taking time to share your insightswith us. Thank you so much for having me chat. I really appreciateit. All right, everybody that does it. For this episode, youknow the drill be to be REV exactcom share it with friends, family coworkers. You like what your give us review and Itunes, and until nexttime, we have value selling associates. With you all, nothing but thegreatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensurethat you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or yourfavorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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