Have you ever tried memorizing and recalling the exact order of 59 decks of cards randomly shuffled together? Our guest this week attempted and succeeded in this incredible feat of brain power, breaking the World Guinness Record for "Greatest Memory".
Episode 41 features Dave Farrow, a master of memory and PR strategies. Due to a difficult and formidable childhood filled with health problems and near-death experiences, Dave began to fall behind on his academia and had little help from outside resources. Forced to take matters into his own hands, Dave explored behavior modification approaches, such as creating specific memory techniques that were tailored to combat his ADHD and dyslexia. His determination for self-learning and cognitive improvement expanded onto becoming a two-time Guinness World Record holder for memorizing and reciting 59 decks of playing cards all randomly shuffled together. Get this: He was allowed to only see each card once with zero repetition.
Geoffrey Woo and Dave discuss various memory tips and tricks (one is a HIIT version of mental training), the importance of PR and its impact on a business' success, and the rise of mental games as a serious sport.
Geoff: Hey thinkers, welcome at this week's HVMN Enhancement podcast. This is your host Geoffrey Woo, and I'm excited to chat with Dave Farrow again. He had me on his show. I guess it's hosted on Brainhackers.com. You probably could find it there. I'm so excited to have Dave on our show, so his story is that he is a Guinness World Record Memory World Record Holder, and has turned that into, what is it? Over a 100 million in impressions across all sorts of media channels, and you've really parlayed that, I guess, stunt or talent into multiple interesting ventures. I know that you run a PR firm. We were just talking about different deals that you're working on now. Welcome! Great to talk with you again, and welcome to our program.
Dave: Thanks so much for having me on the show. This is great! The roles are reversed here!
Geoff: It's good. I think obviously ... I think when you talk to people that have done programs before it's a lot more ... a fun conversation instead of like pulling teeth out of someone.
Dave: Yeah. Well as you know, one of the reasons why I run a PR firm now is that I started off with nothing. I'm a bootstrapper. I had basically a memory business, but the business was essentially doing seminars. So it was still my time, and I was trying to sell tickets to these seminars, and I latched on to publicity in a big way because it was a way to reach an audience with the most credible content. In those days, same as it is today, people are skeptical, so I just found a way to be really interesting and really get the attention of the media, and that led to, as you know, millions of dollars in sales, and over a hundred million impressions, and things like that. But now, I run a PR firm, so I've been on this side of the camera over 2000 times! I've been on like DR. Oz, Steve Harvey, the Discovery Channel, Regis and Kelly, all of those. So now I'm interviewing people, wonderful people like you, and now the person I just interviewed is reversing back! So it's a real meta moment here! This is crazy.
Geoff: Yeah, no it's fun! So step back. How'd you even get into the world of memory? I think you talked to people that, you know, want to be a baseball champion when they grow up. I mean, did you always want to grow up into a memory guru? What is your story there?
Dave: I kind of wanted to be like a comic book hero, like a Batman type thing and learn a bunch of cool skills. I'm not kidding. I mean, when I first learned memory techniques, I was 14 years old, so what were you interested in when you were 14? But the main reason behind it, all joking aside is that I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia when I 14. I was looking at just going into high school, my grade nine year, and I was thinking, "What is the point?" I was trying really hard, and I knew I was trying harder than people who are getting better grades than me. So that's where I was. I felt like my brain wasn't doing what I wanted it to do, and I was really good at teaching myself. I'd go to the library and learn things, but I had a lot of difficulty paying attention in the classroom and doing test taking. As I know now, with the experience and knowledge that we know about neuroscience, I knew that I had ... there were some anxiety around test taking that was causing me to forget, but beyond that there was focus issues in the classroom. But looking back then, I didn't know what it was, so I looked into everything from mentalism, you know, like the Amazing Kreskin and everything else. Like anybody who could do amazing thing with their mind, I would want to figure it out, and that led me to memory techniques. And when those reached their limits, that led me to inventing new memory techniques and new methods, and that led to the Farrow method, which is the system that I teach now. But as we said before, that is just half the story because I had a new method. I had a new system, and I wanted to get it out there so I went after a really big ... you know we call it that big, hairy, audacious goal. The BHAG, you know? And the Guinness record was it for me. Now, the funny thing is when I first-
Geoff: That's how you prove that it actually is working, right?
Geoff: Like you talk about your magic method, but if you don't have results, it's like okay. This guy's just BS-ing me.
Dave: And the funny thing is they didn't realize that all you had to do was write a book and call yourself an expert. I thought you had to really do something amazing to be an expert back then, and nowadays, there's a lot of people who can be experts just overnight. But here was the thing, I actually ... Did you ever hear the phrase that, "If you knew how difficult it was going to be, you probably never would've started?"
Geoff: Yep. It's like the startup story. That's Silicon Valley, right? You have these young kids. Like, "Oh, we're gonna just change messaging or whatever."
Dave: "We're just gonna change technology!" So for me, I was looking at a Guinness record, and I was really excited because the record said "memorizing the order of six decks of cards all shuffled together in a single sighting." The Guinness Record was that you could not see them more than once. You had to see them all in one go. You could not repeat, but I had an older copy of the Guinness Book of Records. I didn't realize that the newer record was much more extensive, so when I started planning and training for this-
Geoff: So six sets is six times 52. So what ... 312-
Dave: 312 cards. Yeah. Now the thing is, this was when I was around 19, 20 years old, so I had already used memory techniques to crush my grades, to turn around ... I was in the resource room. Like, we're talking like the "short bus" part of the school. I went from there to the top of a lot of the classes. I had teachers-
Geoff: What were the one, two techniques that got you there from that stage?
Dave: I can tell you one. I have a little YouTube tip on this too ... is looking up. This one changed how I did studying. It probably doubled my test scores and studying. So here's the simple thing. Your eyeballs are connected to your brain through the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a large bundle of nerves like the size of a golf ball right behind your eyeball. It's like a second eyeball, and it lights up probably more than your brain when it's tested. And the reason is all the information that comes in through your eyes is interpreted by your optic nerve and then sent ... the theory is at least, it's sent to different parts of the brain depending on what's going on. That's why people can be tricked by optical illusions. What you see is interpreted by the brain, so what you're seeing right now is actually a picture that's in your brain. It's not in your eyes. Think of it that way, which is very meta too. So basically, the one thing that people don't realize a lot of times is that the direction that you point your eyes helps to direct energy to the brain. I'll say that again. The direction you point your eyes, physical direction ... looking up or down or right or left ... actually helps direct energy in the brain, and you can do it like that.
Dave: So what happens when you're in middle of an exam is you're staring down, right? That's the direct people look when they're talking to themselves, so you'll find people in exams moving their lips and talking to themselves, going, "Oh, was is this? What's the answer to this?" I wish I knew, right? What's the one thing they tell you not to do? You got to keep your eyes on your paper. Don't look around, right? So everybody looks down. When you have a highly visual memory like mine, then looking up is the key. In fact, most people if you look up, your memory will improve. When you look down, it's like reasoning skills. You're able to talk to yourself and talk out a problem. It also calms you down. When you look up, it's more looking in your mind's eye, trying to visualize something, okay?
Geoff: So I guess when you're trying to do recall on test, you're like looking up. You're like-
Dave: What happens to most people though is they give up. They're staring at the page, and they stare, and they stare, and they stare, and they give up. They hand it in. They walk out the door. They walk down the hall a few feet, and what happens? The idea pops into your head! It's like, "Oh, that's what it was!" Well the reason is when you walk down that hallway, you could look up. You could think, "Oh, I wonder what it is?" This is our natural state of remembering is this. "What is that?" Right? And that's because of the optic nerves. So little things like that made a huge difference, but it was a bunch of them. I developed a technique for focus where I would study the way a lot of people, a lot of athletes would train where I would study for a really intense time for very, very short intervals. This led to my focus methods, so this is something that I developed for ADD specifically, and if you want to try, you can go get my program. You can Google me. There's a lot of websites you can get the program. It's very affordable. But even if you just want to try this and you're wondering if this'll work, one of the neat things about the brain is that is the most powerful, most complex known entity in the known universe. More complex than anything else known to man. And on top of that, it is the most powerful processor. People still think computers are more powerful for processing, but when you think of all the parallel processing that you're doing just to sit here, you know? Your heart I beating. The capillaries in your toe are managing the blood flow. Everything! You have no idea, you know? So your brain is very powerful. The problem is that it has a terrible battery. It is really good at handling short chunks of time very intensely. Very bad at handling any sort of intensity for a long period of time. This is where people feel burnt out. This is when people try to work for eight hours a day, they hit the wall. That sort of thing. So with ADD, this is actually exacerbated. People with ADD can focus incredibly well for about a minute, and then they can get distracted easily, right? So here's what I was doing. I thought of this as an exercise, and this was based on all the stuff I was reading and learning, but I came up with this technique myself. It's called the ... I'm very proud of it. It's the Farrow Focus Method, and essentially what you do is you have an egg timer. I've probably got an extra one just sitting right here. I always keep an extra one of these things. I know you can use your cellphone, but very often it's better to have a separate device. It's like an anchor, and I set it usually for five to six minutes. And when I press go, I'm going as intensely as I can for those five to six minutes. Then when it stops, I can stop and relax for another five to six minutes. So it's turning my brain completely on, incredibly focused, and then relaxed. Incredibly focused, and the relaxed. And that was actually the secret to my Guinness record. Now I'll tell you what the real Guinness record was. It was a lot more than six decks-
Geoff: So 312 ... I guess the combination of 312 things.
Dave: So I had some of these techniques, and I knew I had something with focus technique. I knew I could focus. The key to the focus technique was really accuracy. So by focusing so intensely ... I know it sounds like it's only five to six minutes. You try shutting out all the distractions and focusing intensely for five minutes on like one task. Not several, just one like writing, or working the Rubik's Cube, or something. You'd be amazed by what you'll accomplish. And then you take a short break, and then you do it again. The thing is, your brain chemistry rebalances during the break, and you can keep going at that intense focus level for hours. I've actually done it for a 48 hour period in a row just to prove that it could be done. I did this with a science channel.
Geoff: Didn't sleep? Didn't eat?
Dave: Well, the thing is that you take a short break in between. As long as you go really intense ... You can eat in five minutes. I can eat something.
Geoff: Sure, sure, sure. But you didn't sleep? Did you take like five minute power naps then?
Dave: I did. I went right through sleeping, and I was good. I crashed at the end. Like, there's a human limit, but what it is, is a lot of time our fatigue is not being sleepy, it's having our brain chemistry catch up with us. So every time you do a cognitive function ... I love being on a show because I don't have to explain cognitive functions and big words and stuff. Every time you do any sort of cognitive function, you're usually producing serotonin. Serotonin is that chemical that makes you feel sleepy, so that's why people are reading, and reading, and reading, studying, studying, studying, and then they're drifting off. They got plenty of sleep that night. It has nothing to do with sleep. It has to do with the serotonin build up. I give myself that little break. It clears up the serotonin. Then I go back, and I'm intensely focused and then I do a break. And when you train yourself, it's pretty amazing what you can do. You can do literally superhuman level stuff. So here's what I did with it. I used that secret technique, along with couple of different ways to think about playing cards, and I went after what was the actual Guinness record, which was 40 decks of cards, actually.
Geoff: Holy shit.
Dave: Right? 40 decks of cards! So I decided, "You know what? If I'm going to do this, I'm gonna knock it out of the water. I don't want to have to do this again!"
Dave: Yeah, yeah. I was going-
Geoff: Mental math.
Dave: Good math! Yeah, there you go! Which is another great cognitive function ... But I was actually going to do 54 decks of cards, but I decided ... We had two decks that had errors on them, so they would be kind of tells. They had been printed wrong ... I didn't buy enough. So we went with 52 decks for my first Guinness record in 1996, way back in the day. And I did 52 decks of cards, and it was a huge success. I memorized the exact order of all 52 decks. They were all shuffled by volunteers, and it actually took until 2009 before someone broke it. And then I broke it back from him again. It was the same guy. I know him very well-
Geoff: How long does take for you just to recite that? I mean, that is a lot of just ... I mean, counting from one to 25 ... you know ... 2500 plus is going to take you awhile.
Dave: The current record is 59 decks of cards. That's 3068 cards for those who are counting, and it takes about eight hours to say each card once every two seconds, if you include a couple of breaks. So just eight hours, just to recall it, so it's a real marathon event, and the funny thing is my focus technique, this five minute focus technique ... Other people had the memory techniques, but they would lose focus and they would make a few mistakes. And according to the Guinness rules, this is the most stringent record for mistakes. You're only allowed 0.5% wrong, so one half of one percent wrong. If you do the math, that's maybe 18 to 20 different mistakes out of the 3068 cards. So-
Geoff: Less than 15, yeah.
Dave: Yeah. Well actually, I got only one mistake. I think I should have gotten half marks for it because it was deck number 17, card number 45. I said a seven of spades when it was clubs, so I think I should get like half marks for that. I don't know. But anyways, it did know it out of the park, and then no one's broken that-
Geoff: How long were you looking at the decks?
Dave: It actually took over the course of a couple of days to memorize it. So one of the challenges was when I woke up the next day, I couldn't repeat the sequences. I had to just memorize them, so I had to make sure I had them down pat, and then when I woke up the next day, I had to go over all of them in my head just to make sure I didn't lose any. And I could use math, though. That's was my friend because I could use math ... There was a couple of time when I did my review the following day ... Actually, I haven't every told anybody this, but there's a couple times where I would do the review the next day, and I was missing two cards. So I did the math, and I ... this is going to sound crazy, but I counted all of the aces of spades, the two of spades, the three of spades, the four of spades, until I knew what deck I was up to. So I knew which one I could possibly be missing. Now, they were all shuffled together, so I could've been wrong, but thankfully I wasn't wrong when I repaired it. It was just to kind of get that memory back, but there's actually techniques for that as well. But that's what you're capable of when you know how to run your brain, you know?
Geoff: That's incredible. I mean, just like yeah ... Memorizing what? 2500, 3000 things ... I mean, just reciting that! It takes eight hours just to recite it! You're just like, "What?" You're just sitting there, being like, "One, seventeen."-
Dave: And I'm dyslexic, so I see it in my head, and my brain wants to reverse it all the time, which I know is not the same as dyslexia. Don't anybody start posting and say that's not dyslexia. For some reason, I found that where my brain wants to reverse things as I'm about to say them or write them down, and I just kind of tied that into the dyslexia. But I had to do practice to get past that, but it was really being able to focus for intervals like that. And then I was able to build up. Obviously, when I was ADD as kid, the intervals were like two minutes at a time, and then I built up to six to eight minutes.
Geoff: Did you do anything else in terms of ... I mean, it sounds like you have clearly a suite of techniques. Like, did you look at working out? Or diets? Or sleep patterns to help with that? Or is that sort of secondary? I'm just curious.
Dave: Yeah, definitely it's matter of self care. For that Guinness record specifically, and also other things, it's definitely a matter of self care, and I got into the habit of skipping. I was a boxer for a few years, and it sounds weird to be a brain and a boxer because you think you get hit in the head, but I stopped before we did a lot of sparring. But I was actually taught by Arnie, the guy who taught Lennox Lewis. And he was a great teacher and mentor, and I really got the interval training idea from that, but for the brain. But so anytime I was also feeling a physical fatigue, I would take out the rope, and I would skip intensely for one minute. And then rest. And again, it would rebalance the brain, rebalance your chemistry. You have to really be aware of your own moods. I think that's one of the best things you can do. Be aware. I mean, be very meta in a way. Like, if you're flying off the handle and getting angry on a regular basis, ask yourself, "What did I eat that day? What am I worrying about?" And start being really ... I'm incredibly self-reflective and I think that's what really saved me. So actually, after I broke my record, I went around from news outlet to news outlet, and they tested me on all the 59 decks. We had all of them in a big case. You can see these online. And they would say any deck between one and 59, and I would say what card it was. So they would say the deck and then between one and 52 within the deck, so deck number 14, card number 25, and I would say what card it was before they could find it physically. We did this for a documentary.
Geoff: Was the shuffling within the 52 range? Or was it all 52 decks?
Dave: All of them were shuffled together, and then stacked together in row.
Geoff: Oh, into 52 card stacks.
Dave: Into 52 card stack, yeah.
Geoff: Because it's a little more complicated.
Dave: Yeah, I had four queens of spades in a row, so they were all kind of shuffled in together. But here's the thing though. I had a great technique, and I even had a great Guinness record and everything, but then I wanted to make a business out of this. The whole goal was this had changed my life. I mean, I literally had a teacher at one time tell me not to expect much out of life because I'm not going to go to college, not going to be able to do anything, not going to be able to run a business, any of this stuff. And he was not too popular amongst his students, let's just say that. So after I broke my Guinness record, they all brought in copies of the newspaper and put it on his desk because my face was on the cover of it. That's again, back when people read newspapers. But it was an amazing experience! And once you go through an experience like that where people tell you you're wrong so much, and turn out to be right, it gives you a kind of amazing confidence, you know? And nobody doubted me ever again, and I wish I could give that gift to anybody else. To just say to keep on going. If you fail and then you stop, that's what you're gonna be remembered for. Okay? If you succeed, then that's what you're going to be remembered for.
Geoff: Or like, if you fail, no one's going to remember that you failed anyway. That's the thing. There's actually no downside. Like, if you try and fail, no one actually really cares.
Dave: Well, I'll tell you though, you care, obviously.
Geoff: You care, but like-
Dave: I'll tell you that this is not something everybody knows either, but the first time I attempted my Guinness record, I did fail at it because I underestimated how difficult it was. And I had people really, really putting me down, and nay-saying, and everything, and betting money that I would fail. I went to one person double or nothing. I made 40 bucks. It was awesome after I succeeded. The venue said they didn't want to have me back. I started calling media outlets saying that in 30 days, I was gonna come back and break this record, and then I told the venue, "Hey, a bunch of reporters are gonna show up on your doorstep asking, 'Where's this kid breaking a Guinness record?'" So I kind of blackmailed the venue into having me back. I like doubled downed, and triple downed, and burnt bridges, and whatever, because I knew that there's something that happens when you try something that you've never done before. Often times you get to it, you try it, and even if you fail, you kind of realize what you need to do to succeed. It's like, "Aw, I would've just done that, I would succeed." And then I saw the goal in sight. I'm like, "If I just do this, I will succeed," and I'm like, "I have to do it." I block out everything for the next month. I just have to do it, and I went after it. And now, of course, like you said, I'm remembered for this success. So yeah.
Geoff: Absolutely. I'm curious. I think at least for myself, when people ... Most people are not trying to attempt a world record and doing media blasts on top of it, right? Most people are just like, "Hey, I'm going to try to go apply for that top college," or, "I'm try to go for that job that's maybe outside of my exact skillset." And then like, if you fail in that, no one really knows, except for yourself, and no one's gonna really judge you on that. Everyone has their own problems, and it's like, "Okay. It only really matters if you actually succeed." So I think the internal dialogue of looking bad when you fail ... It's not a story that people will tell you. "Hey, ha ha! Remember in something that you failed?" No one gives a crap.
Dave: Oh yeah, no! Absolutely. It was Marcus Aurelius who said it best actually. He says that, "Other people" ... and look up Marcus Aurelius and look up stoicism. It's amazing if you're feeling bad about yourself. Great, great stuff. And stoics in general ... It'll make you feel better about yourself. Trust me. Nelson Mandela is modern stoic. He studied it, and it helped him. So he said it best. He said, "Other people thinking and caring ... and other people's opinions of you has more to do with them than it does to do with you." And that was really telling. The people who are the most intense, the meanest ... well that's because their life is terrible! You know what I mean? It always has more to do with them than it does with you. If you find somebody who's incredibly successful, they're probably not going to be making your life difficult that way.
Geoff: Right. They're too busy with living their own life to just go shit on someone else's parade.
Geoff: So I'm actually curious. So what was the click ... the turning point when you were like, "Wow, I accomplished this memory task. I'm the best person in the world at this specific thing. Cool. I'm the best human being here." When did that go from, "Okay, I'm going to turn this into a business, into an entrepreneurial journey?" What was like the master plan?
Dave: Well actually, yeah. I actually looked after the Guinness record in order to get attention, but I was very naïve about it. I thought, "I'm gonna get a Guinness record, and then someone's go show up at the front door with a million dollars." I just thought that I'm gonna get the Guinness record and the whole world will ... the seas shall part, and I will do this. And yeah, if I would've known how difficult it was and how I would not get that million dollars, or even any money at the end of it, I might not have been as passionate. But I knew that there was something at the end of the road. Obviously, that started me on journey. And of course, it was one of the best things I ever did. Just attempting this incredibly difficult goal is the best thing I ever did because having that record has gotten me through doors. I've hung out with celebrities. I've gotten opportunities with businesses. Now I have a channel where I talk to top CEOs. And I was just on Fox's Superhuman, just recently, and I won the $50,000 grand prize, so that's what happened since our interview. That show aired. So it's the smartest thing I ever did, but I did it mostly to get publicity. I wanted to teach these techniques mainly because it had made such a difference to me. This little ideas that I had come up with to help me study ... I realized other people could benefit from, and I've always, always, always wanted to be an entrepreneur-
Geoff: Okay. Interesting.
Dave: I never wanted to have a job. I always thought that ... I think maybe when I said I wanted to Batman, maybe I wanted to be Bruce Wayne more, you know? But I always said that I'd either be self-employed or unemployed. I just wanted to run by own drum, and I've been, obviously, a serial entrepreneur for the last 21, 22 years. The last job I had was Subway when I was a teenager, and since then I am self-employed. And yes, I make a lot more than I did at Subway there!
Geoff: I guess minimum wage back in the day probably was what? Like five bucks an hour or something?
Dave: It was 6.85 actually, but it was Canada, so they're different there. But I did come to America to grow my business. And yeah, publicity was the main thing that I went after because even to this day, it is one of the best investments for a business, but the problem is that it's very difficult to track. And you know this, running a tech startup and being in Silicon Valley, and working with all of those people. There's nothing that they can track, they just disregard it, but if you actually do a total analysis of the sort of exposure you get, for a dollar of PR, you get articles, you get postings, listings, and online blogs, that sort of thing. For that same dollar to be as effective with advertising, you've got to spend at least five dollars or more, right? So typically people get five to ten times the results, but it's unpredictable. You don't know which magazine will be interested in your story. You don't know which news outlet will say yes. But I can tell you that on the face of it, if you go after just a ton of press, then people can never ignore you. I did over 2000 interviews from Regis and Kelly, Dr. Oz twice, Steve Harvey, QVC, BBC, all that. But all of that led to two infomercials ... venture back funded infomercials that led to nice royalties. I did a sponsorship deal with Sony corporation, and that led ... Sony paid for my visa, so I could be a dual citizen in America and Canada. And now I run a PR marketing business. I've gotten to a certain point where I'm very comfortable. I live a very comfortable life. I don't have to worry about paying the bills, that sort of thing. And now I help other businesses with their marketing as well as do speaking on memory now, so if I would've known that I would end up in this ... I never intended to be a PR guy! PR was just a tool to get to where I was going, but just like anything, I just wanted to be the best at it, and I got good enough to be here.
Geoff: I think that's interesting. So I think if you talk to a lot of Silicon Valley folks, they see PR as like this side bucket of spend, where it's like, "All right, I'm gonna hire a contractor like a typical agency and drop in X-k a month, and then hopefully I'll get some stories out of it."-
Dave: Well, we usually see it because the investors. You have to get in TechCrunch. You have to get in all this media, or otherwise you won't get your investors. But ask yourself, "Why did the investors care so much about PR? Why? Why are they not just looking at your portfolio?" They want to see what other people's opinions of your business are, and PR is the only thing that has a third party talk about-
Geoff: It's top of funnel. I think you call it a canary in the coal mine. If you can get a reporter who's ostensibly, pretty tapped into the field to think this is interesting, well it's a good sign that, "Hey, a lot of people in the world think this story's interesting."
Dave: And you can't really lie to PR sometimes. You can't lie to them. Whatever they say is what is, you know?
Geoff: I think it's interesting. I think one thing I noticed with getting some experience on media as well is that I think most entrepreneurs ... I think from my perspective, it's like you want to tell a good story, and I think a lot of people just don't have good stories to tell, right? I think if you're running ... I'm actually curious. When you talk to your clients who might be like a ... I don't know. What's an unsexy space? Like an enterprise software company that does analytics or something-
Dave: Well, you know we've represented people on financial management. That's something that's very difficult. There's a lot of people who have a very-
Geoff: Very undifferentiated, right? Like, I'm going to manage your 401k versus they're gonna manage your investments. Like, which wealth manager's better? I'm actually curious! Like, what is ... obviously, you know-
Dave: No, no. So what you do in those cases ... And I don't know if you want to hear some things about the thought process that goes behind it but ... The best thing you can do, and this is my advice for anybody who's seeking PR, is to take your story, but also ... It's kinda like taking your attributes but also looking at the rest of the world as to what the world needs. So see what's trending in the media, and then tie your story into that, okay? So I'll give you one example we had. We had an author. She wrote a book about ... She's a grandmother, and she was raising two kids after the parents had left. So it's a grandmother raising kids as opposed to parents raising kids. It was just a fictional story. It was an okay enough story. I don't think she's Dan Patterson. I don't think like the most amazing writer in the world, but I got to give her credit. It was a good book. She mostly worked as a teacher for most of her life, and she wanted to get some publicity for this book. So it's like, "How are we going to do this?" Well, here's the thing. She is a person of color. She's a lady of color in the south, right? And this was right around the time of Ferguson, and all the other riots and all the things that were happening. So what I did was I did the research, and I was like, "How can we tie this into what's going on without looking like we're trying to pander?" That's another thing. You don't want to ... I obviously care deeply about what's going on in world. I don't want to take advantage of-
Geoff: How to be tasteful, right? Just clearly the macro-trend, but let's not ... yeah.
Dave: Yeah! But I thought she could ... She was very bright. She could talk about the conversation from a different perspective. Everybody who was talking about it seemed to be millennials, and here's this grandmother in her 60s and 70s, and she has a completely different perspective. So here's what I came up with. I did the research, and I found out something called the skipped generation. And as it turns out, there's a big phenomenon of people who grandparents are raising kids because the parents often times in the black community it's because somebody went to jail, or there's some financial hardship, or something like that. So we found an issue called the skipped generation where grandparents are raising kids. It happens about twice as often in minority communities as it happens in white communities, but it does happen in white communities, so it was a mass appeal with a minority focus. It's basically a perfect storm of a project, and this happened right around the time when people were finally in America talking about race in a legitimate way, not just a pandering way. They actually wanted to talk about it. So we did this pitch, and it just blew up. We got so many interviews, it was crazy ... so many in one day ... And that's really what you want to do, is find your story and then find what you're tying into, you know? That's actually why I thought you and I would be a great match because the nootropics really ties into what I've been trying to do for so long with the brain. You're like the nutrition, and I'm like the-
Geoff: Technique and the experience, yeah. No, it's interesting. I mean, let's definitely talk more offline. I think we're constantly doing interesting R & D and definitely interesting stuff in the pipeline with us, and obviously with the rebrand, big things are in motion here.
Dave: Yeah, that's the sort of thing because there's a large community of people who are trying to push their limits now, and we got past, I think, the Jackass of the world. I'm talking about the show, not the people ... where people are doing silly stunts. And X Games is still very popular, but it's kind of out of the reach of the average person. Mental games are making a huge raise, and we think that this will become the biggest ... our league is really showing the biggest growth in college campuses. So any college campus-
Geoff: You see eSports. You see video games becoming massive, right? You see like ... one of my friends started as a franchise owner in the Overwatch league. I don't know if you're following that-
Dave: Yeah, yeah.
Geoff: So there are literally-
Dave: There's also things like speed cubing and the mental math stuff that they you demonstrated. There's a big world of bio-hacking, brain hacking, life hacking. People want to push limits because we know that there's these little tricks, and for some reason they're not really taught in school. They're something that you've got to seek out yourself. So if you're the one person who find these techniques, you can do some really amazing stuff in front of everybody else. You can shine! That's what I found about memory techniques.
Geoff: That's interesting. Like yeah, as we wrap up here, what other crazy projects are you putting your big brain towards? I mean, you're building robots. You have your PR business. You have other ... It sounds like you're helping run this mental sports thing-
Dave: That's the real main thing for-
Geoff: Name-drop all the crazy things that you're up to!
Dave: Well, it's actually those three things. The memory business I want to continue going. I speak at a lot of conferences. I speak to salespeople a lot to teach them how to remember the names of their customers and make more money, so I'm a keynote speaker, and that's a lot of fun. But I really wanted to give back, I wanted to give to students and the memory tournaments ... You can find it at memorytournaments.com. Very simple. Memorytournaments.com. We are the only official game in America for memory competitions. We're officially sanctioned by the top international governing bodies for memory. The Skillcon 2017 is actually happening December 15th to 17th, so you can actually sign up for it on our website, memorytournaments.com, and that, I'm really trying to get to schools in America. I'm really trying to get to that next level in Canada. So what we're trying to do ... the next big thing we're doing in there is trying to get parents and teachers to join advisory boards to tell us what they want in a competition in their schools. So we want to get to every school in America, so if you know any teachers or anybody who listens to this podcast that wants to join an advisory board ... You could be in the middle of nowhere. I don't care. We're going to send you a box of stuff so that you can run a memory competition at your school. It's all free of charge. It's just our way of giving back.
Geoff: That's awesome. Hey, thanks so much for being on our program!
Dave: Well, thank you very much for having me! I love a thinking podcast! I'm just jealous that I didn't think of this first!
Dave: Thank you very much!
Geoff: Awesome! It's fun to chat with Dave. Definitely an interesting story. I like how he pivoted from his, you know, being deficient essentially in cognition and memory, and turning that into a strength, and flipping that into an entrepreneurial career. Great guy. Super dynamic. Sounds like he has a bunch of interesting services that may be able to help out your efforts to grow a business or improve your self. Check him out as always. Love your feedback. Love your questions. Find us on Apple, iTunes. Find us on YouTube, SoundCloud, Google Play. Cheers, and see you next week! Bye!
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