We’ve all been there: you’re at a business conference or a dinner. You get introduced to a handful of people, you introduce yourself, you hear their names, and within two minutes, you completely forget all of them.
One person who hasn’t had this problem for years is Chester Santos. Chester won the US Memory Championship over a decade ago and has spent the last 15 years training individuals, business owners, and executives how to use simple tips and strategies to remember names, information, and even entire presentations without notes. You don’t need any innate talent for memorization to be great at it – you simply need to spend a little bit of time training this muscle.
Today, Chester joins the podcast to share and demonstrate tactics you can use right now to improve your mind and your memory.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
[00:00:00] Andrew Rafal: Hey, listeners, we’ve all been there. You’re at a business conference, at a dinner, you get introduced to a handful of people, you introduce yourself, you hear their name, and then within two minutes, you completely forget all of their names. It’s happened to me. Sure, it’s happened to you. And that’s why today’s show is so important. I’m so pleased to introduce you all to Chester Santos. He is known as the international man of memory. Having won the US Memory Championship over a decade ago and has spent the last 15 years training individuals and business owners and executives on how we can use simple tips and strategies to remember, remember people’s names, remember a strand of words, remember your presentation with no notes. It doesn’t mean you have to be born with it. There are certain things you can do that can help train this important muscle. And it doesn’t mean we have to spend hours and hours and hours.
In fact, Chester spends three minutes with me going through a simple tactic for me to memorize 15 random words. And guess what? I’m able to not only do it, I’m able to reverse it and do it backwards. Pretty incredible stuff. So, I think you’re all going to love today’s show. Lots of good stuff in the show notes and without further ado, my episode with Chester Santos on improving your mind and your memory.
[00:01:27] Andrew Rafal: Welcome back to another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. And today I am super excited to introduce you all to Chester Santos. Chester, how are you today?
[00:01:37] Chester Santos: I’m doing good. Thank you so much for having me on the show, Andrew.
[00:01:42] Andrew Rafal: Wonderful. In today’s show, I think, listeners, it’s going to be great for all of us. I’m specifically interested in how to better utilize my memory. And I think, Chester, that’s one thing that a lot of us as we age, we focus on the physical, we focus on taking care of ourselves and eating better, but one of the things we don’t do is focus on one of our biggest muscles, which is our mind, and our memory. And so, today what we’re going to be able to learn from you are ways, tips, and strategies to better formulate the memory to help us in all aspects, not just personal, but also business. So, really, really excited, listeners, for you to meet Chester.
So, when you think back to your childhood and I think about memory, is it something, you know, a lot of people are like, “Listen, I just can’t remember things.” Do you think it’s something that innately it’s part of us or can we learn and teach ourselves to have a better memory?
[00:02:49] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, definitely, everyone is born with their natural inclinations toward certain areas. Some people are naturally better with music maybe than math. For others, it’s the opposite. I wasn’t that good necessarily, to begin with, in sports. The great news is that in terms of memory, no matter where you are at, as of today, you can dramatically improve your memory with just the right techniques and a little bit of fun, training, and practice. Anyone is capable of developing a powerful memory. And these memory skills will benefit you in many different areas of your career. They’ll be useful in your personal life and if you have any kids or grandkids in school, the types of techniques that we’ll talk about today will be incredibly useful for them as well.
[00:03:45] Andrew Rafal: And when you were growing up as a child, did you know at that point that you had a better memory than your friends and your peers?
[00:03:52] Chester Santos: Well, in terms of memory, I often got the comment from people, people would say to me, “Wow, you have a really good memory.” So, having got that comment a lot from people when I was flipping channels one night and I happen to catch a segment on ABC’s 2020 about the United States Memory Championship, it sparked my interest because people had been saying that I had a good memory. But when I looked into what the best people in the country were scoring in the various events, memorizing hundreds of digits, hundreds of names, decks of playing cards, and just minutes, I quickly found out that although I might have been above average, to begin with, I was nowhere near that level. So, that’s when I started doing a lot of research into, “Okay. What are ways as to how people can really improve their memory?” I found what seemed to be working best for me personally stuck to training myself in that subset of techniques until eventually, I did manage to win the United States Memory Championship. And since then, I’ve been training other people around the world in techniques that can benefit them a lot in their lives.
[00:05:02] Andrew Rafal: And in this memory championship, the US that you won, how many contestants are there in a normal year?
[00:05:08] Chester Santos: Yeah. It really depends on the particular year. When I competed, there was around 100 or so. I think there’s around 100 or so every year with some slight variation. So, not many competitors but the specific amount of competitors in our particular year won’t really affect the top scores too much. So, basically, if you can’t memorize a deck of cards in five minutes or less, you probably wouldn’t even show up to the United States Memory Championship because five minutes would just be about an average score. The top people in the country nowadays can memorize a deck of cards in even less than 30 seconds. When I was competing, the top scores were probably around under 90 seconds. So, although there’s variation in the number of competitors every year, the top scores it’s quite intense every single year.
[00:06:14] Andrew Rafal: I can imagine. And those of the listeners that, you know, I saw a clip that you were on CNN a couple of years ago. And so, with this deck of cards, let’s visually walk somebody through there what you did at CNN as well as when you were in the championship with this deck of cards. So, what does that look like? They give you a deck of cards and what happens?
[00:06:38] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, there are a couple of events related to playing cards, but the one that people seem to enjoy the most from the USA Memory Championship is the fastest time to memorize a single deck of cards. They’ll give you a deck of cards. You memorize it. When you’re done, you indicate that you finished memorizing it. They will stop the clock. Again, back when I was competing less than 90 seconds was a good time. Now, it’s even less than 30 seconds. After that’s done, they’ll give you a second deck that’s brand new so it’s a new deck order, and you have a maximum of five minutes to arrange that second deck from memory into the same order as the first deck you memorized. They will then set the two decks side by side, flip all the cards to make sure that all of the cards match. So, that’s the USA Memory Championship on CNN.
For that clip that you may have seen on my website, I had to memorize a half deck of cards just during the commercial break. So, I only had about two minutes to do it. And then when they came back live on the air, I had to recite that perfectly from memory. So, there was a lot of pressure on me but luckily, I did manage to get them all correct there on CNN.
[00:08:01] Andrew Rafal: I vouch for that. He did it, listeners. The other thing is I was doing some research on you. I saw your TEDx talk in I believe it was San Francisco or Oakland. And I mean, that was incredible. So, listeners, imagine he gets up and I think before you went on stage you had just introduced yourself to maybe what, 50, 60, 70 people just basically, “Hi. My name is Chester,” and you got their name?
[00:08:24] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, for that audience, I named about 110 people in that audience. My record is 215. So, what I’ll do is before I begin a presentation, I will walk around and meet people in the audience and then my opening is I’ll have everyone stand up, cover up their name tag, if it’s at a conference, for instance, and then I will name the people that I met. So, it seems like a pretty extraordinary feat at first, but it’s just the right training and practice and we can get into some tips for names later on today to help people in their career, personal life, after we hit on some of the general principles to memory improvement.
[00:09:13] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. That would be great because I think for me, there’s nothing worse than going to a conference or just going out and meeting friends, family member, spouse, and then immediately you forget. Then you get that fear of what if I have to introduce him to my spouse, and it becomes this perplex of, “Oh boy.” So, I think learning people’s names or how to remember the names is something that a lot of us strive for and it can be so helpful in so many aspects. So, when we think about the main principles for a powerful memory, let’s walk through that in some of the things that you do as you train people all over the world, and how we can start taking the framework back and say what can we do to better our mind?
[00:09:59] Chester Santos: Yes, Andrew. So, there are three main principles that you will always want to keep in mind no matter what specific memory technique you end up using, and no matter the information type that you’re trying to commit to memory. Those three principles are, number one, visualization. So, try to take whatever it is that you might be trying to remember and turn it in some way into a visual, something that you can picture in your mind. We tend to be really good at remembering things that we see. An example that I like to give in my presentations around the world is a situation that we have all experienced at some point in our life where we will see someone that we could have met years ago. We may have met that person years in the past, oftentimes right away. We remember their face. We know that we’ve met them somewhere before, but we can’t seem to remember their name. So, we remember the face but not the name.
A second example, let’s say you go to a party. You’re meeting a lot of new people at this party. Two weeks after it’s over, you’re talking to one of your friends that was there with you and your friend described someone to you from the party. Your friend says, “Hey, Andrew, remember that attorney that we met a couple of weeks ago at the party? He’s also a member of the golf club.” As your friend’s going through that description, a lot of times, right away, you can picture who your friend is describing. Your friend can obviously picture who they’re describing. But neither one of you can manage to remember what the person’s name was. That is another example. You’re able to remember what they looked like because you actually saw their face with your eyes, right? It was recorded into your visual memory. But you never saw the name. It’s something much more abstract to the brain. So, one way that you can get better at remembering names is to turn names into powerful visual.
[00:11:59] Chester Santos: So, for the name, Mike, I might visualize a microphone. For the name Alice, sometimes I would picture a white rabbit because that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. There are various ways as to how you can come up with a visual for a name. I’ll get into names in more detail later on but for now, what I wanted to introduce with those examples is just this idea of we tend to be very good at remembering things that we see, so if you can turn the information in some way into a visual. Second principle to keep in mind is as you can, try to involve additional senses from there because as you do that, what you’re doing is you’re activating more and more areas of your brain, and you’re building more and more connections in your mind to the information, making it easier to retrieve it later. So, I actually starred at one point in an episode of PBS’s NOVA Science. The episode that I starred in was titled, How Smart Can We Get?
Or if people want to check it out later, they can just google Chester Santos, that’s me, and PBS. If people do take a look at the episode, they’ll see me performing what might seem at first some crazy memory feats, and then they had me train David Pogue, who people might also know from the New York Times and also CBS News. He’s a correspondent for the tech industry. After just a little bit of training, he was able to perform some pretty cool memory feats on the show. After that, they had some brain scientists, neuroscientists come on, explain for viewers at home, “Okay. How in the world did Chester do that? How did David Pogue do that with just a little bit of training?” and these brain scientists confirmed that it’s because with these memory techniques that I’ve mastered over the years, and we’ll talk a little bit about today during the interview, what’s happening is you’re recruiting extra areas of your brain to help you, so areas of the brain that most people would never involve with these techniques.
[00:13:58] Chester Santos: You’re recruiting more of the brain to help and part of this is learning to utilize additional senses. So, the more senses you involve in the encoding process, the more of your brains being used, the more connections you’re making in your mind to the information, all of a sudden, it becomes so much easier to remember things. So, that was the second principle, more senses. Third and final thing to keep in mind is while you are seeing and experiencing all of this in your mind, just make an effort to make it crazy, unusual, extraordinary in some way because we tend to remember things with putting forth little to no effort at all. We tend to remember things that are weird, right, that are unusual. If Andrew right now wherever you’re at recording this, wherever your listeners might be, if an elephant suddenly crashed into the room right now and started to spray water all over the place, if that actually happened right now, you would probably remember that for the rest of your life.
And always tell that story, “You’re never going to believe this. I was interviewing a memory guy for my podcast and an elephant just crashed in the room.” It might be stuck in your mind forever without you even trying to commit it to memory. Scientists don’t fully understand how that works in the brain, even as of today, how in one instant something will go into long-term memory and stay there forever. But although it isn’t fully understood, just realizing there is that aspect to how human memory works, we can harness it, take advantage of it, and apply it to things that would be very useful to remember, for instance, presentations, facts, figures, processes, procedures, languages, exam material. There’s so many practical applications for that. When you combine those three principles, visualization, additional senses, make it all weird, unusual, it instantly becomes easier to remember just about anything at all.
[00:15:50] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. You bring up a great point there in regards to speaking engagement, presentations. That’s a fear that a lot of people have. It’s just getting up there and am I going to forget content? Or am I going to just read my content? And, Chester, you and I both know reading it versus looking at the audience and knowing it is a completely different ballgame. So, a lot of what we’re going to go through and that’s great the visualization, the senses, and the experience unusual, extraordinary, that can be used guys for your own presentations or when you’re speaking to a room or now, when you’re speaking to a room virtually with Zoom. You’re going to have to connect with them. So, these are great ways in how you can incorporate that. Now, Chester, so I think back to growing up and I can still remember my phone number, right? I still remember a couple of different phone numbers. Technology now, our cell phones. What’s happening? And how is that affecting our mind and our memory? And what are some of the things we need to do to battle that so that we can continue striving for success both personally and professionally?
[00:16:56] Chester Santos: Yes, Andrew. So, you hit on something there that I’d like to mention during some of my presentations depending on the audience, I talk about this dangerous digital dependency that is hitting all of us nowadays. So, we used to be able to remember the phone numbers, right, of so many friends and family members. We could easily dial those from memory. I remember growing up my parents would give me certain emergency numbers that they thought were important for me to know. We all used to be able to do that. But nowadays, if you give someone even one phone number, they feel completely paralyzed. They can’t do it and it’s getting so bad that nowadays there are a lot of people out there that don’t even know their own phone number. It’s a really good example of the use it or lose it principle as it applies to memory. So, we’re becoming very dependent on these devices. What this creates, however, is a tremendous business opportunity.
So, in today’s business world in which the average professional can’t remember much at all, there’s an opportunity to really set yourself apart from other professionals. You will become so much more impressive, so much more memorable to people in business if you can develop your memory skills. If you’re able to give a presentation without notes or at least minimize the amount of notes, people are really going to notice it. When you meet with clients, potential clients, you can better demonstrate your knowledge and your expertise, people really know. It’s more noticeable nowadays. People are going to look at you like, “Wow. You are really an expert in this particular field.” So, there is a tremendous business opportunity here in developing memory skills.
[00:18:48] Andrew Rafal: And most think of the mind as you can only store so much and if you don’t store it the right way, then it becomes this garage just filled with stuff and it’s so hard then to try to piece through to find where that chord you’re looking for is or where that old bicycle is, things of that nature. So, yeah, I mean, I think about Pat. It used to be, okay, we don’t have to remember phone numbers anymore because of cell phones and then it was like passwords. I had to remember all these different passwords. But now with things like LastPass, I don’t even have to remember passwords anymore. So, technology, it’s great but it becomes more of a crutch and less of us having to rely on ourselves and more on the technology which can be an issue in itself.
[00:19:34] Chester Santos: Yes, definitely. In terms of memory, the use it or lose it principle does apply. So, you really want to try to work on it. Although, we do have these devices. If you become 100% dependent on them, you are going to start to lose your memory ability over time and it isn’t good for your overall cognitive health. And again, if you will try to fight that a bit and develop your skills, you’re going to be more memorable to people, much more impressive. I’ve actually been a one-man business now for more than 12 years. I’ve had to hire attorneys. I’ve had to hire tech people, all sorts of different professionals for different projects to help me with my business. And when I meet with someone that I’m considering hiring, if they’re answering a lot of my questions with, yeah, I’ve done some work in that area but I’m going to need to refamiliarize myself, do a little research, get back to you, I personally won’t ever hire that person.
I know I’m a little extreme, given what I do, probably. But on the other hand when I’ve met with people, and my impression was, “Wow. This person seems to really know everything. They are clearly the expert in this particular area,” I’ve actually gone out of my way. I remember what happened a couple of years ago, in particular, it was for social media. I ended up paying way more than I originally budgeted for that particular project because I want to hire the expert. I want to hire the person that I perceive to be the most knowledgeable in that particular field. People have more confidence in you and your abilities when you have a really good memory.
[00:21:21] Andrew Rafal: And before we jump into some of the areas in regards to like the steps to remembering names, I think we’re also going to do a skill test too where you’re going to have a random set of words that we’re going to work through. But speaking of you being a business owner in the show about helping business owners build wealth on purpose, how has COVID affected what you’re doing and how have you pivoted to continue running your business but doing it now in a much different world than it was in February of this year?
[00:21:52] Chester Santos: Yes, really good question. I unfortunately happen to be in an industry that is particularly impacted by the COVID pandemic in that I am mainly an international speaker. So, my calendar was completely wiped out. I am doing my best to, well, one thing, I’m doing a lot of podcasts interviews like this actually, to get my message out there, and also trying to change my presentation to where it works a little bit better, virtually. So, I’m doing my best to pivot but I definitely am as an international speaker, particularly impacted by the pandemic.
[00:22:41] Andrew Rafal: The International Man of Memory, which is a great branding and then you tie in the fedora and it’s like can’t forget you. You know, those words that you preach out there, you’re living it your day-to-day and your brand. So, I just wanted to give you some kudos there. You’re doing great.
[00:22:57] Chester Santos: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that so much. It’s part of the brand. I had a branding team that hired actually even a stylist to come up with the International Man of Memory look. So, I’m glad that it’s working and helping me to be more memorable to people.
[00:23:10] Andrew Rafal: How many fedoras do you have in your closet right now?
[00:23:15] Chester Santos: I have 25 plus.
[00:23:21] Andrew Rafal: Interesting. Love it. That’s great. So, one question too, like I see Jeopardy and you got certain individuals that just crush it on Jeopardy. Do they have a photographic memory? Are they just able to absorb so much information more than the normal person? Is that what makes somebody good at Jeopardy and you think you would be a good contestant?
[00:23:41] Chester Santos: So, one thing, there actually is no such thing as a photographic memory, at least not how it’s been portrayed to us in movies like Goodwill Hunting and A Beautiful Mind, almost like a superpower it’s depicted in movies. But we just apply that term, photographic memory, to anyone that has a really good memory. There’s been a lot of research done to prove that it isn’t truly photographic. I’ll get into that later if you’re interested at all the details on that. But in terms of Jeopardy, I actually was in a study with some Jeopardy champions. So, Washington University in St. Louis was doing research on my brain, the brains of other memory champions, and also Jeopardy champions. In theory, I could do really well at it, but I would have to just prepare and use the skills to commit to memory a lot of information.
I think some of the Jeopardy champions probably are just really good in terms of their ability to store information, but some of them may also have spent some time working with these types of memory techniques that we’ll talk about today.
[00:24:54] Andrew Rafal: And you talk about training. For you, it’s something no matter if you have the skill set you do or you’re trying to help teach individuals like me and other business owners and individuals, but it’s about like consistency, right? So, like training just like you’ve physically trained for a marathon. What can the novice person do in regards to jumping on and taking that first step in bettering their memory and looking at it as a training a muscle?
[00:25:21] Chester Santos: Yes. So, I really hope to make it very clear today to your listeners that, again, anyone is really capable of developing powerful memory skills. You just need to put in the training and practice with the right techniques. And it is really about just being consistent over time. So, even just 15 minutes, really, a week is going to make a huge difference as long as you commit to doing that 15 minutes every single week. If you do that, eventually you’re going to develop some really powerful new skills.
[00:26:00] Andrew Rafal: So, let’s talk about then some of those things that we can do committing on a beginner’s basis here. What do you teach when you’re doing your programs? The audience, how do you get them on board and start feeling good about what they can do to improve?
[00:26:16] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, we talked about the three main principles, first visualization, additional senses from there, and using your creativity and imagination to make it all strange, unusual. I then would next like to have people put those principles into practice with a specific technique. The easiest thing to start out with is memorizing a random list of words. So, we’ll do that quickly. And then I’ll explain how such a simple exercise actually has many different business applications. So, Andrew, I’m going to have you try to commit to memory very quickly here a really long, random list of words and your listeners can follow along. The word list is going to be monkey, iron, rope, kite house, paper, shoe, worm, envelope, pencil, river, rock, tree, cheese, and dollar.
That is list of words. Now, when I have live audiences in front of me and I recite that list of words, people in the audience often look at me as if I’m a little bit crazy. They’re looking at me as if you know, there’s no way they would be able to commit that to memory unless I give them a lot of time to do it. But in fact, you, Andrew, will have this down and your listeners as well in just about three minutes. That’s it, just three minutes of time working with this and with no further review. Even next week, two weeks from now, you’ll still remember the words, forwards, and backwards. How you’ll do this just listen to what I described to you, see an experience happening in your mind as best you can. That’s it. Just relax and have fun with it.
[00:28:00] Andrew Rafal: No pressure, everybody. No pressure.
[00:28:04] Chester Santos: So, the first word was monkey. I want for you to just visualize a monkey just see this monkey dancing around in your mind. It’s making monkey noises, whatever a monkey would sound like. I’m working on that monkey impression. But the point here is to really see and hear the monkey, right? That was the first word. The monkey now picks up a gigantic iron. And the iron is pretty heavy so it starts to fall. A rope then attaches itself to the iron. So, you have the monkey dancing around with this giant iron, and a rope attaches itself to it, maybe even feel the rope, maybe it feels sort of rough. You look up the rope and you see that the other end of the rope is attached to a kite. The kites flying around in the air. Maybe you reach up and try and touch it. Then try and touch that kite in your mind.
The kite now crashes in the side of a house, crashes into the side of a house. Picture that house as best you can. You notice now that the house is totally covered in paper. Totally covered in paper, just visualize that. Out of nowhere, a shoe appears and it starts to walk all over the paper. Maybe it’s messing it up. As it’s walking there, that shoe, the shoe smells pretty badly so you decide to investigate and see why you look inside of the shoe and you find a little worm crawling around, really see that smelly worm. The worm jumps out of the shoe and into an envelope. Maybe it’s going to mail itself or something, I don’t know. Envelope was next. A pencil appears out of thin air. Starts to write all over the envelope. Maybe it’s addressing it, that pencil.
[00:30:02] Chester Santos: The pencil now jumps into a river and there’s a huge splash for some reason when it hits the river. The river you notice is crashing into a giant rock. That rock now flies out of the river crashes into a tree. This tree is growing cheese. You probably haven’t seen a tree like that before. This one’s growing cheese and out of each piece of cheese shoots $1. The last word was dollar. Now, I’m going to go through this again very quickly in about 30 seconds. Your job at this point is to simply replay through this little story that you’ve created in your mind. So, we had a monkey there. The monkey was dancing around with what it was an iron what attached itself it was a rope. The other end of the rope was attached to what it was a kite. What did the kite crash into? It was a house. What was the house covered in? It was paper.
What was walking on that paper? It was a shoe. What was crawling in the shoe? It was a worm. The worm then jumped into what? It was an envelope. What wrote on it? It was a pencil. The pencil then jumped into what? It was a river. The river was crashing into the rock. That rock flew into a tree. What was it growing? It was growing cheese. And what came out? It was $1. So, now you should be able to pretty easily recall the entire random list of words by simply going through the story in your mind. Each major object that you see will give you the next word. Andrew, if you’re up for it, give it a try and then your listeners can see if they can follow along.
[00:31:52] Andrew Rafal: Okay. Got the eyes closed. Visualization, here we go. We’ve got a monkey holding an iron, rope, kite, into a house made of paper. Shoe with worm. Envelope. Pencil. River hits a rock into a tree, cheese, dollar.
[00:32:28] Chester Santos: 100% correct. Great job under pressure. Under a little bit of pressure there. Andrew, really great job. Are you up for trying it backwards? You don’t have to do it but…
[00:32:38] Andrew Rafal: Okay. Yes, I’m up for it all. Let’s do it. Alright, so backwards. I’m thinking of it’s kind of like this visual cartoon. Alright. So, we’ve got a got dollar. We’ve got cheese tree. There’s a rock, river, pencil into the on envelope, worm, shoe, paper, kite.
[00:33:14] Chester Santos: So, it should be a house.
[00:33:15] Andrew Rafal: House and then into kite, rope, iron, monkey.
[00:33:21] Chester Santos: Great job. Excellent job there even backwards under pressure. I put you on the spot. So, that technique there is called the story method. The story method is just one of many techniques that memory champions like myself would use to pull off what at first might seem like extraordinary feats of memory. So, they’ve had me on a lot of different TV shows over the years, Science Channel, Discovery Channel, a bunch of different news programs. They’ll have me come on and perform what seemed like memory feats and then give tips for viewers at home as to how they can improve their own memory ability. But there’s really nothing different about my brain at all compared to everyone else’s. I’ve just learned these types of techniques that are very powerful and effective. I’ve put in a little bit of training and practice. This story method, those images could represent key points of a presentation.
Maybe you are meeting with a client or potential client and you want to be able to say, “I found out these 5, 10 key things about your company. In my research, here are 5, 10 key things as far as advantages that your company offers over your competitors.” When you can do little things like this, demonstrate that you really know that person, really know that person’s business, this is very noticeable to people in today’s business world. It’s really going to set you apart, make you much more impressive.
[00:34:58] Andrew Rafal: Right. And if you’re in the service industry like my firm, Bayntree Wealth Advisors, teaching the advisors to deepen the relationship with the client and knowing those things without having to look at the piece of paper, knowing who their family is, knowing their kids’ names, maybe who their kids are married to, the grandkids, where they went to college, those type of things, it’s something that you can’t fake it but if you can learn these techniques so that you can build it all together, I think that’s so powerful. And on to that, so we talked a little bit in the beginning about what a lot of people’s fear besides speaking in front of people, it’s forgetting their name. I mean, first, before we go into like strategies on how to combat this, why do you think we’re all so poor at remembering someone’s name that we just meet?
[00:35:47] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, there are a couple of things going on there. One is, again, we’re much better at remembering things that we see. So, it’s pretty common for people to remember faces but not the name. So, that’s one issue. So, you’re going to become automatically much better once you turn the names into visuals as I briefly got into earlier. Another thing is just simply, when we’re introduced to someone, a lot of times our mind is all over the place, right? We’re thinking about all sorts of other things. We don’t pay much attention, if any, to the name at all. So, there are some things we can do to counteract that, though.
[00:36:30] Andrew Rafal: So, you’re saying most people are self-absorbed then. Is that the problem?
[00:36:35] Chester Santos: Well, I don’t know, necessarily, if that’s what it is but it can be. It definitely can be. You’re thinking about things related to yourself or your business. Maybe if this was at a conference or networking, business networking events, but really the mind tends to wander off and we just don’t pay enough attention to the name.
[00:37:00] Andrew Rafal: Right. And you hear about the stories of great leaders. I’ve remembered George Bush II. He was great at remembering people’s names. He would remember your name and make it seem like when somebody remembers that, they take an active interest in you and it goes a long way. So, if you’re a business owner, if you’re leading a company, knowing about your employees and being able to remember those types of things will just build in that confidence that they’re going to be there for you. So, all these things can be done. It can be done in your personal life too so you don’t forget your wife’s birthday, or important dates, anniversaries, things like that. So, let’s go through this four-step process that you have in regards to helping to remember somebody that you meet, whether it be a friend or at a conference or a business associate.
[00:37:54] Chester Santos: Yes, Andrew. So, I’ll get into the four steps. I want to quickly emphasize that just a little bit more right before I get into the four steps, the incredible importance in business as far as remembering names because I think some people don’t necessarily realize the incredible impact. So, I like to quote the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s one of the most popular business and personal success related books ever written. In that book, it was written that the sweetest sound to a person in any language is the sound of their own name, and also that everyone’s favorite subject is themself. So, in fact, by remembering people’s names and things about them, it helps you to build better business personal relationships. You hit on one profession that is very good at this, politicians, because they’re clear on how it helps to make you more popular, more likable.
I’ve had some politicians as clients of mine for one-on-one private coaching over the years. When a politician gets into a fundraiser, for instance, they would love ahead of time to know the name of everyone there, their spouse’s name, things they like so they know what topics might be beneficial to bring up in conversation, things they don’t like so they know what topics maybe to avoid in conversation. Politicians are really clear on how this helps to make you more popular, more likable. When you think about the most popular people that are involved in various organizations that you might be involved with, you’re going to notice that the most popular people tend to know everyone, right? They know everyone’s name. They know their kid’s name. They know things about them, right? This definitely increases your likability factor, and your likability factor is going to have a huge impact on your success in business.
[00:39:49] Chester Santos: Now, on the opposite end, if you’re not remembering people’s names, this can be very detrimental to both business personal relationships. I like to talk about this. This was brought to my attention a few years back by someone in one of my audiences and it’s a true story. I did the research later to confirm. People from your audience can also look this up. It’s still online in an Inc.com article. I’m not sure if you have heard the story but one of the reasons why Steph Curry from the Warriors, it’s a popular basketball team near where I live in San Francisco area, Steph Curry did not sign back on with Nike for sponsorship in large part because at multiple meetings with Nike executives, they kept calling him by the wrong name.
I think they were calling him by a similar name. It was close but they kept getting his name wrong. His father is quoted in the article saying, “You know, we let this slide a couple of times,” but the fact that these executives could not make that adjustment, they really did not appreciate that fact that showing that they only saw dollar signs, basically, when they were talking with him, these Nike executives, they didn’t care about him as a person. As a result, he ended up signing on instead with Under Armour and the Inc.com article states that this can mean many billions of dollars, many billions of dollars difference in market cap for Under Armour. So, that’s a bit of an extreme example, maybe, but sometimes billions of dollars are at stake with something as simple as not getting your client’s name correct. We all, I think, instinctively know that for our VIP clients, we really need to give them that VIP service and that involves at a minimum, knowing their names.
[00:41:57] Andrew Rafal: Most definitely. I had not heard that. That’s interesting. But it totally makes sense. And it doesn’t have to be like you said, this caliber of a Steph Curry. You know, if a client comes into our office, we have this beautiful TV that has their name put on it when they come in. And if we put the wrong name on there, we’re dead in the water, right? So, it’s just those little things. Those little things can have a powerful effect, a powerful domino effect.
[00:42:23] Chester Santos: Definitely. So, I just want to emphasize that a bit more. Now, let me give the four steps that I recommend that really will help anyone immediately. This won’t even take much practice at home and then I’ll talk a little bit more about the visual side which will take practice but anyone can do it. So, step number one, from this day forward, whenever you are introduced to someone, just get into the habit of immediately repeating their name. So, if someone introduces themselves at a conference, “Hi. I’m John,” you would just immediately say, “Nice to meet you, John,” or, “Pleased to meet you, John.” It seems probably pretty obvious but as I mentioned, a lot of times we don’t pay any attention to the name and that first step forces you to pay attention for at least one second. That’s the only way you could repeat the person’s name back to them. So, that’s step one. Start it today. Eventually, it’s going to become a habit. You’ll find you’re automatically doing it.
Step number two. Early on in your interaction with the person, ask them a simple question using their name. So, “John, how do you know Chester?” or, “John, how long have you been with Bayntree?” You know, just one question I want to clarify, I don’t mean use the name over and over again to where it starts to seem a little bit weird. Maybe really just using the name once is enough to reinforce it in your mind. Step three, take a few seconds or less to think of a connection between the person’s name and really anything at all that you already know. So, John, maybe it makes you think of John Lennon. It could be a character from a TV show or movie that you like that has that name. It could be simply you have a friend or family member that has the same name but really thinking of a connection between the name and literally anything at all that you already know is really going to help the name stick so much better in your mind.
[00:44:17] Chester Santos: And the fourth and final step, before you leave the party, the meeting, whatever type of function it might be, just try to say goodbye to people actually using their names. That’s going to go a long way toward helping you remember more of those names the next time you see those people. So, that’s it for the four steps. I really believe that all of your listeners can put that into practice right after this interview. You can then try to play around more with the visuals that I talked about, like Mike. A microphone for the name Mike. A white rabbit for the name Alice. You might also want to connect that visual representation of the name to something unique about the person’s look. That’s kind of the next level that’s going to make that technique work even better. The idea is when you meet someone, you just ask yourself, “Okay, what is noticeable to me? Personally, what do I notice about this person’s look?” Maybe they have really cool looking hair.
So, if that person is Mike, you might imagine that the microphone is getting tangled up in his hair. So, with that visual in your mind, the next time you see the person, all you have to do is ask yourself, “What did I notice about their look?” and you’re very likely to notice what was noticeable to you before, the image of the microphone would come back to you, remind you that the name is Mike. It sounds a little bit weird maybe but trust me, it’s very powerful. It’s very effective. That’s how I name hundreds of people very quickly in the audience at presentations. It’s just going to take a little bit of practice.
[00:45:59] Andrew Rafal: Let me ask you this and, yeah, that was incredible watching you on that TEDx. But going back to today’s world, would you have been able to do that in a room meeting all those people that were ultimately wearing a mask? How does that help? How does that make this more difficult for you as you’re trying to place the visual with the person if you’re trying to meet 100 people, and everyone is masked up?
[00:46:27] Chester Santos: Oh, very good question. You know, I hadn’t thought about that, Andrew. I’m actually glad you brought that to my attention because it might be when conferences and corporate events do eventually come back and I end up back on the circuit giving these presentations around the world, it might be that they’re wearing masks though, so I didn’t think about that. It will definitely be more difficult because I’ve really trained myself to notice particular facial features on people. I guess in the case of, you know, if I was using their hair as in the Mike example, it wouldn’t matter but I’m going to say it’s definitely going to be more difficult for me with people wearing masks. So, I’m going to need to make that adjustment for sure.
[00:47:11] Andrew Rafal: Maybe focus a little bit on the eyebrows. You’re going to have to look at the ears. It’s going to definitely be, if anybody can figure it out, you can, but I think you definitely have to start thinking that that may be the case, and then that will show your mastery of the memory even that much more when you can name 100 people with masks on. Well, these are great tips though because, ultimately, I think it comes down to the visual, like just thinking back like I’ll probably always remember how many random words were that? Was that like 13, 14 words that we did earlier today?
[00:47:43] Chester Santos: It actually ended up being 15 random words very quickly that you memorize in about three minutes forwards and backwards and really, even a couple of weeks from now, you’ll still know them without even having to review them. I get people emailing me many months later wanting to demonstrate, “I can’t believe that I still know all those words. I attended your presentation months ago.” So, what’s happening is you’re using a lot of the brain to encode the information into your memory without realizing. And again, we covered in a short interview like this random words, but this is going to apply to really anything at all. They had me over at Harvard University to help their graduate students. Even very complex types of information can be tackled with these sorts of techniques.
[00:48:30] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. Just that visual playing it out like a cartoon in my head, I know that that’s something that I’m going to be able to take from today and be able to use that in all aspects. So, that’s very, very powerful. So, what’s next for you? I know you’ve written a couple of books. What’s the next five years looks like for Chester?
[00:48:49] Chester Santos: Yes. So, well, I’m really transitioning more now due to how I need to change my business more to online training. So, I created recently an entire online training portal. MemorySchool.net is the URL. I would visualize a giant fishing net maybe so people remember that it’s dot net. So, it’s MemorySchool.net. And it’s basically the equivalent of I had been doing a one-day memory training workshop in San Francisco for 12 plus years. It’s the equivalent of that one-day workshop, but you’re learning from me via high definition videos. So, interactive video instruction. There’s a core training program equivalent to the workshop. There’s an entire advanced training program, which I hadn’t even offered before and then there’s ongoing training every month so people can check out MemorySchool.net for that, but I’m focused more on how to change my business and reach people online.
[00:49:52] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. It’s causing all of us to pivot for many of us, and it sounds like you’re evolving the business too that this may become a scenario where we look back and say, “Wow, I was able to pivot and turn my business into something else and now not having to get on a plane and travel all over the country.” I mean, normally, how many weeks were you traveling a year?
[00:50:16] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, I’m based in San Francisco, California, but I was traveling at least 70% of the year actually. So, I was always on a plane. So, yeah, life is quite different for me right now.
[00:50:28] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. I was noticing on your Instagram, though, you’re doing a little bit of traveling, going to various places, and doing some tips at each of these locations.
[00:50:39] Chester Santos: Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. I am continuing with that special video series. Some of those you’re seeing may have been pre-recorded because I had recorded so many videos in various countries around the world and just upload one per week. Some are pre-recorded but I am continuing to travel where they do allow Americans. It’s very limited, the countries, but I’ll visit famous locations around the world. And each week post how in some way that particular location relates to memory and/or the brain. So, for instance, I was in Greece talking about how the ancient Greeks use something called the method of loci and the Roman room method to give speeches hours in length from memory, without notes, things like that. So, I kind of relate a memory-related nugget to the location around the world. I think people would find it interesting if they check it out. And that’s on Instagram. I’m Chester J. Santos on Instagram.
[00:51:51] Andrew Rafal: Perfect. And that will all be in the show notes as well, listeners. I think on the MemorySchool.net if as a listener if you utilize the coupon code, Bayntree, you’ll be able to get a special discount on that as well.
[00:52:05] Chester Santos: Yeah. So, there is normally a $200 enrollment fee to get started. Because you get initial access to all of those, the core and advanced training, the workshop ticket is $400 by itself and you’re getting that equivalent training. So, normally a $200 enrollment fee after that it’s just $40 per month for ongoing access and continued training but with code, Bayntree, I set it up for 50 uses. I don’t know how many people from your audience would be interested but the first 50 anyway to use it, if they enter in Bayntree coupon code, it should zero out that enrollment.
[00:52:51] Andrew Rafal: And this is good for whether you’re in a business world or even a retiree, you would look at this in saying we can all improve our minds and get ourselves to a better place?
[00:53:01] Chester Santos: It is really excellent for business professionals, executives. If you’re worried about your memory, as you’re getting older, you want to get in that brain exercise. It’s good for those people. And also, again, if you have any kids or grandkids in school, this will be hugely beneficial for them as well.
[00:53:19] Andrew Rafal: Excellent. Well, I know we covered a lot. We probably could go on for another hour but this has been spectacular. I’ve already learned quite a few tips that I’m going to take from today. My next thing I’m going to go, it’s been forever, I’m going to go try to remember, memorize all the presidents in order and then backwards using your strategies and I’ll get back to you only if I was able to do that. If I didn’t, you won’t hear from me, but I appreciate it. This has been fantastic. You’re doing great work and appreciate you taking the time helping our listeners both business owners and individuals get on the road to improving their memory and improving their mind.
[00:54:00] Chester Santos: Thank you so much again for having me, Andrew. I appreciate it.
[00:54:02] Andrew Rafal: Thanks again, Chester. And, listeners, stay tuned for another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond later this month. Happy planning, everybody.