"The Everest of Memorization Tests"

You know you're in trouble when step 1 is "Memorize the first 10,000 digits of Pi: forwards, backwards, and out of order."

That's what I've spent the last few weeks doing. Or, as my wonderful wife Beth said, "You realize that attempting to do that in only a few weeks is insane, right?" Yes dear...but what a challenge.

Several weeks ago my friend Nelson Dellis, a fellow memory athlete, suggested we not only both attempt to break a world record in memory, but we do it against each other - to encourage each other and compete to see who could break the record by the most (if it was even possible to break the record). 

Making it trickier: he wanted to do it on September 21st, World Alzheimer's day, to bring awareness to the disease and educate people about it. We also are working to help scientists who are researching memory in order to eventually find a cure.

Like a good friend (and an idiot), I said yes. 

Who cares that I'd have to fly to San Diego right after doing a big keynote address Tuesday morning in Philadelphia? No problem.

The challenge: memorize the first 10,000 digits of Pi in 5-digit segments. For the record, judges will call out random 5-digit segments from anywhere in the first 10,000 digits, always from different thousands. In other words, the first segment may come from the 6,000-7,000 bunch, the second segment from the 1,000-2,000 bunch, etc. 

We will have to know Pi well enough that we can tell the judge the five digit segment prior and following the one they've given us. Randomly, no hints, no context. 

I memorize using pictures and storing the information in a series of locations (the rooms in my house, my town, nearby towns, etc.) The way it works out, it's 2,000 pictures. Each picture contains the five digits of a segment. 

Imagine someone giving you 2,000 pictures you've never seen before, in order from 1-2,000. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to memorize those pictures well enough that you know the order perfectly, even out of context.

Making it more troublesome: imagine some of those pictures are really, really similar. For example, a lion tamer sledding down a hill and running over a bunny, and Joey from friends sledding down another hill, running over another bunny. AND a soldier sledding down another hill running over a bunny. And Joey from friends sledding down yet a different hill running over a clown (sorry, Barry Lubin/Grandma!). 

(This paragraph for memory geeks only: I have a PAO system, 2-2-2, and have resisted developing a 3-digit system. Since the challenge involves memorizing Pi in 5-digit segments, this would be the perfect motivator to do a three digit system and do P-O.)

I wasted time trying to work out a new system for memorizing this much data, eventually throwing it out when it became apparent that the new system would take too long to develop.

I was cruising along pretty well, memorizing 1,000 and reviewing every other day, when we had first a small family emergency, then a huge family emergency where I was unable to memorize for many days. Family definitely comes first, and thankfully the situation has worked itself out and ended well (whew!). But it set me back by almost two weeks.

Now I'm sitting in the airport, big gig done, ready to fly to California, and hoping that the past week of cramming has been enough.

My last Pi session with my wife a few days ago was depressing. I remembered many in a row, perfectly and quickly, then would hear a segment and have no idea...it was like I had never even thought of that picture before. I'd ask her to give me clues, the segments before and after, and even that wouldn't help. 

I figure out of the 2,000 pictures, I know 1,800-1,850 really well. That leaves way too many that I don't know well enough. On my drive to my presentation yesterday, I spent five hours listening to the numbers read out, hoping that would help. Now I have a 9 hour trip to San Diego to continue cramming!

More details of the challenge here: http://bradzupp.com/media

Follow us on Facebook Live Wednesday, September 21 starting at noon Pacific, 3pm eastern. We'll each be attempting the record three times, so tune in to watch on Extreme Memory Challenge page. (I'll also try to stream it on my page: https://www.facebook.com/brad.zupp

Nap your way to a better memory?

Sleep is hugely important to a better memory. When someone complains to me that they have a horrible memory, it's one of my first questions: "How much sleep are you getting?" 

Most of us don't have the luxury of a daily or even occasional nap, but napping may be a valid way to catch up on your sleep and improve your memory.

A new study from the University of California-Riverside, studied the effects of sleep on memory and finds that a nap may be the way to go.

Read the article here, or the full study here.

Having memory trouble? Drop me a note. I'm happy to help point you in the right direction, or discuss my experiences of improving my memory. I've helped people all over the world, via coaching, keynote speeches and corporate workshops, and I'd love to show you that remembering better can be simple and fun.

Grab my free ebook about memory improvement, including ten simple ways to remember better, here.

Silence Improves Memory?

In my efforts to continually improve my memory, and support others who are trying to improve theirs, I've tested many different techniques and tools on myself.

This is one I'll have to study more: the effects of silence.

Many times when I'm training for a memory competition, I have to go to a coffee shop or other busy and noisy location to make sure I'm used to blocking out distractions.

For training, daily meditation, or even cooking dinner, though, my preferred background noise is... silence. A new article about a study suggests that silence may help us remember better.

There may be a link between silence and stress reduction, and stress reduction and memory. 

If you're stressed and/or struggling with memory, read the article here.

I'm passionate about memory improvement, and use my seminars, keynote speeches, and private coaching to help people discover that remembering better can be fun and easy! Drop me a note with what you're struggling with and I'll help. 

You can also read my free ebook by clicking here.

Middle-aged memory: what's natural?

Researchers at McGill University are looking at what's normal for a middle age brain. 

Here's an interesting article on their finding, including what midlifers might be focusing on as important information vs. details they don't care about.

I've certainly seen this in my personal memory improvement and that of my coaching clients and in my memory improvement keynotes and workshops.

Have you noticed that it's much easier to remember what we are interested in? Many people mention to me after my seminars that remembering details at work is relatively easy, it's the home life that's hard. Remember what the spouse or kids say, the names of people we meet socially, or even what to pick up at the grocery store on the way home.

That's more than likely us deciding that work is just more important to pay attention to. 

As we age, we also have more on our minds, and tend to be distracted - which means it's harder to keep track of where we parked the car, put our keys or glasses, or when it's our anniversary.

Solutions include journaling, paying more attention where we park the car or put down frequently-misplaced items, and letting go of the desire to multitask.

Check out the article if you're "middle aged" or older - it's worth a read.

I'm passionate about memory improvement. If you have questions or need help, just send me an email.

You can also get my free ebook which has a ton of good memory improvement tips by clicking here. 

Exercise and Memory Link

A new study published in Psycho-Oncology discusses the link between exercise and memory improvement in breast cancer survivors. I found it especially interesting because the results seem to be applicable to everyone, whether breast cancer survivor or not.

Click here to read the article about the study in Medical News Today, written by Catharine Paddock, PhD. (It's worth the 60 seconds or so if you are at all interested in your own memory improvement).

From the article: "They say the findings support their theory that physical activity indirectly influences perceived memory impairment via exercise self-efficacy, distress and fatigue.

Moderate-to-vigorous activity includes exercise that challenges you enough to make you breathless and sweaty - for example brisk walking, cycling, jogging, and taking part in exercise classes."

Do something to improve your memory today, whether that's reducing your stress level, memorizing a phone number, or exercising!

Use color for memory improvement

There's a new report out about how making your iPhone display ugly may help you better remember what you see on it: from map directions to your emails. It uses colors to focus your attention. 

In my experience memorizing a deck of cards in one minute, or an 80-digit number in 55 seconds, color comes in handy. I translate all the cards, or numbers, into predefined images, and combine those into a story to make memorizing something abstract easy.

When I add color, I've found that it's much easier to recall the information later. For example, if I need to remember 17-88-52, I picture Daffy Duck (17) surfing (88) with a lion (52). (There's a method behind why each number represents each picture; I'll cover that in a future blog post.)

Visualizing Daffy Duck's yellow beak, the white and blue surfboard, and the golden yellow of the lion makes for a strong image.

In this paper in the Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, report authors Mariam Adawiah Dzulkifli and Muhammad Faiz Mustafar discuss how color can focus attention: 

"Colour helps us in memorizing certain information by increasing our attentional level. The role played by colour in enhancing our attention level is undisputable (14,23). The more attention focused on certain stimuli, the more chances of the stimuli to be transferred to a more permanent memory storage (18). As stated earlier, colours have the potential to attract attention."

The paper is interesting but pretty dense. Here's an article about the paper that summarizes it well.

If you want to try it for yourself, go to: Settings -> General -> Accessibility and select “Invert Colors."

If you do this experiment, leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts!

Whether you try this or not, do something every day to exercise your memory. It's easy, fun and it'll help 10 years from now!

How Anxiety Affects Memory

I found this article interesting. As a memory athlete, I've clearly seen how stress diminishes my ability to memorize and recall at memory competitions.

I've seen it in my fellow competitors as well. Those who are better able to manage the stress of a competition tend to do better. 

As the article discusses, though, anxiety is different. Many of my coaching clients and people at my keynote speeches and workshops tell me about their "horrible memories." After further discussion, though, some reveal other issues that are either contributing to a diminished memory capability or even causing the memory problems. Often I'm able to point them in the right direction so they can finally get to the bottom of what's causing the problem; they can then see remarkable memory improvement.

Definitely check out this article if you have memory problems that might be connected to anxiety, stress, lack of sleep,  or a racing mind.

Still have trouble? Click here to check out my free report which has a bunch of tips for improving memory and figuring out what the issue might be, or just drop me a line and I'll do my best to help.


New podcast interview

I love discussing memory improvement and telling stories about being a record-breaking memory athlete, so I was very grateful to Zachary Sexton and everyone at Asian Efficiency for interviewing me for their podcast (The Productivity Show).

We discussed staying focused, morning routines, memory competitions, memory improvement (even if you think you're hopeless at remembering), how memory works (my "Steps to Memory"), practical tips for improving your memory and more. 

It's a fun chat. Be sure to listen in, and check out their other podcasts to be inspired and improve efficiency.

Click here to listen to the interview, see the show notes and download a variety of tools and information.







I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mike Vardy of The Productivityist podcast. What a blast! 


As someone who is constantly trying to improve and get more done in less time, I had been enjoying this podcast for a while, and was happy when Mike agreed to have me on. 

Do you have too much to do and not enough time to do it? If so, all of his podcasts are worth listening to. In mine, we talk about how memory improvement can help get more done in less time, and memory improvement in general. Click here to listen, or download from your favorite podcast app or iTunes.

Don't miss the show notes - great information there as well!


As a keynote and seminar speaker, my goal is to help everyone learn that memory improvement is possible for us all and that it can be both easy and fun. From New York to Los Angeles, Las Vegas to Phoenix, Orlando to Chicago and everyone else in the United States, to any location worldwide, let's talk about changing the lives of your group or team: improving sales, customer service, productivity and the bottom line.

Life Reimagined

I'm featured in a new book! NPR's (National Public Radio) Barbara Bradley Hagerty has written a wonderful new book about middle age called Life Reimagined. A few years ago she interviewed me about remembering better, and I'm in the book. 

It was amazing to be interviewed by someone I have listened to on the radio so frequently, and I hope that people reading the book will be inspired.

I'm still reading it (okay, I read the pages that featured me first!), but so far it's excellent. Since I'm now of that age, I also find it helpful personally.

It's received a lot of great reviews, and I encourage you to check it out. Here's her page about it, which has an excerpt: http://www.barbarabradleyhagerty.com/life-reimagined/


If you want to buy it on Amazon, you can click here. 

If you're a big fan (of mine) and want to jump right to my pages, go to chapter 3 and start there. :)

Need help with your memory? Drop me a note or post a comment here. Whether it's private coaching or a keynote for your group, my presentations are interactive, fun, and life changing. I'm passionate about memory improvement and spreading the message that we can all remember better - and that it's both easy and fun.

Memory Exercise of the Day

Re-posted from social media. Want infrequent memory improvement tips? Visit me on Facebook or Twitter!

Today's memory improvement exercise is spelling: 'accommodate' is one of the most commonly misspelled words.

How to remember it?

Usually we know *most* of the word, but get confused with part of it.

To remember this one, you need to somehow remember that it's TWO "c"s and TWO "m"s.

Use your imagination to create a picture of accommodating two cats/clowns/cows/cowboys (translate "c" into a picture) *and* two monkeys/men/moms/M&Ms (translate "m" into a picture).

Maybe they are moving into your house and you have to accommodate them all?

Or you could be going out for dinner with this group and you have to find a restaurant that can accommodate them (translating 'accommodate' into a picture).

Make it silly, add some details to the picture or movie in your mind. 

"But Brad, why bother? That's why someone made spellcheck!" Is that what you're thinking? 

What about when you have to write on the whiteboard in front of the group? Jot down a note to someone and can't spell half the words (do you pick different words that you think you can probably spell instead?) 

What about taking care of your mind (exercising it) with even part of the amount of effort you put into keeping your body in shape?

What about being creative, having fun, and making a fun game out of self improvement? Picturing two cowboys sitting down to a fancy dinner with two moneys - and you - in a restaurant that accommodates all their pesky dietary restrictions is fun!


Memory Improvement for Boomers (Or Anyone)

For those of us getting older sooner than we'd like, memory loss is a real concern. 

We are more easily distracted and often find it more difficult to get back into a task once we lose focus. 

At work, we may wonder if we can keep up with our younger colleagues. How can we stay sharp, learn the ins and outs of the new software, apps, and remember all that we're asked to, even as we age?

As a motivational speaker and memory athlete, I discuss this all the time at corporate events and for associations, conferences and other business events. 

I also recently had the opportunity to discuss memory health and some of the above topics on a wonderful podcast called, "2 Boomer Broads Podcast." 

Rebecca Forstadt-Olkowski and Dr. Sharone Rosen are two delightful people who have a very entertaining podcast. If you're a boomer, it's a must-listen to! If you're not a boomer, I'd still recommend it as they have a ton of fun on every episode as they talk about "Life, Love, Laughs, and Unsolicited Advice!" 

You can listen to my interview and see their website (with other interviews and podcasts) here: http://www.2boomerbroads.com/memory-improvement-athlete-brad-zupp/ 

To listen here, or download, click below (give it a second to load - then it will start playing).


You can also find them on iTunes and by searching in your favorite podcast software..

If you know a baby boomer, or someone who needs some general memory improvement advice, please share this.


Build Better Relationships By Improving Your Memory

Last week I was interviewed by Tasha Smith, a wonderful sales trainer/coach who has a cool podcast. (Well worth subscribing to if your work involves working with people and selling them on your product, services, or even just ideas.) 

We discussed several different tips about how to remember names, general memory improvement, and more. She even put me to the test with a sales role play where she gave me a typical sales scenario, especially for someone in direct sales, and asked me to help with the problem of remembering all that our prospects and clients are telling us!

Listen to this fun discussion here: http://www.emergesalestraining.com/27/

Tip #3: Memory Improvement

I was presenting to a group a few weeks ago and a man approached me prior to me going on stage. He apologized that he wouldn't be able to attend the session and wondered if there were a few quick tips I could give him - because his memory was awful.

This is one I shared with him, and it's in the top 3 ways to improve your memory. 

If your natural memory is horrible, make sure you're doing this to improve it! (I know, you have to watch the video, but it's a 60 second tip... you can spare that to help improve your life, right?!).

Whether it's a corporate event, association annual conference, or any other gathering of people who want to see an entertaining motivational speech that will change their lives, contact me for availability. I'm near New York City and the entire east coast, but I'm always willing to fly to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix (where my parents live), Orlando, or wherever your event will be held. Have memory, will travel!

60 Second Tip #2: The 3 Steps to Remembering

Another quick tip for memory improvement! 

As an entertaining motivational speaker and memory improvement expert, I've seen how many people think they have a bad memory. 

Part of memory improvement, whether for your business or personal life, is to discover where exactly you're struggling.

That's why at my business and other keynote and seminar presentations, I cover the essential 3 Steps to Remembering. Knowing what to work on first is key to rapid memory improvement!

Enjoy this short video explaining the 3 Steps to Remembering!

Do you have 60 seconds to improve your memory? Watch entertaining motivational speaker and memory improvement expert Brad Zupp explain the essential 3 Steps to Remembering in only 60 seconds!

Remember Names Part 2

So many people tell me they have trouble remembering names! Last week I shared a very short video about one of the simplest tips for remembering names. 

This week I'll share this excellent podcast. If you're in business, you owe it to yourself to listen to this. Tons of great tips on remembering better, especially for networking and business events.

Download it and listen in the car on the way to your next networking event!



Also, consider subscribing to the podcast. Tom is a great interviewer and has excellent content!

Question answered: Top reasons businesses hire a motivational speaker

I often get asked by people considering hiring a memory improvement expert, corporate entertainer or motivational speaker: "Why hire a business speaker for my corporate event?"

Based on my experience, talking with other motivational speakers, and discussing the topic with my past clients who have hired me, I compiled the top three reasons businesses hire motivational speakers

Hire Motivational Speaker

The biggest reason not listed here is the underlying theme of everyone I spoke with: return on investment. What do companies get from having an expert motivational speaker at a corporate event? ROI. 

Companies, associations, or business groups spend a small amount of money and get a lot in return. Loyalty from members, new and improved skills to make money and increase the bottom line, and greatly improved motivation from everyone. The right speaker for the group can easily provide a high return on investment, making the amount spent on the speaker well worth the investment!

Top 3 Reasons Businesses Hire Motivational Speakers

1. To Convey a Specific Set of Skills

    Learning skills for better efficiency and an improved bottom line is often the biggest reason to bring in an outside speaker. Whether it’s improved leadership skills, specific sales techniques, a better memory, work-life balance, handling information overload or managing stress, an experienced motivational speaker can impart practical information that helps a team grow their skills and has a positive effect on business.

2. To Bring Energy and Excitement to a Meeting or Event

    A good corporate speaker not only educates but also entertains a group. Using humor, real-life examples, and audience interaction, speakers can lift up the energy and excitement of a meeting, day of training, or corporate event. This makes for a more positive experience for the group members and contributes to lasting learning.

3. To Inspire and Reward

    Group morale is essential to achieving company goals, and an experienced corporate speaker inspires the audience to reach higher and achieve more. Employees feel rewarded and valued, which drives innovation, productivity, and sales.



I'm very excited for my friends who were on the FOX TV Show, Superhumans recently. It got me thinking about talent, hard work, and what being a superhuman means. To me, an actual "superhuman" is someone with an innate talent. They were born with this talent, or acquired it suddenly, not by the slow, hard work of training that I and my friends have used to achieve our memory successes.

Below is a short list of some people I find extraordinary, or "superhuman!"


Photo courtesy of: 1000words1000days.com

Photo courtesy of: 1000words1000days.com

·   Daniel McCartney (September 10, 1817 – November 15, 1887) was believed to have possessed hyperthymesia, a condition wherein an individual is able to recall autobigraphical memory in extreme details. He was born legally blind but that never hindered his extraordinary mental abilities. He was able to recall in seconds his experience including what he did, what he ate, what day of the week it was and describe every detail such as weather conditions and any local, regional or national events on any given specific date. Aside from his clearly superhuman memory, he was also deemed as one of the very few human calculators; able to compute complex mathematical computations mentally in seconds. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_McCartney

Photo source: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Akim-Camara/168223799905360

Photo source: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Akim-Camara/168223799905360


·         Akim Camara was born on September 26, 2000 and is known as a violinist child prodigy. Akim had shown early signs of musical inclination and was given violin lessons at the age of two. After only six months of light training (a total of 90 minutes every week) and by the age of three, he had his debut performance in December of 2003. His extraordinary ability to memorize a musical piece after hearing it and ability to perform complex musical compositions at a very young age made way for him to be recognized worldwide as a true child prodigy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akim_Camara

Photo source: http://www.isnz.org.nz/content/ficino-school-student-tristan-pang-uses-his-unique-talent-inspire-his-peers

Photo source: http://www.isnz.org.nz/content/ficino-school-student-tristan-pang-uses-his-unique-talent-inspire-his-peers


·         Tristan Pang who was born on October 18, 2001 is another child prodigy known for his academic excellence. Purely self-taught, at the age of two, he was already reading independently and solving high school math. He was only nine when he earned a top grade A* scoring 97% at the Cambridge International Examinations IGCSE maths (Year 11 / O Level) and eleven years old when he top scored with A* at the Cambridge A level exams (Year 13). He also became one of the youngest speakers in the world when he delivered a TED talk in 2013. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_Pang