All posts by Richard Broome

What’s so special about the brains of world-class performers?

The brain integration of world-class performers is better.

World-class performers have better brain integration according to new research. Whether athletes, musicians, executives, or scholars, some people just stand out. And research shows that their brains differ in specific ways from the rest of us. The key seems to be “brain integration.

Dr. Fred Travis has found a way to use EEG to measure brain integration. And high brain integration predicts high performance.

He and Dr Harald Harung from Oslo Metropolitan University studied top performers. They studied top Olympic athletes, professional orchestral musicians, and very successful executives.

These top performers had greater brain integration scores.

But What about Education?

You would think that world-class performance would follow things like education. And incentives, experience, and practice.

But research shows these factors can only account for a small fraction of success.

An integrated brain is the key, according to three studies by Drs. Harung and Travis.

So How to Develop Brain Integration?

Research by Dr Travis has found that Transcendental Meditation develops brain integration.

The diagram below shows the brain integration of world-class performers compared to those who are average.

brain integration
Transcendental Meditation develops Brain Integration

Long-term TMers had almost double the brain integration of world-class performers. Wow!

Dr. Harung explained TM has specific effects not seen in other meditations.

In their short book World-Class Brain, Drs. Harung and Travis offer a readable intro to the brain. They overview their three studies. They show that brain integration also predicts greater moral behaviour. And a higher frequency of peak experiences.

Also that groups with greater brain integration can improve the function of organizations.

And it explains how an entire society benefits from developing individual brains. Amazing stuff!

World-Class Brain is available on Amazon (that’s not an affiliate link!). A bigger book by Drs Harung: Excellence Through Mind-Brain Development, is available from

Mind Map Master – Tony Buzan passes

Sad news for us was that Tony Buzan died on 13 April 2019.

Vicki and I met him in 1981 in Johannesburg. A friend had set up a workshop from Tony called “Use Your Head.” She invited us to the session in Braamfontein because they were short of registrants! It was a freebie for us.

Tony was the leading authority on the brain who created the mind map technique. It has no peer for note-taking, creative thinking, presenting and much besides. He claims it has 250 million followers.

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The technique is like a Swiss army knife for the brain. As you well know, it encourages creative thinking and improves  memory.

Tony said he first noticed at school that some were intelligent – yet did not do well in traditional exams.

He first began to develop his ideas about memory and learning at the University of British Columbia. He was studying psychology, English and mathematics.  He noticed that the students who did well did not always have the neatest notes. In fact their notes tended to be messy and covered with doodles, scribbles and key words.

“The great thinkers, including Da Vinci and Montessori, always drew images and arrows and lines in their notes,” he said, according to The Herald of Scotland. “When I started using keyword notes, bigger letters, with colour and arrows, it allowed my brain to speak to myself with a lot less clutter. It was as if I’d been driving all my life with my windscreen caked in mud, and suddenly I could see clearly.”

After graduating from UBC in 1964, Buzan worked for a time as editor of the journal of Mensa, the high IQ society. A 1973 BBC series Use Your Head made him famous. He also published several books with the BBC which sold more than three million copies.

Tony was prolific- writing some 80 books in over 40 different languages.

He also established the World Memory Championships in 1991; the latest event will take place in Wuhan in China in December.

Speaking about his work, Buzan said his ideal was a world in which everybody was aware of their extraordinary potential. “And they use that for their own personal self development and to help others.”

His latest project was collaborating on Mind Maps for Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s new book Exam Warriors.

He had the greatest love of learning of anyone I ever met.

After the Braamfontein Use Your Head seminar we got to work with Tony and the Learning Methods Group. We gained new respect for ways to better ourselves – things like the importance of meditation, exercise, hobbies, music and culture.  We later set up Thinking Skills Training in SA. And then in Australia when my mom emigrated there.

I have now got great responsibilities in a non-profit organisation. But  sharing Tony’s gifts continues. Find out how to transform yourself here.

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Life Long Learning gives you these three boons

life long learning from thinking skillsIn 2015, committed to life long learning,  Doreetha Daniels earned a degree in social sciences from College of the Canyons, in Santa Clarita, California.

Doreetha was 99!

She said she wanted to get her degree simply to better herself. It took her six years –  a testament to her will, determination, and commitment to learning, according to John Coleman writing in his new book, Passion and Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders.

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Recently, Tamborini, Kim, and Sakamoto found that, controlling for other factors, men and women can expect to earn $655,000 and $445,000 more, respectively, during their careers with a bachelor’s degree than with a high school degree. and Graduate degrees yield more.


Reading can dramatically reduce your stress levels.  Coleman cites a  recent report in Neurology that learning activities can help delay Alzheimer symptoms, preserving people’s quality of life. Other research indicates that learning to play a new instrument can offset cognitive decline, and learning difficult new skills in older age is associated with improved memory.

I have been taking Hindi lessons. And am delighted to report it seems to open all sorts of brain pathways-so I can remember names better and just feel generally sharper. Guitar lessons are next!

And it is not surprising there is compelling research to support the idea that the better educated make better lifestyle choices and live longer.  David Cutler and Adriana Lleras-Muney’s research suggests that a year of formal education could add more than half a year to your life span.

Perhaps Doreetha Daniels, at 99, knew something we may have missed.


I admire those who are dedicated to learning and growth. I am certain you do too.

Have you ever sat in a quiet place and finished a great novel in one sitting? (By the way, I can teach you how)

Coleman asks if you remember the fulfillment you felt when you last settled into a difficult task — whether a math problem or a foreign language course — and found yourself making breakthrough progress? (I can help you here too!)

Have you ever worked with a team of friends or colleagues to master difficult material or create something new?

These experiences can be electrifying, and that is the kind of feedback from graduates of my Thinking Skills over the years.

There are many reasons to continue learning. I hope this article has given you some added inspiration.

As Coleman writes: “We live in an age of abundant opportunity for learning and development. Capturing that opportunity — maintaining our curiosity and intellectual humility — can be one of life’s most rewarding pursuits.

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Remember this Graph to Never Forget

Remember this memory graph to never forget again.

If you want to get ahead of the curve you’re going to have to remember a lot of stuff – reading with a measure of retention and understanding!

Maybe you were never very successful at school– And maybe you’re not a good studier–most of us just got by at school. And you can’t help but feel you are doing this “studying thing” wrong?

If you have new specialist exams coming up you’re going to have to commit stuff to long term memory rather than cramming. So …

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And if you’ve never been really good at study you don’t even remember what you did.

As you read, a dozen related thoughts pop up. After packing away all those ideas, killing the process of the dumb ones and writing down the good ones, you don’t remember where you were on the page and have to start over. Or you will have continued to go through the motions of reading ahead for five paragraphs, realise this, and not have any comprehension or memory of what you read.

Paging through textbooks is a pain in the butt. But this graph will help you get that degree. It will certainly save you lots of time.

Before that, lets digress briefly. Loch Ness is a freshwater lake in Northern Scotland. The lake is about 23 miles long and perhaps half a mile wide. A drive from Inverness down the north-west side of the lake to the Drumnadrochit Hotel will take you about 20 minutes.

If you’d have stopped the car late one afternoon long ago – and looked southeast across the misty Loch towards Urquhart Castle, you may have been lucky enough to see Nessie the Loch Ness monster. Here’s a pic

Nessie – pic courtesy of

Why she is important now is that she is going to help us to remember the shape of the graph of how your memory works during the process of learning.


You’ve heard about about short term memory and long term memory. We’re going to talk about memory in a different kind of way.

“Memory during” means what happens when you form your memories. Memory during is memory during learning, during workshops, during an hour of study, during a movie, during your life, during anything.

Its the process of forming the memory. Its called “encoding“ by academics. You need to understand what information is likely to end up in your long term memory when you study or sit through a powerpoint. Right?

Long term memory will be the process of what we’ll call “memory after.” It’s what happen when we try to recall a memory that is there, stored or encoded.

Now take a look at this graph coming from countless memory studies. This is the graph of recall against time during the process of learning. Its called a serial position curve.

Memory During Learning-little graphic from via Pinterest

This is the graph of recall against time during learning. What you remember along the timeline. It’s high in the beginning and high at the end. Not much else gets remembered except for a couple of things which we will come to in a moment.

Graphs like this come from many memory studies originally by Prussian philosopher/psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885 and more recently by others such as Ben Murdock at the University of Toronto in 1962. The memory guinea pigs in the study are asked to remember as many words as they can— the words are read out at perhaps one second intervals. When the words have been read out the subjects are asked to write down as many as they can remember.

Primacy Effect

Notice that recall is high for the first few words. It’s just common sense that we remember firsts or beginnings. Psychology calls this the Primacy Effect.

So we remember beginnings. You can probably remember your first ride in a bicycle, your first day of school. I certainly can. First day of school – I mean can you remember your 273rd day at school? No-one in his right mind remembers his or her 273rd day at school!

So we remember beginnings.

Recency Effect

Now look at the other end of the graph. This zone is given a very sensible, practical name. Because we remember the most recent things. It’s common knowledge. It’s easy to remember what you had for supper last night. Can you remember supper last night? What about the night before that? And the night before that? So obviously it’s easier to remember things that are closer to you. We remember things that are recent. So this is called the Recency Effect.

So we tend to remember beginnings and we tend to remember ends of things…of a learning experience, of a lecture, of a video, of a reading a book.

Recall the first few minutes, the last few minutes. It’s just how the brain works.


What about the kinks on the graph? That was where there were words being read out that were linked to personal experiences of the subjects in the experiment.

We remember by association. So we remember things that are linked by being personally relevant, interesting, that happen to connect with us. And repetition is a subset of this. If words are repeated we think “Oh there it is again, oh there it is again”.


If one of the words read by the experimenter was completely out of context, the memory graph also takes a jump. Say we were to read out a list of nonsense words, in amongst which was the word Muhammad Ali. Everybody remembers Muhammad Ali. Why do you remember Muhammad Ali? It’s a longer word, it’s double barrelled. Its completely out of context, a colourful character.

It’s emphasised by virtue of being different from the background. So its called outstandingness, or emphasis.

So now we have 4 key memory principles: we have primacy and recency, association and emphasis.

Emphasis deserves more… well, emphasis! There is a technical name for emphasis. It’s called the “Von Restorff Effect.”

Hedwig von Restorff was the Berlin psychiatrist/paediatrician who showed in 1933 that whenever something we see is unusual, or different, or set off from the background – that thing will tend to be remembered better than the boring old everything else.

Undergraduate student Frank Garcia  was able to show that the von Restorff Effect even improved the primacy on a 20 word list of words presented in powerpoint. He put a red word in at position 11. Other studies suggest that this improves recall on the entire experience.

So now you know what to do with your PowerPoints!

Unusual, traumatic events like the Boston Bombing get remembered. Can you remember where you were, when the news came through that Princess Diana had been driven into the tunnel in Paris, and sadly was carried out the other side. What time of the day was it when you heard the news? Most people can remember these dramatic events. It is sometimes called “flashbulb memory”.

As another example of the von Restorff effect, a well-known South African oil industry executive was giving his presentation in a prestige venue. He lit some fireworks and unfortunately their very thick smoke got detected and the sprinkler system soaked 500 people. So for 20 years he had people coming up to him and and saying “ah I remember the day … we got wet!”

So lets imagine you are sitting in a 1 hour presentation, or sitting and reading a textbook, or studying for an hour, or watching a movie for an hour. All other things being equal you’ll tend to remember the first couple of minutes, tend to remember the last couple of minutes, and not much else. Except that you’ll remember it if it’s personally relevant or hooked or connected in some way. Also, things that are deliberately dramatised or emphasised or unusual. Anything set off from the background, highlighted if you like, and not much else. This makes sense in terms of your own experience, does it not?

In summary: Experiments show that when participants are presented with a list of words, they tend to remember the first few and last few words and are more likely to forget those in the middle of the list. This is known as the serial position effect, a term coined by Herman Ebbinghaus. The tendency to recall earlier words is called the primacy effect; the tendency to recall the later words is called the recency effect.

And the whole graph is elevated by having items that are associated or emphasised in there.


1. PRESENTATIONS: your audience will remember the first few minutes, The last few minutes and anything you emphasise or that is personally relevant to them. So start with a very brief summary and end with a review.

2. SPEECHES: there is an old formula for giving a successful speech. It goes something like this: ‘Tell em what you’re going to tell em; tell em; and finally tell em what you told em.’ That way you have capitalised on primacy and recency. Plus you have used repetition – a subset of association.

3. TRAININGS: Use interaction. Recall we remember what is personally relevant. But you don’t know what is relevant for your audience unless you ask them questions. Then you hook your wonderful content onto their answers.

4. KEEP IT SHORT – TAKE BREAKS: the longer the time between the beginning and ending of your learning or delivery session, the lower the recall. Therefore, keep it short. Putting short breaks into your session that would otherwise run longer than an hour makes a profound difference to the amount recalled. This way you introduce more than one primacy and recency. It’s like chopping Nessie into several sections. Each one grows a new head and tail.

5. LET GO ON CLOSURE: Carrying on the idea above, keep working sessions short. End on time rather than at a natural break point. This is counter-intuitive but it triggers a thing called the Ziegarnik Effect, after Bluma Ziegarnik, a Soviet psychologist. In 1927 she showed waiters remembered incomplete orders better than completed ones.

David Straker on his brilliant site *** suggests that to remember things for examinations, take breaks when a module is not necessarily complete, i.e. on time. Then the ongoing thinking about the incomplete task helps keep important facts in mind.

6. REPORTS, BLOGS, ASSIGNMENTS: Start with an enticing preview, and end with a thorough summary.

7. DEMONSTRATIONS: Capitalise on association and emphasis with relevant jokes, stories, anecdotes, audience participation, question and answer sessions, repetition, chanting, visuals, pauses, and alliteration.

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Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Chapter: Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In Spence, K. W., & Spence, J. T. The psychology of learning and motivation (Volume 2). New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195.

Glanzer, M., & Cunitz, A. R. (1966). Two storage mechanisms in free recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 5(4), 351-360.

Murdock, B. B. (1962). The serial position effect of free recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64(5), 482–488.

Zeigarnik, B.V. (1927). Über das Behalten von erledigten und unerledigten Handlungen (The Retention of Completed and Uncompleted Activities), Psychologische Forschung, 9, 1-85

Zeigarnik, B.V. (1967). On finished and unfinished tasks. In W. D. Ellis (Ed.), A sourcebook of Gestalt psychology, New York: Humanities Press

Learn to Learn

Learn to learn…

if you you want to do great things with your life.

Think about it. We were taught how to tie shoelaces as a kid – now we take it fore-granted. And is it not ridiculous that we know more about how to work a toaster – or iPad – than how to work our brain? And how do we learn quickly and effectively?

Dr Grace Saw decided to find out in Brisbane recently. Here she talks about what she discovered …

She talks about her experience learning how to do Mind Mapping and Power Learning.

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Right now have you a book that’s been gathering dust since you bought it before getting on the plane last year?

Try this:

  1. Spend two minutes reading the dust cover and chapter contents.
  2. Take a blank pice of paper and dump everything you ever knew about the topic without looking at the book again.
  3. Grab a little post-it note pad and flick through the book for just four minutes – time it. DON’T read anything that looks interesting, but DO pause just long enough to put a post-it note on it. In other words, flag anything that looks worth returning to later.
  4. Set yourself three study objectives – things you want to achieve with the book in the next hour.
  5. Write a study plan for the next hour on a piece of paper – just list a start time, a stop time, a break time and when will you review what you gleaned in the hour.
  6. Now start your study hour. First re-read the entire book in five minutes! Superficial? Yes! but just do it.
  7. Now start all over again and read the book for the third time in the next 35 minutes. Pace yourself – this time focus on the first and last paragrapgh of each chapter – or, if the book is well-summarised – go read the summaries. Highlight about 60 keywords during this time.
  8. Now STOP after the 35 minutes. Take a break for two minutes. Then make a mind map of what you highlighted. Take just 15 minutes for this. DONT cover any new material.
  9. Finally, take five minutes to dive back into the most important lesson you gleaned in the time so far, and read it slowly. Update your mind map, and you’re done.

Try it. You’ll be amazed.

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learn to learn

How Mind Mapping helps you with Motivation and Goal Setting

mind mappingThe world has changed. Things are hectic and everyone is in a rush to finish work-so your motivation for big-picture items like “get that MBA” suffers…

Mind Maps are a great help with motivation. They get the ball rolling and keep you focussed. Mind mapping helps you organise your ideas during the process of goal setting and then helps keep them in front of you–so you achieve more.

Here’s how to weave mind mapping into your goal setting to boost your motivation and achievement.

Write Down your Feelings and Accomplishments – How do you feel about your accomplishments?  Mind map them. You will have a number of accomplishments in your life. Mapping keeps them visible and memorable.

Set Personal Goals – Having goals is more than important. Knowing what your goals are is even more crucial. Map those goals. It helps you with the process of goal setting.  It helps you follow them, because they are more memorable. As you track your progress, cross the old goals off one by one. You will feel a sense of accomplishment.

Know your Reasons – What is your reason for wanting to accomplish this goal? What exactly is on your mind? Mapping is a splendid way to unlock your inner reasons.

Take Breaks –  Doing this helps to reduce your level of stress, and it harnesses your inner creativity. Research shows that taking breaks actually SAVES time. It saves more time than it uses!

Mind maps are a great way to boost your motivation, get going with your goal setting and speed the achievement of your personal goals.

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IQ vs EQ. Are they Correlated?

Thinking Skills Mind Mapping Starter KitA student of mine recently asked whether there is a correlation between so-called EQ and IQ?

So what is EQ? Actually my delegate meant EI, or emotional Intelligence, as discussed in a doctoral dissertation by William Payne in the 1980s and popularised by Daniel Goleman in the mid-90s.

EI has been defined as having to do with perceiving, understanding, managing and using the emotions. We know that the Amygdala is deeply involved in processing emotions.

IQ as you know has to do with the ability to solve the kind of problems that face a student or academic. We know this is what the neocortex is about.

IQ, proposed by psychologist William Stern in 1912, is generally measured with standardised IQ tests developed by Raven, Wechsler, Stanford,  Binet and others.

It has been used to predict scholastic achievement, job-performance and even income.

Did you know that the average IQ score from many countries has been rising at around 3 points per decade since the early 1900s? That’s about 33 points. See, we are getting cleverer. This is called the Flynn effect .

It has been believed that fluid intelligence generally declines of age while crystallised intelligence remains intact. This view has been challenged by recent studies on meditating subjects who demonstrated increases in fluid intelligence even in later life.

So are EI and IQ correlated?

Apparently not! Which surprised me. Part of the problem is that there are no standardised ways to measure EI.

But thinking about it, EI or EQ is a very different idea from IQ. One measures abilities related to academic performance and the other related to life skills. You may want to have a look at Andrew Weaver’s well reasoned post here.

Another useful link is here. The conclusion of this writer is that it depends how you measure EI. If you use self-report measures correlations with IQ are very low, while if you use ability-based measures the correlations are slightly higher.

My view is:  to hell with IQ, EQ is the thing that matters.

But to pass that exam leading to the higher qualification, you need IQ.

So here is a suggestion. Hook in to my free weekly newsletter to get tons of free stuff all designed to help you

  • get your degree
  • save time
  • commit stuff to long term memory rather than cramming
  • keep up
  • rid yourself of the overwhelm you feel
  • sort information overload.

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Hey guys – pop a comment in just below – it is so appreciated! 

Mindmapping Mastery at Home or Work


Thinking Skills Mind Mapping Starter Kit
You’ll receive this new Mind Mapping Starter Kit

  • Learn new material quickly and effectively using mindmapping and power learning strategies
  • Solve problems more creatively
  • See the “big picture” – make better decisions
  • Improve your critical thinking
  • Remember names
  • Concentrate while in meetings, presentations or during study
  • Keep meetings focussed – for example during a strat planning session
  • Make better presentations – better prepared and better delivered
  • Improve idea generation, for example during a brainstorm
  • Read faster
  • Handle masses of information – in presentations, meetings or study.

“Excellent approach which has provided me with so much confidence in moving forward especially in my studies for masters.”    J.B., Perth



  • Those who need to gather huge amounts of information, both verbal and written (e.g. training course material, legislation, product and system specifications, software manuals, etc).,
  • Consultants, Managers and personnel undergoing training,
  • those who are on registered learnerships,
  • those who need better short term memory to remember key things and key people,
  • officers whose jobs require a degree of problem solving, creativity, information memorisation and recall, or where they act as change agents. This includes
  • staff of technology areas and other project environments,
  • project staff and change agents in line administration areas,
  • those identified for “fast track”,
  • members of graduate programmes,
  • systems analysts, business analysts, programmers, software specialists, systems programmers, analyst programmers, application programmers, project leaders, network consultants, support specialists,
  • junior, middle and senior managers, section managers, and
  • anyone doing any kind of thinking, brainstorming, or attending meetings or presentations.

It is not aimed directly at staff whose jobs are more routine, exercising the role of control and management of existing processes and procedures, unless their jobs specifically require:

  • processing large amounts of written material and
  • solving problems of a strategic or tactical nature,
  • or where radical change requires that their job roles, attitudes to work priorities and thinking styles need to change substantially to cope with change.

Thinking Skills helps learners to see the big picture. It has a wonderful impact on morale. Therefore any groups whose individual learners need “opening up” would benefit.

“This will assist in implementing the right structures and disciplines to significantly grow my personal effectiveness both professionally and personally. Thank you Richard, I have already identified some of my team that I will be recommending this to. And I learnt to juggle!”    T.H.,  Australia

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Email us at and we’ll do the rest

or call 011 483 0685

AIM High

Thinking Skills group at the AIM Perth
Thinking Skills group at the AIM Perth - click pic to see whole group

What a great bunch. Thanks for a most enjoyable three days. And for the written feedback. Now lets have a few PhDs and MBAs. Seriously.

Its easy when you know how – just takes a fair amount of time.

But if learning becomes a hobby, it can be truly engrossing and fun.

And there is a different photo HERE. I’d love you to LIKE the PAGE. As you know Facebook gives you certain extra perks once you pass a threshold of 30 likes. So if you have a FB account please do like it.

I’ll be back on April 16-18, and again October 15-17, 2013, so you can let interested friends know.

Why are Americans getting so sick – and when will we follow?


Genetic Engineering (GE) ? Something new to learn every day!

Americans are very sick – and scientific evidence suggests that genetic engineering of the food supply may be the culprit.

Government regulators (FDA) and the food industry (Monsanto, Novartis et al) claim GE foods are safe – but scientific studies bely these claims. Genetically Engineered (GE) foods may cause allergies, reproductive problems and infertility, birth defects, bizarre mutations, and even cancer.

I have heard of an unidentified mystery organism causing an epidemic of livestock deaths, “Sudden Death Syndrome” – which may be linked to the GE issue. And just today I hear there are unverified rumours of farmworkers dying in SA in proximity to GE crops.

Your body thinks GE foods are foreign invaders rather than food, so they trigger immune attack. This immune response can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn raises your risk for multiple additional health problems.

The two main types of GE foods in South Africa and Australia are herbicide-tolerant crops (eg Soy) and pesticide-producing crops (eg Maize). Both types are engineered by imprecise processes that are riddled with unexpected consequences, such as hundreds or thousands of genetic mutations that have unknown effects on human health.

Jeffrey Smith is a tireless and well-informed campaigner for the removal of GM foods from our tables. He is convinced that that one of the primary forces driving the unbelievable increase in chronic illnesses (like Alzheimers)  is America’s food supply. One of the most profound changes is genetically engineered food.

Its going to be hard to prove GE is the culprit but the evidence presented in this article and film is very compelling and should not be ignored. Please support Dr Mercola and Jeffrey Smith.

In South Africa over 80% of all maize and soy is GE. Here are some major GE food sources that should be avoided if you want to live a long and healthy life:

  • All maize products – except perhaps organic sweetcorn.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • All Soy products – even 6/10 organic varieties recently tested by UOFS were found to be contaminated
  • Imported Cottonseed or Canola Oil
  • Any milk containing rBGH – prefer organic if you can get it.

The entire Genetic Engineering issue is vastly complex – but you don’t have to be a genius to realise that the wheels are coming off. Nor do you have to be a green tree-hugger to take these warnings I have been giving you for many years. Being confident you can handle masses of data is a spinoff of the Thinking Skills approach – and you need that confidence to get started on life-long learning. It never ends.

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Online Mentorship and new eLearning Courses

Picture of Thinking Skills mind map starter kit and workbook
Thinking Skills materials

Very exciting news 

I am often asked about Thinking Skills courses for students, friends and family – because I offer a huge reduction on the cost of a live course for spouses and family.

But what if they could access the course online? Or what if you could have time online live with me once a week to answer questions, go into new areas of technology, review memory techniques, give you helpful tips on coping with work overload, email, change, teamwork, communication skills, stress management – its endless.

So we are planning an Online Mentorship Programme running with webinars on Monday evenings 8-930pm.
Might you be interested in that? – its in very early planning and will be a month or so before we kick off.

When are your exams? I can save you a fortune of time.

The content of the Online Mentorship will include a brief review of the workshop, and then go on to much more than there was time for on the Thinking Skills seminars – where there was only 21 hours to present in. Because I’m thinking the majority of the first bunch of subscribers will be graduates of Thinking Skills.

We are just getting the technology in place and I will send you the offering and bank details as soon as I can.

It will be a pay upfront, but full money-back guarantee if canceling inside four weeks sort of deal. Thereafter a monthly subscription but cancelable anytime.

So thats the one option. How does that sound?

The other option – actually designed for those who have not been able to attend the live events, is a fast-track eLearning Course consisting of about 20 videos, exactly as if you were doing the seminar with me. Only difference will be that the content is in the videos – which you will work on and do the exercises as if you were in the session.You can do the videos as soon as they are available or just one per week. 

The live seminar now costs R8 995 + VAT in South Africa and around $1200 in Australia these days. The online version, (in South Africa complete with workbook and coloured pens, highlighters, and mindmapping starter kit) will be made available at around 1/3 of the cost of the live workshop. And I can make it available to graduates of Thinking Skills without the workbook etc for much less.

If this interests you, let me know.

Mind Map for Speed Reading Comprehension

mind map for speed reading comprehension
Mind Map for Speed Reading Comprehension

Here’s a way to grab and organise the ideas you pick up while speed reading.

Have you noticed you lose the plot when speed reading? Do you find there seems to be a trade off between speed and comprehension? Here is a neat way to get more out of your speed reading, using a mind map.

Quadruple your comprehension with a mind map.

Do you feel panicked at the volume of stuff you’re expected to read and comprehend every day? Especially where detail is supposed to be trotted out at the next meeting?

Well, I have been teaching speed reading for 25 years and I have come to believe that getting through masses of stuff is not about being clever. Its about technique. <–just click here to tweet this pearl of wisdom!

So try this simple sequence to retain your speed while not losing comprehension during speed reading.

  1. Use a guide. Maybe you remember being told at school not to use a finger while you read? Actually, we all use a finger or pointer while looking at the price on a menu or a word in the dictionary – or even reading on the screen of our iPad. Why do we do this? Because it helps us focus and connect. So why not do it all the time if you are speed reading?
  2. Condition yourself to read faster.  If you’re sitting down to read a new book or a new report, always spend a minute or two running your finger over the entire text, mechanically, taking three seconds per page, to condition yourself to read faster. So, now do this from the beginning for a minute. Time it.
  3. Stop and scribble what you remember in a simple mind map. One colour on a piece of blank bond paper will do. Here’s a link to a short video of how to do a mind map.
  4. Then read for another minute. Do the same thing. When you think you’re getting the hang of it slow down and read for five minutes and then stop and map you’ve gained. Try it. You’ll find your comprehension quadruples without losing your speed.

The best part is you’ve now got a set of (albeit scribbled) notes which you can spend another few minutes organising into a more formal mind map ready to take into the meeting.

Learn more about mind mapping here.

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Thinking Skills at the AIM in Perth

We just finished three days of presentation and discussion at the Australian Institute of Management with a really interesting and stimulating group. I enjoyed myself by talking too much – how about you guys?

here is one photo – the other is on Facebook.

Thinking Skills AIM WA
Happy group at the end of ThinkingSkills 3 day session

I’ve enabled comments below just for a day or two – please leave a comment if you enjoyed the session as much as you said you did yesterday.

Mind Mapping for Problem Solving and More

Mind Mapping is for Problem Solving and lots more

Mind mapping from Tony Buzan is one of the coolest techniques you will ever learn for problem solving, note taking, learning and organizing your thoughts.

Search the internet and you will find millions of pages about it. Mind mapping is useful for almost any information-related task you care to name. Want to solve a problem? Record a lecture? Try a mind map. Want to prepare a presentation on the run in minimum time – use mind mapping and commit the result to Power Point. Need to plan a meeting? Track a meeting? Summarise a textbook or report?

Here is how to do it: its as easy as one-two-three …

You’ll need a writing space (pad, sheet, whiteboard, whatever), and a handful of colored markers. It works just as well using a free mindmapping tool like Freemind. I generally prefer paper and pens.

1. Topic goes in the centre – best is to embroider it with an image or even just a few colours to help turn on the right brain.

2. Then radiate your ideas from the centre – printing on lines. This is important. Why? – because it works.

3. Once you are done, you can add links, images, highlights – whatever is necessary to make the information come alive for you. If you are using mind mapping for study notes you will want to add images and colours to help make the written information more memorable.

You are using hierarchical thinking – much better for many tasks than traditional linear top-left-to-bottom-right notes.

It turns out that this is the way the brain works. The brain seems not to be optimized for traditional linear notes.

And the proof is in the pudding. Try it – you’ll see. I have been teaching mindmapping and problem solving for over twenty years, and my students never fail to be amazed at their results with this great tool.

Richard Broome has been teaching Thinking Skills workshops for many years in South Africa and Australia. There are sessions upcoming in Perth and Joburg.

For more info fill out the contact form top right.

Advanced Power Learning for Teens

Powerlearning for Teens in Houghton
Getting ready to Fly at a PowerLearning session

Would you like to have 4 hours of intensive coaching in Power Learning for your teenagers with Richard and Lulama?

ITS FOR TEENS …  That is:  13 – 19 years old

They desperately need to know what I wish I had known when I was at school and Varsity, i.e.:

* How to study
* how to concentrate
* How to remember
* Tips on Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping®, dumping, exam planning, and much more!

A seriously cool and fun session. Typical feedback is: “I actually learned a lot!”

I’m offering the session mainly as added value for parents who have attended the Thinking Skills workshop previously.

As you know, we believe learning should and can be fun. So we will have a lively conversation with those attending.  We’ll show them how to get through masses of textbooks in the shortest possible time so the have more time for the important things in life.

We’ll also cover: (Run this past the family at supper tonight!)

• How to take better notes and become teachers pet for the quality of your projects.

• How to manage study and homework time better.

• How to organise your thoughts onto paper better.

• Learn how your memory works – be noted for your brain power.

• Practice mnemonic techniques to recall names and lists.

• How to boost recall of a study session to find more time for life.

• How to turn on the mind/body chemistry of the “Aha!” response with meditation.

• Be inspired by your brain function and latent power.

• How to improve your success by use of breaks.

Venue:  Houghton TM Centre –  Sat 16 June
Cost:    R697 pp inc VAT.

HOW TO BOOK: Its easy! Just use the contact form above right

If you have already attended one of these courses with Richard, we’d love to hear of your successes!  Use the “message” field of the contact form top right.

Time Management. A Timer is your Top Tip

Time management top tip
Time Management Tool

Time management has always been a problem of mine. I don’t know whether it’s because I have a lifestyle (call that a job) that means lots of interruptions. or whether its because, like you, I have lots of interests.

At the end of the day do you find that you ended up not achieving that which you set out to do? You got hooked into all kinds of stuff despite having had a do-list, either as a proper list or as a mind map? So you search for time management tips.

Enter Sonia Simone. She’s a blogger, like me, but much more professional. And here is a little idea you could use from her.

Get hold of a timer. Something that can count down for an hour.

Decide what you want to do that day, the core issues, and of course, write it down. Thats another tip, by the way, from the great Jim Rohn: “Never start the day until it is finished on paper.”

Then pick the issue you want to handle.

Set the timer to count down for 50 minutes and get cracking. At the end of the 50 minutes, IRRESPECTIVE of where you’ve got to. STOP. Take a goof-off break for 10 minutes.

Then start again.

It’s absolutely amazing, it works.

The first time I tried it you can’t believe how tidy the office got before I hit the button. Classic procrastination behavior. It seems my brain knew that I was not going to allow myself to be interrupted for the 50 minutes and that I was going to concentrate. And I did.

Try it.

P.S. The reason its important to take the break is that its known to improve creativity. You have ideas in the break that you can use during your next work session. Its called the Remeniscence Effect. And the reason you break, irrrespective of where you are up to, is because studies suggest that your recall may be better when you get interrupted. Its called the Ziegarnik Effect after Bluma Ziegarnik, a Soviet psychologist who passed in 1988. Its the kind of stuff we talk about in my workshops when we got on to time management tips.

Amazing facts about Your Brain

My Thinking Skills workshops discuss the brain and how to use it to read faster and accelerate learning.

human brain

The human brain has often been described as the most complex and refined physical structure in the known universe. Did you know that nerve impulses travel at up to 240 km an hour? The brain uses the same amount of power as a 10 W light bulb. I reckon that during meditation it probably uses even less. Holding many times more information than any encyclopaedia it uses 20% of the oxygen in the bloodstream, despite making up only only 20% of body mass.

Apparently the brain is even more active at night than during the day. That doesn’t surprise anyone that’s been using a computer at night. Did you know that this practice is really really not recommended? Like what I’m doing right now. Ayurveda says using a computer at night creates deep-seated Kapha imbalances that are hard to treat.

People with high IQs are supposed to dream more than others… And did you know that braincells – neurons – continue to grow throughout life? These building blocks of the brain were thought to be not capable of regeneration after destruction by substances such as alcohol in the bloodstream. Nowadays brain cells are thought to be capable of being regrown from scratch. The evidence, obviously, is to be found in animal studies.

There are many types of neurons and data transmission rates along these differs. Although you can have a headache it turns out the brain itself does not have pain receptors. So it’s the tissues, nerves and blood vessels surrounding the brain that have pain receptors and can give you the headache. Like the rest of the body most of the brain is water. And it’s not necessarily grey, more likely to look like oatmeal porridge, squishy, pink and jellylike.

There are a ton of other fascinating facts about the brain and body to be found in this incredible blog by Eric Allen Bell. The web is saturated with this post and very good stuff it is.

For more on the brain and how to use it – contact us using the form on the right. We run regular Thinking Skill workshops to boost your productivity and accelerate your learning.

Ten Brain and Body Management facts

Thinking Skills Training is about the brain. But how do you use it to accelerate learning and improve memory? Did you know these ten amazing facts about brain and body?

1. The Brain. The average human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells. This is ten-fold the estimate of twenty years ago. I guess statistical techniques have improved–or we are getting brainier. And nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as over 270 km per hour.

2. Sneezing. Have you ever tried sneezing with your eyes open? It’s supposed to be impossible. When you sneeze, apparently all your bodily functions stop, even your heart. Wow.

3. The Eyes. Look at your left eye in the mirror. Now switch your gaze to the right eye. Did you see you eyes move? The brain’s video circuitry must suppress the blur like that you see when you leave your video camera on and film a blur of sky and shoes. If you go blind in one eye you only lose about one fifth of your vision but all your sense of depth.

4. The Tongue and Speech. It takes the interaction of 72 different muscles to produce human speech. Relative to size, the strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

5. Hair. An average human scalp has 100,000 hairs. OK, I’m below average.

6. Spinal Nerves. The most sensitive cluster of nerves is at the base of the spine. I guess that’s why injuries to the base of the spine are so problematic.

Find the rest of these fascinating irrelevant facts here. And now for some great first-aid tips – the full story is here

7. Painless Injections. Ask to be shown exactly where the needle is going to go. Then squeeze near the spot and you’ll feel it less. Just make a circle with your thumb and forefinger and push down a few seconds before the shot. Apparently, this movement fools nearby nerves, making the injection feel more like a gentle prod. Wow. I can’t wait for my next injection!

8. Relief from Hiccups. Hiccups can be literally a pain. Try this: Take a very deep breath and hold it for about 10 seconds. And then, without exhaling, breathe in more air and hold for another 5 seconds. Then, one more time, breathe in as much air as you can, hold for 5 seconds, and breath out—hopefully no more hiccups.

9. Throat Tickles and sore throats Cure. Tickle something else…your ear to relieve a tickle in the back of your throat. Touching the area around your ear creates a reflex in the throat that eases the annoyance. Terrible Tea made from a little ginger powder, cinnamon and cloves, in the proportion 5-2-1 is an old Ayurveda remedy that gives serious relief. And if you have a sore throat, try gargling with a tea made of hot water and a teaspoon of turmeric.

10. Stuffy Nose Cleared. Your body has a natural mechanism to unclog your nose. Just push your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then press between your eyebrows with a finger. Keep it up for about 20 seconds and your sinuses could start to drain. I’d like to hear your feedback on this. Failing relief, try your local Ayurveda Products (Pretoria)  – or Google for the New Zealand supplier if you are in Australia – for an inexpensive herbal preparation called MA 251. It’s an absolutely astounding remedy from Maharishi Ayurveda, and no side-effects.

More about this celebrated and unusual personal development workshop here. Now how about leaving a comment below? We’d love to hear your wierdest tip.

Sharpen up by getting enough Sleep

Accelerated learning and study needs sleep! Beat insomia with theses tips gathered from personal experience and sources like Dr Mercola. Getting enough good quality sleep is crucial in keeping your edge – for study work or any other demanding activity.

Two factors affecting insomnia are light and temperature.

Melatonin considerations suggest you sleep in a dark room and don’t turn on the light when you go to the bathroom in the night.

Also, turn off your TV, computer, iPad and any other light emitting technologies at least an hour prior to bed time.

If you have to use a light, try a so-called “low blue” light bulbs in your bedroom and bathroom. These emit an amber light that will not suppress melatonin production.

Studies suggest ideal bedroom temperature is around 15°. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

Checking your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) is a good idea, as these too can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin, and may have other negative effects as well. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. Keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least a metre.

Also avoid keeping cell phones and portable phone bases on your night stand. Keep cell phone chargers should be kept at least four feet away from your bed, while portable phone bases and wireless routers should be kept as far away from your bedroom as possible. Avoid running electrical cords underneath your bed.

Beware of what’s on the other side of your bedroom wall, and under the floor. Avoid sleeping with your head against a wall that has electric meters, circuit breaker panels, televisions or stereos, for example, on the other side. All of these are source of magnetic fields that you should sleep at least four feet away from to limit dangerous exposure.

Avoid sleeping pills!

Aside from being pathetically ineffective, sleeping pills also come with a slew of detrimental and potentially dangerous side effects.

Most people do not realize that certain sleeping pills — those containing Benadryl — can have a half life of about 18 hours. So, if you take them every night, you’re basically sedated for a large portion of the day as well! Not surprisingly, they’re associated with cognitive deficits in the morning.

Light exercise, eating the evening meal early, enjoyable relaxing activity like reading all help good sleep. Transcendental Meditation is a great help.

Good night!!!

Who learns the most?


“The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach.” Paulo Freire (1921-1997)

It is true that one of the best ways to learn is to teach.

It gives us a better understanding of the material from the ground up.

If we can take something complicated and distill it down so that someone else can learn it, we are mastering the concept ourselves.

We are asked questions – questions we might never have thought of on our own.  In finding the answers, we learn more about the concept, and about ourselves.  So the students become the teachers as well.  We are all teachers, just as we are all students

At Thinking Skills we have always used adult learning or active learning principles to guide the workshop process. And we cover a great deal of practical how-to and where to go for help. With choosing a meditation technique for example. That may be why the sessions attract such consistently great feedback:

A brilliant light hearted, but extremely serious course.
Richard, Standard Bank, Johannesburg

I found the course to be totally enjoyable. Prior to attending I felt that I had zero creativity, limited problem solving ability, too slow comprehension of reading matter and far too long summaries. This course has been a tremendous confidence booster – I now know that I have creative ability, quicker reading and comprhension and improved approach to problem solving. Many thanks for a course that I can use everyday, from today.
Agatha, AECI, Modderfontein

Exceptional course because I go away with more skill in my repertoire – very valuable. Richard is an energetic course leader – professional language, dress and articulation.
Frek, Iscor, Pretoria

The presenter is the best I have come across in my entire life.
Malcolm, M.S. & A, Krugersdorp

This is the best course I have ever been on. (Most educational).
Danie, Richards Bay Coal Terminal, Richards Bay

Excellent course – met and exceeded my expectations. Fun, stimulating and thought provoking! Thanks Richard for “unlocking” my mind!
Andre, Old Mutual, Cape Town

For the first time ever, I was never bored. Excellent course. Will certainly recommend it.
Nasir, AECI, Modderfontein

A wonderful course. I will recommend it highly to friends and colleages. I feel very positive about the rest of my life and have so many new facts/ideas and ways of improving all aspects of my work and personal life. Thanks Richard.
Debbie, Old Mutual, Cape Town

Fantastic. Not often does a seminar cover the practical application of information with immediate results.
Douglas, Caltex, Cape Town

4 reasons to come to the Thinking Skills Workshop


The Thinking Skills Workshop runs over 3 days. But why take the time to master speed

Thinking Skills Johannesburg

reading and mindmapping?

Many written comments we have received over the years describe thinking skills as the best workshop I have ever attended. They wrote this alongside comments saying they appreciated the alternative format comment, the creativity, Richard‘s manner and entertainment, and the fact that the workshop was oriented to both a work and personal development point of view. It was engaging, challenging and they enjoyed the study technique and juggling.

Why then, would you NOT send colleagues who have a need to process massive amounts of information and deal with impossible workloads?

  1. Many attend thinking skills because it has a powerful personal development focus. I get e-mails 15 years later from people with graduate degrees telling me how their life was changed by mind mapping and study technique. Or how their career blossomed after they got the confidence to take control of their lives and change jobs. So don’t send your key people because they may outgrow your organisation.
  2. Or you could read Tony Buzan’s Mind Map Book or Use Both Sides of your Brain to save your attending the workshop. However, lots of people who attended have already read these and similar books, and they found that the practical hands-on experience of gutting a 400 page textbook in an hour irreplaceable. One delegate was moved to tears by the experience.
  3. I researched the stress levels of people attending a Thinking Skills workshop. Six months later they showed stress level scores reduced from around 80 to around 60 on a standardised stress questionnaire. (Interesting, but statistically ns.) Using the same questionnaire and Transcendental Meditation as the intervention they dropped from 64 to 30 after 5 1/2 months. This was a HIGHLY (P <0.0005) statistically significant result. So if your people are coming on the workshop to reduce stress levels, know there is a better way: TM.
  4. You can use WolframAlpha to to do the studying for you. This amazing search computation engine revolutionises the way we learn new stuff. Example, try entering “weather Johannesburg versus Cape Town”. It will return in about eight seconds with: “assuming Johannesburg in South Africa” (yes, there is another Johannesburg—in California with population 172 versus 3.888 million in Joburg according to WolframAlpha) … and it’ll  show you graphs of temperature, cloud cover etc for the past four days, and even the next three days forecast. Now try “movies with the word dog”. It gives you 32 titles in about 5 seconds. The possibilities are fascinating and endless.

So it’s up to you. Use these books and tools to guide you. Search for ways to read and learn faster or get it all in a practical, enjoyable three-day break from the mind-numbing routine of the office.

Next workshop details:

VENUE: Houghton

DATES:  tba

PRICE: See Pricing

Keep Learning!


PS I’m really not kidding about the 400 pages per hour stuff. Its not a miracle (at best) or scam (at worst). Its really all about strategy – and a smattering of speed reading skills. And Mind Mapping is really important.

Problems with concentration, anxiety, tiredness, confusion, depression, excitability?

If your lifestyle includes this-it can trigger problems with concentration, anxiety, tiredness, confusion, depression dizziness and…

On a prescription? Answer YES to any of the following questions you could be in danger…

  • Do you take herbs, vitamins and all any over-the-counter products?
  • Do you have to take medicine more than once a day?
  • Do you suffer from arthritis?
  • Do you use different pharmacies to fulfil your prescription?
  • Do you have poor eyesight or hearing?
  • Do you live alone?
  • Do you sometimes forget to take your medication?

If you answered yes to ANY question—horrors—you are at risk of a thing called polypharmacy—and the nasty, dangerous side-effects of multiple drug combinations, which include lack of concentration, anxiety, tiredness, confusion, weakness, constipation, depression, tremors, excitability, rashes to name just a few.

During my Ph.D. research I was astonished at the amount of pharmaceuticals people were consuming. A few years later someone on the Thinking Skills seminar told me he had a friend in Pretoria who specialized in drug side-effects. When I heard that it was my second warning that people take too much stuff. Today I got my third warning and I’m passing it straight on to you.

I think you might do yourself a big favor and have a peek at this post, particularly if you are a woman.–there-are-nearly-1000-drugs-in-the-pipeline-targeted-for-you.aspx

The bottom line is that drugs really should be viewed as a last resort. Most health conditions can be fixed by lifestyle changes, unless the precursors have been in place for 30 years. Doctor Mercola tells us that some examples of health problems that don’t need drug interventions are: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and insomnia.

There is in fact an enormous scientific literature showing that these very things respond well to Transcendental Meditation.

So, as I said on the workshop,

  • Get enough rest
  • Take regular exercise
  • Eat “God made” foods i.e. high quality, delicious, unprocessed, organic (if possible) foods
  • Get plenty of joy in your lifestyle (another GREAT list of lifestyle ideas here seriously one of the best I’ve seen)
  • And of course,  pay attention to your inner life.

Now go and have a look at Dr Mercola’s  blog.

Keep learning!


From Stress to Mastery and Long Life

Stress is opposed to health and longevity and we talk about stress management on the Thinking Skills workshop. So I read about it and try to do all the right things. Have you come across a website called Dr Mercola makes a lot of sense.

Here, for example is a list of his stress managent lifestyle ideas you may find interesting. Its from an article titled 4 Diet Mistakes that Age You. It complements our discussion on the Thinking Skills workshop.

The Anti-Aging Lifestyle

Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a significant impact on your longevity, normalizing your insulin and leptin levels is probably the most important. There is no question that this is an absolute necessity if you want to slow down your aging process, and that means modifying your diet to avoid excessive amounts of fructose, grains, and other pro-inflammatory ingredients like trans fats.

That said, longevity is the result of an overall healthy lifestyle, so in addition to the four cornerstones just mentioned, these additional strategies can further help you stay young and vibrant, longer:

  • Learn how to effectively cope with stress – Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so developing effective coping mechanisms is a major longevity-promoting factor.Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.
  • Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels to between 60 and 80 ng/ml.
  • Animal based omega-3 fats – Correcting the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is a strong factor in helping people live longer. This typically means increasing your intake of animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, while decreasing your intake of damaged omega-6 fats (think trans fats).
  • Get most of your antioxidants from foods –Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
  • Get your resveratrol naturally – Because resveratrol appears to be so effective at warding off many diseases associated with aging, it is often referred to as a “fountain of youth” that can extend lifespan. Good sources of naturally-occurring resveratrol include whole grape skins and seeds, raspberries and mulberries.
  • Use coconut oil – Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and lower your cholesterol, among other things.
  • Naturally increase your glutathione levels with high quality whey protein concentrate – Another exciting anti-aging discovery is related to the process of slowing down telomere shortening, as discussed in more detail in this previous article. There’s some evidence that this can be done nutritionally, by consuming high quality whey protein.
  • Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  • Avoid prescription drugs – Pharmaceutical drugs kill thousands of people prematurely every year – as an expected side effect of the action of the drug. And, if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need any of them in the first place.

So these ideas complement the stress management and lifestyle advice you will receive on the Thinking Skills workshop.

Keep thinking creatively!


Richard Broome PhD

Thinking Skills Training

+27 11 483 0685 (vm 24/7)

082 889 3160

click here for Next SA workshops

Study Tips for Businesspeople

Looking to sharpen your thinking skills? Working on a part-time MBA? Mind maps help big time!

Here are some quick tips for successful study
  • Start with the end in mind. Get your syllabus. Study it. Get out your study notes and checkout the headings and sub-headings. You don’t have time to read everything in total detail, so make sure you get an early picture of the whole syllabus and use that overview to pick out the key areas that always come up.
  • Spot. Spot. Spot. Get old papers. Figure out what always comes up. Go for that first. Early in the year.
  • Take a sheet of paper for each subject. List the main topics and sub-topics down the page.
  • Better still – make a mind map for each subject. Personalise each area by using your own codes such as “easy”, “interesting”, hard”, “need help with this” and “eeeek!” etc
  • Plan. Plan. Plan. Build in revision time EVERY DAY for stuff covered that day. Then review it again tomorrow, and again next week, and a month later. Then finally just before the test or exam.
  • Mind maps are fantastic for making summaries that are memorable and help you to get your head around stuff. They even make cool wall hangings – so you surround yourself with the stuff you’re working with. That way you never forget.
  • Be proactive. You MUST look over the textbook version of your next lecture or lesson BEFORE the lecture. This means you’ll have to pester the lecturer for what they plan to cover next. Don’t worry – he/she won’t see you as a nuisance – they welcome students who come forward like this.
  • Read cool books like Tony Buzan’s Mind Map book. Finkel’s Brain Booster.
  • Get free mindmap preview software by searching google for freemind or Buzan’s iMap.
  • Improve your mind with Transcendental Meditation – it’s proven to help you concentrate.
  • Prefer baroque music over heavy metal or industrial goth for your study times.
  • Get enough exercise.Take frequent breaks
  • Eat only fantastic food – organic is best.

For the younger student:

Call about our occasional 4 hour PowerLearning ® courses in Houghton fro teens. 1pm – 5 pm,Call 011 483 0685 for details. Checkout this brochure for more info

Thinking Skills mindmap testimonial videos

Thinking skills teaches mindmaps for brainstorming and learning as a core business skill. A mind map is a great way to keep meetings tight and a great way to maximise creativity in a brainstorming session.

Mindmaps are also useful for accelerated learning. Workshop delegates typically study 10-30 times faster after the thinking skills workshop.

Doctor Grace Saw is information services director at Bond University in Australia. She recently attended a session I ran in Brisbane. Grace is an enthusiast and like all of us is operating in the thick of information overload, too little time, too much to do and unbelievable changes in the work and even our home environment.

And we bring to our lives a genetic inheritance which is judging by recent estimates somewhere between 50,000 and 2.4 million years old.

What I’m trying to say is that we’re all human. And anything we can do to cope with our circumstances we’re going to take on board. See what Grace had to say about her workshop here (in only 90 seconds). Grace describes her Thinking Skills workshop

Here is a second video clip running just three minutes. Three delegates discuss a thinking skills workshop at the Australian Institute of Management in Perth, WA. Julian, Lisa and Ian say how they plan to use mindmaps in their businesses. Lisa runs a rapidly expanding hire firm with an inventory of over 700 vehicles. Ian has responsibilities covering hundreds of staff. All three are concerned by the need to maximise creativity at work. Brainstorming is one thing they do a lot.

Finally, here is another short (80 seconds) clip of a Perth group discussing the workshop on the last day, last October. They had fun!

For more information on upcoming workshops, and lots more short videos, visit our Thinking Skills brochure page.


Creativity, abstract thinking and routine work.

Creativity, abstract thinking and routine work. Are these things opposed to one another? My friend Brian just sent me a story about the Blackbird SR 71 jet.

SR 71 jet

I once sat next to a Blackbird pilot on the bus coming home from Oshkosh Airventure – the world’s greatest airshow. So when I opened my email I could relate to what Brian Shul, another Blackbird pilot, had to say. Here it is:

One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet if the cockpit lighting were dark. While heading home on a straight course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare and revealing the night sky. Within seconds, I turned the lights back up, fearful that the jet would know and somehow punish me. But my desire to see the sky overruled my caution, I dimmed the lighting again.
To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my window. As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming stripe across the sky. Where dark spaces in the sky had usually existed, there were now dense clusters of sparkling stars. stars flashed across the canvas every few seconds. It was like a fireworks display with no sound.
I knew I had to get my eyes back on the instruments, and reluctantly I brought my attention back inside. To my surprise, with the cockpit lighting still off, I could see every gauge, lit by starlight. In the plane’s mirrors, I could see the eerie shine of my gold spacesuit incandescently illuminated in a celestial glow. I stole one last glance out the window. Despite our speed, we seemed still before the heavens, humbled in the radiance of a much greater power. For those few moments, I felt a part of something far more significant than anything we were doing in the plane. The sharp sound of Walt’s voice on the radio brought me back to the tasks at hand as I prepared for our descent.

I had a very similar experience in the cockpit of a B707 many years ago over Africa in the middle of the night. I was in the First Officer’s seat and the captain was doing crossword puzzles. I looked outside and saw the glory of creation before me. There was St Elmo’s fire twinkling on the windscreen wipers and radiating out from the bulbous nose of the plane. Cumulus clouds of the inter-tropic convergence zone were towering above us – right up to about 45 00 feet, and they were illuminated like flickering fluorescent lamps with almost continuous lightning discharges. The sky was like black velvet with millions of laser pointed stars spiking through it. I was awestruck in that timeless moment. I beckoned to the Captain. He looked up but he didn’t see it at all. There was a kind of skin on his eyes – like the nictitating membrane that protects some birds’ eyes. And that was the moment I decided that airline flying was not for me. If that was where I was going – to be so dulled by routine that I would no longer see ..

A wise man once warned me about the dangers of routine work. Its efficient but it extracts a price. That price is the dulling of creativity. Fortunately we have ways of avoiding this fate. We need to take our awareness daily to the field of the transcendent – to stop time and experience pure abstraction. This blesses, refreshes and glorifies the boundaries of time and space we choose to live in.

And improves our health.

Would you like to find out more about how to improve your thinking skills?

Do Business Writing like a pro


Which paragraph is easier to read?

1. The ability to write clearly and effectively is a critical professional skill. This program will assist participants to plan, organise and structure their writing to achieve better results with written communications. Through the practical application of writing and editing skills, participants will learn to write documents that are reader-oriented and communicate clearly and effectively.

Now try this one:

2. Clear and effective writing is a top professional skill. This program will help you to plan and structure your writing to get better results. You will learn the skills needed to write and edit papers that are oriented to the reader and get your message across clearly.

Para 1 is from a popular two-day course: Business Writing Skills. Gunning Fog index 18.7. 18 years of education needed to figure out the meaning on first pass.

The second says the same in about half the words – Fog Index is 8.8. Much easier!

I would not sign up for that course!!!

In the Thinking Skills workshop I try to practice what I preach. For instance, go here for a superb tool to calculate the fog index of your latest masterpiece.
Improve your business writing. Join us here!

Learning with Google search

So I’m sitting in an easy chair one Sunday afternoon reading “What would Google Do” by Jeff Jarvis. I heard about it from Pete Carruthers who is my Internet marketing guru. So when Pete plugged Jeff’s book, I ordered it from Amazon—Kindle books actually—and one minute later it sat on the screen of my MacBook.

No learning tool has greater potential to change the world than Google search.

I’d love to know how often you use Google or any other search engine to look up information.

Google is the nuclear fuel of the internet explosion. An answer to almost any question is reachable within about 60 seconds via Google search.

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What a story. So readable. Who could have imagined that a free advertising service (Google Adwords) would profoundly alter the newspaper industry, that learners with keyboards would bring down politicians, and “dropouts could build companies worth billions.”

Google is the fastest growing company in the history of the world, so its fascinating to read how Google does things.

Jarvis cites an unbelievable case history of Dell computers–how a website and a blog became a movement which almost brought the company down. Dell responded to the challenge by sorting out its customer relations big-time and climbed right back out of the pit.

I reckon there is not a company, NGO or organisation on earth that does not need to look at the implications of the Internet explosion in this information age.
Jeff says “start by having your executives make the same Internet searches you did.” He advises assigning your best people, the nicest, most knowledgeable and open to solve every problem they can find: repair, replace, or refund whatever the customer wants. Start a blog where you can share the problems. He goes on to say that your worst customer is your best friend. Having sorted his problems, he becomes your partner.

Really amazing stuff. As Jeff puts it: “when you hand over control, you start winning.”

“The single greatest transformative power of the Internet and Google has little to do with technology or media or even business. It’s about people and making new connections among them. It all comes back to relationships.

And that’s why I’m writing to you.

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And updating this post in 2019 – a useful resource for you is: Google Power Search by Stephan Spencer.

PS This morning I received the following email:

Dr Broome
I attended your course in 2008 and of all the courses that I have attended in my life nothing comes close to the impact that your course had in my life. This includes all the certificates and diplomas I have done. The biggest impact was speed reading, memorising and recalling and mind maps.

I am in the process of writing a career guidance book and in it I have included a chapter on studying techniques which inevitably mention some of the methods that I have learned from your course. I write this e-mail to request that you kindly grant us permission to go ahead with this in our book. I have referenced your website well which hopefully will attract people to your course and also raise your profile in the public as I hope the book is going to be distributed throughout the schools in KZN. The book is in isiZulu because there is huge gap for books in this market.

Thanks for this Dr Broome, your course should be compulsory at school level and you can quote me on that!

Warmest Regards