Category Archives: thinkings skills workshops

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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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.

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.

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.

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