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Copyright 2012 by Brainetics, LLC All rights reserved.

. Published in the Unted States by Crown Archetype, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. www.crownpublishing.com Crown Archetype with colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc. Library of Congress Cataloging-in- Publication Data is available upon request. ISBN 978-0-307-98585-9 eISBN 978-0-307-98586-6 Printed in the United States of America Book design by Jennifer Daddio/Bookmark Design & Media, Inc. Jacket design by Andrew Janik Author photograph: Lynnette Astaire 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 First Edition

INTRODUCTION

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A Memorable Story

If I were to ask you to picture a green apple in your mind, you would have already done so by the end of this sentence. Thats about how fast I can solve lots of complex math equations. I can square any three- or even four-digit number, such as 3,567 times 3,567, in my head within seconds. I can divide a three-digit number by a two-digit number, such as 974 divided by 78, and arrive at the answer instantly. And I can unscramble the longest of words or place words in alphabetical order immediately. I knowits a bit freaky and unbelievable. When I perform these feats for live audiences, the crowd, which is usually made up of elementary school students, teachers, and parents, always roars: Whoa! . . . Oh my God, that is awesome! . . . No way. Youve got to be kidding me. Thats not possible. . . . I bet you were just born this way! But then I have to tell them the truth: I was not born this way. Ill also admit right off the bat that Im not a psychologist, brainiac, or even someone who understands the science of math and memory

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down to the neurons and synapses. I dont have an MD, and Ive never studied neurology. But I do know this: training your brain to unleash its fullest potential doesnt hinge on genetics, inherited IQ, access to the best schools, or even medical breakthroughs. According to researchers at both the University of Illinois and Princeton, I possess one of the fastest mathematical minds in the world. Why? Because I continually teach myself how to use my brain in fun and cool ways that enable me to process and memorize information much quicker than others. These techniques have helped me to become smarter, more productive, and exceedingly more imaginative. In this book, Ill share them with you. Let me be clear: this is not a memory book. Im not here to just teach you a trick to memorize or recall the Declaration of Independence in a heartbeat. Without question, you will learn effortless ways to memorize information, from the driest and most arbitrary details to comprehensive facts and lengthy passages, but I want you to know from the get-go that the strategies in this book will help you become a better, more effective individual in all that you do. These lessons and their related exercises will enhance your ability to communicate, innovate, impress others, stand out in a crowd, get ahead of your peers, move up the social and corporateladder, magnify your employability and moneymaking capacity, learn to make excellent decisions, solve problems large and small, spot trouble and keep a keen eye on the future, plan that future, speak publicly with ease, be a stronger player in games and sports, ask for what you want, adapt to new situations and circumstances, handle crises, work under pressure, be more independent, and so on. I could list hundreds of abilities that can be enhanced by mastering the skills detailed in this book. Throughout the chapters, Ill point out specically why youre learning a given stratagem or being told to do something that seems impossible or impractical

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(such as multiply two-digit numbers in your head), but regardless of the specic lesson youre reading about on any given page, I want you to always be keeping your eye on the bigger and much more monumentalpicture and prize: developing a mind that thinks like a genius. And living up to your greatest potential. Will you become the next Einstein, Oprah, Steve Jobs, or Fortune 500 CEO? I cant make any promises, but I will pledge that if you read this book, wholeheartedly think about its material, and try my exercises (more than once!), you will begin to optimize the inherent power of your brain, squelch any anxieties youve had in the past when it comes to math and memorization, and allow your creative, inventive, and imaginative self to propagate in directions you never thought possible. Using your brain the way I am going to teach you will open you up to mastering anything in life, from foreign languages to music, cooking, negotiating, communicating, and even establishing better relationships with others. You will also be giving your health a boost, because my exercises will give your brain a good workout and youll nish this book with much more condence in yourself. And that is perhaps the best gift that I can give you. With condence, youll have the courage to strive for anything to do and be whatever you want. My program can help anyone anyone who tries, that is. As Ill reiterate throughout the book, the lessons and strategies presented here work best if you nd ways to apply them to your own life. If a certain technique doesnt work for you after youve tried it a few times, then dump it from your personal toolbox. Move on to another, more effective method. Ive seen these lessons help people from just about every walk of life, from young students to retirees hoping to preserve their mental faculties, from entry-level employees to executives, CEOs, and those in serious leadership or political positions, and from parents to teachers, mentors, entrepreneurs, inventors, doctors, lawyers, restaurateurs, writers, and philosophers.

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Even if youre terried of math, hate numbers and puzzles, and despise games like Scrabble and Boggle, I believe Ive got something for you that you can not only enjoy but use to enhance your mental capacity. By the end of the book, you will have amassed your own unique collection of tools that make sense to you and that work! You wont nd these lessons in formal education or even in adult enrichment courses. They are unique to me, and while some of my techniques follow long-established secrets to speeding up mental processing and sharpening memory, the vast majority of the strategies in this book were invented by me, starting when I was just eight years old.

From Trading Commodities to Trading Memory Tricks


I wasnt an ace student as a youngster. N ot until I learned how to self-train my brain did I start performing better in school. For much of my adolescence, I received mostly Bs in math but also a few Cs and Ds even one F. Years later, when I went back to my own middle school to teach my techniques to students, one of my old teachers put it bluntly: But, Michael, you were never the smart student. What happened?! Luckily, my parents always believed in me and somehow knew that Id gure out how to do well in school and life over time. Im not so sure, though, that they ever believed Id take my skills this far. One of the most important takeaways in this book is learning how to notice patterns in the worldfrom the patterns found in numbers and words, to the patterns in other academic subject areas, such as history and science, to the patterns in everyday activities such as driving to work or punching in phone numbers. I

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began to notice patterns at a very early age, a lot sooner than most people. When I was just three years old, playing card games with my great-grandmother taught me about higher and lower numbers. During preschool, at the age of four, I memorized all of the US presidents birth and death dates, in order. I was developing a talent, but I still didnt know exactly what I was doing. In other words, you couldnt have asked me then how I managed to be so smart, much less teach anyone my method. In the third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Carlson, told the class that we had to memorize the planets of the solar system. I vividly recall her instructing us to move to the back of the room, saying, Dont return to your seats until you have all of them memorized. She then added that we should think about the following sentence: My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas. Obviously, she had given us the clue to having all of the planets stitched into our brains quickly. It took me about ve minutes to memorize the list from Mercury to Pluto (which technically is no longer a planet, but it was back then). Flash-forward one year. In the fourth grade, my class was sent home with the task of committing all fty states and their capitals to memory. Contrary to what you might think, I still didnt know how to make this easy for myself. I studied all night long, staring at the list of all fty states and their capitals: Bismarck, N orth Dakota; Columbia, South Carolina; Salem, Oregon. . . . Some states seemed to have unlikely capital cities, while others were just plain hard to remember, let alone spell (Montpelier, Vermont?). I thought perhaps the words would magically melt into my brain if I just glared at them long enough. My parents kept coming into my room yelling, Michael, get to bed already! But I wouldnt give up. The next day I felt defeated, tired, and overwhelmed. I didnt have the capitals memorized, and trying to push all that information into my brain at once made me barely able to recall anything

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at all (except for my own states capital of Springeld)! But I also felt cheated. I went up to my teacher, Ms. Sain, and asked her why she hadnt given us the secret sentence that matched the states and their capitals. She looked at me like I was nuts; she wasnt like Mrs. Carlson. Thankfully, my mother came to the rescue and helped me to come up with a song that would allow me to recall all of the capitals, accurately and on the spot. And it worked. From that moment on, I knew that Id have to nd not only my own ways of remembering information but also my own ways of organizing and ling away important data. It was also then that I began to really hone my skills in pattern recognition. I became adept at nding the hidden codes, formulas, and shortcuts to performing quick mathematics, playing with words in different order to exercise my mind, making up weird and bizarre stories or poems to store information Id need to recall later, and basically learning to think outside the box to tackle and solve daily problems. I also discovered the value in being able to focus and concentrate as few others can just by building certain muscles in my brain that everyone has, but that not everyone knows how to ex. By the time I got to college, my talents in math were paving my way, and I eventually majored in nance. When I graduated, my cousin landed me a job as a commodities trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. It was the perfect place for someone like me, and my lightning-fast brain had people calling me the Human Calculator. I stayed there from 1981 to 1997 as a full-time trader. During that time I never once thought about teaching or engaging with children. But then, in the fall of 1997, another cousin of mine asked me to visit her high school to show off what I could do with my brain. By that time I had mastered all sorts of math tricks, so I could perform some astonishing mental stunts, such as multiplying large numbers and adding a long list of digits in a split second. Even though I was hesitant at rst, I accepted the invitation.

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Up until that point, with the exception of a few times when I performed as a bar stunt, I mostly kept my gift to myself because I was embarrassed by it. Part of me still felt abnormal; Rainman, after all, was my nickname at work because I could freakishly do wild math in my head, just like Dustin Hoffmans character in the movie of that name. I didnt know what the kids at my cousins school would think of me. But I was delightfully surprised by the reception I got. Those teenagers loved me. I think they were surprised that I didnt show up in geeky-looking clothes and a pocket protector. When one of them asked, Can we learn how to do that too? my world soon took a dramatic turn. This request presented a whole new challenge for me. Initially, I didnt know which of my skills were actually teachable. Id take long walks by the lake and try to break down the methods that came so automatically to me. Okay, what am I doing when Im doing that? What do I do next? Since over the years Id trained my brain to work so fast, slowing it down to make sense of it all was tough. But I eventually simplied my tricks, patterns, and shortcuts down to bite-size pieces that I could share with others. And no sooner did I start interacting with kids than I began to realize that much of what I can do is in fact very learnable. It somewhat startled me to know that others could pick up on how I use my brain and likewise perform some of these amazing mental gymnastics just by trying and practicing. This was a dening moment for me, because once I had proof that my skills could be taught, I created an interactive presentation and began to visit more schools in my local area. Because my presentations were so lively and engaged the kids, they were more like shows than the lectures or formal lessons they encountered in their classroom studies. It didnt take long for word to get around about what I was doing. I started to focus more on the younger students, the kids between grades four and eight, including those with special needs

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or learning disabilities. These were the most impressionable students of all; gaining these skills at an early age would enable them to really take off as high school students, and later as college students . . . and much later as successful adults. C students could become A students, and A students would race off the charts. I stayed on as a part-timer at the Mercantile Exchange until 2005. Then I took the leap and centered my efforts on developing a product I could sell, which took the better part of four busy years. I kept up my free shows, expanded my audience (and boundaries beyond the great state of Illinois), and even began to teach adults, targeting faculty members in the districts that had invited me into their schools. The demand for my live shows kept rising, and I was doing what I could to keep up with it all while I worked on my new company, Brainetics, which became the title of my ve-part DVD program. I coined the word by combining brain and athletics, which is appropriate for a system that is essentially athletics for the brain. My goal was to create a program for all levels and all abilities. Students with special needs, dyslexia, or even autism would take longer to master the skills, but they would nonetheless nd it as valuable and entertaining as did the straight-A students. I also found a way to make my program captivating and useful for parents and grandparents, who could nally have something to do with their kids and grandkids that simultaneously improved their brains too. I could not have predicted how fast my program would take off. It was met with wild enthusiasm from kids and adults alike. After selling more than 200,000 units nationwide and speaking to nearly 10,000 classeswhich I still do for free I have yet to hear a single negative comment about my system. To this day my favorite testimonials from people who have used Brainetics are those that express how much it has changed their relationships and family interactions. I receive letters from kids who say, For the rst time,

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my dad called me smart. And parents and grandparents express their gratitude for having something so useful that they can play with their children and grandchildren. Brainetics, however, is much more than play. When researchers at Princeton determined back in the 1980s that I could do things with my mind that most people cant, they were stunned to learn that I was the only self-taught person in their study. Its generally accepted that either youre born with a brain like mine or an accident, such as a seizure or concussion, cracks opens previously inaccessible areas of your brain to unleash its full power. Im living proof of a third option: self-training the brain to utilize more of its potential. And now many of my students are also living proof. I hope thatvery soonyou will be, too. Brainetics ofcially took off in late 2009. By then, 20/20 had done a show on me because its producers didnt believe what they were witnessing. Some of the 20/20 producers had watched videos of me in action through posted YouTube videos, and they wanted to put me to the test. So they arranged to have me visit a school in New Jersey lled with average students. Clearly, they wanted to nd out if my shows were rigged or if I had an impact only on gifted students. Well, I proved these suspicions wrong, and to date that episode remains one of the most viewed 20/20 episodes in history. I received more than 50,000 emails following its airing, and it took me a full year to respond to every single one of them. Sadly, and much to my surprise, not a single one of those responses came from a recognized leader in education or government, including the US Department of Education. Its no mystery that the US educational system is awed. Our children are falling behind kids in other countries, especially when it comes to math, science, and reading. In September and November 2009, the last time the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which represents thirty-

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four countries, administered an assessment of fteen-year-olds in both private and public schools, the United States ranked twentyfth of those thirty-four countries in math, seventeenth in science, and fourteenth in reading. The US government considers the OECD test one of the most comprehensive international measures of achievement. Im not going to spend much time lamenting the ongoing struggles to educate our children so that they can compete in the global economy and be prepared for their adult lives. (Thats another book.) But Ive recognized one truth that fuels my mission in life and inspires this book: rarely do we learn how to learn. Think about your own life: did you ever take a course in how to learn? I adore and admire all teachers, but the culture of teaching in this country has left out a very critical aspect of the entire undertaking. We dont normally teach the skills of learning. We throw facts, information, history, equations, and de nitions at kids, but often fail to provide lessons in how to absorb all that data, distinguish the important from the unimportant, and store a library of content in their limited brains. Indeed, there is a limit to how much the brain can take in, process, and remember. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful or even the successful from the extraordinarily successfulis not intelligence or IQ per se; its simply the art of knowing how to learn. I see this day in and day out with the people I reach through my programs, including adults who stumble continuously in their attempts to get ahead professionally. Thats probably why we cant teach these important skills to the younger generationwe never acquired them ourselves! The high-scoring kids in other countries arent necessarily smarter than kids in the United Statesits just that they know how to learn! We spend our entire lives learning; it is one constant activity that all people engage in all throughout their lives. Those of us who acquire the tools to learn how to learn and make the most effective use of our learning skills are in a position to achieve a lot more

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in life. We not only zoom past our peers in formal education and perform well on testsincluding the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, GMAT, all the tests following law school and medical school, and other professional licensing testsbut we quite automatically attain other skills that are essential to anyone who wants to get ahead and succeed. Best of all, we attract more opportunities that feed cycles of achievement. And that is my wish for you. My hope is that you will acquire these fundamental learning skills now so that you can maximize whatever it is youre doing in life, whether youre sitting in a classroom most of the day, occupying a chair in a cubicle, working on Broadway, or leading a company. Which brings me to this book. If ever there was a written guide on how to learn, Genius is it. I know that I can go only so far in my live presentations and DVD program. People have long wanted me to write a book in which I can dispense all my strategies in one place, to help anyone maximize his or her learningand, in turn, memory capacity. There are certain lessons and techniques that actually work better in a book format, and writing this book has also allowed me to offer more background and provide interactive exercises that you can take anywhere. Genius takes the best of Brainetics and my live presentations and puts it into what I hope will be an engrossing read, and it also breaks new ground by giving you an entirely new array of exercises, tips, and secrets that are not found in any of my programs. They are unique to this book. But just as Brainetics engages the minds of nine-year-olds and ninety-nine-year-olds alike (and everyone in between), so too does Genius. I have written this book to be enjoyable and valuable for anyone, at any agefrom the student hoping to do better in class to the senior eager to stay sharp. Please dont be intimidated by the title. I realize that many readers may think that the word genius doesnt describe them. In the common understanding, the term genius is typically applied to

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super-smart freaks of nature who can do unbelievable things with their minds, but Im going to give you a new denition of the term. Being a genius isnt at all about being a super-smart freak of nature, and even youno matter what you think about your brain, talents, God-given gifts, and level of smartness can embody genius. Thats my promise to you. Genius is your how-to handbook to becoming your own, well, genius.

How to Use This Book


The book is organized into three parts. The rst part, The Magic of Memory, will set the foundation for your journey. It takes you on a quick tour of how memory functions and explains why a strong memory is so important to maximizing your brain function and why well work on strengthening yours throughout the book. Part I will also help you recognize patterns in words and numbers that will help you ace the next part of the book. In part II, Mastering the Six Skills of a Genius, Ill share the six vitally important learning skills that are rarely taught in formal education and are essential for unleashing your full potential focus, concentration, data retention, thinking outside the box, organization, and forgetting and Ill reveal my devices for becoming a self-trained genius. My hope is that youll feel like you are on a guided expedition: youll learn as much in my narrative as you will in the activities and exercises. Each chapter in this part builds on the previous one, so that by the time you reach part III, Extras: Additional Tools and Resources, youll be ready to put your new skills to the ultimate test. Every chapter in the book, however, includes indispensable information for anyonewhether youre about to enter the schoolroom or the boardroom. Youll discover:

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Why inherited IQ may have nothing to do with memory and learning power. Why the brain prefers to remember things in groups of ve. How to stimulate and optimize the brains natural capacity for multitasking (despite the conventional argument that its impossible) so that, with proper mental organization, multitasking takes on a life of its own. The power of the absurd: how to enlist your imagination in the task of memory building. How to be visual when you dont consider yourself a visual learner. Why forgetting is one of the most important skills to conquer in sharpening the mind! Effortless ways to quickly remember names, faces, telephone numbers, schedules, facts, and even your bosss last keynote address. And much more. . . .

Throughout the book, I will encourage you to visit my website, www.MikeByster.com, for additional help and resources. There, youll be able to access live videos of the card tricks that I outline, play games against others or a ticking timer, nd more problems to solve based on the lessons of the book, and retrieve important updates and new information. Enter this password, for access to extra premium content created just for my readers.

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Of course, you dont need to know how to square a four-digit number in your head or instantly calculate the square root of 6,436,343 in order to survive, or even thrive, in the world. But working the brain in ways that arrive at these solutions is a total life-changer. It can rapidly expand your brainpower and put you on a par with the geniuses who already practice the secrets to a sharp and quick-thinking mind and who win memory games, are extraordinarily successful, and never lose their keys or need a notepad. It will be obvious how you can best utilize the exercises sprinkled throughout the book, as well as how often to do them. Some exercises will only need to be done once, while others will need to be repeated in order to strengthen your brain, just as you would use reps to strengthen any muscle. How will you know? At the end of each chapter, youll nd a chapter guide, which Ive purposefully put there rather than at the beginning of each chapter. Ideally, youll try all of the exercises as you encounter them through your read, but in these guides Ill reveal more specically which ones you wont have to do again and which ones should be done on a routine basis. Solutions to the questions posed in each chapter are also found at the end of the chapter. My website offers more indepth explanations of those solutions and will take you step by step through particular techniques or shortcuts. Youll also nd novel solutions to problems from other folks like yourself on my website. And heres an important warning: its perfectly ne to get stumped by a game or exercise. I expect that some of my exercises will challenge you to the core. If you cannot tolerate a particular exercise, just skip ahead to the next one and come back to it later or never again. Ive created a mix of exercises in this book, from easy to very difcult, and I doubt that they will all appeal to everyone. So if you nd yourself trying to complete a brain workout that frustrates you or drives you crazy (and makes you want to throw

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the book across the room), then dont beat yourself up. Skipping a few of the exercises wont be the end of the world. Youll still gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and smarts simply by reading and trying your best. You might also be inclined to read the main text and save the harder exercises for a later date. You can choose to read the chapters of this book however you want, even out of sequence if you like. Although Ive designed this book to build from one chapter to the next, in reality all of the lessons and skills I teach are of equal weight. Some will come naturally to you, while others will require extra effort. Hey, were all different in how we learn, as well as in how we synthesize stored knowledge from the past to solve problems in the present. All I ask is that you try not to be intimidated by anything you encounter in this book. I will provide as much guidance as possible, and then itll be up to you to take it from there. I expect you to return to this book to remind yourself of certain strategies and to refresh your learning skills. As students of life, we are never really done with learning. We are confronted with new information daily, increasingly more so in our modern digital age. Having the tools to navigate through the inux of all the data we encounter increases our chances for success. Whether youre a parent, teacher, student, executive, or simply an average person hoping to enhance the speed, effectiveness, and overall health of your mind, this book will equip you with a set of skills that will return multiple benets to you in the future. And that future can be as early as today. . . .