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One thing you will never hear Ron White ask is, “What did you say your name was again?” Recounting names of rooms full of people is all in a day’s work for White, who teaches others how to master memory skills, too.
Recently, after a year of preparation, White won the 2009 USA Memory Championship in New York, capturing the title by memorizing a 167-digit number in five minutes, recalling random details about strangers, and memorizing the order of a deck of cards in less than one minute, 30 seconds.
He made a commitment.
After coming in fourth place in the competition last year, he decided to raise his game. “I set out on the most intense and most focused training schedule of my entire life. These goals were huge for me,” White says.
He wrote down his goals.
- Memorize a deck of cards in less than one minute, 30 seconds.
- Memorize a 167-digit number in five minutes.
- Win the national championship.
He enlisted the help of a mentor.
A reservist who served in Afghanistan in 2007, White found a mentor in U.S. Navy Seal T.C. Cummings. “I asked him to coach me for one hour a week via telephone in the 10 weeks prior to the tournament. I wanted to have the confidence, discipline and winning attitude of a Navy Seal,” White says. One of the best strategies he learned was to make his training tougher than the actual competition, so when the tournament arrived, it would be easier.
“In 2008, I saw many people were distracted by the media or people moving in the room. In an effort to have the ultimate focus and make my training tougher than the competition, I invested in snorkel gear and trained memorizing cards underwater,” White says. Underwater, he had to pay attention to the motion of the water, his breathing and staying afloat—all while memorizing plastic cards. “Instead of seeing this as a distraction, I saw it as a training opportunity for me.
“I reached the point where I could memorize a deck of cards in two minutes and five seconds underwater. When the tournament arrived and it was above water, my time was one minute and 27 seconds.”
He visualized his win and its benefits.
White travels the world, offering memory seminars. He holds workshops for corporations and organizations, including Microsoft, the Boy Scouts of America and Lexus. He can teach anyone to recall names and product knowledge more efficiently, boosting sales in the process. Winning the competition would tell the world what his loyal clients already knew.
When it was over, White defeated 51 competitors to take the title. “I achieved my three goals exactly as I had written them, and that was a powerful goal-setting and visualization lesson for me. This training schedule was intense and the focus was unlike anything in my life,” he says. “The human brain is the best computer ever made.”
Find out more about Ron White.