Interview with a Memory Expert: 2x World Memory Champion Wang Feng

At only 20-years-old, China's Wang Feng burst onto the memory scene, winning the 2010 World Memory Championship. The first non-European to win, he defended his title in 2011, signaling a cultural shift in the competitive memory world. China had become a new powerhouse in a sport dominated by England and Germany. Although he retired from official competition following his '11 victory, Wang Feng, now 27, has remained active, teaching and repeatedly appearing on China's #1 TV Show, The Brain. I had the recent fortune of competing with him on the show. Here's an interview I conducted with him shortly thereafter. I hope you enjoy!

2010年,年仅二十岁的王峰以黑马的姿态赢得世界脑力锦标赛总冠军。是第一个来自欧洲之外获此殊荣的的人。隔年他再度出赛, 成功卫冕2011年世界总冠军,开启了记忆竞赛的新时代,在一向由英国和德国主宰的记忆运动舞台上,中国成为新兴的强大势力。获得两次世界冠军之后,王峰从官方比赛退休,忙于教学,并屡次出现在中国收视率第一的脑力竞技电节目—最强大脑。我最近很荣幸有机会和王峰在这个节目中竞技。以下是赛后不久我对他的访问,希望你们喜欢。

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Interview with a Memory Expert: U.S. Memory Athlete Everett Chew

Just 14 years old, Everett Chew is striking fear into the hearts of America’s top memory competitors. At his first ever competition, the 2015 USA Memory Championship, the Southern California native posted a 41 sec speed cards time on his first attempt and went on to reach the finals. In a few weeks, he’ll be competing right next to me in Group D at the Extreme Memory Tournament. He’ll follow that up with his first-ever WMSC competition: the U.S. Memory Open. What will he do next? I contacted Everett late last year to discuss his future plans, his advice for breaking through plateaus, and how he applies memory techniques in his school and personal lives.

"I have found two techniques mentioned in Moonwalking with Einstein called deliberate practice and the 'plateau breaker.' The idea of the 'plateau breaker' is to push myself outside of my comfort zone so that I’m forced to make mistakes. I then identify what’s holding me back and use deliberate practice to clean up those areas. Combining these two techniques is an extremely efficient way to practice and my go-to training method, especially when I attempt to beat one of my personal bests."
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Interview with a Memory Expert: Memory Athletes Annalena and Christian Schäfer

Here's the latest in the "Interview with a Memory Expert" series: Annalena and Christian Schäfer! The 22- and 23-year-old memory athletes from Wuerzburg, Germany, have been fixtures on the memory competition circuit for over six years now. They met at a competition in 2010. Now they’re married! I got in touch with them to discuss their relationship with memory sports and the many exciting things (TV appearances, their own memory events, etc.) they’ve been up to. Hope you enjoy!

"Memory sports is still something quite exotic, so it’s great to always have someone to discuss about competitions or new strategies that come up to our minds. If one of us is highly motivated to practice, he/she thrills the other one. But also if one of us wants to do something more relaxing, the other one doesn’t want to do memory training alone."
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Interview with a Memory Expert: Memory Athlete Johannes Zhou

I’ve got another memory expert interview for you: Johannes Zhou! Only 19 years old, Johannes was the top online qualifier for the 2015 Extreme Memory Tournament and this year’s runner-up (check out Johannes’s qualification videos here). After jumping onto the memory scene in 2013, the Frankfurt resident has been tearing up the rankings and thrashing opponents left and right. Watch out for him in Group F at the upcoming XMT (June 24-26). I got in touch with...

"Knowing that I'm able to memorize hundreds of numbers in a few minutes somehow made me a more self-confident person. It's hard to put in words, but it's just a great feeling to challenge your brain on a day to day basis."

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Interview with a Memory Expert: Memory Athlete Brad Zupp

I had a recent chat with Brad Zupp, a 47-year-old vet of the memory competition circuit and one of America’s best memorizers. Brad helped Team USA pull in the 2nd place team prize at last year’s World Memory Championship. At the 2014 event, he broke his own national record in the spoken numbers event, recalling 150 digits after hearing them spoken aloud at 1 digit per second. Brad’s at the top of the pack among those who’ve adapted their memory expertise to help students, businesses, and more. Check out his website BradZupp.com for more about his fun memory empowerment presentations. He’s a friend, a fierce competitor, and a real memory expert. In a quick chat, we delve into his entry into the memory world, his motivation, and some of his favorite memory memories...

"I think my biggest motivation is always to show people that no matter how old one is, a better memory is possible. Exercising our minds is essential, but it can be easier and more fun than people realize!"
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Interview with a Memory Expert: Memory-Sports.com's Florian Dellé

If there’s anyone who knows the competitive memory world, it’s Florian Dellé. Since his first competition back in 2003, the 36-year-old German has worn just about every hat imaginable: competitor, coach, arbiter, commentator, memory website developer. The list goes on and on. Florian’s generally on the other side of the interview table (check out his 16 interviews here), but I managed to snag him for a conversation about his own history with memory, his new systems, a few of his favorite memory memories, and his new competition: the Memo Games...

My best advice is always that there are a million ways to memorize anything ... In the end each student must learn how to use the memory on its own and even develop new techniques. When my students leave, I want them to feel confident enough about their memory to handle anything.
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Interview with a Memory Expert: 2x USA Memory Champion Ron White

I’m very excited to be able to share with you an interview I did with Ron White, the ’09 and ’10 USA Memory Champ. The now 42-year-old Texan has done much more than dominate the American memory scene, however. As a memory speaker and coach, Ron has done a hell of a lot to spread memory techniques far and wide. I got in touch with him to discuss his memory origins, regrets, successes, advice for aspiring mnemonists, and goals for the future. 

"Overall my experiences in the memory tournament world were some of the best of my life ... Winning the tournaments was an incredible high in my life but the person I had to become in order to compete (disciplined, organized, determined) was an equally powerful reward."
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Interview with a Memory Expert: Livan Grijalva

I’ve been hoping to chat with some of the world’s best memory gurus, so let’s kick things off with Livan Grijalva, a friend and a fierce memory athlete! Livan burst onto the American memory scene in 2014, placing 4th at his first-ever USA Memory Championship. After a now infamous clerical error wrongly excluded him from the 2015 finals, he stayed strong to secure the 4th best American finish at the US Memory Open and an overall victory at the Canadian MC. The 31-year-old Queens resident specializes in digits and cards, with personal bests of 300 digits in 5 minutes and a deck of cards in 36 seconds. I got in touch with Livan to talk memory, magic, and his advice for aspiring memory athletes. Hope you enjoy.

"The advice I would give someone just starting out in memory sports is, have fun and don't get discouraged. I would also say that if you can find someone who knows more than you, who is willing to guide you, it is an invaluable resource. When I was starting out, I had no one to guide me and I encountered so many dead ends and even though navigating those situations has made me better, it has taken me longer to arrive at where I am. To be able to learn from the mistakes of others is ideal."
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