Daren Denholm is known as “The Memory Guy” and is the global face of geniusseries.com – a hugely successful and enterprising online learning platform used by thousands globally to fast-track enhanced use of memory for learning, studying and achieving more in life. 12 years ago, Daren started competing at the World Memory Championships and went on to become the highest ranked competitor in the Southern Hemisphere in all 6 consecutive World Memory Championships from 2006-2011.
My Definition Of Success | I believe it is essential to have a clear idea of what success means as this ultimately directs all of your daily activity and decisions you make. My definition of success has changed over the years, as I’ve reflected more deeply on this:
20 years ago : Knowing your purpose, growing to reach your full potential, sowing seeds that benefit others
10 years ago : Extraordinary success in any area of your life can be determined by the degree and quantity of significant accomplishments you are able to achieve in a limited amount of time that reflect your most important dreams, goals and value.
5 years ago : The progression towards a worthy goal.
Now : The extent and duration of your positive influence AFTER you die.
I Am Driven By | A passion to see people’s lives changed and transformed for the better. This has kept me awake at night and given me the inspiration to get out of bed early most mornings since the age of 15, 20 or so years ago.
The Difference Between Good And Great | The constant, even obsessive amount of time, thought, energy, resources etc invested into the progression of one’s dream. This is not something one switches on and off. It is something that is thought about 24 / 7 / 365. Disciplined time needs to be made to try and NOT think about ones dream. Time to rest enough so one has enough energy and inspiration to continue progressing towards creating hopefully life-changing work that makes a difference. This amount of “obsessive” / all-consuming thought and dedication cannot be achieved without the underlying thread of fun, enjoyment and curiosity. Have a look at this great 4 min video showing insight into the mind of the youngest world chess champion in history, Magnus Carlson:
A Key Talent | Probably my passion and commitment to continual, consistent learning. It is something I have to often try and stop myself doing. If I’m not careful, I can easily spend the whole day reading, reflecting, digging and trying to go deeper with work I am currently engaged in or future products / projects I am working on in conjunction. I allow myself from 8am – 10am each day dedicated purely to learning, thinking, reflecting and planning the day ahead of me. This is my “God time.” I use this time to think about close friends, family and customers as well. I often send people an email during this time when the thought of them is fresh in my mind or if I find something I believe someone specifically would enjoy or benefit from. This is my sacred time which I completely love. I try and only set meetings after this time. The study of circadian neuroscience says that you are at your creative / mental best at 10am each morning. So, this is the time I officially start my working day. I ideally fill it with as much effective “sowing” or execution towards my core goals or objectives. I do very little, if any, planning during this time and work purely on execution. We don’t have a TV at home and my phone is switched off for most of the day which helps me try and stay completely focused on what I want to achieve each day. I try and only check and respond to emails once or twice a day. Because I spend very little time watching TV, on social media etc, I use this time instead to learn and think. Most nights I sneak into my office to do my final learning / reflection for the day and I quickly scribble a summary of my perfect day (tomorrow) on my big whiteboard. This gives my brain something to reflect on while I sleep so when I wake up I am excited and ready to start working on what I have spent the night reflecting on. I always have 1 big learning project on the go.
My Success Code | I use a memory system known as the method of “loci” to store every core goal I am working on at any given time. I never have more than 2 or 3 core goals for each year (as well as 12 week and 4 week stretches) that I want to achieve. I reflect on and think about these goals usually once or twice every day and then think of what specific activities I can execute on that day and week to get closer to realising these goals. I also break these goals into those specific tasks I believe will have the greatest impact on the realisation of these goals and think about these also each morning in my 8am – 10am time. They “grow” and become more vivid and exciting each day which inspires me. It also helps keep me focused when the journey gets lonely or difficult or I experience various set-backs or disappointments. I have a personal “journey of locations” where I reflect on the person I desire to be and what I want my life to look like in the end, the father I desire to be to my 2 sons and daughter, the husband I desire to be to my wife, the friend I desire to be, the attitude I desire to have each day and key life lessons I don’t want to forget. I reflect on this each day but more importantly I try and think of actual tasks I can execute on to become more of what I desire each day. This is an active thing. It is DEFINITELY not just ‘dreaming’ of what I want and expecting it to materialise. The constant thought of what I desire keeps me focused and excited about what I want to work towards but I try and make sure that as many minutes of every day (outside of 8am – 10am) is dedicated purely to executing on all those tasks that can help me realise these dreams that I continually think about.
Lessons I Have Learnt | Before I proposed to my wife Kath, I told her that I was very worried about the fact that she seemed to have little or no ambition. After telling her this, she paused for a few seconds, almost to think deeply and assess the validity of my claim. She responded by saying the following: “I actually do have a LOT of ambition. My ambition is to love God with all of my heart and to love my neighbour as myself.” How could I respond to that? I have realised that any pursuit for success is actually futile. We can sow but only God can make it rain. We can serve but only God can spur up a deep desire to serve extravagantly and consistently over many years. I almost did not get married because I did not have enough time. It felt like I was juggling many balls and it was impossible to add any more balls to the already over extended lot. I told Kath of my juggling dilemma. She was very annoyed that she was placed in the same category as a juggling ball! It honestly came down to having to choose between getting married and raising a family versus running and trying to grow a company. I chose Kath and family over my work and I honestly believed that would be the end of my company. In my mind it was impossible for them to co – exist. Only when I decided to choose God, my wife and children as my top priority OVER my work, was I able to miraculously experience real growth and depth with all of them.
Dealing With Doubt | Anyone who runs a business will agree that there are MANY times where it is overwhelmingly difficult. When I feel completely overwhelmed, I try and rest. An early night with a full night of rest is almost a miracle cure to being down in the dumps mentally for me. Also a consistent gym routine and walks in our local forest and on the beach work as well.
Performing At My Peak | Exercise is crucial. I try aim for at least 4 or 5 gym sessions a week with 20 minutes a day cardio. I try and eat very “clean.” I eat oats in the morning, lots of water, organic coffee. I also eat “pure” food throughout the day in the form of liquidised juice. LOADS of spinach, kale, beetroot, ginger, apples, pears etc throughout the day. A small, light meal at lunch and at night at least 3 hours before bed to make sure I have a good night’s rest. I try and work 10 – 12 weeks “on”, where I do my best to really “go for it.” I then take a 9 or 10 day break. Friday through to the following Sunday. This allows for wonderful rest and rejuvenation and keeps me mentally strong.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I have close to 5000 business book summaries from abstract.com and I now spend most of my learning time learning these business summaries or studying people I choose to learn more about. I use focusatwill.com daily to help stay focused (music scientifically proven to boost focus). I store all my learning and research in EVERNOTE. I use SCRIVENER to compile all my research into new products. In the past, I read / learnt “fast and broad.” Now I try my best to be very careful and discerning as to whom I follow and learn from. This allows me “percolation time” to sniff out some incredible “gold” and when I strike this gold, I go as deep as possible! I have my “top 12” list of 12 global experts in areas of greatest interest and benefit:
4 BUSINESS experts to help grow my understanding of growing a significant business that has global influence in the most effective and efficient way possible. eg: Gary Hamel (rated by Forbes Magazine as the no 1 business thinker in the world. Fortune said he is the no. 1 strategy thinker in the world).
4 INDUSTRY experts relating to my expertise. eg: 8 x World Memory Champion, Dominic o Brien (my memory coach) and 6 x World Speed Reading Champion, Anne Jones (my reading coach)
4 “LEVERAGE” experts, internet marketing experts, “scale” experts so to speak. Eg: Ken Atchity (my writing coach.) Author of: “The write time.” “The best book on writing ever…” by The New York Times.
There is only 1 person on my “top 12” list who I have NOT met with or interacted with personally. When my children are a bit older, I hope to have 1 x 2 hour lunch meeting with each of these 12 experts. Ideally at their home, in the country which they live.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | My major goal this year is to learn the entire framework of the bible. Once I have that, I hope to learn the key ideas on every page in my Bible (1089 pages in my Bible.) So if you asked me what is on page 72, within a couple of seconds I will be able to tell you exactly what is on that page. I am also learning the key ideas of 1000 of my best business books. I should hopefully be finished with this in the next 2 years. I am also currently studying any key learning I can from 1200 + of the current $ Billionaires who are alive today: What they do, Secrets to their success, how have the managed to have such a large influence, have they managed to keep close relationships sacred etc or has their success come at a large price. An important point is to note that all my major learnings are in areas of my greatest passion and fascination. All of this learning I summarise, document and compile into products I plan on bringing to the world in time. That being said, I haven’t achieved a fraction of what I want to accomplish with my life as yet. It feels as if most of my life has been used hopefully in preparation for this next phase I am hopefully going into. I have been “in training” so to speak or “below the radar.” Hopefully it is time now to raise my head and start having a global impact on millions of people. I really want to partner now with exceptional people, with each of us playing our key part, in realising a dream much greater than ourselves.
Balancing High Performance With Happiness & Contentment | In the past this was often a challenge, less so now. With a young family and running a business, time is incredibly limited. A huge amount of giving or sacrifice is required all the time. I have a deep love for my wife and family which makes me happy but my ultimate contentment comes only from spending time with God and getting to know Him on a deeper level. Nothing in this life can come close to this and only this I believe gives me the strength and courage to keep moving forward.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I was adopted after being the by-product of a one night teenage stand. My parents who adopted me had a very turbulent relationship and ended up getting divorced when I was young. My only desire is to change my generation and to love and serve my wife and children and to lay down my life for them. Any time outside of this I want to try and dedicate my mind to creating exceptional training products that change people’s lives for the better, across the entire world.