Got Learning Strategies?


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Got Learning Strategies?

Truth or Fiction? 40% of new (outside) hires fail in their employment slot between the first and second year. According to the Center for Creative Leadership – it is eighteen-months. The company and the new hire enter the relationship with the best of intentions, but like marriage, the divorce rate is about the same.

The best consultants and headhunters say it is lack of support by the organization, no mentor, no track to follow, and failure to understand the corporate culture and mission. How do new executives get up to speed and show they are super-stars when they feel as if they have been thrown overboard by management? Exit interviews of the discharged souls indicate they feel lost, stupid and betrayed by the corporate hiring process.

The secret is holding an experienced executive responsible for both the original hire and requiring the new executive to stick to the fast-track. It is a mentor program on steroids because there are bonuses for the mentor and mentee. Forty-percent failure is just too damn expensive to blame on the Human Resources department.

Speed Reading Holds a Key

Many of these exit interviews report the new-hire admits to not being able to keep up with their reading assignments. Sounds like school and it is. The reading load in the Knowledge Economy is more than double what it was ten years ago and it is because of the Internet. We have a suggestion.

Old skills just do not cut it anymore and cause the stress of Information-Overload. Our research with executives at Fortune 500 companies show over 90% of middle and upper management people read and learn with the skills they were taught in 3rd grade. We call it Snailing.

It is not a joke. When was the last time you learned and changed how you read a page of text? Do you have any new memory strategies you have added to your arsenal of daily cognitive skills?


Our experience over four decades in teaching speed reading permits us to guarantee without ifs ands or maybes – students and executives equally can 3x their reading speed, and 2x their long-term memory. They can read-and-remember three books, articles and reports in the time their peers can hardly finish even one. The guarantee is for life and the result is these folks will not fall behind in their assignments.


Psychologists divide the brain into Consciousness and Subconsciousness. We call subconsciousness the Non-Conscious mind, and locate it in the right-hemisphere. The secret is not the name but the function. Our conscious mind reads text searching each and every word for meaning. The non-conscious right-brain on the other hand, investigates the page for the Essence, the Key-Ideas and the Gist. Both lefty and righty work together, not separately.

The difference is the proportion of each. The average college graduate reads at 200 words per minute (snailing) and uses the language dominant left-brain 90% of the time. The Speed Reader has strategies that change the proportion to 60% for the left brain and 40% for the right. The secret is pattern-recognition and spatial skills permitting a practical 650 to 1,000 words per minute for the speed reader.

In The Flow

Have you heard the term in sports called being In-The-Flow or sometimes, In-The- Zone? It is being in touch with your senses without conscious distraction in playing. Speed reading requires a 1-2 minute preliminary exercise called StressBusting to get you into the Flow and Zone.

The reason for StressBusting is our conscious mind is always running – gurus call it the Monkey-Mind. We have worries, fears, distractions (noise), self-doubt, and the little voice in our Mind’s Ear called Stream-of-Consciousness at least 16 hours daily. It is amazing we get anything done with all the clutter.

Use the 1-2 minutes of StressBusting before important reading (reports, memos, and articles) and you control two-hours of lucid brain time.


Our brain operates in Beta Brainwave Rhythms during waking hours (14-30 cycles per second); it is the shelter for chronic stress. Shut your eyes and in five seconds you brain changes to Alpha Brainwaves, alert relaxation (8-13 cycles per second) and operates almost stress free.

Speed Reading requires Alpha.

Step 1: sit down, hands on top of your knees, eyes closed.

Step 2: become aware of your breathing.

Step 3: Create a mental picture in your minds eye of the following digits.

Start with a deep diaphragmatic breath and see, visualize and imagine the numbers 3-3-3. Take another diaphragmatic breath and see, visualize and imagine the numbers 2-2-2. Lastly take another diaphragmatic breath and see, visualize and imagine the three-numbers 1-1-1. Now say to yourself, Now I am relaxed in Alpha consciousness.

Step 4: You are now going to going into a deeper dimension of mind by counting yourself down from 1-10, with a diaphragmatic breath separating each number. Each breath releases stress and increases relaxation. On reaching #10, say to yourself – I am feeling more relaxed than before, self-confident and ready to speed read. I am going to snap my fingers, open my eyes, feeling comfortable, and trusting in the unfolding, and ready to enjoy this learning session. Snap – eyes opened!

Two Contradictory Processes

Reading requires two cognitive processes for comprehension and long-term memory. They are easy and you have been doing both all your life but simultaneously instead of separately.

The first strategy is Gathering Data searching for the main ideas, the essence and gist in the text. It is a right-brain process of Semblance and Sensory Adaptation. Semblance is choosing the key points and separately copying them out of the whole. Sensory Adaptation is a brain strategy of working easily the second, third and fourth time you encounter something you previously learned.

The second strategy is the one you have been using all your life. It dominates your waking mind and mostly ignores your right-brain skills.

It is Thinking and Analysis and is the basis of our western economy. The problem is creativity and intuition require our right- brain skills which are often blocked-out by our left-brain.

An analogy why Gathering Data must not be used simultaneously with Thinking and Analysis is trying to memorize facts at the same time you are reading the text.

Principle: first understand the text, then insert facts into long-term memory. We cannot remember what we don’t understand.

That’s it. We know you can figure out this baby-easy stuff. More later.

See ya.

Copyright © 2006
H. Bernard Wechsler

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's; partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of speed reading, graduating 2 million, including the White House staffs of four U. S. Presidents.

Interviewed in 2006 by the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine.


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