USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis on Memory, Tenacity, & Conquering Anything
In many of the episodes thus far, we’ve talked a lot about the World Memory Championships and the different techniques used by elite memory athletes – but we have yet to actually meet one. Fortunately, that changes now. My guest this week (Thanks for the intro, Samir!) is Mr. Nelson Dellis, 3-time USA memory champion, record holder, and one of only three “Grandmasters of Memory” in the United States.
But that’s just the beginning of Nelson’s SuperHuman credentials. He is also an accomplished mountain climber, the founder of a nonprofit combatting Alzheimer’s, a renowned public speaker, and much, much more.
In this episode, we discuss:
- The role of natural ability in becoming an elite memory athlete (hint: there is none!)
- How much does Nelson train, and how?
- What a typical day looks like for Nelson, between training for the championship and his “day jobs”
- How exercise and sleep play a role in Nelson's regimen (surprising!)
- Does Nelson use nootropics (or smart drugs)?
- Are all memory athletes using basically the same techniques?
- How important are minor tweaks to these systems in determining who wins
- How Nelson personally uses and applies the Memory Palace or “Loci” technique
- How does Nelson set goals, overcome adversity, and stay positive when things don't go his way?
- The mindset that keeps Nelson training time and time again to conquer Mt. Everest
- Where did Nelson develop the tenacity and grit to train the way he does (with a great anecdote)
- Nelson's thoughts on meditation
- What drives Nelson to work as hard as he does?
- Synergies between CrossFit and Memory Competitions
- How Nelson was drawn towards the battle against Alzheimer's
- Nelson's upcoming book on how to actually use his techniques
- How can memory sport be made more appealing to the masses?
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo
- DHA Omega 3 (Nutritional Supplement)
- Ben Pridmore and the “Ben System“
- Joshua Foer and his book, Moonwalking with Einstein
- The Memory Palace/Journey Technique – If unfamiliar, see this episode with Dr. Anthony Metivier
- The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin
- CrossFit (Exercise Program)
- This study by the Rush Institute on Alzheimer's
- GrandMaster of Memory Ed Cooke
- Nelson Dellis's website, ClimbForMemory.org