Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio, texasbusinessradio.com being the website. 844-814-8144 is our 24-hour call-in line. That means call in now, call in later. Call in the middle of the night. I don’t have an opinion on it. We’re going to get experts in here to get those questions answered. We also monitor #TBR on Twitter, or go to the website. There’s a way to get questions in that way. Doesn’t really matter. Get ’em in, we’ll get ’em answered.
I’m your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry’s normally the one sitting over there in the co-host chair. He ditched us. We’ve got George Walden over there. What do you think, George?
George Walden: Well, I love our national advisor showcases, and I have so much fun learning about the skillsets and how you impart knowledge to other people, and how to do it professionally. This is a rather unique subject matter we’re going to be talking about. We’re going to be talking about focused passion.
Matt Register: It’s certainly going to be interesting. Steven Snyder’s our guest, all the way from Hawaii. Guys, we have a lot of national level speakers coming to Texas. Talk to CEO’s. They all have a wealth of information on how do you build your business; how do you improve your business; how do you get more out of your employees, and we love to sneak them in here into the studio and pick their brain a little bit.
Steven Snyder is the author of Focused Passion and overall, I don’t know what all we’re going to talk about this segment because we’ve got a whole lot of ground to cover. We’re going to talk about how people learn, how do you make things interesting. Welcome to the show, sir.
Steven Snyder: Thank you, thank you, pleasure to be here.
Matt Register: So tell us a little bit, what do you do and who do you do it to?
Steven Snyder: Well, for the last 10 years or so, I’m semi-retired. I’m working primarily just with Vistage International, the worlds’ largest CEO organization. This morning I did a talk here in Houston for my 1,892nd Vistage presentation.
Matt Register: So you’ve done it once or twice.
Steven Snyder: I’ve done a few of these, and I travel all over the world. I’ve worked in more than a hundred countries around the world, and basically my passion is changing the school system. The gentle overthrow of the school system, I like to say. I’d like to get rid of school and replace it with education because school is really about making everybody the same, and education is about helping kids discover their own unique, gifts, and talents, and abilities.
Matt Register: Interesting. But you’re not wrong. I mean, the school system is largely the same as it’s been for a long time, and there are a significant amount of kids that don’t learn that way. Right?
Steven Snyder: Right. There’s a lot do do, but for those kids that don’t learn that way, they really need something different. They really need to find a way to find their passion, to find their interests and to be able to learn the way their mind works, rather than trying to force that square peg into that round hole. It’s so difficult for some kids. Their minds just don’t work that way. They can’t sit still for eight hours. It’s not the way they work, so by finding the way that they learn, they can learn anything the way they learn. But truing to make everybody learn the same way, like school, doesn’t work for a whole lot of kids.
Matt Register: No. But there are ways that you can take the same material and teach it in a different way.
Steven Snyder: Absolutely. Absolutely, and there’s a whole bunch of different ways that it can be done. But, generally speaking, the kids that don’t fit in the school system, they need a little bit something different. They need either a one-on-one opportunity to ask their personal questions of the tutor, or they need to learn by doing it instead of reading it, or they need to learn by listening to it instead of reading. All kids have different learning styles and it’s just finding that style and identifying it.
But most important with every kid is to get them out of divided attention, out of their minds going all over the place, and learn to bring their mind into clear crystal focus. Every kid needs to learn that.
Matt Register: And it’s not just kids. I can’t think of a single CEO that doesn’t have different ideas competing for his mind’s mind-share, right?
Steven Snyder: Right, and all of them may be valuable, but only one at a time.
George Walden: So how do you keep your mind from wandering?
Steven Snyder: That’s a great question. The secret to keeping your mind … You don’t keep your mind from wandering, what you do is you learn that when your mind wanders, you can bring it back very quickly because your mind ultimately will wander. Nobody has a permanent attention span, so the secret isn’t how long your attention span is, a short one or a long one, it’s how rapidly you recover your next one. So when your mind does wander, instead of spending minutes wandering, you spend seconds wandering, and you bring yourself back.
The way to do that is to find a place where your mind can focus that you’re really good at. What I suggest is people close their eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine themselves in a safe and peaceful place. Just a beautiful little scene, and they practice that over, and over, and over, and over again, so anytime their mind wanders, they can go to that place to bring their focus, and then take that focused mind and bring it back to the subject.
For example, let’s say you’re in your office, and you’re working on something, and somebody comes in and interrupts you. You can say, just a sec, and you stare off into space for a couple of seconds, and you imagine that peaceful place which takes your mind totally off what you were thinking about before. Now you’re there, and now you can bring that focus to the person that came in to interrupt you. So you spend your life in serial focused passion instead of divided attention. Instead of wandering mind, you focus your mind on one thing, and you take that focused mind and bring it to the next thing or whatever else you want to focus on.
Matt Register: Okay, so what happens when somebody has figured this out, how to do it? They’ve identified how to do it. What kind of difference does that end up making in their performance ability?
Steven Snyder: Generally speaking, when you’re working on something and your mind wanders, it may wander for minutes and minutes. You may go off into this problem or that problem, and then therefore the task you’re working on is lost. You have to start all over again. You pay attention to something for seconds or minutes, go away for a few seconds, you come right back where you left off. Go away for minutes, and you have to start all over again.
So there’s all this wasted stuff. Short term memory doesn’t last very long, so when you’re working on something and then you go away for a couple of minutes, it’s gone. You gotta go all the way back to the beginning. You’re reading a book and your mind wanders, and five, six, seven pages go by. Look, now you gotta go all the way back, right? But if you’re reading a book and your mind wanders for five seconds, you didn’t really miss very much and you can pretty much keep going. So it’s not not wandering. It’s wandering for a very short amount of time, and then bringing your mind back to that focused state.
Matt Register: And this is something they can train themselves to do, right?
Steven Snyder: Easily.
George Walden: You have a series of tools that people can utilize?
Steven Snyder: I do, I do, and it takes just a few days of practice. It really isn’t difficult. It’s a simple process of teaching your mind to fixate on one thing so that you can always go to that one thing to bring your mind into focus, and then from that one thing you bring that focus to whatever else you need to do.
Matt Register: And you train CEOs how to do this? You train kids? Who are you training how to do this?
Steven Snyder: Well, gosh, I’ve been doing this for 50 years. For the first 20 years, it was mostly students. The next 15 years was mostly school teachers, and the last 25 years it’s been primarily CEOs. As I said, I did my 1,892nd Vistage talk this morning. That’s pretty much all CEOs.
Matt Register: Interesting. Now, CEOs aren’t the only ones that can use this. Are you finding CEOs are then bringing it to their companies?
Steven Snyder: That’s the idea. The CEO’s can not only bring it to their company and their employees, but also to their family and their children, and their employees’ children, and all kinds of stuff.
I give away these free programs, these audio programs that you can find on my website pen.tools, P-E-N-dot-T-O-O-L-S, and I give some of those to the CEOs to give to their employees and to their kids.
Matt Register: Interesting. The website is pen.tools. We’re going to have that linked right here from texasbusinessradio.com. If you’re driving you can’t take notes, but pen.tools.
Steven Snyder: Yeah, pen stands for personal empowerment network, but it’s P-E-N-dot-T-O-O-L-S.
Matt Register: Interesting, and these are a series of audio classes, if you will, right, for teaching you how to-
Steven Snyder: Yeah, they’re actually audio conversations with my business partner and myself and they all end with a guided medication. We have you close your eyes and visualize yourself doing the things that we talked about in the first part of the program.
Matt Register: Very interesting.
Steven Snyder: 250 of them and they’re all free.
George Walden: You referenced our outdated school system today, and that you would like to make changes. Have you had buy-in of this system in other areas?
Steven Snyder: Yes, a lot of buy-in in charter schools, private schools, religious schools, and international schools. The one place that I find the most resistance is the public schools because the school teachers are just so overloaded with all the stuff they have to do to get ready for those standardized tests. They say, “Gosh, Steve, I wish I could bring this into my school, but I just can’t. It’s Thursday. I have to be in Lesson Five.” But in charter schools … I’m working with the largest charter school company, and we’re putting a social and emotional learning segment into the program and, boy, they’re hungry for this.
I’m working in China now. You know, in China, they don’t know anything about emotional learning. It’s all memorization. It’s all rote memorization. The idea of teaching them to actually be interested in what they’re learning? They freak out. They’ve never heard of this before. They start crying. It’s like, I cannot believe it’s easy to do. It’s just so much pressure. They go to school early morning to late evening, and then they do homework util eleven o’clock at night. The idea of relaxing and focusing the mind, and then enjoying what you’re learning, being interested in what you’re learning, it’s mind blowing.
And every kid loves to learn. You don’t have to teach kids to learn. They love to learn. They just have to learn how to learn the way their mind already works, and then develop their ability to learn in the other ways. If a kid’s really bad in math, and they’re great in sports, they take them out of sports and make them focus on math. That’s totally wrong. What you do is you teach them how to learn math through sports, so that’s the whole idea is learning through what you’re interested in, learning the way your mind already works, rather than trying to force people into learning other ways that just doesn’t fit for them at all.
Matt Register: Interesting stuff. Steven Snyder is the author of Focused Passion. Focused Passion is the book. Go to Amazon. It’ll also be on our essential reading list there on texasbusinessradio.com. Focused passion. Pen.tools. P-E-N-dot-T-O-O-L-S is the website. We’ll have that linked. Steven Snyder, educational revolutionary, here in the studio. I want to thank you for joining us.
Steven Snyder: My great pleasure.
Matt Register: All right, guys. Again, we gotta pay some of our own bills. We’ll be back right on the other side of the break with a whole lot more Texas Business Radio. We’re just getting warmed up. We’ll be back right after this.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.
George Walden is a Managing Director and Principal in Corporate Finance Associates’ Houston office with twenty-five years experience as a middle-market investment banker. George is a member of CFA’s equipment industry practice group and an expert in the precision machining industry with special emphasis on manual machining, CNC precision machining, and gun drilling services and has been responsible for several industry-leading transactions. You can learn more about George HERE.