Teach Yourself How to Learn | Lauren Waldman

Teach Yourself How to Learn

with Lauren Waldman


About today’s guest:

Joining me today is Lauren Waldman. Lauren is the founder and lead scientific learning designer at Learning Pirate, which invites people to come to see what happens when neuroscience is translated into practical application. And you can experience and feel learning in a way you never knew before.

As always, May I Have Your Attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your podcast into three months of social media content, you can find out more at Captivate.ai.

Time Stamps:

  • Lauren’s background [1:25]

  • The biggest misconceptions about how people learn or should be taught [3:18]

  • How to teach someone to learn [4:33]

  • How to improve one’s ability to focus [10:39]

  • Checking social media is not a brain break [18:46]

  • How to make a presentation memorable [25:33]

  • Lauren’s recommended resources [33:38]

Selected resources:


Justin Nassiri  00:01

On this episode of May I have your attention.


Lauren Waldman  00:05

When you’re able to sort of tap into an existing memory and existing network in someone’s brain, then you can keep building and scaffolding on that. And that’s part of also the memory encoding process. We know that it’s easier to attach memory to something that’s already existing, that it is to create a complete new neural pathway.


Justin Nassiri  00:22

Well, Lauren, and I ended up chatting for a long time after our interview, I found her advice on learning on maintaining focus on being really deliberate and where we give our attention and how we tell others about what we’re doing. I found it extremely pertinent to my own life and work and hope you do as well. There are a tonne of resources for this episode, you’ll find [email protected], which turns podcasts into three months of marketing. in the show notes, you’ll find links to about a dozen different resources, many of which we talked about on the show, but many of which came up after we stopped recording and just continued talking. Special thanks to john henchmen for making the introduction to Lauren. And with that, let’s dive into my conversation. Great. Well joining me today normally in Toronto, but today about two hours north in a wilderness escape. My guest is Lauren Waldman, also known as the pirate. Lauren, welcome to May I have your attention?


Lauren Waldman  01:23

Oh, gosh, it’s so good to be here, Justin.


Justin Nassiri  01:25

So let me give people a little bit of a background. Lauren is the founder and lead scientific learning design, designer at learning pirate, which invites people to come see what happens when neuroscience is translated into practical application. And you can experience and feel learning in a way you never knew before. Let’s start with your journey to this even as a vocation, what led you to be interested in how people learn?


Lauren Waldman  01:51

fluke? If you would have asked me while I was still in university, are you ever going to be a teacher you ever? I would be like, No, I was a writer in university, but then I became a Event Manager for some of the largest concerts and festivals and basic parties, you know, in in Toronto, and I thought that was gonna be my, my trajectory. It was just gonna, you know, live the dream of the party for the rest of my life. And you know, if you graduated from university, and someone said, Hey, come over to Japan. And I was like, great, Tokyo is finally there. And I went over as a teacher. And lo and behold, that started the career path to where I became today. Yeah, it was a slow and steady, steady career. And then it just expanded and expanded. And then the brain came knocking at my brain one day changed everything about everything that I did. Well, let’s fast forward


Justin Nassiri  02:47

to today when you bump into someone on the street, and they say, hey, Lauren, what do you do for a living? How do you how do you answer that? Well, I’m


Lauren Waldman  02:53

a scientific learning designer. And then they go, what does that mean? And I say, Well, you’ve got traditional sort of learning and learning design, where it’s taken from contents and a lot of theory and methodology from psychology. But what I do is I’ve studied and researched the brain for the past five years, and I use the operational function of the brain and merge it with the cognitive psychology to really enhance the way that we design and learn.


Justin Nassiri  03:18

This is a intentionally broad question, but like, where my mind immediately goes to is, what are some of the biggest misconceptions you see about how people learn or how people should be taught?


Lauren Waldman  03:32

There’s so many, the behaviours that we were all ingrained with, but by sort of being brought up in a very traditional educational setting. I mean, I think by now, it’s been spoken so many times that we’re working on a model that’s 120 years old. So those misconceptions of you know, just being using the classroom setting or looking at learning as a content dump, right is getting everything that you need into the brain just to try to get it out. Like there’s a big misconception is you can’t just force things in there. And rely on rote memorization, which is how we typically all sort of grew up in an educational system. So that’s like, I think the one big misconception is in the actual process of how we learn as humans, that’s kind of been less spoken about a because we didn’t know as much as we know now and be because we just fell into sort of a behavioural pattern of how things were done the last 100 years. So I think that’s probably the largest one. One of the things that intrigued me when we connected a couple weeks ago was you said something that effect of like, Did anyone ever teach you how to learn?


Justin Nassiri  04:33

I was thinking about this this weekend for some random reason where I was like, man, if I were to go back to high school in elementary school, I feel like I would study in a different way. I don’t think I ever even knew what studying was. But I’m wondering how would you teach someone to learn?


Lauren Waldman  04:48

First and foremost, I think you have to start without foundational knowledge of the thing that’s doing the learning the brain so understand the operational system itself, right, because it’s not just about the learning process. It’s about the the memory process. So how are we encoding memories so that we can then retrieve them and transfer them into whatever skill or you know, ability that we’re trying to do? So I think we only say usually half of the process is like, how do you learn? Well, it’s not just how do you learn? It’s how do you learn and remember, so that we can use it later. And we’re effectively so foundationally, you know, having that bit of knowledge about the operational system and how its processing, how it’s taking in learning and how it’s encoding a memory, that’s all is going to be, for me the first step of like, how do we go about our own learning process?


Justin Nassiri  05:33

I like that two part thing. And it’s not just the learning, but it’s also the remembering, and I’m curious, like, how do we learn or how you recommend we remember, or is there like an example? You know,


Lauren Waldman  05:45

I would not be doing science justice. If I said, like, you know, this is the way that we do it, because there’s so much complexity to the process itself. So, you know, you look at memory and coding, it’s, you know, the myth of memory and coding is that, Oh, well, it happens in this one part of the brain, and you know, you just hit record, and everything’s great, you can get it back later. But it’s so much more complicated than that, because memories are stored not in one place in the brain, but in multiple places in the brain. And then you have to look at the fact that there are different types of memories. And those are stored in different places as well. So it’s really a lot more complicated and complex. On a foundational model level, though, you’re looking at sort of a three step process, if we were going to sort of take it at the basics, which is encode store, retrieve, encode, store, retrieve. So the encoding process is really when you’re doing that, like intentional focused learning, right, is that when that information is coming in through all the senses, but it really does take that intention and focus, the storage process, then is sort of helping the brain take it from that working memory. And then we got to get into long term memory, that’s where we’re going to retrieve from eventually, where we typically fail is in the rehearsal on the practice in between. So it’s again, we were very used to like a rote memorization of you know, I’m sure all of us, you know, in high school, we’d sit there, we cram, and we cram, you know, me and university sitting in a coffee shop until three in the morning, the night before the exam, kind of like get an haul in there. And then recognising that maybe I could retrieve some of that for the purposes of just passing a test. But I couldn’t remember anything beyond that. So the process wasn’t followed as far as how this needed to take it in. So then you’ve got that storage process, then you’ve got to go to the retrieval process. So if you haven’t started effectively, then you can’t retrieve it. Or maybe you have stored, but maybe you’re creating false memories. So you’re not actually retrieving what it was you thought you were learning. Again, foundational is encode store, retrieve that the complexities of what happens in between those stages, and how we can design learning for it. It’s challenging, but it’s so rewarding.


Justin Nassiri  07:55

As you’re saying that I like that phrase that you use, like I think it was rehearse and practice the transition from I’m thinking to refrain from short term to long term. And I’m just thinking that the vast majority of things I learned in an academic setting, were 100%, short term, it was just cramming in information in some, it almost feels like random pieces remain as like cocktail party fodder. But I’m curious, like, how can we as people get better at not having it for those things that really matter? Not having it be a short term thing, but have it be deeper, having it be something that we’re able to retain for the long term?


Lauren Waldman  08:31

You know, I think the one thing and even with myself before I got into the sciences and started, you know, before I got my credentials, and like really started working with the science itself, it was first I had to understand, you know, going back to what we’re talking about earlier, is I never really understood how to do it properly. You know, even foundational skills of focus, your focus to me is a skill, right? And you need to understand how attention works in order to be able to focus and I didn’t know any of that, you know, you know, I thought I did, I’m like, Oh, yeah, I sit down, I just, you know, read and keep reading quiet environment. It’s so basic, right? It’s not how it actually works. So I think that’s kind of you know, where that started is understanding that there are certain practices and skills to even be able to help ourselves more effectively in the process of the learning and the encoding process. And then you’ve got, you know, from cognitive psychology, you’ve got tonnes of different methodologies and strategies. So I’m sure you know, people watching they’ve heard you know, there’s the Ebbinghaus curve, you know, the forgetting curve. There’s cognitive biases. There’s what Professor from UCLA Professor Robert Bjork, who has been studying these things for like 25 years, about desirable difficulties, and you’re making errors. There’s so many places and things that we can pull from, to more intentionally and strategically design our own learning interventions or if you’re an instructional designer or like a course creator, if you’re making a sales presentation, any of these things can be embedded into the way That we designed but then that we also take in the learnings. So, on that foundational knowledge again, it’s like okay, so how do we use what we know? You know it, it doesn’t have to be too scientific. That’s why I exist so that you don’t have to translate all the sciences, all the hard stuff is but how do we understand this foundational operational models of our brains, and then build upon that with different methods and theories, but then with those methods and theories, being very intentional and strategic about how we’re using them? And I think that’s also been sort of like a gap when we’re designing is we Yeah, we know about spaced repetition. We know about interleaving. But are they being used to functionally work with the operational system?


Justin Nassiri  10:39

You started out talking about focus? And I’m just kind of curious if you have thoughts on how, because you talked about like, oftentimes, we don’t even understand how to focus and I think about how this device as much as I love it, how it I feel like it’s training me not to focus, I’m constantly, you know, dividing my focus, and have you found anything good practices or insights around how to improve one’s ability to focus. And I liked that you said, it is a skill, it’s something that can be learned


Lauren Waldman  11:05

at first, you need to look at attention. So there’s a few different attentional networks in the brain. And they each do something different. There’s like a, there’s an attentional network for executive function, there’s one that actually helps us to direct our focus when it comes to something that’s visual or auditory. So I kind of look at those things first. But on an everyday level, if you think that attention is the mechanism to focus and repeat that attention is the mechanism to focus. So the thinner you’re spreading your attention, the less are able to focus on that one thing. So look at it, as you know, like you said, you know, my phones beside me, but it’s off, I don’t have any other tabs open on my computer, I’m being very intentional with like listening to. And making sure that eight environmentally, I’m not spreading my attention, because remember, your brain is constantly like, you know, it’s taking in all the sensory information around you. And if it’s processing all of that, then you know, it’s already spreading its attention, then if I have too many tabs open on my computer, if there’s music going on in the background, if you know, my phone is like, there’s just too many things that you know, whether we recognise it or not our brains processing, which means it’s taking away from our ability to focus on the one thing we probably really want to focus on. So, you know, a daily practice for me when it comes to work workflow is, you know, if I do see, I’m kind of like going off side, I just look around, I’m like, Am I What am I giving my attention to? And that’s something I will consistently ask myself throughout the day is like, what am I giving my attention to? Is that what I need to be focused on? And typically, it’s not just like, steering myself hear myself back. That being said, again, when we go into the brain, and we look at how do we harness our abilities to what I called join forces, with the operational system, you know, I have a very, very strong and diligent practice of meditation. It’s something that, you know, it took me years to build up to be able to sort of, you know, recognise where my awareness is, and you don’t have to meditate. You know, there’s so many different ways that we can really work with our attentional networks to help us to focus, an experiment that anybody can try, like, it’s really simple. I’ve been using this for months with people is, when you’re out and you’re every day, go look for a colour, but not like your standard colour, right? Don’t look for orange look for mustard, colour for purple look for plum. And just that, in itself is a practice of guiding your attention to focus on something. And when you start to find little practices like that, and your day, what you’re doing is you’re really strengthening your ability to redirect your cognitive function to that prefrontal cortex and your executive function, which will primarily help you to focus, but you don’t have to jump into meditation if you want to. It’s wonderful. I love it. But you know, I think it’s always brought up buys that one all be all practice. But meditation is hard. Like when you get going and you start, it’s not easy. It’s another practice that cultivates the skill.


Justin Nassiri  14:04

I really liked that question you asked, What am I giving my attention to. And the image that comes up for me is in surgery where they’ll have the blue tarp or whatever it’s called. And they’ll have a little tiny hole in there of the area that they’re focusing on for the surgery. And I always thought of that is like, I’m going to give my full attention to this little tiny space. I don’t want anything around it to be distracting. And I just know for myself, I’m so easily distracted by sounds and by sites. And I recognise that when I slip away, it takes me you know, 10 to 20 seconds to kind of remember where I was and pick up a thread. So I like those examples you gave of having just one browser tab open, not having music in the background because it’s things that our minds are just tracking. And I also really liked that example you gave of finding mustard colour and just kind of giving yourself something to think about I remember in Cal newports book Deep work he talks about he’ll do these walking breaks, but he’ll give his mind one thing to focus on like the I have the sales call, let me think about that I’m just going to keep on coming back to this single topic rather than just allowing my attention to be diffuse and just kind of to out there, when you work with clients or just for yourself, do you need to give your brain like room to restore or replenish? Like if you’re giving your focus so wholly to something? I don’t know if there’s a guideline on how long to do that for, or how to structure breaks. But that’s kind of what my mind went to next.


Lauren Waldman  15:36

Oh, yeah, absolutely. So I think, you know, when you look at the brain as not just one mass resource, but you look at it from a functional perspective, and you recognise that, like, you know, in each one of those areas, it’s doing something operational for you. So I’ve got the backlog into my occipital lobe, which is like my primary visual area, but it’s not when we look at it deeper. Okay, so it’s helping me to see, but what is it helping me to see is decoding movement shape, colour, like break it down, break it down, break it down, and then you recognise that you’ve got a bunch of these different functions and resources in there, that can be you know, they all require energy, your brain is so expensive, and the currency is energy. So when you start to sort of look at it from that way, and you, you know, you don’t shut anything off in the brain, you can’t just be like, Okay, I’m going to go around, I used to look at it, like, you know, oh, it’s my house. And if I want to save energy, I’m going to go shut off a bunch of light switches, but it doesn’t work like that. But what we can do is we can dim, so we can just like dim things down, and whether that’s, you know, the sound or, you know, whatever is around you, that’s one way of doing it. But I definitely take breaks like I think a lot of you know, we come back to focus. And you know, the, the practice of being cognitively aware, is recognising and this is why I love the practice of metacognition, because it’s like, it allows you to harness the skills of going, who am I actually paying attention anymore? And if I’m not, is it because I’ve just kind of cognitively exhausted myself. So I take regular breaks. And you know, if I’m sitting for too long, as well, as we know, the brain needs blood, and it needs blood to be pumping up there. So if you’re sitting stagnant for over 20 minutes to half an hour, that blood oxygen needs from your head down to your butt. So it’s like get up COVID jump up and down for a couple of times. And I take regular pauses throughout my day and something as simple honestly, Justin, something as simple as like 90 seconds of just closing her eyes and breathing, like but breathing with intention, even that itself because I think the other thing that you know, we need to bring into the conversation is that Yeah, we’re talking about the brain. We’re talking about learning, but the brain is connected to everything else. So it’s, you know, the central nervous system. So how are we actually tapping into maybe my body is anxious right now, because I’m thinking about all the things I have to do. Or maybe I asked myself that question of where’s my attention, and I was like, Oh, my god that’s on and my taps are on my phones, my anxiety has just gone up, my body is reacting. And the fastest way to sort of calm that down, is to breathe. But not like, Okay, I’m good. Like, stop and take that moment. So yeah, I take moments to do breath work throughout my day, when I’m designing when I’m facilitating anyone who’s been in any one of my workshops, or my keynotes, I do that intentionally, I insert them intentionally, because I’m also managing the energy and the resources of those that I’m working with, you know, that goes into more of the science of design is part of my job as a designer, is to also protect the resources of the brains that I’m working with. And when you learn how to design with science, and you understand how to function, how to use the resources more effectively, you can actually do that for your learner’s.


Justin Nassiri  18:46

So two things that come up for me because I really like that. One of them is that I feel like there’s often this message of hustling which I interpretive, like just really pushing yourself pushing yourself pushing yourself. And I like that you’re you’re talking about attention as almost like a limited resource that needs to be periodically replenished. And just the awareness of the way that our bodies and minds work of making sure we have time to re nourish ourselves to then give ourselves fully to whatever we’re doing. That’s one thing. But the second is, as you were talking, I find the part of me that feels almost exhausted. Because when you’re talking about like you’re focused, and then it’s like, Okay, I’m gonna take 90 seconds and just pay attention to my breathing. There is this subconscious belief that I have where it’s like, oh, man, that’s so much I got to, you know, remember to take breaks and remember to move and all these other things. But what I’m also remembering is that like, there’s this fo truth for me, let where I feel like oh, you know, if I just zone out on YouTube, or I look at Reddit that’s going to replenish me, and it feels like I am I’m just kind of scrolling, scrolling scrolling. But it’s it’s not actually nourishing to me. It’s not actually restorative. And so I just wanted to name that for myself, as well as our audience that I feel like the things that you’re describing When I do them, they do work. I feel more energised, I feel more focused, I feel like I have more capacity. But oftentimes, it’s like the junk food craving where it’s like it doesn’t actually satisfy doesn’t actually nourish. And so many of the activities that are my go to let me check Facebook, let me check Reddit, let me check the news. They don’t actually give me more energy, they don’t actually give me more capacity, even though my mind is screaming, like, Oh, I need this break. And that’s what’s going to satisfy me.


Lauren Waldman  20:31

Well, those are like, massive dopamine hits here, right? You’re just like, you know, we get satisfied by social media, we, you know, you see something that you that that’s funny, or it’s enjoyable, or whatnot. But when you think about, again, what is your brain processing, while you’re doing that? Well, if I’m scrolling through my phone, as mundane as it might sound, it’s like, I’m still using a motor, you know, like, it’s not high physical engagement, it’s still doing this. And then my visual, you know, my visual areas are like, you know, processing, all of that movement, all of that colour, all of that language, all of that listening, like, it’s just so much to really to do. So, you know, everyone’s gonna have their own versions of what they do to sort of like dim those switches, you know, go for a walk, remove yourself from the environment, close your eyes, take a few moments of breath, you know, it’s gonna look and feel different. But I think when you don’t have understanding at when your brain, your mind, and your body don’t have that understanding of what that truly feels like what that you know, dimming feels like so that you can come back refreshed. Like you said, it’s like you’re almost fooling yourself into believing that No, I’m good. I’ve taken my break. I just scrolled Facebook for 10 minutes. But when really you’re just continue to use the resource.


Justin Nassiri  21:44

Yeah, you know, the other example it comes up for me is I love listening to audio books and podcasts. And oftentimes, when I’m driving, that’s all I’m doing. But I tried to force myself occasionally to just drive in silence. And I just noticed that I’m so much more present when I arrived somewhere. I feel like I’ve like the silt has settled a little bit, Matt, rather than just constantly giving this poor brain so much to be processing and fixated on. Yeah, I


Lauren Waldman  22:10

mean, I was them even the other day. So when I was driving up here, up north, and I typically don’t listen to podcasts when I’m driving, but I was like, Okay, I’m gonna, there’s this one, I really want to listen to it. And I had to stop it because I was, so my brain was just like, oh, that’s really interesting. And for me, it’s like, I want to break it down, I want to take a note of like, you know, a two hour drive would have taken me 10 hours if I would have kept pulling over. But I was so you know, and I guess that’s different. If you’re passively listening to something, versus me who’s like, I want to actively listen to it, it’s something different, you know, because I’ll drive with the radio on and you know, singing, singing, even if you’re a horrible singer, singer, singing is something that like, it’s breathwork in itself, and it stimulates that nerve, and all these little things that you potentially could do. But when you don’t really tap into what that feels like, I know what it feels like very, very well to be intentionally calm. I know what it feels like when my emotional centres of my brain are relaxed, and they’re not on high alert. I know what the opposite of that feels like. I know like to be sitting on the highway in traffic and late for a meeting and going that tense. But I also know how to get that logical executive function back online faster.


Justin Nassiri  23:23

I you know, I think one of the things that jumps out as you’re saying, all this to me is that for my eldest say, for myself, I think this is broader than myself, but there’s so much of a drive to do more, I’m going to listen to more books, more podcasts, I’m going to do more of these things. But what comes through as you’re speaking is, it’s almost consciously choosing to do less, but better, I’m going to listen to this, but I’m going to give my full attention to I’m really going to soak the knowledge out of it. And that to me is like much more satisfying That to me is like a you know, nourishing steak dinner rather than, you know, a McDonald’s hamburger, but it’s just really stands out to me at how contrary that is to so much of my own behaviour and what I take in through popular media about doing more and more and more, rather than doing less, more purposefully, more deliberately, and and frankly, better, more intentionally.


Lauren Waldman  24:15

Absolutely. An example that probably all of us can relate to is just the simple act of reading something, right? It’s like, you know, typically, I mean, anyone could test this read a page, don’t look at the top, do you remember what was at the top? And this is why the work that I do takes significantly longer than than it would, especially when it comes to the research because I’m dealing with white papers, mostly, you know, and I can’t just you know, assume that I can I’ve understood what’s what’s at the top of the page from the bottom like I’m rereading and going back like multiple times, to really understand absorb that content. I’m not just passively flipping the page, and I noticed that more consciously like even when I buy books now. It’s like, I won’t wants to be more engaged with what it is that I’m reading, that means not just passively getting to the end of the page, and then going to the next going to the next. But being more consciously aware of is different. If you’re doing it for entertainment, you don’t want to learn something from it. Typically, I read for learning purposes. So it’s a longer process of, I’m going to consciously go back to the top of the page, make sure that, you know, I got from what I needed to and I understand the contextual relevance of how it’s going to flow to the next section. Yeah, if I’m scrolling Instagram, I’m not going to stop and take notes.


Justin Nassiri  25:33

That’s great. We can move on. If this isn’t kind of pertinent. I know that your expertise is around helping people teach better helping people impart knowledge better, but my mind goes to, if there’s anything that you’ve you’ve learned that’s applicable, more from a marketing sense, what’s in my mind is How do I explain what I do in a way that people will remember it? Or how do I impart some sort of belief system that will actually, you know, make it through eight other mediums that this person has? And I’m just curious, you know, it’s okay. If not, but if you’ve found anything about that, particularly, that might benefit a marketer?


Lauren Waldman  26:10

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And because these are things that that, you know, I’m easy, because you don’t necessarily have to be a marketer. I’ve had people come to me and say, okay, Lauren, I’ve got 15 minutes, am in a meeting with all the stakeholders, and I need to get in what I need to get in, and I need to get their buy in in 15 minutes. I’m like, okay, hard task. Let’s do this. So first of all, getting the emotions involved, the emotional centres of the brain are highly interconnected with the executive function, right? So we know that it’s part of our decision making process, it’s part of every memory and coding. So you know, tapping into certain types of emotion, always a good benefit, you got to be careful, you don’t want to trigger people in the wrong way. So definitely err on the side of caution when you’re trying to design with emotion and novelty, the brain loves novelty. So anything that makes it more novel, and you know, that’s going to really be contextually relevant to what it is you’re trying to present or sell or market. So how do you make that novel so that it, you know, it can sort of latch on to something like that. And then the theory of primacy and recency is, say at first, say it again, last. So, you know, typically, if I’m in a room, and I need to say something, or I need someone to be if I want to be heard and remembered, I’m going to make sure that I say something at the very beginning. And I’m going to really try my best to be the last person to speak as well. And tap into that theory of primacy and recency,


Justin Nassiri  27:27

that’s what occurred to me when you were talking about the way that you read when you’re reading to really understand something how you kind of start at the top, you go down, you go revisit the top. So it’s interesting to see that that’s one of your tools in teaching and leading workshops, as well as kind of revisiting and primacy and recency, I like that combination. And I imagine that repetition helps those points remain in someone’s mind longer.


Lauren Waldman  27:50

Yeah, contextual relevance is always like a big one for me, right? It’s one thing, if I’m working with somebody one on one, it’s another thing when I’ve got an audience of 1000s, you know, it’s gonna be it, you got to look at it from that challenge. I love bringing things down to a very, you know, that level of human experience, something that I can probably find that we’ve all experienced in one way, shape or form in our lives. Right. So that’s me is the way to sort of grounded in like, Oh, yeah, I remember when that happened. Okay, yeah, I can relate to that. And then you already got, you know, when you’re able to sort of tap into an existing memory and existing network in someone’s brain, then you can keep building and scaffolding on that. And that’s part of also the memory encoding process, we know that it’s easier to attach memory to something that’s already existing, than it is to create a complete new neural pathway, that becomes a lot more challenging as we get older. But you know, that’s why we’ve got the scaffolding. And what we call schemas is attaching things, or groups of things to things that already exist.


Justin Nassiri  28:48

I know that a lot of things you’re saying are for us as human beings universally, and really understanding the way that the mind works. How do you temper that with? And maybe this is an outdated mode of thinking, but different learning styles? Or how, you know, if there are differences in the way that people receive information? Because I was also thinking about, you know, you said, with attention, you’re like, you know, everyone has their own cues. And so it seems like very nuanced to us from an individual perspective of where we get distracted and how we focus attention. But does that feel like a balance for you, if like the universal truths of how we learn versus maybe unique differences and different sorts of people,


Lauren Waldman  29:26

we might have the same pieces up here. But what makes us all unique and different is the way that they’re all networked. We’re all network differently. So functionally, we have all the same pieces, but like your experiences and the memories, and that the scaffoldings that you already that you have in Justin’s brain are completely different from what Lauren has in her brain. So that’s definitely going to be different, you know, in the way that we approach things. Learning Styles, not a thing, big mess, sorry. Great learning preference learning preferences, absolutely a thing, but it doesn’t serve us well. To again, we can go to what we prefer, but learning is hard. Learning is challenging. And it’s because when you look in the brain and what it takes to change the actual neurons and the synaptic connections in there, and to grow these, like tree branch like structures, like that’s the true process of creating a memory is the manipulation or the destruction or the change as a very biological level. So, you know, is there a one fits all? No, there’s not, then we have to consider the fact that, you know, we’ve got people who are in the neuro diverse populations who, you know, whether they brought learning disabilities or whether they’ve got sort of, you know, different deficits, there’s that that we also need to consider it to take into consideration. So the design of learning and the way that someone goes about learning, if you know, you are neurodiverse is going to be different. It can be accommodated for, of course, but it’s going to be different. So I would love to say there’s like a one shoe fits all. And it’s something that even when I’m designing for like the mass population, I’m just like, I’m never gonna get everybody. You know, I know, I know that. I know that. But I can do as best as I can, with a operational knowledge that I do have.


Justin Nassiri  31:01

I think one of the most hopeful things that you said there too, is that learning is difficult. And I you know, when I hear that it’s a little bit relieving to understand that learning something new establishing these new pathways, it takes time, it takes effort, it’s not a simple thing. And I think sometimes we might deceive ourselves to thinking like, okay, it’s it should just take five minutes to learn something new. And I think just level setting an understanding that like to truly learn and internalise something new takes, takes a lot to realise that it’s not going to be an instantaneous one time fix.


Lauren Waldman  31:33

Yeah. And I think that also comes down to, you know, when you actually and this is something again, I’ll do this in my keynotes, I do this in workshops, I’ll show people fMRI footage and MRI footage of, you know, it’s not gross, by the way, it’s not like bloody. But it’s, it’s when you see the actual process of what’s going on in here. You know, Justin, when we first spoke the first time I think I brought to your attention that you’ve never seen me before, you’ve never remembered, you know, never seen my face, you’re literally growing this like tree branch like structure out of one of your cells to represent me, and vice. And as we’re speaking, everything is moving around and being manipulated in here. Now we’ve had a few interactions that has now grown and your network of representation of Lauren has grown. But that’s been over the course of what four weeks now.


Justin Nassiri  32:25

Yeah, yeah, that’s wild. Yeah, I love I just love the dynamic sense of that, though. I think that even like the visualisation of that is incredible.


Lauren Waldman  32:33

If you kind of look at your hand, and you imagine like the circle of your palm of your hand was like one cell, just that one neuron, when you’re learning something for the first time, and you have absolutely no networks in there, your fingers are just like these tree branches that are literally physically growing out of that cell. And when you look at the time markers of how long it can take to grow that that’s number one for it then to find a neighbouring neurons to sort of like, you know, to network with. And then the parts that we don’t usually see people don’t know about neurons are one thing. They’re wonderful, they’re great, but it’s these things called the synapses, which I like to equate, you know, for the everyday person, I use this as a visual in my presentations. Now, if you were to take your hand and then like smother it and like frosting, like cake, a cake, like icing, and then dip your hand in sprinkles, all of those 1000s of sprinkles would represent the things that are allowing your brain to communicate into cells to communicate with one another. That is where that magic is happening. So everything is being manipulated and changed at all, like all times, so that you can learn and take into your environment.


Justin Nassiri  33:38

That’s great. I know. I always like to ask about recommended resources. But I’m especially excited to ask you this because you seem really deliberate in what you give your attention to. So as people are excited about this topic, and it can be your own resources or others, but are there any books, podcasts websites, you would recommend them check out?


Lauren Waldman  34:02

I’m I’m currently really into the Huberman lab podcast. I can send you the names of these a good friend of mine, Nick Hopson, he’s a behavioural scientist. And he has a podcast called I think it’s all a bunch of BS. I just love it. So yeah, so those are the podcasts I would recommend. Typically my what I read it is scientific literature. It’s research papers. It’s white papers. And there is one gentleman His name is v s. Rama Sean Ramachandran. And I remember the first time I picked up one of his books, it’s called patents in the brain. And his writing is very easily absorbed, but it’s all case study and scientifically based and his book was about phantom limbs, people who they have amputations, but they still believe that that limb exists. And that to me was like the coolest thing ever. I’m such a nerd. This is what I find. Everyone’s like x men are cool. I’m like, No, phantom limbs are cool. So yeah, that’s That’s me and David, the work of David de Souza in his books on learning for teachers and students and parents even, they’re fantastic. I’m a fan girl to the scientists themselves. So at Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor at York, as I mentioned, john donne loski, for metacognition, everybody who I get to interact with at the Rotman Research Centre, like it’s, I’m a nerd for what they’re doing, and what they’re exploring, and then being able to bring it out to the public.


Justin Nassiri  35:28

And for listeners that captivate AI, I’ll add all of these resources links to them, as well as to Lauren’s own work. Well, I always like to keep the last question open ended, which is, we’ve covered a lot of ground here, but what if we not talked about that you want to make sure listeners know, before we wrap up,


Lauren Waldman  35:43

you know, many things. You know, when I started this journey, right, when I started my own journey into the sciences and learning about my own brain, you know, I first thought it was it was going to be about being a better learning designer. And you know, that’s eventually what I became, but was even more significant was the profound impact it just had on me as a human. And, you know, we’re not given operational manuals of our own brains when we’re when we’re born. And we’re definitely not exposed to this information. And learning about my own operational system has just profoundly changed me as a human being the way that I can see other people the way that I interact with other people. And I think, you know, even at a very foundational level, anything that you can learn about the thing that’s with Jitta, mately, making you you and keeping you alive every day, it’s only going to be of a benefit to you and to everybody else around you.


Justin Nassiri  36:37

I just really appreciate the passion you bring to this. But that certainly gives insight into why you have so much leverage and studying this because I can see that excitement, like everything you’re learning kind of helps you understand yourself more. And I imagine that’s liberating and liberating to impart that to others and kind of help them understand these things that will make their life that much easier.


Lauren Waldman  36:58

Yeah, I mean, if I can bring people to the same moments that kind of I like that first year that I was really diving into the Science and Learning more about myself the question that just kept going over and over and over again, I was like, how did I not know this? Like, how did I know this? And now it’s like, wow, like, I want everybody to know this. So yeah, it completely changes. It changes the game completely.


Justin Nassiri  37:20

Well, I appreciate your time and energy on this for listeners, you’ll find links in the show [email protected] with links to everything discussed. Her website, Lauren’s website is learning pirate.com. That’s learning pirate.com tonnes of great resources there. You will probably more often find her referred to as learning pirate and Lauren, but Lauren, thank you so much for your time. That’s


Lauren Waldman  37:43

a pleasure and just a big yard to everybody out who’s listening. Yeah, but the ideology behind learning pirate is er, and it’s you are really ready. Just that’s the feeling when you know, and it’s pretty fantastic.


Justin Nassiri  37:55

Thank you for listening to me, I have your attention. Each episode I meet with top marketers thought leaders and experts to find out how individuals and brands can get keep and make money with attention. You can subscribe to me I have your attention on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. show notes are provided for each [email protected] slash podcast. May I have your attention is brought to you buy captivate.ai which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content, find out [email protected]

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