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By: Stephan Spencer


Today’s guest is Dr. John Demartini, who is the founder of the Demartini Institute and the creator of the Demartini Method. He focuses deeply on our individual values, and emphasizes the importance of living in alignment with them. He goes into depth about our innate values and how important it is to live by them, and how understanding others’ values can help our personal relationships.

Dr. John Demartini
“We can’t live an inspired life without service to other people.”
Dr. John Demartini

In this Episode

  • [01:37]John starts things off by talking about values, specifically the values determination process. He walks us through the thirteen questions involved in determining our values.
  • [07:27]We hear more about how this value determination system can help in professional situations or as a tool in deciding who to hire.
  • [08:31]John talks about how knowing your values can help you live in alignment with them.
  • [09:50]What if somebody isn’t in a position to be able to afford to hire someone to delegate their lower-value tasks?
  • [11:36]John shares what he does with people who aren’t fulfilled in their careers and don’t look forward to Mondays. Stephan then gives an example of having hired someone else to do a low-priority task for him.
  • [14:58]Stephan explains that this process isn’t about ego, and that you shouldn’t look at tasks as being “below” you. John responds, talking about a time he did the exercise he’s outlined himself.
  • [17:17]We learn about Paul MacLean’s theory of the triune brain.
  • [19:51]What does John tell somebody who may be living by someone else’s values, possibly without even realizing it?
  • [22:31]John shares his thoughts on the current ADD/ADHD epidemic. He’s leery of labels, he explains.
  • [25:40]It wasn’t until he was 18 that John read his first book. He talks about his physical and learning challenges as a child, and how he got through school despite this inability to read.
  • [28:46]John nearly died weeks before his 18th birthday. Here, he explains what changed, and how his life shifted into a different course.
  • [32:10]We hear the story of how John started teaching.
  • [34:01]John talks about his Breakthrough Experience, and explains how teaching helps him retain information.
  • [35:30]Since learning to read at 18, John has read 30,019 books so far.
  • [36:01]John talks about his speed-reading system, which he developed by documenting what worked (and didn’t) for him.
  • [37:50]Stephan mentions several apps to help you read faster, specifically Spritz and Spreeder. John then talks about his thoughts on physical books versus e-books or online information.
  • [39:48]In reference to light while reading, Stephan talks about Irlen Syndrome.
  • [41:36]What’s John’s favorite book out of the 30,000 or so he’s read? His most common answer, he explains, is The Syntopicon (volumes 1 and 2).
  • [43:23]John talks about The Book of Wealth, a 10-volume series by Hubert Howe Bancroft.
  • [46:17]We hear about John’s travel schedule; if he isn’t traveling for work, he’s living on a boat, he explains, which means he’s always traveling. He then talks about his daily ritual and his current high priorities.
  • [49:44]John talks more about his gratitude journaling.
  • [50:22]John elaborates on why he maintains a posthumous biography in his journaling.
  • [51:50]We hear John’s thoughts on multitasking.
  • [52:56]On the subject of grief, John explains that “we only grieve the loss of those things we infatuate with.” He gives advice on how to transcend grief.


Jump to Links and Resources


Hello and welcome to Get Yourself Optimized. I’m your host Stephan Spencer. It’s my distinct pleasure to have on the show today Dr. John Demartini. John is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on human behavior and personal development. He’s the founder of the Demartini Institute and creator of The Demartini Method. John is the author of 40 books published in over 29 different languages. He’s also produced over 60 CDs and DVDs covering subjects such as development, relationships, wealth, education, and business. John, it’s great to have you on the show.

‏‏Well, thank you for having me.

‏‏Let’s start by talking about the values determination process, that’s something you’re very famous for. I have all of my staff that come on board do that as one of the first activities. In fact, I have a lot of my final candidates, before even deciding to hire them, do the values determination process, and send me their results. Let’s talk about values determination.

‏‏As I state in some of my programs that every individual lives by a set of priorities, a set of values, things that are most important to least important in their life. In the area of their highest values, according to the highest values, this where they spontaneously are inspired from within to fulfill their lives. The lowest values, they require outside motivation to get them to do it. Anytime we can identify what’s really valuable, what’s really important to somebody and find out how the job duties and responsibilities that they’re going to be doing is helping them fulfill that and how the company’s mission is going to help them fulfill that, we can discern whether or not that person is going to be engaged in advance by how congruent those duties are with the person’s values. Taking the time to go through the value determination can be very helpful in business and in any relationship dynamic.

Every individual lives by a set of priorities, a set of values, things that are most important to least important in their life.

What I did is I developed a value determination process based on what people demonstrate, not by what they say. So often we can ask people what are your values and they would give you all kind of social idealisms and things that have been injected from culture, traditions, and other individuals that they admire instead of looking at what their life actually demonstrate. What I did is I looked at ways of finding out what their life really demonstrates instead of these outside influences. I find out that the best ones were how does a person fill their space. I ask the person in the value determination, write down the three things that you fill your personal space with most, whether it be at work or at home but what are the things that you keep with you in your personal space most consistently and what do they represent and mean in your life.

For instance, I carry around my computer and my computer is my research vehicle and also writing vehicle for all of my programs that I use in education. If I look at what I fill my space with, my computer’s the one that dominates it and it’s helping me research, write, and teach. That’s what you’re doing, you’re trying to find out what are your surrounding because the things that are really valuable to you, you keep in your space and things that aren’t valuable to you, you want out of your space so that’s the first indicator. The second indicator is how do you spend your time. You make time for things that are really valuable to you and you run out of time for things that aren’t. The third indicator is what energizes you. You have more energy at the end of the day when you’re doing things that are high in your values and you’re drained if you’re doing things low. I look at what it is that energizes you, how do you fill your space, and how do you spend your time.

The fourth one is what do you spend your money on and where is all your money going? Look at the top three things you spend most of your money on and then what do they really represent and mean to you, that gives you an of idea what’s important to you. If you’re really clear on these answers, you’ll find the same answers keep emerging. There’s a different way of looking at the same thing that’s basically high in your value. The next one is where you’re most organized because you’re organizing the things that are high in value and you got a lot of chaos around things that aren’t. You never get around to bringing origin. The next one is what are you most disciplined and most reliable on. What is it that you can always be disciplined and reliable to do? People can count on you to do it, that’s another sign of high value. The next one is what do you think about, the next one is what you visualize and the next one is what do you talk to yourself about how you want your life that shows evidence of coming true. It has to be about what you really want in life and what you show evidence of. If there’s no evidence that’s not what you want, it’s not the dialogue that’s basically self-deprecating, it’s the dialogue that is inspiring to you that you’re saying to yourself, seeing for yourself, and thinking about. This is the thing that’s highest on your values.

The next one is what do you converse with other people about wanting to bring the conversations to, what do you love talking about most. The next one is what is it that is consistently the thing that inspires you or what’s common to the people who inspire you. The next one what is it your three most consistent persistent goals that you have about how you want your life, and again shows evidence of coming true. The last one is what it is you love studying about, reading about, learning about, listening to about, and that you beehive when you go to a bookstore or go online and research or want to watch on TV. If you take all 39 answers, 3 answers for all 13 questions or value determinants, look at which answer keeps showing up most consistently, second-most consistent, third-most consistent, it will reveal what your life demonstrates as really valuable to you, the top 3.

These are the top three that are most important when you’re screening people for a job, when you’re inspiring people at work or when you anytime expect anybody to do something they’re gonna do according to their values. Nobody goes to work for the sake of a company, they go to work to fulfill what’s most valuable to them. Going through the value determination process, many applications help relationships, personal. It helps social relationships, business, and work. It helps you decide where money fits on your list of values to help you grow wealth. Almost every errs of life is enhanced by knowing what those values are and structuring your life accordingly.

Taking the time to go through the value determination can be very helpful in business and in any relationship dynamic.

‏‏You can map for the candidate or the new hire what the job duties are, the responsibilities that they’re gonna be given, and how they’re enhanced or how their values are enhanced by each of these job duties. Their highest values could be reinforced by making that connection very explicit and obvious for them, right?

‏‏The people that I’ve been blessed to share that tool within the business, Heavy Mart that is now saving them aggravation, cost, money, turnover, and we have more engaged employees. There is value. It’s not a fantasy. There are many other variables that are wise to incorporate, the standard variables that we used to discern who to hire, but this is not a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and when we include it, it definitely speeds up and helps the process of hiring.

‏‏Yeah, I found that’s been invaluable, it’s a 30-minute process, and it’s free on your website on Quick values determination or determine your values over on the left-hand sidebar and follow the instructions, right?

‏‏It’s very simple.

‏‏Yeah, if I wanted to do this for myself I would be able to determine my highest values and use that in various ways to see where I’m living congruently and I’m living incongruently. Let’s talk more about that.

‏‏Well, if you don’t fill your day with high-priority actions that inspire you, your day is gonna flip with low-priority distractions at dawn. You’re gonna have entropy. It’s really important to discern what is really important to you. Many times, people support me to the world on the outside inject values of other people that they admire in their life, cloudy clarity of their own highest values and scatter themselves and then they have difficulties saying no to everybody else’s expectation and lose themselves in the process and disempower themselves. Knowing what’s really valuable to you and prioritizing your life accordingly and delegating lower priority things to people that are engaged to do those things makes your life more fulfilling and it allows you to raise your self-worth and achievement. Knowing the values can have tremendous applications in just personal development.

‏‏What if you’re going through some transition or you’re having a hard time financially to afford hiring to do the stuff that’s low priority, low on your values hierarchy, maybe cleaning the house is low on your values hierarchy or cooking is low on your values hierarchy. I know that’s low on your values hierarchy. You haven’t cooked for decades. What if somebody is not in that position to be able to afford delegating, hiring all these people?

We’re rewarded by making a difference to other people, not narcissistically just existing. We are here to serve.

‏‏This is a very important thing that I mentioned in my presentation. The universe, the world, society seems to support or help individuals fulfill their lives by making sure that they have what I call equity. Equity means that they value other people and attempt to serve other people while serving themselves in a nice balance. If we don’t care enough about people around us to find their needs and find their problems and contribute to solving them, we don’t have an income source. If we don’t have an income source that exceeds the cost of doing low priority things, we’ll be trapped in doing low priority things and devaluing ourselves. It’s so important to raise our contribution, make ourselves valuable, serve other people, and earn the income to extract surplus labor value out of delegating through other people so we can liberate ourselves, earn an income, save and invest to have it work for us and have a fulfillment of making a difference in the world. We’re really rewarded by making a difference to other people, not narcissistically just existing. We are here to serve. If we earn an income and we set ourselves free to delegate. We can’t live an inspired life without service to other people.

‏‏That’s so true. A lot of people aren’t living an inspired life, they’re working in a job that is not fulfilling for them, they’re not in their gift, they’re just paying the bills. What a sad existence. What do you tell somebody who’s in that daily grind and does not look forward to Monday each week?

‏‏The first thing I do is I have to write down everything that they do in a typical day throughout a month. Let’s just say they write everything they do in a month and stick it into it because they’re doing that during a day, personal and professional. Then, what we do is we put next to it how much money does it earn? Amazingly, a good percentage of what people do doesn’t earn anything. It doesn’t serve outside individuals so there is no incompetence out of it. The third thing is what’s the meaning that it provides rated on a meaning of say 1 to 7 or 1 to 10 because some things you’ll sacrifice income for something that is extremely inspiring and meaningful. The next one is what does it cause to replace that job giving it to somebody else. How much would it cost to hire somebody to do those activities.

The last one, how much time is spent? By going through those five columns, you can get a better idea of where you’re minoring your majors and majoring your minors and why you’re self-deprecating and burning yourself out and boring yourself. It gives you permission then to structure your life according to what really will produce, serve, have meaning and give an income, and then you can hire people to do the low priority things. I’m yet to find one person, not one person in all the times I’ve done that screening that couldn’t be more efficient in their daily activities, not one. Whether at home they can do it and you can hire and delegates things at home, but sometimes we think we’re the only ones to do it. As long as we’re trapped because we think we’re the only ones to do it, we’re gonna hold ourselves back.

We can’t possibly be doing all the low priority things and expect ourselves to raise our self-worth and contribute to more people etc. Going through and doing an inventory of what you do, prioritizing that inventory of what’s really productive and serving that allows you to set yourself free to earn the income to delegate things is smart, both personal and professional. 9 times out of 10 at work and nearly 100 times at home, I find people are minoring in majors and majoring in minors and they’re burning themselves unnecessarily because they haven’t taken the time to reflect on what’s really important, what really produces, and what really serves.

We can’t possibly be doing all the low priority things and expect ourselves to raise our self-worth and contribute to more people.

‏‏I hired somebody on Task Grabs. I actually had my virtual assistant hire the person on Tax Grab to come in and assemble a standing desk that I ordered off of Amazon. Actually, I could have just delegated the ordering of it on Amazon so I didn’t have to do any of it so I picked the standing desk but I didn’t want to assemble it. Can you imagine getting some IKEA furniture and having cryptic instructions, trying to follow that, and spending the next hour or two assembling it? No thanks. It’s not my gift and it’s not something I enjoy.

‏‏The thing is you’re smart and intelligent and know not to do low priority things that depreciate you, that drain you because you rob yourself of creativity. Whenever you’re doing high priority things, your executive center comes online which allows you to maximize your creativity. Whenever you don’t, your [00:14:15] comes on and makes you want to escape, challenge, and look for immediate gratification and devalues you. Our brain rewards us by being prioritized, being efficient, and effective, doing things that are really meaningful and inspiring to us.

‏‏One trap I found early on because I would get in my ego and think that’s baloney, that’s not something that I should be doing with my time but it’s not about being baloney and it’s a very egotistical way to look at it. It’s what’s my gift, where can I add the most value in the world and create values so that I don’t distract myself from that value creation.

‏‏Many years ago when I was in practice, I did the exercise I just mentioned. I listed everything that I did in a day, both personal and professional, I listed how much it produced which was shocking. I realized I was doing a whole lot of stuff that was not making any income and I said “Why am I doing this?” It was like smacking in the face when I’m doing this inventor. And then I looked at what was the cost of getting somebody do it? I had to add up all the cost, not just their salaries but their space usage, their depreciation equipment, everything. Once I analyzed it, I knew exactly where I was going over the next few months, etc, what I was gonna hire first, second hire, etc. I got somebody to assist at home, I got somebody to assist at work, I liberated myself out, I made more income, I had more freedom to be creative, I felt that I was employing people and helping the economy. I was getting to be a trainer and leader and learned how to manage. I grew as an individual because I learned to prioritize that. It didn’t cost. It does not cost to properly delegate, it costs to not. It does not cost you to find somebody who’s inspired to do the things that you need to delegate so you can go on and do the things that are inspiring to you. That’s a reward because you’re investing an inspiration and not rescuing desperation. This is very crucial to people and people think that, “I can’t afford to delegate.” You can’t afford not to. That’s the bottom line, properly.

‏‏Yeah, Let’s talk about the executive center vs the amygdala. You get fight or flight or freeze or you operate from your executive center and you make good logical decisions that enhance your life and the lives of others versus operating from a very base kind of reptilian reactionary place.

‏‏There was a gentleman named MacLean who did what they call The Triune Brain many years ago, back in the 80s. There’s been a little bit of evolution of knowledge since then of course but he believes that there was a primitive part of the brain he used in the evolutionary model which has now been modified quite a bit. He used the evolutionary model that said that down on the primitive part of the brain, we deal with impulses and instincts. Instincts of a predator which is trying to avoid things that challenge us, impulse is for pleasure, prey, things that are supporting us. That’s the most primitive.

Knowing how to work our way up the brain, what’s been shown is when we live by high priority actions.

The second layer is like the limbic brain. These areas are involved in emotions. It’s not exactly impulse and instinct, there’s a bit of reason in it but it’s mainly emotional. It’s still subjectively biased. The highest and most advanced part of the brain is more objective, it’s more reasonable, it’s more logical, and it’s foresided, not hind sided. It’s purposeful instead of purposeless. Knowing how to work our way up the brain, what’s been shown is when we live by high priority actions, the glucose, oxygen, and blood go to that forebrain, the most advanced part of the brain where the executive center is. We wake it up and therefore, it gives us the advantage to think clearly, objectively without emotional bias, and to come up with strategies on how to solve challenges and to contribute.

We come up with creativity and original thinking. This is where we have the greatest advantage and become more masters of our destiny. This part of the brain governs the lower part, moderates its behavior, and so we have in a sense a very governed, poised individual that is what we could call more self-actualized. It’s to our advantage to live by priority and it costs us our life by not doing so. It literally eroded us with entropy and breakdown and self-worth depreciation. I can go on and on with the drawbacks of not living by priority.

‏‏A lot of problems with the way people were raised as kids by their parents or caregivers and they were imposed on with someone else’s value hierarchy. They were taught at a very young age to play the piano or whatever, go through dance from two years old or whatever. Now, they are an adult and they are a dancer but it wasn’t like they were given a choice, really. They were just imposed upon these values as a young child. What do you tell somebody who’s kind of living someone else’s values may not even realize it.

‏‏We can’t sustain living out of outer values and repressing our inner highest priorities without breaking down, eventually. What happens is in some cases, parents will impose expectations on the child, the child will push themselves because of this motivation. There are some benefits to it in a sense of some achievements but many times what happens is the children make up at a certain age in their life, usually 30s or 40s, and realize that they were living life according to what everybody else has expected from them. Sometimes, they can revolt and have a teenage reaction in their 30s or 40s but sometimes children will also find out how what their parents expecting will help them fulfill what is valuable to them. I’m a firm believer that, as a parent, the wisest thing to do is discern what the values of the child are and this could be easily evident if you know how to ask the right questions and observe carefully.

Master the art of communicating what the parent thinks is gonna be wise for the child in terms of the child’s values so that the child feels that it’s being engaged in that not because they have to but because they can see how it will help them. I think respecting the child’s value is the way we run it. If we’re going to sell something to somebody, we can’t impose on them and it really offends people when you say, “You need this, we know best, you don’t know what you need, we do.” They’re like “Who are you?” Kids retaliate and become defiant and become attention deficit as a symptom of that, but if we care enough to communicate what we think will help people, children, or others, and communicate with the way they get their values met, they’re receptive to incorporating what we have to offer. I think out of respect, the parents need to identify the values of the child, care enough to communicate in the values of the child, to share in the child’s values what would help them. Once the child sees how it will help them fulfill what’s important to them, they’ll take it on board, and then you get the benefits of both worlds, the child’s inspired and the parents are guiding. This is a more respectful, not autocratic tutorial manner and it leads to a great outcome.

‏‏There seems to be an epidemic of ADD, you just mentioned that. Attention deficit disorder or ADHD and autism. You actually had a learning disability when you are growing up. What are your thoughts about this epidemic and how we can combat it? What do you think the underlying causes are?

Labels are sometimes just projections of incompetencies at communication with children.

‏‏I’ve had the opportunity to work with quite a number of children over the years that are labeled that. I’m leery of labels, labels are typically not as diagnostic as people like to think they are. They’re sometimes just projections of incompetencies at communication with children.  The parents have asked me to work with children, they’ve been labeled by their counselors, their teachers, their specialists, their psychologist that they have attention deficits, and Operational Defiant Disorder. They get a lot more labels. I don’t believe in these labels, first of all. I think they’re just labels because we don’t know how to communicate. Let’s find out what the child’s values are. Let’s find out what’s really important to them. What do they do spontaneously without being reminded? We may find that they’re involved in video games or social interaction, whatever it may be.

We ask the parent, “How specifically is this child’s values serving you?” Usually, the parent goes blank and says it’s not, that’s why I need to fix it. As long as we do that, that’s like being in a marriage where one of the partners is not honoring or appreciating what the person dedicates to and they’re constantly wanting to change them which destroys the partnership. The kid is dependent on their parents so they have nothing to do except retaliate and negotiate. The wise thing to do is find out what the child’s value are, find out where they excel because the same child labeled with attention deficit sitting at school in a class that’s boring to them can sit there for 6 hours with total focus on their video games. They don’t have attention deficits in their own highest values, they only have attention deficit in the things that are not important to them or they don’t see is going to help them get what they want.

Then, we have to find out what is valuable to the child and then show them the links of how the classes they’re taking or the duties that they’re responsible for are gonna help them fulfill what’s meaningful to them. There’s a science in doing it, it’s an art and if you practice it as a parent or teacher, you can transform the child, the label of the child within minutes or hours. I’ve seen it done over and over again. I’ve been hired to do it. I’ve helped children that have had these labels all this time, they are not defiant anymore because they feel that their values are being met and they’re not attention deficit because they’re feeling that they’re getting what they want and they’re engaged, they do well in school all of a sudden. I’ve done it over and over again. I’m leery of the labels, I think it’s incompetency and sometimes the doctors or the counselors that approach, I think that it’s not respecting the individual values of the child. It’s the parents being autocratic and dictatorial instead of actually communicating in respectful ways and have a democracy in the family, the basic unit of society. I think that there is a way of training people on doing that, I love doing it and I know it gets results.

Labels are typically not as diagnostic as people like to think they are. They’re sometimes just projections of incompetencies at communication with children. Share on X

‏‏Yeah, and you have a firsthand experience of what it’s like being a child who is labeled, I mean you didn’t read until you’re 18 or 17 something, like that.

‏‏Yeah, 18 is when I read my first book.

‏‏Let’s talk about your story, how did you go through your childhood with that kind of degree of learning disability to then be one of the world’s leading authorities on so many different topics. Just your knowledge and expertise is so incredibly deep. It’s mind-blowing, so it’s hard to believe that you had this learning disability as a child.

‏‏I was born with my hand and my foot turned inward. I guess they call it a pigeon foot or pigeon arm. I had to wear braces as a child. I remember going and having to deal with those, I didn’t like them. I wanted to be free from them. I wore them until I was four. I also remember going when I was I think one and a half to about four going to a speech pathologist because I couldn’t pronounce and speak very well. In those days if you were left-handed, you were sinister and bad. Everybody is trying to make me a right-handed person and to make me good and write which is quite interesting. I did have challenges. By the time I was in elementary school or kindergarten class, I could draw. I had a certain degree of three-dimensional artistic capacity but I couldn’t do the normal things that the people were expecting, the teachers were expecting.

By the time I was in first grade, my first-grade teacher tried to put me in reading and learning how to read Jack and Jill stuff and it wasn’t working. No matter what I did, I was trying to spell words backwards, I wrote backwards, I had all challenges there. The teacher finally said to my parents, “I’m afraid your son is never gonna read or write or communicate, he wouldn’t go very far. If I were you, I’d get him into sports,” because once I got out of my braces, I just wanted to run everywhere and I was a good runner. I seem to have a decent arm at baseball throwing balls. I went into sports and the only way I made it through elementary school until I was about 12 was asking the smartest kids questions.

Today, my method is based on questions.

Today, my method is based on questions. I think that was a training of asking questions in life. I ask questions to the most advanced students in the school, “What did you get out of the class? What did you get out of the reading assignment?” They had no problem telling me. They like their ego massaged and I acted humble and I would just ask them what to do and I would retain information from what they said enough to pass school until I was 12. I moved to Richmond, Texas, from Houston, Texas, we went to a small town that has low social economics and there were no smart kids. I didn’t have anybody to do that with and I started failing and I ended up dropping out of school. I ended up being a street kid. I left my family’s home and started kind of street living at the age 13, about 2 months before my 14th birthday and I was a street kid until I turned 18.

‏‏What happened at 18, there was some sort of transformation for you where you realized that you had practically unlimited potential?

‏‏Well, I nearly died weeks before my 18th birthday, just weeks. It was probably the first of November or late October of 1972. I had cyanide poisoning and I was unconscious for 3 and ½ days. Luckily, a lady found me in my tent. I was living in a tent at that time and a lady found me and helped me to clean up the tent because it was a cathartic experience there and helped get fluid in me, helped me recover and walk me to a health food store and bought me some carrot juice and started to get me to eat decent food. I’m very thankful for that lad. Never got to meet the lady after that, she disappeared but that catalyzed me.

One afternoon leaving that health food store, I saw a flyer on the door of the health food store and something about the flyer made me think. I saw yoga on it, the word yoga, that’s the main word that made me curious. Somebody told me I needed to take a yoga class to have mind over body to help me. I saw this yoga flyer and something intuitively said go. I literally hitchhiked down the highway down to the sunset recreational hall and stepped up these little steps, went in this little room with 35 people sitting on the floor with a woman yogi and this elderly man named Paul Bragg. She introduced him and he began to speak and that one man in one hour with his one inspiring message got to me. He made me believe by the way he presented it that I could do more with my life and I could overcome my learning problems.

That’s the first night in my life I thought that I can be intelligent, I might be able to learn to read again and go back to school. I never believed that was going to be possible, I just assumed I was gonna make surfboards and be a surf bum. That night is a turning point, and then I got the opportunity to spend three weeks, each morning with this man and he gave me a whole lot of tools on how to use my mind and how to visualize, how to talk to myself differently, what to think about. That inspired me to go to the health food store and pick up the first book that I ever tried to read which was called Chicos Organic Gardening and Natural Living. It’s a book of pictures of gardens. I picked that book up. The reason I picked it up is because there is a long-haired hippie on the front cover who wrote it and I thought this guy looks just like me, I bet I can read it if he wrote it.

I read that book. I went through every page, the first time I went through an entire book page by page. I did not understand everything in it but I had the courage to go through every page to look it and try my best to understand the words and look at the pictures. That was a turning point and then I picked up another book and I couldn’t read that one and I finally got a book by Paul Bragg on fasting and I tried to read that with the help of another guy living in a tent with me. That was the beginning of my learning curve. It was a slow process. I started learning at dictionaries. My mom and I used to work together and tried to gain 30 words a day and grow my vocabulary once I moved home back to Texas. It was a slow process to learn to read and eventually become more of a scholar.

‏‏When did you start teaching others? When did you start doing seminars?

I just made a decision I was not gonna let anything stop me.

‏‏The first time I started teaching, I was 18. I took a GED and passed it by guessing and tried to go to college. A GED and a high school, we call a college entrance exam, I passed it by guessing. I just guessed, I passed. It’s just part of my destiny, I guess. I tried to take a class and I failed the class and I almost gave up on the whole thing about being intelligent, I really almost gave up. I just didn’t, I just made a decision I was not gonna let anything stop me. Slowly but surely, my vocabulary grew 30 words a day and I started passing school. I was just mere dedicated to studying and learning than any other classmate. They took everything for granted, I wanted to learn now.

I was doing yoga each day, meditating every day, and visualizing me being intelligent and a 3-year-old, 75 pound Afro-American girl came onto me and asked me to teach her yoga. That was my first student and then a guy asked me to teach him meditation, a Persian, that was my second student. 17 people gathered in a library while I was studying in the library learning how to do math and they asked if they can study with me. Whatever I knew, I shared, and it grew from there until by the time I went to the University of Houston, I’d have 100 to 150 people every day asking questions out in the park, under the trees. It just grew from that community to around the city, different talks, and then the state. Just kept growing, now it’s all over the world.

‏‏Amazing. You’ve been teaching pretty much non-stop ever since. You’ve done the breakthrough experience for how many years now?

‏‏It’s going on 28 years and it’s 1090 times I’ve taught it.


‏‏I did teach pretty well every day either on radio or television or podcast or webinars. I do it every day. I learned a long time ago when I was 18, I found out that if I want to retain information, the best way to retain it is to use it and the best way I found to use it is to articulate to others and teach. If I teach want I wanna learn, I tend to retain the information. I used to get up at [2:00] in the morning when I was in professional school and do yoga and meditation for 30 minutes and visioned my day and what my goals were and then I would get to work. I would speed read, by then I was speed reading. I went from not knowing how to read to eventually being driven to read faster and faster. I developed a speed reading and learning system. I used to read four to seven books, depends on the size of the books each morning from about [2:30] in the morning till [6:30].  I’m reading 1 to 1 ½ books an hour on average. That night, I would then teach for three hours on whatever I read, that way I would use it quickly and retain it and then go to bed at 10 o’clock and do it again. I slept four hours a day and I read as much as I could throughout the day. There were days were used to read 18 to 20 hours a day, nonstop. I’ve read 39 books in one day. I’ve been a nutcase for learning because I just want to learn.

‏‏How many books would you guess that you have read over the course of your lifetime?

‏‏For the record, I’m actually at 30,019 books.

‏‏Oh, wow!

I’m about to start 30,020 that’s sitting in front of me. My reading capacity today, my speed of knocking out books now is much less because my speaking is way up. I have other accountabilities now but I still read a lot. I’m over the 30,000 books right now.

‏‏That’s amazing, what’s the speed reading system that you use? Did you develop it yourself or did you learn from somebody else?

I learned to go into visual reading instead of auditory because most people read with their mouths and they can only read as fast as they can speak.

‏‏ No, I just kept asking every single day what worked and what didn’t work and documented it. I noticed that if read lying down, I didn’t do as well as if I sat straight up. I learned that if I try to read with glaring light, it didn’t work as well as if I had diffused light. I just kept asking. I noticed the temperature, I had a certain temperature that I tend to read better at. I used to practice longer distance reading, I hold the book farther away and I would able to see the whole pages. I just did every experiment you could to find out what worked and what didn’t work for me. And then people start seeing me read so fast, they go, “Can you share that with me?” I started a class and I guess I’ve been teaching that class for probably 42 years gradually evolving the class as I learn new things. I learned to go into visual reading instead of auditory because most people read with their mouths and they can only read as fast as they can speak. If they can’t speak fast, they can never read fast unless they go into visual reading.

I show people how to go from auditory to visual reading so they can snapshot pictures and see pages. There are people that read much faster than me. I know a young boy that read 40 books in a day on a regular basis. He is already at almost 18,000 books and he’s 15 years old. He’s way ahead of where I was and he’s just learned how to visually do it. I see him read an 800-paged astrophysics text in literally four minutes. It’s hard to comprehend what this kind can do but he’s literally an amazing kid in his reading capacities. I did that, today I don’t read as much because I’m speaking so much. I’m doing so many interviews and other things but anytime I have a gap on reading, I just love learning.

‏‏I played with an app that gets you to stop reading in your head using your internal voice and do the visual kind of reading in which you can do a lot faster. There are several apps that do that for iPhone and Android. It seems to work pretty well but I like the tactile sensation of having a printed book in my hands and not trying to read off of a screen.

‏‏I do both. I love books but the extraction of information out of books is inefficient so there’s a payoff. I just got into Houston, I full-time travel speaking. I pop into my Houston office maybe 4 times a year. This time I didn’t even get to go into the office, I just came into the city to do seminars but I dropped off 72 books. I unloaded them in my bag, they get heavy after while then I started accumulating more of them. I read most of it now, the percentage of books has dropped that I carry and most of them are online. I also read research materials. I have about 20 researchers that send me ongoing research regularly. I just added a new one, there is a quantum physicist that works at Google. I just have researchers sending me data daily. I may get anywhere from 4 to 20 different articles coming in a day from around the world from different specialists in different fields. That speeds up my process so I devour their abstracts and read the articles and I also read the articles and books online. A lot of my reading now is in that format. Now with Wikipedia and all these other things, you can gather data in some and more efficient ways, particularly when you’re extracting information for programs, books, etc. The hard copy book I still love reading but it is a little less sufficient today when you’re extracting information.

‏‏Another thing about the efficiency of reading, you eluded to it already about diffused light versus glaring light. I just learned about this thing called Irlen syndrome. I was at the Bulletproof conference a few months back and Helen Irlen was the person who discovered Irlen syndrome. Basically, if you are one of two people, 50 % of the population has this syndrome, it’s very hard to read. In fact, it can be hard to drive at night and there can be other issues too but specifically with reading, and I have it. It’s just the page is really loud. It’s hard to focus on the page; I tend not to finish books because it’s just tough. Discovering if you have this syndrome is really important and you can get special glasses that you can kind of look like Bono with the different color glasses depending on which filter is the best filter for you so that it diffuses the light and makes it a lot easier for you, have you heard of it?

‏‏I’ve heard of it but I haven’t really investigated it and I don’t feel qualified to make comments on it. I notice than when people read and they get overwhelmed by a whole page, I guide them with visual guides to help focus them. There are many ways of getting people to focus that helps that type of issue. Maybe we can check sometimes and we can see if we can experiment with some things.

‏‏I’m actually going to have Helen Irlen on my podcast, I’m going to interview her in the next couple of weeks.


‏‏I’ll share that episode with you. I’m curious, out of those 30,000 books that you’ve read, what’s your favorite?

The Great Books Of The Western World by Mortimer Adler

‏‏People ask me that quite often and I usually ask them what’s your highest value, what do you love learning about most, what do you value most, and then I usually direct them into the books that are most meaningful on that topic because otherwise, it’s not going to mean anything to them. My favorite book that I tell people most consistently to go and devour is actually produced by Britannica. They created what they call the great ideas, The Great Books Of The Western World by Mortimer Adler, he was the editor. This synthesis of the volumes, it’s about sixty volumes. The first two volumes are my favorite and it’s called Syntopicon Volumes One and Two. It is a synthesis of all the greatest ideas by the greatest minds over the last 2700 years of the Western World summarized in a two-volume set that’s about 800 pages each. They’re just magnificent summaries of the greatest thoughts, the greatest ideas, and the most important things to know for human beings. I think that’s the two best books I recommend to people, it’s like a Ph.D. on life by reading these two books.

‏‏Oh wow! There’s another book that you mention at the breakthrough experience which is an amazing event, an amazing seminar. I’m really excited that two of my daughters are going to be going to it this coming weekend. Orion, my wife and I, we went two years ago, it was amazing. You bring this huge book with you, I forget what it is but it’s kind of hard to get a hold of I guess. It’s like a secret knowledge type of book on wealth.

‏‏You’re talking about The Book Of Wealth?

‏‏Yes, that’s it! The Book Of Wealth.

‏‏The Book Of Wealth is a ten-volume series that was written by Hubert Howe Bancroft at the turn of the last century like in the 1890s. He compiled this and made 400 sets, it’s a beautiful masterpiece with major art pieces. 10 volumes, about 3 ft tall, 2 ft wide, and about a foot deep with all 10 volumes. It’s on the summary of the greatest individuals, institutions, and organizations that have created and amassed the greatest fortunes in the last 6,700 years. It’s the people that created The Pyramids of Giza, The Great Hanging Walls of Babylon, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Great Wall Of China, the great palaces, the great cathedrals, etc. What is it that drove vast fortunes? This is a 10 volume set talking about how human beings use resources and contribute to the development of society. It’s a masterpiece. I summarized it in an audio-video product called Wealth Wisdom of the Ages. When I actually filmed that in three urban studios in Johannesburg, South Africa, we filmed it live and it was being filmed and I guess you could say projected into cinema theaters to 15,000 people during that hour I summarized it. The woman, who organized it, was a real estate leader and a billionaire. She paid me to spend the hour doing this and we funded out to 15,000 people where she was showcasing some of her real estate items from resorts to condominiums and sold $150 million of condominiums and who knows what she’s selling there in one hour.

‏‏Oh, wow.

‏‏It was a metaphor of The Book Of Wealth. What we did is we applied The Book Of Wealth and she was applying the principles of The Book Of Wealth and that’s why she wanted me to share it. She generated even more wealth by doing it and then gave me part ownership of one of the resorts. I was very pleased on the one hour of my life doing that but I have to speed read and summarize the ten volumes in preparation for that one hour.

‏‏Oh, wow! That’s amazing. It’s hard to wrap my head around that. Let’s switch topics here to your morning ritual, you’ve kind of eluded to this earlier when you’re talking about reading being a part of your morning for a number of hours. I’m curious what is your morning ritual these days? You travel most of the year, how many days of the year do you travel?‏‏

The Book of Wealth (10 Volumes) by Hubert Howe Bancroft

Full-time because if I’m not traveling between cities, I’m on my ship traveling so I’m full-time travel.

‏‏Do you live on a boat?

I live on a giant ship and that’s a private yacht. There’s about 100 of us that live on there, I’ve been on there for about 15 years. It’s called The World, it’s magnificent, it’s the best address I know of for my life. It’s just a big giant yacht that has condominiums on it and we live on the condominiums and we travel and explore the world doing expeditions and things. I’m traveling in between my travel.

‏‏Oh, wow.

‏‏My daily ritual varies per day. I usually get up, I’m usually at the hotel if I’m in a hotel, wake me up. It depends on where I’m at and what time zone it is but I usually get up. I’ll do a series of gratitudes because I document gratitudes every night, things that I’m grateful for that I document. In fact, this interview is already documented. I did it before we got on. The opportunity to do this, meet these people, and go to this place, I keep a record of it. I was told when I was very young and since I was born on thanksgiving day, if you’re grateful for what you have, you get more to be grateful for. I make it a daily ritual for doing gratitude’s each night and then I review those in the morning until I get kind of an inspired open-heartedness and then I’ll think what are the highest priority actions I can do today that can help me fulfill what I’m up to.

Many of those are consistent because I’ve been doing it for so long, but sometimes there’s uniqueness for the day. I’ll usually write them on a little notepad right next to the bed at the hotel I keep. What I do is I get up and I wash my face and I hit the computer and I go and see if there’s anything on the email that’s important. I’ll shower, clean up, have breakfast and I’ll start working. Usually, what I’m doing is I’m either researching and writing or I’m out speaking or doing interviews. I do about 1,000 interviews a year and I do about 300 plus speeches a year and I’m just constantly doing education. So I’m either researching, writing, traveling, or teaching, that’s basically all I do and the rest of it is all delegated away. I don’t drive, I don’t do anything else.

‏‏Those four things, research, writing, teaching, and travel are your four highest values right?

‏‏That’s it. I love learning. If I have top priority now at this stage, it’s teaching. Teaching one on one, consulting, teaching one on groups, workshops, teaching one on larger like I did in Dublin the other day with thousands of people, or doing media where I reach tens or hundreds of millions of people. I just teach every day. That’s what I love doing. I love sharing ideas that I feel will help people.

‏‏You do webinars too. You have many thousands of people on a webinar from what I hear.

‏‏The other day, we had about 5,700 people sign up for the webinar. Sometimes, they’ll sign up to get a little download. We had actually about 1,700 on the other day, sometimes we have more sometimes we have less. I’ve been blessed to get on with media where we reach millions of people and that’s inspiring to reach millions of people in one hour but I don’t care if it’s one or many I still just do it because I feel that’s what my mission is.

‏‏Amazing. This gratitude documenting, is that in like a gratitude journal?

‏‏Well, you’ve probably seen it. It’s a multi-volume set of my goals, mission, values, standards, uniqueness, posthumous biography, metrics on the goals that I’m shooting for, and all my gratitude. I do them every day. I update it every single day, I don’t miss a day and I’ve been doing it for many decades. I just found that’s one of the most fruitful things I can do. It’s fun and inspiring to read and my students love reading them because it inspires them to push themselves to new levels of achievement.

‏‏You mentioned your posthumous biography is part of this journal that you keep. Can you elaborate a bit more on why you maintain this?

I made some sort of contribution. I didn’t want to leave it to chance.

‏‏ I believe that we go around in theology and say we’re immortal souls but very few people have immortal goals. I have goals that are only limited to weeks or days or hours or months, maybe years, why not have goals that are perpetuity, things you can build. Bill Gates has got a foundation that would last beyond his life. I have structured mine to when I pass, the Demartini Prize is formed and a foundation is set up that will go on beyond my life. I have goals that last way beyond my physical existence. Things that I want my students to carry on and my children to carry on and their generations. I wrote it all down of how I want to be perceived 1,000 years into the future. If you looked upon whatever the super Wikipedia will be then, I wanna be able to say, “I made some sort of contribution. I didn’t want to leave it to chance.” Studying [00:55:47] and some of the other great philosophers, I see the ones that actually took the time to formulate that and structured that, they ended up achieving it so I followed their footsteps. I did what Giordano Bruno did, he wrote a 500-year plan of how he wanted to be perceived and 400 years later, they were honoring him with the things he wrote.

‏‏We have only a few more minutes. How does one deal with grief and what’s your view on multitasking?

‏‏I’ll do multitasking first. I think it’s wise to prioritize what you do and surround yourself with people to get things done instead of trying to scatter yourself with multitasking. It’s been shown that it’s not the most efficient as people imagine initially. I’d rather use super tasking where you link all the things to a common aim and focus on the common aim and then try to delegate things away. Otherwise, you’ll probably scatter yourself and devalue yourself in the process and not feel you’re doing anything with great accomplishment.

It’s wise to prioritize what you do and surround yourself with people to get things done instead of trying to scatter yourself with multitasking.

‏‏Super tasking is like finding the common thread and everything that you are trying to do and things that don’t have a common thread, you set those aside and then it feels like you’re just working on a big project instead of a whole bunch of just scattered things.

‏‏If you’re running a company, you may have many departments but your concentration is on the main focus on the company and then you delegate departmental activities and you then can run a major company. Multitasking and trying to scatter yourself in multiple areas at the same time usually backfires and usually not the best way but super tasking has value and delegating has tremendous value. When it comes to grief, we only grieve the loss of those things we’re infatuated with. We never grief the loss of the things we resent. Instead of infatuating with things which usually mean we’re blind to the downsides or resent things which means we’re blind to the upsides, it’s wise to ask questions to bring conscious out of the unconscious of both sides and see it balanced so we can transcend the grief and relief split that most people live in and allow them to appreciate the presence of the things that they thought they lost because things change in the new forms and become more aligned with our values as we evolve. Grief is a symptom of not completely seeing things as they are and holding on fantasies about what they were.‏‏

Wealth Wisdom of the Ages by Dr. John Demartini

It’s essential if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or you’re grieving the loss of an opportunity or you’re grieving a really painful childhood that you had, you’re stuck in this place of fantasy?

‏‏Yeah. If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, you’re forgetting the things that they did that challenged your values and you’re concentrating only on the things only supported it and you’re creating a fantasy about how it was instead of honoring the way it is. Frankly, if you died, you don’t want people to be grieving, you want people to live their life to the fullest. It’s kind of a dishonor in the person that passed to grief. Some people think it’s natural, animals grieve. It’s for animal nature within the human being but I developed a methodology that is being used around the world and we’re about to use at the Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan where they have an earthquake last year. We’ve been asked to come in and use this tool to help people who are supposedly grieving. I show people how to break through that in a matter of minutes to hours, not weeks, days, months, or years.

‏‏I’ve gone through that process myself. It really is transformative. It’s amazing.

‏‏It is and people deserve to know about it. I love working with it. I’ll be doing it every week and I do it in the breakthrough experience and blow people’s minds with it. But in Nagasaki, we’re gonna have cost me 100 of my facilitators working with 10 people a day and see if we can clear out 1,000 people a day with the grief that’s lost their homes and loved ones and everything they own.

‏‏Amazing, you’re such an inspiration. Thank you John so much for joining us today and sharing your wisdom and all this amazing experience. Go to Dr. Demartini’s website,, and do the values determination process and sign up for his amazing seminars and buy some of his great DVDs and CDs. Thank you for listening, this is Stephan Spencer signing off. Catch you on the next episode of Get Yourself Optimized.

Important Links

Checklist of Actionable Takeaways

?Figure out what your true values are with Dr. John Demartini’s values determination process, which is free on his site.

?Now that you know what your values are, focus on applying these to your own life. Prioritize your life based on what’s truly valuable to you.

?If you’re a parent, figure out what your child’s innate values are. Communicate with your child based on those values to help him or her be more receptive.

?Write down everything you do in a typical day. Next to each item, write down how much money it earns, then rank how meaningful it is to you on a scale of 1-10.

?On this list, write down what it would cost to replace less-meaningful jobs, and how much time is spent on them. This will give you insight into how to restructure your life.

?Hire people to do the lower-priority things on your list for which the cost to time ratio justifies it. If you’re in a position to do so, this means outsourcing all of your low-priority tasks.

?Add more reading into your regular routine by setting a goal that’s realistic for you (whether that’s a book a day or a book a week).

?Every night, document the things you’re grateful for. Review them the next morning until you feel inspired.

?Every morning, write down a list of the highest-priority actions you can take that day to fulfill your larger goals.

?Minimize multitasking as much as possible, instead focusing as much as you can on your highest priority. Remember to delegate as much as possible to help with this.

About Dr. John Demartini

Dr. Demartini is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on human behavior and personal development. He is the founder of the Demartini Institute, a private research, and education organization with a curriculum of over 72 different courses covering multiple aspects of human development.

His trademarked methodologies, the Demartini Method and the Demartini Value Determination, are the culmination of 44 years of cross-disciplinary research and study. His work has been incorporated into human development industries across the world.

Dr. Demartini travels 360 days a year to countries all over the globe,  sharing his research and findings in all markets and sectors. He is the author of 40 books published in over 29 different languages. He has produced over 60 CDs and DVDs covering subjects such as development in relationships, wealth, education, and business. Each program is designed to assist people to activate leadership and empower themselves in all seven areas of their lives: Financial, physical, mental, vocational, spiritual, family, and social.

Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.


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