Is Todd Sampson’s brain bigger than yours? #ACRAs2018 | radioinfo

Is Todd Sampson’s brain bigger than yours? #ACRAs2018

Tuesday 23 October, 2018
Todd Sampson

Peter Saxon gets out the tape measure

He’s climbed a giant vertical rockface. He’s sunk to the deep end of an Olympic pool in heavy chains with eight combination locks he had to unpick before he ran out of breath. And he’s walked a tightrope between two city buildings, 26 storeys up. All of it, blindfolded.

The ultimate Australian Survival contestant - part circus act, part daredevil and extreme sportsman - Todd Sampson has a super-fit body but, he says, it is his super fit-mind that allows him to perform these super-human feats.

And no, according to him, his brain is no bigger than your’s or mine – it’s just fitter because it’s undergone an intense training regimen.

If he was just an extreme sportsman, a solo around the world yachtsman or such, you’d question his relevance to an audience of radio executives. Hell, this group was indifferent to Buzz Aldrin who went to the moon and back and got no respect. But because he’s a business guy, past CEO of ad agency Leo Burnett, a media guru and a master communicator, you listen up, pay attention as you drink from his well of Kool-aid.

Sampson’s presentation proved one of the most popular at last Friday’s Radio Alive conference in Melbourne.

What did it have to do with radio? Everything!

Machines, robots and computers can, or soon will, do virtually everything humans can do, only better. Except for one area: Creativity. “Creativity is the last advantage over machines which can do everything else better than humans,” says Sampson.

The accepted science was that your brain is a finite thing that is most receptive up to age 14, accelerates up to 40 and then slowly dies. Sampson has done as much as anyone on earth to prove that science wrong. As most of us grow older our brains become lazy. We become set in our ways, repeating familiar tasks rather than look for new experiences. So, like muscles, if we don’t exercise our brains become prone to memory loss and worse.

A little bit of memory loss is okay but if it is such that you could throw yourself a surprise party, then you could also be a strong candidate for Alzheimer's.

To counter the brain aging process, Sampson recommends Forced Adaptation. If climbing a mountain blindfolded is little beyond your capabilities, try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand for 30 days. Or learn another language.

He says, sleep is more important than diet and exercise. It has a dishwasher effect on your brain. We all need 7-9 hours of brain cleansing sleep. We should not be checking how many hours we spend at the office but how long we sleep. When you come in and tell the boss you only got five hours sleep, they should demand you only get half pay.

Lack of sleep = lack of attention. A good way to develop attention control is juggling.

He's no fan of multi-tasking either  because it simply means you’re dividing your attention. You can do six things, all less well.

The Dunedin Study in New Zealand set out to test if there was a defining characteristic in children that would virtually guarantee success in adult life. It found that those that can regulate their emotions are more successful than those that cannot.

The major impediment to success, the study found, is fear. Fear impedes decision making. Every major decision needs bravery. All fear can be managed but it doesn’t go away, just managed.

If we continue to exercise our brains even as we get older, we can all achieve much more than we imagine, says Todd Sampson.

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