Summer 2019 Yänjaa will teach a very select few the memory techniques that have helped her memorize a 300+ page catalog, thousands of images in front of an audience of half a billion and study so much faster for exams that she graduated from business school two years early.
Who would you be if you remembered more? What could you do if you could learn skills faster than your peers? How much of your life is affected by forgetfulness and how different would it be if you almost never forgot?
Would you learn learn that language you’ve been meaning to learn finally?
Would you be a better, more attentive friend, parent, partner, coworker… bad-ass boss?
How far could you go if you truly tapped into the full potential of your mind?
This summer you’ll learn just how amazing your memory can be in only four weeks, doing things from day one that you would’ve previously thought were impossible for you to ever do, be and achieve.
Why are we limiting seats?
We are working toward our dream of having the best school in The Art of Learning How to Learn in the world and that means we need to make sure everyone who signs up is offered the maximum benefit of learning creative memory techniques. By limiting the number of seats we make sure that each and every one of our students feel that they get as much time as they need to try the courses out, give us feedback and benefit as much as possible.
TL;DR – WE WON BOTH PEOPLE’S VOICE AND THE JURY’S VOTE FOR BEST SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN. WOO-HOO. Thank you for voting and thanks to BBH Singapore, Facebook Southeast Asia and IKEA Southeast Asia as well as the Webby Jury for making it happen!
Before the party
So for those who know me closely, I sometimes suffer from social/performance anxiety, it stems from growing up the only brown face in a very white place (a.k.a Sweden). Whether it’s performing on stage on Sweden’s Got Talent or 最强大脑 or just greeting others during holidays and traditions like Tsagaan Sar or Christmas, I will try to find any excuse to get out of it because of an overwhelming feeling of I’LL BE WEIRD AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW. But when I’m finally there, at the party or on that stage, it is as if all the nerves dissipate and I feel immense love and appreciation for everyone no matter how things go. Before the event, it’s all about me and my nerves and during an event it’s all about everyone else and how they are, which is comforting.
Before the Webby’s, I was nauseous. For a host of reasons, I was the only person out of the IKEA Human Catalogue crew who could make it. I’d be going to a place where I knew absolutely no one.
I played video games all day in Emilia’s apartment (The Binding of Isaac) and binge-watched episodes of Hot Ones with Sean Evans.
I had low expectations, wore something simple and put light make-up on myself and had no hair stylist. Worst case scenario for the show I’d eat the food, have the drinks and people-watch.
I arrived at the Wall Street venue in my red heels. Luckily the Jeffrey Campbell’s I got have a big enough heel that the cobblestone streets didn’t hinder me too much from getting Cipriani’s. When I got there I saw Jarrod from photoshoot day and I felt a little better, I knew one nice person at least.
I stood in line for the red carpet and as I was looking around I felt like I was the only one who had arrived alone. I got fidgety and started vlogging for the YouTube’s and as I was vlogging, I saw in the corner of my eye that the next person to walk that carpet was Sean Evans. The guy I had been binge-watching all day! No filter, I waved at him and gestured to ask if I could take a picture of him. He took it as me wanting a selfie, which makes more sense when you think about it.
I asked him to say something in Swedish for my vlogs, he didn’t like that. Either that or he had to go walk the carpet. He had date night vibes, like he couldn’t wait to get out of there because he had a date after the Webby’s or something. Maybe he’s dating Tyra Banks? They had mad vibes during her episode of Hot Ones. I’d be in a rush too if I had a date with Tyra.
I got to the red carpet, had my pictures taken, one of the Webby women held the Isabel Marant coat I’d borrowed from Emilia for me, which made me panic in case I forgot to get it back.
Walked in to the venue and my Gawd. The first party venue I’ve ever been to in the US that hasn’t looked a little sunkigt to the sober eye, Spegelsalen at Grand Hôtel in central Stockholm vibes. Ushuaïa at Ibiza vibes, minus the naked dancers flying through the sky on a dragon-shaped blimp. I usually don’t like club/event parties because venues look a little gross when you’re sober but damn it was pretty.
Tiarra Monet told me my hair was pretty. I took pics with two cool women working on secret fandom stuff for Tumblr, was an honorary member of the purple Wayfair gang.
Award show dinner
After the opening cocktails I went to my table for the award show. I was lucky enough to sit next to fellow Europeans making incredible documentaries like Flint is a Place, two funny dudes from HBO and two women from Google working on VR.
Many of the contemporary women I look up to were there. Mitchell Baker from Mozilla, Kara Swisher, Susan Fowler, Laurie Segall, Naomi Wadler and FKA Twigs all had great speeches. FKA TWigs said her 5-word speech in ASL and Laura Linney said “Kindness is not a weakness”.
Former president of Mexico, David Letterman, Liam Neeson, Adam Sandler, David Chang and the super hot half-Swedish guy from Grey’s Anatomy were all there to get special awards. I learned the Grey’s Anatomy guy’s name is Jesse Williams and he’s actually a super activist, not just a pretty face.
View from where I was sitting…
My bordsherrar Chris, Guillermo, Frederik and I took a cab to the after party where DJ Funkmaster Flex was… flexing? It’s strange seeing all these people you’ve only heard/read about for years from two feet away. THEN JIMMY O. YANG FROM SILICON VALLEY WAS NEXT TO ME BY THE BAR. I fangirled and got a selfie. Screw making authentic connections when you can make things awkward and piedestalize people you might be good friends with otherwise.
I got some advice from April Reign (creator of #OscarSoWhite) and Jamie Broadnax (creator of Black Girl Nerds) during a SXSW Q&A that you shouldn’t take selfies with people you look up to if you want to befriend them. I’ve decided against this advice, it’s much more fun to fangirl.
At 5 am Monday, Nikh texted me some awesome news. 5 am because of the time difference, not because he’s a dick. Which he is not. We got nominated for The Webby Awards for best social media campaign and are currently in first place! This makes me happy primarily because we all worked so hard, hundreds of us were working so hard to make this happen. From BBH to Freeflow productions to Facebook and of course Singapore, endless amounts of journalists and so many more that even the IKEA Human catalogue might not remember to mention because the sheer number of people working on this was far greater than 212 (the number of people that is currently possible to memorize in 15 minutes as it is the world record, held by me).
The humble brag fest continues because life is hard, always, there are always things that pain me and make me sad but in these moments I remember that there are moments when I’ve achieved something, that I’ve temporarily outplayed life and luck and destiny.
On another note, I’ve been thinking a lot about sharing my struggles since there’s always the complaint from high-achieving bragadocious people that they’re not sharing their real selves. Firstly I don’t think it’s possible to fully know a person even if you know their bad side. Second, I don’t think people actually feel better when seeing others be sad. And last but most importantly, I don’t think seeing someone’s negative or sadder aspects of their life means that is their true self.
We all have this tendency to be enamored by others up until they show us their “true selves” i.e. when they do something negative. How come we never do this when they do something positive amidst all their other negativity? Do we comment in equal gotcha manner that we’ve now figured them out? A-HA they’re actually positive and happy people?
Anyway, philosophical questions and morals aside, if you enjoy anything or everything I’ve posted, talked about or inspired you with, please feel free to vote for us. It would mean a lot to me.
The last week of March is here! MADNESS! The first three months of 2018 have been so slow and so fast at the same time… I’m so excited, Remy (my sweet puppy) is also excited! This excitement is contagious y’all!
I’m excited because I vlogged, specifically about the memory book that changed my life. Vlogging is one of those things I really love doing but I haven’t developed the habit of doing fully… yet. One idea about how to start developing a new habit is to combine it with a habit you already have (according to professor BJ Fogg at Stanford University). I’ve noticed I have a little lull in my time every Saturday where I watch YouTube videos and think about one day shooting videos… Now, I’ve decided to link that time with filming as well. In addition, using the added incentive of external accountability will help (saying publicly that you’ll post every week and creating the expectation of new memory videos every Monday) and linking with alliteration makes most memories much more memorable! Memory Monday! #MemoryMonday, so far a hashtag only championed by me…😉
I’m hoping to be able to post one video answering your questions about memory everyMonday at around 9 am in the morning in the Americas(meaning during the day in Africa + Europe and at night in most of Asia).
I’m also excited because I’m going to work in Asia next month and have made some time to go on a vacation as well while over there… エキサイティング！We’re also hopefully shooting the last scenes of the documentary I’ve been filming on and off since 2015… Bittersweet to say goodbye but hopefully the start of a different part of our journey together once it reaches film festivals!
On Wednesday we have the Swedish book club meeting, so far I’ve read half of this month’s choice – Linn Ullman’s De oroliga –and it’s been a tough read in not the best way so far… I’m really excited about hearing what the others have to say and catch up with them as well though. 😀
I am also preparing to participate in at least three memory competitions this year, starting a mini bootcamp today. I’ve been training minimally in 2018 because I have been reading a lot and have had a more introspective period in the past months with just the occasional training matches online on Memory League… I have to work harder now, even though I placed 1st in my division this season, being in division 1 is hard even if you are ranked second in the leaderboard for a moment… I’ve got some catching up to do if I want to be sure I can finish strong. Also, let me know if you want to join The Memory League! The first weeks are free and after that I’m pretty sure I can get you at discounted annual membership and we can play against each other if you want!
We might be having a potluck and I’ve made vegan brownies, recipes and all that will be shared soon enough on instagram.com/yanjaa.
I’m hoping to be able to get my fortune told through tarot card readings sometime this week, because even if you’re a skeptic I think it’s good for you to try different things out… like LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE! This was totes prescribed by Krista Suh who wrote DIY Rules for a WTF World. About a week ago I wrote about it extensively in the previous post without editing myself.
As for working out I’m hoping to go swimming, climbing and rollerskating with friends this week after work… Even if plans don’t work out I’m kind of hoping I’ll be zen enough to deal with all of the unexpected. 😀 I hope you have an awesome week! 😀
A couple of weeks back I found this pretty book at Book People on N Lamar called 🎉📚DIY Rules for a WTF World📚 by Krista Suh (@kristasuh) – a feminist, Hollywood screenwriter, artist and creator of The Pussyhat Project – the most iconic visual of the Women’s March! 👏🏼💯 Super recommend for everyone, especially young feminists ✊🏼✊🏾✊🏻✊🏿✊🏽 and anyone who wants to know themselves better. The following is a wordy post about many of the things that resonated deeply with me as I’ve been processing all of this. As a memory person I can tell you that you should write in your books or at least take notes when something jumps out at you. Many times we read, we consume and we forget. Making little notes and marks makes you remember better (or at least it helps me be more present when reading because I’m looking for things that stick out).
✍🏼 “One of the ways in which we lose our power is simple, we’re made to feel guilty for finding ourselves fascinating”…. 🙌🏼❤
As ambitious women, especially ambitious Asian women of a certain kind, we might feel like the world is ending if we’re not smart, beautiful, kind or whatever else enough. We are enough even without achievement, we are enough even without external validation, we are enough as we are.
So many of our ideals, what we should be, are not even our own ideals! They are often constructs of ideals and messages we’ve absorbed from the media or other places outside of ourselves. The idea that what we like is what we like simply because we like it is sometimes a
Tonight, after a day of working at home, I have a much anticipated game of table tennis in town. My goal is to become one fifth as good as the legendary matriarch known as “G” in Nashville…
Sometimes I have S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound). This is fine and applicable to certain things like “Become good enough at table tennis to win every fifth match I play against G by June” is specific, measurable, attainable (hopefully?), relevant to my skills and there’s a time limit for when I can achieve it.
There are lots of theories about goals, the evidence behind the success rate of different techniques used when trying to achieve a goal or whether goals are needed at all… I think the best thing is for each individual to try what works for them and try one technique at a time and evaluate whether it went well or not.
I think it’s nice to have a goal just to have a sense of direction, but just because you are headed in one direction doesn’t mean you can’t change course along the way. Some people think they want to be actresses but backstage they realize their passion for costume design. It’s OK to have goals and it’s ok not to, it’s OK to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. and it’s cool if they aren’t. Most of the best things I’ve achieved I’ve recently realized have more to do with me following my passion and then putting time and effort into loving it and showing that I care about it… Not so S.M.A.R.T. maybe, but hey your sister’s got a pretty nice life so far!
So back in January I was flown out from Austin to Stockholm to help make a public service announcement series for SOS Alarm (a Swedish state-run company that operates the emergency number 112 as well as 11313, 11414) created by the content marketing agency Spoon and hosted by the serial comedian, actor, father and soon-to-be author Kodjo Akolor.
Everyone in Sweden knows the emergency number 112, yet more than a third of the calls are wrongfully dialed and take valuable time away from those who really need emergency help. Our series intends to help Swedes make the right call at the right time.
Our first shoot was at a middle school, spending hours with 20 first-graders. It was chaotic, fun and a learning experience. There was crying, laughing and many recipes for slime was shared (Matilda had very deep knowledge of what bicarbonates to use for which types of slime… she was basically a chemistry prodigy. A Swedish Marie Curie!).
As expected, this first segment was both fun and chaotic. I memorized all the kids names in a minute or so, then we taught the class different mnemonics, they wrote sketches, performed plays and had a dance party. There was a lot of laughter, some tears and drama. The kids drew pictures to remember the right numbers to dial. Emelie drew a picture of me as a fairy (because the Swedish word for 11 sound the same as fairy I made this mnemonic for the number 1177 intended for non-emergency medical services and help).
At one point the kids stood in line to hug Kodjo (… and so they could get launched into the air). I wanted to join but I have the density of pure lead so no matter people’s effort to lift me these feet stay on the ground. On the other hand I could’ve helped minimize the line… but I’m scared of throwing humans since that time at preschool judo when I hurt Jessica and was thus the only kid in my age group who didn’t go home with a yellow belt…
Our second location was at a hip restaurant på söder. In between the two shoots we discussed diversity and comedy in Swedish media. Kodjo is deep y’all. And tall. Way way taller than he looks on TV! After the crew was done rigging we had a nice Swedish fika and discussed memory techniques on camera… if I recall correctly.
Two days later we shot our final segment at a mall. The game was to challenge shoppers to a memory duel – think David Blaine with his street magic but instead of magic it was memory techniques and instead of saying twaa everyone was like “oh ok”.
The reactions were wonderfully calm and collected with an appreciative nod. We also had some chilly outside segments, despite it being cold AF… We endured the Swedish weather for you guys so I hope you like the end result.
The campaign officially launches on Feb 28th local (Swedish) time! Here’s the first sneak peek!
A week of flying, eating pizza and watching awesome media. Let’s take a look!
Wednesday Feb 14th Austin to LA – Valentine’s day… I flew from Austin to LA and was in my hotel room near Universal by noon. I spent most of that day catching up on American tv-shows so I was fit and in “English-speaking mode” the next day… Ordered a veggie pizza, some groceries and then put hair treatment in my braids, tweezed my eyebrows and watched the second special of the HBO 2 Dope Queens series!
Thursday Feb 15th – Full day in LA – woke up and saw Sigin texted saying she couldn’t make it out to the shoot. Bummer since I only had a chance to talk to her for short bursts at the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland (since she was always surrounded by people wanting to talk to her)… BUT her movie “Silence” is making its rounds at film festivals this year and since I might be attending a few film festivals this year (promoting a project I’ve been working on since 2015…) I will try to catch it there when I go! See it if you have the chance as I’m sure it’s excellent!
After arriving at the studios I had a pizza party by myself since I got my own dressing room… Patrick helped prep for the memory segments and kept me company with anecdotes about Americanisms and Hollywood.
The segment went well and we had a lot of fun shooting it and everybody got a gift card! After about three hours there the car took me back to the hotel room where I took a bunch of selfies and then fell asleep.
Friday Feb 16th – tsagaan sar / lunar new year from LA to Nashville
The car picked me up at 6.45am… LA traffic is no joke… at one point we had been driving so long I thought he was just showing me all the available real estate in LA. After six hours of travel we greeted each other at home in Nashville in both Western fashion (hugs and cheek kisses) and Mongolian style (zolgoh). Grandma has come to terms with me being a vegetarian and had made me fruit buuz! <3 Also, my awesome friend Jonas’ episode of Sweden’s Got Talent aired!
Saturday Feb 17th – tsagaan sar in Nashville
Slept in late because honestly TV stuff is fun but exhausting, but even more exhausting (sometimes) to do in a language and culture that’s not your native one… In the afternoon Mongolian family friends came over to celebrate The New Year of the Dog with us!
Sunday Feb 18th – hanging out with wax celebrities in Nashville
I took selfies with most of them. You can tell it’s fake because I’m actually more than 2 inches taller than Beyoncé in real life.
Monday Feb 19th – Black Panther in Nashville
We saw Black Panther and life was hype and IT OUTLIVED THE HYPE! I couldn’t sleep until 3 am because I was in hype mode…
Tuesday Feb 20th – MY SEGMENT ON STEVE HARVEY AIRS and I fly back home to Austin
We watched it like a proper modern family. After it aired we played “I spy” all the way to the airport. My flight was delayed but I had my Tropico 4 island to keep me company so I didn’t mind…
It took some time to for us to brainstorm the next episode, but we made it happen thanks to Shareen who takes care of me and pitches like no other. Because it’s a show and not a competition, there’s lots of little things to consider to make it work visually. TOTALLY WORTH IT since I think we outdid ourselves this time!
So this time we memorized the audience names and 10 pictures of Vegas! The TV edit was way longer and more in-depth, so sorry if you missed it… Here’s an even shorter edit!
I feel very blessed to work with #TeamSteve. It is so much fun filming at their studios. The people working to make it happen every day are the most chill yet effective people EVER! Big thanks to the Q-like Erin and superwoman Shaniece, Mike for turning me into Yanjaa with the good hair, Tracy for making me look like I don’t wear pajamas 365 days per year, Angela for being a stellar artist who enhanced my features instead of hiding ’em and Patrick who made sure there were no hiccups and made me laugh and forget my nerves. Vita for being the boss and Ran for making sure we were on time. And to everyone else whose name I might not know or have forgotten who made me feel safe and free to be me. A production, even just a single segment of one episode is always a team effort and y’all are the best.
The audience was great and had the best energy, I felt very supported by all of them including Stephanie, Thomas, Brooke, Anissa, Alissa, Marie, Ayan, Adam, Emily, Anthony, Tasha… Also Jenny who came in with Bola I LOVE YOUR HAIR! Thomas’ reaction in this one shot is the best haha.
I’m hoping next time will be either language related or that WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS! I’ve never been to Vegas…