For this (very appropriately titled) round of Lightning Quick Chats, we sit down with speed reading extraordinaire Paul Nowak. Find out why speed reading is worth your time, what Paul would teach outside the realm of books and what he’d do with a million dollars by reading below.

So … speed reading, huh? Do you have any formal training in that, or are you self-taught?

I learned speed reading during my freshman year in college. After struggling through my first few weeks of college, one of my professors offered to teach me speed reading during his office hours. After a few weeks of training I was reading four times faster with better comprehension.

I was so excited about the improvement that I started showing some of my friends how to speed read. Soon after, I started posting flyers on campus and tutoring other students. And in my final year of college, I started Iris Reading to help people transform the way they learn. We’re now the largest provider of speed reading classes in the North America and have taught speed reading to employees of NASA, Google and Disney.

If you weren’t teaching Speed Reading what else do you think you could you instruct us how to do?

If I wasn’t teaching speed reading, I would probably be teaching a class on one of the following topics:
1.) How To Walk with Your Hands
2.) How To Tear a Phonebook
3.) 10 Strange Ways To Open a Beer
4.) How To Say The Alphabet Backwards

How many words can the average joe read per minute? How many words can the speed-reader read per minute?

The average person reads about 200 words per minute. A trained speed-reader can read anywhere from 500 words per minute to over 1,000 depending on the complexity of the material.

How do you juggle your career and hobbies and find work / life balance?

Every morning I make a list of 3 exciting things that I want to work on that day.

These things can be related to work or personal, but they have to be exciting, fun and/or very interesting to me.

Among the many other things I have to do during the day, I always make it a point to also work on those 3 exciting things. It helps me balance work with things that interest me.

And just for fun … If you were given $1 million that you had to donate anonymously, who would be your recipient?

Since I come from a background of Polish immigrants, I would donate the money to an organization that helps other immigrants pursue education through scholarships.


To get your lightning-fast read on, sign up for Speed Reading 101 here.

Paul Nowak is the founder of Iris Reading and has taught speed reading to thousands of students and professionals throughout the U.S. He has taught speed reading to employees at NASA, Google and Groupon. His workshops have also been taught at universities that include Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago.