Mastering Your Long Term Memory w/ Ron White, 2X USA Champion

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“The difference between short term memory and long term memory is going to be in the review.”
— Ron White

Greetings, SuperFriends, and welcome to today’s show.

My guest today is Ronnie White, one of the top memory experts in the world. He’s a two-time national memory champion, having won the USA competition in both 2009 and 2010. He also held the record for the fastest memorization of a deck of shuffled cards for 2 years – a shocking 1 minute and 27 seconds.

Today, he trains individuals and corporations all over the world on how to better take advantage of their natural memory skills.

Given my background in Memory, Speed Reading, and Accelerated Learning, I was eager to interview Ron and learn everything I could from him. We talk about mnemonic techniques, adaptations, and a lot of powerful learning strategies.

Just a heads up, this episode is going to be a bit “technical,” and we’re not going to dumb things down for you. If you’re unclear on some of the terms, I suggest checking out our past episodes with Dr. Anthony Metivier, Nelson Dellis, and Mark Channon.

As always, please share your thoughts with me on Twitter @gosuperhuman, and if you haven’t already, please remember to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher.

This episode is brought to you by the all new SuperLearner Academy!

This episode is brought to you by SuperLearner Academy – home of my exclusive masterclasses. Check out a free trial using the link above today!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • What podcasts Ronnie White listens to
  • How Ron White got into the memory improvement industry
  • Do some people have a larger memory aptitude than others?
  • Why is memory important to train, even today?
  • What are the practical benefits of improving your memory?
  • Short term versus long term memory and how to move information between them
  • How exactly Ron White memorized 2,300 fallen soldiers' full names & ranks
  • Practical tips for reviewing names & faces
  • I test out Ron White's Hebrew skills, and he explains how he memorized sentences
  • A discussion of synesthesia as a mnemonic technique
  • Advanced techniques used in memory championships such as PAO, Ben System, etc
  • What exact techniques did Ron White use in the championships, and what is used today?
  • How does Ron White approach learning in general, especially when it's not just memorization?
  • Why did Ron White choose a Navy SEAL as a coach instead of a memory expert?
  • A very unusual training technique Ron White used to dominate his competitors
  • Who are some of Ron White's role models?
  • A discussion of great books and reading older books
  • Information about Ron White's business
  • What is the 1 takeaway message that Ron White would like you to remember from this episode?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Ronnie White:

“[Memory Improvement] is more beneficial now than it's ever been.”
“I just remember what's important to me.”
“If you don't focus on it, and you don't review it, you're not going to remember it long term.”
“We're all using really similar systems.”
“What has changed in [memory] sport is how you compress the information.”
“I was training for a memory tournament, and my coach wasn't a memory expert… it was a Navy SEAL.”
“I eventually got to the point that I could memorize a deck of cards faster under water than anybody in the United States could do above water in perfect conditions.”
“The harder you are on yourself when no one else is watching, the easier life will be on you. The easier you are on yourself when no one else is watching, the harder life will be on you.”
“Don't assign skills to other and deny them to yourself.”


Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman podcast, where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Jonathan Levi: Well hello there, SuperFriends and welcome to this week's show. Before we get started, I want to read out a wonderful, wonderful review from Mr. Run DMC guigin or guagon. Not sure how to pronounce it, but I definitely love it. The title goes going from strength to strength. The review says, love this podcast.

I used to be an occasional listener, but now tuning every week. It's great to hear Jonathan developing himself and the show as the weeks go by. And I especially love how we get a good broad view of any guest topic before Jonathan digs down to get some fantastic specifics with some clearly insightful and purposeful questions.

I look forward to seeing how this podcast develops further over time, and we'll keep looking forward to the weekly homework too. Awesome. Thank you so much, much. Run-DMC I really do appreciate that review. And if you guys want to hear me embarrass myself, reading your username, then just leave a review and I will promptly give you laughing material. On to this week

show. Today I am absolutely tickled to bring you yet another one of the top memory experts in the world. He's actually a two time national memory championship. Having won the USA competition in both 2009. And again, in 2010. During that time, he actually held the record for the fastest memorization of a deck of shuffle cards.

For two years, that record was a shocking one minute and 27 seconds. Way faster than the record set by Joshua Foer who wrote the book Moonwalking with Einstein. Now, today he trains individuals and corporations all over the world on how to better take advantage of their natural memory skills. Now, given my background in memory and speed reading and accelerated learning, I was absolutely

eager to get into this interview and learn everything I could from him. So we talk about mnemonic techniques. We talk about memory competitions. We talk about training methodologies that you can use to apply to any stressful competition or any stressful performance that you need to do. And we go into a lot of other really cool, fun stuff.

Now just a heads up for you guys. This episode is a bit technical. We're not going to dumb things down for you, and we take a lot of knowledge for granted. So if you're unclear on some of the terms, I do suggest checking out our past episodes with Dr. Anthony Metivier or with Nelson Dellis or Mark Channon.

And if you want to learn how to actually do this stuff, the stuff that we're talking about, the stuff that we really take us for granted in the memory community. Then I do recommend checking out this show sponsor, which is my very own, Become a SuperLearner Masterclass. Now in that class, we not only teach you the speed reading and the learning skills, but we actually spend 60% of the time of the course working on your memory.

Right? So developing these techniques that allow you to do anything from memorizing names and faces, all the way up to memorizing random digits of numbers, memorizing things that you read, books, anything you want, this course will teach you how to do it. And I'm happy to say that for listeners of this podcast, you do get a very special discount and of course, a 30 day money back guarantee.

So if you want to take advantage, apply some of the stuff that you're going to hear about in this podcast, I do recommend you check it out. Just visit All right. Without any further ado, please let me present to you. Mr. Ron White.

Hey Ron, how are you doing today? 

Ron White: I'm doing good though. Thanks for having me.

Jonathan Levi: Thanks so much. You know, I was really, really excited when I found out that you are actually a listener of the show. I was so honored by that. I have to admit. 

Ron White: Yeah. You know, I'm kind of an old man, I guess, you know, and then another cool thing to do is to listen to all these podcasts and do podcasts, but I don't do that much. 

It's new to me, but I am subscribed to a few podcasts. I'm subscribed to Digital Marketers podcast. I'm subscribed Joe Rogan and yours. And that's really it, there may be one or two others, but. 

Jonathan Levi: Wow. That is a huge honor. I'm curious. Do you remember how you found out about us? 

Ron White: I was researching something on memory. That's how it, it was for sure. Do you have a course on Udemy? I do. Yeah. That's how I heard about you.

Jonathan Levi: Oh, awesome. Awesome. You're also enrolled in the Udemy course or know someone who's enrolled in the Udemy course. 

Ron White: Yeah. I've ran across you on there. So that's how I found your ridge.

Jonathan Levi: Amazing. Okay, cool. So that's my accomplishment for the day.

I'm honored by that. Ron, let me ask you, I bet the first thing people ask you when they hear about your work and what you do is something along the lines of, how do you get into that? How do you become the two time national memory champion? So I'm curious to hear your story and how it is you became interested in mnemonics.

Ron White: Well, 25 years ago at the age of 18. So 25 plus 18, you'll be able to figure it out pretty easy. At 25 years ago, I was a college student. I had taken a job as a telemarketer at a company that cleans chimneys. And, uh, I was a real good salesman. That was my thing back then. And that was my identity. I saw myself as a good salesman.

So every sales job I took, I just really tried to excel at that sales job. And I called this guy up and I said, hey, we want to come out there. We want to clean your chimney. And he said, we don't want our chimney clean. We're trying to sell our house. Thank you for calling. So I saw myself as this sales guy that's oh, gotta overcome every objection.

I said, sir, don't hang up the phone. If you're trying to sell your house, you need a clean chimney. And he laughed. He said, you know what? You're a good salesman. You just overcame my objection. I'm not going to give you the sale. We're not going to get our chimney clean, but I do want you to go to work for me. He said, I sell memory training seminars and go to work for me.

I'll pay you more than you're making now. Which was a pretty safe thing to say for him. You know, basically anybody could have said that they would have been right. And I went to work for him the next day. He taught memory seminars. He taught me how to be a telemarketer for him selling them. And that's really how I got into it.

You know, a lot of people I get into memory business these days because they may be one, a memory tournament, and then they want to go, I guess make money off of that skill. For me, it was totally opposite. I got into this as a business 25 years ago and it wasn't until years later that I started competing in memory tournaments.

Jonathan Levi: Oh, wow. So how cool it, can I ask, who was the person who was mentoring you and who brought you into it? 

Ron White: Yeah. The company that I went to work for 25 years ago was called Memory Training Institute. The owner of that company was a guy named Blaine Eythorne he was partners, which you're probably not going to know Blaine Eythorne's name, his business partner

you might know his name was Kevin Trudeau. Oh yeah. Yeah. And Kevin ran into some legal problems. And so I never met him, but that's the company that I went to work for 25 years ago. 

Jonathan Levi: Very cool. Very, very cool. So I'm sure people often ask, how was your memory before starting out? I mean, did you discover through the process of learning this stuff at the company?

Did you discover that you had a gifted memory or were you kind of a standard average person in terms of your memory capability? 

Ron White: You know about memory. So, you know, this is true, but it's the hardest thing for me to convince people of that. I don't have a natural ability when it comes to memory. I mean, it's like, they just assume that it's a natural ability.

I wasn't a dumb kid, but I'm not Einstein either. And I think I was just a brain average guy who learned a memory system, and I really believe that anybody could do it. Now with that said, some people are more naturally, they take to baseball more than others. Some people take to jujitsu more than others.

I do think some people may be more prone to something than others, but I also believe that. Um, not anything truly remarkable as far as my natural ability goes. And to answer your question more directly, I did not notice anything and no one noticed anything special about my ability growing up. Right. 

Jonathan Levi: And it seems that's across the board across every mnemonist that I've ever interviewed, not a single one.

I'm not aware of a single person in the community saying, yeah, you know, I had an extraordinary memory before, except maybe Daniel Tammet who claims to have savant kind of funky, weird stuff going on. 

Ron White: And that's definitely not me, you know, definitely not. 

Jonathan Levi: Ron, I'm curious about the fact that, you know, you went into this and you've spent 25 years doing this.

I think probably that's more than anyone besides Harry Lorraine or Tony Busan. So I'm curious, you know, obviously you feel that memory is very important, even in this day and age, or you wouldn't have devoted two and a half decades to it. So I'd like to perhaps imagine that, you know, someone in the audience is thinking to themselves, well, today we have Google, we have Wikipedia, we have Evernote, we have our cell phone contacts lists, you know, and these are tools that have been invented to replace or supplant our memory skills.

So if someone out there is wondering why they should train their original wetware memory, you know, the stuff in between their ears, what would you say to them? Why do you think that memory is important even today? 

Ron White: Well, you know, we do have a lot of memory aids, so, you know, we didn't have 10, 15, even 20 years ago.

Definitely not before that, you know, your contacts in your iPhone, you know, we didn't have contacts in our phones growing up. So people think, well, you know, maybe memory is not as useful. I think it's more beneficial now than it is ever been. And the reason for that is, is there's more information out there now to learn benefits of having a good memory, art, you shake, somebody's hand, you meet them today in business or at your school or whatever.

And six weeks later you see them and you want to be able to remember their name, right. That's really not something that technology is going to be able to help you do for the most part. That's a natural ability that you really have to work on. Everybody listening to this, probably whether they're in school or they're a business person, they're going to have to stand up in a group at some point in their life and give some form of speech or just introduce the next speaker.

When you can do that from memory without notes, that makes you a much more dynamic speaker or dynamic introducer. There are so many things, Jonathan, it's learning just, you know, going through a book and learning information, learning to speak in other language. So I do agree with you that there are so many memory aids out there these days that we can rely on such as contacts in our cell phone.

So maybe you're remembering phone numbers isn't as important as it used to be with that said, I think there's so much more out there today and memory's more important than it has ever been. 

Jonathan Levi: I agree with you. I couldn't agree with you more something you said actually caught my attention because I had this experience this weekend.

I went on the summit at sea cruise memorize 240 names. No problem. Then that was in November, early November. So what's that six months ago, actually, almost exactly six months ago. And this weekend, some of those folks came through, they were doing a tour of Tel Aviv and some of the names, I definitely still remembered some of them though,

I didn't. And that's because, you know, in our course we teach space repetition. If you want to remember something, you've got to review it. You've got to go back through the names, you know, go back through your journal of all the people you met, go through those visual symbols. So I'm wondering, you know, how do you remember a name six months later beyond just the, remembering it two, three days and stuff like that.

Are you doing some kind of space repetition? 

Ron White: You hit the nail on the head. The difference between short-term memory and long-term memory is going to be in the review. I've memorized, I was in the United States military. I was in Afghanistan in 2007. So how does that fit? If I was also been teaching memory seminars 25 years, I was a reservist in the military, you know, one week in a month.

Two weeks in the summertime. And I did that from 2002 to 2010, and then in 2007, a deployment to Afghanistan where I was full-time military. What does this have to do with memory? When I returned from Afghanistan as a tribute to my fallen friends. I memorized everybody that lost their life in Afghanistan in the order of their death.

Well, there's 2300 of them. So I memorized the rank their first time in their last name. So it's 7,000 words and that's a name just like meeting a person at a restaurant, but it's a person, you know, on a list. And repetition, review was the key to that. I would memorize 50 names today, and then tomorrow, before I memorized the next 50 had reviewed the first 50, the next day I'd been reviewed the first hundred before, out of the next 50.

Then the next day I reviewed the hundred and 50 before. So it was always the review. You know what I'd say, as far as names and faces, you meet somebody today at a business meeting, they shake your hand, get in this habit. At the end of every day, ask yourself who did I meet today? So you're reviewing that. Then the next morning, when you wake up, who did I meet yesterday?

You know, when you're taking your shower or whatever. It's that review. That's going to be the difference between long-term and short-term memory. 

Jonathan Levi: Right. And are you using a memory palace when you do that? And if so, is the memory palace of the actual physical location where you met the person or have you constructed an imaginary memory palace for storing names that you might meet or even say, you know, 2300 names of fallen soldiers?

Ron White: Well, okay. So for the 2300, I did use a memory palace, but I had to, because I'd never met these people. Right. Plus I wanted to memorize them in a certain order of sequence. So the memory palace made sense. With people that I meet though every day, you know, at a restaurant or a bank or a business meeting, I don't use a memory palace.

I just remember the room where I met him. And then I focused in, on a distinctive feature on their face, you know, by just like you do. Big ears, eyes, something like that. But when I'm reviewing, I'm not, I guess here's the problem that maybe you're getting at is if you don't store them at a memory palace and your review, and how do you know that you're reviewing everybody,

you're not skipping somebody. But I still don't use memory palaces for names. What I used to do back in the day 25 years ago, I would go out to companies in Dallas, speak at their meetings for 30 minutes for free. And then at the end of my free speech, I would sell tickets to a local upcoming memory seminar.

Then they would attend. But here's the deal. Here's the kicker. They were paying two or $300 to attend my memory seminar. And it was, not till three months away. So I was spending this entire three months selling tickets to this, and then on this chosen date, two or 300 people walked through the door and there are people that I met randomly through the previous three months.

And I got a money back guarantee and the guarantee is not that I'm going to remember your name, but I do guarantee if you don't like my seminar, I give you your money back. So I'm like us under so much pressure to remember all these names. What did I do? So I didn't skip a name. What I did back then is I just had a names journal.

Every time I met somebody, I wrote their name. I wrote their distinctive feature and a little bit about them. And then once a week or twice a week, I would review that journal. 

Jonathan Levi: I'm really glad to hear you say that, Ron, because I think a lot of people get the impression they hear about courses like yours, courses like mine and they think great.

You know, I'm going to remember everything with a hundred percent retention the first time I hear it. And the truth is the real memory experts, the real, super learners out there understand that. Yeah. You'll remember it five times longer. But that just means it's going to get you to 48 hours. And then at 48 hours, you got to review it to get to a week.

And then at one week you've got to review it to get to three weeks so on and so forth. So it's really, I think the best memory experts understand that that space repetition is a huge component of tricking the hippocampus and getting the brain to say, hey, this must be important. This must be relevant.

Ron White: Yeah. You know, it is. I had somebody walk up to me in the last couple of weeks and, he said, hey, do you remember my name? I just looked at him and I said, nope. Yeah, that's exactly what I said. I said, no, I don't. I've gotten past the point now. I mean, you know, 10 years ago I'd be like, Oh, Hey Ben. Yeah. Yeah, sure.

How could I, you know, and I would joke with him because I was trying to pretend like, okay, what's you're saying is funny, even though it's not. You know, and now it's just lost all humor with it cause it happens so much. People are like, Hey, Hey man, you remember my name? And I said, no, I don't. He said, well, what is this?

You're supposed to be a memory champion. You've met me two or three times. And I said something that was probably a little bit rude and I probably shouldn't have said it, but it is the truth. And here's the truth. I said, well, man, I just remember what's important to me. Right. And he looked at me like, I did mean it rude because he was being rude.

But here's the point. I didn't review his name. And even as a memory champion, if you don't focus on it, and you don't review it, you're not going to remember it long-term. 

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. You can scratch at it. I mean, you have that visual symbol that you can scratch at it and dig away and say, okay, you know, it was something to do with you sitting on the beach, sun, something with the sun.

But yeah, if you're not reviewing it, it's not going to come back instantly. Interesting. I'm really glad I'm not the only one I have to admit. Cause sometimes it can really look like, you know, we have the saying in Hebrew that the shoemaker goes barefoot. It's like, it's super embarrassing when, when someone says, Oh, you're the memory guy, right.

Do you remember my name? But it is exactly a matter of prioritization. And how are you going to spend your hours? What are you going to be reviewing? Me personally I like to review the books that I've read if I have spare time for space repetition. 

Ron White: So, and here's a little tangent or whatever, but I'm assuming you speak fluent Hebrew.

I do. Then here's a tangent. Right. But tell me how about getting this pretty Shalom talmidim ani morah. 

Jonathan Levi: Nice. So yeah, translation would be a, you missed the one syllable, but uh, greeting students or hello students, I'm the teacher, but you forgot the, so it would be ani ha morah. Oh, okay. But pretty good.

Pretty good. Yeah. So walk us through how you did that. Like what visual symbols allowed you to do that? I 

Ron White: took a Hebrew class once Israel and Hebrews just interested me my whole life and my dad as well. And so we want to take a trip there to Israel together, he an I. 

Jonathan Levi: Oh, I'd love to host you out here. That would be brilliant.

Ron White: Okay. Well maybe we'll do that. That's something that both on our bucket lists because both of our interest in Israel and the history there, we both took, uh, a Hebrew course. And I went to two or three days because my schedule or something, but that was just one of the things that I had learned. And I did memorize that using the memory palace again, you know this about memory.

So you take the Shalom talmidim, okay. Say that again. Where is the “ha” go? Shalom talmidim ani ha moreh.

Jonathan Levi: Okay, ha moreh. But don't pick up my accent cause I speak like a foreigner. 

Ron White: And I'm translated into text and I'm the Texas Hebrew guy. I took each word and turned it into a picture and then put them on a file. So Shalom. I turned that into a picture. I saw Shamu the whale, which that makes no sense to anybody, but it just has to make sense to you.

So Shalom, Shamu, and then Telma deem. Okay. I saw a towel, like a towel you dry off on, on medicine, I think. And that was on my next piece of furniture, but here's the deal then I reviewed it so many times. It's kind of what we're talking about. It went from memory palace knowledge to just knowledge. I just

knew it. So now I don't have to think about my memory palace or even the pictures anymore, but that is how I memorized it originally. 

Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. I love it. Yeah. And I, I always find it so comforting. And so reinforcing that every memory expert we talked to, they have different ways of teaching it and different styles of teacher appeals to different styles of students, so on, but it's so much

rooted in the same principles. It's like, I've never met someone who's like, no, no, no, no, no, I don't do it that way. I don't picture anything visual. Like it's always visual symbols. It's always different ways of applying visual symbols to sounds or numbers or faces. But I find that a lot of comfort in that.

Ron White: Yeah. You know, I've competed in the, you know, lots of memory tournaments. I haven't competed in a few years. And I remember going to the world memory championships in 2009 in London. And it's the same thing it's what you just said. We're all using real similar systems. Everybody had little bitty tweaks, like one person.

I said, how do you memorize numbers? Are you doing it two at a time, three, six major system what are you doing? He said, Oh, no, I don't, uh, memorize numbers. I smell numbers. 

Jonathan Levi: Uh, Daniel Tammet by any chance,  it might've been.

Ron White: Yes. I, it might have been as the memory guy here. Um, does he do that? 

Jonathan Levi: He experiences these two experiences, colors and shapes.

And then essentially every combination of numbers forms a different interlocking shape. You know, there are a lot of synesthesia out there, synesthesia being the confusion of senses in the brain. And I've met people who were like, yeah, but that can't be right because it's yellow and yellow is three, not nines.

And I'm like, excuse me. Like, I actually sat down with someone when I was preparing for my Ted talk. One of the organizers was like, so do you just memorize the order of the colors? I was like, you know that only 2% of people actually experience colors or emotions for each number. And she's like, really? I thought everyone did. Like, no, you're at a huge advantage because you can just be like feeling your way through mathematical equations.

Ron White: Yeah, it is unique. And after that event, you know, I said, Hey man, how did you do? He said, Oh, I didn't do very good in that event. But he said, I think the problem was is I was hungry and the numbers just smelled so tasty. I was like, what. We're all using real similar systems though. 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. So let me touch on that a little bit in 2009, as far as I know, the actual challenges of the competition were the same right.

Names and faces, multiple decks of cards, string of random numbers and binary. Yeah. Correct. And so I'm curious, because I recently spoke with Nelson Dellis and this year actually, kind of everything changed for the first time in America won the world memory championships, which is kind of a big deal. And he did it using this whole, really using adaptation almost of the Ben system.

So condensing seven items into one visual symbol, but I'm wondering because the competition kind of creates this acceleration of the techniques and this huge innovation. I'm wondering what were people doing seven years ago? And do you think it's changed at all today? 

Ron White: I think the core of it is, you know, obviously the same, what may be changing is definitely in the United States, definitely in the United States, as far as memorizing a deck of cards, you know, there's a technique called character action, object person, action object, which I'm sure you're familiar with.

And if any of the listeners aren't it's, every card has a person assigned to it. Then it has a verb and noun and you kind of use those person, verbs and nouns to create stories, in groups of three. Well, in 2006, Joshua Foer won the USA memory championship and he was really the first one to use character action object.

He had gotten counsel coaching, I guess you could say from some Europeans, right? Ed Cooke okay. There you go. So then Ed Cooke kind of imported person action object to the United States. Yeah. And Joshua Foer won, he won the tournament that year. He set the record for the fastest to memorize a deck of cards at a minute and 40 seconds with person, action, object.

Well, success breeds copycats. And so the next year David Thomas won in 2007. He used character action object. 2008, it snowballed. Chester, right? Used it. He won. So then I did, I used character action, object for cards. I also used character action object for numbers. 

Jonathan Levi: Ah very cool. 

Ron White: But now I think the systems haven't changed.

We're all using the mind palace. What has changed definitely in the United States though is, seven eight years ago, everybody was using character action object for cards and numbers. The higher level people are using something similar to the Ben system where you're having pitchers for a combination of two cards or even three cards.

Jonathan Levi: Right.  It's all a matter of compression and how you can press things differently. And as far as I understand it, it's just a matter of doing more and more and more upfront work. Right. So do you have 999 different person action objects or do you have 99 different ones. Right. And that's what allows you to condense seven symbols in is how much upfront work have you done?

How many PAO combinations do you have? I think we're getting pretty far into the weeds at this point. 

Ron White: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you know what? You kind of summarized it better than I did. I was kind of getting off track here, but you're absolutely right. What is changing in the sport is how you compress the information. Before we were taking six digits and we were compressing them one way.

Now they're taking six digits or six numbers in there. Maybe compress them a different way, but when it all comes down to it, it all comes back to the memory of the mind palace and to memorize. 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I mean, that takes you back all the way to the Greeks. Right. And see where it is and all of that. Ron, I'm curious how you approach learning when it's not about rote memorization.

I mean, obviously you've learned a lot of different things from how to compete, you know, how to be a competitor, how to be a public speaker, how to market yourself in business, how to create online courses. Obviously you've learned a lot in your role, you know, as a military man. So I'm wondering when you have to approach something, that's not just memorizing names, memorizing figures, but more of a holistic approach, learning a new skill

how do you tackle that? And how do you think that the memory techniques aid in that way? 

Ron White: Well, in general for learning, I do believe in good nutrition and exercise. You know, I do a jujitsu as my form of exercise. I do believe that that helps your memory, you know, and just overall. I do like to be challenged, which is probably another reason I liked jujitsu.

You know, I like to learn and challenge, learn new things. When training and this may not be answering your question specifically. And if it's not, please correct me or ask it again or maybe another way, but when training for the extreme memory tournaments I hire United States, Navy Seals, my memory coach.

Oh, cool. As my coach, he wasn't my memory coach, but he was just my coach. And people thought it was the funniest thing in the world that I was training for a memory tournament. And my coach wasn't a memory expert. It was a Navy Seal, but he was coaching me on my mindset, my focus, my discipline. And one thing he said to me, really stuck out.

He said, Ron, in the seals we have a saying, the more you sweat in times of peace, the less you bleed in times of war. And I said, okay, you know, his name was TC. I said, okay, what does that mean? I'm really not wanting to bleed at all here. You know, I'm wanting to just memorize a deck of cards. And so that's not what I mean.

He said, let me ask you this, how your competitors memorizing right now? How are they training for this tournament? What's their environment? I said, well, they're probably turning off the TV. If they have kids, they're saying, go play out in the yard. Don't disturb me. I need quiet. I'm training for a memory tournament in here.

He said, exactly. That's not how a Navy Seal would train. A Navy Seal train with just chaos going on and everything going wrong and them having to be calm in the midst of that chaos. This is what I want you to do, Ron. He said, I want you to get plastic playing cards and snorkel gear, and I want you to train memorizing cards under water.

Right. And I was like, what? Now, imagine this you're at the pool. You're out there. You're having hot dogs. You're enjoying the music with your friends and your family, playing volleyball, whatever. And some idiot walks out to the pool was snorkel gear in plastic, playing cards, dives in the pool and starts memorizing cards under water.

And at first I was just so embarrassed. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm so embarrassed that I'm doing this. These people are staring at me. But then I was having to focus on the water was going up my goggles. I was choking on the water and finally had to calm myself and memorize. I eventually got to the point where I could memorize a deck of cards underwater faster than anybody in the United States could do above water in perfect conditions. So when I went to the memory tournament, I didn't just, when I broke Joshua Foer's record by 14 seconds, a minute, 27 or 13 seconds, which at the time was really, really good because here's the point. I was harder on myself in my training, then the actual tournament was. Yeah. So when the tournament arrived, it was easy. 

Jonathan Levi: That's brilliant. We have a quote in Israel, Israel being a country where, you know, many people, we have a strong military culture for better or worse, depending on who you ask. But the saying goes harder in the training, easy in the war. There go exactly that one, you know,

And people live by it here, you know? So I think that's really, really interesting. That's a huge training tip just for anyone, whether it's in jujitsu, whether it's in memory, whether it's preparing for an exam at school, it's like train in slightly chaotic conditions once in a while and challenge yourself.


Ron White: Yeah. You know, and for me it was just learning to block. It helped me in the tournament that year during the cards event, photographers were in the room, clicking their cameras and it was distracting people. And somebody said, I protest the results of that event. There were cameras clicking and it distracted me.

And they said, well, your protest is overruled. Ron was here in the cameras clicking too. And he set a new national record. Right. And when he said there was cameras clicking, I was like, what are you crazy? I didn't even hear them. I was just so glad that there wasn't water going up my snorkel here, you know, there wasn't kids bouncing volleyballs off my head.

That's awesome. Jim Rohn used to say it this way, the harder you are on yourself when no one else is watching, the easier life will be on you. The easier you are on yourself when no one else is watching, the harder life will be on 

Jonathan Levi: you. Wow. That's a fantastic quotable. I love it. And you know, I've been struggling in my own workouts.

I'm getting back into the swing after taking a month off. And I'm realizing that my biggest enemy in training and getting stronger and getting faster, it's always myself. Cause you always start bargaining. You're like, well, do I really need to train today? Do I really need to train that hard? Do I really need to do this?

And it's exactly that if you don't put yourself who will right. Brilliant. So Ron, I wanted to ask you, who are some of your role models and inspirational figures, both inside the memory community and outside of it? 

Ron White: Well, inside of the memory community, I think it's almost a cliche to say, but Harry Lorraine was the first memory book that I ever really read.

And so he's definitely up there. He's an icon for me. He's incredible. Yeah. I don't know how many millions of copies his book sold, but. It's a lot. Yeah. 

Jonathan Levi: We had him on the show and it was just like, Oh, like, incredible. Just to be able to talk to him. I couldn't believe he gave me an hour of his time, to be honest with you.

Ron White: Oh wow. I'm going to have to listen to that one.

Jonathan Levi: It was incredible. What an opportunity. Like if all else fails, the podcast was worth doing to be able to interview Harry Lorraine and just a couple other of these people who are like, just idols of mine. 

Ron White: Yeah, that would be me too. I need to start a podcast. So I'm talk to Harry had that. 

Jonathan Levi: Funny, I was going to say in the beginning of the show, you know, when you were saying, you know, you don't podcast, you don't do this that. It's an incredible way. Just if you want to get access to your idols role models, I honestly can't believe some of the folks like yourself, like what would I have to do to get an hour of your time?

Like, I'd need to write a pretty large check, but here we are hanging out, you know, just incredible. Totally incredible. Sorry. I totally sidetracked you though. Who else? 

Ron White: Yeah. And podcast is on my things to do list for my business. It's just, I don't want to do it and talking to do it right and professional like you do.

And I just don't have the mental bandwidth to do that right now. But one day. Back to your question, Harry Lorraine, I would say hands down, number one in the memory business. I have tremendous respect for a Dominic O'Brien. You know, and what he accomplished, to be an eight time world memory champion.

I have tremendous respect for Tony Buzan. I know some in the memory community, it's kind of like in sports, you know, the NFL, that's an American sport, but the, the NFL owners and the players, you know, sometimes they don't always get along, but I have respect for Tony because just the business that he built, my God and from a business point of view, 

Jonathan Levi: He's built an absolute empire, just incredible.

And he's reached like millions and millions of people who would have never, ever come into, you know, mnemonics. 

Ron White: He has and he's become a worldwide household name. Well, he's become a very well-known person in the accelerated learning community. Oh yeah. And then people who are interested in that. And you know, for me, a lot of my other heroes, a lot of them are just, I'm surrounded by the military ex military.

And it's just a lot of those guys. They're not names that anybody would probably know, but they're just people to me that I respect because of their bravery and their consistency and their discipline and the examples that they set, I really admire stuff like that.

Jonathan Levi:  Yeah. Rightfully so. I'm curious, similar question, but slightly different. What books have you recommended most or given as gifts the most? 

Ron White: In my speech that I've been given for 25 years, I always talk about Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. 

Jonathan Levi: My favorite book of all time, man. Oh, is it? Absolutely! Since I was 13. 

Ron White: Oh, wow. Okay. Well, cool. I'm glad I picked that one. But if there is no other book that I have, and I guess you could say I'm recommended it because for 25 years, I've mentioned it in every single speech.

I mean, I must have given 2,500 speeches, so yeah. How to Win Friends and Influence People. You know, it's a great book and you know that. 

Jonathan Levi: Timeless, you know what I'm realizing lately, I've been reading a lot of books from the 1920s, 1930s, and even before, and I'm realizing that for a book to endure and be still relevant after nearly a hundred years, the content must be so invaluable.

Right. And you look almost the further back you go, right? So you look at something like the Prince, right? Machiavelli. It's like the level of value that it has to deliver to stay relevant increases with the amount of time that it's stayed relevant. So I think a lot of us are so eager to read the latest Seth Godin book, you know, or the latest knock 'em Gladwell book.

But in reality, go back right. 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, super old book, 

Ron White: Al Ries, is that right? 

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, exactly. Super powerful book. Or I just read, uh, the Robert Collier letter book, which got really repetitive, but the fact of the matter is it's been one of the top books in sales letter writing since like the 1920s, I think.

Yeah. The tip there is Dale Carnegie timeless, and yet there's hundreds of books that have come after it that don't scratch the surface I think of what Carnegie accomplished. 

Ron White: I think that's a really good point and it has endured, you know, almost a hundred years. Here's the good news. The good news is, is with technology today and just all the things that we have at our fingertips with Amazon and Amazon, Kindle and stuff like that, anybody can become an author and anybody can create a book. And that's the good news. The bad news is the same thing. Anybody can create a book. So it's the good news for the content creators. And sometimes it's the bad news for the consumers.

So that's not saying we're not going to have a Dale Carnegie, how to win friends and influence people come out today. I believe we will. There are some awesome authors and contributors out there, but it's just going back to your point, man. If you really want to find something that's endured the test of time and it had to really overcome these barriers to entry, go back a hundred years.

Jonathan Levi: Oh yeah, absolutely. Speaking of public speaking, coaching, writing, stuff like that, Ron, I wanted to ask, 2,500 lectures is a lot. Are you primarily focused on public speaking and coaching or are the CDs and DVDs and programs kind of the bigger part of what you're doing? 

Ron White: Well speaking and coaching is my primary form of business.

My primary form of income with that said, we've got an online memory course now. We've got YouTube videos and we're really hoping to make those a bigger part of what we're doing. 

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. I want to point out to our audience, you know, I always say whenever I have someone like yourself, someone like Harry Lorraine, someone like Anthony Metivier on the show.

I think my students, your students, any students of memory and mnemonics can only benefit from hearing it multiple times because I learn every time I do one of these interviews, I interviewed Timothy Moser in this kind of exclusive masterclass thing. And he told me this way to adapt the memory palaces to vocabulary that just blew my mind.

And so if I'm learning something in each of these interviews, then it stands that my students will also learn from taking diverse trainings. And I think you don't just kind of like read one book. You read many books on the same subjects. I've read 15 books on copywriting in the last eight months. So I definitely want to encourage people to check out your stuff, check out your YouTube videos and stuff like that.

Cause I don't at all view it as competitive. I really view it as complimentary. 

Ron White: Well, thank you. I, you know, I know we're all in a similar business, but you know, it's a big world out there. 

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. So, Ron, I want to give you an opportunity. If people want to reach out to you, they want to book you as a public speaker, check out your coaching or take advantage of the online course.

Where should we send them? 

Ron White: Well, you know, I thought about this, I thought about what should I tell his listeners? You know, should I tell them about a course or something like that? For me, it really all came down to, I just want to tell you where you can go to get the best of my stuff for free. Okay. It is my YouTube channel.

If they just go there and check out my videos and subscribe, I think that's the best thing that you can do. And of course, if, if you like something that's fine, but I have so much good content there. And I created actually a URL. So you don't have to try to find me on a YouTube. I created the URL,

If you typed in that URL, I'll take you to my YouTube page, subscribe there and just subscribe. And once a week, you'll get a great new video on memory improvement. 

Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. Brilliant. We really appreciate that. And you know, I was going to offer Ron, I'd be happy to kind of like experience, share and coach you through the podcasting thing.

Well, one of my goals for the next six months is going to be actually getting my butt on YouTube and teaching some cool free content on there. So perhaps we do some tit-for-tat experience sharing. I don't know if that's the right one quid pro quo, I guess, is the right one. Experience sharing and you kind of helped me figure out what it is that I should be doing on YouTube.

Ron White: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's a good platform for me. And so, absolutely. 

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Cool. So we'll make some time to do that in the near future. Ron, let me ask you one last question that we'd like to close on and it's a tough one. It is, if people take away one message from this episode, they remember one thing, even from the memory guy, right.

Remember one thing and carry it with them for the rest of their lives. What would you like that to be? 

Ron White: Well, you know what I say in my speeches is. And really we've covered it in this podcast already. But what I say in my speech, I want to reinforce it maybe to say it a different way. It is, I always say, if you leave this speech to, you know, this point, they've seen him memorize 200 names and a 50 digit number, and then I teach them some memory tips.

And I'll always say this to my speech. If you leave this speech today and you go back to your office, your company, your home, your family, and you tell them you'll never believe what happened. I met a guy today who memorized everybody's name in the room. He memorized a 50 digit number. This guy has an incredible memory.

If that is what you go back and tell your friends and family today, you have missed the point of my talk. Instead, what I want you to tell them is, I met this guy today. He memorized everybody's name in the room, 200 people. He memorized a 50 digit number, and then he taught me how to do it. And he says, anybody can do this.

That's the message I want you to go tell your family when you get home today. And so my message would be to this, don't create mental barriers for yourself. Don't assign skills to other people and say that they have them and you don't. If it sounds so extraordinary and impossible, and you admire them for that skill, instead of saying they have it

and I don't, talk to them, find out how they do it. And it may be something like memory that you do have that skill and you can perfect it. Life is short, none of us know how long we're going to live and just learn as much as you can. Don't assign skills to other and deny them to yourself without at least investigating it first.

Jonathan Levi: Ron, that's a fantastic call to action. And I think you just perfectly summarized our mission statement here. You know, we try to help people deconstruct the skills that allow them to do the impossible. I think you perfectly embody that vision. You perfectly embody of an example of someone who's shaping the world around him and teaching people to do things that they might think are impossible, but in fact are not.

I want to thank you so much, Ron, for your time. It's been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. I do hope we keep in touch. 

Ron White: Yeah. Thank you. I hope that as well. 

Jonathan Levi: All right, my friend, take care.

Ron White: Thank you.

Jonathan Levi: All right Superfriends, that's it for this week's episode, we hope you really, really enjoyed it and learn a ton of applicable stuff that can help you go out there and overcome the impossible.

If so, please do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or however you found this podcast. In addition to that, we are. Always looking for great guest posts on the blog or awesome guests right here on the podcast. So if you know somebody or you are somebody, or you have thought of somebody who would be a great fit for the show or for our blog, please reach out to us either on Twitter or by email our email is Thanks so much. 

Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming Superhuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit We'll see you next time.




  1. Luiz
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    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
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    loved th heart and the depth of the conversation. The way that Dr. Metivier shared from his enormous experience and insights was just amazing. Thank you Jonathan for doing this podcast!! 🙂

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