The Father of Modern Memory Improvement Harry Lorayne: 60 Years of Mnemonics
Greetings, SuperFriends. Welcome to a very special episode of this week’s show. Today, we’ve managed to book, without exaggeration, the world’s foremost expert on memory and memory training: Harry Lorayne. He’s a living legend. Since the late 1950’s, he has sold over 17 MILLION copies of over 40 books on memory and magic. He’s been on every major television show you can imagine at least once – and generally starts off by memorizing the names of everyone in the up to 1500 person audience. He’s been in Forbes, coached a long list of Fortune 500 companies and their executives… Honestly, there’s no way I can possible do justice by just listing off his many accomplishments.
More important than these accomplishments is the fact that today’s guest is generally credited with bringing Memory training and mnemonics back into the public sphere. Long before the world memory championships, and long before both myself and my co-authors of Become a SuperLearner were even born, he was putting in the hours to rediscover and improve upon ancient memory techniques that have helped tens of millions of people change every aspect of their lives through improved mental faculties.
This interview might just be our biggest and most important yet. There’s so much value here, I don’t even know where to start. At 89 years old, Harry Lorayne pulls no punches and makes no apologies. He shares heartbreaking stories of physical abuse and overcoming dyslexia, but also some incredibly inspiring tales of how he became the world’s most respected authority on memory… which, by the way, he did with nothing more than a middle school education.
You’ll notice right away that Harry is clearly very practiced, having spent literally 60 years in the public spotlight. He’s an incredible storyteller, and has an incredible way of answering questions with vivid stories and examples that will leave you wanting more.
I just know you’re going to love this episode, so please take a moment to drop us a tweet or an email or a comment below with your thoughts.
In this episode on memory improvement, we discuss:
- Harry Lorayne’s path from a broken home to becoming the world’s foremost memory training expert
- How memory improvement techniques became a pivot point in Harry’s life & a way to escape physical abuse
- How Harry combatted dyslexia and prevented failing elementary school using 17th century techniques
- The types of visual memory improvement techniques that Harry innovated (the very same ones I teach!)
- The two things that make up the basis of Harry’s memory techniques
- How some of his systems are adapted for different things like music, history, or mathematics
- The stigma against “memory” in the educational field, and why it is an unfair prejudice
- Harry’s opinions on memory palaces (this is very controversial in the memory community!)
- A very cool demonstration of how Harry Lorayne would remember difficult names
- Harry’s thoughts on the skills the young generation is no longer maintaining
- The surprising process that Harry used to write his 40 books
- What Harry Lorayne’s other true passion is, & how it helped him overcome crippling shyness
- A real-life story of how Harry’s techniques helped a stroke victim restore his memory
- How Colin Powell & Michael Bloomberg used Harry Lorayne’s memory improvement systems
- Harry explaining his system for memorizing both numbers and cards
- Which 1 or 2 books would Harry recommend you start with?
- Why are “bad” things in life sometimes very good, and Harry’s personal experience with this phenomenon
- Harry’s thoughts on speed reading (also a bit controversial!)
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Harry’s many, many, many books, especially “Before I Forget” and “Super Memory, Super Student”
- The Miracle Worker, the movie about Hellen Keller
- Harry’s website, HarryLorayne.com
- Our previous episode with Nelson Dellis, 4X USA Memory Champion
- The Major Method for memorizing numbers
- Ageless Memory, Harry Lorayne’s book for the aging and elderly
- HarryLorayneMagic.com, another site by Harry
- My accelerated learning course, which leans on the same types of techniques Harry developed!
Favorite Quotes from Harry Lorayne:
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: This episode is brought to you by the Best-Selling online course, Become A SuperLearner. If you're like most people you, probably have a long list of books you want to read. Languages you wish you knew and skills you wish you had the time to learn. This course teaches you how to learn anything and everything faster and more effectively by teaching you not only speed reading, but also an entirely new framework for understanding, creating, and storing memories.
To get an 80% off coupon and join over 25,000 satisfied students. Visit jle.vi/learn that's http://jle.vi/learn.
Greeting, SuperFriends, and welcome to a very, very special episode of the show. Today we've managed to book without exaggeration the world's foremost expert on memory and memory training.
We're talking about a living legend who since the late 1950s has sold, get this guys. Over 17 million copies of over 40 books. He's been on every major television show you can possibly think of at least once. And he starts those appearances by memorizing the names of everyone. In the up to 1500 person audience, he's been in Forbes, he's coached a long list of Fortune 500 Companies and their executives.
Honestly, his list of accomplishments does no justice to just what a godfather figure he is in the memory and mnemonic industry. More important than those accomplishments is the fact that he's credited. With bringing memory training and mnemonics back into the public sphere long before the world memory championships and long before both myself or my co-authors.
I've become a SuperLearner were even born. He was putting in the hours to rediscover and improve upon these ancient memory techniques that have helped tens of millions of people change every aspect of their lives through improved mental faculties. You guys, this interview might just be our biggest and most important yet.
And that's because there's so, so much value here. I almost don't know where to start describing it at 89 years old, my guest pulls no punches and he makes no apologies. And you guys, I think he deserves it. He shares heartbreaking stories of physical abuse and overcoming dyslexia, but also some incredibly inspiring tales of how he became the world's most respected authority on memory, which by the way he did with nothing more than a middle school education, you guys will notice right away that my guest is clearly very practiced and he spent 60 years in the public spotlight and that comes out in this interview.
He's an incredible storyteller and he has an amazing way of answering the questions with these vivid stories that pull you in and keep you wanting more. And so without further ado, I know you guys are excited as I am to meet the Yoda of Memory. Mr. Harry Lorraine.
Mr. Harry Lorraine. Welcome to the show. It is such an honor, sir, to have you on the show today. It's my pleasure, Jonathan. It's honestly, the first time I could ever consider myself in a company with such great says Johnny Carson, and I'm just amazed that we managed to get you on the show. So really excited about that.
Harry Lorayne: Thank you. It's funny. You mentioned Johnny's cousin just yesterday. Somebody I'm a terrible computer person. Uh, Jonathan, but somebody told me they put, uh, one of my appearances on the Johnny Carson show on Facebook. So I'm getting all kinds of emails about it and et cetera, et cetera. Plus, I did remembering the names of everybody in the audience.
I did the Johnny Carson show 24 times over all the years.
Jonathan Levi: My God.
Harry Lorayne: Well, you came kind of friendly, but anyway, my pleasure to be here, Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: That's incredible. 24 times on the show.
Harry Lorayne: Uh, the Johnny Carson Show. Yeah, well, I may be 22 of them. I memorized everybody in the audience. One time somebody was kidding me.
They said, gee, you remembered about 400 people in the audience each time. And you did that about 20 to allow you must've met about 4,000 people on that show alone. So I said, yeah, right now, my problem is that forgettable.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, exactly. You got to do that spring cleaning and get it all out of there. Make room for new content.
Harry Lorayne: Like I always said, remembering is that my problem forgetting is.
Jonathan Levi: Interesting. So, Harry, I want to get into the method. And of course, you know, given my background in accelerated learning, I really want to do dive into how you do that. But first I think we should give our audience a little bit of background information, which is you've been in the field of mnemonics and memory.
Way before it was fashionable. And in a sense, you really blazed the path by yourself to bring this stuff to the popular consciousness. Tell us a little bit about that process and what you discovered to cause your life path to head down. This course?
Harry Lorayne: Somebody once asked me on television. How does a little, these Dems and those kids from the Woolery side?
The main streets of New York City with one a year of high school, et cetera. How does somebody like that become the world's foremost memory trading expert? Is that what you're asking, Jonathan?
Jonathan Levi: That is what I'm asking. I bet you remember what you answered.
Harry Lorayne: Well, I do, because I also get to like recently put out a, uh, a memoir called before I suggest just a good title.
Mel Brooks told me to call it a remember law. Anyway, reason I mentioned that is that this is going to sound kind of redundant to the people who have booked before I forget, because I told this story that but if you want to hear it, I'll tell us he, anyway, I was on television though once when somebody, the whole set to me, the question I just said is how do you become the world's foremost memory trading specialist?
And I said, stomach cramps. And he said, once he got, he turned white up, just makeup. You know, and I said, no, no, let me explain it to you. I want to happen when I was very young, I'm talking about 11 years old. I had stomach cramps every morning. I thought that was life. I thought that was the norm till I realized that I had those stomach cramps.
Only Monday through Friday, I didn't get them on the weekends. In other words, School days. And then I started to realize why, because we used to get a test, a 10 question test every day in school, and the teacher, I think it was Mrs. Goldfish draws us together. She used to, you know, she would grade them and give us back the papers that we had to take them home for at least one parent to sign them.
And my father who died when I was 12. So you can see how far back I'm going was the assignee. And I was getting failing grades every day, you know, forties and fifties, where whoever my little classmates were getting passing grades, you know, seventies, eighties, nineties, anyway, I would bring home. This test for my father had his sign and he would see the failing grade and he would punish me.
He would hit me. Jonathan, once on the Johnny Carson show, I was telling the same story. And I said, my father, punched me, which is really what he did. And about 10 or 12 days later, I got a call from Freddie to Cordova, who was the producer on the Tonight Show and he said, Oh, Harry, we got thousands of pieces of mail about your visit here.
And they're all negative. I said, why, what did I do? He said, what are you sending him? Father punched it. You can't say that. So now when I tell this story, I say my father punished me that's okay. So my father punished me anyway. I'm telling you this whole story to tell you that I was getting stomach cramps because I was afraid that my father was going to punish me.
So I didn't know what to do until one day. Oh, boy. Talk about a pivot point or a plot point in your life. One day, the light bulb in my head, wasn't ultimately said, you know, there's only one way to stop my father from punching me or punishing me. And that is to get passing grades, but how do I get passing grades?
And that's when the light bulb got brighter. Jonathan, I said, you know, all I gotta do is remember the answers to the questions that this is goldfish asks. Because in those days, the kind of questions you got on the test when you were 11 years older than those early grades, they're not the kind of things you'd get an intellectualize in, which is not a word.
I knew what that time, but I could understand it in my mind. All I had to do is remember them. How do you intellectualize a question? Like I'm trying to think of one that she gave up questions. She went, Oh, I watch the capital of Maryland. Well, how do you remember that? That's Annapolis. There's no way to aid to electrolyze it, that's my point.
I do, you know it or you don't. And as I once wrote in a couple of books, the word, no remember, and Laura and I will sit in them safe and know something gets learned that if you lugged that you remembered, if you remember it and so on, they're all synonyms. That's what started at Jonathan. I went to the library.
I asked the lady if there were any books that teaches you how to read numbers, she took me to a room where we had a, like the cobwebs and she took me to a column down with books, dating back to the 17th century. Some of them are not on my private library on memory training. And you've got to understand that again, that I was 11 years old and I'm also dyslexic. And as I get older, it gets worse when I was dyslexic, when I was a boy. Yeah.
And jumped by, was getting lousy grades. They didn't know the word dyslexic that, well, maybe they do it because they never used it. At least my teachers didn't know it and I never heard it certainly, but I learned about it later. Basically. What happened when I was a little boy in school, they give you the name.
You played a game. They stamped me more on because it allows the grades I was getting. So I went along with it. I thought that's the way I was like, anyway, to get back to the story, I was only 11, so I couldn't remember. I couldn't understand. Most of the things that I read, these books I've memory, but this small percentage as done 0.1 0.0, 1% of the things I read that I did on the spend, changed my life.
And then all of a sudden I started to apply it to my school. I didn't realize that's what I was doing was changing things, manipulating the few things I did understand to, to apply. To what remembering the answers to these questions. That's all I cared about at that time. That's the point. I didn't want to get hit again by my father.
So I started to twist them and manipulate him. I didn't know I was doing something brand new and some of these things changed to fit my particular problems. And I started to get hundreds on these tests. I remember Mrs. Gold Fisher. Stopping me one day when I was coming into her room and she said, Harry, what happened now?
You're getting grades that I always expected from you what happened? And I started to explain, like she said, well, what do you mean giving you an example? I said, well, let me use of the capital of Berlin, which is Annapolis's example. There was a girl named Mary in the class that I pointed to and I said, well, Mary.
And I saw an Apple landing Mary land, and an Apple is landing on ahead. Apple is so that's. And I said I visualize I'm at Belinda, got married. That's how we rented an Apolis. And as I explained it, some, this is goldfish yet. I saw the curtain come over her license. She said, all right, take your seat. She thought I was nuts.
So at that time, Point in my life. I stopped telling people what I was doing and how all of a sudden I was getting better grades. Except as time went on, my little classmates thought attached to me. They said, you, what are you doing? I explain it. They started to use it, but we didn't tell the adults about it.
That didn't happen until a decade later. So I think I told you more than you wanted to hear Jonathan, but that's basically what started the whole thing.
Jonathan Levi: It's an incredible story and it's certainly not more than I wanted to hear because it's really, I appreciate you sharing it with us.
Harry Lorayne: Well, I can say I've written that story. It's true. It was a major part of my life, obviously, as I say, it was a pivot point to change my life. So yeah, it's important to me. And I wanted to tell that story.
Jonathan Levi: Harry, what were those techniques? I'm sure. Obviously, you've built upon the techniques. You've innovated in this field as well, but. Walk us through much of the audience comes from my SuperLearning Course where I teach a little bit about memory palaces.
I teach about visual memory and creating the symbol of Mary and an Apple on her head and the marker around that. But walk us through, what are the techniques that have made you world-famous for memory?
Harry Lorayne: Well, basically, you know, listen, all my stuff is based on original awareness and to remind the principal debit two to two things, really the basis of what I teach and I made up those phrases because I realized how important they were, original awareness.
Well, let me give you an example of that. The universal memory complaint is I'm introduced to somebody. And a minute later, I forget his or her name. And I've written this so many times. I'd say that's a lie. You didn't forget his or her name. What you did is you didn't remember it in the first place. And that's what I'm talking about.
Original awareness. I mean, they've seen that I've written about this again. I was talking to somebody out of the Sarah I go to before I was known, you know, and I would see them looking over my shoulder. Can go around the room, not even paying attention to me, we're looking for who could be more important than this room for them.
And people do that. Sometimes not realizing that maybe the person who showed that they're looking over and not making contact. That's the most important person. So what I'm trying to say again, you didn't get the person's name. You didn't remember it in the first place. And that's what I teach as that's the way I remember.
Up to a thousand people, which I don't do anymore because I learned as that could be a ball. If I remember at 400 people in the audience, I don't want people to think, well, what else do you do? Do you know? So remembering 400 people are strong enough. I think it makes the point, you know, Yeah. It's like I set up the Johnny Carson show, you know, people asked me, why are you teaching me how to read number a hundreds of names at a time.
I don't meet a hundred people at a time. And my answer is no, of course, you don't. I do it because I have to in an appearance. But what I'm teaching you, it's like swinging three bats to make it easier to swing one. If you could do that, what I'm teaching you then obviously you'll remember the names of the few people you meet in your business and your social life.
Jonathan Levi: Sure, and everything else. I mean, if you read a book, you can remember all of the details.
Harry Lorayne: Well, it's an entirely different concept of entirely different system names and faces is one thing. I teach people how to, first of all, visualization, as you mentioned before, it's very important in memory and I teach people how to remember how to visualize anything, how to visualize any name, how in the world do you visualize a name like, which is a person I've met years ago.
Pennsylvania. It's an Italian name and maybe it has meaning in Italian, but I don't know that. So I had to make it meaningful. When I say visualization, you cannot visualize something that has no meaning. I mean, how many of you remember the digit five? All it is is a concept it's one lower than the six and one as a four.
So what I teach is how to regionalize anything out of visualizing any name, how to visualize any foreign words, which is the same as a name that has no meaning. So those are the important things for that. First, you have to visualize something before you can associate it to the thing you want it connected to. All memory boils down to two items, two things, our main tool face to face or name and telephone number to the person that owns that a foreign word to which English meaning always boils down to two things.
Jonathan Levi: And everything becomes connected and everything becomes visual in some way.
Harry Lorayne: Well, the good day goes to the remind, the principles that I mentioned before, you have to know how to make one thing reminds you of another. Well, I remember 400 people in the audience. I looked at the face and that tells me the name.
The face reminds me of the name. And if I thought of the name without looking, he's a person that would remind me of the person's face. That's the remind, the principle. I want to connect the foreign word tempos to Greg because that's what it means in French. And I know, I remember when I went to France a hundred years ago when I couldn't speak French at all, even though I took it in school and it didn't register at all.
Well, as I went to France every year, many times, and all I speak a little French, but at that time I didn't need that. I wanted to remember how to order in a restaurant. So that's why Pamplemousse just came to mind. So when I think a grapefruit, when I'm in France, I want to be reminded of the word Pamplemousse.
So that's the point. That's the remind of the principle.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. So you mentioned that different fields of learning have different adaptations. How would you memorize say highly technical medical or mathematical information may be in mathematical formulas?
Harry Lorayne: Well, you know, I bit the bullet shot.
Jonathan Levi: That is a good point.
Harry Lorayne: In 1972, I wrote a book called good memory, good students that took students up to and into high school level. I then did a problem was just said, could you bring it Hyatt to let's say the college level? I said, sure. So first thought was a good memory, good students to the high school level. Then there was a great super memory successful student that was up there college level. And then years went by as a little Brown Publisher, which is a pretty big publisher here in the States said, can you condense those two? That one was written in 1972, the other one in 1973 said, can you condense them into one book? I said, sure.
So that became Super Memory, Super Students. And that's available now. And there are two chapters in that book where I teach formulas, you know, mathematical equations, formulas, et cetera, among other things among a wide range, et cetera. Matter of fact, somebody asked me about it just recently. And I have a company here on my desk and I was going to read some of the chapter heading see you, but you know, it goes on and on.
I don't want to take that time, but obviously dumbass. Now on as for Redmond vocabulary, you can remember words and definitions, easily. Foreign language vocabulary tastes a seal, which means very easy though, that names and numbers and dates and Presidents of the United States in American history and so forth and so on.
Even how to remember music, which I'm terrible at, but I use my systems and how to make no mistakes when you spell so, and then, of course, can we, here's one, here's the chapter and talking about chemistry, biology and genetics. Tables, laws, theories, and other toughies. So I dunno, what is more formulas, algebraic, chemical, and structural formulas, molecular compositions, electronic diagrams, et cetera.
So all these are memory problems. You know, I've mentioned the two books I wrote on a student, Jonathan. Back in 1972. And my publishers made arrangements with the Bronx High School Of Science here in New York was, and I assume still is considered very high-level high school. And they made arrangements to allow me to come into the school after the classes, right after regular classes to interview whoever I wanted to, you know, for the book.
And that's what happened. I made a big mistake. The mistake being that I started to interview the teachers first. So Alison, and again, I've written about this because this was very important to me. Every teacher I spoke to said, no, no, no, we don't use memory. We use doing and concepts. So I know what the word doing means.
And I know what the word concepts means. I didn't know what the phrase meant. I didn't know what they were talking about as they all insisted. We don't use memory. I remember talking to one teacher. A lady, we were in the classroom and it was a large blackboard on one wall and the periodic table was on that wall.
Do you know what the periodic table is? Jonathan?
Jonathan Levi: Of course.
Harry Lorayne: Okay. So I said to this teacher, and it's a deadly thing, we're all kind of upset with me that I was prompted about it. Cause they all said, no, no, no, we don't use a memory. So anyway, I said to this teacher, listen to it. I've been out of school for quite a long time, which was true.
And I said, forgive the silliness of my questions. I noticed you have the periodic table on the Blackboard here. Do you still teach that? She said, of course. I said, well, if you think you still test your students on it, She said, yes, of course, we do. I said, so let me ask you a question. Is it still the same as it used to be?
When I went to school, there are only two ways I can think of what you test on something like this. And that is still in a blank or multiple choice. She said, yes, those are the way we test them. Fill in the blank or you, we give you a few choices. You've got to pick out the correct one. I said, okay. So let me ask you a question.
What mental calisthenics, what a student has had to use. If the question was, what is the symbol for ion? And it was a blank. And if they put in the letters, R J what would happen? She said, well, they would get a wrong lock. I said It's like their grades, wasn't it? She said, of course, it's would. So I said, well again, could you tell me what mental calisthenic that student would have had to use in order to put in that blank?
What is the symbol Ion? And in order to put an F E and Jonathan, it took me 10 minutes to get her to say, Oh, well, they would've had to remember it. So that's the point. I went into another class, I have to speak this lady. This was a male teacher added. He had just given out the textbooks for that class and he made a snake.
Then the next class, I would like you all to know the information on pages eight to 10. I wanted to ask those, the students left. I talked to him to get it first. She said, no, we don't use a memory. I said, but you just don't. He information on pages eight to 10. Again, what do you call that? And again, it took me 10 minutes to get him to say, well, they have to remember it.
Of course, they do, but you don't only want to buy a book on the front page. I said there is no learning without memory. And that causes such screaming among educators here in America. So many debates that I got involved in with them. And I have yet to lose that debate. Jonathan, you know why? Because everything is the learning without memory.
Absolutely. I completely agree with you. One thing I do want to ask where memory palaces, come into these techniques that you were teaching for these students.
No, I don't use memory palaces. Jonathan, you've gone back 3000 years. It was a wonderful system. You know, I have a couple of websites. I have a lousy computer, but I have people do it for me.
I have one website called memory improvement. Dot org. And in that, first of all, as soon as you go in there, you see a great picture of me, which I don't really like, but there's a reason I mentioned it is I go in a little bit of the history of memory about books going back to the 16 hundreds, 17 hundred, and how a lot of memory experts at that time because there were very few note-taking devices.
Those early years and got these people for speeches. They used to use their homes as the never-in palace. In other words, they would associate, it was called loci. Some people pronounce it low psy. I don't know which is correct. I guess it's corded away from the word loci, it means places as they would associate the first spot in a speech to the first place in their home. The second thought of the speech to the second place in the home, you know, going through the misses of time. That's where I cliche comes from in the first place, in the second place. So I know all about that, but it was limited it's 3000 years old, the systems I teach now hundreds of thousands of times better.
Jonathan Levi: Really. So tell me about those. I'm dying of curiosity.
Harry Lorayne: Well, I think, you know, there was different ways of applying my systems. It's according to what you want to remember, you want to remember numbers. That's one system it's like Peg Lewis. You want to remember faces while I talked to you before about making things meaningful.
I mentioned the word Pennsylvania. How do you remember, how do you remember the name? That the thing? How do you visualize it? If I smoke? Meaning is it's a conglomeration of sound? Well, I teach my students to use this example. I hate to go to context, Jonathan, but I'll talk about this for a second. A couple of seconds.
Okay. Let me give you one of my cliches. Even if my systems don't work, they must work. Of course, they work beautifully, but even if they don't work, they must work. Now I know that sounds contradictory and silly, but no, it has good meaning, you know why?. Just trying to apply my systems, forces you to grab your mind by the until it pays attention.
That's the key to pay attention. Okay. In order to make the word Pennsylvania means something in your mind, what can you make it mean? What does, but the thing is, sound like, well, to me it sounded like a bent, you know, the things that has Northeast East, South, and he don't have West on it. Vain. Well, that has meaning I could visualize a bed.
Then you see about the rooms, et cetera. I can visualize that, but here's the key to that silly remark of line that even if my systems don't work, they must work in order to do what I just said to make bent Devania in your mind, think of benzene. You'll have to do something that most people don't do. And that is listen.
Yes. You had to hear the name before you could make Bensavinga meet the bed scene in your mind. You see what I mean? And now the next thing is, okay, you'll just listen. Do you know the word benzene and that'll remind you, there's a reminder. Principle will remind you of Pennsylvania. How do you tie it to this person?
I didn't get to tie it to his face. Well, let's say Mr. Bed to Vegas has the first time, you look at him. Uh, the first impression I remember first impressions are lasting impressions. That's part of the key. He's got a big nose. That's the price they get noticed. And again, even if my systems don't work, they must work in this case.
You'll know why. Because again, you had to do something that most people don't do. And that is, look, you'll listen to the name. You'll get the face you've paid attention. And a lot of the flying, the outstanding feature on his face. You can look over your shoulder. You got to look at his face. When you picked out the big nose now, two steps.
Number one, listen. Number two. Look now to say the most important step. How do you tie the two together? As an association? I looked at the person's faces while I'm shaking hands. I visualize not the nose, but a bent instead of the nose. That's it. The next time I meet that person, I looked at his face and I say, Hi, Mr. Benson Vania.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. And that's something we talk about in our course is creating the meaning and attaching things to something that actually has relevance. For your mind?
Harry Lorayne: Well, you know, that's what I've been teaching. Let's see my first book, how to develop a silver memory. I wrote it in 1954 was published in 1956 has sold 8 million copies.
That was 1956. It came on. I have started an industry. Jonathan, you had, I know you'd teach it. There were hundreds of people teaching my systems on trying to.
Jonathan Levi: And we owe it all to you. We really do.
Harry Lorayne: Well, listen, I don't want to say it. So, you know, I guess for most people, Jonathan, honestly, if I say anything, which I don't do anymore, I don't want to get involved.
But if I say anything is, Oh, listen long before Harry Lorayne. Yeah, that's right. 3000 years. But these people are around before they all came after 1956.
Jonathan Levi: That is absolutely true. Harry. I want to ask. One of the things I think a lot of people struggle within the digital age, you know, we all have computers nearby.
We all have our smartphones. People feel that they don't need to remember. And I often am challenged by people. Why do I need this skill? How can I apply this skill? I mean, I don't need to remember phone numbers. I have them all in my contacts list.
Harry Lorayne: Yeah, actually, I've got some emergency, can't get a signal, and then you sure as hell better. Remember your number.
Jonathan Levi: Exactly and that was the question I wanted to ask, which is what are some of the most impactful things you've remembered and use your techniques for over the last while 60 years?
Harry Lorayne: First of all the first part of your question years ago, you know, I have a son who's 46 years old now. And, uh, when he was a little boy, he came to me all those years ago.
He said, Oh dad, would you get me a calculator? And I said, no. And he said, well, why not? You know, went to the guys and girls in my class have calculators at what was going through my mind. My kind of imagination visualize visualizing gets 50, a hundred years in the future as the main battery and the world goes off and somebody says to somebody else, how much is two times two?
And he says, ah, I don't know. You know, because all of a sudden everybody's going to have to calculate, I got to have the computer. And that's one of the problems with these things. People are not using their memories, which is not good for a variety of reasons. But one thing I wrote is a goal. If you let your right arm hang down and you don't use it for six months, it's going to atrophy and you won't be able to use it again ever.
The same thing holds true for your mind, which is probably more important. You don't use it any good. It won't work for me anymore. So I don't like this idea of not having to remember anything because of new technology. I'm still working on the crystal radio. Jonathan, I'm a terrible computer person. I don't use these things.
I want to remember the numbers. I don't want to have to go into the system on a little thing. You're holding it up. Um, give me a non-black now. That's why I'm thinking. Listen, I think it's a great idea. Um, my son walks around with this thing in his palm and my adorable little three-year-old grandaughter is starting to do it for God's sakes.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. Yeah. I mean, our generation was born with these devices in our hands.
Harry Lorayne: Exactly. I think in one way, it's very nice, but in another way, and maybe more importantly, it is not somebody just, we had a whole conversation that in schools, they're not even teaching kids handwriting anymore. Well, how, how are you going to sign your name for God's sake?
So, you know, a couple of my books I wrote for every bit of progress, there was sometimes a step or two backward.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I guess that's probably the case with handwriting. Yeah.
Harry Lorayne: How can you not teach kids handwriting for God's sake. I think all okay. I know I'm old and etcetera, but you know, I written all those 50 books, Jonathan, I'm going to keep doing it until I get it right.
But I've written almost 50 books, about 29 or 30 in the autumn Cod Magic, which was my first love and the rest of memory for the public, and all of them I write it handwrites first. Wow. If I couldn't handwrite, I couldn't write them. So that's the way I do it. I'm not saying that's the best way, or if that's what every writer does, but that's what I do.
I hand dried them. Zen, you know, the last few books I wrote I did on the computer, but it took a bunch of people, friends of mine talking me into it at it still scares the heck out of me because I'm a first-time. Right. Uh, in handwriting, then I used to type it on the old Royal typewriters, you know, where you got to have strengthened your fingers to do it, but obviously, that's changed with computers.
So now as I go into the computer was what I handwritten. I edit as I type it in. And like I say, I'm a first-time writer. And computers scare the heck out of me. I don't want to have to write it again. So every chapter I write, A, I send it to somebody who archives it for me, and B, I print it out. I don't want, in case the computer crashes on me, I don't want to lose what I've written.
Jonathan Levi: Of course. And that's a great habit to have as well.
Harry Lorayne: Oh yeah. That got to me. So I'm very careful about that.
Jonathan Levi: Rightfully, so I would say, I think we've all lost files in the past.
Harry Lorayne: Listen, you don't want to change my lie. Let me give you a little story. I don't know how much time you have.
Jonathan Levi: I have all the time in the world for you, Harry.
Harry Lorayne: I'll give you another pivot point. I mentioned to you before that my first love was clogged magic. That changed my life. Okay, I was the shyest. Most people that I talk about this, they left. They say they can't be, I was just shy. I used to kid in the world. I mean, shy to the point of sickness, like a mother, like a son, I got it.
From my mother, she was the kind of woman. If she was on a real-world track and a train was coming, she'd be too shy to yell, help for God's sakes. And I was the same way. I never made eye contact. I never spoke to people unless they spoke to me first until again, when it was about 10 and a half, 11 years old on park counselor, we used to go there after school to play shuffleboard.
Ping pong and things like that, not ping pong playing outside paddle tennis. So one day it was a rainy day and he didn't know how to keep the second place. So he showed us a card trick. It changed my life and he closed my mind. I said, a little boy, it's like a do that. And I was too shy to ask him how he did it because I didn't realize that you don't ask somebody how he did it.
I'm not going to tell you anyway, you know, but anyway, I ran home. I stole some those bottles we give in for the positive. Two pennies each side to buy a deck of cards and see if I could work this trick out. And I did. And the reason I mentioned this, how they changed my life course, it took me out of that terrible cage of shyness that I was in because now when I never spoke to anybody before I had to say at least three words if I want them to do a contract, I had to say, pick a card for God's sake.
Talk to people. It just changed my life. Now I started to become very good. Well, I must be I've written 29 books on this subject, but going back many decades when I was about 18, 19 years old, I was doing what's called table magic and I might call it. It was Billy Reed's little club. It was called where I was go from table to table and do magic.
Okay. And most of the stuff I did was card stuff like we've had of up about 19 years old and one day a famous actor. Well famous at the time, his thing was evicted jewelry. I don't know how many people know it. Now, Dick, the Jewelry played Helen Keller's father in the movie Miracle Worker in which I was my closest friend and bankrupt who died many years ago.
But she got her first Academy award in 1962 for playing Helen Keller's PJ and he sold them. He played yet. He was well-known at the time. Anyway. He paid, came into the little Columbia with a friend, a lady friend, and he asked from me, it seems he was interested in magic. Had I did some stuff to him and he liked it very much.
You know, a few days later he came home was in front of the friends of a male friend his time. And he said, Harry, I want you to do some of these things. So my friend. One of the things that I wanted to do was pick the jury because he kept coming in. This happened three, four, five times. I wanted to do at least one trick each time that Mr.
Jore hadn't seen yet. And that's what I was doing. And the reason I'm telling you this, eventually, it got to the point where I've had not a trick to do it's different now. I mean, I can go on forever because I make things up as I go along. But. When I was 19 years old around that time. So I was running out of things to do, and I had been interested in memory work privately.
Personally, I wanted the things that I did was card memory to remember cards. And I said, all right, look, I'm running a sleight of hand tricks to do set Mr. Joy. I'll do the memories. And to me, it was like scraping the bottom of the barrel, you know? So anyway, I did it now, I'm going to explain the trick. I have a jury pick up the deck and I say, this is jewelry.
Would you shuffle the deck and he does? I say, now call him off to me. It did pretty quickly. So, so I understand that, but he did. I ended up on one, two, three, and about that speed, he calls off the whole deck. And now I would say the majority, give me any number from one to 52, he'd say 17, I'd say the King of hearts.
He would come through the 17th. Cause I say don't mix them up. But counted 17, shorten up as the King of Hearts or I would say, give me any card, if you say four of spades, I'd say that's the 32nd card and he would count to and there it was. I did that a few times. And then finally the end of the trick was, uh, Oh, Mr. Jordy, Jordy, do you played poker? Yes. What is that's kind? You can get them poke. He said a Royal flush. I said, okay, give me a suit, four, five and spades and diamonds. He said, spades. Okay. I said would just look at the 14th card, 18th card, 23rd card, 42nd card, and the 51st card he did it. It would apply spades, the 10 Jack, Queen, King, Ace of spades.
Incredible. Why I've been telling you all this one. I finished this trick. Vic The Joice stood up, started to applaud and in a loud voice, everybody could hear, remember the negatives called bluestone gloves all over the club. He said, Harry, the sleight of hand you've been doing for these of the last couple of weeks at the best I've ever seen.
Fantastic. But what your judge did at, he started to rave about the memory, Jonathan. That changed my life because in my mind was saying, wait a minute, he's important president with the memory work that the sleight of hand I've been working on for years that changed my life. I realized that performing or doing memories of people was more important than doing contracts.
Jonathan Levi: Probably more meaningful and applicable. I mean, you've changed tens of millions of people's lives.
Harry Lorayne: I get letters from people. You can't believe people on one of my infomercials that I mentioned before. And if you go to my, uh, again, I'm very lucky with computers, I guess you call it my site. It's harrylorayne.com, where it explains about the Memory Power course.
One of the testimonials, I have a few testimonials from lawyers, doctors who said they couldn't become lazy in practice without an appointment system, but there's one. Well, I'm proud of all of them, but one of them, I was named as Bob Lorland, LORLAND. I know it very well cause I flew to California to interview on when he got his letter because he said he had a stroke when he was 75.
As the doctors told him that he wanted of the things, unfortunately, he would never be able to remember anything again. And he said, uh, somebody told me about your memory course, Mr. Lorayne, and now listen to this. My memory is better. Then it was before the stroke. He said it's a better effect. I build memory demonstrations for my Toastmasters Club.
So I flew to California raised for a couple of camera people, you know, so I can get up on film as I became one of the, uh, testimonials I get for virtual. I listened when I was first introduced. I'm dropping a few names, Jonathan. I don't know if it works in your area of the world. I was introduced to a lot then secretary of state, Colin Powell.
Do you know that Jonathan? Okay. You're the secretary. Well, I was introduced to, and I'm quoting now. He said he exclaimed, Harry Lorayne and, he threw his arms around me and he said, how are you? You help make me a general. And I was too much in order to say, would you put that in writing? So, but that's what he said because he used my systems.
Uh, the Mayor of New York. The Ex-mayor Mike Bloomberg uses my systems. The ex-police commissioner of New York, Raymond Kelly uses my systems. There were so many politicians, a lot of them tell me, don't mention my name because they don't want it known that they had great memories because they used to have a very low rate system of memory.
I asked them why they say, well, we can other sit at a center at a congressional meeting or a Senate hearing. And when we'll ask questions, we can never again say, I don't remember if people know, we use your systems among the blood olds not to use their names, but there are so many politicians. She was my sister's and doctors and lawyers and people all over the world.
And the nitty-gritty about people who have had strokes. And some people have told me. And I'm very careful when I say these things, Jonathan, let me say again, I'm not a doctor. I had one year of high school, so I don't know, but I've had other people who apparently supposedly do know, tell me that applying my systems can conceivably hold back.
Old times. No, I don't know if that's true. Let me repeat again. I'm not a doctor. I get old. I threw out many years ago when I moved out of New York City and I lived in a three-story, townhouse, many cottons of letters because you know, most in those days it wasn't emails that I get nowadays testimonials.
They love snail mail, you know, that I had. That I threw on console from people all over the world. It's on me. I saved their lives with my memory system. So, you know, that helps make it all worthwhile, Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible.
Harry Lorayne: Listen. One of the main things I teach aside from substitute words or thoughts, that means making a word like Pamplemousse, which means grateful, divisible. How do you remember that? It means grapefruit. Okay. I visualize the moose. I could picture a moose and I see a bunch of pimples all over the moose, but how am I going to remember that? That means grapefruit. Well, As I go closest to that moose. I see that all these gigantic pimples are really grapefruits.
That's it? There's no way I'll ever forget it. I was in Portugal. Oh, God. So many years ago and a friend who was bilingual, he spoke Portuguese and English took me to places that were great suburbs that tourists didn't go to it. And people only spoke Portuguese. And he said, do you like clams? And I said, yeah, I love him.
And he said, Tasty. So they were small, I guess, typical. So that area of the world in Portugal clams and it was delicious and I loved them and I asked my friend, what is the word? This meal, these clams in Portuguese. So if you're not with me, I can ask him. And he said the word for these clams is amêijoas. Well, now how in the world have I got to remember that if I want to order these clams, right.
That the word is amêijoas. Well, it'll take me a hundred times longer to talented than that. I did it in my mind. All I did was I visualize the gigantic clam coming under the sea walking towards me. And it was all dripping with dirt and seaweed, you know, to dirt that comes up. Oh, the ocean.
And I looked at this clam and I said to what on measure you is amêijoas. And I will never again, so get that the word for clam in Portuguese is a measure. Was you see what I mean, Jonathan?
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, absolutely.
Harry Lorayne: I teach the picture. So listen, the sound for 2 in my system is N. It always will be N. And the sound for 1 is T and the sound for 3 is M, et cetera, and I teach this thing to children. I'm talking about children ages nine years old in two minutes. Okay. Cause I give them a little memory aid, how to do that. Those sound for one is T visualize a one can visualize the other. And I do this on a piece of paper. I show him that picture of the younger one lady got top of it. There's a T so you'll never forget that the sound for one is T T L D.
Okay. Once you know the sounds, for example, The signs up to his end, cause the type of small N has to downstroke. So it's easy to remember that the sound, but two was M and I start every word for a card with the first letter as it suit. For example, any spade card, the word for it will be S slopped with the nest spade.
What would the word son? I visualize the sun. What could that possibly represent to me when I'm thinking of cards? There's only one thing. There are no choices to make here. No imagination in the blow it once you've made your picture of the sun, because that's spades. That's all. It could be. It's that quick. And you can do that with any card in the deck. That's why I have people write me single, hold on. How do we haven't remembered the shuffled deck of cards now in about three minutes and things like that? Cause I think she, so my books.
Jonathan Levi: Sure, yeah. You know, I think it comes down to everybody has their own methods. We had, you know, Nelson Dellis on the show. The world record now I think for a deck of cards is something in the vicinity of 24 seconds. Okay. You know, it's just a matter of which systems work. It sounds you've adapted the major method, which I've never heard of doing. And it's very clever to adapt the major method of remembering numbers of sounds to decks of cards because it is a lot faster. It's very fast. I love that.
Harry Lorayne: Not particularly. That's not the world tangible. Jonathan didn't want to be able to read them, but numbers. How do we remember stock prices? I had a guy write a book called Trader Victor. His name was Victor Sperandeo. So everybody called it a Victor was called Trade of Vic because he said he got his first job in the stock market because of my systems because they were interviewing people. And in those days, you know, they would pick and take the CD symbols of companies and things like that. He remembered 1600 company symbols.
He did it. So the guy who was interviewing him, the guy said you got the job for God's sake. So that's what people care about. Not cards necessarily unless you are a gambler. I'm not going to worry about. But my system teaches it. Like I say, even my button numbers of any kind. I had one letter from a guy, I kept it somewhere.
He said, Oh, the store reign. I remembered the pie to the flight thousands place using your systems. And I said, are you out of your mind? Can you do that? Because I can do it. Why did the word, what I want to remember pie in a 5,000 place? Sure. But again, all my seasons, you can do it. Go ahead and do it. I'd be like remembering numbers.
One of the things I did when I was running my classes many years ago because I used to work at people who would send the $50 deposit. I think the closest to $150 raid license at that point. Back in the 1960s and the way it was sold, the way the advertisements for the various events were, uh, we will not cancel your check.
You come to the first lesson. If you want to leave it, if you don't want to get you gift for any reason, we will give you back your check. It's a deadly, I never gave back to check on one of the things I did there, I had one of my instructors today was Bob Elliott. I had him standing in front. I said, let me demonstrate something for you, had a Blackboard in the bag.
And I had people call out digits till we had to. I was not the role of 25 digits and then I would look at them and say, okay, Bob, can you give us those numbers? And he grackle them off. Um, probably getting to the end of that, I'd say, okay, big chucking don't backward at a drag backward. I said, that's what you will learn to do in the third lesson, which they did.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. So I think we've gotten our audience salivating enough. What I wanted to ask you. Hey, is if people want to learn about these methods, you know, there are so many books, you've written so many books, so many people after you have written so many books, what is a good starting point? What one or two books would you recommend? People read? You know you said you're still perfecting. You're going to write books until you get it right. Where should people start?
Harry Lorayne: Well, that doesn't mean the systems. That means my writing ability, which people tell me is pretty good. I'm a pretty good teacher. You know why it's another thing that the whole different area I told you before I'm dyslexic.
And I once wrote an article because people asked me to do it about why a bad things sometimes very good. And I get two examples. Number one, like the ones, when I was a kid, I had a terrible memory and I did when I was a kid. So I had to buy systems. It's a watch for the fact that I had a terrible memory, all four.
And I did, I wasn't have to become who I became in my life. Do you see what I mean? So the bad that was good. The next bad thing is dyslexia. I'm dyslexic. It gets worse as I get older, but by dyslexia worked for me. You know why it may be a better teacher? Jonathan, because I teach is that everybody's like me.
No ambiguities. I wrote my first book on Card Magic, which it seems is become a legend for some reason, which is fine. And it feeds my ego. It's because as I was if this is magic and growing a little older, and I said, wait a minute, what does he mean? I'm talking about the right. Does he mean hold the deck face up face down?
Does he mean stick this finger over the middle of the deck? In other words, I then as I grew old, I said, you know, I think I could do it better. And I did. So there is that article I wrote about sometimes the bad things could become good things. So anyway, you're asking them about books. Out there right now, I'm not allowed to a lot of prints. You are interested in splitting to want to get something for your kids that are students, et cetera, et cetera, Super Memory, Super Student. That's still out there. The most current book, the last one I wrote is called Ageless Memory. My original title was the Over 40 Memory book. It's geared toward people with light color, head, Jonathan. Gray, same systems. I teach, I kind of give them total the people. I don't remember the, maybe pills and how to remember. Okay. So, but the systems that are saying, I'll tell you, if you don't mind me plugging something, go to harryloraynemagic.com. You got to spell the name, right? Of course. harryloraynemagic.com and click on memory products.
I go see all the books on that subject that are now available, that you can order right from there.
Jonathan Levi: Excellent. And we will put a link to that in the show notes @becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast. So you guys don't have to worry our listeners. Don't have to worry about getting the spelling right.
Is there a, y is there an I, will put those links up there and everyone will get linked up to you? Mr. Harry Lorayne, it has been such an honor and such a pleasure to not only hear your stories, not only learn from you but also to personally thank you because, without you, I certainly wouldn't have a job.
I certainly wouldn't be doing what I love doing, which is teaching people how to read faster and learn more because, without your work, I don't think someone would have discovered it. And I don't think someone would have put in the time, the 50 years of writing books by hand. To get this information out there.
So people like me can come and teach it in different ways to different generations.
Harry Lorayne: Right. I appreciate you telling me that Jonathan, I like the readings and you know, one of the things, if you don't have time for this, just tell me one of the things I'm against the speed reading, and years ago, I had one speed and it was a big speed reading company.
I don't want to mention names that said, Oh, we'll take you out of age. So important. I had a 12-year-old student of mine and we had a challenge and my students. Close the book at the same time that the speed reading student closed the book, but here was the point. They were both tested. I think the information on that book as a person that did the speed reading got a terrible block.
Whereas my 12-year-old student got a hundred percent because he remembered everything. I said they close the books at the same time. That's a lie. I still didn't do it. Went a little longer. The differences he remembered everything the other student did not.
Jonathan Levi: And that's exactly where we start in our course. We say, look, forget about speed reading for three weeks. For three weeks. We're going to learn how to remember. Okay. That's it only then do you have the right to try and read any faster? Because if it's going in one ear and out the other, or in one eye and out the ear, it's not going to happen. And to that we owe you and your methods, which it sounds like have been trickled down to me through various teachers and through various people, who've taught me over the years, all originating from you.
So I really do appreciate it.
Harry Lorayne: My pleasure. Thank you for saying so.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. It has been such a pleasure to have you on the show, Mr. Harry Lorayne, possibly the greatest memory on the planet.
Harry Lorayne: Thank you so good to talk to you, Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: Take care. You have a wonderful afternoon.
Harry Lorayne: You too goodbye.
Closing: And yet to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time.