Learning & Memory

Memory GrandMaster Kevin Horsley on How To Have an Unlimited Memory

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Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today, we are joined by Kevin Horsley, a GrandMaster of Memory, world record holder, bestselling author, and public speaker who hails from South Africa.

For the past 25 years, Kevin has been working to better understand the mind and memory – overcoming his own difficult learning disabilities and going on to win the world record for the matrix memorization of 10,000 digits of pi – often referred to as the “Everest” of memory tests.

In this episode, we talk about… you guessed it… memory and learning. Just a warning: we go very deep very fast into the nitty gritty of many of the techniques, and how Kevin is innovatively using them. If you haven’t heard our past episodes on memory and learning with Anthony Metivier, Mattias Ribbing, Ron White, and a few more, you might want to listen to those ones first, because we do assume in this interview that you kind of understand basic mnemonic techniques by now. We talk about speed reading, methods for reviewing and retaining what you learn, memory palaces, and a lot more. Kevin holds nothing back and shares a ton of super valuable tips and ideas, and so I think you’re really going to enjoy it.

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • Was Kevin Horsley always an effective learner?
  • Some background on the learning disabilities Kevin Horsley struggled with as a child
  • How did Kevin go from barely being able to read to reading 4-5 books a week?!
  • Why and how did Kevin Horsley get involved in competitive memory sports?
  • How did he become one of the first 5 International GrandMasters of Memory in the world? 
  • A discussion of the world record that Kevin Horsley broke, and why it was considered “impossible”
  • Is our memory really “unlimited?” What are the constraints on how much we can really learn?
  • What is the role of organization in learning, and overcoming learning disabilities?
  • How does Kevin Horsley organize his learning and knowledge in his mind?
  • How can Google Maps help you create Memory Palaces? (cool idea!)
  • In what ways is Kevin adapting the techniques in new and unique ways that other folks do not?
  • What is the concept of “medium term” memory, and what does it mean to Kevin Horsley?
  • A discussion of spaced repetition, and the unique way that Kevin overcomes this challenge?
  • How does Kevin rely on technology and tools to “outsource” his memory – and why?
  • How does Kevin apply Memory Palace Technique to reading books (common question)
  • What causes people to fail in learning mnemonic techniques?
  • What is the role of memory and creativity, and why does memory get a bad rap?
  • What types of things has Kevin used his memory skills to learn over the last 20 years?
  • Why is reading (and speed reading) such an important gift in Kevin’s life?
  • How does Kevin Horsley speed read despite having dyslexia?
  • A discussion of our beliefs and psychology and how they effect learning and memory
  • What other tools does Kevin use religiously?
  • What are Kevin’s routines and habits around training, diet, and exercise?
  • Why don’t the majority of Memory Champions use nootropics and performance enhancers?
  • What is the #1 takeaway message that you should take away from this podcast episode?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Kevin Horsley:

“If it wasn’t for Kindle, I’d have to buy a new house.”
“I was not born with a good memory… When I was 8 years old, the school psychologist said that I may have a form of brain damage, and he wanted to send me to a special class.”
“When I was in my final year of school, I was reading at a top speed of 50 words a minute. That’s the speed of about a 5 year old.”
“For the first time in my life, I discovered that I have a brain. That the brain you have today is not the same brain that you had yesterday.”
“You have infinite opportunities to improve who you are.”
“I overcame all of my dyslexic issues, and I could learn more in an hour than it would take the average person a month to learn.”
“That’s what my life is about: Teaching people that we all have an unlimited memory.”
“The key fundamental of accelerated learning is to become super organized.”

“Really, it all comes down to a few basic fundamentals, and working consistently with those fundamentals.”
“I don’t really like to call them techniques, and I don’t like to call them mnemonics, either. I just think it’s just the way our memory works.”
“I think one of the biggest problems in memory is really a review problem more than anything else.”
“I’m not using my memory for everything. I outsource my memory to things that I don’t really need to worry about. But what I’m using my memory for is key content that I need to be learning.”
“The quality of your thinking is determined by the facts that you can remember. Not the facts that you can find in your cell phone!”
“I think a lot of people are overwhelmed, and feeling as if their day is out of control, because they don’t know stuff anymore. If you think about it, what is confidence? Confidence is really just knowledge.”
“You’ve got to be so careful of the words ‘I am’… Because most of the stuff that we say ‘I am’ is actually ‘I choose.'”
“In all my years of studying people with superhuman abilities in memory and speed reading and everything… I’ve never met anybody who is talented or gifted. I’ve only met people who are using special strategies, and they work really hard with those strategies.”

Jonathan

Jonathan

Jonathan Levi is an experienced entrepreneur and angel investor from Silicon Valley.

After successfully selling his Inc 5,000 rated startup in April of 2011, Levi enlisted the help of speed-reading expert and university professor Anna Goldentouch, who tutored him in speed-reading, advanced memorization, and more. Levi saw incredible results while earning his MBA from INSEAD, and later went on to teach a best-selling online course on the subject. With this unique skill, he has become a proficient lifehacker, optimizing and "hacking" such processes as travel, sleep, language learning, and fitness.