My Interview with Harry Lorayne – May 25, 2020

When I was 23 years old, I was at a cottage in PEI during the summer. I was laying on the couch in the living room and reached behind the couch and found a book on the window sill. I don’t recall the name of the book but it was a self-help book and one of the chapters was on memory and it was written by Harry Lorayne. I was hooked. This lead me to buying the Memory Book and my journey started.

I was spellbound. I learned about peg systems, associations, creating silly (therefor memorable) images in my mind and something called the phonetic alphabet. Reading this book is the single most empowering activity I have ever undertaken. I was able to memorize lists of 25, 50 even 100 objects. Tell me the object, I’ll tell you the number, tell me the number I’ll tell you the object. Want me to recount the objects from 100 to 1 or the other way around, no problem. I remember memorizing the key points to my thesis defense so I was able to stand in front of a group of professors and my peers and not have to keep referring to notes. I remember memorizing the order of a shuffled deck of cards. I made a bet with someone, it took me about 3 hours and I had them all memorized. I only missed one when it came time to recite them (#48 was the 3 of Hearts, ironically its the only one I can remember now). I remember when I started working at BlackBerry, I had to present at a town hall, I had 5 minutes and I had about 25 points I wanted to cover. I was relatively new to the company and people commented that I made an immediate impression because I spoke without notes. Harry Lorayne has kept me company for the past 33 years.

I started thinking about Harry recently and I wondered if he was still around. I started doing some research on the web and found out he is indeed and he’s 94 years old. I reached out to him on LinkedIn and asked if he would be willing to have an interview and he graciously agreed. Talking to Harry was a fantastic experience. Harry’s book was so valuable to me it sparked me to redefine my sense of self. For that I can’t thank him enough.

The following video vignettes are from our video interview. I hope you enjoy them. In the first video he talks about how it all started for him.

How it all started for Harry

Harry talks about ‘pivot points’ in his life. (Harry was ahead of his time when it came to design thinking).

Pivot Points

Harry had debilitating shyness as a child. He was too nervous to bring any attention to himself. But seeing the counselor do a card trick ignited something in him. He had to learn how to do the card trick, and in so doing, he developed the 3 word magic phrase the unlocked the door to his shyness. The three words: Pick A Card.

Harry thought card magic was going to be the love of his life, his career. And then he experienced another pivot point. He ran out of card tricks and didn’t know what to do. Harry talks about how actor Victor Jory changed his life and helped Harry experience another major pivot point.

Pivot #2 – From card magic to memory tricks

Harry uses 3 steps to memorize names and faces. Step 1 – Make the name meaningful. Step 2 – Pick an outstanding feature. Step 3 – Make an association. Reminder principle – One thing reminds you of another. If its silly, as Harry says, ‘the sillier the better’.

Stay tuned, more to come

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