Episode 152 | January 22, 2019

Learning At Super Speed with Jonathan Levi

A Personal Note from Orion

The saying goes: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So when you come across challenges in life, You can take the lemons and let the juice sting your wounds, or you can look around for a bit of sugar and make a sweet lemonade. The latter requires some effort, which is why so many people get stuck with a bunch of ‘bad lemons’.

One of my greatest mentors, Dr. John Demartini, was constantly told as a child that he was ‘stupid’ and would never read nor write. One day, one of his own mentors encouraged him to tell himself “I am a genius.” So he did, and he soon started believing it and acting on it, and today he is a world-renowned life coach, author, and speaker.  So don’t give up – when it comes to reading, and memorizing, and grasping concepts, it is possible to train yourself and get better and better.

My guest today does just that – develops the tools, courses, and resources that people need to hack their brain and learn the skills that they need. Jonathan Levi has a rapidly growing information products company, Superhuman Enterprises. In today’s episode, he details how he overcame his own struggles with learning, to become a successful entrepreneur when he was still a teen. Tune in to hear this motivating journey!


About Today’s Show

Some people take their current life situation and become victims. In that effect, their whole life trajectory. Some people take the same difficult situation and flip it around and make something really powerful out of it. One of my greatest mentors, Dr. John Demartini, was told that he could never read, write, or communicate. I think around age 20, he met this mentor who told him to say, “I am a genius,” and he started saying to himself, “I am a genius,” and he started to teach himself to read and write. He since then read about 30,000 books, I think something like that and wrote many books, and he’s one of the most brilliant, eloquent people that are alive today on planet earth. He started by this premonition of him never amounting to anything. He changed that, he flipped it around. I find that a lot of the teachers, including myself, have taken something really painful and they switched it around. Instead of taking their pain and have that define them, they took the pain and said, “I’m going to change it. This is a part of my evolution and I’m going to learn how to change it,” and the moment they learn how to change it for themselves, they learned how to change it for others. It became their mission. My mission, for example, is to help people find happiness and joy and awaken that beautiful, powerful part in them because I’ve been in a place where I hit rock bottom and I experienced a lot of darkness. I just love seeing it and my guest today has experienced something similar. You will learn his story in the interview. I met him in person a couple of times when I spent time in Israel. He is such a joy and such a fun person to hang out with and also extremely, extremely brilliant. Jonathan Levi is a serial entrepreneur, published author, and a life hacker born and raised in Silicon Valley. Since 2014, Jonathan has been one of the top performing instructors on the online learning platform Udemy and has snowballed his success into the launch of his rapidly growing information products company Superhuman Enterprises. SuperHuman Enterprises has tons of products like how to become a super learner and many other products that you should totally go and check on Udemy. Jonathan’s media products have been enjoyed by over, wait for it, 150,000 students. The guy has 150,000 students and he is super young. Wow, that’s amazing. He teaches people what he had to learn for himself and had to learn a lot. I’m not going to give it away because I want you to listen to his story. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hey Jonathan, and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

Thanks for having me, how are you?

I feel good. I am very excited to be talking to you. We met a few months ago in Israel. We had breakfast together, me and my husband, and you and your beautiful fiancé. It was so much fun to hang out with you guys. You guys are the best.


Become a SuperLearner by Jonathan Levi

You gave me a gift. You gave me a beautiful gift which I really appreciate. You gave me your book Become a SuperLearner, and I want to talk about the book today. I want to talk about all kinds of amazing techniques that you developed on memory and learning. Also a little bit about productivity and how to become more of a superhuman.

Love to.

Yes. Before we start, I want you to share a little bit about yourself. Tell me about your childhood, tell me who you are beyond the expert and beyond the books, and all the courses, and your podcast and all that. Who’s Jonathan?

Yeah. I love it. I’m a serial entrepreneur originally from Silicon Valley, born and raised. Growing up, I was a pretty happy kid. Only child, pretty happy, I got a lot of attention. I was very precocious, and creative, and expressive. Along about middle school, things kind of went south for me and I started realizing that I wasn’t picking up the skills socially or academically that other kids were. I’ve been tested when I was eight years old for ADD because I wasn’t able to learn as effectively as other kids. It was okay and it was cute up until about fifth or sixth grade. All of a sudden, school got serious. I wasn’t able to get serious with it. Then things started to go really bad. I started to get really depressed. I started to really hate myself and be embarrassed of who I was and be ashamed.

If you're going to work hard, it needs to be out of desire, not necessity. Click To Tweet

At what age?

I thought that I was dumb. This is around 13 to 14 years old.

That sucks.

Yeah. It was a pretty bad time. Lucky for me, a friend introduced me to Ritalin which helped me get through high school and then get through college. For a very long time, I had to work a lot harder than everyone else just to keep up. My routine was take a bunch of Ritalin during the day to sit in class, go home and lock myself in my bedroom, take a bunch of more Ritalin to try and understand what everyone else had learned that day in class. I would just work harder than everyone else. Along around that time, I discovered entrepreneurship. When I was 16 or 15, I started my first business and that at least gave me the self-esteem and confidence to know that I was good at something.

What was that?

I knew that I was smart. It was a luxury car parts business. It actually wasn’t my first business. I started a web design business, a DJ-ing business, all kinds of stuff throughout middle school. They all failed, which did not help my self-esteem at all. Finally, I did something right. I built this business. It became a multimillion dollar a year revenue generating business. Suddenly, I wasn’t a social pariah and I had something that I was good at too. That was really wonderful for my self-esteem. That kind of carried me for a long time. I sold that business in 2004, just after my 24th birthday. I went out for a good long soul search and figured out what is going to do next and I decided to go to business school. The business school that I chose was INSEAD which is a condensed program, 10 months to do two years worth of course work.

Anyone who’s been to business school will tell you that it’s not really about the academics, that’s an important part. It’s really about the relationships, and the experience, and the networking. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do my old trick. To be fair, just to sit in the classroom for 10 hours. For someone like me, it does take prescription stimulants. I’m not wired that way, to just sit in a classroom and listen to boring lectures. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that so I got really lucky and I actually met two people who trained me in accelerated learning, speed reading, memory and that just opened up this whole new world to me. I discovered these 2,000-year old techniques that allow you to remember anything you want, to read faster, to remember more. I’ve always been a curious person, but I think I had more appetite than I had time and capability. After that, I just went on a binge. Between then and going to business school I read probably 15 books. I started solving all the problems. I think this is why I connected so much with your husband Stephan because he and I both very much created the men that we are very deliberately.

Once you have this speed reading skill, you can go out and read all the prevailing research.

I had a similar thing where it’s like I read a book on body language, I read a book on public speaking, I read a book on building relationships. I read a bunch of books on business and marketing. I read a bunch of books on people skills. I fixed all the things that I kind of put band-aids over identifying myself as this successful entrepreneur. I went and I fixed the problems. I had all kinds of knee problems, and physical pains, and weird stuff that 25-year-old kids shouldn’t have. I read a 600-page book on how to fix the human body. So I did. It just went on and on. I just devoured subjects. It really changed my life. I went to business school and raised a lot of eyebrows. People would ask me, “Are you actually going to read the materials?” and I’d say, “Yeah, I read them while the teacher was passing them out. I have finished the article.” After business school, I did some more soul searching. I was looking for something with a bigger impact than online car parts. I wanted to positively impact people’s lives. I traveled all over the world to Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia. I mean just looking at opportunities, looking for potential cofounders, looking for markets to serve.

I volunteered for a bunch of different startups. I advised a bunch of different startups. Along about that time, I on the side as a little side project had created this online course which was exploding in its own right. I always tell people the famous story, I practice what I preach. One day I sat down and I was like, this online course thing is pretty interesting. When I was trying to do this one startup that failed, I took a Mattan Griffel‘s course, One Month Ruby. He talked about this platform called Udemy which was like Amazon, but for online courses. I thought that’s really interesting. What if I just taught people? I mean, I’ve never been a teacher, I’ve never been patient enough to teach people. What if I learned how and I taught people all these things that I learned in Hebrew. I went to the instructors that taught me and I asked, “Can I translate these materials and I’ll give you a percentage? We’ll build this thing. It’ll be cool and we’ll reach English speakers,” and it was supposed to be a little side project. I remember telling myself, I sat down and I did all the research. How do you build online courses? How do you record a video? How do you edit a video? How do these ranking algorithms work? What makes a good online course? How do people learn digitally? I really applied the science that we use in our courses.

Once you have this speed reading skill, you can go out and read all the prevailing research. How does the adult brain learn? What influences a positive learning experience? I just went really deep for a week or so and then I recorded a course. I wrote and recorded a quick course. I put it online and I remember thinking to myself, if I could just make an extra $1,000 a month with the money that I have coming in from the company that I sold for the next five years or so, I’m going to have a settlement payment. The money from my rental real estate in the states, I’ll be fine. I’ll have enough runway if it takes me 5 years, 10 years to find the business of my dreams, or the opportunity of my dreams, that’ll be fine. I have unlimited runway. Within the first five days, I made $500. I was like, “That’s pretty great,” and then within the next 30 days, we made about $2,000. I was like, “That’s odd,” and then the next month $5,000. It just started exploding and 25,000 people enrolled, 40,000 people enrolled. Today we’ve done over 200,000 enrollments in all of our courses.

That’s amazing.

It was pretty wild.

Already at a very young age, you have your legacy. That’s really cool. It’s just the beginning of it. What shifted inside of you?

I realized that a lot of the reason why I wanted—I mean, my next business was going to be bigger and was going to be like an Elon Musk size challenge. I want to solve one of humanity’s big problems. That’s not what I was saying. What I was saying is I want to build a billion dollar business. I want to have a publicly traded company. I want to be the CEO of the next big tech company. I realized all those things were not because I had a problem. Elon Musk, what’s different about him or what’s different about so many of these really successful entrepreneurs, they have a problem that drives them crazy. My problem that drives me crazy is that people suffer when they try to learn. I’m not landing people on Mars. I realized that the reason I wanted all those checkmarks, billion dollar business, publicly traded company, that was all ego. I realized, that’s not a good reason to do anything.

There’s the level of sacrifice. Talk about wanting to live a stellar life. The level of sacrifice that you have to commit to, to do something like that is just not something that I want. I probably worked too hard from age 16 to 23, 24 and then I realized I’d much rather work smart than hard. If I’m going to work hard, it needs to be out of desire, not necessity. That was a major shift for me. I don’t need to do all this to have self-esteem. I don’t need to do anything to have self-esteem. Self-esteem is a decision, and confidence is a decision and a belief that you convinced yourself. I definitely don’t need to do those things to externally validate myself. People ask me, “What’s your company? Maybe I’ve heard of it,” I’m like, “You certainly have not.” We’re a small company. We’re 14 or 15 people. We have a couple hundred thousand customers all over the world but I’m definitely not going to build the next Google.

By making simple adjustments to the way that you uphold your body, you can feel and appear more confident. Click To Tweet

Before we dive into learning skills and memory. How did you develop the skill of building relationships and creating networks for yourself?

This is something I’ll tell you I’m still not very good at. It’s partly because I go really deep with a small amount of people. I’ve always been that way.

I’m like that too.

Right. I look at someone like my friend Joe Polish, he clearly beats Dunbar’s number. He maintains thousands of relationships with all the world’s best, brightest, most impactful people. I just don’t know how he does it because I can maintain 10 to 15 relationships at a time. With that said, there are so many incredible resources out there that you can learn. People skills are skills. We talk about people skills like there’s some magical different kind of thing that you don’t learn like, “She just has really good people skills,” well, yeah. Anything that has the word skill attached to it is something that can be learned. For the most part, I would argue that anything is something that can be learned. Unless, the example I always want to give is, if you’re 5’2 and you want to dunk a basketball, I probably can’t help you there. Everything else is negotiable. It is incredibly simple to build rapport with people.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

A great book that I recommend reading and then rereading for people is Dale Carnegie‘s, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I had a friend once who I gave him a copy of that book and he flipped it open and he hopped in on the chapter that was all about smiling. He’s like, “I can’t read this. This is total crap,” and I’m like, “Is it though? Because how many people on a day-to-day basis look you in the eye in today’s day and age with iPhones and all of that stuff?” Certainly not many people. Right there, I’ve already filtered 70% of the population, “…look you in the eye and smile at you?” Already, you’re ahead of 90% of other people when you go to introduce yourself. Just smile and remember the person’s name. That’s another chapter from Dale Carnegie. How much do you stand out and how much do you communicate the value you place on another human being, if you don’t even remember their name. There’s so many other amazing tools in that book. I honestly believe that book has most impacted me in my life. It’s one of the top three books of all time. It’s simple stuff. Nothing that he will tell you will blow your mind. Never criticize, condemn or complain, so simple. How many of us actually do it? Maybe we don’t criticize people, but how often do we complain to other people?

Right. I like the power of smile. I think the influence of smile, you don’t only influence other people, you also influence yourself. I just spoke at the Women Empowerment Summit. I mentioned, there is a TED talk from Amy Cuddy about body language and what she says is that, “your psychology affects the physiology.” Meaning, thinking “I am sad,” leads to your body thinking sad thoughts and then your body language starts to show up as a sad person. Your head is down, your shoulders are dropped.


By making simple adjustments to the way that I held my body, I felt and appeared more confident.

It’s also the opposite way. When you hold a powerful body language, or you hold a smile, it will affect your neurology. You will start releasing serotonin and you will start feeling different.

The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara Pearse

Yeah. I’m really glad you said that, Orion. Another one of the books that I read after I developed the skill was a 660-something page book, The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara and Allan Pease. I took a fascination to the world of pick up artistry because it’s neuro linguistic programming at its finest. I read a lot of books about that.

You read The Game?

I read all the research and stuff that The Game is based on. I’ve also read The Game. I love Neil Strauss. There’s a lot of thinking. I have a degree in sociology. This stuff is always fascinating to me. I mean, Neil Strauss learned this stuff somewhere. There’s so much interesting stuff that you can do. It is like, you’ve been around Tony Robbins crowd and stuff like that. It’s neuro-linguistic programming, body languages. Exactly as you said like Amy Cuddy said, “If you learn how to posture yourself as a confident person if you learn how to posture yourself as a happy person, not only will others perceive you, but you will begin to perceive yourself.” So, I learned. I learned how to fix my body language because I had two modalities. One was shy and the other one was arrogant. The arrogant was to hide the shy. What I realized is that by making simple adjustments to the way that I held my body, I felt and appeared more confident. I knew that I’d made it because I’d always been picked on, and teased, and a couple times beaten up.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss

I was very much not an alpha male growing up. I knew that I’d made it when I was talking to someone else who was in the public speaking sphere and I gave her maybe a correction or something. I don’t remember exactly how it came up. I was like, “You might want to do this,” and she goes, “Well, that’s easy for you. You’re clearly an alpha male. Look at your body language.” If you knew how wrong you are, if you only knew how wrong you are, but you can fake it until you make it and then you can become it. It might sound like faking it but the truth is, look at the research from Amy Cuddy, it’s incredible. Exactly as you said Orion, if you hold your hands above you in a victorious pose, your testosterone goes up.

I’ve been playing with my body language lately and I’ve been loving it. Also with pattern interrupt. I had a conversation with my sister who just went to this NLP course. She’s a master NLP practitioner. She was a mentor there. She shared an exercise. When you have a bad thought, you want to smile. You want to stop yourself, smile really big and sing a silly song. Isn’t it cool? It’s kind of funny. Also, you want to document. You want to write down, “What did I think, what did this thought do to me? How did it make me feel and what time it was,” so you document it and you go back and you can really learn how to break your own patterns. You learned a lot about NLP, right?

Tangentially. I’ve never studied NLP by itself, but I’ve at various points learned a lot about body language and learned a lot about how do you frame conversations, framing and stuff like that. Then you realize, wait a minute, I’m dancing all the way around NLP without actually going into NLP.

Yeah, it’s inevitable. If you are a human being that wants to become supercharged and learn more, it’s like you just—whatever you’re going to come across, I think whatever material you will learn little bits and pieces about NLP, neuro-linguistic programming.

Right because NLP is just treating our behavior and responding to the way that the human brain works which is all I think about all day long.

Let’s talk about our human brain and memory. I don’t see myself as a person with a good memory. I tend to lose my keys and my phone multiple times a week. I don’t lose it, lose it, it’s just like, “Where’s my phone?” and then I’ll go and it will be like a 10-minute ordeal and then it’ll be, “Oh, here it is.” Also, retaining information. It seems like you retain a lot of information. My husband too, he’s like a sponge. He can really retain information. For me, I do retain a lot of information, but I also tend to forget people’s names and people’s faces which is so not cool. Especially because some of them can be very important people. We need to improve memory obviously, but I want you to go more into the why and then let’s talk about the how.

Yeah, what are you except for the sum of all your memories? If I would ask you who you are, everything you’re going to tell me is memory. Therefore, the more depth you have to that memory, the more depth you have to your soul and to your personality. It’s not just about sounding smart in conversations, it’s about how you spend so much time in your life accumulating experiences and knowledge only to lose it. Seems like just the greatest little tragedy of our lives. I don’t remember much of anything from my 4-year degree in sociology. I remember maybe 10 ideas, what a shame, what a shame. I think memory is a key part of learning. I think learning is the most important skill that anyone can have. I would challenge anyone to think of a skill that’s more important than learning and isn’t something silly like breathing. Breathing is more important.

Learning is the master skill. If you can learn effectively, you can do anything, you can be anything. It’s the skill that unlocks all other skills. It’s the treasure map that leads to other treasure maps. Memory is incredibly important. The thing is, memory is not a genetic thing and almost everybody I talked to says, “I have a bad memory,” first step is to stop saying you have a bad memory. You don’t, you just don’t know how to use it. It actually comes down to as I went along this journey and I met so many people. I have a few friends who’ve won national championships, set world records, things like that in memory. Every single one of them will tell you they got into it because they had an average or below average memory and they wanted to see if they could do it too. Famously, Joshua Foer studied for one year, went from having below average memory to winning the US championship.

If someone would ask you who you are, everything you’re going to tell them is memory.

In a year?

Yeah. It’s all technique, it’s 100% technique. At today’s level, it’s like Olympic swimming. The fabric of your bathing suit is going to make a difference. Today’s level, it’s how complex do you make that technique. At the core, it’s three things. It’s visualizing your memories to turning everything into a visualization. It’s connecting those visualizations to existing knowledge. Things that you already know that your brain already determines is important. Then, it’s placing those in what we call a memory palace which is an imagined or real place and just putting the memories in various places throughout your house, your office, your drive home. During those three things. I mean that’s that very much in a nutshell example of something we take 10 weeks to teach. Just those three things will 10x improve your memory. The tricky part is not doing that, it’s learning how to adopt that to everything. How do I visualize long strings of numbers, how do I visualize the order of a deck of cards? The adaptation is much harder than the actual skill itself of mnemonic mastery.

If I want to learn to remember people and people’s names, what is a simple technique that I can use?

Great question. For your name, something that’s unusual, I would do it similar to the way that I would do a foreign language name. I would picture Orion, Orion’s belt. I have a clear visual image, we all know what those three stars look like. I might visualize that on you to connect it. I would picture you wearing a tiara and that tiara is made out of Orion’s belt, very simple. Then I might put that in a physical location such as where I first met you which was in a cafe in Sarona and you were sitting to the left of Stephan. You were the third person in on the table across from me. Sitting across from Dov Gordon, correct?

Correct. Yes, I remember that.

Super easy. Exactly. You remember that you weren’t even trying to remember that because we’re really good at visual location memory. Our brains do it automatically. You can tell me where all the shampoo bottles are in the shower. You can tell me what was on the nightstand of your mother’s side of the bedroom 30 years ago in your childhood home. We do this automatically. So, we just use that. I just take that visualization and I plant that there because I’ll remember for years and years where we were sitting at that café. Of course, I don’t remember the cafe’s name, but I remember the exact layout of the café.

The more depth you have to a memory, the more depth you have to your soul and to your personality. Click To Tweet

Biga. It’s called Biga.

Biga. Right. But you see how Biga is a sound, so I didn’t visualize that sound. If you remember they spilled something on me, so I barely even saw a menu.

I remember the logo of the place. It’s still an image for me. I remember the word, like what it looks like.

Exactly. That’s it. If it were a simple name that I have heard a thousand times like Jenny, but I might just visualize that Jenny with another Jenny that I know, or a famous Jenny. Or if it were a Mark, I might visualize Mark Twain, give them a Mark Twain mustache. You can get as creative with it as you want. The more outrageous and ridiculous, the better.

Nice. What happens if I can’t remember the person at all?

That might be something different. There is a rare instance of people who have something called face blindness. You probably don’t have it but on occasion, it will happen. Most likely, with all the love in the world, it’s probably because you weren’t paying attention.

Learning is the skill that unlocks all other skills. It's the treasure map that leads to all treasure maps. Click To Tweet

Yeah, probably.

Or we’re tired.

You know what, Stephan and I, we go to more network events and more seminars. We do more travel than I think 95% of the population of planet earth. I really see a stream of new people and I see them a lot. What happens with me is, one travel mixes with the other. It all becomes like a big blur. What would be your advice for me?

I think the first step is to stop and pay attention. I talked to Harry Lorayne who’s kind of the godfather of modern memory improvement from the 1950s. He said, “The first step when I teach someone memory is teaching them to pay attention,” because so many of us shake someone’s hand and we’re thinking about what we’re going to say, or we’re thinking about what we’re going to do next. Let’s be honest, we don’t really pay attention to a lot of the times when we meet someone, so that’s step one. Step two is deliberately setting a visualization, a connection on a mnemonic like we just did. That will take you really far. It really is that simple.

That’s awesome. I want to start doing that. From now on, I’m going to do my best to remember everybody and imagine them as I guess ridiculous characters and all that.


I want talk about memory palace and I want to dive more into that. How do you build it?

Yeah. You know what’s funny is, Stephan was telling me, most people go, “What is a memory palace?” they ask me exactly as you are. Stephan was like, “Oh, yeah memory palace. Neil Strauss taught that,” and the reason that Neil taught it and learned it was actually because of the world of pick up. Talking about how these guys actually have quite a bit of interesting stuff to stay, using it as a cool trick in a bar to impress people like, “Hey, I bet you I can memorize 100 digits backward and forwards.” How do you build a memory palace, it’s very simple. Take a building that you already know like your house, then just start putting little visual scenes and pictures, we call them markers, all over. We can store the visualization of Orion with the three stars on her forehead, we can store that by the front door. We can store something else next to where the frying pan goes and store something else on the couch. You just go around in place these little symbols and you’ll actually remember where they are and what they look like. That’s it.

That’s it? That’s the whole thing?

That’s it.

Oh wow.

It takes a lot of practice to get good at it but that’s as simple as the method is. The hardest part like I said is actually figuring out how do I visualize numbers, how do I visualize foreign language words that are completely strange.

Tell me that. Let’s talk about that.

Foreign language words, we have to break them down into component sounds. If we take the word in Hebrew…


Agvania, tomato.

That will be really hard for Americans, agvania.

It’s a hard one, yeah. Agvania, I would probably break down into ag so I would picture maybe an agriculturalist in a lab and he is pulling a crate of tomatoes out of a van to test them. We just need something for ia.

We need ni.

Well we have a van, agvan.

Oh okay, ni.

And then ia.

Okay, yeah.

So you could just be saying yeah to someone else. You visualize that like him nodding his head. That is a really hard one, I’m not going to deny it.

And then it’s got a donkey and it comes in saying, “Eya,” is that right?

Yeah, there you go. Perfect, that’s perfect. That’s absolutely perfect. All you do is you visualize this guy unloading of van with tomatoes full of it. He’s an agriculturalist, ag van and then he’s putting them under a donkey who’s stomping on them so he can do experiments on the tomato juice, and the donkey is going, “Eya.” Super ridiculous, right? But you’ll remember it tomorrow. If you visualize it, you will remember it tomorrow.

That is so cool.

And then just go ahead and put that in your refrigerator. Put a little animated scene if you will. Imagine it’s a scene in a bottle and then just put that bottle in your refrigerator where you store the tomatoes which is probably in a crisper drawer or something like that.

That’s funny. What do you do with numbers?

For numbers, there are a couple different ways to do it. You can do each number being a symbol such as zero is a donut. One is a pen. Two is a swan, so on and so forth. The easier way to do it is something called the major method where you convert each one into a consonant. Zero is S, one is T or D, three is M, four is R, so on and so forth and then you just convert the number into a word, and the word into a picture. It sounds very hard.

If someone would ask you who you are, everything you're going to tell them is memory. Click To Tweet

It sounds really hard, it sounds like I’m already lost. You have to explain slow so I’ll understand fast.

Yeah, so every single one gets broken into a consonant and vowels mean nothing. I explain it much better in our course. For example, 52 would be lawn, or lean, or Lenny, or Elaine. You see the only thing that matters is the L and the N, because that’s five two. Vowels count for nothing. I could picture Elaine. I could picture Elaine on a lawn, that would be 5252 and if you practice this for a day or so, I mean you have to get used to the number conversion system, but once you do that, you can tell me… When I’ve been hanging out with my buddy Dr. Anthony Metivier, he’ll ask me, “What’s your zip code? I got to send something,” and I’ll be like, “shawarma mavituna,” or something, which is my zip code, that’s how I remember it. It’s like me eating shawarma and dying and so I’m going new. It makes sense if you’re a Hebrew speaker. Anyway, that’s an international language that tells him that my zip code is 64331. Sorry, I have to do it right, 3812, there we go. I don’t know the number of my own zip code, but I just know the visual symbol. Anytime I need it, I just decode it. That might not make sense for a zip code, it makes a lot of sense for a credit card. How many times have you transposed numbers on a credit card or a phone number? I just know all my pin codes, I know what they are just by one visual symbol. It can be something as simple as like great code, but you’ll never figure it out. My code can literally be great code which would be let’s see 64171. Very easy.

Nice. Now everybody knows where you live.

Yeah, exactly.

That’s great. That was really useful. I’m not sure I’ll be able to learn this secret language, but I can attempt to do so.

It’s only 10 things to remember. You’re already halfway there. There’s a lot of logic. I talked about in the book. There’s logic as to why it is the way it is. Two is a sideways N, 3 is a sideways M, four if you add one line to it is an R. so, you’re already halfway there.

Got it. Okay. It makes sense.

Zero is Z or S because sero or zero depending on your language. Nine is obviously a P or a B, pretty easy. You just go from there. It’s not as hard as you would think. They all make perfect sense.

Nice. I want to talk to you about speed reading. You went from not being able to concentrate and focus into becoming a super speed reader. What are the basics of speed reading?

Big question. The basics of speed reading are optimizing your eye movements. Making less movements with the eye and you’re wasting less time reading the margins. We waste a lot of time reading the margins, so we waste a lot of time with our eyes and something called saccadic blindness. When your eyes are moving, they’re not taking in data. If you move your eyes bigger and take stuff in from the sides, the periphery, then you spend less time essentially blind. The next thing is you want to minimize, you can never eliminate but you want to minimize the voice in your head because that’s going to slow you down quite a bit. If I show you a picture, you can identify what’s going on in that picture, the colors, themes, and motions, composition in seconds and you can get thousands and thousands of words worth of meaning in just a split second of looking at a picture. In fact, we can identify pictures in .013 seconds, 13 milliseconds. Whereas when you’re reading, you’re converting it into sound and that’s slowing you down quite a bit.

Right. You talked about reading before you read.


Prereading, yeah. What is prereading?

Another really great tip. Basically what you’re doing is you’re going through getting a layout of the text which is priming you to read it and as you’re doing that, you’re generating questions, building curiosity, setting some kind of assumptions that are going to improve your focus by creating a cognitive bias. Just generally laying out what you want to learn in the text and planning ahead. You do this about eight times faster than you would normally read. So, very fast. One to two seconds per page. Speed reading you can say is controversial different theorist and researchers think differently of it. Prereading is one of the most proven and fundamentally effective techniques we can do for improving our reading comprehension.

So how do I exactly do it? I open the book and I just go over the pages?

You scan. You skip very fast like scan the page and then you pick up words.

I don’t scan the whole book, just the page.

Probably half a chapter to a chapter ahead.


And then you would pick up words that are interesting, take note of where things are located. Start asking yourself questions like, “Why is that here? I bet you this is what’s going to happen. I wonder if they’re going to talk about this. This is probably why they mentioned this,” just start building out assumptions because then when you read, you’ll want to prove those assumptions and that’ll greatly increase your focus.

Cool. You’re almost going on a scavenger hunt when you read. That is so cool.

It’s a pretty effective technique.

Everyone that needs to speed read need to get your course on Udemy for sure. How does your learning environment affect you?

That’s a great question. So many people have a really lousy learning environment and there are so many different factors that play like simple things. Sleep is super important. Most people have the lousiest sleeping environment. They have all kinds of crap like, they have noise, their room is hot, their bed isn’t comfortable. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to improve your learning and just your overall cognitive function. Same with nutrition, proper nutrition being properly hydrated on a low sugar or no sugar diet is going to dramatically improve your cognitive functioning. Beyond that, environment also plays a factor. What’s the quality of the light. You’re a friend of Dave Asprey, he’s always worried about how much light is coming into his eyes and is it blue light. If you want to learn effectively, bright white sunlight is extremely effective. Natural light is extremely effective. If you want to over-tweak, fluorescent lights will do that. That’s why Dave always wears those orange glasses because it will tweak you and keep you awake.


Yeah, exactly. Having a proper flow of oxygen. Being in a stuffy room with no plants and nothing generating oxygen, not a good idea. Standing, really effective way. When we stand, our blood flows better. Our hormones are more balanced, our muscles are working, we’re burning calories. I’m standing as we speak. I’ve been standing almost all day. I think I sat for a total of like two and a half to three hours today.

What else, Jonathan, this is awesome.

Those are the basics.

This is awesome. We got so many tips and it was just phenomenal. I really enjoyed talking with you.

I’m so glad. Likewise.

Yes. What are your three top tips to living a stellar life?

That’s a good one. Tip number one, sleep. Prioritize high-quality sleep. Number two, your life is yours to make whatever beautiful mess you want to make of it. Don’t live it like it’s prefixed. Live it like it’s ala carte and pick and choose the things that you do and do not want to include in it. Number three is do work that matters because that’s how we derive meeting and Viktor Frankl would say like, “Meeting is how we get through this life. If you’re working on things that you don’t feel matter, that you don’t feel impact people’s lives, or maybe it’s not people. Maybe you care about the environment, or saving animals, or whatever it is, but if you don’t feel like your work actually measurably makes the world just a little bit better, I don’t know how you’re going to have a happy and therefore, a stellar life.

Live life like it's ala carte and pick and choose the things that you do and do not want to include in it. Click To Tweet

That is so beautiful. Where can people find you and binge on your courses and get your books?

Our top of the line memory course is at memory.school but if people want, I’d be happy to offer them a completely free copy of our newest course which is a 5-day memory challenge course that we actually sell but we’re giving it away. They can go to jle.vi/5 and enroll in that completely free.

That is wonderful. Thank you so much.

Awesome. My pleasure.

Yeah and listeners, go get that 5-day challenge. I’m probably going to do it. Thanks Jonathan for giving me hope about my memory.

All you need is five days. You’ll be in a much better place in five days if you just stick with the exercises.

Yeah. Yes, you too can become a super learner. In general, you have more powers inside of you, and more wisdom, and more capability to do and become whatever you want. Go out there and make your life stellar.


Your Checklist of Actions to Take

✓ Work smarter, not harder. Switch your mindset and focus on the things you love and which are worthy of your time.
✓ Your body language speaks volumes about your disposition in life. You can look and be successful just by simply sitting or standing up straight.
✓ Never stop learning and continuously seek out new knowledge and skills. There are many resources online that can help you reach your goals.
✓ Improve your memory for faster learning by remembering these three core things: visualization, connection with existing knowledge, and memory palace placement.
✓ Stay observant to what’s happening in your surroundings. Pay attention to little details around you. Take a few seconds to look at another person’s face when you get introduced. This will help you create a clear visualization of that memory.  
✓ Create mnemonic connections to names, addresses, and numbers so that you can remember them easily. As Jonathan mentioned in the show, he pictures Orion having Orion’s Belt on her forehead so that he wouldn’t forget her name.  
✓ Build a memory palace in your mind so that you can easily file things and quickly retrieve them. Picturing a house with rooms and associate each memory with a special place inside the house.
✓ Optimize your eye movement so that you can read faster. Making fewer movements with the eye will minimize the chances of you viewing the margins.
✓ Grab a copy of Jonathan Levi’s book, Become a SuperLearner to learn about super fast reading and advanced memorization.
✓ Take Jonathan Levi’s free 5-day memory challenge course that will help you improve your memory through proven neuroscientific principles.

Links and Resources

About Jonathan Levi

Jonathan Levi is a serial entrepreneur, published author, and lifehacker born and raised in Silicon Valley. Since 2014, Jonathan has been one of the top-performing instructors on online learning platform Udemy, and has snowballed this success into the launch of his rapidly growing information products company, SuperHuman Enterprises, which produces such products as the award-winning Becoming SuperHuman Podcast; the bestselling “Become a SuperLearner®” print, digital, and audiobooks; and numerous other online courses through it’s own online training portals, SuperLearner AcademyTM and Branding YouTM Academy. Jonathan’s media products have been enjoyed by over 150,000 people in 203 countries and territories. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, with his fiancee, Limmor.



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