#115: Daniel Kilov and The Art of Memory

By Jordan Michaelides
April 23, 2019


Daniel Kilov is an Australian Memory Athlete, Speaker, Writer and a Philosophy PhD student at The Australian National University (ANU). 

Daniel is capable of memorising a shuffled deck of cards in less than two minutes, over 100 random digits in five minutes and placed second at the Australian Memory Championships in 2011.

When I learnt about Daniel and his mentor Tansel Ali - through the best-selling book Deep Work by Cal Newport - I knew I had to get him on the podcast. The use of memory is probably one of the fundamental tools we have as humans, aside from communication through language. Yet we are in an age where we’re handballing a lot of former memory tasks to our smart devices - foregoing the classic techniques of mnemonics is becoming all too common. As Cal Newport says in his book, the “Art of Memory” is incredibly important to becoming a “Deep Worker” who can not only increase performance but also your attention through the process.

This was an insightful episode where we covered:

  • Improving memory with ADHD

  • Memory, mindfulness & philosophy

  • Thought experiments

  • What the Art of Memory is

  • How to start applying memory techniques

  • Memory and brain health

  • Being a memory athlete

  • Resources for learning

Enjoy the episode!

🎧 Listen here or watch now:


01:25 - Introduction

04:43 - Being on Casino watchlists

06:00 - Improving memory with ADHD

13:15 - Memory & mindfulness

18:25 - Training with Tansel Ali

22:13 - Why philosophy?

28:25 - Political predictions, Philip Tetlock

30:28 - Thought experiments

36:06 - Memory and philosophy

42:17 - What is the Art of Memory?

44:33 - How to start applying memory techniques

49:33 - Step 1: Meditation

53:34 - Step 2: Visualisation

56:48 - Memory and brain health

01:04:00 - “Smart” drugs

01:09:42 - Being a memory athlete

01:12:30 - Strange competition experiences

01:14:53 - Step 3: Organisation

01:19:37 - Resources for learning

01:21:16 - Daily routine

01:33:20 - Moonwalking with Einstein

01:34:45 - If he could have a billboard anywhere

01:36:03 - Walt Whitman, Adriaan de Groot

01:41:58 - What makes a genius?


THINGS MENTIONED (in order of episode)