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#115: Daniel Kilov and The Art of Memory

By Jordan Michaelides

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

Listen to the episode

Watch the episode: 


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?