Memory Tips from Dominic O'Brien
Courtesy of Dominic O'Brien
Quick, read this list: Butter, telephone, bed sheet, aspirin, staples, goat, pencil, seltzer, basket,
photograph. Now close your eyes and count to ten. Turn away and recall as many of the items on
the list as you can without checking back. No peeking, please.
How did you do? If you’re good, you recalled perhaps three items, a perfect demonstration of the
limits of the average person’s short term memory. It’s this limitation you have to thank for the
lack of ability to remember the name of the person you just met and why you can never, ever
seem to find your keys, cell phone or birth certificate.
Now imagine memorizing the order of 54 decks of inter-shuffled cards with only a single glance
at each. It seems impossible, yet that’s what World Memory Champ Dominic O’Brien was able
to do. On May 1st, 2002, the Englishman committed a random sequence of 2808 playing cards
(54 packs) to memory after looking at each card only once. He was able to correctly recite their
order, making only eight errors, four of which he immediately corrected when told he was
wrong. It’s a Guinness Book of World Records feat that still stands today.
In fact, O’Brien now makes his living traveling the world, remembering things. He gives
lectures, speaks at corporate events and through his company,
Peak Performance Training
instructs mere mortals like you and me on how to improve our powers of recall for facts, figures,
names dates and faces. He’s also written 10 best selling memory improvement books. We
recently caught up with the memory maven and picked his brain to find out how he does what he