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Dave Farrow: Mind Over Memory

By Heather Salon
The 700 Club


Dave Farrow broke the Guinness Book of World Records by memorizing 52 decks worth of cards with focus and memorization techniques. Late in 2008, Dave broke his record by memorizing 59 decks of cards. He had to learn to organize time, schedule time and trigger focus – it was 14 hours of straight memorizing for 2 days (with breaks for sleeping and eating). He was allowed to get some wrong, .05 percent. Out of the 3,068 cards he was allowed to get 18 wrong, and he only missed one.

Dave wanted to prove that anyone can improve their memory, improve their reading and learning capacities. You don’t need special skills or abilities; these skills can all be developed.

Recently, Dave worked with a group of fourth graders. They memorized 15 objects a day for several weeks using Dave’s techniques. The children memorized 78 objects and wanted to keep going.

Dave was not considered an intellectual growing up. In fact, he was told he was the opposite. At 14, he was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Dave’s mother, Virginia, has been a great influence in his life. Her great faith in God helped strengthen and encourage him through his turbulent early years. Instead of listening to the doctors who wanted to put young Dave on prescription drugs, she opted not to medicate her son. She believed God could heal him. She also believed in finding natural remedies to deal with these disorders.

At the age of 14, Dave also was determined to overcome his learning disabilities on his own. He started studying memory techniques. This pursuit made him good at learning. When he was 16, a teacher asked Dave why he was trying so hard to learn because there was no point in it. This comment didn’t discourage Dave from continuing his endeavor. With the techniques Dave studied, there started to be improvement in his schoolwork. He would complete tests in 15 minutes and get every answer right. One of Dave’s teachers thought he was cheating and always had Dave take tests by himself in the classroom with his shoes off (the teacher thought Dave was writing the answers on his sneakers in code). However, some teachers supported Dave and took him seriously.

By the time Dave was a senior in high school, many people were asking him about the memory techniques that helped him. He started a memory club at lunch to share the techniques he learned.


After Dave graduated high school, he went to college and took business courses. He was running a business on the side of teaching memory techniques. He knew he wanted to take himself to the next level and put himself on the map. At the age of 20, he decided to break the Guinness Book of World Records for memory, which is a very prestigious title to hold. In 1996, at the age of 21, Dave broke the record. In 2008, he beat his own record by memorizing 59 decks worth of cards. He wants to encourage people to develop their memorization, reading, and learning skills by showing through his own experience that using the right techniques can help you accomplish what you want in life. He started his own consulting business where he teaches these techniques.

Dave also had an interest in nanotechnology and has become a respected expert in the field (without a degree). With his knowledge in nanotechnology, he developed a portable medical device that will test for H.I.V. in countries like Africa that might not be able to have labs to test for the virus.

In October 2008, Dave did a promo for Sony to promote reading, Reader Revolution. He read in a Manhattan window for 30 days straight.

Dave acknowledges the important role memory plays in early childhood learning. He is developing a special cartoon series called The Animated Adventures Of Pom Pom and The Professor, inviting children to join our heroes as they travel to different worlds using memory techniques to defeat the evil “Forgetters.” He has acquired celebrity endorsement to market the product in North America. He is developing Jack Smart Adventures, a series of children’s books centering upon the story of an 11-year-old boy who wins a memory competition and is recruited by an international spy agency. He must use his superior memory skills to save mankind.


Here are Dave’s tips on study and focus (including ADHD):

  • Don't see a task as one big job; break it up into small tasks.
  • Use a timer for small tasks. Work as fast as you can until the timer goes off, and then stop. This will eliminate creative blocks.
  • Don’t focus on critiquing your work (spell checking, editing) until you have put all the ideas down. Then go over to correct it. Correcting and editing use a different part of the brain than being creative, so you can't do both at the same time. If you try to, then your mind will bounce back and forth and not do either very well.
  • Focus is a skill that anyone can learn. Don't rely on drugs (Ritalin, Paxil, etc.) for your focus; they become less effective as time goes on. Eventually, they won’t work at all. Focus skills, like working under a time limit and thinking under pressure, get easier and more powerful the more you use them.
  • Take short breaks. Think of the story of the lumberjack who worked all day but his friend who worked half the day chopped twice as much wood. His secret was he took regular breaks to sharpen his ax. Even if it is closing your eyes for a second or having a sip of water, take a second out of work and then come back to it fresh.


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