Why Names Are One Of The Most Valuable Things You Can Memorize
Recently, my special lady took me up to the beautiful, quaint village of Zichron Yaakov, in Northern Israel, for a surprise birthday celebration.
(Spoiler alert: It was massages and steaks… she knows me so well!)
But all day long, despite the relaxed vibes, she kept raving about this concert hall she’d seen years before.
After all, we are both big fans of bold, beautiful architecture… and of classical music.
“It’s just so beautiful,” she kept telling me.
“You are going to flip out when you see it.”
And so, there we were, fresh from our massages, and looking to get a peek of the magnificent wooden hall.
On our way down the long, marble corridor, we were stopped by an innocuous hotel employee, who asked us, completely legitimately:
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, we’re just hoping we can sneak a peek at the concert hall,” we replied.
“I saw it years ago with my father, and I just want to show the birthday boy, if it’s OK?”
“Well, it might be closed,” replied the employee, “but if there’s a tour group in there, you have permission to go in and join them.
Now, here’s the thing:
99.9% Of People Wouldn’t Have Taken The Time To Notice — Or To Memorize — One Key Piece of Information
What piece of information is that, you ask?
The employee’s name.
You see, despite the fact that it was proudly emblazoned on his logo-clad golden nametag, most people simply wouldn’t bother.
After all, how any of us claim that we’re just “terrible” with names?
Fortunately, not me.
Because, long before I was a memory and learning expert, I was a devotee of one of the most important books on human relationships ever written:
How To Win Friends & Influence People, by the late, great Dale Carnegie.
And among the many life-changing lessons in that book, I remember one of them above all others:
“Remember That A Person’s Name Is, To That Person, The Sweetest And Most Important Sound In Any Language”
So, you see, while it’s likely that I would never again meet Kai after that day, I made sure to take special note of his name, committing it to memory instantly.
Fast forward a few minutes, and we are now deep in the belly of this majestic and historic hotel, when we hear a voice.
“Thanks for attending, everyone, please exit in a single file line.”
Oh no. We were too late.
We rushed to the entrance, only to be greeted by a very tired (and rather sour) hotel employee, charged with leading the tours of the grounds.
“I’m sorry, entrance is allowed only with the accompaniment of a tour guide,” she barked.
“But we just want to see the hall very quickly,” we replied.
“Then you’ll just need to come back next week,” she said, blocking our entry.
My companion tried one last hail mary attempt… “But a hotel employee said it was OK!” she said, defeat starting to creep into her eyes.
“Which employee, exactly?”… A worthy adversary, indeed.
“Umm…” stuttered my fearless lady.
“KAI!” I proclaimed. “Kai said we could squeeze in if you were here.”
The suspense nearly killed us.
“Well, then,” she sighed. “If Kai said so, I will wait here for you to finish.”
And here was our reward:
Totally worth it, right?
As we entered into the glorious wooden concert hall, the last two people to do so before it closed for the weekend, two things crossed my mind.
The first, how much I love modern architecture and innovative acoustic treatments.
But the second, and most important, was this:
How Many Opportunities In Life Do We Miss Out On By Forgetting Something As Simple As A Name?
I simply can’t tell you how many times I have gotten into a bar or a night club because I took the time to memorize the owner’s name.
Or how many times I have been able to make friends at conferences or networking events because people rely on me to “remind” them of all of the names of the attendees.
(Names that I usually memorize secretly in a few minutes by looking at the pamphlet before I even arrive).
The simple fact is this:
While memorizing long strings of numbers, or tons of historical dates, are without a doubt very useful skills…
…they pale in comparison to the satisfaction and return-on-investment of learning to memorize the names and faces of everyone you meet.
Because as my father taught me over two decades ago…
“You never know when you’ll need someone’s help or kindness… so treat everybody with the same respect.”
And how much respect can you really offer another human being, if you don’t even take the time to remember their name.
Thanks for reading
P.S. If you’d like a list of my top “superhuman” life hacks, click here.