‘There’s no such thing as a bad memory, only an untrained one,” says Matthew Goerke, an expert in the field of memory development. A good memory is especially important for anyone in business, particularly in sales, he says.

“Being the owner of a small business demands that you remember a wealth of knowledge including client information, market data, presentations, and most importantly, names. A simple slip of the mind can result in thousands of dollars in lost sales or credibility,” he says.

Goerke will be the guest speaker at the next Central New Jersey NAWBO meeting (National Association of Women Business Owners) on Tuesday, November 13 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, Edison. Cost: $35. Register online at www.NAWBOcentralJersey.org.

Goerke didn’t set out to become a nationally-known memory expert. He graduated from West Virginia University in 1985 with a liberal arts degree and planned to work in the hospitality industry. But after a few years of working at a hotel, he found that he “hated the work.”

One day a consultant came to the hotel to teach memory training and Goerke was fascinated. “I told him to teach me everything he knew because I wanted to go into his business,” he says. He’s been working as a memory trainer since the early 90’s.

Despite the fact that his Memory Switch program of CD’s is sold nationally, and he is regarded as a leading expert in the field of memory development (he has worked with Zig Zigler, and Tony Robbins and has trained executives from corporations including AT&T, Prudential, Wells Fargo, and Coldwell Banker) he says his parents “still don’t get what I do or why I left the hotel business.”

Powerful Sales Tool. “A good memory is a powerful skill. When you can shake hands with someone you have met before and call them by name, give a presentation without using notes or remember product details it will help you close more sales and do better in business,” says Goerke.

One of the secrets, he adds, is to view yourself as a product — by working to improve yourself, you’ll improve the way others see you. “People views someone with a good memory as intelligent, as a person who has their act together. Isn’t that the kind of person you want to do business with?” he asks. “I tell people, `Yes, I am a genius.’”

Yes, There is More to Remember. Everyone has said it — it seems like we just have more to remember these days. It’s true, says Goerke. We work faster, meet more people, have more phone numbers, PIN numbers, and information to remember. We also have more memory aids. Who actually looks up a phone number anymore? If we need to know a fact we can just grab our smart phones and look it up on Google. So not only do we have more to remember, we exercise our memories less.

“Memory is just like any other skill. If it is not practiced, we lose it,” he says.”

No Gimmicks. Learning to have a better memory is not about gimmicks or tricks, says Goerke. While mnemonic devices do have their place, learning to have a better memory is a process. He uses a three-pronged approach of mental exercises to stimulate the brain.

“There are techniques that help us to take information that is in our short-term memories and make it knowledge,” he says.

No Multi-Tasking. One of the problems with today’s busy lifestyle is the tendency to try to multi-task. But when we are working on two or more things at once, we are really not doing any of it well — and when it comes to remembering, that means we are less likely to be able to recall information. “The best way to remember something is to focus on it and repeat,” he adds.

We’ve heard it many times: when you meet someone new, repeat their name several times, make sure you use it in the conversation. The more of your senses you use when learning something, the easier it is to remember; saying a name out loud uses more senses than just hearing the person say it.

“Saying a person’s name not only helps you to make a good impression, it also helps the name to stick,” he says.

Another common problem is that instead of truly listening to the person, we are busy thinking about what we are going to say about ourselves. “Focus and repeat. It’s not only one of the best ways to help your memory, it will also make a good impression on the person you are meeting,” Goerke adds. In fact, just by focusing and repeating the name, “You’ve put yourself in a small group of about 15 percent of the population who are better at remembering names.”

Memory and Alzheimer’s. The longer we live, the more likely we are to develop Alzheimer’s. Training our memories early in life can help fight the effects of the disease. “Studies are showing that there are people who have physical evidence of the disease in their brains who don’t suffer as much from the memory loss,” says Goerke. “We see the evidence of Alzheimer’s in our 70’s, but it really begins in our 40’s and 50’s.”

People who continue to exercise their brains by learning new things, reading, do crossword puzzles, keeping active and challenging themselves mentally show less symptoms of Alzheimer’s as they age.

The more we use our memories, the better they will be. “Train your memory. It’s just like riding a bike. You don’t ever forget,” says Goerke.

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