Bill Clinton had it, UK business tycoon Sir Martin Sorrell has it and so can you!  

It makes them memorable.
It makes people connect with them instantly.
It is a definite WOW factor.
It costs them nothing.
It only takes seconds.

What is it?

The gift of remembering names!

Do you shake someone’s hand and then instantly forget their name?

And then you feel like a complete a** and worry about then having to introduce them to someone else who walks up?

Or did you meet someone last year and they remember your name and now you are secretly panicking?

Hey, don’t beat yourself up, you are not alone.  You are normal.  

The more leaders I help with communication skills; charisma, gravitas and personality – the more I come across unbelievably gifted people who are literally total c**p at names.

I used to be like that.  And then I learned my super power skill!

Here’s the thing – it’s a massively important skill and you WILL do better business and win people over more quickly if you can learn this secret art.  If you can name people, this builds instant rapport, likability and trust. It’s a no brainer.

The other day I had this conversation with my client, Charlie about how terrible he is at remembering names. 

Charlie - "I don't remember names"

Esther - “Oh gosh, is that a problem for you?”

Charlie- “It wasn’t when I was busy getting on with my job and dealing with clients, but NOW I have to lead the company and I really SHOULD know the people I need to influence.”

Does Charlie’s predicament sound familiar?

If you’re a CEO, a COO or leading a team you are often completely removed from the rest of the business because you’re busy with clients or doing deals and you don’t have time to KNOW every single person in the organisation – or your corridor.  

Well, look, if good old Bill Clinton could do it, you can too, and here’s how.

Big Name Memory TIP…

If you want to remember a name (when you have no notepad, no business cards on the table in front of you) - make up a scenario or image in your brain that triggers that name ….and commit it to memory! 

I learnt this trick at the BBC because your brain prefers images rather than an abstract word like Adrian or Anita.  

Let’s have a bit of fun with these names….

Ed Miliband – Mr Ed, the horse?  A millipede with a rubber band wrapped around it? 

Vijay (I met him in Paris) he suggested “Last night a Vi-jay saved my life!” like the 80’s song. Well now I’ll never forget VJ!

Wendy, the lawyer – she would never forgive me for this – but I imaged her as a dominatrix like the character of Wendy in the fab Netflix Series – Billions.

Katie the barrister – I imagined her dressed in tiger print (because her scarf had animal print on it) like pop singer Katie Perry in the RAW music video.

Esther – if you’re around my age you’ll probably think of Esther Ransen from the BBC show That’s Life. Or if you’re a Madonna fan, you may remember that she once announced that her Kabbalah name was Esther.

Kimberly – Think Dustin Hoffman saying “I’m not Edward Kimberly, I’m Emily Kimberly”  in the movie Tootsie.

Some names aren’t so straight forward, some don’t sound like anything familiar, so you have to be a little bit creative.

Here’s your challenge this week.  Gather names of people in your corridor, in your business, at networking events and at your reception desk. 

Commit at least one name to memory every day for a week.

I gave Charlie, my client the challenge of gathering one name a day. Considering he only knew 4 names from his entire 4000 workforce – 2 more was already a 50% improvement in just 2 days! 

See how you get on and please do email me with your findings, your tricks and your crazy images in your brain The More random the better PLEASE.  

Esther Stanhope