Last July I penned an article called “It's Not Easy Being Me”, where, among other things, I confessed that I am terrible at remembering names and faces, even occasionally forgetting that I have met people at prior conferences. This remains an issue for me. It is awkward when you tell a person that it is a pleasure to meet them, and they immediately kill any pleasurable element by pointing out that we met last year, or had breakfast together earlier in the day.
They say that the beauty of Alzheimer's is that you get to meet new people every day. I haven't been diagnosed yet, but on that score I am definitely living the dream.
I was reminded of the previously indicated article last week, during the Self-Insurance Institute of America Workers' Compensation Executive Forum, held in Scottsdale, Arizona. We were at an evening reception for the event, when I was approached by a fellow named Mitch. He shook my hand and introduced himself. He proceeded to tell me that he had been strongly tempted to play a prank on me, by pretending that we had met previously and had spent a significant amount of time conversing at another conference. He had read the “It's Not Easy Being Me” article, and thought it would be fun to string me along to see what my reaction might be.
I am fortunate he did not do that, because in all likelihood I would have tried to play along while trying to figure out who the hell he was. For all I know, he could have said, “Hi Bob, great to see you again. Do you have that Fifty bucks I loaned you?” And there is a good chance I would have forked it over.
Oh, who am I kidding? That is a bad example. I'm Scottish – Mitch would never see that money again.
Anyhoo, Mitch did ultimately choose the high road, and instead told me about what he wanted to do as a practical joke. Since he did not attempt to make me more of a buffoon than some already think I am, I have categorized him as a good guy not to be mercilessly mocked in my blog.
Mitch works with a self-insured workers' compensation group for the construction industry in Minnesota. I have no idea what he actually does. Then again, I have no idea what I actually do, so I guess the former point is moot. We did have a pleasant conversation, and I saw him several times over the two-day event. The thing that was more amazing was I remembered who he was when I saw him.
This has led me to a minor epiphany related to those awkward conference introductions. Mitch did something unique when we met, which enabled me to permanently enter him (recognizing that permanency is a fluid concept) into the memory regions of my mind. Therefore, I would suggest that anyone reading this who happens upon me at a conference do something unique and unexpected when that occurs; this way my ability to recall you at a later date will be vastly improved. You don't have to do anything fancy. Something simple, like giving me money when we meet should do the trick. I am of course not determining the most useful amount, but Fifty dollars sounds like a good start. One thing I can assure you, the larger the payment the more likely I am to remember who you are. I've heard that little memory tricks like this work. I can't wait to put it into practice.
I definitely learned something last week; a rock solid method for improving my memory and name retention in the whirling world of travel and conferences. And for that I can thank my new bestest friend, Mitch.
Or it might have been Mike. I'm not sure.