I am currently re-reading Brainfluence by Roger Dooley. It is hands-down the best neuro-marketing book I have ever read and all other books simply don't math up. Anyway, on a second read or watch of something you always learn something new and on this occasion one theory really caught my attention.
The theory is technically called "neuroplasticity" and was first proposed by Sigmund Freud then was later elaborated upon by a Canadian psychologist called Donald Hebb; it was finally summarised in six words by the neuroscientist Carla Shatz as: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
This theory just helped me understand some of the things I have observed in my life but never really understood.
From a marketing perspective, what does this mean? If you create a brand that has multi-level sensory appeal, that is, it has a look, a feel, a smell, a tag-line or even a jingle, even when one or several of those elements are absent people are reminded of your brand. And if they like it, they want it. A McDonald’s fanatic merely has to hear the McDonald’s whistle to start craving a Big Mac.
The theory of neuroplasticity is not limited to marketing - reading between the lines I realised that it applies to learning things in general. For instance, when I first went to high school in 1995 I found school a bit of a challenge. I wasn't failing, far from it, but I was a borderline B/A student.
When I first arrived at my boarding school I was three weeks late because I had started off at another school before my parents decided they preferred this one. To cut a long story short, friends had been made and penetrating the existing cliques was a task I could not be bothered with. Being in the middle of nowhere I set myself up with a rigorous study schedule (for an 11 year-old) which resulted in me reading and doing homework for at least four hours every single day from the beginning of term.
Lessons finished at 3pm and I was in the library 3.30 to 5.30pm as standard and then I went to dinner. Prep time was 6.30-8.30pm and I studied then too. I started doing homework during break time and lunch time so all four hours could be spent studying.
At first I used to find recall a little challenging but the more I studied, the easier it got and the more I enjoyed it. With maths, I quickly learnt that when you practice the problems in preparation for an exam instead of just reading the solutions sets in the book you really came to understand the topic so that's what I did.
I became so good at memorising that I didn't even realise the point at which I stopped memorising and started understanding things. It appeared that the more I knew the more I could relate seemingly unrelated topics especially in maths.
By the time I got to university I didn't think learning was hard anymore - in fact - by comparison, I can say I found the University of Cambridge easier than high school!
But this is where it gets interesting. Throughout my life I have taken an interest in being coached and having a mentor and I think this theory of neuroplasticity applies to coaching very well. I am not into feel-good motivational coaching that makes you feel good about yourself without any practical steps. Feeling good about myself is not something I have a problem with and the few times that I might have that issue, I can just call one of my doting younger sisters.
When it comes to practical action-based coaching you learn so much information in such a short space of and with that synaptic impulses must be flying all over the place in your brain. By being coached and learning from someone else's experience you cut the learning time and get to your goals a lot faster than if you had to make every mistake by yourself because having all the knowledge sitting in your brain creates a multiplier effect. It’s a case of 1 + 1 = 3.
A lot of people don't take much interest in coaching and learning once they leave the formal education system but I think those that do achieve a lot more, faster. The first step in educating yourself is in reading books that feed your brain. The next step is to either take courses with like-minded people or form voluntary groups and societies with people that you know you will learn from. In doing so you will achieve any goal, financial or otherwise, more rapidly than taking the trial and error route.
"I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable." John Russell
For inspirational quotes follow @Getting2Wealthy on twitter.
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.