August 31, 2014 by Gene Jones

I live in a two-story house. Quite often, I think of something I need from upstairs and jog up the staircase only to have my mind lose the memory of what it was I raced up to retrieve. If such a blur persists for longer than a minute, my solution is to scurry back down the stairs and return to the place in the house I started from. Invariably, returning to that spot successfully helps me recall my original thought. This triumphant return to the spot of origin is a simple demonstration of memory linkage. My mind links a location to a small bit of memory. Without any fanfare, our brains are constantly making such associations. When someone says: “It’s on the tip of my tongue”, that person really means “it’s trapped in the outskirts of my mind”. The tongue is merely a metaphorical bystander in such instances.
So what possible significant lesson can we glean from this rather common occurrence of forgetting and remembering pieces of minutia? The answer is memory linkage. Learning to master the art of linkage is the key to improving memory. Our brains have multiple ways and places to encode inputs and store information, as they use various combinations of the five senses in this process. Bits of memory can be linked to sights, smells, tastes, sounds (especially music), touch, and/or emotions. Often, pieces of a memory are stored in different locations and need an external stimuli to fully form. Emotion plays a pivotal role in memory retention and recall. Traumatic events can create indelible memories, or cause the brain to bury traumatic memories for long periods of time. Strong positive emotions always assist memory.
The way to take advantage of this knowledge is to link incoming information to multiple senses in order to facilitate their eventual recall. Effective memory requires efficient input, storage, and retrieval. Without proper input technique, storage and retrieval become increasingly difficult. Years of memorizing facts as a trivia game show host have taught me the importance of establishing an input system that works consistently. This is also where the art of storytelling becomes prominent. Linking stories to facts is a powerful memory booster. Stories recall facts, and facts recall stories. Stories have the added benefit of infusing emotional content into the equation. While different individuals may have varying systems of absorbing knowledge, here are a few essential guidelines everyone should observe.

1) First of all, RELAX. Clearing the mind at the moment of input is very helpful. It is essential to avoid distractions. Distractions cloud the input of information.
2) One method many find helpful is to WRITE IT DOWN. Personally, this is my key method for memorization. There seems to be a direct connection from my writing hand to my brain. If I write something down without distraction, I will remember it.
3) When possible, CREATE MULTIPLE LINKAGES. That means, link each incoming fact to more than one other fact, feeling, smell, sound, location, or story. Multiple linkage requires finding connections between bits of information. This is especially useful when trying to remember a chain of facts, which brings to mind the clichéd phrase “one thing leads to another”. When people ask me how I can provide extensive trails of trivia questions ‘off the top of my head’ while hosting a game show, multiple linkage connections is what makes it possible. Everything is linked to something else. In the instance of my show, the information is cross-referenced so that categories can shift in midstream. Questions about history somehow find common ground with music, which find references to geography, which overlaps into sports. Such trails can continue indefinitely as ‘trains of thought’. In this case, the metaphor of a train stands for a series of connections. Search for logical connections everywhere. Facts that live in isolation are usually destined for obscurity. Be creative and establish connections between facts and ideas, as connectivity is the key to effective memory.

4) Another helpful hint for improving memory is to BUNCH. My wife recently solved her long-lasting battle to find her keys by bunching. I would often find her standing outside the house unable to unlock the front door because she couldn’t find her house key in the rather large pocket book she carried. That pocket book had at least fourteen compartments all filled with various items to the point of resembling an overstuffed suitcase. One day, my wife decided she couldn’t stand it any more. She realized that carrying loose keys in a large purse made it ridiculously difficult to find them. She decided to purchase a small red zipper pouch and keep all her keys in it. Now she finds her keys in less than ten seconds. They are all in that red pouch. She should get a Ph.D in bunching! In this example, the overstuffed pocket book is a brain and the red purse is a collection of important data. For those inclined to be technological, the pocket book is a computer, with the red purse being a folder. Organizing memory inputs by ‘bunching’ them into distinct groups makes them much easier to retrieve. A slightly more advanced exercise is combining bunches by creating linkages between them. This technique allows you to geometrically increase the amount of information you can recall from the same number of memory triggers.
Remember: It is just as important to relax when attempting to recall information as it is when inputting information.
5) A key word for enhanced recall is MENTAL FLEXIBILITY. In scientific terms, this is called neuroplasticity. If you allow your mind the freedom to roam, this will enhance your ability to access what your brain has stored. While the amount of information a brain can store is infinite, the amount of RAM (computer term for Random Access Memory) is much more limited. The brain needs stimuli to trigger memories. Staying flexible and relaxed allows multiple linkages to provide additional stimuli to trigger memories. It increases your RAM capacity, so that when your brain goes into ‘search mode’, there are more routes for it to take.
Without getting technical about brain composition and chemistry, the above discussion reveals useful guidance for improving memory. Awareness of the five key steps described above builds a solid foundation for sharpening memory. I heartily recommend focusing on undistracted input and multimedia linkage when attempting to absorb information for future use. While there are many complex memory enhancing programs and formulas, honoring the above fundamentals and establishing your own simple systems can prove sufficient in creating a high-functioning memory.


August 22, 2014 by Gene Jones

The need for breakthrough thinking is never-ending. To master the fast moving tides of modern society, every individual and every business needs to constantly innovate and grow.
Sometimes a change of scenery can be most beneficial to achieving important breakthrough states. Breakthrough destination resorts are a valuable resource in this quest, providing vibrant environments that assist corporate leadership to inspire their teams. Such resorts are gateways to mindfulness and creative advancement for those wise enough to embrace them.
This concept is what led me to explore The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, PA.
The Lodge at Woodloch is a magical destination spa resort located surprisingly close to New York City. I had never heard of Woodloch until my GPS stumbled upon it during last year’s annual Christmas migration to visit my wife’s family in Ohio. On the way home, we casually checked for resorts along the Route 80 corridor to see if there were any interesting hotels. The Lodge at Woodloch popped up as we approached Scranton, PA. My wife and I could not believe our eyes as we read the eclectic list of workshops and classes offered daily at this bucolic resort. As we scrolled through the photo gallery showing lovely rooms, indoor waterfalls, multiple Jacuzzis, a lake, elaborate spa, large gym, etc., it became apparent that the Lodge at Woodloch was no ordinary resort. Although we did not divert our trip home at that time, we tucked away Woodloch as a ‘must visit’.
This year’s arrival of summer seemed to be a good excuse to take a three-day vacation at Woodloch. After a pleasant two-hour ride from New York City, we arrived at this secluded gem in the middle of Pennsylvania farm country. The Lodge is a world unto itself, totally removed from outside sights and sounds. It is absolutely serene, and brilliantly sculpted into the surrounding forested landscape.
Arriving guests immediately sense something different as they pass through the towering entry hall to be greeted by three oversized crystal singing bowls on the branches of a beautifully sculpted tree trunk.
One quickly senses a supreme sense of overriding intelligence hovering over this resort. Beyond masterful hospitality management, there are an abundance of small touches that make the Lodge at Woodloch a splendid place for people to relax their minds and bodies. Starting with an impressive staff-to-guest ratio of more than 2 to 1, every staff member seems superbly trained and attentive to all guest needs at all times. Requests for extra blankets and room repairs were consistently responded to in less than five minutes by employees who seemed thrilled to be able to help out. The resort’s no tipping policy added credibility to the staff’s sincerity.
In addition to tasteful modern amenities, the resort features classes in journaling, Sanskrit mantra, yoga, fly fishing, cooking, wine tasting, bird watching, kayaking, water aerobics, and much more. There is an official Artist in Residence who is available five hours a day for anyone interested in learning to draw or paint. There are guided hikes and nature walks, mountain biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, gardening, life coaching, tai chi, and a wide assortment of spa treatments. The spa itself is abundant and absolutely immaculate, featuring large saunas, steam rooms, and swimming pool in addition to indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis garnished by two waterfalls.
Transcending the understated beauty of the place and its exceptional offerings, there is a more important aspect of the Lodge that inspired my writing this article. Seamlessly blending all the above-mentioned traits, the Lodge at Woodloch possesses an alchemical mixture of architecture, closeness to nature, and spirit that facilitates breakthrough thinking. There are very few resorts capable of achieving such a special state. Even fewer of them are within two hours two major Northeast metropolitan areas: Philadelphia and New York City. This makes Woodloch a very special resource for companies desirous of a unique location for offsite corporate meetings. While enjoying my three days at Woodloch, I kept thinking of what an exceptional corporate meeting venue it is -the perfect place to whisk away employees for transformative interactions. With that in mind, I investigated all of the Lodge’s facilities, imagining how such a meeting would flow from breakout rooms with fireplaces, to picture-windowed dining rooms featuring French service, outdoor fire pits, and forested hiking trails. It was easy to envision supremely productive corporate gatherings, as the Lodge presents an inviting canvas on which to create quantum progress. That is the beauty of a breakthrough resort: the ability to seamlessly inspire guests to explore their inner potential and then share those discoveries with fellow colleagues. With proper guidance, corporate retreats in this type of environment can reach superior levels of progress toward any desired goal.
Since I am someone who teaches my own brand of breakthrough thinking, I felt an immediate kinship with this resort. I wanted to know everything I could learn about how it evolved. Approaching the front desk, I asked if I could talk with someone about the history of Woodloch. I was surprised to discover that the congenial person greeting me at the front desk was the hotel manager, Jenifer Mangione. She has been managing the Lodge for two years, after working 27 years for owner John Keisendahl, at his neighboring Woodloch Pines family resort only a mile away. The Keisendahl family has been in the hospitality business for over 55 years, expanding the tradition with each generation. Mrs. Mangione cheerfully informed me that all her children had also worked for the Kiesendahl family. The feeling of family resonates throughout the resort, as there is a familial connection between all aspects of its operation. This ‘blending’ is worthy of mention because of its applicability as an example for outside business operations and organizational management. The Lodge at Woodloch is a fascinating hybrid of a family run resort and a visionary spa, as it was largely conceived by John and Ginny Lopis, two legendary spa designers who have masterminded some of the most elite spas in America. Experienced spa goers will notice many familiar amenities and concepts of other breakthrough resorts such as Canyon Ranch and Miraval in Tucson, AZ.
The Lodge was constructed in 2006, but because of its impeccable upkeep, looks as if it just had its grand opening. Conversely, it has many timeless design features that give it a very homey old-fashioned flavor.
All breakthrough resorts serve as magnets for eclectic individuals who populate their signature offerings. Merging these transplanted practitioners with the general staff establishes a unique culture that becomes a hybrid world of its own. The Lodge at Woodloch is a shining example of an assemblage of specialists from all over America, blending with the local population to create a vibrant healthy staff culture. From a management standpoint, it requires a high degree of sophistication to successfully orchestrate such an unorthodox culture. This is what facilitates the alchemy of a breakthrough resort and gives such resorts the power to inspire creativity and freedom of thought on a different level.
Each breakthrough resort has its own special chemistry, encouraging guests to reach their potential greatness. This innate ability to nurture, transform and inspire others is greatness in itself. That is why it is well worth one’s time to study destinations such as the Lodge at Woodloch. Breakthrough thinking needs enlightened staging combined with insightful guidance. It is wise to consider utilizing an exceptional facility when hosting such an ambitious endeavor.

The Lodge at Woodloch
109 River Birch Lane
Hawley PA 18428
57 guest rooms
110-120 guest capacity


August 6, 2014 by Gene Jones

As I sipped my cup of green tea this morning, I found myself pensively dipping the teabag over and over again. This insignificant action caught my attention because it is not my usual style. I usually let the teabag slide into the cup and then disappear beneath the murky water. After years of drinking green tea in the morning, this morning I finally noticed that there is a wisdom phrase on the miniscule flap of paper attached to the string dangling from each teabag. In a change of ritual, I grabbed the string, rescuing it from sliding into the cup. Realizing I have missed thousands of pieces of advice from the Yogi Tea Company, I decided not to let this morning’s message escape unread, so I squinted to absorb what was expected to be a standard fortune cookie comment. Little did I know that this teabag had something important to say:
“The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.”
Reading that simple sentence put my mind into a spin. It stated an obvious fact most of intuitively know, but too often ignore.
The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.
Is that truly the purpose of life?
Is human existence really that simple?
What about all the other animals and plants… they have the same purpose?
I flipped the tiny piece of paper over, hoping that the other side would say
“Just kidding!” …..but it didn’t.
It isn’t fair when a teabag changes your day……even worse when it changes your whole life.
So I’m sitting there staring at a teacup, vowing to change my life.
First of all, I don’t feel like working today. There are lots of projects screaming for my attention, but it’s a gorgeous day begging for a walk in the park. Standard procedure finds me back in the office aggressively meeting every responsibility while longingly staring out the window.
The teabag starts to laugh.
It wants to know why we so often deny ourselves enjoyment.
It wants to know what moments we actually plan to enjoy.
I scramble to explain that I am planning a fabulous vacation with my wife, who is also suffering from the pressures of her job. In fact, we both know exactly how many days it is until we leave for that trip. Recalling that number makes me sweat, because it is too large.
The teabag falls silent.
It’s disapproval hurts. It needs not speak any more, as the message is clear:
It is time to enjoy life now!
I gulp down the cup of tea, as if drinking that energized water will offer some miraculous epiphany. I tear off the small flap of paper from its string and wander toward my computer.
Staring at ‘The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment’ is making me feel miserable.
Something has to change…..but what? I can’t leave for vacation for another three months.
What about the deadlines?
What about the responsibilities?
What about the mortgage?
How does a person find enjoyment in every moment of life?
And then it hit me like an oncoming truck.
Enjoyment of life must arise from inside.
Enjoyment of life is an attitude.
We can learn to enjoy even what we do not enjoy.
We can change the way we feel about any situation. Some events or situations will sorely test our ability to enjoy them, but taking a sunny attitude towards life is the only solution to this profound challenge.
Every moment, even painful ones, offer the possibility of some unexpected pleasure. It is up to us to explore those possibilities.
Rejuvenated, I stare down the now limp teabag. Before tossing it into oblivion, I am determined to enjoy conquering its message. In triumph, I declare that I am going to enjoy all the things I never enjoyed before.
Furthermore, I don’t have to quit my job……I just have to learn how to enjoy it more.
As I return to my computer, I pause to take in a moment of sunshine, realizing that grabbing a few extra moments of life on my own terms is the first step towards enjoying all the others.
I feel liberated.
I might even drink a different flavored tea tomorrow.
No matter what flavor I choose, I’ll certainly read the teabag.