Posted on Jun 27, 2006

Ever feel the need to upgrade your brain power or re-tool your memory?

Former New York City cop, writing teacher and Union College administrator Edward Droge Jr. can help.

He's the mastermind behind a new book, “Your Intelligence Makeover” (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a three-week plan that's billed as “An Easy Way to Learn All You Need to Know.”

“The more active our minds are, the more we can stave off insidious diseases like Alzheimer's,” said Droge, who addressed more than 50 Union employees last week in the F.W. Olin Center auditorium.

Ed Droge with Debbie Cianfarani

Droge, assistant to President Roger Hull in 1990-91, underscored what most of us know, that “the deluge begins before you get to the office.”

It isn't uncommon these days to see what he noticed recently on his way to work: a driver in a nearby car, steering with his knees, shaving, balancing a cell phone on his shoulder, and, “from the likes of his constant movements, doing a set of isometric butt exercises.

“We're busier and we're multitasking quite a bit,” Droge said, noting that productivity has doubled in the last 10 years as Americans do more and do it faster.

A self-described mediocre high school student, Droge began his lifelong pursuit of improving his memory when he entered Yale as an undergraduate at 30. The first in his family to go to college, he taught himself how to read five books a week despite having no academic role models. He went on to graduate with honors and later earned his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard.

Ed Droge signs book

Here are a few tips from Droge to help the overly stressed, constantly pressed multi-tasker in all of us sharpen our minds:

§         Read for speed: Train yourself to see two or three words at a time. Extract information from the first and last sentences of each paragraph. Preview a document before fully engaging in the reading process.

§         “CURE” your memory: If you have trouble remembering things like names, create Connections that are Unlikely, Ridiculous or Extraordinary. (When meeting someone named Joyce, for instance, picture her holding a glass of juice.)

§         Use acronyms and mnemonics. The classic “King Philip Came Over for Good Soup” is an easy way to remember the taxonomy of living things (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). If you can recall this biology lesson from junior high, why not apply the concept to key points you want to bring up at an office meeting?According to Droge, these and other simple strategies will help you read faster, memorize better and comprehend more.

In addition to these memory-enhancing tools, Droge includes a helpful reference section at the end of “Your Intelligence Makeover” that prompts readers to test their “foundational” knowledge skills. He lists famous quotations, short biographies on notable figures and an index of Web sites that might help pave the way to Mensa, Jeopardy or graduate school while giving your brain a good workout.


“You've got the power. It's in your brain. Use it.”