I remember my first job in NYC. I was 21 and interning for Bankers Trust right across from World Trade Center Building #1. I was finished with my work day and headed down the two story long series of escalators which delivered all of us down to street level. There were four of these escalators, two that went down and two that went up. While on one of these down escalators I ease dropped on a conversation two bankers were having in front of me. To this day I have no idea what they were talking about. But what I do remember was how impressed I was. They used words like Michelangelo used clay or paints. It bothered me that I did not understand the words they were using.
That summer I decided I was going to learn ten new words a day. So I pulled out the dictionary, took out a binder, some paper and a pencil and began writing down words I didn’t know. I did this every day for about two months. As summer came to a close, I was now the proud owner of 500 new words. And I started to use these words, weaving them into conversation. I remember playing pool in the rathskeller back at college. There was a very pretty girl in the group. She knew some of the guys I regularly played pool with. We were all discussing Poland, which was in the news. They were going through a revolution there. I remember sharing my opinion with the group about this revolution. I test drove some of the new words I learned over the summer.
About an hour later, as I was walking out the rathskeller, the pretty girl accompanied me up the stairs. She never did this before. I confess, my heart was beating like a rabbit. She said to me, “I didn’t realize you were so smart.” We became fast friends after that and had many more conversations. We came very close to dating but I never had the ask a girl out on a date confidence to ask her out. I’m of Irish decent and, at the time, I was working on my eighth year of puberty. I still looked like a man child and felt ugly and very awkward back then.
I kept that word binder, but confess that I lapsed in my devotion to learning new words. When I was finishing up my study on the daily habits of the rich and poor in 2008, I discovered that one of the Rich Habits the millionaires all seemed to have was a daily devotion to learning and self-improvement. So I found my old word binder, dusted it off and renewed my study of words. It has helped me enormously in communicating my research in the books and articles I’ve written as well as in the numerous media interviews I’ve had.
The words we use every day create perceptions. They are like magnets, drawing to us all sorts of people. Rich people had figured that out long before they became rich. The more words you know, the better your ability to communicate what you know. Words create perceptions. If you want to create the perception that you are smart, you must increase your knowledge of words and use them in conversation. Learning new words helps you grow as an individual. They increase your confidence. They transform you.
Start your word binder today. Devote just fifteen minutes a day to increasing your vocabulary. Add five new words a day to your arsenal. People will take notice. Words will elevate you and draw the right people into your inner circle.