Each month, a member of the Business Women’s Forum Steering Committee writes a guest article related to their experience and expertise as a woman in business. This month’s article was written by Jennifer Mecham, MAED, Learning and Talent Strategy Manager at American Express.

“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.” – Maya Angelou

My family suffered a great loss this year when my sweet grandfather passed away. He was one of those charismatic human beings who could hold a conversation with anyone. He embraced the mentality that, if he did not know how to do something, he would figure it out. 

A couple of weeks before my grandpa passed, my uncle was fixing some things in his house. He overheard my grandpa ask his Google Home questions. As the Google speaker was responding, my grandpa would try to answer first. My grandpa, who was bed bound at this time, tried to outsmart Google. Even in his last days, he continued to learn.

Learning and development has been my focus for the last 19 years. My uncle’s story made me wonder how my grandpa’s love of learning positively impacted his life. Here’s what I learned: 

Learning Changes Your Brain

Years ago, it was thought that our brains stopped growing when we are young. As science continued to evolve, we learned that was not the truth. It is true that damage to the brain cannot be fixed. Yet, studies have shown that learning changes the brain. 

In a study, researchers observed the brains of volunteers who learned to juggle. As they learned to juggle, the area of their brains responsible for the perception of moving objects increased in size (Draganski, et al., 2004). Learning to juggle changed their brains. After months of not juggling, the researchers also observed that part of the brain decreased. We have all heard the phrase “use it or lose it.” The study just proved it is true. 

Benefits of Learning

The changes to your brain that result from learning something new is astounding. Yet, what are the benefits of learning that you can see and feel without having to get an MRI? 

Here are a few benefits of learning that resonated most with me: 

  • Memory Improvement – By gaining new knowledge and/or skills, you are creating new pathways in your brain. This improves your brain’s health and can improve your memory. Details will be easier to remember, and, in turn, it will become easier to learn new things. Being able to remember where I set down my cup of coffee without searching the whole house? Yes, please!
  • Increase in Self-Confidence – Learning something new can make you feel more empowered, and it may even help with fear and anxiety. Recently, one of my direct reports reached out excited to show me something. After researching online, he taught himself how to complete an advanced function on Excel. This new gained knowledge allowed him to create a tool that will benefit our training colleagues. The boost in his self-confidence was evident and encouraged him to continue to look for new ways to improve how we do things. 
  • Connection to Others – Learning new skills can connect you with others who share similar interests. Reach out to a leader you admire and ask them to be your mentor. Attend a Business Women’s Forum luncheon where you can network and learn something new. Connecting with others to learn and teach can help you develop and deepen relationships. That is a win for all involved. 

Learning something new does not have to be extremely time consuming. You do not need to purchase a program or go back to school. We live in a world where knowledge is everywhere. I encourage you to find ways to learn something new every day. The positive benefits you will incur can be life, and brain, changing. 



Draganski, B., Gaser, C., Busch, V., Schuierer, G., Bogdahn, U., & May, A. (2004, January 22). Changes in grey matter induced by training. Retrieved from Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/427311a

About Jennifer Mecham

Jen Mecham, MAED, is a Learning and Talent Strategy Manager at American Express. For most of her 20 years at American Express, Jen has dedicated her career to Learning and Development. She is dedicated to implementing the most effective learning and performance support tools for her customers. She currently supports the Banking and Business Blueprint group and led the team that developed the training curriculum for the American Express checking products which launched in 2021 (Small Business) and 2022 (Consumer). Jen is a native Utahn but spent a couple years living and working on a resort in the Teton/Yellowstone area. She is a single mother to two boys and is lucky to have three bonus daughters. She is also a Gigi to three grandchildren. Jen is known for her baking (especially bread) and deems baking for others as her love language.