1. The First Seconds Count
I am not going to go into a lot of detail on this. You know that first impressions are lasting and are very hard to undo. Just look at the photo here and listen to the stories you tell yourself about where each is coming from or going to.
Here is my motto: Dress for success – especially when it comes to business. You are your Brand. Be more than conscious of the impression you make, be in charge of it.
When all is said and done, it takes the same amount of time to put on a smart pair of pants as it does to put on a pair of jeans.
Think of every phone conversation and email, our website and every piece of marketing you put out there as the clothing your brand wears. Make sure it looks good.
2. Smiling Works Wonders
During a particularly difficult time in my life, my coach, Patti, taught me something terrifically important.
I was under enormous stress in almost every aspect of my life and was feeling weary and worn down. Patti was a keen observer of human nature. She watched me closely for a while and then gave me a single, simple exercise to follow for the week.
Patti charged me with the task of finding 3 complete strangers to smile at every day for 7 days. The smile was to be a big, broad, grin – showing teeth (I remember that specifically).
I tried to wriggle out of it… where would I find the strangers? What if I only encountered people I knew that day? Wouldn’t it be disconcerting for the strangers?… She was having none of it. That was my homework for the week. Period.
Reluctantly, feeling more stressed than when I arrived, I stumbled out to my car and drove home. The next morning, when I dropped my kids off at school, I saw someone I didn’t recognize and gave her a big grin. If felt strained and stupid, but her face lit up and she smiled back.
Do you know what happened next? I smiled for real.
At the stop street near my office, I caught the eye of the driver stopped on the other side of the intersection and flashed my fake grin at him. He gave me a weak smile back and waved me forward, giving me the right of way through the crossing.
That was nice and I thought: “It works for traffic at least.” That was just the beginning. By the end of the week, I had discovered that it works for all kinds of things. But more important, it worked for me.
By the time I saw my coach at the end of the 7 days, I was a different person. My circumstances had not changed. If anything, things had gotten harder, but I was feeling better. I was coping better. They were not weighing me down any more. They just were.
Through the indomitable and gracious Patti, I learned the value of a smile.
3. Save Something Good for Last
When I was growing up, Sunday lunch was always a family affair. A formal lunch, white table cloths, the best silver, always a roast, 3 or 4 vegetables, the best gravy ever, and desert. I loved the roast potatoes and gravy the best.
When I was little, I would eat them first and end the meal with all the things I didn’t like. Their lingering flavor in my mouth would ruin the desert. I can clearly remember the Sunday I decided to leave the potatoes and gravy for last and haven’t looked back since!
Modern science has proven I made a good choice. Experiments involving both good and bad stimuli have clearly demonstrated that your memory of an event or experience are largely determined by the quality of the experience immediately before it ended.
Saving something good for the end ensures the memory that remains is a positive one.
Having said that, I will leave you with a little story about impressions…
A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you.” The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?” The boy takes the quarters and leaves. “What did I tell you?” said the barber. “That kid never learns!”
Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store. “Hey, son! May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?”
The boy licked his cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!”
Start with a good impression, smile, and leave on a high note.
Finding that high note means knowing yourself. What makes you smile and makes you feel great?