The Very First and Most Critical Ingredient To Success

JoyIt’s more than 35 years since my dear friend Shandy departed this world, aged 9. I am reflecting today how Shandy would have been a triumph at business, because he knew the essence of the first and most critical ingredient to success. Do you know what it is? Shandy did. And he was a dog. Read on.

I was grumpy last week.

After almost three weeks of traveling, I was back in Sydney, desperate to spend time in the office. Instead, I had to depart home early for a 1.5 hour freeway peak hour crawl west to visit for the first time the warehousing facility of a hugely successful logistics business we’d invested in (a critical step in delivering outstanding merchandising solutions capabilities to clients). We eventually arrived. I walked gloomily into reception when, suddenly, my spirits lifted. I began to feel excited about the five hours ahead. Because greeting me by name, beaming, was the most welcoming person I’d ever met. She made me laugh, offered coffee, sat me down, explained the plot, and generally made me feel totally at home, and wanted.

Joy (that’s her name), you see, has become expert at the very first and most critical ingredient to success. So much so that she wears this capability as a badge of honor. Joy has become expert in this one key skill:

Joy had mastered the welcome.

It’s as simple as that. Now STOP yourself from going: “Oh is that it, Ok I get the message and can click out of this now.” Not true. You haven’t, yet. Read on and learn something, and then share it with your colleagues. As many of them as you can. Please.

Here’s the point. The key moment in any relationship is the very first moment – the first impression.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So the very first thing to plan is your first impression. People make decisions almost immediately, based on first impressions. They then spend the next period of time gathering all the data they need to justify that decision. You think they are still deciding what to do, who to hire, whether to buy your sales pitch or not. Not true. In most cases they made their minds up very, very early on in the process, and are now just trying to justify to themselves why they will go with you, or won’t.

That’s one of the reasons I tell our agencies this about pitching new business: “Just because you get on a short list does not mean you have a shot at the business.” Often the prospect decided yonks ago who to hire. They’re now just going through a process of justification.

Alan Higgins at Markitforce knows all about the power of first impressions. That’s why he values so much what Joy (who he calls Joyful) does so incredibly well amongst her many responsibilities. At Markitforce staff can choose their own titles. The photo up front is what Joy chose.

Think hard about the first impressions you make with clients and prospects. Your website, your reception area, how clients are greeted, how you look and dress, how you greet the person when you meet them, what you say in that first five minutes. Think carefully about it. Plan it. Make sure you nail the early moments.

And Where Does Shandy Fit in?

In closing, a weird little insight which I took to heart years ago. One aspect of mastering the welcome can be as simple as making sure you smile more. No kidding. I realized this a few years ago when re-reading (for maybe the 10th time) Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” Terrible title. Should be: “How To Do Simple Things Well That Will Help You Get On In Life and Treat Others With Respect.” Carnegie talks about the power of a smile. He uses the example of why dogs are our ‘best friend’ . Because, just as Shandy used to do to me as I walked around the corner in my short pants after a day at Camps Bay Primary School, dogs know the power of a big wag of the tail and a massive smile. The power of a welcoming SMILE that makes you feel wanted and loved.

I have trained myself to ensure when I bump into someone unexpectedly, or they walk into my office out of the blue, that the instant I see them, I smile. Because that’s how my heart usually feels on seeing them. So show them: “Hey! I am GLAD to see you. How are YOU?!!”

Sound trite? Perhaps. But it’s reality. The people I warm to the most are those who make me feel liked and wanted. It’s all about that first impression. (I remember vividly the looks of disdain colleagues have given me when I have ‘surprised’ them somehow. It’s that first impression, man. It tells you a massive story, and truth.

May The Power Be With You

On a bigger canvas, think about the ‘power of the first impression’ in what you do and how you operate. Make it work for you. Oh- and ensure you’re underpinning it with sincerity. That kind of helps too.


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9 Responses to The Very First and Most Critical Ingredient To Success

  1. MC Hammer May 15, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    you never smile at me!

    • Chris Savage May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      And that should tell you a big message, MC Hammer

  2. Lisette May 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Thanks Chris for making time to write your words of wisdom down. While I’ve moved on from the world of Ogilvy (and from Australia as well), your insights have always been spot on – and I’ve used more of your insights than I can count in my career. If you’re ever in San Francisco do let me know!

    • Chris Savage May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks Lisette- great to hear from you and thanks for the feedback. Will certainly be in touch if ever in San Fran. Chris

  3. Jithin t George May 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Well doneJoy 🙂
    she allways put a smile on my face 🙂

  4. chris May 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Love it Chris.It’s nice to be reminded of such simple but important truths.

    • Chris Savage May 16, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      Thanks Chris!

  5. Wendy Cole May 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Love your take on HTWF&IP – that is How To Do Simple Things Well That Will Help You Get On In Life and Treat Others With Respect. Wish this teaching was part of school curriculum.
    Thanks Chris – have an inspiring day!

    • Chris Savage May 16, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      Pleasure Wendy!

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