Business Class: Demonstrating “class” in “business” feels great

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News
July 21, 2014

Two years ago, “Business Class” launched with a very simple goal: to explore best practices in business from an impressive list of business leaders, high-profile executives, newsmakers and business-savvy celebrities.

Staying true to form,“Business Class” has (consciously) not offered tips on how to best choose airline seating.

However, one central lesson quickly began to emerge: “success” seemed to be equal parts business, class, education and edification.

From “listen” and “communicate clearly” to “don’t pretend you’re the smartest one in the room,” the majority of those profiled credited the skill sets of others as instrumental in their achievements.

Just look at the emphasis former Kohl’s President Jay Baker places on teaming up with the right business partners as well as the way his eyes light up when wife/partner Patty enters the room. In this case, Baker’s “actions” and “words” seem to speak with equal volume.

Randall Kenneth Jones and Phil BeuthIf Myra Janco Daniels (National Advertising Federation’s 1965 “Advertising Woman of the Year”is the column’s unofficial Godmother—having debunked any possible connection between one’s age and one’s value—then former Good Morning America President Phil Beuth is its Godfather. Beuth is the man/mentor who arranged meetings with Charles “the importance of gaining trust” Gibson and Jack “I operate by The Golden Rule” Hanna.

Beuth’s candid feedback has been instrumental in the column’s growth and development. Always a gentleman, Beuth was—and still is—that enviable guy everyone wants to please.

Some lessons were unexpected, such as when Regis Philbin treated a 20-minute, fact-finding phone call as if it was the single most important item on his to-do list. (Lesson #1: focus; Lesson #2: pay attention or you’ll miss Lesson #1).

As business professionals, we can be a very forgiving. We forgive ourselves for ignoring emails and dismissing phone messages. We pardon ourselves for broadcasting emails and leaving messages no one wants to receive. We also excuse ourselves for failing to provide timely updates on current projects and go out to Happy Hour instead.

With “time” at a premium, we sometimes get frustrated and—intentional or not—we pay it forward and cause even more frustration.

We can even give ourselves a pass for using electronic messaging to communicate less-than-positive remarks—comments we would likely never say in person.

Randall Kenneth Jones and Peggy Post of the Emily Post InstituteWhen these challenging situations arise and four-letter words (i.e. dork, fool, stop and OMG!) ache to exit your fingertips and strike your keyboard, consider asking yourself: “What would Peggy Post do?” The result: civility, common sense and even tranquility will likely prevail.

In so many ways, Peggy Post, the co-director of The Emily Post Institute, has inspired the “heart” of “Business Class.”

After all, demonstrating compassion (Mimi Chapin Gregory, recipient of France’s National Order of Merit) and empathy (Dolph von Arx, former Chairman, CEO and President of Planters Lifesavers Company) have proven to be tremendously beneficial.

Janet Evanovich and Randall Kenneth JonesIn addition, NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen taught us to “play to our strengths” while voice-over icon Peter Thomas shared the profoundly simple—yet often overlooked—lesson to “think before you speak.”

Laverne and Shirley’s Eddie Mekka advised to “be comfortable in your own shoes” while author Janet Evanovich spent years walking in a mother’s shoes before spinning those experiences into a wildly successful career as a “mother working.”

In some cases, business services and business ethics blended effortlessly. HGTV’s Candice Olson mixes modern elements with classic style in the Great Room and in the Board Room.

Kassie DePaiva and Randall Kenneth Jones Photo by Denise Wauters REVDaytime Television’s Kassie DePaiva fearlessly took on workplace drama by applying her own on-set experiences: pay attention and learn from it.

Even legendary photographer Clyde Butcher shined a special light on business practices: a little extra thought as well as an attention to—and respect for—detail goes a very long way.

Other characteristics of success include: creativity (Tommy Bahama co-founder Bob Emfield), preparation (former NPR host Neal Conan), goal setting (SNL alum Darrell Hammond), vision (filmmaker KC Schulberg), confidence (publicist Gary Rosen), curiosity (author and political insider Karna Small Bodman), candor (Max-Wellness CEO Michael Feuer), cooperation (CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen) and benevolence (Santa Claus and FGCU’s Robert Green, Jr.).

Jack McKinnney and Randall Kenneth JonesOf course, there’s also the ever-popular “teamwork” concept as exemplified by former NBA Head Coach Jack McKinney.

“Business Class’” bottom line: we all have something to learn from those in our social and business circles. More important, we all have something to teach the aforementioned band of influencers.

However, the #1 lesson to be derived from “Business Class”: demonstrating “class” in “business” feels great.

Marketer, publicist, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida. 

Photos: TOP — “Business Class” logo by Denise Wauters; Photo 2 — Randall Kenneth Jones and Phil Beuth  (photo by Peter Berec); Photo 3 — Janet Evanovich and Randall Kenneth Jones; Phone 4 — Kassie DePaiva and Randall Kenneth Jones (photo by Denise Wauters); Photo 5 — Jack McKinney and Randall Kenneth Jones (photo by Peter Berec); BOTTOM — Randall Kenneth Jones.