Business Class: You always get a second chance to make a first impression
By Randall Kenneth Jones
Originally published in the Naples Daily News
Friday, July 14, 2013
Jennifer Marlowe, portrayed by actress Loni Anderson, served as the receptionist at the fictitious AM radio station known to 70s-era television viewers as WKRP in Cincinnati.
Anderson’s Marlowe was legendary for many things: among them, greeting WKRP’s litany of misfit guests, answering phones—and generally looking good while doing so.
Keenly aware of her impact on the business, this alleged member of the “Sisterhood of Blond Receptionists” also famously remarked, “If you saw our minimum salary, you’d have a heart attack and die.”
Understandably, Jennifer Marlowe was the highest paid staff member at WKRP.
Hair color aside, people who serve as receptionists, hosts, cashiers, security, and information booth personnel are Corporate America’s proof of the old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Or do you?
Closer to home, this past year saw Southwest Floridians cheer as Florida Gulf Coast University blasted onto the national landscape due to the exceptional performance of its basketball team.
However, the “exceptional performance” at FGCU begins before one has officially landed on campus.
Just take a slight right toward the Information Booth off the main entrance and Robert Green, Jr. will quickly demonstrate the true meaning of those two words.
Simply put, it is impossible to leave Green’s post without a smile on your face.
Continually upbeat and consistently charming, Green himself quips, “Even my grandmother told me I came out smiling the day I was born.”
A product of a segregated Shreveport, Louisiana, an undaunted Green still recalls his enthusiastic waves on his way to school to the white children and adults on the other side of the street.
Pass by his post today at FGCU and he’s still waving.
As a youngster, Green made a very conscious decision: “I don’t want to be a victim.”
Moreover, those lucky enough to be on the receiving end of Green’s signature catchphrase—“you know you’re my friend”—may be surprised to learn that a young Green first uttered this expression to defuse a spat between two friends with their sights on the same girl.
In the years that have followed, Green has lifted the spirits of countless friends, family, co-workers and guests with these very same words.
With an educational background that includes studies in Business, Religion and Theology, Green shares potentially life-altering advice: “If we learn to understand each other, we will have a more definitive appreciation for life itself.”
Somehow, coming from someone with Green’s affability and rich perspective, a quote that could seem commonplace gains much more impact.
He “walks the walk” and has earned the right to “talk the talk.”
When asked to define his job at FGCU, Green simply states, “I’ve had the same job all my life—waving ‘hi’ and making people happy.”
However, when challenged to share his view on the power of first impressions, Green is quick to point out: “You always get a second chance to make a first impression.”
And a third, and a fourth…
Like so many others on our businesses’ front lines, Robert Green, Jr. is worth his weight—and waves—in gold.
Marketing guru, business humorist, professional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.
Pictured above: FGCU guest Kevin Jones and Robert Green, Jr.
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