“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” – Will Rogers

‘Topsy, someone is always watching.’ That’s the favorite line of a good friend of mine. He believes that no matter where you are, even in the most isolated part of the world, you should assume that someone is watching – because they are. If we believe the popular adage that we are six degrees (perhaps even fewer in our digitally connected world) from anyone on the planet, then we realize there is truly no place to hide. Founders hiring remote workers, please remember this when you assume distance gives you permission to treat your employees with disdain.

Our everyday interactions create impressions on both those we interact with directly and those who observe us silently. How we ‘show up’ determines whether we make a memorable impression that opens future opportunities or a negative one that closes doors. This applies to both individuals and businesses.

While networking is important, we might achieve better results if we focus on creating positive impressions everywhere we go, rather than selectively trying to impress people we perceive as important or influential.

As a Partner at McKinsey & Company, a major client program didn’t come from targeted efforts but from a CEO reaching out to me when he had a need, based on an indirect interaction at an industry forum six months earlier. Impressions really do matter.

Here are three tips to consider for creating a positive, memorable impression:

  1. Always show up. Have a standard and name it excellent. Show up to that standard, regardless of how important you deem the interaction and even if you are offering your service for free. I learned this principle from Michael Jordan. It didn’t matter if he was playing at home or away, winning by 20 points or down by 20, or if it was a pre-season game or finals. As long as Micheal was on the court, he would give it 110%. This ‘always on’ mindset that made him a Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.
  1. Be selective. Have a high filter for what you get involved in and learn to say no often. Because you always show up 100%, you can’t afford to do anything or do many things at once and do them all well. Focus and Mastery are closely related. It is better to turn down opportunities and preserve your reputation than take on too many and perform poorly. While a client might be unhappy in the short term, they will respect you for it in the long run.
  1. Make value addition your primary networking strategy. Instead of identifying people and placing demands on those who you think can enhance your network, focus on how you can add value to people you meet or want to connect with. You will be surprised at how many people will freely engage with you when your emphasis is on adding value to them.

You see, the strength of your impressions is what makes you memorable and keeps you ‘top of mind’ when opportunities arise. Impressions matter. Every interaction counts. My encouragement to you today is to act like it, dress like it, and work like it.

Yours in possibilities,


Ps – My book, UNLEASH: The Blueprint For A Life That Attracts Uncommon Opportunities, breaks down 12 principles that make you memorable and a magnet for attracting uncommon opportunities. You can get your copy here.

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