Tag Archives: Beliefs

Taking Control of First Impressions (Guest Blog by Britany Wallace)

The following blog post is part of the Bennis Blogger Battle. Support Britany by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment and sharing it on your social media! The blog with the most hits, wins.


First impressions are important, but another person’s view of us is ‘outside our control’. So what can we control? The most important thing in our control is our personal commitment to ‘leading ourselves’. If we can’t lead ourselves we can’t lead others. The first step is recognizing that ‘Everything We Do In Life Counts’. This is a constant process and includes everything we do both public and private.

Every choice we make must have a purpose. There are no insignificant choices in life. The small things always matter. What are some other things that COUNT?


  • Self-discipline in every area of our life
  • Developing Personal Character
  • Personal Development
  • Commitment to Excellence
  • How we invest our energies and time
  • How we treat others

If we take this approach in life our ‘first impressions’ will be driven by a set of core beliefs that stand on their own. It is said that we become the 5 people we spend the most time around. Look at your 5 closest friends (their character, habits, attitudes, etc) and you will see yourself. If we are committed to developing the character qualities of a leader, we will draw to ourselves people who are just like we are. The ‘lasting impressions’ of those closest to us are the ones that really count. First impressions will take care of themselves.

What is a First Impression?

We know what first impressions are but we DON’T know how much they can help or harm you and the relationships you try to build. A first impression is formed between the first 10 seconds and 5 minutes you are in someone’s presence. PROBLEM: They are private and we have no idea what other people are thinking about us.

First Impressions:

  • Can improving or degrading
  • Are private
  • Can be informed and influenced by personal values and biases; therefore preempting the impression to a particular state (before the meeting even occurs)
  • Are formed based on our actions and reactions, language, tone, appearance, even environments (i.e. what or whom we surround ourselves with)

We may not know or want to believe it (Wizard’s First Rule), but people are watching us… Yes, WATCHING… Scary, right? But true.

Can I Control the First Impression Formed?

Yes, and no. We can control it by preparing for that first meeting. If we do, the first impression will be more stable and likely more positive. However, Geoffrey James cites that there isn’t a logical thought process which individuals experience. Truth is, it’s a reaction both immediate and unconscious. Many sources detail how to form a positive first impression, but they want you to ACT LIKE SOMETHING YOU AREN’T!

David Wygant discusses that your self-confidence is the most important part of your first impression. Low confidence makes it hard for anyone else to believe in you. The best way to market your personal brand is BUZZ marketing. Let people talk about you. LeadershipFreak says that other people will talk about you if you let them. Let other people’s words give you confidence and pride in who you are.

First impressions determine how each interaction proceeds from that point forward. The first impression made on anyone is foundational.

Take Initiative. Research:

  • The person
  • The company
  • Purpose for meeting
  • That person’s values
  • Their superiors (subordinates)
  • Try to find a contact within the company or close to them in the hierarchy

Mark Oakes encourages us to monitor and protect what we can control about our first impressions. You CAN control what you do and say that people will see and interpret; not their thoughts. Be cognizant of those things; use them to your advantage.

How do I Control My First Impressions?

  • Stay Positive
  • Be yourself
  • Be confident
  • Let others market your brand
  • Pay attention to your actions and words; they can help or hurt you
  • Be unforgettable; not memorable
  • Ask relevant, interesting questions
  • Do preliminary research
  • Ask for information to look into and follow-up on

“Wizard’s First Rule: People will believe anything you tell them because A) they are afraid it is true or B) they want it to be true.”   -Zeddicus Zul Zorander, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Edberg, Hendrik. How to Make A Great First Impression. Retrieved from:
Goodkind, Terry. Wizard’s First Rule.
James, Geoffrey. 2011. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from:
Laskowski, Lenny. 1998. How to Create A Great First Impression. Retrieved from:
Willis, Janine & Alexander Todorov. 2006. First Impressions: Making Up Your Mind After a 100-Ms Exposure To A Face. Retrieved from:
Wygant, David. 2010. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from:

Other Resources:

BritanyBritany Wallace is a senior business student at Moravian College in Bethlehem and loves blogging in her free time. She expects to travel for volunteer and learning opportunities during the summer and look for permanent work afterward. She enjoys volunteer work, mostly construction and helping at animal shelters and in her free time she reads for knowledge and pleasure. Please support Britany by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting her at, or (Introduction by Mark O. Oakes, a wonderful contact of KEBPerspectives. Follow him on Twitter @MarkOOakes)


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What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: It’s almost never about WHAT you know

There are some things that can and will never be taught in the classroom. Maybe it’s because those topics are seen as too radical or have been flagged as a lawsuit risk, but truly these are the missing pieces of wisdom that leave many college grads as an incomplete puzzle with still much to figure out in the real world. In the spirit of Back-to-School, this will be a 5-part series exploring the top lessons I wish would have been included in my own college degree. It’s blunt and it’s honest, but it’s sure to be interesting.

Lesson four: It’s almost never about WHAT you know

I wish my professors would have just been honest with us. How successful you are (basically) boils down to two things—who you know and how well you sell yourself. Especially for all the readers out there with a degree in Public Relations, Communications or the similar, you know what I’m talking about. Our communication skills, social competence and depth and breadth of our relationships are directly related to our success.

Throughout my years spent at Penn State, my classrooms were filled with hoards of Advertising and Public Relations students all training to be “master communicators.” Some students aced every test and could recite any answer a teacher asked of them, but they often blended into the background as soon as they put their hand down. The students who did make the biggest impression weren’t the ones breaking the curve, necessarily. They were the ones who could pull together an impromptu presentation with ease and confidence and could make a classroom of 500+ students laugh and feel as if they knew them personally.

This ties-in closely with Lesson three: In the real world, you’re not expected to have every answer. I’m not talking about the students too lazy to open a book or the ones aiming for a career as a professional “bull shitter.” I’m talking about the students who did more than write the concept on a note card and memorize it; instead, they absorbed the concept and immediately applied it to their communications strategy of selling themselves. I’m sure everyone has a few of these friends in their lives. They catch on quick, have an impeccable ability to read a situation and make lasting impressions that build their networks almost effortlessly.

So maybe this isn’t something that can be entirely taught in a classroom, but these are skills we all possess to some degree. I wish my professors would have worked to help us refine these skills through “social challenges” such as walking into a business and asking for an impromptu meeting with the owner/marketing director to pitch an idea or even attend a party where you enter as a complete stranger and leave with at least 3 acquaintances—these type of challenges would have tested our core social abilities and helped to build skills we would have used immediately in any career.

I knew people who, even as 20-something year old college students, were too timid or insecure to call a restaurant for their business hours or walk into a party if they didn’t know at least 5 people. Anyone, no matter their field of study, could have benefited from at least one course emphasizing social intelligence to supplement the “what you know” with the “how well you can sell it.”

Even if you’re at the top of your class, you’ll be that much more valuable to a future employer if you have the social and communication skills to convey this knowledge.

In case you missed a few “classes”, here’s some reading homework:

Lesson One: Group projects can be completed alone.

Lesson Two: It’s okay to NOT like everyone you work with.

Lesson Three: In the real world, you’re not expected to have every answer.


Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Wisdom


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What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: Group projects can be completed alone.

There are some things that can and will never be taught in the classroom. Maybe it’s because those topics are seen as too radical or have been flagged as a lawsuit risk, but truly these are the missing pieces of wisdom that leave many college grads as an incomplete puzzle with still much to figure out in the real world. In the spirit of Back-to-School, this will be a 5-part series exploring the top lessons I wish would have been included in my own college degree. It’s blunt and it’s honest, but it’s sure to be interesting.

Lesson One: Group projects can be completed alone.

Group Projects –We all remember them and probably share similar horror stories for a variety of reasons. My own experiences are quite negative as well. I always felt forced into a group project where, for better or for worse, I would take over and do it all myself. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not blaming my group members as much as my dominating personality. I would have much appreciated a professor to extend the option of working alone. It wouldn’t have given me any extra credit or held my project to a special grading scale, but it would have given me the opportunity to find my entrepreneurial roots sooner. I would have more readily realized that what any 5-person group was doing, I had the capability of not only doing alone—but also the ability to create a better, more cohesive project overall rather than the slapped together, mismatched work of a group project handed-in in such a rush that the still-wet printer ink smears in the professors hands. I digress…

By making groups an option rather than a mandate, teachers could have taught us to find our true potential, challenge our work ethic and learn what working style best fits our individual personalities. Yes a large project may be big and scary when looked at as a whole, but a project of that scale has the potential to teach students time management and what may seem overwhelming and impossible for one person to complete really isn’t all that bad when broken down.

Don’t get me wrong, real work situations will require you to work in groups of all numbers and learning team work skills is crucial. What I’m suggesting is rather than those classes that ONLY allowed students to work as teams or in groups is to at least present the option to mix it up and try new working combinations. This would allow us to better grasp the scope of our capabilities sooner–and maybe this is so important to me because I believe they far exceed what we ever imagine possible.


Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Wisdom


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When. Not If.

Lately I’ve realized one of my own tendencies. I will often choose to say “if” when I talk about doing something—even when it’s about something that I’m planning on happening or truly want to see happen. This little two-letter word is a manifestation of a mindset I hope to change in myself. It conveys uncertainty. For anything you WANT to see happen or will WORK to see happen, you should say “when” not “if.” It’s surprising how interchangeable these words are.

I’ve often found myself saying to a friend, “If we catch up for lunch tomorrow….”and all too often it falls through or one of us never actually makes the phone call to make definite plans. I realized that by using “if” I unknowingly imply that my intentions to meet up with them aren’t definite. Had I said “When we catch up for lunch tomorrow…” it would have led to picking a place and time right then and I would have seen them for lunch the next day.

In an even more detrimental setting, saying to a future client, “If I work with you on this upcoming project…” allows an opening for it to fall through or doesn’t convey my excitement and willingness to work with them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth—and when your words no longer reflect your intentions, something has to change.

When I stop using “if” I put power behind my words and I set expectations for my own actions. And just how I approach my to-do lists—when I write it or say it, it’s going to happen. It will weigh on me until it does.

Now I’m not saying that “if” isn’t applicable to certain circumstances. You would never want to say to a girl “When I take you out on a date tomorrow…” if you just approached her at the bar or you’re going to look arrogant. Similarly, you don’t want to say to your boss, “When you give me that promotion…” or you’re going to look too forceful and will very likely NEVER see that promotion. But more often than not, “when” is the word we should all chose to put power behind what we say. Whether you’re saying this to a friend, a client or only yourself, it provides confidence and motivation. And when couldn’t we all use a little bit more of that?


WHEN I visit Chicago again, I want to watch a game from the Wrigley Rooftops!

WHEN I visit Chicago again, I want to watch a game from the Wrigley Rooftops!


Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Wisdom


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Strive for Progress Not Perfection

Taking the time to hike along Fort Hunter this summer, that was a 'perfect' day.

Somewhere between the extended angle and twisted crescent pose, my yoga instructor said “Strive for progress not perfection.” And I immediately fell in love with the mantra. Before hearing this phrase on Tuesday, I would wake up with an arm’s length list of to-do’s that left me racing against the clock throughout the day and berating myself before bed if I didn’t get them all done. For far too long I defined a perfect day as getting everything done on this ever-growing list. But not anymore. Today I’m striving for progress not perfection. Even if I put only a few checks next to items on my to-do list I’ve had a productive day and should celebrate it. We shouldn’t let what didn’t do each day overshadow what we do accomplish.

This new outlook has also allowed me to be more flexible. Before, I would see everything I had to get done and refuse to budge my schedule. I would turn down meeting a friend for lunch or continue to work all evening, completely missing some great opportunities to be with those I love. I now realize that my goal for working toward that “perfect” day was to gain the free time that I would just continue to fill up with work anyways, I was missing these great moments as they flowed right by me because I was too busy to look up from my to-do list. If you spend your whole life working toward that perfect time to take a vacation or a perfect time to spend an evening with a friend, that time will never come. Instead, find a way to make progress each day and call it “perfect.”


Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Wisdom


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Universal Assumptions

Now more than ever, I believe that the universe gives us signs. So maybe I should preface this by saying I don’t claim to be a psychic and while I am intrigued by astrology I don’t base my travel plans and grocery shopping on it. I’m a mild skeptic to most everything else, but yes—I now believe in universal signs. What I have come to realize is that internal and external forces do exist to give us the jump start we need to get to the places we should be. There’s just no other explanation.

Since the beginning of 2011, my life has made some radical changes. I ended my time with the Pennsylvania Governor’s campaign, got a new job as a result, officially launched Bennis Inc—and what the hell, just for fun I took on a side job (Because who needs free time anyways?). While some of these changes were the natural next step, others were ones I sought out on my own because of a gut feeling that I can’t rationalize. With that said, I truly believe that if you listen quietly and closely, and are open to it, you will be drawn toward exactly what you need in life.

The side job I took was a server/cocktail waitress position at an Irish Pub in downtown Harrisburg. Of course some extra cash was the initial appeal, but there was something deeper that made me actually get up and do it. At first I would call it a gut feeling, but now several months in retrospect I realized this job filled a void that I didn’t consciously know I had. I expanded my world to a whole new group of friends and contacts that I would have otherwise never had access too. I also realized a few of my talents that I never had the reason to use in my other jobs. Most importantly, this waitressing job honed in on what I’m most passionate about in a career and in life: interacting with people. The next few changes I have planned in my life are a direct result of what this job opened my eyes to.

Another example is the new clients I take on. With each new job offer, I weigh my options between maintaining sanity or putting more on my plate (I think we know which option often prevails) and each time I choose the work, my world is changed.

By no means am I a yes-man. There have been many things and people I’ve said no to that I will never know how they could have affected my life, but sitting here today I have full faith that each yes and no I’ve made was for a reason. So, the next time I get a gut urge to do something (given it won’t potentially kill me or put me behind bars) I’m going to listen to the universe a little more closely and let it guide my path.

…Now who’s up for some Ouija Board!?

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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Life


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