One Chance to Make a 1st Impression

"Would you like to buy a puppy?"

“Would you like to buy a nice puppy?”

Recently, on holidays, the guy at a table beside me in a ‘posh’ restaurant lit up a cigar. We’ve become so used to the smoking ban in Ireland, that when someone starts smoking in a restaurant, it seems like an imposition. Now this was no cigarillo; it was massive. That cigar must have had a cabin all to itself on the boat trip from Cuba. It reminded me of a smoking story, a couple of years old now, which took place in Dublin.

The IDA: The IDA (Industrial Development Authority) was trying to convince a Japanese bank to locate in Dublin. They had moved past the preliminaries and were actually viewing potential office sites for a European HQ. One possibility was an office building in Hatch Street, Dublin 2. The building was shared with a pharmaceutical company where the Finance Director and her all female team, were also all smokers. During a break, the accountants were catching some sunlight and a nicotine hit in the car park, just as the Japanese delegation came through.

Later that afternoon, the IDA representative was pushing the bank executives for a decision. It has been a long, drawn-out process and he wanted to get the ball over the line. It came down to the fact that they really liked Ireland, the business environment, the taxation regime, the people and so on, but something was holding them back. When he eventually bottomed it out, they couldn’t contemplate moving into the offices in Hatch Street because of the ‘Prostitutes’ in the car park (there was great slagging in the pharmaceutical company when the story eventually broke).

Happy Ending: Now, that particular story had a happy ending and the bank did locate in Dublin. The initial negative perception created was understood, corrected and overturned. But, how often does that happen? Not too often; first impressions are often indelible. Like Ernesto Sabato (Argentinean journalist and novelist) comments on Switzerland: “The first time I passed through the country I had the impression that it was swept with a broom from one end to the other every morning by housewives who dumped all the dirt in Italy”.

If you Google the ‘first 100 days’ there are a range of books about how to manage your entry into a new organization. It’s definitely worth the effort if you are joining a new company. But, on an ongoing basis, we meet new people and create first impressions all the time. The trick for you is to ensure that the impression you leave is a positive one. Are you even conscious of how you do this?

Hey, that’s enough managerial philosophy for another week. Anyone for a quick smoke?


PS Lighter Moment: Funny quotes can liven up a conversation or a presentation. How about this one from Ed Furgol, USA Golf Professional. “My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery people would stop dying”.

PPS Lighter Moment: Good Excuses (actual sick notes, courtesy of John Mc Glynn)

  1. My son is under a doctors care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.
  2. Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.
  3. Dear school: Sorry for John being absent on Jan 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 
also 33.
  4. Please excuse Roland from PE for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his Hip.
  5. Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.
  6. Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his fathers’ fault.
  7. Jennifer missed school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.
  8. My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the marines.
  9. Maryann was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat, headache and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever and sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn’t the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around. Her father even got hot last night.

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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