• Tommy Cicero

Making a great impression

"People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude."

- John Maxwell


First impressions can sometimes be make or break situations, like a job interview or a first date. We make our best impression to earn a second interview or date. We pick out the clothes we feel best in. Ideally, we walk in there with the right attitude, balancing confidence with humility. We pull out all the stops to secure the ultimate prize, a great job or relationship. In our effort to make the best impression we are careful to say the right things and also not talk ourselves out of a great opportunity. While our words are important, how we present ourselves can make all the difference.


More than ten years of technical recruiting experience helped me understand how people present themselves, especially when it matters most. I found the best quality candidates may not have always been the best fit on paper, but they shined bright during the interview process. I would explain to engineering students I advised at the University of Illinois Chicago how hiring teams will prioritize soft skills like attitude and character over hard skills like programming languages. How a job candidate treats the receptionist is more important to me than if they check every box in the skills section. I love Elon Musk's 'No Assholes' Policy.



I'm not impressed by people with executive titles or multiple vacation homes. I'm impressed by how they treat their employees. One of my favorite CEO's is Dan Price of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company. In 2015 he chose to pay all 120 of his employees a minimum wage of $70,000. While this sounds implausible, Gravity Payments still has this policy, has grown in size and business is good! Price's act of good will toward his employees shows me he values happy employees over a big bank account. Happy employees usually translates to happy customers, so everybody wins. Consider me impressed.


The people who impress me the most treat everyone with kindness, but also do not allow themselves to be walked all over. Something I always say is, "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness." I find that balance between confidence and humility. When I am looking to make my best impression, I want everyone to walk away feeling good about our interaction. If someone wants to impress me, they will win me over with a great attitude. If someone wants to argue with me or disrespect me, it's up to me to ignore it, make it right or walk away. How I respond will be the impression I make. I do my best to make it a great one.



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