100 Ways to Succeed #73:

“Ms/Mr Ambassador”

While walking in Manchester Center (VT) I saw a couple of folks, middle aged, pulled over on the side of the road—looking at a map. Went up and asked if I could help. Turns out they were hunting for an old family homestead, built in the early 1800s, that they weren’t even sure was still around. I could have given them directions, as they roughly knew where it was, but I (running gear & sweat) told them that if they wanted to give me a short lift, we could see if a nearby pal of mine was in who is a local history buff (nut, actually). They were keen, and he was around. I went on my way, and last I saw of them he and they had headed for his prodigious in-home library.

I don’t recount this tale in pursuit of your brownie points. But I did get thinking, and without dislocating my shoulder patting myself on the back, I realized I had been one hell of an Ambassador for my more or less home town—and indeed Vermont.

Which in turn got me thinking about the word AMBASSADOR per se. Among other things, my Rodale’s Synonym Finder (Bonus tip: Rodale’s is by far the pick of the litter as a thesaurus—and William Safire agrees with me) gives us “herald” and “proclaimer” among the synonymous picks.

What if we used the word “Ambassador” in lieu of “receptionist,” “customer service rep,” or even “salesperson”? I was doing my all+ to represent Manchester-VT as a wonderful place with wonderful people. Moreover, I am very, very conscious of my “ambassadorial” role (didn’t use the word per se ’til day before yesterday) when I’m out of the U.S.A.—especially these days and especially when I’m in the likes of Botswana, Siberia, or Dubai or Oman. I am a full-scale representative of my country as much as if I had the Black Passport.

My point here, if we thought of ourselves as “ambassadors” when in contact with customers in particular, maybe it would make us think much harder about what we were doing and how we were doing it. While we’d still be in the “sales mode” (and I do understand that! I’m an “ideas-attitudes traveling salesman”!), we’d also be thinking more about our demeanor.

Just an idea.