Never overlook the importance of first impressions and employee recognition.
In my 10 year speaking career, I’ve had the privilege to visit hundreds of colleges.
It’s always exciting to walk onto a Campus and meet a new group of students. Last month, though, I had to make a trip to a university.. and I’d been dreading it for a long, long time.
Marcus Engel, Founder of the I’m Here Movement
See, I wasn’t going to a new campus to present a lecture. Instead, we were dropping off my stepson, Jordan, to start his freshman year at the University of Florida.
Granted, Jordan came as a package deal when I married his mom, but I never could have imagined how close he and I would become. He’s a brilliant guy with a lot of depth and insight. Plus, one minute we can be having an intense discussion on politics or philosophy, and the next we can be laughing like school girls while making fart noises with our armpits. Since Jordan is both my stepson and friend, this next step of his life would leave a gaping hole in mine.
So, when it came time to take him to college, I didn’t want him to leave – I just knew how much I was going to miss him. I can’t even imagine how tough this must be on parents who’ve raised a kid since birth.
So, one blistering August morning, we squeeze clothes, game systems, computers, books and everything else you can imagine into the car. Two hours later, we pull onto campus and try to get to his residence hall.
Fun Fact: University of Florida is one of the ten largest universities in the country. Approximately 50, 000 students are Gators.
Moving in day. With 50K students. In Florida. In August. And 5000 pounds of Jordan’s stuff to lug upstairs to his room. Parking spaces? Fat chance! Err, make that a bit more exact: super morbidly obese chance.
Through gridlocked traffic jams, we finally got to the entrance to a parking lot. The guard walked up to the passenger window, shaking his head and saying, “The lots are all full, y’all.” Then, he spots the handicapped hang tag. Right about this time, Carson pops up between my knees in the front seat. The lot guard does a double take.
“Is that a service dog?” We all nod (even Carson because he knows how hot parking lots can be on paws). The guard looks over his shoulder, back at us and smiles. “Let me see what I can do…”
A minute later he returns and directs us to an open spot; the only one, I swear, within a 100 mile radius (or so it felt).
When we piled out, I think all of us were ready to hug this guy. He had, single-handedly, saved the day. And why? Just because he wanted to help. I wonder if UF realizes what a great job this guy is doing? And how important! So often we forget how vital these “first impressions” can be.
Folks, I want to be like this parking lot guy. I want to smile, even when it’s hotter than Paris Hilton out. I want to be observant to the needs of others. I want to try to help however I can. And, above all, I want to help make people’s lives easier. This guy was a great reminder of how, with an attitude of assistance – you can really make things better for someone else.
Jordan is sure to get a great education at UF. And to think his first college experience wasn’t taught by a professor, but a sweaty guy in a parking lot!
About the Author
Marcus Engel is a best-selling author and speaker who inspires audiences and empowers audiences nationwide. His extraordinary story of recovery after being blinded and catastrophically injured by a drunk driver challenges individuals to achieve success by making intelligent choices. Marcus Engel’s unforgettable message of overcoming adversity will encourage you to view obstacles as opportunities, eliminate self-limiting behaviors and live life to the fullest.