Skip to main content

Edition 376 – The Look

I’m working with a great family business at the moment and the project is exciting as a major transformation is underway. We’re meeting weekly as we make gradual steps towards the evolution of a new role for a key individual of a well respected, long standing business.

The appointment is five minutes from home, so I venture down, park the car and wander into the local coffee spot around half an hour beforehand. It’s nice to clear the head, imbibe the elixir of some Colombian beans and catch up on a bit of reading prior to jumping all in, for the next couple of hours.
Recently, as I’m sitting there, sipping on my Skim Latte, whilst working my way through my latest book, an attractive, mid-50’s lady zips past, does a double take, walks back to my table and remarks, “I love your look”. As I glance up, giggle and thank her, she repeats the comment, all before resuming her journey. The interaction is over and done with in 10 seconds.
I didn’t realise I had “a look”, but as I sat there and reflected, I realised the Black Fedora hat, the Dark Navy long winter woollen jacket and the hand knitted (by my wife) Royal Blue scarf all, clearly, constituted “a look”. For me, the days have turned cold and “the look” is more about keeping warm, or at least, I thought it was.
Thinking it over, each of those acquisitions were deliberate. The Black Fedora Hat was about keeping warm but also wanting to be able to partner headwear that looked good with a suit. The Dark Navy long winter woollen jacket was, again, about not being caught out on my way to early morning appointments in the colder months, and having something that looked stylish and functional to wear. The scarf, well, that’s just made with love and the colour and choice of knit were all Trish’s idea.
When I walk into a family business, they each have a look. It’s just that most businesses don’t realise they have a look and they fail to acknowledge the impact the initial interaction has on your perception of a business.
Like the first time I ventured into the office of a, now, long standing family business client. As I walked up the stairs of their former office as a young graduate accountant carrying the bags of my then boss and mentor, Alan Redman, the door was opened into the most pristine office I’d ventured into for a long time. There was order, everywhere. The folders behind the owner’s desk were all colour coded. There was minimal paperwork on the desk. If I was to tell you they’re German, you’d immediately think “efficiency” and that’s exactly the look they conveyed.
Alternately, another business I ventured into was simply clutter personified. The offices had paperwork stacked a mile high. The factory had stuff shoved into every corner. There was no flow to the production facility as a hotch-potch of product lay around in various stages of completeness. When they took me upstairs to view their stock on the shelves, I couldn’t help but ask them why there was so much on the floor and so little on the shelves. Funnily enough, this was a business that was struggling financially and was in dire need of help, but chose not to engage me. They looked a mess and, clearly, were in one too.
What do others see in us, or in our business, merely from “the look” we display?
What does that perception mean to them and their initial thoughts about who we are, what we stand for and what our level of expertise, competence, or both, is?
What does that mean to us? If we want to look professional, organised and successful, how are we presenting that in the way we present ourselves, our business location and our staff on site? Are we conveying to the world how we want to be known and seen as?

This Week’s Tip

Ask someone that you see only occasionally to pass comment on your look – you might be surprised at the response.