Wow 'em each and every time

by Mitch Oakley
Founder & Chairman of Charles Aris Inc.


Here at Charles Aris, where I’ve been recruiting senior leaders for Fortune 500 companies and other successful organizations for 45 years, we have a sign prominently displayed on a wall. Its scarlet letters read:


This particular sign is intended as a bit of extra motivation for a specific audience – our own highly driven staff of executive recruiters. But it’s a good reminder for anyone and everyone as we all go about our daily business.

In life, you rarely – if ever – are off stage. So act accordingly. Make the effort to “WOW” those you interact with at every turn.

Each and every exchange with another human being is an opportunity. So it’s entirely up to you: Will your portion of that exchange be good, bad or ugly?

How about none of the above? Choose “great” instead.

There is potential for exceptional career and organizational value, in both the short and long run, whenever you choose to be “on” in your communication and presentation to others … while taking an unexpected call … while taking the elevator at a conference … while listening to a pitch … while being interviewed … while conducting an interview. No matter your activity, make it a productive one by making an excellent impression.

The impression you leave on each person you spend your invaluable time with may or may not have an extraordinary impact on your career or the life of your organization. Why leave it to chance?

So much of life occurs when you’re not around … or simply not looking. Those people you met with just now? They may be talking about you this very second. When you left the meeting, wouldn’t it have been nice if they looked at each other and said, “WOW. That’s one solid person. That’s the type you want on your side.”

To make it happen, to achieve that WOW effect, you need to take each interaction with others seriously. You don’t necessarily need to be serious, of course, but to get the most out of your daily efforts, your demeanor and your actions cannot be half-hearted. Be “on” in order to optimize your time and outcomes – including those you cannot anticipate. When you do that, you’ll likely optimize others’ time and outcomes as well.

At Charles Aris Inc., we advise our formal candidates for senior-level roles to achieve that WOW effect when interviewing with corporate hiring authorities. If job candidates make an impression that leaves others impressed, they will typically have the option to join that organization – and that’s a phenomenal choice to have.

As executive search consultants, Charles Aris team members often share the following advice with A-level candidates:

“For whatever reason, you may choose not to join this particular Fortune 500 company. But we both know that it’s a small world. You may run into some of the people you interviewed with in the future – at a conference or the airport, at a restaurant in town – and when you do, we want them to look across the room at you, turn to their colleague and say, ‘WOW. You see that guy? That’s Charlie. He’s one talented guy. That’s the type of talent that builds successful companies.’ Those are the types of comments which help build careers. That’s why I’m sharing this insight with you.”

The same goes for hiring authorities on the other end of the phone or on the other side of the boardroom table during an interview. No matter how established or successful your organization is, take nothing for granted when discussing a golden opportunity with a formal candidate. Put your best foot forward. Good, bad or ugly – you never know what may come of it.

People talk … not only during interviews but before and afterward as well. Word of mouth is a tricky thing: It can make or break your company, working on your behalf or slowly undermining your efforts or credibility over time. As a hiring authority or C-Suite leader, surely you’d like every individual – whether she lands a job with you or not – to walk away from that interview thinking, “Now that’s an organization I’d be proud to join.

If that’s the case, make that preferred outcome a reality. Create a positive and productive experience in each of your daily interactions. Speak openly, honestly and candidly. And live in the moment, to be sure. But remember to think about this long-term influence factor when it comes to your career or the direction of the organization you help lead: It takes effort but is well worth your while to WOW ’em each and every time.