So you think that you have what it takes to work for one of serial entrepreneur Richard Branson's 400 companies within his Virgin Empire?
You have personality and that is what he hires. Right?
Actually, he even wrote, in a LinkedIn column, that when hiring he looks at personality first and then at experience and expertise. Really? Really! He searches for a cultural fit: "fun and friendly, caring people that love to help." That's you, right? Yes. Cool.
You peruse his website and apply for one of Virgin's Job of the week.
You are ready for his invitation to mingle and make connections to show off your A-plus personality. Happy hour, off-site dinner, sporting event, "Bring it on Branson. I am your guy/gal."
Picture this. Feel it. Your phone beeps and flashes, with an email from the Virgin recruiter, inviting you out to mix a little business with a lot of pleasure. How do you feel? Whatttt? Or yay!
Are you a bit nervous about making a poised and polished entrance? What about the small talk -- smooth sailing for you? And, during that first meet and greet, when you need a little water to clear your throat before talking, do you know which goblet to drink from -- the one on the left or the one on the right?
What if his assistant calls and invites you to go to the game and tells you to dress business casual, is it OK to wear jeans?
When you finally leave that last interview, will you confidently put out your hand or will you wait for him to do so?
And what if you do get the job and he proposes a toast to you? Do you drink up or not?
Sticky situation: To drink or not to drink, when being toasted.
Solution: The person being toasted does not drink to oneself, just as one does not applaud oneself. The toastee simply makes eye contact with the host and guests, smiles, nods then says, "Thank you," without raising his glass. (P. 169 of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility.)
You see, I believe that gaining etiquette knowledge is the best return on investment that any modern day employee can make, no matter what their dream job is; head of Virgin Mobile or fill-in-your-dream-job.
When you don't know what to do, when and how, you freeze, you sweat, you flush and get flustered. You are not at your best and your personality does not shine.
Etiquette knowledge removes all of that. Etiquette takes you from uh oh to ahhh.
Whether you use the rules or not is irrelevant. Simply knowing the conventions of today's contemporary workplace, allows you to relax and focus on the moment and the company of others, instead of being inside of your head, wondering what to do, hesitant and nervous.
Etiquette knowledge has exponential powers. E=C2. Etiquette: confidence, plus credibility. Etiquette knowledge gives self-confidence. That self-confidence translates into client credibility. That's power.
Get the etiquette advantage and show off your personality to go from the cubicle to the corner office, from the campus to the corporation or during a meet and greet with Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson.
Have a sticky situation at work or home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Check out Facebook, Twitter or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Explaining why she carries a swimsuit, Whitman writes: "Since competing in high school, I’ve tried to make swimming a part of my regular routine. The physical exercise and time alone in a pool is a great outlet for focusing my thoughts and relieving stress. When I’m in town, I start my day at a local public pool where I’m enrolled in a Masters Swimming program. When traveling, I always carry a swimsuit and try to stay at a location near a pool so I can get in a morning swim regardless of time zone." As for the country music, Whitman writes: "As any member of my team who has spent time with me in a car will tell you, I’m a big fan of Country music. Some favorites include George Strait, Brooks & Dunn and Shania Twain. I keep my phone loaded with playlists that I use to tune out the noise and help me concentrate while traveling. Our CFO, Cathie Lesjak, shares a similar appreciation for Country music – sometimes when we’re working late you can hear Country playing from our cubicles." Read more at LinkedIn.
"Working with Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Rudy Tanzi, we have created a light and sound mind machine called the Dream Weaver which safely and automatically puts the user into a meditative, relaxed, dream, sleep, creative or altered state of consciousness. The device is controlled by digital programs I have designed and narrated with music. When the program ends you are back to 'normal' except with a smile, a sweet memory and you are more relaxed. Rudy, I and many of our friends (some daily meditators and others who never have meditated) now use the device regularly." Read more at LinkedIn. (Photo courtesy of Deepak Chopra for LinkedIn.)
"I couldn’t get through the workday without my assistant, Helen. While gadgets like smartphones and tablets certainly do have a huge positive impact upon my working life, it is the people around me who really make the difference. Helen is my memory. She travels the world with me, is delightful to have around, and is extremely adaptable and sociable wherever we find ourselves. With so much going on with my mind, having an extra memory is important. Before I ask her to do something, she can read my mind and know what it is I am thinking before I ask." Read more at LinkedIn. (Photo courtesy of Richard Branson for LinkedIn.)
Craig Newmark's nerd survival kit includes: - A Samsung Galaxy Note II - The Feedly App - A MacBook Air 11" - Martian Watches Passport Read more at LinkedIn. (Photo courtesy of Craig Newmark for LinkedIn)
"No, what you’re seeing isn’t my wannabe-SWAT uniform. It’s a weight vest and, yes, I know it’s “unconventional.” (More than one Reputation.com employee has told me so!). Like my standup desk, the weight vest is something I do to maintain fitness. It’s easy for busy professionals (including me) to say they can’t make enough time for exercise – but wearing the weight vest has been a simple way to passively incorporate some extra challenge in my day. And it does get heavy!" Read more at LinkedIn. (Photo courtesy of Michael Fertik for LinkedIn.)
"I love high heels but unfortunately my Jimmy Choo and Stuart Weitzman stilettos aren’t very comfortable. I’ve recently begun consciously trying to balance the amount of time I spend in heels versus flats. As Manhattan women have been doing for a long time, I now almost always have a pair of flats in my bag (usually my black Tory Burch ballet flats). In addition to the comfort aspect, my flats have also come in handy for getting to meetings on time as well as catching close-call flights. At the end of a long day, my feet and chiropractor thank me." Read more at LinkedIn.
"We can fondle our favorite tools and realize – if we are honest – that they are often just keepsakes or the adult equivalent of a child’s security blanket. Mine (pictured above) date from the time of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson: an ink-cartridge pen that’s 15 years old, a leather binder that’s 26 years old and a spectacle case that’s 47 years old. None of them are essential. Lasik surgery would put the spectacle case on the trash-heap and a tablet, Dropbox and Evernote would do the same for the leather binder and pen. It may be worth contemplating that a scent or an odor often conjures up a more evocative memory than even the best picture rendered by a camera. Raw instincts tell us whether we should trust someone or harbor suspicion. No particular gadget matches the province of a trained intelligence for quietly assessing and questioning reams of data. Our best tools lie between our ears in that wondrous cellular mélange of chemistry and biology." Read more at LinkedIn.
"Computers are great when information is highly structured, but for brainstorming and early designs, nothing beats writing on paper. And I say that as a hardcore technologist who tracks every tiny detail of my life electronically. Inspiration can strike at the most surprising moments, so I always keep paper close at hand. I can sketch a few quick drawings for what a new product feature might look like. Because it’s just an ugly drawing (I have pretty poor penmanship), I can focus on the ideas rather than getting bogged down in the pixel-level details." Read more at LinkedIn. (Photo courtesy of Justin Rosenstein for LinkedIn.)
"I know this sounds like an odd item to carry. In fact, I may need to describe what this item is: basically, a small sponge on the end of a lollipop stick. It’s used in hospitals to allow patients who can’t eat or drink to wet their mouths and take small amounts of liquid (at least, this is my non-medical description; any doctors or nurses are welcome to clarify in the comments). The exact purpose of the mouth swab is not as relevant as the reason I carry it: to keep everything in perspective. I acquired it when my husband was in the hospital this summer, very sick with an unidentifiable serious virus, and not allowed food or water for the first couple days. This health scare, and others like it (I’ve had one with each of my daughters as well), really put all of life clearly into perspective for me. They made me realize how lucky I am to have wonderful family and friends who care deeply about each other – and how all of that is so precious and can disappear at any moment. On days when work seems challenging, carrying this hospital swab makes me remember that work is just one part of the picture of who we are. And it reminds me to be grateful for all the wonderful people in my life." Read more at LinkedIn.
"It is tempting to write about the most obvious things that are glued to my side in all of my work and travel -- my kids refer to my iPhone and iPads as their "siblings." I am deeply embarrassed by this, but the fact is these devices are what they are -- and as important as they are -- and all of us know why. So I carry also with me something distinctly analog: A small photograph of Ellis Island around the turn of the century. It reminds not only of where I am from, but how sheer luck has played an enormous part of my life. And it is humbling." Read more at LinkedIn.
"When a technology transcends its features and functionality to form a relationship with its user, it has reached the Holy Grail to unlock the jackpot of product development and marketing. I admit it. I have become habituated, if not addicted to my “mobile” and all of its benefits. In fact, how many times have I left home and tapped my butt for my wallet and my chest pocket for my phone? I’ve never gone back for my wallet but I have for this “mobile” appendage. Again, it’s not the technological features of this device, but the benefits that render an emotional connection that makes it so compelling. I set it to wake me up in the morning – not to a buzz or vibration – but to music that I love that jumpstarts my day.Then running, I listen to music that I had downloaded or connect through Pandora for even more variety, but focused on supporting my exercise regimen. Over coffee, I quickly review my calendar, email my administrative assistant to change a few appointments, and then look at the emails and respond to those that came in overnight." Read more at LinkedIn.
"Every day that I’m away, my charming, witty, and quite beautiful wife hides a greeting card in my luggage somewhere. I mean it’s a different card for every single night I’m on the road. It still surprises me how many different ways there are to hide a greeting card in a simple set of carry-on luggage, and on more than one occasion I’ve concluded she forgot, but when I call home she can always tell me where to find my card or cards for that trip. The first thing I do when I check in to my hotel room is find the card for that night (she labels them all by date) and put it on my pillow. Her card is the last thing I read before going to sleep and the first thing I read again after waking up. Good morning, Beautiful!" Read more at LinkedIn.
"I always wear orange shoes, and I usually carry an orange backpack, wallet, phone cover, business cards, pen, and any other orange items I can get my hands on. Yes, it’s true: My name is Dave and I’m addicted to the color orange. It wasn’t always this way. I did grow up a huge New York Mets fan – so I was always partial to blue and orange. But it wasn’t until our first company, five years ago, that my love of orange took off – and even then, it was an accident. We were creating the logo for Likeable Media, and our designers had drafted a beautiful blue “thumbs up." My wife and business partner, Carrie, took a look at it with me – and we loved it – but we were afraid the logo looked a little too much like the thumb from a little social network you’ve probably heard of. A designer recommended the complementary color orange, the new logo stuck, and I was in love." Read more at LinkedIn.
Follow Julie Blais Comeau on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EtiquetteJulie