4 Simple Principles

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about how so many simple principles of behavior can make a world of difference.

Here are FOUR powerful principles that I believe are far too neglected these days:

1. The Importance of a SMILE.

A great smile is very disarming. It can lighten a mood, charm an audience and speak volumes about you (plus shape perceptions of you). A wonderful smile, without a doubt, is one of the best first impressions one can ever give.

I’ve tried it in African villages, Iraqi tea houses, South American cafés and a zillion other places. I love it when people smile back.

For decades I didn’t smile nearly as often because I was too embarrassed (truth be told) by my teeth. Long story. A few years back I got all that fixed – bright & shiny.

Now I smile much more often…and laugh too. You should as well. Smile. (People will wonder what you’re up to.)

2. The Importance of THANK YOU.

I directed an infomercial a few years ago with two leading inspirational leaders who speak all over the world. They mentioned that wherever they go they try to say “Thank You” 20 times during their visit. To the receptionist. To the person picking them up at the airport. To the waitress serving them food. To just about everyone.

What a great idea. So I’ve tried to say “thanks” a lot more. Even telling a food server or flight attendent what a great job they’re doing that day…followed by “thank you.”

One  “thank you” can move mountains. It’s a phrase I ALWAYS learn in the local language.

3. The Importance of REMEMBERING A NAME.

A few years ago, Singapore Airlines conducted a study and found that when their passengers were called by their names, customer satisfaction jumped +60%. Makes sense. People like it when you call them by their name. It makes them feel important, like an individual – not part of the herd.

Years ago I interviewed Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight) for a video piece I was directing for a L.A. Kings charity event. I introduced myself. We did a great, quick interview on-camera about the importance of the event. Then I thanked her. She smoothly replied, “No, Thank YOU, Craig.”

18 years later, I still remember Mary Hart…and that she called me by my name. That Mary Hart, one smart cookie. Did I mention that she smiled too?

Remember to call people by their name whenever possible. It makes a HUGE impression.

4. The Importance of LISTENING.

Recently, I wrote my first book, Commando Tactics for Digital Filmmakers. An entire chapter is devoted to interviewing. What I came to realize as I was pulling quotes and writing out rough ideas is that LISTENING is one of the most important, fundamental aspects of both professional interviewing and personal conversation.

People L-O-V-E to talk about themselves. And appreciate when someone (you) listens to them. But they HATE to be interrupted. It’s discourteous. And leaves a very bad impression.

So, try to be quick to listen, and slow to speak. If you really dedicate yourself to listening patiently, people will tell you the most incredible things about themselves and their lives…good, bad & ugly.

Listening is one key principle I’ve really been working on lately. Which is why my fabulous wife asks me sometimes why I’m so quiet at a dinner table with other people.

Just listening, Rebecca. Thank You for asking! (Cue smile.)


4 thoughts on “4 Simple Principles

  1. Wow!! These are clear, simple, and above all, they work. I’ve been a freelancer for over 15 years, and in that time I’ve discovered how much these simple practices create such a powerful bond with clients, associates, and definitely, friends!! Like you, Criag, I travel the world, and I can’t tell you how much a smile can create a connection…even among people with whom you don’t even share a language!!!

    Kudos on this wonderful post. And thank you for sharing your insight!!

    Many blessings,


    “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

  2. Good words, Craig. Still remember a couple chilly nights in the professors apartment in Kyrgyzstan talking about life, travels, and the people we both knew. Looks as if God has blessed you with a wonderful companion to share the journey with. Much peace this Christmas Season, and throughout the coming year!

  3. Steven, great to hear from you. It’s been years…and YES I certainly remember the snowy, cold nights in Kyrgystan on that trip. Blessings to you! Thanks for leaving me Michael Crichton’s Timeline to read. It saved me from immense boredom.


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