The Pursuit of Fabulous: Your Best Foot Forward

by Emily Jasper on August 2, 2011

A conversation with Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author, The Essentials of Fabulous/Because Whatever Doesn’t Work Here Anymore…

First impressions are everything. We make snap judgments of people within the first five seconds of meeting them which is why controlling your image is critically important. Did we say “Good morning” when we walked into the office? Or just grumble under our breath? Do we constantly talk about being hungover or having guy trouble? Would we be considered a step above or a step below our peers? Are we demonstrating that we cannot only excel at stretch responsibilities, but that we also conduct our current business with precision and excellence?

There are so many decisions that are made because of how we are perceived. I have shared with you before that the “how” of business is becoming increasingly important. Since those perceptions can become ever more permanent thanks to social media, we should consider how we can change our behavior early enough in our career to set us on the right path. I wanted to ask Ellen, “What is the best foot forward a fabulous young employee can take when on the job?”

“Fabulous people are competent. That includes the obvious (turn your work in on time, don’t wait for someone to give you work – initiate!) as well as the not so obvious including coming in early, staying late, starting each day with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm, look for opportunities to fill the gap. By that I mean, if you see someone needs help, offer to give it to them. Champion teams work together – maybe that’s why the Miami Heat couldn’t win. Too many stars and not enough players.

“Very important: Attitude trumps aptitude. A boss will give an employee slack if the employee is an absolute blast to work with and is willing to learn and observe.”

On going full-throttle:
“A fabulous young employee is full-throttle from the moment he/she enters the office. And that means coming in earlier rather than later, keeping your desk neat, not putting pictures on your cubicle that suggest your mind is elsewhere, smiling as though you’ve won the lottery. You should also look like you belong in the company’s culture. If the top brass eschews ties, don’t wear a tie. But keep your grooming impeccable, your personal style memorable and your attitude unbeatable. Remember: out-behave your competition. If everyone is coming in looking disheveled, go the opposite route and look sublime. Trust me, the boss is watching.”

Want to demonstrate competence? Here are some things Ellen loves to see from others. “I love…
“…people that show up on time for an appointment. To me, that communicates respect for my time as well as their own.
“…people who try to figure things out on for themselves before asking for help. Between Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia, we should all think before we question.
“…people with the confidence and the competence to have a meeting or a conversation without being interrupted by incessantly trilling cell phones or BlackBerries.”

Inside the fabulous mind:
“Fabulous people have a loop inside their head praising and motivating them.

“Another essential quality for any young executive is to always lead with their strengths. You must make your strength your brand. For example, a client who was a superstar at work had a time-management issue. He never could stop a meeting on time so he was always backed up, running late and turning a well-run office into organized chaos. We considered all the options and decided he needed to put a small, discreet clock on his desk. After 30 minutes, he had to wrap up the meeting. By focusing on his interpersonal skills, ability to connect and lead, he was able to make that his hallmark rather than his hesitancy to conclude a conversation.”

Stop second-guessing yourself:
“Maximize your enjoyment of life by jettisoning the caustic and nonsensical thoughts that float through your mind and end up undermining your power and optimistic attitude. Upload that personal sound loop and listen to it gleefully, joyfully, and believe in it. Go out thinking you are the most dazzling creature on the planet. Trust me: A steady stream of self-directed compliments is marvelous to listen to and will put you in the proper mindset to meet interesting and compelling new people.”

Ellen’s book, The Essentials of Fabulous/Because Whatever Doesn’t Work Here Anymore, is available at and you can read more from Ellen at her blog. A huge thank you to Ellen for sharing her fascinating perspective on how we can all get on the road to being fabulous!