10 Things Dominant Players Always Do

My oldest daughter is the total package. And this isn’t just a mom’s bias. I present the facts for your consideration: She’s a software engineer (i.e. a smart cookie), gregarious and kind, and also happens to look like a supermodel. (I don’t say this because I have “mom vision”; she is constantly asked by people she runs into if she’s a model.) She’s in her mid-20s and single.

You’d think she must have guys falling over themselves to date her, right? That she has her pick of great options?

Yes and no. She’s not wanting for options, but few of them are what you’d call “great.”

Last week, for instance, she went on a date but came home early and called me.

“Mom,” she said, “I’m tired of all the Peter Pans. Most guys my age have little or no manners. They text you instead of actually calling you and treat you no different than the guy friends they hang out with while eating pizza and playing video games.”

With three dating-age daughters, I do have concerns about Millennial Men, but that’s a topic for another post. I marshaled some encouraging words for her: “There have to be some awesome men out there who are mature, were raised with manners, and don’t seem lost in a prolonged teenager state.”

At the end of the movie Failure to Launch, Matthew McConaughey does finally “launch” into real adulthood. Is this a Hollywood fantasy? For my daughter’s’ sake, I hope not.

It’s Time to Channel Some Hepburn and Grant

Channel Some Hepburn and Grant
So, what does all this have to do with becoming a Dominant Player? More than you might think.

We focus on a lot of big-picture things when it comes to growing our brands and our businesses, but sometimes the things that make the biggest impression on people are the things we all too often overlook.

Yes, Dominant Players embrace technology and the relevant tools and services that empower them and their companies. But they also don’t lose sight of time-tested, age-old manners and etiquette.

Manners matter. Class matters. In an age where basic courtesy seems to have gone out the window, don’t follow the crowd — be the exception. Model a level of class and decorum that’s (unfortunately) become largely a thing of the past, and you’ll stand out for doing so.


Start with these 10 simple — but surprisingly uncommon — practices.

The Dominant Players’ Guide to Living with Class, Grace and Style

  1. Pick up the phone (you know, that computer in your pocket that also makes calls?) or set a time to talk with the people who are important in your business and life. Texting is NOT the same.
  2. No late-night calls. This applies to personal and business calls. Unless it’s urgent, don’t ruin someone else’s evening because you planned poorly.
  3. Return calls. I’m not sure when it became out of vogue to return phone calls. When I worked on my TV project in Hollywood, even agents from the largest talent agencies in the world returned your call, even if simply to say, “Tag. You’re it.” Return people’s calls. It’s a basic sign of respect.
  4. Keep your phone off and in your pocket or purse at meetings. Nothing says “I could be getting a text or email from someone more important than you” more than constantly glancing at your phone.
  5. Dress the part. I don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg has made the hoodie the “new” workplace suit jacket or blazer. When you have a billion dollars, you can do that and people will still respect and admire you. Until then, show the same level of professionalism with your clothing as you do with everything else. (Also, flip flops are NOT shoes.)
  6. Send handwritten thank-you cards. An email isn’t sufficient for every occasion. This particular old-world communication tool seems to have been lost, but a handwritten note on a simple card means so much more than those same words hastily typed in an email. You can even use services like this if your handwriting isn’t fantastic or you know you’ll never go buy stamps from the post office.
  7. Know when to hold your tongue. That old-school adage our mothers and grandmothers instilled in us is every bit as true today as it was when were young: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Enough said.
  8. Person up. (Because “man up” is so last century.) Accept the blame when things fall apart. Apologize if your company or team makes a mistake. Then do whatever is in your power to make things right — quickly.
  9. Hold yourself as if you matter. Stand tall, shoulders back and head held high. Carry yourself with a casual grace. Walk with purpose. I’ve held my own in rooms and meetings with with Mike Milken, Ted Turner, titans of Wall Street and industry, a former President and others. How? I “knew” I belonged in those meetings and social settings. I believed I had something valuable to bring to the conversation, and I held myself in a way that conveyed that. When you can walk into a room and command the attention of anyone at any level, you are on your way.
  10. Show respect. This one is perhaps the most important. No matter your age, you will find yourself working with people older and wiser than you. They may not have the acumen of the digital world that you do, but their “old-school” knowledge should never be dismissed. Human nature doesn’t change. Find out what they know and learn from their experiences.