I’m going to relate my most memorable business experiences:
Here’s the first, wherein I was working at a New York City literary agent’s office, a very small office who represented Leticia Baldridge of every guide to manners ever written and consult to White House First Wives. I referred to her as Leticia instead of Mrs. Baldridge when calling her by name via phone. My boss, the agent, reprimanded me, and told me to apologize, which I did. Mrs. Baldridge told me that people remember you not for the mistake but for your attempt to correct it.
I remember that to this day. I remember to ask how to pronounce a name, how to say a name, to ask how someone would like to be referred. Respect, like taste, cannot be bought, and lessons can only be learned by trying.
The other other piece of advice: “Don’t ever turn down help when it’s offered.”
That came from a staff member working at The Cousteau Society publication in Los Angeles where I interned my senior year of college at Loyola Marymount University. I was schlepping boxes of magazines from the entrance upstairs and I was offered help but turned it down.
Holding a big, heavy box, she (I’m embarrassed now that I don’t remember her name but this happened well before Mrs. Baldridge) looked at me squarely in the eyes and said, “Never turn down help when it’s offered.”
Some things you remember more than you practice in life. But maybe if you keep the memory, you’ll actually learn one day.