Jon Johnston

Make A Good First Impression? No. Make a Memorable Impression Instead

Win From Vending Machine

“Always make a good first impression.”

No doubt you’ve heard this cliche’. We’re told it’s required if you want to be a success. It’s spouted by successful people who are always happy to tell you how successful they are while looking like a used-car salesman.

The cliche’ includes such advice as:

  • Smile
  • Make Eye Contact
  • Have a firm handshake (we’ll see if the Covid-19 pandemic changes this – I hope so, I hate shaking hands)
  • Speak Clearly
  • Be Yourself
  • Be Positive (or enthusiastic – maybe both, but not too much or you’ll seem like a cocaine addict)
  • Speak With Authority

We’re told people judge us immediately upon meeting us. If we do a good job, they’ll like us more, find us trustworthy, then shower us with money and affection.

Do it wrong and… you are regulated to averageville. You’ll never get promoted, drive a nice car, or have a yacht. Your life will never reach its full potential. You will remain a loser.

So much pressure.

It’s no wonder a significant number of humans suffer from SAD – Social Anxiety Disorder. The world is full of people trying to make good impressions, and you’re out there constantly blowing it. It’s okay. There are many, many life coaches available who will steer you in the right direction. Or for only a few American dollars, you can buy a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to win friends and influence people”. If that doesn’t work, there is Nicholas Boothman’s “How to make people like you in 90 seconds or less”. Both books can provide you with quotes to live by. Perhaps you can say them when you meet people, turning your average life around in no time!

Sometimes I meet people and think, “Is this the best I’m going to get from this person?” They have obviously read the same advice about making a good first impression, yet they did not smile brightly, make eye contact, and their handshake is like a limp noodle. Clearly they are losers in life. Then I realize I do the same thing. I weep silently inside, wondering if somewhere there’s a place I’m never invited that’s full of bright, positive people with great smiles enjoying their success in life while I’m forced to go home to my beautiful wife, decent home, while driving my only average car. I’ll never be president.

Or you could say to hell with it altogether and take a different approach.

I have decided it’s better to make a memorable first impression.

I have several techniques, one of which I’m going to share with you for free because that’s the kind of benevolent human being I am.

I have had many opportunities as a credentialed sports photographer to introduce myself to other photographers. On those occasions, I have introduced myself as “Jon The Bastard”.

People normally respond by giving me an odd look. They pause, probably contemplating whether to converse with me further or run away. I use this moment to explain myself further. The explanation goes something like this:

“I am known as Jon The Bastard because when I was younger, I was emperor, and conquered the known world by the age of 21. Then I gave it all up to raise a family. Gave up my empire, my conquering ways. Constant plundering and looting. It was fun for a while, but it gets boring after a while. I was responsible for the slaughter of millions. It’s required if you want people to fear you because of your name. But what I really wanted was to be loved, so I quit, got married and now have a gorgeous wife and three beautiful kids.”

If they didn’t run away by then end of that bit, I’d use a follow up question to make sure they are still paying attention.

“Don’t you remember me?”


“I didn’t slaughter enough people. I should have slaughtered more. Millions more.”

This may only work if you’re as suave and debonair as I. It’s a fine line between impressing people with your memorable first impression and having people call the police. It takes some work. You should test it on people you don’t care about impressing first. You could use it when checking your groceries out at Super Target. If you can impress a minimum-wage retail worker, you can impress anyone.

You’re probably wondering, “Does that technique really work?”

Of course it does. There are many times I run into a photographer I know at an event who greets me with, “How you doing, ya bastard?”

Other times people move quickly in the other direction, no doubt out from fear because my prowess as a conquering, slaughtering, plundering emperor. Either way, they remember who I am.

Mission accomplished.

What technique would you use to make a memorable first impression?