Starting a new job is never easy. You typically don’t know anyone and you’re worried about making a good impression. But for most of us, the first few days are spent on a mellow note, hiding at our desks, filling out papers for human resources, and maybe being asked by new co-workers or the boss to go out for lunch.

Imagine if your first day at worked involved having millions of people watching your every move and then having every media outlet in the nation critique your maiden voyage. “For the New Face of CBS News, a Subdued Beginning,” proclaims the headline about Katie in the New York Times today. And an AP story really turns up the pressure by pointing out that Katie made a slip by saying “soil” when she meant “sole.” But the reporter was kind enough to add that she “quickly” corrected herself. Man! Who could take that kind of scrutiny?

Well, whether the nation or just one guy in accounting is watching you on your first day, does it really matter how you perform? Should it be a day when you show everyone around you what you’re made of, or do you ease into greatness by letting just a bit of your panache come out one day at a time?

I think you have to try to put your best foot forward and show everybody what you’re about…without, however, being an pompous ass about it. You can’t let the pressure of a new job, or your predecessor’s greatness or not-so greatness impact how you come across, even on that first day. People are fickle. They are big on first impressions and may think they can tune you out, in Katie’s case literally, but figuratively for the rest of us. Co-workers, managers may set their opinions about you that first day. Don’t be a wimp!

Unfortunately, Katie wimped out. At the end of her broadcast she talked about how people kept asking her how she was going to sign off at the end of her show every evening. With great signoffs from Cronkite and Murrow, how could she measure up? Instead of showing what she was made of and taking a chance on her own style, she played clips of Cronkite, Murrow and even Ted Baxter to lighten up the mood, but that kind of passing the buck and not taking a stand does not bode well for her future. (You see, I’m big on first impressions.)

She actually ended the broadcast asking for people to send in their ideas for what her sign off should be. Can you believe that? In this age of audience participation, I think Katie thought she was in Simon Cowell’s chair instead of one held by the great newsmen of our time. Did Cronkite do an email poll when deciding on his closer? Of course not, that’s a rhetorical question!

I’m assuming he came up with “And that’s the way it is” on his own.

Why did she even mention she was worried about the signoff? Why not just do one, trust her gut, and see where the pieces fall?

Why? Because everyone is nervous when they start a new job, duh. But the risks of starting off on the wrong foot are great, and can ultimately adversely impact your job. So shake things up, a little bit at least. And show them you have your own signoff.

And that’s the way it was…in my head. Good night and good blogging.

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