This might be a little hard to hear but my 22 year old daughter’s first impression of Ted Lasso was that it “looked fake” and she didn’t want to watch a “soccer show.” I had to go full-on Mom-mode – first, I checked her for a fever and then I simply insisted. 

This might sound extreme (although if you are a fan, then you know I was justified in my actions). The reason I insisted was because I had just announced that Nick and I were going to write a leadership book based on Ted Lasso. She said that was a bad idea.

I said as your mother (who provides you food and shelter 😉 ), you need to watch the first three episodes and then we can talk.

I left and ran errands and when I walked into the house, I was greeted with her jumping around the living room shouting “Roy Kent, Roy Kent, he’s here, he’s there, he’s every f*ing where. Roy Kent!”

There you go Little Miss. Now we can talk. (Side note – she is a master marketer – so we really did want her professional opinion.)

So – her very first impression of Ted Lasso, the show, was not a good one. And if it wasn’t important enough for me to try to change her mind, she could have wandered the earth for years being wrong! That is the power of first impressions 🙂

A little dramatic? Maybe, but let’s hear what the research says:

  • Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, shares a study where students were given a 2 second black and white video of a new teacher with no audio. They were asked to rate the teacher. The study showed a high correlation between the students first impression and the teacher’s end of year evaluation
  • Positive initial impressions create a cognitive bias known as the halo effect, influencing subsequent judgments and perceptions. So if the first impression is a good one people will assume good things in the future. Conversely, if your first actions aren’t so good, then they will assume everything you do is not so good.

A Harvard study showed that once you have made a bad first impression it takes 8 positive interactions beyond that to overwrite that impression (or apparently only three episodes of Ted Lasso – an overachiever 😉 )

Not a good start, Ted.

In our first rewatch podcast episode on S1 Ep1 of Ted Lasso, we talked through first impressions in the show and in real life.

When first presented with the notion of first impressions, I immediately think of the first day of school. I was a teacher, and the first day of school comes with a lot of first impressions. Teachers make first impressions on their students. Students make first impressions on their teachers. And if you are the new kid, then you are making first impressions on everyone. As Ted Lasso says there’s no such thing as last day of school jitters, so the first day of school clearly has an impact.

Nick thinks about first impressions in the world of work – like interviewing for a job or your first day at a new job. As we dive into the stressfulness that these scenarios can cause, imagine if you gave a bad first impression.

Nick did. Here’s his story about an interview he had early on in his career. It was a phone interview and it didn’t go well.

What the interviewer didn’t know was Nick had construction going on outside his house. While he doesn’t want to use it as an excuse, it was a distraction and it threw him off his game. And he knew it. He felt that the interview went so badly that he knew he wouldn’t get a call back. He had to do something to change his first impression.

Spoiler alert: Nick ended up with the job.

So what did he do to recover from that bad first impression?

He certainly didn’t get the eight do-overs that Harvard would suggest he needed.

Here is what he did

  • He called the interviewer back and acknowledged that it hadn’t gone well
  • He apologized (you have no idea the power of an apology – there is psychology around this)
  • He asked for a second chance
  • And that was enough for them to continue the conversation where Nick was able to highlight what he would like to have done in the first interview

As we said, Nick got this job because he got a second chance. But that is not typical.

The history and science of first impressions comes from survival mode. Our brains needed to react quickly looking for potential threats. And why second chances are not always an option.

In an eat or be eaten hunting scenario, instincts and seconds matter. This is why non-verbal cues also play a large part in first impressions. The research shows – smiles go a long way.

But in today’s world of technology, non-verbal cues don’t just come in the form of facial expressions. Digital first impressions matter:

  • According to various studies, including research from Forrester, Gartner, and Harvard Business Review, it’s estimated that buyers now complete between 60% to 70% of their decision-making process before contacting a sales representative.
  • Research by CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. This indicates that an increasing number of hiring managers are turning to social media platforms to gather additional information about job candidates beyond their resumes and interviews.

This means that Google (or Facebook or TikTok…) is probably providing that first impression of you or your business.

The down-side: According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 57% of employers have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate. Common reasons for eliminating candidates based on their social media profiles include inappropriate or provocative content, evidence of drug or alcohol use, discriminatory remarks, and negative comments about previous employers or colleagues.

The up-side: Candidates can use their social media profiles to create a positive impression on hiring managers. Research by Jobvite found that 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social media profile, with positive attributes such as a professional image, evidence of relevant skills or accomplishments, and a strong professional network being influential factors.

Some folks – ahem, Higgins, nearly make themselves sick by not being authentic.

On our podcast, we talked a good bit about being consistent with your own personal core values and brand in creating a first impression. Let’s talk about how that plays out digitally.

Here’s a digital checklist so you can audit your digital first impression.

Digital First Impression Checklist:

  • Profile Picture
    •    Use a clear and professional profile picture.
    •    Ensure the photo is recent and reflects your current appearance.
    •    Choose an image that aligns with your personal or professional brand.
  • Username and Handle
    •    Select a username or handle that is easy to remember and professional.
    •    Avoid using overly complex or confusing combinations of characters.
  • Biography or About Section
    •    Craft a concise and engaging bio that highlights key aspects of your identity or expertise (not just a job title – you are not your job)
  • Content Quality:
    •    Regularly share high-quality content that aligns with your interests or professional focus.
    •    Like, comment and share content that positively supports your image
  • Privacy Settings:
    •    Review and adjust privacy settings to control who can view your content.

Be mindful of the visibility of personal information and adjust settings accordingly. (Assume if it is anywhere on the internet, it is everywhere)

If you aren’t sure if you are projecting the first impression you hope to, try this… Search for someone you admire or someone who has a job you would like. Now run through the digital checklist for them. Do you see places where you can improve? If so, do a little R&D (that is rip off and duplicate – NOT plagiarize – make it your own, just use theirs as inspiration).

If you want to learn more about first impressions and the psychology behind influence, here are some great reads:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Cialdini’s classic explores the psychology of influence, unraveling the intricacies of human behavior that contribute to effective communication. Learn how to make impactful first impressions by understanding the underlying principles of persuasion.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie Carnegie’s timeless guide provides practical advice on interpersonal skills and building meaningful connections. Discover the power of a genuine smile, active listening, and other techniques to create positive first impressions.

Do you have other great reads you would recommend? Drop us a note! And while you are there tell us what was your first impression of Ted Lasso?