Business Class: The importance of mastering 'class'

Columnist Randall Kenneth Jones

Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Columnist Randall Kenneth Jones

Mimi Chapin Gregory

Mimi Chapin Gregory

Mimi Chapin Gregory doesn't care much for fanfare.

However, after receiving the rank of Commander in France's National Order of Merit, Gregory joined an illustrious group that included famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and Queen Sonja of Norway.

Presented in 2011 by France's then-President Nicholas Sarkozy, the honor paid tribute in large part to her decades of exceptional service to the Federation of Alliance Franciase USA — a national organization dedicated to the enduring friendship between France and America.

This recognition prompted France's Ambassador to the U.S., Franois Delattre, to comment, "This distinction is a source of deep joy for those who admire (her) work. For them it will serve as an example and a symbol of commitment."

The irony: Gregory isn't French, she's simply très passionné.

Though the French may have inspired the idiom, "Je ne sais quoi," in person, Gregory quickly reveals exactly what she has: an unrelenting dedication to the people and issues close to her heart.

Gregory's interest in foreign affairs resulted from her Serbian ancestry, her pursuit of languages and Slavic studies in college, and opportunities to live abroad.

Although she was once a banking industry recruiter, her resume ultimately reads like that of the hero of an international political thriller. For example, as a longtime member of the World Affairs Council of America, she has participated in leadership missions to Lebanon, Kuwait, Israel, Egypt, Germany, Iraq and, most recently, Afghanistan.

Essentially, Gregory's tenure as a Student of Life has provided her a profoundly meaningful education on professional courtesy, philanthropy, service, and diplomacy. In her view, "What you contribute forms the basis of who you are as a person. The key is respect." Words of wisdom for all professional walks of life.

First, Gregory promotes the concept of common decency. Her viewpoint — one which some say is eroding in today's personal-communication-deprived business world: "Everyone deserves the courtesy of time."

For those waiting endlessly on mission-critical telephone and email responses, "time" is a most precious commodity.

Though our collective support of humanitarian causes is essential, motivations can sometimes appear questionable. To Gregory, philanthropy and volunteerism should be selfless acts — not based on press coverage or corporate tax deductions.

Gregory herself states it best, "Let the personal satisfaction be the engine, not the personal glory." In a broader sense, the receipt of a paycheck should never dictate one's commitment to the actual work.

Likewise, she applauds the courageous efforts of the diplomatic community, a thought-provoking perspective that also raises the question: Is diplomacy restricted to governments and/or international affairs?

Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as,"The art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way," diplomatic behavior should maintain a prominent position on every organization's list of core values. After all, Roget's Thesaurus has been telling us for years that "effective" is a synonym for "successful."

Yes, time spent with Mimi Gregory may well be the equivalent of a master vlass in professional decorum, but the unexpected lesson is an acute appreciation of the importance of mastering "class."

Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the President of MindZoo, a marketing communications agency headquartered in Naples, FL. He can be reached at Randy@mindzoo.com or 239-304-9611.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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