My Best Pro Tip!


By Phil Harwood

Everyone loves pro tips that are simple and effective, especially if they are tips for professionals, not just tips from professionals. This tip is for professionals, like you. It’s my best pro tip. I hope you find it simple and effective.  

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There is a famous video of Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, delivering a commencement speech, where he talks about the potentially huge impact of making small decisions. His admonishment to the graduates is to start each day with one small act that will set in motion a day filled with “doing the right things.” That one small act is making your bed. If you haven’t seen the video, you really should take 20 minutes to do so. It’s powerful. 

In the same vein as the Admiral’s admonishment to start each day by making your bed, I have a similar admonishment - answer your phone. Yes, that’s right, I said it. ANSWER YOUR PHONE. This is one of the most basic tasks ever expected of a professional.

Answering your phone, responding to a text message, and returning an email are all the same. We all make a choice when another person reaches out to us. We can welcome them, embrace them, and engage them. This simple act of engagement is life-giving. It’s what keeps us all connected. Your small act of answering your phone changes everything. 

The other option is to turn your back and walk away. You can ignore the other person, ghosting them entirely, or until you feel like responding… whenever that is. 

Now, there are times when it is not possible to answer your phone or to immediately respond to a text or email. There is a reasonableness factor that has to be applied to my admonition. My point is not that you’re a bad person if you don’t answer every incoming call or respond to a message within x minutes. My point is that we have choices to make. And one of those choices is about how we embrace people who are reaching out to us. 

Start the day by making your bed. Answer your phone. Be a professional.

If you would like to hear more thoughts about being a professional, I invite you to check out my online course, Professional Fundamentals, at 

Now go forth.  

Check out Phil's interview on the GrowTheBench weekly podcast for more thoughts on this topic:

Tags: Engagement , Impact , Professionals ,