Q&A - December 23, 2016

Okmulgee is a town filled with beautiful people—genuinely friendly, caring, and outgoing residents who make a good impression on anyone who takes the time to get to know them. But the overall general appearance of our community may prevent some from noticing the inner beauty of Okmulgee. I know “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but first impressions really seem to be important. This week, I would like for us to consider the first impressions others have about our town.

Q:How can we better sell Okmulgee to others?

They say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So, it's important to know how to create a good impression the first time. It takes just a quick glance for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In an instant, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.

With every new encounter, another person forms their impression of you, and it turns out, these first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo. This means a first encounter is extremely important because it sets the tone for any relationship to follow.

So, how might this principle apply to an entire community? Every day, travelers drive through our town, many for the very first time—forming their first impressions of Okmulgee. If we really want to better sell Okmulgee, we need to take an honest look at the first impressions others get about Okmulgee. But when you live in a place very long, you tend to become blind to your surroundings. Over time, you can develop the ability to walk right by an eyesore without giving it a single thought, but newcomers to our town will probably not see it the same way.

Try, if you can, to look at Okmulgee with fresh eyes. Get in your car and pretend you are seeing our community for the first time. Drive out of town, then turn around and come back. Approach Okmulgee from several directions and really scrutinize the first impressions of our town. Pretend you are a tourist looking for somewhere interesting to pull off the road for a while, or someone on a job interview looking for a new place to call home, or maybe parents looking for a suitable place to send your college-aged son or daughter. What are your first impressions? Is Okmulgee inviting? Does it look safe? Is it clean, well-kept? Does it look like a place where people take pride or even care about first impressions?

If you find something doesn’t meet with your satisfaction, chances are, it will be off-putting to others also. It’s a shame if the first impressions of our community are preventing visitors from seeing the true beauty of our town and our people. So the question is simple, if we don’t think Okmulgee is making a good first impression, what are we going to do to make it better?

Please continue to communicate your thoughts and ideas for this column by writing to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu.