I’ll never forget the first time I met Janice Cadmus, the longtime receptionist at CowanGates. I arrived a few minutes late for a meeting with the firm’s legendary founder Frank Cowan. Frank and I knew each other from sitting on the board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, but he had set up a meeting to talk about marketing. “Dave, we’re lawyers,” he began. “We’re very good at what we do, but I think we need some help figuring out this internet stuff and social media. Come on over and we’ll talk about it.”
It was August and it was hot. I was darting around town like a madman from meeting to meeting and I was wearing a wool suit. Meeting such a distinguished “legend of the law,” and being late (which I hate), made me nervous. The 95-degree day and 95% humidity certainly didn’t help either. I was drenched with sweat and probably a little “wild-eyed” when I walked in. Nevertheless, Janice greeted me warmly and told me she would find Frank. Then she walked me down through the corridors to the restroom so I could towel off. I came back out, took a seat, and she waited for a few minutes. Once she saw that I had started breathing normally and had stopped the waterworks, she walked back into the law office’s corridors. I could hear her down the hall.
“Frank, Frank. There you are,” she said. ‘I’ve been looking for you. Mr. Saunders is out front waiting for you.”
Janice made me feel comfortable. She covered for me. I may not have made the best first impression, but she did. In the decade since, I’ve seen Janice dozens of times and every single time was a pleasure. Her smile makes you smile and her graciousness is bestowed upon everyone – equally – from a client, to the UPS man, and even to the half-crazy marketing guy wearing a suit. Janice is retiring from CowanGates in July after an amazing 41 years of service. She will be missed.
I once heard Hugh Gouldthorpe, the longtime “Head Cheerleader” of Owens & Minor, refer to their receptionist as “The Director of First Impressions.” I never forgot that. The title was certainly befitting of Janice Cadmus. If you know someone who is looking for a great job with a great group of people, CowanGates is looking for a new Director of First Impressions. Caution: these will be big pumps to fill.