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A newsletter header image with an image of Dan Bollman behind the title 'The Details with Dan Bollman'

Make the most of first impressions

August 28, 2015

Most people think of spring as the time of awakening—new plants and flowers, baby animals—it just screams “Wake up!” right? To me, fall is the time of awakening. Those of us lucky enough to work on MSU’s campus see the campus slow down when summer starts, when most students and some faculty and staff are gone for three months. When they all start coming back, that’s when things “wake up” around here. That’s when it gets exciting!

I sometimes hear comments that suggest not every staff member who works on campus over the summer is happy to see the “hoards” coming back. Traffic increases. Parking is harder to find. All of these confused young people are running around campus with maps and panicked looks on their faces!

And that’s our chance. It’s our chance to help someone form an opinion about us. Did they make a smart choice to come to MSU or not? Does MSU live up to its reputation for being friendly or not? Are MSU IPF staffers kind, observant and helpful—or not?

Yes, I want all of us to use our time efficiently, but it’s OK to get off your lawn mower (or away from your desk) from time to time and help someone find their way. Contact with actual human beings keeps us grounded and reminds us of why we care for this beautiful campus in the first place! Everyone who works for MSU is an ambassador for the university. We all carry the MSU brand with us. What that brand is depends on how someone feels after interacting with you.

Oh wait! You weren’t still thinking that the MSU brand is its logo, right? A brand is all about feelings. For IPF, we have multiple levels of branding to consider. There’s the MSU brand—advancing the common good, research-oriented, diverse, humble, hard-working—and then there’s the IPF brand—high performing, innovative, quality, customer-service oriented—that’s what we want it to be. Do you think that’s what people at MSU say about IPF? If you have your doubts, what can you do today to live the brand we want? It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be genuine.

We’ve got these new leadership teams (strategy, advisory, business leaders) that are trying to figure out so many big issues right now. If you’re not on one of those teams or their subcommittees, you might think you don’t have much influence or have many chances to make an impact, but you’re wrong. Every time you talk to someone on campus, you have an impact. Every time you help bring a project in on time and under budget, you have an impact. Every time you speak to someone on the phone or get off your lawn mower to give someone directions, you have an impact. Make the most of it.

Until next time,


P.S. Have something you want to share, suggest or complain about? Send it to