As I wrap up a short trip to Kansas City and sit at their small airport, I’m reminded of how each of us in business represent so much more than our own job or company.

The trip has been just short of two days of exploring the area with Erin, my friend and one of our designers, and helping her look for houses as her family prepares to move from the Minneapolis area. We met so many people across the KC area and each one has been incredibly warm, inviting, and friendly. The most surprising was the young girl working the McDonald’s drive-thru. Despite my unusual order (food allergies often demand that) and the fact that their computer system in the kitchen had just crashed causing near chaos, she had a radiant smile and provided welcoming customer service. I commented on what a shock this was and Erin just said, “That’s Kansas City for you”.

Similar scenarios played out each time we visited a school, store, restaurant, or viewed a home for sale. What a friendly, inviting place! Except for the airport. Perhaps it’s just what they’ve been ordered, but the security personnel will barely crack a smile, much less talk with you. This is not the case in most airports I’ve been through lately. I tried several times to have light conversations or at least to wish each one a lovely day and cheerfully thank them for doing a good job. NONE would do more than grunt. Wow.

For many, the airport is their first encounter with a wonderful city. Every person working here needs to be aware that they are part of a greater environment and can influence each visitor’s perception of the place they live and work. Not only that, but they represent the greater community of airport security and we all know that industry could use some good PR.

As authors and service providers in the publishing industry, we should each take on the responsibility of representing ourselves, our companies, and small/independent publishing in general. Each time we interact with others—whether outside of publishing or within—we have the opportunity to influence their perception of us, both individually and as a whole. I not only represent myself, but my company (TLC Graphics) my service industry (book design and publishing development) and publishing in general. On another level, I am also a representative for my family, the Christian community, Austin, Texas, and the United States.

Let’s do our best, each and every encounter, to be welcoming and genuinely proud to be right where we are — in an incredible industry teeming with vibrant, encouraging people ready to share ideas and experiences with each and every person who may be interested. Thank you!

Tami Dever