One of our sister companies here in Marietta is the Adelphia Music Hall, a grand old banquet hall that is a perfect music venue. A couple of weeks ago there was an Elvis impersonator named Dwight Icenhower in town, and I decided to check it out along with Meg, our designer. The experience was unexpectedly massively enjoyable, even more surprising is that I came away with a few lessons from this performer that could be applied to your professional life. Here they are.

1. Passion is contagious: I would not classify myself as a huge Elvis fan, but I think the show would be enjoyable to anybody who remotely likes Elvis-style rock ‘n roll because Dwight Icenhower is such a great performer. It is clear that he has not just studied how to impersonate Elvis, he has really tried to get into Elvis’s head. You can tell that he loves what he is doing, and his enjoyment naturally spreads to the crowd. The same can happen in your professional life. If you have a passion for your work and you really enjoy what you are doing, people will pick up that vibe. It’s enjoyable to work with someone who clearly really is happy to be there.

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously: Granted, it’s probably slightly easier to to take yourself less seriously when you are wearing a blue sequined jumpsuit, but putting that aside, Dwight Icenhower was able to jump from being very passionate about singing Elvis songs to jumping into the heads of the audience who were thinking, “Man, this guy is REALLY taking this seriously. That’s kind of weird.” Icenhower joked at one point, for example, that it seemed like every Elvis song begins with “Welllllll.” Then he noted, “But this song doesn’t even though I started it that way.” He joked about how hard some of the songs were to sing (he REALLY belted out a few of the tunes), and he even joked about how sweaty he was getting under the stage lights. None of this deterred from the experience, but it helped him connect in a more meaningful way with the audience.

In the business world we all tend to take ourselves seriously – it’s part of that professional demeanor we’re all supposed to have. Sometimes, however, it’s good to let loose a little. Let people see your personality shine through, and if you make a tiny flub, laugh at yourself. Don’t default to beating yourself up.

3. Don’t be scared to be a mentor: One of the things that really made the show unique is that Icenhower gave up some of his time to Hank Poole, a very young (about 8) Elvis impersonator. Icenhower not only gave the kid the stage and revved up support for him, but the two Elvises even did a duet together. Often it seems like generation gaps get in the way in the business world. Perhaps the older employees feel threatened by the younger voices. Maybe the younger generation feels cramped by older ways of doing things that don’t feel right. This kind of friction doesn’t help anybody. If you are more experienced, lend your hand to the new folks. Show them the ropes, answer their questions, and be confident enough in your own abilities that their success won’t threaten you. This makes for better business and a far happier work environment.

If you get a chance to catch Dwight Icenhower in your hometown – check him out!