Many of you know Kelly King as the president CEO of Truist and BB&T. His career served some 50 years, and he just recently retired. I had the opportunity of interviewing Kelly on three different occasions, and he always asked for the final two minutes of all of his speeches and Q&A presentations - every time, he would look at the audience and he would say:
“When you see somebody, please greet them. Say hello.”
I’ve called this the Kelly King challenge, and I've been doing this since January 1, 2023: My new year's challenge. It is not easy.
This is not a “Hey, good morning. How are you doing? Good to see you.” This is an all out, eye contact, smile, full engagement “Hello. Good morning. Happy New Year!” It is exhilarating, and it is exhausting.
Kelly believed that people just wanted to be acknowledged, and he believed this prevented suicide, as people who interviewed who were contemplating suicide just wanted to be acknowledged and greeted throughout the day. So Kelly King took this upon himself to do this to everybody he saw.
I thought I was pretty good at it. I really thought that every time I came into my office in the morning I would say hello to everybody - and I did - but it wasn't good enough. So I have been going all out: eye contact, smiling, waving to every single person I come across. I don't care if it's at the airport, if it's at Bob and Edith’s, if it's at the grocery store, or mostly on the walking trail at George Washington Parkway just outside of Washington and Alexandria, Virginia. 70% of the folks have airpods in, so they really don't look up. But I've gotten pretty good at it. I've started my wave from about ten yards out - my smile as well.
I do believe it has made a little bit of a difference to people. It has certainly made me feel better. So I hope in 2023, every single time you come across somebody, give them a “Happy New Year,” a “good morning,” a “good afternoon,” and just keep going. And if it doesn't make their day, well, maybe it'll make your day. Join me, take the Kelly King challenge!