Ask Calorie Ken: He Takes the Stairs

Be nice to the receptionist and take the stairs

By , Columnist

Who's the most important person in a business? 

The CEO or owner? Probably not.  They are busy being Masters of the Universe or playing golf.

A particular decision maker for a specific need?  Possibly, but only for a moment. 

The receptionist?  Absolutely!  Receptionists hold the keys to the kingdom. Secretaries and admin assistants too.  They also play key roles in movies and TV Shows.  Remember Roxanne from LA Law? And, how about Nina from Office Space? 

Being kind to the receptionist is more important on a daily basis than sucking up to the CEO.  And, for those of us who work in a building with security, the other VIP is the building security guard. Be nice to these folks, and doors will open for you.

I was reminded recently of how much others see that we don't think about and how important it is to practice what you preach. I walked into our building and, from 30 feet away, said good morning to Gail, our security guard. From the front door, Gail's desk is to the right and the elevators are behind a wall to the left. Those walking in cannot see people getting on or off the elevators, but the security guard can see everyone. Gail will often ask people to hold the elevator for folks walking into the building, but that morning, when someone in the elevator said, "Hold the door," she turned to them and said, “Go on; he takes the stairs." 

Taking the stairs is no mean thing for me.  I work on the sixth floor of a six floor building - an old factory converted into cool office space by Fort Point Channel in downtown Boston. I take the stairs top to bottom and bottom to top at least twice a day. 92 steps. I also make multiple shorter trips because our company is spread out over four of the six floors.

It may not seem like much, but it was a sublime moment for me. Gail knows I pay attention to my health. We've had good conversations about nutrition and exercise, and she knows that I walk my talk.  For her to say those few simple words, "He takes the stairs" lets me know that I've had an influence on her and indirectly on others.  I like to think that one of those folks in the elevator that day may think twice next time, and I’ll see them in the stairwell.

So, be nice to the receptionist, the admin assistant, and the building security guard. And, take the stairs!


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For two years, Ken Brooks (Calorie Ken) was a volunteer in the Tufts University CALERIE Study. He is now a nutrition evangelist. Send your nutrition, weight management, general health and exercise questions to

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