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Graduation speakers are hit and miss. Today’s was a hit. During my son-in-law’s ceremony today in Raleigh, NC, Walter Bond kept 6,000 people entertained and intrigued. A former NBA player turned motivational speaker, Bond told his personal story of perseverance and gaining perspective. He talked about the difference between arrogance and confidence. Confidence people like. Arrogance, not so much.

And likability, he emphasized, is key. People hire, and fire, based on whether they like someone. Proof in point, Bond surveyed past clients and found out that 20% of the time, he is hired because someone likes his smile. I might be disappointed that my talent was being overlooked. Not Bond. He said he just made a mental note and now he smiles everywhere he goes. He made the audience laugh when he said that some people brighten a room when they enter. And some…when they leave.

Being prepared is important. Working hard to improve–clearly critical to success. But being kind, fun, humble, confident, likable….smiling easily?

These are characteristics that can make all the difference. In business.

And in life.