Cedric L. Bess ’99 on the importance of listening

Cedric BessCedric L. Bess ’99

How did your interest in public relations develop?

Once I realized that becoming a professional baseball player was not in the cards for me, I had to figure out a Plan B. After taking an intro communications course as an elective, the proverbial light bulb clicked on for me. I love telling a good story; I enjoy public speaking; I enjoy helping and making a difference in the lives of others. What that course really taught me was I could do all of those things, and more, working in public relations.

Do you have a philosophy that guides your work today?

After being laid off from a corporate communications job during the economic downturn in 2008, I changed the status on my online profile to “Every day I’m hustling!” Nearly five years later, that status update hasn’t changed. As a professional, you must make every effort to work harder and smarter than everyone else in the game because if you don’t, there’s always someone looking to take your spot. If it means being the first to arrive and the last one to leave, or volunteering to take on new projects or leadership roles, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do to demonstrate my value to the client/organization.

As guest relations supervisor at Yankee Stadium, what’s your advice for working with the public?

The key thing is to always listen carefully and greet everyone with a smile. If you don’t listen carefully to the needs of your guests or colleagues, you run the risk of making the situation worse. Effective communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is the key to resolving almost every issue.

You are president of the FIU Alumni Association’s New York chapter. Why is that important to you?

When I moved to New York in 2002, I didn’t have a social network outside of the office. It would’ve made my transition so much smoother if I had had fellow FIU alumni to lean on. This is the mission of FIUNYC: to connect FIU alumni in the Greater New York area and provide unique opportunities for networking and professional development. It’s about recreating that FIU family atmosphere here in New York.

What do you do when you’re not working?

If I’m not working a baseball game, I’m either watching one or playing one. My goal is to visit all of the other 29 major league ballparks—only 17 to go! Or you might find me at a local hotspot brushing up on my salsa moves. I guess you can take the boy out of Miami, but you can’t take Miami out of the boy!   

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