Butler Charles MacPherson and author Maura Sweeney at Book Expo America 2013 in NYC

At Book Expo with Charles MacPherson, author and international expert on butlering and etiquette

“What’s that?” I inquired of the woman who just plopped down to my left, her arms cradling a classically designed book.

“Over there,” she pointed. “The author’s giving signed copies away.”

I was seated at Book Expo America’s Main Stage, half-listening to The Joy Luck Club’s Amy Tan discuss her latest novel about courtesan life.

I dashed out of my seat to make a bee line for the hefty figure happily signing copies of The Butler Speaks – A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and the Art of Good Housekeeping.

Most women would prefer listening to Amy Tan discuss the quirky personalities from her colorful cast of characters. I found greater delight in the pages of a how-to book reviving the spirit and style of good service.  My mother was a stickler for manners and I grew up with etiquette books. For years, I looked in vain for a modern version to share with my daughter.

For those unfamiliar with the near passé term, etiquette comprises the conventional requirements of proper social behavior and conduct. It applies to codes in governmental and formal observances, but also encompasses manners of conduct between and among private individuals and groups.

Meeting author Charles MacPherson was a pleasantry. He wasn’t stiff or stuffy. To the contrary, this etiquette author was relaxed and full of humor. Founder of The North American School of Butlering, he’s a Canadian who enjoys people and converses like a familiar friend.

Of the many authors I’d meet attending BEA this year, only Charles MacPherson inspired me to conduct a video interview. This master butler embodies his trade: he’s found his love, niche and calling in life.

My mother told me to get a job that would give me a pension, but I fell in love with service,” he told me.

I understood. Whether it involved watching kids, walking dogs, helping someone develop their resume or assisting with whatever else my talent resources could provide, I’ve always enjoyed being of service to others.

Even during my corporate career, I considered myself a chief of service. As a corporate manager, I also appreciated the wise administrators who served me. Their skill, discretion and ability to anticipate my needs enabled me to perform my own job with greater ease and confidence.

A man after my own heart, author Charles MacPherson likes making others feel comfortable, too. Unlike some who only choose to be served, this expert butler realizes that service offers benefits for the individuals who do the serving.

“Delivering good service makes us grow in confidence, and we bring that confidence to others who need it.”

It’s true. Whether we realize it or not, serving others helps fortify our own grace and nobility while bringing a sense of it to others.

What about you? Do you see nobility in service? Do you enjoy making others feel comfortable, special and relaxed?

Chatting with the effusive and entertaining author of The Butler Speaks, the promoter in me suggested: “You’d make a great talking head for TV.”

“I already am,” he smiled. “I appear regularly on Canadian TV.”

Butlering may have morphed into obsolescence and  even near obscurity over the past few decades. But the man who loves to serve is bringing his own renaissance to the profession and becoming a modern day expert in his field.

Service is a noble profession. If you like serving others, pick up his book and get inspired.

Service and etiquette is not about being stiff, stuffy or pretentious. It’s about being a conduit to others’ comfort.

When you truly serve from the inside out, you bring a sense of grace and style to any environment – and that’s definitely something to be happy about!

Maura4u in NYC Subway

 Maura Sweeney is an Author, Public Speaker and Publisher

“Living Happily & Authentically – Inside Out”

Find her series of books, The Art of Happiness, on Amazon



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