Mr Walter Sharp is a 100 year old paperboy. His motto is “if you keep walking, you’ll keep living”.
Totally inspirational, but I began to think of other reasons why he is a surprisingly alert centenarian and what this means to the newsagent and newspaper who employ him.
What compels us to want to make people laugh?
It’s one thing saying something funny in the moment, but to deliberately write, rehearse and deliver material with the sole intention of making everyone listening roll in the aisles laughing conjures up a sticky web of fear and insecurities. At best, failure means stony silence, at worst … no it doesn’t bear thinking about. So who are the most likely people to succeed at standup?
These are some of the questions I asked myself when I took a major leap of faith and volunteered to do a 5 minute stand up routine in front of an audience of professional speakers.
The comedic line up consists of 21 people, 15 men and 6 women. Now there’s a clue. Is it gender specific? We don’t have to think very hard to note that stand up comedy is male dominated. So why?
Communication Can Be Tough
Recently I sat in a meeting with 6 other people. We were all adults of slightly different ages, both genders were represented and English was our first language.
Everyone had their say whilst all others listened. Sometimes it got a little heated, but in a healthy, clear the air sort of way. The chair of the meeting summarised each point and clarified understanding. We all left the meeting with transparent objectives, a few relevant tasks to complete and a feeling of satisfaction that it went so well.
A week later the chair spoke to one of the attendees on the phone. The call was interspersed with “you said blah”, “no I didn’t I said blah blah”, “no way, we all sat there and heard you say it”. The conversation abruptly ended and more phone calls followed with the other members who all claimed to have heard something different again. Objectives and tasks were abandoned and everyone was left in limbo.
How could this happen?
If you let them!
Have you ever had a customer who clicked their fingers every time they wanted something and when you offered help, no matter how hard you tried they were never satisfied and even rude?
I remember a man just like this when I was in a customer-facing job working as part of a team. This guy was so unkind that one of our team members even broke down in tears. Our boss became more agitated and started to pick on each one of us out of frustration and temper.
What do you think happened next?
Or why humour can drive profits
So there I was checking the catering before the passengers came on board, when I heard shouting and a few choice words from the first class cabin.
I ran to the front to find the Captain covered in tea, looking ghostly white with just the noise of the empty cup rattling in the saucer. As I turned to look where his eyes were staring I could see our Purser curled up in the hat rack looking rather pleased with himself.
Redundancy and Perspective
Whilst running a seminar a few days ago a worried looking woman came up to me in the break and told me about her husband John.
John went into work a few weeks ago as usual. He sat at his desk and logged on to find an email from his boss who wanted to see him at 10.00 that morning. John grabbed a coffee at 09.50 and went into his boss’s office at 10.00. By 10.20 security escorted him back to his desk. He put his personal belongings in a box, handed over his office keys and ID to the security chap who was standing vigilant and found himself out on the pavement by 10.35.
Accountability at Work
The other day I was visiting a client’s office and sat in a waiting area near the kitchen. As I waited I could hear people talking and one conversation went something like this:
“I know, he had a go at me too. I didn’t know there was a problem with the client, it’s not my job to know everything.”
“Exactly, I’ve a good mind to speak to his boss, but he won’t do anything anyway.”
Both these people spent their break pointing the finger and blaming others. Do you hear this in your office?
Enter their world
Some years ago I was on an aeroplane heading for Australia. We were flying through the night, the cabin was dark and most people were asleep. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a tiny elderly lady go towards one of the rear doors and try to open it.
75yr old pledges to work for 15 years and she does!
Our oldest lollipop lady retires at 90 years of age. Beryl took the job on at the age of 75 and pledged to keep going for 15 years, which she did come rain or shine. When journalists asked her what she plans to do now, she said she wanted to concentrate on the Women’s Institute and work in the local charity shop.
Beryl is an incredible lady, but I think I may be the only person who witnessed something Beryl did that totally blew me away.
Could ‘Granny Leave’ Feed Discrimination?
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has recognised the plight of working women over the age of 50 years who are looking after elderly parents. This is admirable and not a moment too soon. The job of looking after children and elderly parents invariably falls on the shoulders of women, even in today’s enlightened society. This is a tough call and many women are at the end of their tether trying to juggle family responsibilities and work.
One proposal suggested is Granny Leave, whereby women in particular can take up to 6 months off work to look after an elderly parent and have the statutory right to return to work after that period.
Great idea, but can employers afford such a luxury? It is hard enough for them to finance maternity and in some cases paternity leave.
Could this not feed age and gender discrimination?