John Cleese, the English actor of Monty Python fame, is known for his expertise in business communications. He said: "If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it, you acknowledge the truth."
I agree wholeheartedly. I strongly believe having a sense of humor is an important attribute for success and happiness. Since April is National Humor Month, I've packaged up some of my favorite stories that illustrate important business principles.
The loaded minivan pulled into the only remaining campsite. Four youngsters leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up a tent. Two kids then rushed off with their dad to gather firewood. Two others helped their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils. A nearby camper marveled to the father, "That is some impressive display of teamwork."
"Actually," the father replied, "I have a system. No one goes to the bathroom until camp is set up."
Without faith in yourself and others, success is impossible.
At the end of a particularly frustrating practice one day, a football coach dismissed his players, yelling, "Now, all you idiots, go take a shower!"
All but one player headed toward the locker room. The coach glared and asked why he was still there. "You told all the idiots to go, sir," the player replied, "and there sure seems to be a lot of them. But I am not an idiot."
Confident? You bet. And smart enough to coach that team someday.
Having spent my entire career in sales, I know how discouraging it is to hear "NO" over and over again. But a salesperson who thinks negatively couldn't sell life jackets on the Titanic.
It reminds me of the old grizzly veteran sales rep who runs into the new kid on the block.
"How are you getting along?" he asked the new sales rep.
"Not so good," came the disgusted reply. "I've been insulted in every place I made a call."
"That's funny," said the seasoned rep. "I've been on the road 40 years. I've had doors slammed in my face, my samples flung in the street, been tossed downstairs and manhandled by security. But insulted -- never!"
I received an interesting letter from one of my cronies that read: "I have to share with you my favorite story about my six-year-old grandson. He is in first grade, and we were discussing the reason he got in trouble at school.
"He said, 'I was disrespectful to my teacher.'
"I asked if it was wrong and he replied, 'Yes, I shouldn't have done it.'
"I said that we all make mistakes, and it's OK to make mistakes if we learn from them. People who learn from their mistakes are smart, and those who don't are stupid.
"Matthew thought for a while and then said, 'I've got to make a lot of mistakes, so I can get really smart.'"
Honesty is not only the best policy, it's the guiding principle that inspires trust.
A minister announced to the congregation that the topic for next week's sermon would be integrity. In preparation for the message, the congregation was asked to read the wisdom of Solomon, found in Proverbs 32.
The next Sunday the minister began by asking the congregation how many had read the assigned Scripture. Several hands went up.
"Just as I thought," said the minister. "There is no 32nd chapter in the book of Proverbs. Therefore, the need for this sermon on honesty."
Let me close with a whimsical story about Albert Einstein, who had a great sense of humor in addition to his superior intellect. His driver usually waited for his boss at the back of the lecture hall.
One day, the driver said to the famous scientist, "Boss, I've heard you give that speech so many times I could give it in my sleep."
At the next lecture stop, Einstein and the driver switched places, with Einstein sitting at the back, dressed in the driver's uniform. The driver delivered the lecture flawlessly. At the end of the lecture, a member of the audience asked a detailed scientific question about some of the subject matter. Without missing a beat, the "lecturer" replied, "Well, the answer to that question is so simple, I'm going to let my driver who is sitting in the back answer it."
Mackay's Moral: Humor isn't funny business -- it's fun business.