Adding Value

VALUEYou go to a comedy club to see some comedians you’ve never heard of and who ends up doing a set but Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld benefits only little from the set – maybe he’s not getting paid and the short time he spends onstage helps only little to hone his set – but the value he ads to the show and your experience is incalculable.

In the same way, things have tremendous to your clients and others that cost you virtually nothing. A $5 bill left on the nightstand has a lot more value to the woman who cleans your hotel room than what it costs you.

How many ways can you add similar value to your product or service on behalf of your clients?

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me tell jokes about my wife.

In Praise Of Checklists

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Work out your principles during moments of calm so you can refer to them quickly during times of panic. .

I keep a checklist for everything I require for a full show, which covers everything from plastic grocery bags to a marshmallow. Because I know my checklist is comprehensive – created as it was during a period of reflection – it frees my mind to focus on more important things before the show like the specific needs of my client.

Consider the amateur actor who invests so much time “identifying with the character” and “investing emotionally” in the script only to walk onstage only to realize that he hasn’t memorized his lines.

Recently I got to thinking about Gene Krantz, the legendary vest-clad flight director of NASA’s Apollo space program. What a high-pressure job I thought. Imagine being the sole person responsible for green lighting a launch of human beings into space.

But then I got to thinking: Wait a minute: this guy has numerous others in charge of every conceivable aspect of the mission. Responsibility is broken down into incredible detail. Krantz’ job was basically ensuring that the vote is unanimous. He’s just a straw counter!

There’s the guy in charge of the rocket’s hydraulics. The mainframe computer. Even the lowly flight surgeon is on hand to monitor the astronauts’ heart rate. What does that leave for Krantz? Nothing other than the awesome responsibility of saying “You’re go for launch, Apollo”. Put me in a vest and I could do that job.

“Ah!” I hear you say. “But what about when something goes wrong like on Apollo 13?” Are you kidding me? That’s the easiest press conference in the world: you simply gesture to the guy in charge of that aspect of the mission that went to pot and say “Look – he said we were good to go. Now you’ll excuse me – I’m going to get quietly hammered.”

Return to daviddeeble.com or learn about my laugh-out-loud corporate presentation Winning With A Bad Hand.

The Folly Of The Prenuptial Approach

There’s a third way.

Benjamin Franklin famously said that “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail”. It’s worth considering, though, the extent to which people don’t succeed not because they fail to prepare but because they prepare to fail.

Among the unpleasantries of being very wealthy, for example, is the perceived necessity of preparing for marriage and divorce at the same time. It’s difficult to imagine focusing on two different things at once, let alone two diametrically-opposed objectives. I’m no financial advisor so I won’t dispute that a prenup may be a fantastic idea for protecting one’s wealth. It’s hard to argue, though, that it’s similarly effective for a fantastic marriage.

Too often we apply this prenuptial approach to achieving our objectives. Simply stated, much of success depends on where your focus is. A pilot tasked with making an emergency landing focuses not on avoiding bodies of water, power lines and other planes but on just one thing: where they aim to land.

Your hands tend to go where your eyes go and your eyes tend to go where your focus is. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself starring at men and women working along the shoulder of the highway as you drive past.

Did you know that one of the easiest tricks to perform with a shotgun is to shoot out a candle under the darkness of night? The reason is simple: there’s nothing else to see. (This, incidentally, is why it’s so much harder to stay in your lane when driving past highway workers at night: the klieg lights they work under make it very difficult to keep your focus where it should be: on your lane).

The focus necessary to accomplish difficult things is fostered when the stakes are high: when catching a falling baby one generally doesn’t worry about “style points”. Instead, every physiological fiber in your body blocks out that which does not further the task of catching that damn kid. (Keep this in mind when telling a joke).

Basketball (and sport generally) provides numerous examples of how excellence is fostered when your back is to the wall. How many times have you seen someone get off a quick, game-winning 3-pointer while double-teamed? Conversely, it’s the wide-open player who has “time to think about it” who tends to throw up the cover-your-eyes-awful shot that clangs off the side of the backboard.

It’s difficult to imagine applying such a laser-like focus even on something as important as one’s career, and for that we should be grateful: such people are called workaholics. But from time to time it’s worthwhile to consider the extent to which one is assuming a defensive posture, such as taking on a mountain of debt in acquiring an expensive “back-up plan” in the form of a college degree.

When Frank Costanza’s blood pressure was in danger of going up he’d shout “Serenity now!”. When you possess the self-awareness to realize that you’re focused on avoiding failure rather than achieving your objective, step back and consider creating your own mantra to bring back your focus. Mine is “Eyes on the prize”.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury which cost me the coordination in my right arm instigated my journey from conventional- to comedy juggler.

The Price Of Therapeutic Culture

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The only people who don’t experience a degree of stress on a more-or-less constant basis are babies: no meals to prepare, no bills to pay and they nap whenever they like. They don’t even have to read or wipe their butts: it’s all done for them. Babies are basically VIPs  on a junket in the Caribbean.

So it makes sense that we never tell them “You’ve been under a lot of stress,” or YBUALOS. But why do we feel compelled to tell our fellow adults that they’ve been under a lot of stress? Adults have deadlines to meet, cranky spouses to finesse, demanding bosses and crying babies to deal with. Of course they’ve been under a lot of stress lately. You might as well tell them they’ve been living on dry land a lot lately.

When someone tells you you’ve been under a lot of stress lately you can be sure of one thing: you’ve come up short either professionally or personally. YBUALOS is the English language’s go-to palliative, not meant to point out a redundant fact so much as to soothe a bruised ego or a guilty conscience.

You’ve been under a lot of stress lately is a product of soft America’s therapeutic culture. Imagine the embodiment of results-oriented hard America – a soldier – disobeying an order and then being informed by the officer who issued it “You’ve been under a lot of stress lately”.

Don’t get me wrong: when you fall short in life – as we all do from time to time –  I don’t advocate you don a hair shirt and crawl into a hole. But recognize YBUALOS for what it is: an attempt to rationalize failure rather than to recognize it.

Recognizing that you’ve failed is an essential step to achieving success. Absent that, you’ll have to wait until you’re stress-free to try again.

When might that be?

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury that cost me the coordination in my arm turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me professionally.