The Perfect Timing

ch110422I’ve just finished reading the book I’d always intended to write. (Note: Make that the second book I always intended to write. I’ve already written one, thank you very much.

“Funny Business: Build your soft skills through comedy” by Bill Connolly (www.TheBillConnolly.com) is THE perfect book for anyone, and everyone, who’s stuck in a rut and wondering, ‘What if…’

While it focuses on the amazing properties of stand-up comedy to transform ANY business executive into a more self-assured presenter, networker and listener, the book is more about life itself (and, how many of us FAIL to live our lives to the fullest).

In the interests of full transparency, it also contains a chapter about Peppercomm, and features the likes of Nicole Hall, Jason Green and Clayton Fletcher (the business world’s only chief comedy officer).

In the early passages of his tome, Connolly cites a different book entitled, ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,’ by Bronnie Ware (uplifting title, no?).

According to Ware, the number one regret of the dying is both sad, and liberating. It’s: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” It’s sad for the obvious reasons. But, it can be liberating for each, and every, reader of this blog who’s been holding back on living la vida loca.

I must admit it took me 39 years to wake-up and live the life I wanted to lead.

At that point in time, I found myself at a crossroads after self-destructing at J. Walter Thompson. I could have latched on to yet another top gig at a global agency but, frankly, I hated the politics, bureaucracy and artificial trappings of that plastic world. So, knowing that I didn’t want to be lying on my death bed one day in the future, lamenting, “If I’d only started my own business,” I did. The rest, as they say, is history.

Peppercomm’s almost immediate success enabled me to try all the other things in life I’d put off because the timing hadn’t been perfect. I performed stand-up comedy. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I studied improvisation at Upright Citizens Brigade. I boxed. I became addicted to a cool sport called Kangoo (www.mariogodiva.com) and I embraced my politically incorrect self.

Connolly’s book is chock full of other successful people from all walks of life who also seized the brass ring, attempted stand-up comedy and have lived fuller, richer lives as a result. Some pursued full-time comedy or improv careers. Most, like me, stayed put doing exactly what they’d been doing, but saw themselves transformed as a direct result of comedy’s liberating effects.

I’m not suggesting any of you try comedy. But, I am telling you to stop waiting for the perfect timing to begin living your life’s dreams. As Connolly (and those profiled in his book will tell you) there is NO perfect timing. And, as the now-forgotten Washington Redskins Coach, George Allen, would tell you, “The future is now.”

So, whether it’s stand-up comedy, knitting, starting your own business or writing the great American novel, do it.

If you do, you’ll stand a very good chance of avoiding the number one regret of the dying. Of course, you might still qualify for the number two regret: ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’ C’est la vie.

Read Connolly’s book. It just might change your life.

3 thoughts on “The Perfect Timing

  1. Thanks for the comments, guys. The not-so-funny thing about the use of stand-up comedy to improve business skills (and culture) is our industry’s near-total disdain for it. I’ve even been told that competitors have said, “Steve really needs to stop with that comedy stuff. It’s embarrassing.” Our Crain’s recognition as best NYC workplace more than makes up for the potshots of competitors within PR. And, hey, comedy remains a key differentiator in a field of sameness.

  2. Great post, Steve. As someone who lived through two live comedy performances (and who legitimately had fun on stage each time), I can honestly say that it has only improved both my presentation and storytelling skills. Aside from that though, knowing that I was at least funny/sarcastic enough to make a mixed crowd of strangers, coworkers and friends laugh has boosted my overall confidence. Bill’s book is spot on about the benefits of comedy.

  3. I have to agree that the book and its teachings on infusing comedy into your life/workplace should be listened to. No one wants to work with or for a person or company that takes themselves seriously for the sake of being serious. At least I know that I don’t want to. Hopefully this book helps put an end to artificially grim corporate cultures. I would love to see the uptight work environment follow the same path as overly formal office wear: casual Fridays –> business casual summers –> hoodie wearing billionaires.