May 20

Comedy as a competitive advantage

I once worked for a guy who liked to say, 'Business is just like war and every day is a new battle.' A little depressing to say the least, but not altogether untrue.

May 20 - jerry I often think of his quote as we, like every other business entity, struggle to figure out new and strategic revenue streams. Happily, and I do mean happily, we've stumbled across a real beaut of a new service offering.

We've added stand-up comedy training workshops to our existing Peppercom State management development offerings (and are about to offer a packaged version for clients and prospects). We work with Clayton Fletcher, my personal comedy coach, and typically hold 90 minute to three hour sessions. We've done them for every level of the organization. And, each session has been better than its predecessor.

We talk about the four different types of comedy, the importance of laughter to business and explain how comedy can be leveraged as a distinct competitive advantage (i.e. When all things are equal, prospective clients will choose the firm they liked the most). Each and every one of our employees 'performs' for three or four minutes (except for one employee, who ended up doing her own one-hour special).

Each and every session produces a 'star.' We always find someone who, unexpectedly, totally rocks the audience. That, in turn, helps management decide who might work well as part of an upcoming pitch team. The sessions are amazing bonding exercises. Everyone pulls for one another and laughs at one another's jokes. And, certain performances become instant agency lore (i.e. One person's fear of birds, another's kayaking adventures and a third's issues with restroom design).

Comedy is now a strategic weapon at Peppercom. Ad Age thought enough of it to assign a reporter to participate in one of our sessions and tell her tale. And, now we're about to offer a workshop for clients that will be led by Clayton and include all of the learnings and refinements we've added along the way (each presentation is videotaped, for example, and individual critiques provided after the fact).

As a performing comedian myself, I know how much comedy has helped me in business. At a time when every organization is looking to improve internal morale while sealing more external deals, comedy can play a decisive role in winning tomorrow's battle. It isn't right for every organization (especially those that manage by fear or take themselves too seriously). But, if the stars are properly aligned, comedy will make a major impact on your company's success.