THE FARM BUREAU: TRUE AMERICANA

Most recently I was given the opportunity to present the morning keynote speech at the 92nd annual meeting of the Kentucky Farm Bureau. It was a fantastic experience and it gave me insight into a segment of True Americana. The Kentucky Farm Bureau is a voluntary organization of farm families and those allies of farming who serve as the voice of agriculture in the United States.  The Farm Bureau does many things, including identifying problems, finding solutions, and taking actions to improve farm income, and to enhance the quality of life of farmers and the rest of the world.

The theme of the meeting I attended was “Celebrating Growth” and celebrate they did in Kentucky. The President of the group, Mr. Mark Haney, indicated that the Kentucky Farm Bureau set a new milestone in 2011 by recording a phenomenal 50th consecutive year of membership growth and maintaining the status of only three state Farm Bureaus with 500,000 plus in membership families. In today’s economic climate such growth is unprecedented. The most significant aspect of the growth, in my mind, is that it has all been accomplished by the leadership of the volunteers in the organization. These people are every day American’s who work from dawn to dusk on their own farms, every day, seven days a week, and then spend a few extra hours contributing to the organization they are members of with the aim of improving and advancing agriculture in America and around the world.

By its definition, the Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization of farm families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve education improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement, to promote the well-being of the United States.

As indicated in its own literature, the Farm Bureau is national in scope, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, and non-secret in character. It represents the entire farm population, is self-financed, and acts as a clearing house for agriculture, and as a voice for a free, independent, unfettered organization of farmers. It provides a place for members to bring together the problems of agriculture, compromise differences, agree on solutions, and present a solid front for agriculture. This, in my opinion, is the American Way.

A recent report I read on the internet stated that “America produces approximately 92% of the world’s natural gas.” This, of course, does not include the pontifications of our U-S Senator’s and Congressmen. All the bickering, debates, and conversation has not contributed one scintilla of progress and benefit to the American economy. It seems to me that Washington should take a cue from the work of the Kentucky Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau’s across America. The Farm Bureau is a group of ordinary citizens who meet for the purpose of analyzing what the problems are, formulating action to achieve improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement in their own communities. To top it all off they volunteer their time, energy, and talents to accomplish their goals. This is true, unadulterated, Americana! Thank you Kentucky Farm Bureau. May you have Fifty More Years of unbridled Growth.

SECRETS OF THE GRAND DADDY YA YA HOOD

What is so simple to easy to operate that a child can do it? The answer is, a Grandparent. Like many of my fellow baby boomers, my initiation into the world of Grand parenting began seven years ago with the birth of my Daughter’s first born Son. His name is Jonas. Then came my Daughter’s second born Son. His name is Deacon. Then came my Son’s first born daughter. Her name is Buckley. Three little human dynamo’s who transformed me and my little world. I went from being a big time Radio Personality and Nationally known and heralded Humorist and Motivational speaker to simply Grand-Daddy and  Ya Ya.

My grand sons live in Southeast Asia with their parents and for some reason they began calling me Ya Ya which is a moniker given to older people in that area of the world whose children have spawned children. My grand daughter lives in Spain with her parents and she calls me by the traditional name, Grand Daddy. A typical definition of a grandparent is this; “a grandparent is a person who comes to your house, spoils your children and then goes home.” Suffice to say, my situation is a little different because both my adult children live overseas and I don’t get to go to their homes very often. The way it works in my hood, is that my Children bring their families home to the States for extended stays of up to two, three, four, or five month’s at a time. They are always welcome at my home and when they come to visit they stay awhile and all their “stuff” is at my home and set out for them to play with and enjoy.

When my grand’s are at my home for an extended stay it usually falls to me to be the chief cook, bottle washer, taxi, and entertainment director for my three little buddies. I relish the opportunity to be involved with their care and feeding and to have fun times with them and to generally referee the inevitable spats that happen between siblings and cousins during this developmental period in their young lives. Each one has a unique point of view and special personality and each one has to be treated as a terrific little person with care, love and understanding. Grand daddy-Ya Ya has turned into quite the psychologist via extended exposure to their individualistic wants, needs, and desires. The following are some of my Grand daddy-Ya Ya secrets of tending to the grand’s.

Buckley, my grand daughter usually gets up early at my house. She comes down the stairs carrying about five stuffed animals and two blankets. She throws all her “things” in my lap and usually crawls in my lap and we sit there and chill a little while. Maybe we’ll watch “Clifford the Big Red Dog”, Or “Cat in the Hat”, or some other age appropriate TV show. Sometimes we’ll laugh and talk about what they are doing on the shows. We may even read a book or two. She loves to read.

Deacon, my grand son will come inching down the stairs, peak around the corner, and maybe in a round about way slip into the room and climb on the couch and just chill. He doesn’t like to talk much when he first gets up. Sometimes he’ll sit in my lap. Dike also carries a few stuffed animals into the den along with his silky blanket. He likes some of the same TV shows Buckley likes and will watch those with us.

My oldest grand son, Jonas, comes down last most days, sometimes early, but he likes to sleep late. When he comes down he likes to sit in one of my big leather chairs and his TV habits are a little more sophisticated than the younger two. He likes “Sponge Bob Square Pants” which I let him watch sparingly. Frankly, I don’t get that show and there is too much crazy stuff going on and a lot of slap stick. Jonas is an ace at putting complicated Lego toys together and building things and he is very adept at reading the directions and building things by himself. Sometimes it’s to complicated for Ya Ya.

Well, here it is, about 7:30 in the morning. The grand’s are up, awake, and ready to play. But before that they must have breakfast. We all know how important the first meal of the day is. I like to feed them Eggs, wheat toast, whole grain cereal, fruit, milk, juice, and occasionally I give them a piece of seared swine flesh ( Bacon). Sometimes they eat it all, sometimes part of it, sometimes very little. Usually, in the course of a week, they all get enough nutrients and vitamins from the food variety to fuel their active little bodies. It’s also very educational to hear the breakfast conversations of a Seven year old, a Four year old and a Three and a half year old. Then again, sometimes they don’t speak much at all. But all of them want to be the first to finish eating at times and move on to the remains of the day.

Then we have to put day clothes on. Now that’s a chore most days. Jonas dresses himself, Deke sometimes dressed himself, and Buckley sometimes dresses herself with a little help from Grand Daddy. Most often, to my surprise, they are pretty good at coordinating their outfits. It’s very interesting to me to see them decide what to wear. Oh, they all have several pairs of shoes and that choice is usually a little more difficult. But we eventually get everyone fitted for footwear.

We play around the house a lot, they all have bunches of toys, and they have items on the back porch they like to play with, a sand box, cars in the sand box, along with a kitchen set, they can pretend to cook with, there is a little toy house in the back yard they play in, and then there is the infamous swing on a big tree. We take turns swinging. We hunt for bugs, spiders in the garden, and chase the neighbor’s cat who ventures into our yard. In the summer we may turn on the sprinkler and get all wet, or go to the front and ride a variety of little toy cars, trikes, bikes, or just play in the bed of my old Truck.

Then I prepare lunch for them trying to make it palatable and nutritious. Maybe I’ll load them up in the big van and go to the park in an attempt to wear them out. Truthfully, I’m worn out by then. But I keep on going. We might go somewhere special like the McWane Science Center, the Birmingham Zoo, or to a few neat toy stores to look around, with the understanding that we won’t buy anything. We’ll just look and enjoy looking. Some days I’ve taken them all to the grocery store with me and let them help me shop for food. Yes, I’m a brave Grand Daddy Ya Ya.

Home again from an outing, I start planning dinner. Sometime the Grand’s parents are able to play with them a bit as I cook dinner. Then Nana gets home from work and we eat dinner together with all those present. Then I graciously allow Nana to take over the care of the Grand’s till bed time. About 8 pm bath time starts. They get their pajamas on and then the night time book readying begins. After that, brushing of teeth, potty break, then they are tucked into bed and they say their prayers and then sweet slumber (most nights).

The secret to being a Grand daddy Ya Ya is not really a secret at all. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to give time and attention to each grand child. You have to spend time learning what makes them tick, what makes them sad, what makes them happy, and how to administer discipline and instruction in a way that does not damage their sense of self worth. Sometimes, just being there and being willing to listen to their questions, the jabber, and their childlike wonder and interacting with them on their level, is the most important part of the process. A Grand Daddy Ya Ya is able to impart many valuable lessons to Grand’s such as teaching them to be polite, grateful, civil, loving, caring, appreciative, and kind. Simple instructions that will help them all throughout life. Most importantly, I tell each grand, everyday how much I love them and how special they are to me and to their Mom’s and Dad’s.

When my three Grand’s are in my care, I relish my position as the Grand Daddy Ya Ya. It is the most important responsibility I’ve ever been privileged to do. It’s tough on an old bird to be sure. It’s not always easy. But I accept this adventure with pleasure and enthusiasm. Surprisingly, being a Grand Father does not make me feel old. What makes me feel old is being married to a Grand Mother. Just kidding, of course!

FAT BUREAUCRATS & GOVERNMENT NEED TO GO-LEAN

It’s alarming to me that one in fifteen families in the United States now live below the poverty line. Unemployment is the highest it has ever been in our GREAT RECESSION, a figure that rivals that of the Great Depression. Local, State, and National politicians say we must cut the budget yet none of them appear to even attempt to live within a reasonable budget. Spenders continue to spend tax revenue at an alarming rate. Big banks, Wall Street and massive government entities all seem to make a game out of miss and malfeasance. What the heck happened to fiscal sanity? Who knows the answer? I don’t have many answers but I do have some suggestions about what can be done to cut budgets, and maybe save a little money.

Why can’t our leaders take a little initiative and tighten their own belts? How about setting a good example and biting the bullet from their end? What I’m about to suggest may not help much in the financial realm but I do believe it would make a lot of Americans and even Europeans feel better about our failed leadership. Here we go!

Local, State, and National leaders can take a salary cut. How about half of what they make now? Why does a local county engineer need to make over One hundred thousand dollars? Why do Congressmen and Senators and the President need to make what they make? And they have huge budgets to hire staff that to me seems unnecessary. If they had to do their work themselves maybe that would cut down on the number of ridiculous regulations they pass on the Hill. Take the Federal retirement system, please. Shouldn’t they have to exist on what they have paid in to Social Security like the rest of us? Why do most local, State, and National leaders get tax payer paid for vehicles to drive? What’s wrong with their vehicles? As Barney Fife used to say on Mayberry, “We need to nip all this extravagance and privilege in the bud.”

Another thing that grates my craw (an old Southern saying that means it ticks me off) is huge, lavish dinners for officials of all types at tax payer expense. Why don’t they set a good example? Why do have to have an expensive chef and staff to cook elaborate meals of foods that I can’t even begin to pronounce at a cost of $200-to-$1000 a plate. And don’t me started on the fancy table wear, wines, liquor, and wait staff. Why can’t they agree to show us poor folks that they can eat what we eat and still take care of business? How about a basic Chili supper with baked potato and salad? Tap water to drink would be good instead of expensive bottled water. That’s what I drink at home. Come to think of it, they really don’t need booze if they are trying to conduct the business of Country and the world. How about grilling out hotdogs and hamburgers with a few chips on the side? Better yet, why not let them have a covered dish dinner? That might be fun at an international meeting to have each head of State bring a couple of covered dishes. I bet that’s what the rest of us do when we go to a community dinner say with our co-workers or Sunday school class.

Oh, don’t get me started on the money wasted on lodging and food alone at the United Nations. Why do these people have to be put up in Five Star Hotels and fed elaborate meals? Most of them are to fat already and need to cut back at the table, but I digress. If they are going to have those useless meetings where they badger their host country, why not take over a couple of Motel Six hotels on the outskirts of town and let them stay in a cheap room and cheap conference room to do their business. Oh, they could bring a brown bag lunch. They could send an aide out to Wal-Mart from some sandwich bread, fat free turkey and cheese slices, condiments and soft drinks and viola!

Stay with me here. Why do all these politicians have to be pampered and treated like royalty and be paid huge sums of money and expenses, to get together and try to discover how their terrible financial decisions have brought us to a world wide recession and horrendous debt crisis? Do we actually trust that they can “do the right thing” this time? Isn’t the past prolog? (I’ve always liked that phrase, sounds cool). I believe what I’m saying is, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you are always going to get what you’ve always had.”

Even if my suggestions don’t work, I think there would be a very large benefit to those One in Fifteen Families living below the poverty line and those who are out of work. The psychological benefit would be huge. It would be to me. It would show me that these Fat Bureaucrats and Fat Cat Politico’s can empathize with the common folks. It would show me that they care enough to try to, at the very least, make those of us suffering from the Great Recession feel a little better. Oh, and if those in charge truly would try to cut back and live on less, like the rest of us are forced to do, it might have a medicinal effect on us poor folks. It would make me feel better for certain.

So come on Fat Cats, who will be first to announce they are getting off the Hamster Wheel of Excess? Who will be the first to make an attempt to set a good example for the rest of us? Who will lead the parade to “Cutting back” and who will get in the sinking boat with the rest of us and row toward the shore of sanity? Come on over to my house and I’ll fill you in on the details. I’ll leave the light on for you!

HOW TO KILL YOUR OWN SUCCESS

Have you ever put off something that you needed to do today? Sure you have. Haven’t we all? Many of us, in our very busy lives, occasionally get lazy, lethargic, and just plain tired of doing all that we have to do. If a task seems daunting enough, we might just put it off for as long as we can until the deadline for getting it done hits us in the face. This, of course, is called “Procrastination”. What we need to realize is, if the P-word becomes chronic for us, it could spell disaster for our lives and career’s and our success.

Procrastination researcher, Dr. Gail Saltz says, “Procrastinators tend to feel extremely stressed, more so than those who put things off occasionally.” She is talking about “chronic procrastinators”. A survey of 300 college students who confessed to being procrastinators, said they would rather donate blood that write an assigned paper. Almost a third said they would rather visit a dentist and others said they would rather pick up trash on campus than write their papers. The female procrastinators and the males suffered from great anxiety because of their procrastination and the women even felt guilty. So says Dr. Saltz.

Most experts on the subject, who were late getting this information in to me for this article, say there are psychological reasons that people use to justify their procrastinating ways. For example:

There is the Fear of failure. If they think they might fail in the end result, they reason that it would be better not even to try to get it done.
The fear of success is prevalent as well. If they do get IT done, others may envy them and think they are a nerd and not like them anymore.
Some put things off, such as assignments and tasks because they do not like to be told what to do by authority figures.
Some put things off because they are just not interested.

Others put things off till the last minute because they actually THRIVE on the pressure of the deadline. I have lawyer friends like that and radio friends who do that as well.

Then there are those who just hate to make decisions and hate new things, so they never get a Round Tuit.( Around to it).
Finally, you may have just decided to be a Loser. People do make that decision every day although it is a bad choice.

I have always been the sort of person who wants to get things done. When my bills come in, I pay them right away. When I have an appointment, I like to be there at least 30 minutes early. When I have a program to present, I like to prepare myself ahead of time so that I can relax when I am at the function and concentrate on the presentation. About the only thing I put off is my income tax preparation because like to hold on to my money as long as I can. I do that on purpose. But for those of you who procrastinate and want to change, who want to create their own success and not sabotage their business and private lives, I have a few tips on how to Stop Procrastinating. Here they are:

  • Make a list of things you need to do
  • Prioritize your list.
  • Check off each task when you get it done.
  • Begin to gain confidence in yourself to “do what you need to do.”
  • Be thorough. Begin promptly, and finish a task before moving to another.
  • Remember the old adage, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Get it done. DO IT NOW.
  • After you get yourself on track, begin to help others to not procrastinate.

My mother used to give me great advice. She would always have little sayings That always seemed to resonate inside me at appropriate times. Sayings like, “The early bird gets the worm”, “don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today”, “Do all you can today, and do the rest tomorrow,” “Be like Nike, Just do it”, “do it right the first time and you won’t have to do it again later”, and “One never knows, does one?” Those sayings were cute, clever, and instructive. Positive self talk seems to help me not procrastinate. Follow these rules for “Not Procrastinating” for 30 days and they just might become ingrained in your psyche. Don’t sabotage your Success by putting off till tomorrow, what you need to do today. You can do it. Remember, do IT now, whatever it is!

DUTY AND HONOR AND INFLUENCE

The great American statesman, Benjamin Franklin, said that, “Duty is not beneficial because it is commanded, but it is commanded because it is beneficial.” I would conjecture that there are not many people who think about duty these days, and even fewer would think about honor. A little while ago I came upon a circumstance and situation that reminded me of how important doing ones duty in life really is. I was reminded of how important it was for me to have done my duty in the past and how the mundane act of doing my duty influenced another to do their duty. It seems to me that if we do our duty once, then twice, and maybe another time, without conscious thought of doing so, that we often inspire others to do the same. A sense of duty, once realized, pursues us forever. It becomes omnipresent. We will see our duty and do it, no matter what that duty may be.

As a former assistant Scout Master with Troop 83 I recall the very important lessons I learned and even taught to young boys on their way to becoming young men. Some of the dutiful things we all learned and taught were sayings like, “Be Prepared.” Another was, “On my honor, I will do my duty to God and my Country, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Pledges like that are not in vogue much anymore. Those ideas like duty and honor are taught in few places these days. But to me they hold a special emphasis and significance in building character in young boys on their way to becoming young men.

I did my “duty” as an assistant scout master. After my Son made the Eagle Scout Rank, and grew older and went on to pursue his music career, I was no longer a part of the monthly Boy Scout meetings. I did however; remain on a significant scout committee called the Eagle Board of Review. The Eagle Board of review is where a panel of adults scout leaders review, test, question, and approve projects for scouts about to become Eagle Scouts. These young men had to demonstrate leadership skills, plan, prepare, and carry out a project that is beneficial to their community. It is a lot of work. They draw on the disciplines, knowledge and skills that they have learned in scouting including the importance of doing ones duty. Being on the Eagle board of review for me was and is something I do out of a sense of duty. It takes time; there are a lot of interviews of young men walking the Eagle trail. I had a sense of wanting to give back to my community.

The point I am trying to make is that when we do our “duty”, no matter what that duty is and where it may place us, others benefit. That is the “beauty of duty”. Duty must be done; the rule applies to all of us. As I said earlier, once you do your duty even in the smallest way, that sense of duty pursues you for ever. It builds your character and helps build the character of those in your circle of influence.

One of my jobs is to do a radio talk show each day from noon to 3 pm. My radio partner and I have been together for thirty plus years. Each day we talk endlessly about the issues of the day, entertain our listeners with our point of view, and we learn things from ordinary people who call in from all walks of life. We received emails from people frequently and they sometimes become most excellent friends and acquaintances. During the Iraq war we had been receiving updates via emails from a young Marine who wrote us from the field. We gave our support to this young man and his fellow Marines, we wrote to them, we encouraged them, we prayed for their safety and for the completion of their mission in hostile territory.
Our young Marine friend finally came home with his unit. We invited him to be on the radio show. He came and brought a fellow Marine who was with him in Iraq.

It was truly an honor to meet these young men who had been in harms way for over a year, doing their duty, providing security for convoys on the hostile and dangerous roads of Iraq. We talked about their experiences, we talked about their mission, we talked about the dangers, and we talked about their willingness to do another tour if they were called upon to do the same. They both, in a matter of fact way, spoke openly about how they were honored to do the job they were trained for as Marines, how they did not think much about the danger and death all around them. What they talked about was their duty. Amazing. Honorable. Moving. Three years earlier these two young men were high school boys, wondering what the future would bring. Now they were full grown Men, talking about doing their duty. I was in awe.

As we ended the radio talk show and were about to leave. One of the young Marines said to me, “I know you probably do not remember me but you were one of the gentleman who was on my Eagle Board of Review when I became an Eagle Scout.” He continued by saying, “I really appreciated the nice things you said to me about my project, about my walk on the Eagle trail, and I appreciated the encouragement you gave me to pursue my dreams and goals.” Phew! As a lump formed in my throat I said something like, “You are welcome, and I am proud that you learned a lot and was encouraged. You are doing your duty, and I appreciate you and I am proud of you.” As I reflected on what he said as he left with his Marine compatriot, I felt a sense of gratitude that I had performed my duty, as simple as it was. I felt grateful that doing my duty influenced a young man in a positive way and instilled in that young man a desire to do his duty and set his own good example for someone else. Duty makes us do things well. Doing our duty well brings us honor and brings honor to those who have led by example and whom we have followed in thought, word, and deed.

HOW TO HAVE A WINNING ATTITUDE

Who among us wants to work with others who have a bad Attitude? People with a sour and down countenance appear as if they were weaned on a dill pickle during childhood. They take joy in spreading doom, gloom, and always looking for and point out the negatives in life. Realize that the person who always looks down their own nose gets the wrong slant on life. I once read in Changing Times Magazine that if you go around with a chip on your shoulder all the time everyone else just might think it came off your own head.

A good attitude at work and at home can help you disarm stress and create new opportunities for you. When we get up in the morning we have two choices with regard to our attitude and what sort of attitude we will have all day. You can choose to have a bad attitude and spew forth negatives all day, or you can choose to have a good attitude and say and do things that others will take in a positive light and in a good natured way. You can literally WILL yourself into projecting a good attitude at home, on the job, and in your community. Some people make others happy and feel good when they show up and other do the same when they leave. You can choose which sort of person and personality you want to be; positive with a good attitude or negative with a bad attitude. Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. A good attitude, a positive attitude is an inside job.

These tips that might help YOU improve your Attitude:

  • Seize the Moment: Make the most of your time every day. Prioritize your tasks. Adjust your work by importance and not just by what is urgent. When you do this you will find that you have more time for relaxation and fun. It will help your attitude.
  • Solve your problems: Identify your problems on paper in a couple of sentences. This will help you bring the problem down to size, instead of letting it grow into some huge and mysterious pressure looming over you in the background. Do your Work, Solve your problems, and apply your creativity and expertise. It will give you a better attitude when you get things done.
  • Take Breaks: if you sit at a desk, get up and move around and stretch every 30-to-45 minutes. You can reward yourself for your hard work by taking frequent breaks. You will be more relaxed, more creative and more productive after each break and eager to get back to the work at hand.

It will also help you to maintain a more positive outlook on life if you will work hard at being grateful for the good things in your life. It is important to have an “Attitude of Gratitude” for the positive, helpful, beneficial and good things in your life. Practice smiling at yourself when you look in the mirror. A long face and a broad mind are rarely found under the same hat. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Smile at the first five people you see each day whether family, friends, co-workers or strangers. Listen to positive and uplifting music or audio and do your best to catch an attitude of gratitude. Such positive self-talk will help you improve your own attitude. Remember that the choice is yours when you get up in the morning. A good attitude is that little thing in life that can make a BIG difference.

Dazzle Them with Vague Verbal Verbiage

Speakers attend meetings because that’s where we do our thing. Attendees want to learn how to communicate in a brave new world, how to chart their course for success and thrive in the new economy. In today’s marketplace, “BUZZSPEAK” is very important.

Everyone must learn the “Buzz Speak” of success. I have made a discovery that can make you sound like one of the brave new success warriors ready to find solutions to the problems of our time. You will be able to enjoy the “Magic of the Moment” when you string these words and phrases together in any meeting from the boardroom to the breakout session to the big keynote. Here are the tools of “Buzzspeak”: Pay attention, learn from the masters and listen to how they speak. We will see you at the top.

Imagine the awe and respect you will garner when you open your mouth at an important, life-changing meeting and you say something like, “If we are to be proactive and not reactive in the creation of synergy, we must learn to think outside the box and be on the same page in order to extrapolate a win-win situation.” Beautiful, yes? Is the energy flowing yet?

As the discussion continues, you spew forth this gem: “If we take your comments offline and do a gap analysis, I believe the best practice would be a strategic fit to ensure a client-focused outcome. This would add a more attractive bottom-line as we touch base with our core business.” Gee, you sound brilliant.

Then you might add: “The lessons learned from revisiting the game plan have put those out of the loop into the loop and have established a value-added approach to help us evaluate the big picture. We can now go the extra mile in validating the benchmark and empowering our employees.” Wow! I feel very connected with my inner and outer self.

Finally, as the meeting drones on and you continue to establish yourself as a verbal genius and intuitive pacesetter, you conclude with: “Since we are in the ballpark and on the fast track with the movers and shakers, I think we can conclude that our result-driven approach is a done deal and will certainly stretch the envelope, procure a total quality mindset, enhance our knowledge base and effectively move the goal posts as we peel the onion back and put this thing to bed.”

Ah! You have stunned them. Wowed them. You have solidified your position as a champion of “Buzzspeak” and you will dwell in the house of the experts and the booked solids forever. It’s a brave new “Buzzspeak” World!

EXERCISE YOUR FUNNYBONE

Medical personnel are continually promoting the benefits of exercise for the body. These experts tell us it is necessary to maintain optimum health. Not many of these same medical professionals mention the benefits of exercising your funny-bone. Proper care and feeding of this important part of your mental anatomy is essential to maintaining  a good sense of humor and a positive outlook on life. The plain and simple fact of it all is that you can exercise and improve the use of your funny bone and your outlook with a little exercise of the same. In fact, a good thing to have up your sleeve is a funny-bone.

There are some tips I can give you that will help you stimulate your funny bone and get you into the habit of using it daily. Spreading humor and cheer around your home and the work place can certainly enhance your own well being and the well being and attitudes of those with whom you relate on a daily basis. The following are some tips I have found helpful in exercising my own funny bone and which I have used over the years to enhance my sense of humor and hopefully the lives and attitudes of others I am in contact with. Humor and the use there  of, is actually just a state of mind.

First, you can teach yourself to get into the habit of thinking funny. If we broach a subject  or situation from the standpoint  of “what’s funny about this”, and if we look for a possible humorous intention we just might find it. You can find something funny in just about everything if you begin to teach yourself to think funny.

Next, after you begin to teach yourself to think funny you should begin to practice thinking humorously. It can be done in sales meeting by listening to what others say and then putting out a heat-seeking missile of humor. Never be afraid to go for a laugh in a meeting or in a group discussion when things are getting tense. It can actually relieve the tension in the meeting and open up a free flow of ideas.

When you begin to think funny and practice thinking humorously you will begin to develop your creativity. One of the easiest and quickest ways to develop your creativity is by assigning different meanings to advertisements you hear and see and read. It can be a clever exercise as you test your creativity.

Maintain an air of mischief without malice. If you are thinking funny and on a humorous bent it is very easy to inject comments in conversation that can be mischievous and fun. It can all be done without malice and without baseness. But you have to be ready to seize the moment. Most of us think of humorous things to say after we have walked away from a meeting or group. The key is to think of them sooner rather than later so you can inject them into the conversation.

A key point to remember is to never accept, in your own mind, the standard meaning of things. By that I mean, if you are thinking humorously and exercising your funny-bone you can see things that others may not see. One of my favorite things to do is read the Headlines in the Newspaper and conjure up different meanings. For example; I saw a headline that read, “Red tape holds up new
bridge.” Think about that! If red tape is holding up the bridge, I don’t want to drive over it.

Make the best of your imagination. Napoleon said, ” Imagination rules the world.” Use your mind and stimulate your brain so that your imagination rushes forth like a flash of light. Learn to capture and utilize these Brain Flashes and exercise your imagination. Think, explore, and visualize in your minds eye things that might be out of the box.

Take a lead from the children. Approach life in a child like manner. The creativity and imagination of a child is full of wonder, oddity, and uniqueness. It seems that once we get older and get serious about life we lose this child like wonderment and awareness. Remember what it was like to think and wonder out loud as a child, before you got older and learned it all and got serious about life.

By all means read and watch humorous material. You can learn a lesson about humor and humor creation by watching sitcoms and comedy shows and analyzing the humor. Follow the script and consider how these writers came up with the funny lines in the sitcoms. It is a brilliant exercise and it stimulates your funny-bone.

Another thing you can do is to hang out with funny people. Hang out with people who make you laugh in a good and wholesome manner. Don’t hang out with people who are mired in problems and who act like they were weaned on dill pickle juice when they were children. Stay away from negative people. Hang out with positive and upbeat people who have a sense of humor and who have the ability to make you laugh.

Be willing to take calculated risks by using the humor you come up with amongst your friends. If they are your friends, real friends, they will encourage you if you are funny and critique you if you are not. Be willing to practice your humor crafting at every opportunity. Enjoy life and enjoy the people you are with on a daily basis. Cultivate a sense of warmth and friendliness and frivolity. Train yourself to think funny and again, practice, practice, practice.

Using the aforementioned tips won’t make you ready for Letterman or the Tonight Show, but they will serve to help you teach yourself to think funny and in a humorous vein. Keep in mind that when developing any sort of muscle you must exercise that muscle. The same applies to the Funny-bone. Exercise it often. You only reach the top by topping yesterday’s effort. You can be funnier tomorrow than you were today if you will exercise that funny-bone!

PUT ZAP IN YOUR RAP- USING HUMOR TO SELL

William Makepeace Thackeray tells us, “Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society.” Naturally, I would agree with that premise.  We live in a society filled with formulas for success in management, personal achievement and how to be successful in life. One area that has been virtually ignored is the importance of humor and the use of humor in conducting the affairs of life, especially in the arena of sales.

Selling is one of the most demanding and stressful of all occupations. The salesperson has to be an expert on product knowledge, marketing, business trends, and human relations. It is imperative that the super salesperson must posses all or at least some of the following qualities:

1.   The super salesperson must have confidence in self and in the product they are selling.

2.   They must have a superior working knowledge of the product.

3.  They must have the ability to communicate the benefits of the product to the customer.

4.  They must have the belief that the product being sold will deliver the benefits to the customer.

5. The super salesperson must have a resilient sense of humor.

A poll conducted by Robert Half International, Inc., concluded that “Eighty-four percent of all super achieving Executives surveyed, believed that a good sense of humor helped all workers or employees to a better job in the workplace.” Many gurus of “success oriented thought” verify the importance of a good sense of humor with regard to getting ahead in the business environment.  Even business prophets of days gone by agreed that a habitual sense of humor is one of the key elements in succeeding with every day human relations. Humor and the use thereof is an extremely beneficial tool in selling.

What Corporation in America and the World is not sales-conscious? Each year I travel to scores of sales meetings to ply my trade as a professional speaker and humorist before groups of America’s top sales pros. It is gratifying to learn from these sales professionals that the use of humor in sales is a key element to their success. In the ranks of professional speaking we have a proverb that states, “as a professional speaker you don’t have to use humor in your speech, unless you want to get paid.” In the world of sales we can re-state that proverb thusly; “a salesperson does not have to use humor in selling, unless they want to be remembered, liked, believed, and unless they want to make a sale and create a customer for life.”

The truly good super sales pros I’ve met over the years resemble, to a large degree, show business professionals.

1.  A sales person must have a degree of talent for sales.

2.  They must know the script, translated in sales lingo to mean the sales presentation.

3. They must have confidence in the material, meaning the product.

4. They must have a relatively high measure of self worth and confidence.

5. They must be entertaining enough to be able to hold the interest of the customer.

When the sales professional has these qualities they will be equipped to accomplish the task at hand, which is to effectively “Sell” whatever product or service that is being offered to the customer.

The sales professional does not have to be a stand up comedian or a humorist. But using well placed humorous observations, being of good humor generally, taking a sincere interest in the customer as a person, using subtle bits of humor to answer objections, and being positive, pleasant, fun, make you more attractive as a sales person to the customer. Being a friend first, within the framework of that friendly relationship, helps you to meet the customer’s needs and explain the benefits of your product or service.’

Humor definitely sells! Using humor in advertising to sell products and services has been done since the beginning of “advertising time.” Some of the most humorous and successful ads in the past using mass media include, “Alka Seltzer”, and the phrase sung in unison by several fat guys, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” Remember the cute Avis commercial, “We try harder?” Remember the old lady, Clara Peller, who yelled at the counter, “Where’s the BEEF?”  Most recently we can point to the Southwest Airline commercials, and the Cellular Telephone spots with the guy walking around the world saying, “Can you hear me now?” The examples are numerous in advertising where companies are using Humor to make their product or service memorable. Why do they do it? Because Humor Sells!

Using humor in sales can be as subtle as the sales professional, “being of good humor” and having a positive and helpful attitude toward the customer, about themselves and the product or service.  The sales pro’s that I know, who use humor in their selling to put Zap into their Rap, have a high degree of talent for selling. They know their presentation; they have confidence in their product or service and the benefits that it provides. They have mastered the art of entertaining and informing their customers as they build that selling relationship.

To paraphrase the statement by William Makepeace Thackeray quoted at the beginning of this peace of literary excellence, “Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in the field of sales.” Consider the possibilities of using humor in your selling. Think of ways you can put more humor into your sales
presentations. Learn to think humorously and work at maintaining a positive attitude of good humor. Most people like to do business with people who make them feel good about themselves, the product or service, and the buy-sell relationship. Do what you can to make the customer happy and satisfied and content. Using humor can help you but that “Zap into your Rap.” By all means, HAVE FUN!

HEADLINE HUMOR RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES

The literary giant T.S. Eliot said, “Humor is another way of saying something serious.” When broken down into its component parts we begin to see the pattern. ALL humor springs forth from serious subject matter which, on its face, is not particularly funny. But it is in knowing what is serious that we recognize what is or can be humorous. The contemporary comedy writer’s task is to take the serious and twist the standard meaning and search for ways to misdirect the meaning toward the unlikely, the bizarre and non-standard meaning.

The raw material for writing humor from the headlines comes, of course, from newspapers, magazines, popular books, TV shows, radio talk shows, the Internet, and various sources of real news. A great deal of information is required and a broad knowledge of world and local events is necessary. After the raw material is accumulated the writer should categorize it and begin looking for relationships between the serious and the absurd and searching for the comedic point of view.

Sometimes the headlines are humorous on their face. They jump right out at you. The headlines for example, “Lawyers must try case in Union Suit”, “Former man dies in California,” or “Woman is shot and the bullet is in her yet”, are all very funny on their face.  When the standard meaning is applied the headlines might appear to be normal. When you distort the meaning in your mind and apply the non-standard meaning, however, you get a different result. Can’t you imagine the Lawyers trying a case in their Union suit ( Long Johns) ?  What was the former man who died in California before he died? The woman was shot and the bullet was in her yet. In what part of a woman’s anatomy do we find her YET?  Sometimes the headline writers do the comedy writer’s work. I think they do it on purpose because they have a great sense of humor.  Often, the simple powers of observation and awareness will create funny material right before our eyes.

Generally, however, the writer has to do a little work to come up with funny humor from the headlines. Here is how I do it. First I pick a subject, then do a spreadsheet based on the journalistic formula of “Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why?” After that I begin looking for relationships between the serious and the potentially humorous items. The next step involves looking for the standard versus the non-standard meaning. Finally, you begin the process of tying together the relatable items, looking for the comedic twist, and eliminating all but the funniest lines. Like most successful endeavors, it is simple but not easy.

After accumulating my raw data, my brain goes through a process as follows: Who is involved? What’s involved? What is going on? How will it effect me or us? Is there a common ground everyone can relate to? When is it happening?

Where is it occurring? What are the relationships? Then I connect the dots and tie it all together.

If for instance, my subject was Politics, we could have a field day. Example: In order to balance the budget, Congress has installed a 1-900-number and is asking for suggestions. Or, it was oppressively hot in Washington recently but since Congress as on recess things did not stink as bad as they usually do. Or, The First Lady visited Historical  Monuments this week; She spent time at her favorite stone statue…a Bust of Al Gore. ( My apologies to Al.)

By connecting the standard meaning with the non-standard meaning, using comedic misdirection and distortion, and a bit of the absurd, you can take almost any subject, when appropriate, and turn it into a humorous line.

The humor writer, and the professional humorist, gives us that relief by taking the liberty of humor and applying it liberally and without malice. As that great philosopher mentioned forehand once said, “It is in knowing what is serious that we can find what is humorous.” So get serious about humor and by all means…Keep Laughing!