Anyone Can Learn to Be Funnier!

Here is a very interesting article by Dave Firzgerald, who was Darren LaCroix’s comedy mentor. Darren won the World Champion of Public Speaking in 2001. You can contact Darren on his website. He has loads of great books, tapes and CD’s available there.

Thanks to Darren for reprint permission!

Anyone Can Learn to Be Funnier!By Dave Fitzgerald (Darren’s comedy mentor)

Most people watching a good professional comedian on stage are truly impressed and usually a little bit envious… and rightfully so!  Who doesn’t want to be funnier, if not all the time, at least some of the time?

What makes the comedian so funny? Some of it is “natural talent” to be sure, a certain twisted outlook or a peculiar way of speaking that just grips us from the first minute. But if you ask any real pro how he manages to look so smooth and confident “up there,” the honest answer will be “STAGE TIME.”  It is “STAGE TIME” that helps the comic develop his  on stage persona and, equally as important, (maybe more so) his material!

By the time you see a “comedy routine ” performed on national television, it has been done in front of live audiences several hundreds, if not thousands of times. This is a daunting task and few people are willing and able to do what it takes to get to that level of success in Stand Up Comedy. The point is nobody is getting up there and just spewing out incredibly funny ideas – one right after the other!  It takes hard work which means practice-practice- practice!  Jay Leno still goes to comedy clubs to work out his material for the upcoming week’s monologues!  When I made my first national television appearance on  “EVENING AT THE IMPROV,” I had been doing the bulk of the material for at least two years and had worked on that exact 7 minute set every night for two weeks!

But what about the professional business person who doesn’t need to be funny all the time, but knows that humor is an incredibly powerful and attractive asset?  Whether you use humor in a presentation to a large audience or at a one-on-one lunch date…people remember who made them laugh… and why wouldn’t they!   Nothing else in life feels so good that is free, legal and can be done anywhere with your clothes on!…. and what about with clothes off?…  For most of us that’s an even bigger laugh!!

The main point here is that anyone can learn to be funnier!  It is  NOT one of those things that “you either have it or you don’t.”   Just how funny can you become?  Everyone is different and some people will have to work harder than others but everyone can be funnier than they are right now!

Hope you enjoyed it!-Darren

Is lack of communication killing us?

A few days ago a colleague of mine committed suicide. It was completely out of the blue, leaving many people very shaken at what happened. He had a good job, a nice house, a brand new car, and seemed to have so much going for him.

I find it really difficult to understand why somebody who was doing so well for himself decided to end it all. What was happening? Did he have nobody to turn to? Of all his friends, family and associates, was there nobody that he felt he could speak to, to share his problems with?

There must have been things going on in his head that were not showing on the outside. Things that he was bottling inside of him, until he could no longer take the pressure, and exploded in a very tragic manner.

I wonder what would have happened if he had somebody ? just one person ? that he could share his worries with. Would he still be here, or would we still be saying goodbye?

I find it very sad that in this modern world of instant messaging, emails, cell phones and sms we still are failing to communicate with each other. Is it that we are forgetting how to communicate to such an extent that when we really need it, we are unable to do so. Is the modern technology and modern lifestyle making it easier to communicate, or are we forgetting how to communicate to such an extent that when we need to, we simply cannot?

This is one of the reasons that I am so passionate about helping people to communicate ? because we are forgetting how to do so when we most need to be to do so.

The 10 Lies Software Developers Tell

Program_code1) My code is better that yours. Writing code is very much like writing a song or painting a picture. Artists and song-writers have different styles of painting or song writing. Writing code is similar, different software engineers have different coding styles. So, unless your code is really badly written, my code is no better than yours, it is simply different to yours. If my code works and does not require any enhancements, leave it alone, no matter how different to yours it is.

2) It works on my machine…well, if it works on your machine and not mine, then clearly it is not a robust application, or your installation procedure does not work very well. Remember that you wrote it on your machine, so of course it works on your machine. Now get it to work everywhere else.

3) I’ll comment the code at the end. The end of any development cycle is always chaotic, that is a simple fact of software engineering. So, if you have not got time to comment your code while you are writing it, how are you going to have the time at the end? Besides, if it is a large project with a long development time, are you going to remember what some of the earlier written (uncommented) code does!

4) I’ll add the error handing at the end. Error-handling is part of the basic design of a system, not something you slap on at the end when you have time.

5) The programme is complete – but I just need to quickly finish off…..This is a very common one. The development is not complete until you have finished writing all of the code. If you have a single line of code to write, it is not complete, and not ready for testing.

6) It is a small bug – it will only take 5 minutes to fix. By the time you have load the development environment, identified the bug, fixed, tested and rolled out the change to production, it will be much longer that 5 minutes. There is no such thing as a 5 minute to fix bug.

7) I only have to change one line of code to fix the bug. To the customer, it does not matter weather it is one line of code, or one hundred lines of  code. All the customer cares about is that the application is not working. Fix it!

8) It’s not my problem. If your application is not working – it is your problem. It does not matter if RightFax is down and you cannot print faxes, or you cannot connect to the FTP server. The fact is that if your application is not doing what it should be doing, you had better find out what the cause is, and resolve it.  While different people may have ownership of different portions of a software system, you are ALL responsible to ensure that everything is working.

9) The application works fine with my test data. Yes it might, work with the test data, but the live system does not run on test data. It runs on live data. Best you get your application to work with live data.

10) It’s a user error. If the user is clever (or stupid) enough to break your application, it is not robust enough. You need to anticipate all user inputs, and cater for them. If at a later stage you find another user error, modify your code and test cases to check for it.

And a bonus lie…

11) Of course I test my own code. Do you? Really? Promise? Ok, then let me try to break your application.

Radio Shack Employees laid-offs by email

EmailfiredAccording to Manager Tools, Radio Shack recently laid off 400 employees via email. Is this a sign that we live in a time that it is acceptable to terminate employment via email, or is it a case of poor judgment?

I think the latter. How can you possibly justify such weak leadership and lack of integrity? Were they too afraid to face 400 employees and tell them that their services were no longer required, or were they too afraid to deal with the issue face-to-face?

I am sure that the author of the above cartoon was being tongue-in-cheek about our modern world, and how email has become core to our ability to communicate, but how sad it is that the author was so close to the truth.

Imagine arriving at work, switching your PC on and checking your email, only to find an email effectively telling you to clear your desk. Being laid off is a frightening experience for many people, but it does very little for your ego that they didn’t even bother saying so face to face.

I have to ask what sort of example you are setting for the employees that remain behind. What sort of respect or faith will they have in their managers (or dare I say it, leaders).

Radio Shack have broken several of the key rules of leadership, namely to act with honesty, respect and integrity towards your employees.

Be honest as to what is happening.

Treat the employees with respect, and like human beings. It is a very difficult time for them, and they need to be treated respectfully and with dignity. Explain what is happening and why. Give them an opportunity to respond, and explain what the future options are.

According to Encarta, integrity means "the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards". In other words, act professionally and treat everybody like people, and not machines.

I hope that this is a once-off occurrence, and is not an indication of things to come.

In closing, I have to wonder what poor management decisions from the past have led to Radio Shack having to lay off the employees in the first place.