Today I was lucky enough to record a Beers Blokes & Business podcast with Wil Anderson – about funny business. Turns out the business side of comedy has a lot of similarity with entrepreneurship. Comedians are, certainly in their early days – solopreneurs. Wil was amazingly honest and generous with his insights and story, but there was one thing in particular which stood out to me. While I can’t remember the quote verbatim – it went something like this.
Some people are not lucky enough to hate their job. Their job is not quite bad enough for them to pack it in and leave. So they get stuck there doing something they don’t like for years. They miss their chance.
My interpretation – this is one time when hating is good. If you’re in a job you hate – remember sometimes it’s the pure pain and divine discontentment which is really required to take the leap. You can listen to the entire podcast here: Funny Business with Wil Anderson
The story of the court jester is an important one. Largely employed by rulers to entertain during medieval times, they served not simply to amuse but to criticize their master and their guests. The jesters position was one within a the power structures of society. Rulers knew that their servants had neither the position or the courage to drop a truth bomb or two, and so this role was outsourced to the local fool.
The problem today, is that most leaders, CEO’s and entrepreneurs don’t have a personal jester to keep them in tow. Maybe we should. It’s also fair to say that the technology and Venture Capital realm could do with an injection of reality now and again. I recently happened upon a video of famed inventor Nikola Tesla as if he was transported from the past directly into Silicon Valley. He was pitching his concepts to a group of VC’s whose responses were both hilarious and predictable. Another classic example which proves we often have more to learn from the Court Jester than the local hero who has already made bank. It seems as though we too have our own Jester, in the form of video spoofs.
HBO released a great chat forum with terrific comedians called ‘Talking Funny’. It features the rock star line up of Jerry Seinfeld, Louis CK, Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais. It is incredibly entertaining and funny, but that’s not why I am posting about it. I’m posting about it because it has within it some are some timeless messages for entrepreneurs.
These comedians manage to disagree on pretty much everything they discuss. What it takes to be successful, who they are doing it for (themselves or the the audience) and whether or not swearing is a good or bad thing while delivering their product. It’s clear that they’ve all carved very different paths that lead to their ultimate success, but they all arrived regardless. While they can all agree they need to be able to ‘sell tickets’ to be successful, the methods they embrace differ greatly. It’s another superb reminder for startups that there is more than one way to do it. We can all do it at different life stages too. Jerry started young, while Ricky started late. I also appreciated how honest and human their assessments of life are in this session – all wearing their superstitions and worries on their sleeve.
It’s clear that no matter what we do, our job is to listen to and share as many ideas as possible, and find a shtick that works for us. Enjoy the lessons and the laughs.
I was recently email some pics of Kulula Airlines livery. I’d describe it as eyeball worthy. Because it’s worth looking at, it’s worth talking about. There is no shortage of in cabin jokes from cabin crew while talking to passengers, but few have the courage to paint their personality on the fuselage like Kalula have. In an era of media proliferation, the trick any startup needs to master is the ability to be talked about. Nice work Kulula.