Conference Calls

For the seventh straight year, I served as executive producer this month for a franchisor’s annual Conference. Planning these events begins in October and really kicks in come January. There are a lot of moving parts, as you might imagine if you’ve ever attended one.

Instead of a keynote speaker, for the first time the client wanted to hire a comedian to serve as emcee and provide standup interludes. The speaker’s bureau offered 15 people – and none ‘did it’ for me, so they sent a second batch. I saw one name on the list, and without even watching his video clip told my client, “That’s our guy.”

How did I know? Well, I’ve shared his YouTube video – 15 million views – with a lot of folks. It’s one of the most spot-on satires of corporate America you’ll see. It’s also hilarious… and when we played it as part of a funny way to introduce him, the audience roared in laughter.

Throughout our prep phone calls and during rehearsals before each show, he was professional and easy to work with – this despite fighting off a bad cold and nearly losing his voice. Nary a complaint about that, by the way.

Folks who make their living speaking typically utilize canned presentations with some tweaking for the sponsoring organization. He took a different approach – developing several bits to engage with the audience… and even brought along a videographer and created a ‘man-on-the-street’ video with attendees that was hilarious.

So, if you’re looking for a speaker – yes, he has a keynote, if that’s what you want – or emcee for your next event, consider… Tripp Crosby. You can thank me later.

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Worldly Knowledge

When I agreed to travel to Romania to work with the management team at two plants outside of Bucharest, I must admit my thoughts were: ‘What kind of former Communist country am I going to and why did I say yes?’ Most of the people I told said something like: “That seems odd. What’s in Romania?”

Then I spent a week there and my thoughts were: “Who knew?”

From the beautiful architecture of Bucharest, to the green fields and flowing hills near Ploiesti and Campina, to the incredible friendliness of the people, Romania was wonderful. (Heck, I even saw a shepherd tending to his flock right outside the second-floor window of the company’s headquarters.)

What did I learn?

There is an amazing five-star resort in Ploiesti that may have the nicest swimming pool I’ve ever seen… certainly the bluest water.

The area’s Mediterranean cuisine is delicious.

“Former Communist country” doesn’t mean antiquated. One of the plants has AI technology and a nearly silent manufacturing environment.

Life under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was demoralizing and repressive prior to the December 1989 uprising and his execution a week later. That said, the people I spoke with who were of age appear to have moved on. “We were hungry, but we figured out a way to survive… and about six years later things got better” was a common theme.

Most everyone I met had a high level of English. One person told me that he learned Romanian as a child, French starting in third grade, Russian beginning in seventh… and didn’t speak English until he was 27.

Bottom line?

My pretrip cognitive bias of Romania as a country that only offered the world Dracula’s Castle, Bela Lugosi and Nadia Comaneci was way off the mark… and that’s a reminder not to judge another place or people without first experiencing them for yourself.

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Spoiled Broth

Recently I asked a lifelong friend (‘Joe’) to assist another friend (‘Jim’) with a social service project Jim was leading. With all of the other things going on in Joe’s life, it appeared he waited right up until the deadline to provide some guidance to Jim. “I’m leaving town for a week and won’t be able to help,” wrote Joe, “so here is a summary of what I think you should do.”

I was copied on that email and after reading Joe’s comments, I realized there were several things missing and a few items that needed clarifying. So, of course, I quickly weighed in with my ideas in a Reply All. Then about 10 minutes later, I thought: “Why did I get in the middle of this?” I just confused things for Jim even further.

Later that day, I received a text from Jim: “Tell me again why you thought I needed your and Joe’s help?” Point taken. Too many cooks indeed.

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Full Respect

Today on Memorial Day I heard a reading of this poem for the first time. Written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD, after he presided over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier during the early stages of World War I. Poppy fields were numerous near the burial ground in Belgium. McCrae died of pneumonia about 10 months before the end of the Great War.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

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Pet Peeves

For two decades, I have put in writing my ‘view of things’ – first for the magazine we sent to our franchisees when I worked in that industry, then through the e-newsletter I penned for 14 years, and lately this blog. During those 300+ missives, I’ve never listed things that get under my skin… until now. Here are 35…

> Drivers who weave in-and-out of traffic
> Gas stations that still price their product in 9/10s of a cent
> Fast food restaurants that get my order wrong
> Servers who try to grab my plate when there are still a couple of bites on it
> Weathercasters who scare people, then nothing happens
> Needing to send multiple emails to get people to reply
> Texting auto-correction
> Junk mail and junk e-mail
> Cell calls disguised to look like they come from my number
> People who look at their cell phones during meetings
> Typos in newspaper or online articles and especially in books
> Websites that let you read a few paragraphs then say you have to pay to see the rest
> Typing my customer account number into the phone then when the service rep finally comes on the line, having the first question be: ‘What’s your account number?’
> Masters who fail to pick up their dog’s doodle in my yard
> People who cough into their hands instead of their elbows
> People who don’t wipe down the workout equipment when they’re done
> Shaking hands with people who have sniffles (maybe I’m a germaphobe?)
> Those in the men’s room who leave paper towels lying on the floor and don’t wipe the sink when they’re done
> People who missed Matthew 7:5 and John 15:12
> Sermons that last longer than 10 minutes
> Big corporations that slow-pay small suppliers
> Television news programs that are one-sided – either way
> Trash pick-up service that comes at a different time each week
> Light bulbs that burn out sooner than manufacturers claim
> Having to sign a credit card receipt for a purchase under $20
> Airports that have different Security rules for keeping shoes on
> Airlines that have different rules for carry-on bags
> Oil change providers that always find something wrong with the car
> Sporting events that run over and cause our DVR to miss the delayed end of a show
> Fans who stand the entire time at football games
> Movie previews that last 20 minutes before the film starts
> People who look at their cell phone in a theater
> People who explain – loudly – what’s happening during a film or musical
> Cereal prices that stay the same while the boxes get smaller
> Politicians who don’t show conviction in their beliefs
> People who share their pet peeves

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