I have no business discussing this topic, an area for experts and not someone like me who has no scientific data. But, the cool thing about being a columnist is I am allowed to pontificate about what I feel might be important.

I’ve always prided myself in having the power of observation and learning from my surroundings. You would be amazed at how much you learn by just watching people. It could be at an airport, a boardroom or at a party. People and their actions fascinate me.

We all enjoy being around naturally funny people, not the center of attention idiot who is constantly telling jokes or has a quota of talking that he or she must use. We like being around humorous people that make us laugh and feel good about ourselves.

Funny people are usually quick on their feet. Their mind is going at a faster speed than the rest of us. Before I can think of what my next thought is, that incredibly humorous person has usually responded with some quick witticism or hilarious comment.

One of my closest friends has that gift. Obviously, we have spent a great deal of time together, and he never ceases to amaze me. In fact, he has been my guide in so many projects or ideas where I needed his humor and creativity. Anyone who knows Jon will agree he is one of the funniest and kindest people.

That skill of being funny, entertaining or comical is just not something that can be trained. I saw a television special on actor-comedian Bill Murray who got his big break on “Saturday Night Live.” As they were going through his life, it was explained he came from a family of nine children and their parents had an incredible sense of humor. 

Those I have met who have wit or a humorous personality tell me one or both of their parents were funny in their home when they were growing up.

OK, so why the article and what does it have to do with business?

Success, like comedy, cannot be taught. That person must come to the table with those skills, attributes, inner drive or whatever you want to call it. That great athlete is constantly working on toning his or her body or perfecting his or her athletic abilities. 

Whether it is a golfer working on his or her swing, a basketball player improving his or her jump shot or even the quarterback perfecting a down-and-out pass, the key is the practice and consistency.

A top-earning comedian does not just do an HBO special with new material for the first time. He or she has been working on the jokes or stories for some time, perfecting material, delivery or timing. He or she has probably made some unannounced appearances at a local comedy club late in the evening to try out the “bit” to gauge audience reaction and then fine-tune the material. Trust me, when he or she was ready to do the HBO special or any TV show such as “The Late Show with David Letterman” or the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” he or she was prepared and ready to go.

Most salespeople I have met in my 25-plus years of coaching and consulting have nowhere near this type of work ethic or desire to work on their craft. They just show up to sales calls as they would to any other appointment. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some salespeople who are unbelievably prepared and ready to go and win the customer, but this is usually the exception and not the norm.

When you take raw talent, such as being humorous – which cannot be trained – and you work on the skill set to take that talent to a higher level, you will win over the audience in a comedy club or even get the sale.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

How do you feel about this article?

Choose from the options below.