5 Jun 2009

amusing but spiteful

Every so often at work they invite external speakers, successful in their chosen fields, to inspire us with their ideas, experiences and achievements

A New Dawn by Thomas Hawk

There are canapés, and I always attend.

Last week the speaker was an entrepreneur venture capitalist. No, not one of the ones on Dragon's Den, but if you are the sort of person who could name five entrepreneur venture capitalists, then perhaps you would have heard of him.

His messages were simple, and they were simply told and there were two:

Lesson the first: Perseverance.

It is perseverance, he said, that creates 'so called luck' and in particular luck is created by being out and about and connecting with people - people who have ideas, or who might be able to help you.

Sitting eight rows back I shifted uncomfortably in my seat with the realisation that every single one of the entrepreneurs who have come to speak to us have given us pretty much that same message.

And then, because I am British and not American and therefore value cynicism over optimism, I thought of all the entrepreneurs out there who have not yet persevered long enough to create their luck and have not been invited to speak to us at work

Lesson the second: - Adaptability

If you have an idea you will face setbacks. You need to constantly reassess: you must ask yourself  "Do I have a good idea?" and if you do have good idea then see 1) Perseverance. But also see 2) Adaptability, lest your idea is good one but your approach is wrong.

For sometimes you might open the doors of the room that contains your idea and stride in expecting a ballroom but find yourself in a cupboard. This doesn't make it a bad idea, just a cupboard-sized idea. Or perhaps you have an idea the size of a cupboard and open the doors to find yourself in a ballroom?  Whatever: Either way you need to recognise and adapt.

Now, as well as being a cynic I am also a pragmatist, and I did like that.


Afterwards over canapés I encountered a colleague I hadn't seen for a while and James and I spent a happy glass of wine or so picking over Project Phoenix until we were disconcerted by the organiser of the event, a senior executive normally to be found on the 27th floor, who came smoothly over to shake our hands and ask us who we were and what we thought of the speaker.

Never too shy to express an opinion I said that I thought our speaker was entertaining and engaging and, I judged, in the top quartile of recent speakers.  Indeed, I continued, sipping some more Chardonnay, remembering previous speakers, and warming to my theme, "on a scale of " gesturing now, hand at knee level, I named a famous chef, to (reaching high in the the air), a famous businessman,  "he was about here" (armpit).

I was rather pleased with my improvised bon mot / bon mime, but as the VIP excused himself and hurried away I reflected how no one likes a smart arse, and that unconventional is rarely clever.

Of course I should have come up with something much blander, something more right-thinking, something interior-decorated that surrendered self in favour of conformity. Or more cleverly still, something that drew attention to the quality of my interlocutor's speech of introduction, rather than to my own amusing but spiteful glibness. Lesson the third - diplomacy.

On the other hand James choked on his canapé and said 'good one' so it was a quip not entirely wasted.

All the same I was glad I had given a false name.

4 comments:

scribbler said...

steady the line...

I, Like The View said...

I find that perseverance and adaptability, with a smidgeon of diplomacy thrown in, are indeed the qualities required of life

mine anyhow

Botogol said...

It sounds so straightforward, doesn't it?

I, Like The View said...

. . .so why isn't it then. . .