Tragedy plus time equals comedy. It’s an old saying, and whoever said it had valuable insight into the human condition.
As a standup comedian and a keynote speaker, I owe a debt of thanks to my failures.
After graduating from college, I got a job selling products to grocery chains. After being promoted to the corporate headquarters as a project manager, I represented Sales on a team charged with devising a shelving unit for Pringles.
After a lot of research and analysis, we built a prototype. Our next step was to install it in a local grocery store. Before my promotion, the selected store was my customer. I could just call up my old buyer and ask a favor. Unfortunately, we had a strained relationship with that particular buyer.
I didn’t want to let down my new team down, so I called the buyer, and she agreed to put the unit in.
We installed our very expensive prototype and arranged for some higher-ups to visit the next day. The unit was gone!
We found it in a dumpster behind the store.
When I called my buyer, she simply said she changed her mind. I was crushed. I had let my new team down. It was my first assignment. I was already a failure.
I went into my buddy Gene’s office to recount my tale of defeat. Gene was from Georgia and spoke with a deep southern accent.
When I was done, he looked at me deadpan for about four seconds, and said:
“Man, (long pause) they throwed yo’ Pringles out. Hahahahahahaha. They throwed yo’ Pringles out!”
He proclaimed to all the offices on our floor, “They throwed his Pringles out.” There was a rhythm to it…like a song. The song was a hit! Soon everyone on the floor knew “they throwed my Pringles out.”
They all thought it was hilarious. But I was sure I was going to be fired.
They didn’t fire me. Eventually, we ran a test market in several stores and the results were positive enough to launch nationally.
A couple years ago, Gene came to see me perform. After the show, we had a few drinks.
“Hey man, remember when they throwed yo’ Pringles out?”
“Yeah, Gene. I remember.”
We laughed. Together. It had taken me 20 years to gain perspective.
When we encounter failure, we should consider the possibility that at some point, we may have a different perspective. When we do that, we begin to understand that our failure is not permanent. Perhaps it can help us cope more quickly with future mistakes.
Even if they throwed our Pringles out.
About the Speaker: Greg Warren is a nationally touring headliner and has been featured on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, BET and CMT. Greg is a fan favorite on the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom Radio Show and can be heard daily on Sirius/XM. Greg’s corporate comedy act is 100% clean and appropriate for any audience. He’s a seasoned emcee making him the perfect host for any event. Greg can customize his show to fit his client’s needs.
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To book one of Greg Warren’s hilarious keynotes or his corporate clean comedy act, contact Midwest Speakers Bureau at 515-974-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org