BUSY TIMES REQUIRE FLEXIBILITY
Happy Spring! If you’re like us, you spent the long Dutch Easter weekend relaxing after opening a new show, “The Future is Here… And it is Slightly Annoying.” In addition, I just finished a crazy six weeks of non-stop travel gigs. And being busy leads to stress. How do I handle busy periods? With improv of course. That flexibility to respond to unusual situations, also when I’m busy, is what keeps me going.
It started with a trip to London. Pro tip: Never, ever fly to Luton. Luton Airport is like if a parking lot and a construction site had sex, but instead of a condom, they used an ugly waiting room from the mid-80’s. If Brexit means I never have to fly there again, bring it on. Instead of getting mad at the airport, however, I just think ‘Yes and.’ Wow, this Luton gas station sandwich is dry. ‘Yes and’ I will be eating better at Jamie’s Italian at Heathrow or Gatwick, ending with Jamie’s warm strudel with vanilla sauce which feels neither Jamie nor Italian, but it’s good.
There was a trip to Helsinki where the organizers offered to take me along for a traditional Finnish lunch and an even more traditional Finnish sauna at their cottage in the woods, 90 minutes outside of the city. Was I ‘too busy’ to go? Technically yes, but life is also about seizing unusual opportunities. In case you’re wondering if I walked 60 meters to drop my bare ass into a hole in the ice, the answer is no. That said perhaps you weren’t wondering. Anyway, that was an opportunity I did not want to seize.
Then I had to deal with a bit of our own Luton, right in the Haarlemmermeer. I am talking about the M gates at Schiphol. Unfortunately, KLM doesn’t fly to Dubrovnik, so there I was. An accident on the A10 added an hour to my commute. And a cancelled flight had somehow put an extra plane full of people in the security line. No stress; I had speedy boarding! ‘Sorry hoor. We’re only letting people going to Malaga in that line. Don’t worry; you’ll make your flight.’ Stress. I chatted with a few different security people, but no one was especially concerned.
After 45 minutes in the Efteling-style winding line, with my gate closing in ten minutes, I told a security guy I was worried about making the plane, and needed to join the speedy line. Unfortunately, he towed the party line: ‘Sorry hoor; that’s only for people going to Malaga. You’ll have to go left.’ I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Then you better call the police, because I’m not going left.’ Now he was concerned: ‘If I call the police, you will be in a very different line…’ We had a laugh, he understood my situation, and he invited me to go right.
I made the flight (just), but I thought this is a lot how you need to be to host events: A mix of confident and prepared. It’s a lot like doing improv or hosting events. You need to assume that unexpected events and problems will derail your plans. Sometimes you need to be assertive. And sometimes nimble enough to know that you can sort whatever it is that comes up — and that a little humor goes a long way in that sorting. And yes we can teach that!
As Director of Creative Content, Pep does it all: He’s a high level event host & facilitator, writer, stand-up comedian, public speaker, coach, and developer of innovative corporate programs. A co-founder of Boom Chicago, Pep’s passion is using comedy to make hard-to-communicate messages land and stick, as featured In his 2012 TED talk, ‘Fight, Flight or Make Your Opponent Laugh.’ Pep hosts events like TEDx Amsterdam, The Next Web Conference, The Nordic Business Forum, and the Spin Awards to rave reviews, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on America’s long-running television show, Saturday Night Live.