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Some of the biggest smiles and most laughter I’ve had in years came from reading Dave Barry’s latest book, Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Quicker). It ranks up there with seeing The Book of Mormon (especially on Broadway) and Spamalot, which are both non-stop side-splitters.

Some of the books chapters are:

  • A letter to my daughter as she becomes eligible for a Florida learners permit (unless I can get the law changed)
  • The real Mad Men
  • Everything I learned about home ownership I learned from Johnny Carson

It’s the Real Mad Men chapter that really caught my attention. Barry’s examples of how 1950’s and 60’s ad campaigns evolved amid the non-stop smoking, drinking and affairs are hilarious.

  • First ad executive: “I got it! We put a tiny man in a boat in the toilet tank.”
  • Second ad executive: “Perfect! Pass the whiskey.”

Humor, and other attention getting devices, are best when “real” as in “you can’t make this stuff up (as nobody would believe it).” He writes about his parents’ parties with everybody smoking and drinking, and not worried about it. And all the other dangerous things his parents and their friends did, including:

  • “….water they drank right from the tap.”
  • How they didn’t “interrogate the waiter about whether the chicken contained steroids or was allowed to range freely or was executed humanely; they just ordered the damn chicken.”
  • “They didn’t worry about trans fat, gluten, fructose and all the other food components now considered so dangerous they could be used to rob a bank (“Give him the money! He’s got gluten!”)”

The above is fun, funny and entertaining and it leads to the following. “Above all, they did not worry about providing a perfect, risk-free environment for their children. They loved us, sure. But they didn’t feel obligated to spend every waking minute running interference between us and the world.”

This applies to our businesses, not just helicopter parenting. Business is filled with risk, as is life. We take manageable risks based on the anticipated reward. And there will always be risks. We can’t protect our kids, grandkids, selves or our businesses from all eventualities. What we can do is make sure we’re prepared for the ones having a high probability of occurring, and trusting our skills and judgment to handle the rest.

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