Travelling, Speaking and a Little Bill Cosby for Good Measure

So I know I’ve been posting very sporadically and not on schedule this week, but I warned you this would happen. Marketing feels less ominous right now, but it’s still kicking my tail around the ring.

One reason it’s a bit harder than it really needed to be is that work is crazy and I have two trips. Last week I had to be in Memphis and Houston in a two day window and this week I’m attending and speaking at a conference in Denver (wrote this post on my iPad on the plane, in fact, which is how I found time).

I’m speaking on a topic that is one of my favorites: health care economics from a biblical perspective. One of the joys of the job that I got thrust into for Samaritan when we had to do all the lobbying from 2006-2011 (at which point I started passing more of it on to others) is that I got to interact with some really smart people who come at health care from varying perspectives. The perspective I gravitate towards is the economic one, given my level of interest in econ.

Public speaking is one of my favorite things to do. I recently wrapped up a class for some of my co-workers on the topic, and I plan to do another one when school is finished, so something starting in February of next year I’d guess. This year I avoided most of my travel but I was willing to do some travel if I was asked to speak. And in the next few weeks I’m speaking at two conferences, this one and another in Dallas next Month.

There’s something about the spoken word that excites me. When I was a kid I used to fall asleep listening to cassette tape copies of Bill Cosby records that my dad had lying around. Cosby is, in my opinion, one of the finest comedians of all time. He has changed a bit of late (probably since his son was murdered if you’re looking for a time frame) but his ability to turn the everyday life of a dad or child into a story that causes gut wrenching laughter is almost unparalleled. If I were to name a newer comedian who has a similar style and skill I’d pick Jim Gaffigan or Brian Regan, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that Cosby influenced both of them.

And Cosby influenced me as well. It was from Cosby and listening to his routines over and over again that I learned how to have cadence in my speaking. Even when you’re not trying to make people laugh, you have to keep their attention. And Cosby knew how to pause, to use non-verbals, body language, strange sounds and the like to keep the attention of almost anyone with a heartbeat. And in an era where so many comedians were turning to the “easy laugh” of profanity Cosby was able to take a story about feeding the children breakfast or going to the dentist into a memorable, repeatable, hilarious experience for the listener.

I may write more on Cosby later, because his entire life is a fantastic story, only some of which comes out in his comedic acts. He was the first african american in several pursuits, and even at the age he is today can make even young folks laugh.

I don’t know that there will be any laughter tomorrow at my lecture. If there’s an opening I’ll take it, and if it falls flat I’ll say something self-deprecating and move on. But when I talk I’ll be thinking about how to communicate my topic with beauty, grace, humility and humor, and to keep the attention of anyone who shows up to hear.

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