I grew up in a somewhat “Ozzie & Harriet” small-town household – two parents, 4 siblings (best friends or foes on any given day), where playing in the street was safe and our adult neighbors were duly authorized to dole out discipline to any Blansett kid caught misbehaving. My Mom’s rapier wit and love of practical jokes made her more popular with my friends than I was, at times – and she frequently used them to teach us meaningful life lessons.
I recall one “lesson” that Mom used to educate Dad, soon after their marriage and before we arrived on the scene (a story I heard many times over the years). While “helping” Mom at the local grocery store, Dad was jaw-boning with an acquaintance, when Mom approached up the aisle with the grocery cart. “Why, here’s the little woman now,” said my father, preparing to introduce his new wife. Mom looked up without missing a beat and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir, I’ve never seen you before in my life,” and proceeded to wheel around them to the next aisle, leaving Dad standing flat-footed and his friend trying hard not to laugh. The lesson stuck with Dad; he quickly saw the humor in her reaction, and he never referred to her as “the little woman” again.
People like to laugh. Ask any teacher, coach, psychologist or parent and they’ll tell you – education and instruction, even critique, goes down a whole lot easier when delivered with a little humor. Must be that “spoonful of sugar” thing.
My friend and colleague, Maury Forman, would say “What does all this have to do with economic development?” Well, with that question, and some colloquial funny-bone-tickling, Maury has authored some truly great economic development lessons and provided EconDev newcomers and seasoned pros alike with a treasure-trove of wisdom. His self-deprecating stories and punchlines (“No, BRE is not a French cheese”) not only make for entertaining reading, they help the reader remember, thus filing the lesson as grey-matter RAM, for easy retrieval when needed.
One of his recent books, The Wit and Wisdom of an Economic Developer, was published last August. In it, Maury offers – in 2-3 page gems – thoughtful tutorials on everything from BRE to entrepreneurial support to business/talent attraction, leadership, salesmanship and so much more. All are illustrated by genius cartoonist and Maury’s longtime collaborator, Milt Priggee. This book, as all of Maury’s writings, makes a GREAT gift to share with a young member of your E.D. team, an entire EDO board or newly-elected community leader.
Early this year, Maury released Noah’s Town: Where Animals Reign, a contemporary parable about community disaster preparedness and recovery – a topic sure to affect us all. It’s available on Amazon (and on smile.amazon.com as well). I can’t wait to read it, and one thing’s for sure – it will deliver a compelling lesson with humor, and I’ll enjoy every page!
By Susan Blansett, CEcD, Managing Partner, The McCarthy/Blansett Group