Of Pity Laughs and Brand Building… owning your "weaknesses!"

I'm not that funny! That's why I begin many of my training sessions with something like: Hi I'm Will and its likely that I will tell you a joke today! You will not find it funny, so just give me a quick pity laugh; it makes me feel validated and helps keep the training moving.

Why do I do this? False modesty, a need for validation, because I have a weird sense of humor? These would all be valid answers, but they don't quite get at the true purpose behind this statement. I begin training sessions with this for a couple reasons.
  1. It gets people's attention and loosens them up. Attentive, loose people stay engaged and retain more information.
  2. It takes a potential weakness of mine, my admittedly odd humor, and turns it from an awkward experience into a unifying one. Typically when I say this, someone will give a quick pity laugh, I'll congratulate them for getting it and we'll move on.       Then, if I make a joke later and people find it funny, great. But, if it falls flat, we can still rally around it and use it to bring the group together.
Other than giving you an awesome line to steal in your next training session, I think this provides instruction as we build our brands. By taking our "weaknesses" head on, we can render them harmless, or even reposition them as a strength (see White Castle and Natural Light).
Does this self-deprecation always work? Nope, I'm sure there are plenty of people that can't stand me… but most of the customers I write content for or train love my self-deprecation and willingness to do what it takes to engage their team or prospects. You could almost say it's part of my brand story…actually, you should definitely say it.
As for the ones that don't like me or my message…I've done us all a favor by letting out my "weakness" so we all can move past each other onto a better fit.
What's one of your "weaknesses" that you can disarm or turn to your advantage?
To life, love and a week free of playing catch with lawn darts,
Will Goad
willgoad@willgoad.com | http://linkedin.com/in/willgoad
http://about.me/willgoad | http://twitter.com/willgoad

To goad = to provoke, prod, drive, etc. This has been your daily goad. Thank you for 3 minutes of your day!