I am a cornball.
Chances are, you know this already. Everyone I’ve ever known pretty much knows it. It’s part of my DNA to look for the pun no matter the circumstance. And I long to make people smile, if not laugh.
Which can be annoying at times, especially if you don’t know me. Which is one reason I’d like to know everyone, because the idea of being annoying makes me crazy.
. . .
As a part of my job at SocialMedia.org, I serve as moderator at our BlogWell conferences, afternoon events featuring social media case studies from really sharp people at big brands. I’ll give the welcome speech to an audience of up to 400 people, and I’ll introduce speakers throughout the day.
A good chunk of the audience is made up of SocialMedia.org members, who already know my presentational style through our day-to-day work.
A larger part of the audience is made up of people seeing me for the first time. Their reaction means a lot: on a personal level, of course, but especially for professional reasons — we’d like them to join our group. This event is intended to convince them to do that. And I’m the sometimes-silly mouthpiece that holds the day together.
Deep down, I believe I’m helping. But sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if I’m the right guy for the job. Does “shades of cornball” fit?
We just held our 20th of these conferences, and if my style or skills weren’t appropriate, I know my boss would pull me aside and tell me to straighten it out. But would I? Could I? When you’re presenting, I think you need to be you — or at least, I need to be me. I have a hard enough time doing that, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be someone else.
. . .
At one of my radio jobs, a new co-worker immediately established himself as either someone you liked or someone who disgusted you. He could be funny and generous and thoughtful; and he would go out of his way to crash through long-standing boundaries, say and do things that were disrespectful of his colleagues, and sabotage the work that everyone else had put in to create a great atmosphere.
I was in the latter group.
We’d talk, sometimes specifically about what the heck he was doing. He was fully aware of how he was being perceived by Group Two — radio is an ego business, after all — but he wasn’t going to change. As much as it may have seemed like an act, he was just being himself. And if Group Two didn’t like it, well, screw ’em.
I can’t fathom that.
I’m sure life is much easier for him, focusing just on the people he cares about and who care about him.
But what a missed opportunity. So many fun, interesting, helpful people in the world. Keeping them at arm’s length seems the wrong kind of selfish.
I’d much rather learn what they have to offer. See what I can learn from them. Willingly share what I know and see if they respond.
And if I’m sincere and genuine in that, yep, it involves a little bit of cornball. It is who I am. And I really dig when people get that.