The Billion Dollar Joke

The Billion Dollar Joke


Humor is the number one way to disarm someone, and let you into their lovely little world.

I love being in Zimbabwe because everyday I get a chance to interact with all of the “serious” businessmen doing “serious” things.

Drinks on you. Jokes on me.

You’re sitting with an investor worth a few million, it could be awkward—especially the first time. You’re telling him what you think he wants to hear and your sweat beads tell him you’re as nervous as a family of worms paddling over a bream pond.

First time I started down the entrepreneur lane I memorized my only pitch and nothing else. I desperately stuck to it. In fact, it was so bad that before I waited to hear how everyone’s weekend was I aggressively pulled out my laptop and started rushing through my slideshow as if I was only talking to a bunch of machines that were going to make a decision right after I was finished.

Back to the investor, you could buy him a great glass of wine, take on the bullet of the bill and pay for his truffle covered fillet and his don pedro. Those are just mere chicken tracks that are easily covered up by the next time he gets his butt kissed by someone looking for money.

The tears drizzling from his eyes as he’s banging the table. That is the sound of money.

You my friend have just entered the realm where “there are numbers in laughter.”

What about on a first date? You may not impress a high standard lass on your first date with your clean looks or the extent of your vocabulary. Laughter is where the gold is and laughter is where the next date awaits.

Can You Be Sarcastic? Or Stop Being So Serious.

Humor is like a rubber sword, you can make a poke without drawing blood. Create a memory without that thick, heavy, sad smoke of a serious offer lingering around causing your tie, and his, to feel very tight and uncomfortable. If you’re trying to sell the best thing since sliced bread, so are a thousand other people.

Relationship is more important then a quick buck, and a strong partner or serious financial partner is looking for more then just a plan. It’s class, it’s humor it’s “Can you be someone that I’d like to invest my time in? Or will all of our meetings just be as boring as school was?”

Dinner With A Billionaire

Two years back, I had my first dinner with a billionaire. He was from the US and was sniffing out the prospects of putting down some finance for various projects. He started off very reserved. My brother and I took our seats. He was very recluse in his posture. My brother and I took the “All or nothing approach” and directed him through the African based menu. There were two ways we could leave this dinner: crying or laughing.

We could have become quickly overwhelmed by the facade of this infallible heavy weight. It was him in one corner, my brother and I in another. The score was 1 to 1 billion in dollars. We used the only weapon in our arsenal: humor. We took the approach that he was probably very bored with talking business and wanted a little a bit of escape—that’s what we ended up giving him.

You know it’s going well when he begins to try and throw back the fruit (literally back to the kitchen). He ended up giving my brother high fives. High Fives? You better believe you don’t leave a billionaire hanging when he puts his hand up for a connection.

In the words of my brother “My hand was sore from the high fives he was giving me in response to perfectly executed jokes.” The roar of laughter was almost embarrassing for us. At the end of the dinner we didn’t gain a business partner. We gained a friend. He invited us to his hotel and personal telephone numbers started coming out. Pictures of his single daughter, and even if we only saw him again in 5 years he won’t forget that night. Priceless it was, and he paid for our dinner.

90% of your best memories lie in the area of humor. That’s why you go to the pub and grab a drink and laugh off all the serious meetings you had with people who are only concerned about the numbers. This doesn’t give a person the license to be a clown and show yourself as unserious or unreliable. The humor only works when you can deliver and your reputation is good.

Don’t take everything so seriously. Enjoy business, enjoy food, enjoy life and make the billionaires laugh.

(photo: brian wolfe)