What works (for me, at least)

This guest post is from Andy Nulman — President of Just for Laughs and author of “Pow! Right Between the Eyes: Profiting from the Power of Surprise.” See the original post this was adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Andy Nulman's journals

One thing I’ve learned over the course of close to eight years on consistent blogging is that you never, ever, EVER know which post will resonate.

Sometimes, you feel like you are floating on a cloud of greatness as words of sheer genius effortlessly pour out of you, only to find the ensuing “masterpiece” to be unanimously ignored. Other times, you toss off a few lines of throwaway afterthought just to keep your consecutive post streak alive, and they resound with an ever-growing public like a rogue sine wave.

Such was the case when I responded to a collective challenge to write about “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 22.” At the time, I was busy finalizing a few other projects, got to the idea late, and was thoroughly convinced that the other people asked would be way more profound than yours truly. I was almost embarrassed to click the “publish” button when done, but a promise was a promise, so I did… and ended up with one of my most popular posts in two years. Go figure…

Prevalent in the gush of reaction to said post was a question about my own guiding principles, most notably:

“If that’s what you wish you knew then, what do you know now?”

Can’t say I actually “know” much, but I most definitely have a series of somewhat interconnected values I try to live by.

They change a bit from year to year, but they are consistent in that they are listed at the back of my annual personal journal to be referenced at a moment’s notice, or showed to others to prove I actually have some values.

So, to that end, and in response to those who responded to my surprise hit blog post, in no particular order except the last one, here are my ways to be/things to remember (and a little explanation/commentary with each one):

Do Rewarding Work

It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or exciting, but what you do should reward you with a sense of personal gratification, satisfaction, and happiness. Very subjective!

Create Demand

Perhaps my favorite, most quoted, and most difficult value to live by. Do things that make people want you!

Be Spectacular and Different

It will help with the demand thing, that’s for sure! Sameness sucks.

Find Your Calling

No matter who you are, there’s something out there that’s not just meant for you, but is you. Be it work, or a hobby, or a raison d’etre, listen for and follow the voice that guides you to it.

Show Guts

Dare others, dare yourself, challenge the norm… and be sure to follow through on your big boasts.

Find Happiness

Considering the alternative, this is an important, very personal quest.

Laugh More

A corollary and catalyst to the one above. Happiness is a persistent internal glow; laughter is a short-term external explosion, but such a necessity.

Be Wise

Learn and grow (which is one of the reasons I write this every week).

Cherish Time

Like land, they ain’t making any more of it. No waste!

Eyes Open

Be curious, wonder about things, take joy in seeing something new… or something old in a new way.

Mind Open

Think about and then explore different opinions, ways and whys.

Find Peace

At the end of the day… learn to enjoy the end of the day.

Okay, after all that, here’s the last one. And for it, some pre-, rather than post-, explanation.

Over the past 30 years or so, in one way or another, for better and for worse, I’ve been involved in the humor business. During that period, in addition to all the fun, surprise, and glory, I’ve been witness to some of the most outrageous behavior (including, sadly, my own at times!) handling the stress of producing shows, of negotiating contracts, of dealing with others, and of getting through the day-to-day of trying to deliver something exceptional to a vast, wide-reaching audience.

This is why, for as long as I’ve kept them, every one of my journals puts things in perspective and ends the exact same way, namely with this line at the bottom of the book’s final page (that’s what’s pictured atop this post) as my carved-in-stone, go-to ultimate guiding principle:

…And Remember, It’s Only Comedy!


About Andy Nulman

President of Just For Laughs, world's biggest comedy organization. Former mobile tech entrepreneur. Wild public speaker. Wilder public dresser. Author. Hockey player. Gym rat. Needs a longer bio.

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  1. Delia Conlon

    A thoughtful insight and suggestions I will use on my blog. You might have certainly spent a lot of time on this. Nicely done!

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