Specifically, I was working with the DCMA – Defense Contractors Management Agency. I was hired by a Mr. Charlie Williams, their director and a nice man who hired me twice for contracting events for the Air Force. (Mr. Williams recently changed jobs.)
I always love speaking, but speaking for the military is especially exciting and meaningful. Especially because we’re at war, and because their job could not be more serious. Sure, I enjoy working for corporate groups and associations, and those folks are good people. But their mission is never quite as life-and-death as my military audiences.
My corporate audiences are stressed out about meeting sales quotas, selling widgets, and their newsoftware. Military audiences are stressed out because they were just deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, (or about to be) and are supporting their peers who are there right now. I don’t mean to dismiss anybody’s career or problems, but let’s face it, our friends in the military are in an especially unique work situation.
By looking at the front of USA Today we can easily forget about Iraq and Afghanistan. But when you walk into a room full of DOD / DCMA folks, you don’t need a reminder. These are good folks with a serious job.
So, what was it like? What did we do? The first thing I did was to (politely) poke fun at nearly everything they did. I poked fun at how the top “brass” was in the front row, about how they had just sat through HOURS of PowerPoint (which they complicated by calling “Briefing Slides.”) I teased them about their unending acronyms, the crazy soap stocked in our hotel rooms, and even about their long (and somehow undescriptive) job titles. (What does an Industrial Specialist do anyhow?)
In my experience as a humorist and business speaker, the groups that are the quickest to laugh are the groups that need it most. This group really needed a break; they were extremely fast to catch on to thehumor.
It is always gratifying to take a group from stressed to “ready to work.” It is always fun to fun to give them tools to use have and use their senses of humor. And of course it’s a total blast to make any group laugh until they cry. But to do this for a group of hardworking cilvilian and military folks who need it most just makes you feel like you’re the luckiest guy with the coolest job ever.
I’ve heard the words, “I’m honored to be part of your team.” Heck, I’ve even said them. But in this case, I couldn’t mean it more.
Hey Mr. Williams: thanks so much for bringing me in. It was great to work for you once. It’s MORE than three times cooler to work for you three times. And to the good folks at DCMA … you rock! Keep your chin up, keep the fun-meter on high, and keep up the good work. Your mission is too important to not treat yourself right.
Military Speaker, Fan of the DCMA, Honored to be Part Your Event