Category Archives: Funny stuff

Where’s the brown M&M in Your business | LMA

Where’s the brown M&M in Your business?

In its 1980s heyday, the band Van Halen became notorious for a clause in its touring contract that demanded a bowl of M&Ms backstage, but with all the brown ones removed. The story is true — confirmed by former lead singer David Lee Roth himself — and it became the perfect, appalling symbol of rock-star-diva behaviour.

Get ready to reverse your perception. Van Halen did dozens of shows every year, and at each venue, the band would show up with nine 18-wheelers full of gear. Because of the technical complexity, the band’s standard contract with venues was thick and convoluted; a typical “article” in the contract might say, “There will be 15 amperage voltage sockets at 20-foot spaces, evenly, providing 19 amperes.”

Van Halen buried a special clause in the middle of the contract. It was called Article 126. It read, ‘There will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation’. So when Roth would arrive at a new venue, he’d walk backstage and glance at the M&M bowl. If he saw a brown M&M, he’d demand a line check of the entire production. “Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error,” he wrote, “They didn’t read the contract”.

In other words, Roth was no diva. He was an operations expert. He couldn’t spend hours every night checking the amperage of each socket. He needed a way to assess quickly whether the stagehands at each venue were paying attention — whether they had read every word of the contract and taken it seriously. In Roth’s world, a brown M&M was the canary in the coal mine.

Like Roth, none of us has the time and energy to dig into every aspect of our businesses. But, if we’re smart, we won’t need to. What if we could rig up a system where problems would announce themselves before they arrived? That may sound like wishful thinking, but notice that it’s exactly what Roth achieved. Surely, you won’t be outwitted by the guy who sang “Hot for Teacher.”

Where’s the brown M&M in your business?

Business Advice From Van Halen by Dan Heath and Chip Heath | Fast Company, March 2010

Does the chair exist?

A lecture hall was packed with philosophy students on their first day of class.

Their grey-haired professor raised his hands above his head and the class began to fall quiet. In one swift movement, the professor grabbed his chair and slammed it onto his desk.

The professor turned around and etched a challenge on the whiteboard – this was to be their first graded assignment.
It read – “Prove to me this chair doesn’t exist”.

Given one hour to complete their essay, all of the students began with haste. Within 30 seconds, one student stood up and handed in his assignment in front of his bemused class.

Can you guess what the student wrote?
“What chair?”
This student received an A for his assignment.

When was the last time you or your team were encouraged to think outside the box?

The lost balloonist

A man in a hot air balloon is lost. He sees a man on the ground and reduces height to speak to him.

“Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?”

“You’re in a hot air balloon hovering thirty feet above this field,” comes the reply.

“Everything you told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone,” says the balloonist.

“You must be in business,” says the man.

“I am,” says the balloonist, “How did you know?”

“Well,” says the man, “You don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”

Rocks in a bucket (the funny version)

A lecturer at a university is giving a pre-exam lecture on time management. On his desk is a bag of sand, a bag of pebbles, some big rocks and bucket.

“The is an analogy of poor time management,” says the lecturer, “If you’d have put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, all three would have fit. This is much like time management, in that by completing your biggest tasks first, you leave room to complete your medium tasks, then your smaller ones. By completing your smallest tasks first you spend so much time on them you leave yourself unable to complete either medium of large tasks satisfactorily. Let me show you…”

And the lecturer fills the bucket, big rocks first, then pebbles, then sand, shaking the bucket between each so that everything fits.

“But Sir,” says one student, slouched at the back of the theater, “You’ve forgotten one thing….”

At which the student approaches the bucket, produces a can of beer, opens it and pours into the bucket. “No matter how busy you are,” quips the student with a smile, “There’s always time for a quick beer.”

Creative thinking saves the day

A lady takes her pet Chihuahua with her on a safari holiday. Wandering too far one day, the Chihuahua gets lost in the bush and soon encounters a very hungry looking leopard.

The Chihuahua realises he’s in trouble, but, noticing some fresh bones on the ground, he settles down to chew on them, with his back to the big cat. As the leopard is about to leap, the Chihuahua smacks his lips and exclaims loudly, “Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here.”

The leopard stops mid-stride, and slinks away into the trees.

“Phew,” says the leopard, “that was close – that evil little dog nearly had me.”

A monkey nearby sees everything and thinks he’ll win a favour by putting the stupid leopard straight. The Chihuahua sees the monkey go after the leopard and guesses he might be up to no good.

When the leopard hears the monkey’s story, he feels angry at being made a fool and offers the monkey a ride back to see him exact his revenge.

The little dog sees them approaching and fears the worse.

Thinking quickly, the little dog turns his back, pretends not to notice them, and when the pair are within earshot says aloud, “Now where’s that monkey got to? I sent him ages ago to bring me another leopard…”

The frog and the geese

A frog asked two geese to take him south with them. At first they resisted; they didn’t see how it could be done.

Finally, the frog suggested that the two geese hold a stick in their beaks and that he would hold on to it with his mouth.

So off the unlikely threesome went, flying south over the countryside. It was quite a sight. People looked up and expressed great admiration at this demonstration of creative teamwork.

Someone said, “It’s wonderful! Who was so clever to discover such a fine way to travel?” Whereupon the frog opened his mouth and said, “It was I,” as he plummeted to the earth.

Moral: There is no “I” in team.

Always look on the bright side of life

A very old lady looked in the mirror one morning. She had three remaining hairs on her head, and being a positive soul, she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she braided her three hairs, and she had a great day.

Some days later, looking in the mirror one morning, preparing for her day, she saw that she had only two hairs remaining. “Hmm, two hairs… I fancy a centre parting today.” She duly parted her two hairs, and as ever, she had a great day.

A week or so later, she saw that she had just one hair left on her head. “One hair huh…,” she mused, “I know, a pony-tail will be perfect.” And again she had a great day.

The next morning she looked in the mirror. She was completely bald.

“Finally bald huh,” she said to herself, “How wonderful! I won’t have to waste time doing my hair anymore!”

A boy walks into a store…

A boy walks into a store and dials a number on his mobile phone.

Boy: “Lady, can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?”

Woman: (at the other end of the phone line) “I already have someone to cut my lawn.”

Boy: “Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price than the person who cuts your lawn now.”

Woman: “I’m very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting the lawn.”

Boy: (with more perseverance) “Lady, I’ll even sweep the floor and the stairs of your house for free.”

Woman: “No, thank you. I have someone that does a good job”

With a smile on his face, the boy put down the phone. The store owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.

Store owner: “Son….I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.”

Boy: “No thanks.”

Store owner: “But you were really pleading for one.”

Boy: “No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady!”

This is called Self Appraisal!

A matter of perspective

A synergistic, empowered and productive team consists of individuals who envision their input as meaningful and significant.

The story is told of a traveller who visited a stone quarry and asked three workers what they were doing.

“Can’t you see?” said the first one irritably, “I’m cutting stone.”

The second replied, “I’m earning a living.”

But the third put down his pick and thrust out his chest proudly, “I’m building a cathedral,” he said.

How people view their work makes a significant impact on long-term productivity; all workers perform and respond to change best when they are accomplishing goals that matter to them.

Are you “cutting stone” or “building a cathedral”? A worthwhile question to ask of yourself and your team.

Attitude is everything

A man ran a business that had been in the family for three generations. The staff were happy, and customers loved to visit the store.

A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!

Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, “What’s so great about business?”. The owner would then talk about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example, the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day and the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment.

No matter how miserable a person was, they’d usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.

It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy – if asked about the badge, the business owner would confide:
“The badge came first. The great business followed.”


Adapted from Business Balls: ethical work and life learning website