In light of the recent passing of Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, it’s time for us to start celebrating our favorite legends while they’re still with us.
I’ve been in awe of Mel Brooks my entire life. So, Mel Brooks: will you please be my mentor? I’ve learned so much from you already, but I know you can teach me much more. And since we’re just getting acquainted, is it ok if I call you Mel?
Mel has always had vision. He has a knack for knowing what people want, even before they realize it themselves. Can you imagine the studio head when he proclaimed he was going to produce a remake of Frankenstein – in black and white? On “American Masters” he explained that the studio wanted him to use a process that would allow them to shoot the film in color, and then remove all the tones to make it black and white. Mel refused. He knew that if the film was shot in color that the studio would release a colorized version at some point. He stayed true to his vision and it was filmed in black and white. “Young Frankenstein” received two Oscar nominations.
I know that Mel can teach me a lot as an entrepreneur about staying true to my vision for my budding company. I’m pretty sure he can also teach me how to win over naysayers with an outrageously entertaining song and dance number, too. Which leads me to….
Courage and Audacity
Mel is famous for being one of the first comedians to joke about Hitler. Keep in mind that his films were huge successes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s – a mere 20-25 years after World War II ended. When “The Producers” was released in 1967, Jews expressed outrage at the Hitler jokes. But the movie wasn’t about concentration camps or the Holocaust. Mel got his revenge through comedy. He diminished Hitler’s ferocity by ridiculing him.
I’ve learned that being an entrepreneur means vacillating between terror and exhilaration – often several times a day. Talk about High Anxiety!
My dear friend, the author and master salesman Robert Terson, taught me that fear is merely an illusion. When I’m faced with a new, scary situation, the first thing I visualize is the cover of his bestselling book, “Selling Fearlessly”. I imagine that lion and take a deep breath.
Then I think about Mel Brooks and do a quick meditation: “WWMD” (What Would Mel Do)?
I’m pretty sure that Oprah and Deepak won’t be asking me to meditate with them anytime soon. But asking myself WWMD helps me innovate and think bigger. Mel would figure out a way to turn a situation on its head and inject humor. If he can dream up music, lyrics, and choreography for “Springtime for Hitler,” I can certainly help my client find ways to hire 100 caregivers. We just need to act with courage by pushing boundaries, testing outrageously innovative recruiting methods and accepting change.
Never Stop Learning
In today’s internet age, it’s relatively easy to acquire a great depth of knowledge about a topic or industry. But acquiring depth and breadth of knowledge across multiple areas is a game changer.
It takes real mastery of an original body of work before you can spoof it. Like learning a new language, you know you’ve achieved fluency when you understand humor. Mel has proved his depth and breadth of knowledge by spoofing westerns, sci-fi, thrillers, horror, the silent film era, theatrical dramas and war movies. He wrote, directed, produced and often acted in these and many other genres. Mel Brooks also worked on serious movies, children’s shows and cartoons.
I’m a lifelong learner. That comes in handy since I have to know a lot about a variety of different industries in order to help my clients implement mobile recruiting. Mel can teach me how to dig in and really master a body of knowledge. I know I’ll learn about things that I never even knew existed. I hear he’s hanging out quite a bit with Carl Reiner these days. I’ll bring the popcorn on movie night.
Mel Brooks recently put his foot and handprints in cement at the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Take a close look at his left hand. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. He wore a prosthetic so he has six digits. At 88, Mel Brooks can still surprise and delight us. And he tweets! He can mentor me any day.
Hey Mel, mentor wanted…..just reach out to me at info@hrvirtuoso!