Life Lessons from . . . Bob Newhart?

I had the opportunity to see Bob Newhart speak as part of a series I have annual tickets for at the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan.  I had two reasons for going:

  1. My friend Bob was interested in using my extra ticket – so I had some good company for the drive.
  2. Bob is funny.  Specifically Bob Newhart is funny.  My friend Bob is funny – he is just not Bob Newhart funny.

Learning is often about going into a situation with an open mind and just listening for something that makes you go Hmmmm.  Here is what I carried with me after my evening with Bob Newhart.

  • On retirement –  “I am 81 years old and people often ask me when I will retire.  I make people laugh, and I have a hard time walking away from that and saying that I will not do that anymore.  People need laughter, and that is what I do.”
  • On working at a difficult job – He hosted The Tonight Show 87 times so Johnny Carson could have a break.  “It was a really hard job, and one time when I did it for three straight weeks I was exhausted.  Johnny once said that if he put the same effort into his first marriage as he did his job he would still be married.”
  • Just a random funny comment that made me laugh – “So I was driving down to the racetrack in San Diego with my wife and Tim Conway and his wife . . . . . . ” .  My only thought was that it has to be funny sitting in a car with Tim Conway.  My friend Bob and I giggled at this comment because we shared the same vision of ‘just hanging out with Tim Conway’.

There is learning all around us – and situations that plant seeds that make us think about things.  Just spending 90 minutes with Bob Newhart left me thinking about some significant things.  Here are questions that were rolling around in my head:

  • Careers – What part of what I do would I never want to stop doing because the world needs it?  my note:  What would a workforce look like if everyone understood this about themselves, shared it, and pursued it?
  • Balance – Is any job worth more effort than a marriage?  What is the cost of being wrong?   my note:  I once checked the divorce rate of CEO’s and it was lower than the national average.  I am still processing this – but I was surprised.
  • Friendship – What is your definition? my note:  How about “Someone who will go with you to see Bob Newhart and also thinks Tim Conway is funny.”

It was a good night.