The first rule in improvisational comedy (I have heard) is to say “Yes, and…” to everything.  How different would the current fiscal cliff debate be if improvisational comedy rules were followed?

White House: “I’d like to raise tax rates on the wealthiest 1%, so that we don’t have to raise taxes on the middle class.”
Congress: “Yes, and we’d like to lower the corporate tax rates so that we can be more competitive globally.”
White House: “Yes, and I’d like to cap tax deductions for our wealthiest so we can help reduce the deficit.”
Congress: “Yes and we’d like to decrease spending by 5% (you can take it from anywhere you’d like.)”
White House: “Yes, and I’ll see you at the bill signing ceremony.”
Congress: “Yes, and Happy holidays.  Have a great break with the spouse and kids.”
White House: “Yes, and you too. Wait, I got you a gift. Just a little something to say thank you for your leadership.”


And scene.

See how simple that was? Everybody wins and our nation’s optimism and predictability are restored!! Saying yes and being optimistic can have great rewards.

Actually, in my view, optimism and good cheer seem to be trending up. I was driving into work this morning feeling a bit surly because the traffic in the Bay Area was particularly bad.  Then, I remembered that heavy traffic is actually a good sign.  Heavy traffic in Bay Area means people are working. Generally, the worse the traffic the better the economy.  I do try to be optimistic, but sometimes we all can lose perspective.  There seems to be more optimism and good cheer going around generally.  Is this an economic indicator?  Or, is it because we’re into the holiday season?

Another good sign I witnessed last week at the PAC-12 Championship football game #GoStanford!!! I was picking up my tickets at the stadium and there was a guy standing in the ticket line who was offered a ticket from a stranger. Not a scalper.  He said the ticket was free.  “What’s the catch?” said the guy receiving the ticket.  “No catch, this is compliments of UPS.” (a sponsor of the game). How good does that guy feel about UPS?  I know which service he’ll be using to ship his holiday packages.

One more. CNBC has been a great advocate of optimism with their “Rise Above” campaign. On the heels of a tough election season where rhetoric was flung in unprecedented amounts, CNBC is making a concerted effort to, all things being equal, take a positive tone, rather than a negative one.  This is smart, patriotic and adds very positively to the national dialogue. They should be commended for reporting the financial news and trends of the day, but also attempting to keep the national and economic dialogue positive. #RiseAbove.

Going forward we can all take some simple steps to increase our optimism numerator…and/or denominator (either work) for 2013.

Here are a magic 8:

1)      Perform one random act of kindness a day. (Start small: Open or hold a door for someone.)

2)      Say Yes more than No. (Keep a tally)

3)      Use your turn signals (This is more of a Bay Area focused one.) 🙂

4)      Say Please and Thank You. (Everything I know I learned in Kindergarten…)

5)      Don’t take everything so seriously. (Perspective is key to a long life.)

6)      Always look on the bright side of life. (Monty Python is genius.)

7)      Look your fellow passers-by in the face and say hello. (simple, yet human.)

8)      Rise above. (All things being equal, stay positive. Give energy to others…don’t take energy from them.)

Little things can add up to have a great impact, but even one act of kindness has positive impact. Please do your part.

I look forward to a great December and an optimistic 2013. Do you?


John Earnhardt

No Longer at Cisco