When my thick glasses are overrated.
I love words. Whenever someone uses them in ways that are new to me — my first tag for them — eloquently smart.
Life went that way until Sarah Cooper made me sit up and notice the quirkiness of smartness.
Humor has a way of doling out aha moments. When laced with satire, it gives the sharpness that lingers for a long time. Here are a few that brought me laughs and lessons.
1. Sound smart when you are the driver for Einstein
I read this during my teen years — when paper newspapers were a thing and black and white print was the norm. It was in the newly minted color version of Young World, the Saturday children’s section of the South Indian English paper, The Hindu.
The internet has since taught me the story is untrue. I like it anyway.
When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, his driver was tired hearing the same talk. He said, “I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I can do it.”
Einstein laughed loudly and said, “Why not? Let’s do it!”
They swapped attires and the driver impersonated Einstein. The chauffeur did well in the looks department. He gave beautiful renditions of Einstein’s speech and answered questions expertly. This went on for a few lectures. Until he met a supremely pompous professor in the audience.
The professor asked an extremely esoteric question, digressing here and there to let the audience know that he was nobody’s fool.
In the back row, Einstein thought the game was up.
Just then, the chauffeur gave the professor a steely stare and said, “Your question is so simple that my chauffeur sitting at the back can answer that for you.” And the chauffeur did.
Decades have flown by. This is still my favorite science story that showcased the beauty of street smart vs. book smart with a generous laugh thrown in.
As Scott Berkun put it — “There is no doubt in my mind street smarts kicks book smarts ass.”
2. Sound smart without knowing what you are talking about
Black Books is an award winning British sitcom that has a way of amplifying life with a laugh. Here is one at a management presentation.
This video helped me connect dots with one Professor in college — eloquently paced speaker who enamored me with his words. After every lecture that was timed beautifully after lunch, I wondered, “what did I really learn?” What I assumed then was that one message was better than many.
After the roll of decades , the real message is crystal clear — I have a susceptible mind.
3. Sound smart during a public presentation!
There is an innate beauty when you can laugh at yourself. TED talks did that by broadcasting this TEDx talk. Great work by actor and comedian, Will Stephen
4. Sound smart like this gem from Sarah Cooper — an inspiration for sly humor.
She made me sit up and notice what I was falling for. There were times in my life when I implicitly assumed, “this person is smart” when they asked the presenter to go back a slide.
In her awesome words “It doesn’t matter where in the presentation you shout this out, it’ll immediately make you look like you’re paying closer attention than everyone else is, because clearly they missed the thing that you’re about to brilliantly point out. Don’t have anything to point out? Just say something like, “I’m not sure what these numbers mean,” and sit back.”
5. None work, this does: Sometimes, the quietest person in the room asks a few thoughtful questions at the end. You sit up and notice.
In life, it has less to do with smartness, it has more to do with self belief to know when to say openly, “I don’t know.” Learning starts then. Somewhere along the way, smartness may be lurking.
It is a consequence not the goal. Hidden in that difference is the wisdom that high achievers miss and wonder why there is emptiness when they reach the peak they aspired.
Sometimes, just sometimes, even in the presence of a coding ninja — humor can help you hold your own. Watch Steve Harvey do it with perfection.
Hope you loved the collection,