Ed. Note: With corporate governance the heavy-duty topic that it is, humor has played a minor note in Directors & Boards over the years, so that it why I always have had a fond regard for Lawrence Wien's article, "Stories That Served Me Well" [Spring 1985], When I selected the various stories from his book, titled 100 Stories That Have Served Me Well (published by Richardson & Steirman), I described him as "a noted philanthropist, a member of many cultural, educational, and corporate boards, a practicing attorney for over 50 years, and an inveterate storyteller." Here are a few of his stories that made it into our article.--J.K
Through the years I have been obliged to do a considerable amount of public speaking. I have found that my audiences stay awake more easily if I open my address with a good story. And it's easier to get people to make charitable contributions if they are in a good mood.
Speakers are sometimes introduced with excessive praise. After speaking at a Brandeis University function, I was on a receiving line with the president of the university and the president of the women's committee. We were introduced to people as they passed, and a youngster of 14 or 15 was in the line. He was introduced to me and said, "Mr. Wien, you spoke too long." He passed along, came around to the end of the line, and when he again arrived before me said, "And, Mr. Wien, you spoke too loud." He came around a third time and said, "And, Mr. Wien, you didn't say anything worth listening to."
The lady next to me said, "Mr Wien, don't let that silly kid upset you. All he does is repeat what everybody else says."
A second "deflation" story. At a fundraising dinner where I was the principle speaker, the introduction was very extravagant but I was impressed by it. When I got home, as I slowly undressed in front of a full-length mirror, I asked...