In 2011, my work took me to Portland Oregon. I had put down the paintbrush years ago and found myself as a technologist working in a company founded by a genius. My job was to convince prospects that Dell would positively change their business. An affable sales executive named Jeff took me to his favorite place. We wandered the creaky floors of Powell’s City of Books. He bought me two by the same author because of how they made him feel. He was clear that the writing was insightful, and I simply needed to enjoy them too.
Over coffee or drinks, I cannot remember which, he made another proclamation which resurfaced the same emotions of 1985. He was convinced that I was Steven Colbert’s look alike.
Remember that at the time, Colbert had a show called the Colbert Report where he dawned the persona of a hyper-conservative talk show host that constantly looked for audience recognition. One of his signature moves was to announce a guest, then dash from the main desk to a smaller table where the guest was already sitting. During the welcoming applause he would wave his arms in the air as if it was meant for him.
The day after my time with Jeff in Portland, I was in Seattle to brief a customer about product futures. In our industry we treat these occasions as “Non-Disclosure” requiring a legal contract to keep quiet. While the title slide illuminated the room, I lowered my voice and reminded them of the consequences of failure to comply. They looked at each other, then to me as the tension in room rose.
The next slide was a side by side comparison of my headshot next to Colbert. The customers fell apart. We left that meeting with smiles and handshakes. This was admittedly a huge gamble on my part, but the start of my embracing the ridiculous.