Mitch Hedberg was an unorthodox American comedian who became popular in the 1990s. His laid back type of humor as a stand-up comic drew large audiences in because it was refreshing and made him stand out in the crowd. His career was cut short in 2005 when he died of a drug overdose, but he left a lot of good memories behind, along with many quotes that are still used today. Although they are intended to be humorous, there are a lot of them that have practical applications. Here are the 20 best Mitch Hedberg quotes that apply to business.
20. “I saw a human pyramid once. It was very unnecessary. It did not need to exist.”
Have you ever felt this way on the job? Hedberg’s commentary on something he didn’t see value in has a few different meanings for business. The first is that sometimes people commit the resources of a company to things that some may find unnecessary and a waste of time and effort. Others, however, may see the value in it, even if it’s only for entertainment purposes. Hedberg points out that some things only benefit a few, not everyone in the group.
19. “Every time I go and shave, I assume there’s someone else on the planet shaving. So I say, ‘I’m gonna go shave, too.'”
As human beings, we tend to do some things in the workplace just because everyone else is doing it. While it’s great to fit in with your co-workers, it’s not always a good idea to get caught up in a herd mentality. In fact, originality and creativity are valuable traits in business and they can help you to succeed while the rest of them are staying in the same place for years.
18. “All these jokes have been pre-approved as being funny by me.”
Sometimes it’s beneficial to prep your audience before you deliver a presentation. Hedberg’s statement was funny, but in the business world, the way we use language can be powerful and lead people in the thinking processes we need them to use. A preface to a speech or presentation sets the tone and the mood and it can give you a powerful jump-start whether you’re teaching or making a proposal to a group.
17. “You know when they have a fishing show on TV? They catch the fish and then let it go. They don’t want to eat the fish, they just want to make it late for something.”
Hedberg is talking about the use of time. While it’s funny on stage at a comedy club, when it comes to business, this means that those who do something that really doesn’t have a point to it are wasting everyone’s time. While it may be fun and entertaining what is the overall goal? It’s to prove that you can do it, but if you have nothing to show for the time and energy that you’ve spent doing it what have you gained in an environment where time is money?
16. “Wearing a turtleneck is like being strangled by a really weak guy, all day. Wearing a backpack and a turtleneck is like a weak midget trying to bring you down.”
What Hedberg is saying is that life can be hard enough without doing things that make it harder. The turtleneck is a metaphor for things that make us feel weighed down or uncomfortable. The backpack refers to adding more weight to the situation and making it worse. In business, keeping things as simple as possible is the best solution. Some professionals muddy the waters by implementing ineffective systems and processes that waste time and duplicate efforts when there are better solutions available.
15. “It’s very dangerous to wave to people you don’t know because what if they don’t have hands? They’ll think you’re cocky.”
This is a humorous way of discussing sensitivity in the workplace or taking political correctness too far. It’s never a good idea to avoid a co-worker that has a disabling condition, but it’s even worse to overcompensate and try to make concessions that are not necessary. Condescending behaviors are usually unintentional. Treat everyone the same and don’t discriminate.
14. “My belt holds up my pants and my pants have belt loops that hold up the belt. What the ***’s really going on down there? Who is the real hero?”
When you’re working on a group project and there are several team members who make significant contributions, who get the credit? Is it the manager in charge, the CEO, or President? Each member has worked equally hard to make the outcomes successful, so it’s vital that you give credit where credit is due.
13. “My hotel doesn’t have a 13th Floor because of superstition, but c’mon man… People on the 14th floor, you know what floor you’re really on.”
In business, you can only get so far by using smoke and mirrors. Hedberg’s statement is a metaphor for companies who veil their activities and avoid transparency. Anytime a professional or entity represents something in a misleading way, it’s quickly seen by others as an act of dishonesty and it diminishes the trust that everyone has in that company or person. It’s best to be honest in all formal announcements and if you can’t manage that, say nothing at all.
12. “I bought a $7 pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.”
It’s true that we often only care about the things that we assign value to. While a $7 pen and a $2 pen may both work equally well, we only care about the one that was more costly. It’s the same in business. When you have to work hard to achieve something and it cost you something to obtain it, you place a higher value on that thing. It could be your reputation, your title, your standing in the company, or a job well-done. We tend to place a lower value on the things that cost us little or nothing.
11. “You know, I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later.”
There are a lot of people who really do feel this way about their future. They’re not willing to put in the effort to pursue their real dreams, but they’re also not happy with where they’re at in their careers either. Opportunities for advancement seldom just drop in our laps. They’re a bit more elusive than that. The odds increase in favor of moving up if you’re busy pursuing the things that you’re passionate about and networking with others who can help you get where you want to be.
10. “Every book is a children’s book if the kid can read!”
There are some books that are not intended for children. The business world can seem a lot like this scenario with the upper echelon dictating who gets to move up and who doesn’t. At some companies, there is a glass ceiling and regardless of how hard you try, you’re not going to receive the advancement you want, or even perhaps earned. Everything is within your grasp, but you might have to move to a different company where the restrictions are not so imposing.
9. “They say the recipe for Sprite is lemon and lime, but I tried to make it at home. There’s more to it than that.”
There are times in business when it’s not a good practice to be completely transparent. If you have a feature that makes your company stand out above the competition, then it’s probably a good idea to play your cards close to the vest and not give away all of your trade secrets. Comply with the law, but you don’t need to fully disclose your recipe for success.
8. “I had a stick of CareFree gum, but it didn’t work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality.”
It’s no different in the business world. When the flavor goes out fo the gum, it’s like when you come down from the high of a huge success, then it’s back to the everyday grind. We can’t always ride on a high because some days are non-eventful and some are even filled with setbacks and failures. Still, we must keep our eye on the goals we’ve set until the next round of successes is produced. Business is a combination of highs, lows, and a whole lot of humdrum days. We must be adaptable and resilient.
7. “When someone hands you a flyer, it’s like they’re saying here you throw this away.”
This is an important concept for the advertising department to consider. There is a lot of truth in what Mitch said about flyers. Most people pay little attention to them unless there is a visual so strong that it grabs their attention. You have a second or two and a glance from the reader to catch their attention. Understanding consumer behavior is key in achieving a successful marketing campaign.
6. “I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you exactly which way it’s coming.”
If you’re making this statement to a person who really does know a lot about cars then you’re going to feel silly about proclaiming your expertise. It’s always best to know your limitations when you speak. It may be a chance for you to share ideas or information, but if you don’t really know what you’re talking about it’s best not to pretend that you do and to learn from those who do have the knowledge.
5. “I want to get a vending machine, with fun-sized candy bars, and the glass in front is a magnifying glass. You’ll be mad, but it will be too late.”
Dishonesty in business is a sure way to guarantee failure. It’s always a bad idea to misrepresent goods or services. When you sell something through trickery, and the public realizes that they’ve been duped, you’ve just lowered your credibility and reputation several notches. You’re not going to get the repeat business, but you will get a lot of word of mouth advertising out of the deal. Customers who feel they’ve been shortchanged will spread the word and warn others not to be taken in.
4. “Y’know, you can’t please all the people all the time…and last night, all those people were at my show.”
This is a true statement. You can’t please everyone, so it’s best to do your job and do it well without concern for making everyone else happy. If you’re a leader, it’s advised to make decisions that will benefit the greater number of workers and do he least amount of harm when the stakes are high.
3. “I wish I could play little league now. I’d be way better than before.”
This statement means that we learn a lot as we go. Each new experience brings opportunities for growth. Sometimes it’s good to reflect on where you started and how far you’ve come. It can serve as an indication of what you should do next.
2. “I remixed a remix, it was back to normal.”
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “don’t fix what’s not broke,” it’s a lot like that. In the business world, we can get so caught up with trying to be new and innovative that we completely miss the mark when the systems we’re currently using truly are optimal. Sometimes the normal way of doing things is the right way.
1. “I’m gonna fix that last joke by taking out all the words and adding new ones.”
It’s always good to take a look at your presentation business letter or another important document before you send it. It’s too easy to make one little mistake in spelling, grammar, syntax, or tone, without intending to. Take the time to re-read it, and make any needed changes. The same applies to a business strategy. If there are flaws in the plan, fix them before you share them.