To be a Funny, Angsty Leader
Cohort 11 has come to the end of workshops. We have listened to dozens of speakers. Dozens of leaders. Clearly all were knowledgeable in their own field, but some put their knowledge to better use in delivery.
As students and professionals who have learnt and are continuing to learn, it is not unlikely that one feels more despondent and angsty. It must be something not alone to sustainability; the cartoon on history resonated.
There are places to channel that angst in society — one striking message from one of our CISL webinars was that the role of NGOs/activisms is sometimes to broaden the space of what society discusses. However, on a personal basis including as a parent with two young kids, I find it hard to live as an angsty person. On a professional basis, I do sincerely think that there are spaces for different personalities, and I would work well as a bridge.
So the question is what do I process all these information that I’m learning, and to use the knowledge and the angst?
The answer from the series of workshops is: it’s important to be engaging and funny.
Case in point is Dr Tim Lang who spoke to us about Food Politics. There was knowledge, there was one quick framework, there was practical experience in policy, there was a lot of angst but most of all, there was heaps of honesty and humour.
There are academics that know so much but unfortunately failed to meet the audience in where we are. Sometimes it’s about content — what goes into slides vs what is discussed. Sometimes it’s about presentation skills — voice inflexions, energy levels. And I’m finding that a lot of times, it’s about how funny a person is.
Which is a great practical reminder. We live in a busy society and there will just be that much capacity to spend people’s time on more angst. A critique of ESG specialists is often to be spending 80% of the time talking about how terrible the world is, and 20% on suggestions of how to implement it. At least in my area of work, this needs to be reversed. And I hope that in that process, I will not let myself drown in despondency and remind myself of Dr Tim Lang.