2017-08-17 / Columns

‘What Kind of Character Are You?’

Think Outside, No Box Needed
By Jim Plouffe

Last week I mentioned that I started collecting Mickey Mouse art and memorabilia because of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice short cartoon found in the “Fantasia” movie. That Disney cartoon reminds me to seek out the expert when there is a problem that needs a solution. It also makes it clear that using the resources you have to complete the job is better than trying to find an easy shortcut. The time to create shortcuts is not when the job needs to be completed.

The word “character” has three different ways it can be used. One definition is about integrity, your values, and morals, what you stand for. Another is the nature of your personality and temperament. The last one is when you refer to yourself or someone else as odd or weird, like they are “quite the character.” And then there are cartoon characters, which are not defined in my dictionary.

So who is your favorite cartoon character? Why are they your favorite? What is it about them that makes you relate to them? Is it their boldness, their craziness, the fact they are the leader, or that they are the funniest, silliest, or dumbest character? Maybe you can relate to them because of all of those things.

There are some cartoon characters that I have never watched. I have never seen The Simpsons, even though it has been on for decades, Family Guy, South Park, or Futurama. The few times I have seen any part of them, their humor couldn’t hold my attention or interest. All these cartoons seemed to be about was creating and using rudeness and shock to entertain. Advancing rudeness for the shock value of it doesn’t seem like innovation. I see no value or entertainment, and I don’t think there are any lessons to be learned from it, unless it is “what not to do.” Humor is unique to the individual, and the boundaries of rude and shock humor continue to expand because it takes more and more to shock and surprise us today.

Lately, I have become a fan of the Minions from the “Despicable Me” movies. Because of the Minions’ popularity in those movies, the producers made a full-length movie just about them. Looking around my office, as I write this, I can see several Minions. I have one; Dave is his name, and he reacts to my voice. If I start talking to him, he will start communicating in Minion to me. Dave keeps me grounded and makes me smile because no matter what I say to him, he answers me with total enthusiasm in a language that doesn’t exist.

I once had the president and chief operating officer of one of my companies say to me, “Working with you, Jim, is like living next door to a tornado.” I think it was a compliment. That is the way I took it at the time. He could have just as easily said, “Working with you, Jim, is like living next door to the Tasmanian Devil.” You remember the Tasmanian Devil, from Warner Brothers or Looney Tunes, don’t you? Everyone was afraid of him, except Bugs Bunny.

So if you are not a Disney cartoon character fan, which of the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes characters do you like? What kind of cartoon character are you? If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be? What type of characters do you hire? What type of characters are your customers? There may be more than one character hiding in you and your employees. Understanding who they are will make you a better communicator. After all, some artists make a living drawing and creating cartoon characters by exaggerating the features and movement of real people. There is more to learn about yourself and the individuals around you by understanding what type of character you are. Cartoon characters are a fun way to look at comparing reality to fiction.

Jim is a mission, management, and marketing expert. If you are unhappy with the status quo of your business, call (906) 643-6643 or e-mail jim@ThinkOutsideNoBoxNeeded.co m. Jim is available for speeches and presentations to your company or organization and one-on-one executive coaching and business consulting.

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