Actor, comedian, author to speak about humor in leadership

Getting away from politics, the John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute will present “Humor in Leadership: An Evening with Terry Crews” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, 1310 N. Farm to Market Road 1788 in Midland.

A former NFL defensive end/linebacker, Crews is an actor, comedian and author. A Flint, Mich., native, the Biography.com website said Crews graduated from Flint’s Southwestern Academy before earning an Art Excellence Scholarship to attend Interlochen Center for the Arts. He then earned a full scholarship to play football at Western Michigan University, where he was an art major.

As a part of the WMU football team, Crews earned all-conference honors as a defensive end and playing on the 1988 Mid-American Conference champion Broncos. “In the 1991 NFL draft, the 6’2”, 245-pound Crews was drafted in the 11th round by the Los Angeles Rams. He played two seasons with the Rams before becoming an NFL journeyman, playing with the San Diego Chargers (1993-94), Washington Redskins (1995) and Philadelphia Eagles (1996). He also managed to squeeze in a season with the Rhein Fire (Germany) in the World League of American Football,” the site said.

Crews is currently in the TV series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and played Will McAvoy’s bodyguard in the HBO show “The Newsroom.” He is also in Old Spice commercials and the movie “White Chicks,” a clip of which will be shown prior to the lecture.

The event is open to the public and no tickets are required. JBS Leadership Institute Executive Director Bob Brescia said people should be in their seats at 6:45 p.m. to view a featurette leading into the lecture that will include a clip of “White Chicks.”

Brescia and Odessa American Publisher Pat Canty will be the moderators. Audience questions may be submitted by electronic device or written on cards provided.

Brescia said we’re all born with a sense of humor, but we are more likely to be funny at home than at work even though humor often works at work. He added that it helps with teambuilding, as well.

“It’s the art of the non-sequitur,” Brescia said. “In corporations and companies, leaders use humor all the time to relieve stress and tension and also to mollify the effect sometimes of bad news.”

Of course, Brescia said, you don’t want to start off an announcement about layoffs with a joke about a priest and a rabbi going into a bar. “There’s an appropriate use of humor,” he said.

Crews will be talking about his life and how he was into the performing arts long before he had an inkling to play football, Brescia said.

“This one is going to be special because I love humor,” Brescia said. “We’re going to be light hearted at this lecture. We can get off politics. … We’re going to look at leadership and what better guy to have than Terry Crews to talk about being funny as human beings.”

Brescia said Crews also has written a book called “Manhood: How to Be a Better Man-or Just Live with One” about his personal transformation. 

“The John Ben Shepperd Institute loves that. We love transformative stories. That’s why I chose him over all other comedians – it’s because he’s a deep thinker and that’s rare to have done and to do the things that he is now doing in his life. And to have that amount of reflection on his own inner self and humor and all these other topics that have to do with leadership, I thought that was admirable,” Brescia said.

Five signed copies of “Manhood” How to be a Better Man-or Just Live with One” will be given away at the end of the lecture. Brescia said you must be present to win.

Tom McMinn, chairman of the advisory board for the JBS Institute and owner of McMinn’s Furniture, agreed that humor is often a useful tool in leadership, especially with the new generation of workers.

“That sort of leadership is more effective working on a cooperative basis than the old style of ordering people around. … I think it’s better to work on a consensual basis these days than it is to just give people a job and tell them they need to get it done,” McMinn said.

Ruth Campbell covers education for the Odessa American. Reach her at 432-333-7765 or 432-333-7765 or [email protected]

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