We all need to laugh more, especially around tax time! I received so many positive responses to my column on humorous stories with good business lessons, I decided to do a sequel.

It’s been my experience that people remember information better when the message has a fun twist to it — a punch line of sorts. These stories follow a similar theme: using your head and your sense of humor.

Think: It’s the hardest, most valuable task any person performs. You are driving in your car on a stormy night. You pass by a bus stop and see three people waiting: 1) an older woman who looks as if she is about to die; 2) an old friend who once saved your life; and 3) the man or woman of your dreams. Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing there could only be one passenger in your car?

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the elderly woman because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the ideal chance to repay him. However, you may never be able to find your perfect dream person again.

The candidate who was hired out of 200 applicants had no trouble coming up with the answer. He said: “I would give the car keys to my old friend, and let him take the elderly woman to the hospital. Then I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams.”

It’s easier to change your own mind than to have someone change it for you.

I love the story about two elk hunters who were flown to a remote valley in Alaska. By the end of the hunt, they had bagged four elk, and their pilot returned to take them out of the valley.

When the pilot saw the four elk, he said, “There’s a problem. The plane can only carry two elk.”

The hunters were outraged. They said, “Listen, we were here last year. The plane that carried us out was the same, the weather was the same, and we had four elk then, too.”

The pilot said, “OK, I guess you know best.” So, they loaded up the plane and took off. The plane started climbing out of the valley, but it began to lose altitude, the engine sputtered and, finally, it crashed. As they stumbled from the wreckage, one hunter asked the other if he knew where they were.

He said, “I don’t know for sure … but I think we’re about a mile from where we crashed last year.”

Those who don’t know don’t know they don’t know. A classic story illustrates this point. A minister, a Boy Scout and a computer executive were flying to a meeting in a small private plane. About halfway to their destination, the pilot came back and announced that the plane was going to crash and that there were only three parachutes for the four people.

The pilot said, “I am going to use one of the parachutes because I have a wife and four small children,” and he jumped.

The computer executive said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and my company needs me,” and he jumped.

The minister turned to the Boy Scout and, smiling sadly, said, “You are young and I have lived a good, long life, so you take the last parachute and I’ll go down with the plane.”

The Boy Scout said, “Relax, reverend, the smartest man in the world just strapped on my backpack and jumped out of the plane!”

Mackay’s Moral: He or she who laughs, lasts!


Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail harvey@mackay.com.