Fable Friday: Tea for Two and a trainer’s tip

You’ve all heard the popular song “Tea for Two,” as just about every recording artist has done a version of it, and in today’s Fable Friday I’ll tell you the story of how it was written.  The song first appeared in the musical “No No Nanette” in 1925 with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Irving Caesar.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedSo it’s the middle of the night and Youmans is tinkering with this melody on the piano and finally he nails it.  Excited about the bouncy tune, he calls his collaborator Irving Caesar and gets him out of bed.

“Irving, I just wrote this song. You’ve got to hear it.”  He plays the melody on the piano into the telephone.  Caesar says to him, “You woke me up at 3 in the morning to play me a song? It’s a fine song, now let me go back to sleep.”

Youmans said, “Irving listen to me. You’ve got to give me the lyrics while I have the song in my head. We’ve got to do this now. This song is going to a terrific. Quick, give me the lyrics. We’ll finish it tonight.”

Exasperated, Caesar gives him the first words that come into his head. He sings into the phone, “’Picture you upon my knee, just tea for two and two for tea. Just me for you and you for me alone.’  Now let me go back to sleep and I’ll write the real lyrics in the morning.”

Well, the morning came and the two met and after fooling with different approaches, decided they couldn’t do any better, and Caesar’s hastily created lyrics remained in this popular song, followed by the even sweeter line:

“Nobody near us to see us or hear us
No friends or relations
On weekend vacations”

I often think of this song during training sessions when we break out into small groups, or “buzz groups” where the learners are asked to come up with as many ideas as they can on a topic. A good trainer’s tip if you ever do such an exercise is to remember that 90% of the good ideas will arise from discussion in the first 4 minutes of the activity.

What this means to you as the trainer is that you should be mindful of the time and the group’s progress to ensure maximum results. Don’t start the exercise and then look at your phone to check your messages. Instead, walk among the groups and listen to their discussions.  When it’s obvious that discussion is waning and no more ideas are forthcoming, stop the exercise.

Of course during the debrief, make sure to get one idea from each group, moving around the room until you get all their ideas.  If you debrief all of each group, then the last group will usually say, “All our ideas have been mentioned,” which diminishes their sense of participation.

In his outstanding book “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell provides a great deal of evidence that our first responses, or gut instincts to solve a problem are often proved to be correct.  Trust the judgment and experience of your learners in problem-solving activities such as this. Give them a question and direct them to solve it quickly.  You’ll manage workshop time more effectively and keep the learners engaged. That’s how you…

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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