Everything I Needed to Know About Procurement I Learned at Clown College

When people ask me why I’m so good at Procurement, despite not having a formal degree in business or supply chain or a professional certification such as the CPSM or SPSM, I tell them that I learned everything I needed to know at Clown College. At this point they let out a hearty laugh and walk away, but I swear on the clown’s code of ethics that it’s the honest truth.

People think it’s easy being a clown, but it’s not. It’s very challenging, just like Procurement. And the skills required are quite similar. And while I enjoy the sound of laughter, I would like to dispel the misconception once and for all that all you do at Clown College is clown around. So, in this post, I’m going to tell you the ten most important things I learned in Clown College and how they helped me to excel at Procurement.

  1. Paint Your Face

    As a clown, you need to maintain a consistent mood every second of every minute of every hour of every day. This can be very hard to do. But if you paint on a happy face, you can be happy all the time. And if you paint on a scowl, you can be scowling all the time. You’d be amazed how much this can help in tense negotiations.

  2. Put On Your Big Red Nose

    Just like a clown wears his heritage with pride, a Procurement professional needs to take pride in his, or her, work and let it show.

  3. … and Your Brightly Colored Costume

    One of the biggest keys to success, especially in Procurement which was traditionally relegated to the back room or the basement, is to get noticed. Just like his brightly colored costume helps a clown stand out from the crowd, dressing sharply helps a Procurement professional stand out.

  4. … and Your Big Red Shoes

    You never know when someone is going to try and step on your toes! The extra padding goes a long way to protecting your feet.

  5. … but Stay Light on Your Feet

    as you never know when you’re going to have to dance around an issue or run away from a charging bull. (After all, no matter how good you are, you can’t win every fight!)

  6. Storytelling is an Art Form

    A clown has to engage his audience with a good story, just like a Procurement professional. The ability to tell a good story becomes important when you have to balance the conflicting needs of multiple stakeholders in a major buy but still claim all-around success. It’s especially important when you have to explain to the CFO why you had to pay more to get the reliability required by engineering and the usability desired by the end customer (which is key if Sales is to meet its quota).

  7. Keep Your Hands Sleight

    because sometimes you just have to make magic happen!

  8. Learn How to Take a Hit

    When clowns get together, someone always gets smacked upside the head. Always. The same happens in business whenever something goes wrong, and they almost always try to blame Procurement first. The ultimate key to success is to be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going like nothing ever happened.

  9. Maintain a Good Sense of Humor Through it All

    In life there are ups and downs, but you’ll be able to get through them all if you just maintain a little humor in your heart.

  10. And Learn How to Work as a Team

    as you never know when you’ll have to squeeze into the equivalent of a Volkswagen Beetle with ten of your best buddies in an all-weekend disaster recovery session at an off-site location after a natural disaster took out your primary location.