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Hosted by: Eran Thomson
This week's word is: Hippos
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This podcast is intentionally short and sweet, so don't expect too much from the notes. We will, of course, share links and details of things discussed in individual episodes as appropriate - and that's about it.
The main thing to know is every episode of this show starts with a one word suggestion, and there's no reason it shouldn't come from you.
As long as its not "dildo."
So give us your best, and in the meantime, thanks for listening.
Most everyone knows who Pablo Escobar is, but what many people don't know is that his enduring legacy has less to do with cocaine and more to do with hippopotamuses.
In the late 1980s, the infamous Colombian drug lord smuggled four African hippos into a private menagerie at his palatial residence in the town of Puerto Triunfo. After Escobar's death in 1993, the hippos were deemed too difficult to seize and move, and so they were left to roam freely on the untended estate.
Twenty-five years later, their numbers had multiplied. Nearly seventy hippos were reported. All from the original four belonging to Escobar.
The beasts have since taken over the entire area. And without management, the population size is likely to more than double in the next decade. The situation is so serious, National Geographic made a documentary about it called "Cocaine Hippos."
Sadly there are no scenes of hippos getting high on Pablo's supply.
In addition to being an expert animal smuggler, another thing people may not know about Pablo is that he was also a fantastic improviser.
One day he was mixing cocaine with fish paste so it would go undetected by sniffer dogs. The next he was modifying planes to secret away more stash, or building stealthy submarines. When he got caught, he designed his own jail, (that he later escaped from). And he was always coming up with new ways to launder money - and to bribe everyone. He even influenced politicians to make extradition from Columbia near to impossible.
Every time the DEA or CIA would get close he'd improvise a new way forward.
Just like any good improviser he was constantly reacting to unexpected situations, adapting to deal with new information, and communicating revised plans to his team.
And people loved him for it. Not just party people, but a nation.
When he died, twenty-five thousand people attended his funeral. Despite all the lives he ruined, he was Robin Hood-esque when it came to enriching the lives of Columbians, most famously for building schools in poor towns.
Like Puerto Triunfo.
Most people in Pablo's old neighbourhood have since grown fond of their hippo interlopers. Despite an isolated instance where a couple of rowdy beasts chased a few locals around, the arguably cute animals have transformed the town into a tourist destination, creating a thriving new economy and local environmentalists are campaigning hard to protect the herd.
And in the meantime, they continue to expand their numbers.
Sort of like improvisers.
Because word is getting out. People are discovering the joy of improv, not only as a theatrical art form, but as a tool for life.
The soft skills that come as a by-product of improv training are powerful.
For listening, for collaboration, for innovation, for communication, for thinking on your feet, for being in the moment, for being more comfortable sharing your authentic self with the world, and more.
It's no wonder our herd is expanding too.
And if you're not already, I invite you to become a part of it.
The ideas, observations, and perspectives shared here are mine alone.
I’d love to hear yours in the comments, or better yet in a review.