On Sunday, October 25, Bryant Gumbel hosted “Brain Surgery Live with mental_floss” on the National Geographic Channel. During the two-hour program, Gumbel spoke with several members of the team performing the delicate surgery, patient Greg Grindley’s family members in the waiting room, a neurosurgeon from Los Angeles, and, incredibly, Mr. Grindley himself. Gumbel also provided smooth transitions to previously recorded video footage of the patient and his family, as well as interesting tidbits about the brain.
Gumbel’s expertise as ringmaster during this two-hour multi-ring show was apparent, offering some great examples of essential skills for any workplace or situation. The surgical team members, virtuosi in their highly specialized craft, also illustrated the essential workplace skills that employers value.
Here are a few of the essential skills in evidence:
- Code switching. Gumbel’s questions for the experts showed that he had done his homework, as he was comfortable asking about the technical aspects of their work. At the same time, he spoke to Grindley’s anxious family in a manner that was compassionate but not patronizing.
- Flexibility. No one could have known for certain that the procedure would proceed as planned. Gumbel must have had some questions and strategies in mind beforehand, but the flow of the program was entirely spontaneous. Thinking on the fly is an art form in itself.
- Time management. With two hours of live broadcast time to fill, everyone involved had to be aware of time constraints. Some segments may have needed to be stretched, while others were perhaps shortened. The expertise in managing time minimized any awkwardness.
- Courtesy. Gumbel and the entire team were exquisitely considerate not only of the patient, his family, and one another, but also to the home audience. Participation was invited via questions submitted on Twitter, and clear, reassuring explanations were offered at the outset to allay any fears on the part of the audience.
- Willingness to learn. A member of the mental_floss staff noted that Gumbel immediately solicited feedback from the team about how he could improve his performance. Although he was probably the most experienced broadcast professional in the mix, he displayed a desire to grow.
Have you seen a show or movie lately that showcased essential skills? We’d love to share your thoughts.