Trevor Noah on Leadership, Gratitude, and Learning From This Crisis

May 12, 2020 Sarah Payne

4-minute read

Trevor Noah

As part of today’s Workhuman® Livestream, comedian and host of “The Daily Show” Trevor Noah joined Workhuman CEO Eric Mosley to discuss the state of the world and the importance of humanity in times of turmoil.

Though studio production halted in March, Trevor continues to provide much needed levity and humor through “The Daily Social Distancing Show With Trevor Noah,” which is filmed in his apartment.

“I’ve embraced technology,” he told Eric. “Luckily because I have friends who live with me in the same apartment building who work with me at the show, we’ve just been able to work through this thing together.”

He’s not trying to make the same show as before, though. “This pandemic is not supposed to be business as usual for anybody,” he said. “This is when you should take care of your mind and make sure that you can come out on the other side of coronavirus sane.”

And part of taking care of your mind is having a healthy work-life balance. Though he’s filming “The Daily Show” in his home, he stressed, “Be careful that work doesn’t become your home and your home doesn’t become work … You have to leave work so your mind can refresh, so you can relax as a human, and then you want to come back into work so you can earn money to further your career.”

Trevor has emerged as a leading voice during the COVID-19 crisis, recently interviewing Dr. Anthony Fauci and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. But he’s careful not to conflate his work with theirs. “Everybody is a leader in their own way. If you’re a parent, you’re a leader of your family. If you’re a business owner or a manager, you’re a leader of the people who work for you and with you,” he said.

“Everyone has their sphere of leadership. I admire and I don’t take for granted the decisions that people have to make at the highest levels, which will invariably never make everybody happy, and yet they have to try their best to do what they think is best – and you only get to try it once, and that’s that.”

Eric and Trevor also talked about the global outpouring of gratitude for healthcare workers since this crisis began. In New York City, where Trevor lives, people come out of their homes every night at 7 p.m. to applaud and cheer for those on the front line.

“It’s just human beings coming together to show we appreciate something that is greater than what we individually can achieve,” he said. “It’s also become a moment where human beings remind each other that we all exist and we’re all experiencing a very similar thing right now. That’s a really powerful moment to experience every single day for those two minutes.”

One thing Eric and Trevor have in common is they both grew up in other countries before moving to America as adults. “I grew up with a love of America,” said Trevor. “American culture informed much of how I saw myself. I’m proudly South African, but I won’t deny that America influenced a little bit of who we are, the same way Africa has its influences in American culture.”

“America fascinates me because it’s an experiment that hasn’t been replicated anywhere else in the world … It’s a country where people hope to aspire freedom; they hope to aspire equality; they hope to aspire to a better life. I think there’s something special about that,” he said.

As some states make plans to reopen and we enter a new phase in this crisis, what should we take away from this experience? “Coronavirus has exposed the fragility of people’s lives, especially when they live in places where there is rampant income inequality,” said Trevor.

“I hope we look at the effects the crisis has had on underserved communities,” he continued. “I hope it makes us relook at business and travel and the way we interact with each other as human beings … Let’s learn something good from this horrible experience.”

Though we are living through an extraordinary time in history where it might feel like there’s a lot out of our sphere of control, “Remember to take this time to look after yourself,” said Trevor. “Take the time to breathe. Remember to enjoy the small things.”

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About the Author

Sarah Payne

Sarah is managing editor at Workhuman. When not writing about all things culture, leadership, recognition, and appreciation, she enjoys iced coffee, running, and spending time with her daughter, Mabel.

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