I have learned every one of Billy McComb’s tricks. Ok… NOBODY has learned them all… Billy seemed to know everything about magic, magicians, and entertaing.

One of the best parts of my career was working the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, California. I did one show with Billy in the audience, and made a point of making sure about 95% of my show was from one of his books. It was very cool for me… I hope it was for him as well.

I have a photo of Billy and I on my office wall…I can see it now…
I just learned that Billy passed away recently. It was a huge loss for magic and magicians everywhere. It was a loss for me.
I’ll miss you, Billy McComb.

Brad Montgomery
Magician, Comedian, Fan of Billy McComb Forever

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Last Friday I was invited to be a motivational speaker for the Merced, California Child Support Enforcement Agency. Their folks have been working hard.

Like so many other government agencies (especially in California) they are doing more with less. A few years ago, they lost some of their staff from budget cuts (sounds like California) and there morale took a huge hit from which it still hasn’t recovered. Add to it the fact that their clients are people who are also suffering; they are not the type of clients that tend to say, “thanks.”

So they needed a break. they needed to laugh. And they needed somebody from the outside to come in and show them the other side of the coin; show them that although their life at work is indeed very difficult, there are still so many things for which to be thankful. There are still many things that are very funny.

My impression, after doing to extended keynote presentations was that this group… rocks! They have a ton of good people, people who care deeply about their job and the families they are helping. These are people who are good at their jobs and deserve a smile.

I was totally flattered to meet and work with them.

Thanks for having me in, Merced! You rock! Ride that Pony.

I have a favor to ask of you, Merced: what was the one or two things that stuck with you? What was your “ah ha” from our keynote on Friday? What stood out for you?   Would you comment below?
Thanks so much!

Brad Montgomery
California Motivational Keynote Speaker, Comedian, Fan of Those Who Enforce Child Support

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I just got back from a job in Orlando, Florida where I was a speaker for the government. PEO STRI asked to present a motivational full-day training connecting humor and light-heartedness to leadership.

Among other things, I was reminded how great government workers can be. Yup, the lousy image of government workers being slackers has gotta be true for some folks. But this group was just the opposite. They were a group of hard working folks who care deeply about their people, their jobs, and their missions. They work in a very serious environment. It’s pretty hard to take yourself lightly when you work where they do… surrounded by constant reminders of the fact that we are a country at war.
They were good people doing a tough job in a sometimes difficult place.

My message to my posse at PEO STRI: You Rock! Keep it up folks. Keep on smiling. Keep on laughing. Ride that pony!

Here are the things YOU guys came up with… here is the stuff from the flip chart:
Different Ways to Create Playful People
craft night
Nerf Guns
Have a Funny Outgoing Phone Messages
Leave Funny Voice Mail message.
Have a Funny Email Signature
Community Puzzle left out on a common table.

What Action Steps Can WE Adopt Immediately to Be More Positive Ourselves?

Send a Positive Email
Don’t Take Things Personal
Ad Mid Your mistakes, and keep going
Celebrate Victories, accomplsihments
Give out Stickers
Create a distgracdtion when there is tension
Greet people in the halls, cafe, etc
Don’t Complain
Be Loyal
Say thank you.
Laugh. Share Funny Anecdotes.

How do you institutionalize a postive environment?
Know that it takes a while, be patient. Take baby steps.
Post posters asking for a smile
Include everybody…even the shy people
25¢ negative jar
No work discussions at lunch
no complaining allowed.
create humor rituals.
Sponge Bob Frisbee goes to the biggest/most recent mistake “Larry has the frisbee!”
Best Excuse Award… “A new nomination for the best excuse!”

More Steps Toward a Humor-Supportive Work Environment

Outside Team Meetings
Standing (weekly?) Lunch Dates?
Recognize and celebrate birthdays?
Joke of the day. In person, or via email.
Worst excuse of the year award
happy bell
find goofy, giet chocolate?

How to create playful people?

Wear a funny t-shirt
Bring toys to work
Bring your fun ideas to your boss… super hard to say “no” to “we’ve been talking, and we thing this free idea would improve morale”
Bring candy to your desk. Give it away!
Walking meetings
Funny posters in the office
Post comics
Write thank you letters. “thanks for telling that joke at the meeting… that was just what we needed.” Or “Thanks for taking the energy to make that meeting more light.”

What you do WE think is funny?
People falling
Kids and Animals
Bad singers
Blonge jokes
self depreciating jokes
other people laughing
Laughing WITH people.

What do you think is funny, but others find offensive?
jokes about us
jokes about our core values
joking about personal stuff.
humor used to hurt.
laughing AT people
Thanks Again, PEO STRI. It was great meeting you in Florida.

Brad Montgomery, Humor in the Workplace Expert, Government Speaker

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Ask Mike Rayburn. He’s a good guy, a friend, and a kick butt speaker. He is also one of few speakers who is in Both of my books: Humor Us: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter.

He was recently performing here in Denver, Colorado and I had the chance to see him (and take my family, including my brother and his family.) He kicked butt; he always does. He oozes talent and charm, and we all loved him.

Mike Rayburn Funny Speaker

But my favorite moment was when my nephew Nathan asked him afterwards about advice he might give aspiring guitarists like himself. Mike was totally busy with signing books (cool!… did I mention Humor Us? :) )but he stopped, made the adults wait, got on his knees and gave this kid some attention and a very good answer to a good question. My kids were there too… and my other newphew Theo.

Of course this is no big deal to Mike; he’s nice all the time. He doesn’t think about it and plan. He just does it. And that is what makes him so cool. Yup, he’s a very funny motivational speaker and entertainer. And yup, he is a kick butt guitar player.

But if you ask my nephew, you might get… if your probe deep enough… the word hero.

Thanks Mike. Great Job.

Brad Montgomery
Funny Motivational Speaker and Humorist, Dad, Uncle, Mike Rayburn Fan

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Look at this photo.

I love my job! Look at their faces. I love my job. I’m soooo lucky!

Yours,Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Corporate Comedian, Lucky LUCKY Man

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Very cool! A Colorado mom and comedian, Rubi Nicholas, won Nick at Nite’s “Search for the Funniest Mom in America.” I haven’t met Rubi yet… but I’m thrilled a Colorado Comedian won. Congrats!
From The Denver Post:

Rubi Nicholas works long hours as an assistant vice president at a health care insurance carrier in Denver. At 36, she has two young daughters, a husband, a house in Castle Rock and dreams of becoming a comedian.

She’s a Muslim of Pakistani descent who married a Greek Orthodox man. Her husband converted to Islam, and became a stay-at-home dad so she could get her MBA and become a corporate executive.

Now she’s writing and performing jokes about her life as a working mom and Muslim. Last week, she won Nick at Nite’s Search for the Funniest Mom in America 2, a TV competition that resembles an “American Idol” for comedians.

And she will soon develop a comedic TV pilot about her life.

News Story from the Colorado paper here.

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I had the job today! Ehrhardt, Keef, Steiner & Hottman PC hired me to be part of the quarterly employee appreciation meeting in Denver, Colorado just yesterday. They asked me to be a funny motivational speaker… entertain the troops with laugh – out – loud comedy while at the same time giving them a motivational program with a message they could take back to work with them.

My topic was (roughly) humor in the workplace. But in the minutes leading up to my speech, as they celebrated their success, introduced new employees (you know the drill) It occurred to me that they didn’t need me… they already had plenty of humor in their workplace. Need proof? EKS & H has been honored as a Best Place to Work for a large-sized company.

So… what do they do right? Tons of thins. But here are some of the things that I saw that help create and maintain a positive culture and fun culture.
First, he leadership thanked their people (and let them know that they meant it.) The CEO, Bob Hottman in his remarks must have thanked his people a dozen times. But what struck me was that he meant it… he really meant it. I’ve been to dozens of similar events where the WORDS thank you come out of the leaders’ mouths, but somehow we know that it isn’t from their heart. This “thank you” came from his heart… and his people knew he meant it.

Second, the partners are very generous to their people. Flexible schedules, awesome benefits, and amazing training lead the list. But they also give gift certificates, bring in three meals a day (yes! I said three meals a day) during their peak times, subsidized health clubs, and killer snacks. But this morning, they did it one better… they gave EVERYONE in their company (about 250 people!) a new 60 gigabyte iPod. (That was a cool moment… when they announced this awesome gift it was like an Oprah show! “Everybody gets an iPod… Bring ’em out! “:) )

Finally, they have a track record of caring about their employees. A long track record. They didn’t start today creating a culture of appreciation. They’ve been doing it for years. They totally support and appreciate their people all of the time… so appreciate “events” are the frosting on the cake…. not the cake. By now, their people trust and admire them. And (from what I heard from those employees) those employees are willing to work hard and perform for the company.

What’s the bottom line? EKS & H is doing great. (Record breaking great… it was amazing to hear.) What’s the lesson? Humor in the workplace… creating a culture of positive beliefs and support pays. And pays big. Can you laugh your way to the bank? You bet. Just ask Denver, Colorado’s Ehrhardt, Keef, Steiner & Hottman.

Brad Montgomery
Humor in the Workplace Expert, Funny Motivational Humorist Speaker, Fan of EKS&H

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I just got blogged by the Festival of Frugality.

Boston Gal’s Open Wallet
Festival of Frugality #23
Welcome to the 23rd edition of the Festival of Frugality. While trying to figure out how to organize this weeks’ posts, I took my inspiration from the Wikipedia definition of frugality!

This is a cool blog… I’m flattered to be included.
Brad Montgomery
Comedian Motivational Speaker, Cheapskate (And Proud of it.)

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I just got this shot of me (I’m the tiny guy in front!) working for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kanas. In someways it was typical of employee appreciation speech or program in that we did the same program several times. It was impossible to both pull the entire staff at the floor at the same time (who’d answer the phones?) and there just plain wasn’t enough room in the … er… room.

insurance speaker

They asked me to be a motivational speaker who delivered a motivational speech that was 1) very funny, 2) customized around their company, their issues, and their jargon, and 3) centered around a message of thanks for a job well done, and 4) very funny. (Yeah, I know I said it twice… it was super important. )

If the comments from their folks were a decent barometer, mission accomplished.

It was fun being their insurance motivational speaker. Thanks guys!

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Corporate Comedian, Insurance Speaker

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I blogged earlier that I took my daughter Claire with me on a trip to do a funny speech in Orlando, Florida. It was a great idea for a dozen reasons, nine of which rhyme with Disney World.

It was a blast to see the whole thing through her nine year old eyes. I wasn’t expecting to have that much fun.

One of the many things that amazed me about my daughter was that she didn’t want to buy anything. Disney World is genius at getting you to open your wallets… but somehow Claire just wasn’t that interested in buying any of the cheesy Mickey-wear. Yeah, she looked… but in the end she’d rather go look for fun out in the park. And in this hat store… we both (literally) got into it. But let’s face it, though I wouldn’t want to own it…it’s pretty fun to try it on.

So we played in the stores… took pictures, and left with our wallets intact. Not what the marketers had in mind, but I was thrilled.

disney speakerrs
We buy too much stuff for our kids — and it isn’t gonna help them to be more happy. (Need proof… look at her smile. In the photo she didn’t want to own the hat… but we were both having a hoot.)

We weren’t plannng to buy anything… but that ain’t no reason why we can’t still use some of that goofy (or I mean Goofy?) stuff to have a laugh.

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker and Humorist, Dad, Cheapskate (And Proud of It!)

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