Folks, I’ve been speaking and performing for a long time. A very long time. Guess what: I actually:

1. Am not burnt out.

2. Still have family members that talk to me.

3. Still have that vest (I think – – or is that what I saw the kids lining the doghouse with?).

4. Still have my dignity. A little. Ok, not much.

5. I’m still learning. 

See, my first full-time performing gig involved the Colorado Renaissance Festival. I was fresh-faced, on-stage, making people laugh and getting PAID! I made a whopping $30 bucks a day, plus tips, which mostly totaled to about $35/day. (OK, I didn’t say I was good, just that I got paid). Although I didn’t get rich, it was an awesome learning experience.   Although working at the Renaissance Festival was often hard on my self confidence, (I considered quitting about 5 times a day) but with hindsight it was a killer experience every speaker or entertainer should have.  (Though for your sake I hope you don’t have to wear the vest.)

The festival attracted people from all over Colorado, of course, but also from places all over the country. Being on stage and in front of audiences at a young age allowed me to really, really hone my craft in those early years, and it has paid off. A lot of times, when we’re young we don’t realize that what we do then can affect us 10 to 20 years down the line.  I was performing and doing what I LOVE(D) to do and making money at it. (Barely…. can you say, “Brad lived with his parents!“)  And doesn’t it look like I’m having a great time?

It was a tough job — 6 shows a day in 95 degree heat for the TOUGHEST audience Colorado had to offer. I was horrible, but luckily, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I didn’t understand how truly horrible I was.  I can tell you this:  there are techniques I use in my current comedy and humor that I KNOW were influenced by those early years working outside.

The best part of this job was that it provided instant feedback:  the amount of tip money in our hat was evidence enough of our success — or in my case, failure.   I knew the instant I looked in my hat after my comedy and magic show and saw 59¢ and a piece of gum that I wasn’t getting the big tips that good performers earned.  I new I sucked.  I knew that I had to improve fast.  (Because that gum just wasn’t that filling.)  Again, I knew I was weaker than the other performers, but luckily I just thought I needed to get a bit better.  I don’t think my ego could have taken the real truth that I was absolutely horrible.  But I did know I was bad.   And that (limited) self knowledge and a desire to get better created a pretty steep learning curve.

I see WAY too many speakers, comedians and magicians who would never last in an environment like that because they have no idea about how weak their product is;  they don’t know how much they suck.  One show at the Renaissance Festival where 1/2 of your audience leaves and the other 1/2 gives you a 25¢ would give them the slap in the face they deserve.

Let’s admit it:  most audiences today are formal enough that it feels awkward getting up as a group and leaving shouting, “You stink.”   They stay in the audience whether or not the speaker is mediocre.   Even in a comedy club, the audience will put up with some pretty poor comedy.  That’s why that Renaissance Festival  job was so great for me;  it was great precisely because it was so hard and because it created that instant and negative feedback.

After performing and speaking for twenty years some of what I do feels pretty easy and natural.   I’d love to tell you that my current ease with audiences is a natural extension of my “gifts.”   Ha! It isn’t.  It’s the product of a gazillion shows, a shocking number of were horrible failures, hundreds of embarrassing on stage disasters, and well… twenty years of getting it right.  

My point:  If you want to be a motivational speaker, remember to give yourself time to develop, and find a place where you can develop your material safely.   And if you are looking to hire a motivational speaker, make sure your speaker has years and years and years of experience under his … er … vest.

What was your first job? Has it helped you in the profession you’re in today? Do you have an ugly vest in your closet too?  Share your stories!

 

Are you looking for a comedian speaker for your event?  Pick somebody with years of experience.  Pick me.  Contact my office here.

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I just sent this postcard out to some of my top clients.  I think it is funny…. after all, if these guys don’t need a motivational speaker, who does?  Sheesh, I’ve had some fun watching the campaign, and tons of fun mocking it.  But now I’m ready for it to be over.
 

Quiz:  Can you tell by these photos who I really support?  Obama?  McCain? Let me know (by commenting below) who I support and how you can tell) and the winner will FREE receive a subscription to Hooked On Humor.

Thanks Kids. Either way, we’re nearly done. The polls will tell us who will win the election. Now….who’s gonna win the quiz? Take a chance and comment below.

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Quiz Giver, Political Hack

Welcome to the “Humor in the Workplace” Blog Carnival! I’ll be your Ringmaster and each month I’ll direct your attention to various rings, where you’ll read the latest experiences, stories, ideas, tricks and wisdom relating to Humor in the Workplace.

What is “Humor in the Workplace”? No, I’m not talking about the time your colleague fell asleep at his desk and went to the staff meeting with keyboard impressions on his face……..though that is funny – post it and we’ll put it in. I’m looking for the latest blog posts about:

  • Office Humor. What you’ve seen or experienced AND how that experience has effected your work culture;
  • Office Pranks and Gags. What you’ve seen or experienced, and what the effect is on your work culture;
  • Techniques and ideas for those wanting to incorporate more humor at work;
  • Examples of the worst possible work culture and how that culture needs a sense of humor;
  • Anything else you think is related to Humor in the Workplace. If you are able to connect fun and work, it will be considered for this Carnival.
  • Examples of humor with management and leadership in the office setting.

What is a Blog Carnival? As defined by Wikipedia, “A blog carnival is a type of blog event. It is similar to a magazine, in that it is dedicated to a particular topic, and is published on a regular schedule, often weekly or monthly. Each edition of a blog carnival is in the form of a blog article that contains permalinks to other blog articles on the particular topic.

Blog carnivals are a great way for bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts, organize blog posts around important topics, and improve the overall level of conversation in the blogosphere. They also serve as a place to connect with those who are expert (or at least highly opinionated!) and those who are interested in that field.

Why participate in a blog carnival? Simple.

First of all, it’s cool to have a single clearinghouse for related articles about Humor in the Workplace. And this carnival will help others find you. In addition, you’ll get backlinks (incoming links to your blog). The more backlinks your blog has, the higher rating in search engines. Plus it’s just fun!

How to participate? Submit your posts by clicking here or via the “Humor in the Workplace Blog Carnival” submission box below or email a link to your blog post. All we ask is that you link back to this carnival on your blog – I’ve got a super-cool button coming soon!

Thanks for playing! Now let’s have some fun!

The Washington Post reported that AIG went through with a convention for their top earners.

Lawmakers fumed last week when they learned that the company paid $440,000 for a week-long resort retreat in California for top-performing insurance agents. The expenditure occurred just days after Sept. 16, when the government announced its $85 billion loan. This month, as AIG asked for an additional $38 billion in taxpayer financing, top AIG executives spent thousands on a hunting trip in England.

I cannot help to think that they must have had one speaker for that event.  Reward trips often hire motivational speakers and humorists…so it certainly is possible that one was hired for this event.

So the big ethics question for you is:

Imagine YOU were hired by AIG.  You see them go out of business…and be rescued with $85 Billion taxpayer dollars.  You know now that you are no longer being paid by AIG, but the taxpayers via AIG.   Would you take the job?

Theoretically you’ve had this keynote on the books for some time, you have turned down other clients who wanted to hire you as a motivational speaker, and because you’ve done everything you have been asked to do, you deserve the fee for you speakers services.

But now that it’s a taxpayer nightmare and Wall Street scandal, would you take the job?

Would ya?

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I love halloween…. it’s about the only time of the year that we, as adults, can dress up and act weird and not get fired.  And we can do it sober.

Besides dressing up — this year I’m gonna dress as a rock star — I love to kid around with the little trick or treaters that come by the house: They say “trick or treat!”  I answer, “Ok, I pick Trick.”  They are dumbfounded.  I explain.  I’ll take the trick.   They are dumfounded.  

“Ok, here’s a treat for you.”  I get out a box of dental floss, and pull off a 7″ piece, cut it off, and give it to one kid in his plastic pumpkin.   “Here’s some floss for you.”   And again… “And here’s some for you.”  They never complain, but they are clearly confused.  I think it is hilarious.  (I’m also a tad sugared up by then on the candy I stole from my kids’ bags.)

Another fun idea is to get out a pack of (for example) Starbursts.  Instead of giving them the pack — which is what they expect — I open the pack and give ONE Starburst to each kiddo.   (This is more fun for us as adults than it is to them as kids.)

I eventually give all the kids real candy of course.  But this time of year is a great time to goof.

LaffyTaffy is a crappy, horrible, nasty candy. And I love it.

Let me explain:

I was goofing with my kids lately, and they were eating LaffyTaffy. (In case you don’t know it, this is a chewy candy that adults generally hate and kids generally love.)laffytaffy

The interesting thing about LaffyTaffy is that it makes my kids laugh. Really. They believe that when you eat it, you laugh. Seriously; they eat some, and they laugh.

So, what’s this got to do for the rest of us? My point is that sometimes laughter is a decision. Sometimes laughter is a choice. Sometimes being in a giggly, laughing mood is as simple as DECIDING that you’re gonna be in a good mood.

I know that it isn’t always that easy.  Simple yes.  Easy, no. I know that with the genuine and frequent stressors we face as adults it isn’t always EASY to just drop things and giggle. But kids and LaffyTaffy prove that laughter is a state of mind.

laffytaffy candyMy point? Next time you’re in a lousy mood see if you can talk yourself out of it intoand into a good mood. It’s possible, and kids prove it. And if that fails, and as a last resort, have some of that LaffyTaffy.

Hate LaffyTaffy and prefer to bring in a funny motivational comedian speaker to cheer up your troops? Click here for more info.

Cheers,

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, Humorist, and Lover of LaffyTaffy

I don’t care what side of the political divide you’re on, Sarah Palin makes for some tasty jokes.

One thing is for certain:  she is funnier and easier to tease than Senator Biden.  As a humoristspeaker and comedian, the most fun would  be had with Obama and Palin winning office together.  Too bad they can’t be on the same ticket—  we comedians would go nuts with joy.   (McCain and Biden are just…. well… boring.  They might be awesome at their jobs, but they just ain’t funny.)  Check out this link to a funny site:

http://www.palinaspresident.us/   Who has time to make this stuff?

Note:  Just keep clicking!  Click on the door over and over and over again.  Made me laugh out loud.  (Ok, so I’m a 14 year old boy on the inside.  It’s still flippin’ funny!)

Tim Conway has to be one of the best sketch comedians ever. I grew up watching him, Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman make each other laugh.

What impresses me about this clip is that it holds up. It is still funny today. (And how many shows from the 70s can we say that about? Happy Days? No way, Fonzy!

As a professional speaker and comedian, I love watching how he cracks the other actors up, and how their laughter makes the sketch even funnier.  He’s funny on his own, but with the his team members busting up he is hilarious.  The other folks laughter turns the sketch from good to great.

This fact is relevant to us in our search for a fun business culture.  Laughter begets laughter. 

 If you want to ramp up the fun in your office and the humor in your workplace, you can start by laughing more yourself.  And if you are a leader or manager, make sure that you make certain others feel safe laughing around you.  Employees are often nervous about letting loose in front of their boss:  don’t let your people fall into this trap around you.  If you are laughing the hardest, your employees will follow.  Trust me on this.

Back to Conway:   The fact that Conway was so “in the moment” and authentic makes me think he’d be a

 killer professional speaker.  Can you imagine having him as your motivational keynote speaker?  Heck yeah!  Imagine him (and his team of comedians) do one of these killer sketches and then connect the learning points to corporate America.  I know he would have the convention or meeting on the edge of their seats because he is so funny.  But I bet when he connects his communication skills, timing, teamwork and ability to deal with constant change to the business and corporate culture, he’d hit it out of the park.   I know I would pay to see it. 

The bad news is that Conway isn’t a pro speaker.  The good news is that I know a motivational speaker that would love to fill in for him. : )  (“Hey mom!  Pick me!”)

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I was recently speaking in Seattle, Washington and had a chance to finally see the Pikes Place Fish Market in action.  (In case you don’t know it, Humor in the Workplace speakers have turned the Fish Philosophy into a near cliché.)

As you know (unless you’ve lived in a cave) the Fish Market is famous for a fun atmosphere  — and for turning that fun atmosphere into a healthy profit.  Tourists and customers gather to watch the fun as the fish mongers literally throw fish, laugh and joke with customers, and generally enjoy their work. The result for the fish market is more than fun and smiles:  it’s a thriving business.  A world-famous thriving business.   It’s a totally cool place with a totally cool concept.  (Hey Mom!  I used “totally cool” twice!)    It’s also been beaten like a dead horse.  Ok already!  Throwing fish is fun.

It’s been the inspiration for many a motivational speaker, a series of motivational videos, courses and other products.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked, “Brad, have you heard about the Fish Philosophy?” … I’d have…. well, a couple of bucks at least.  

If the thought of reading a blog post about the fish market makes you want to hurl, stick with me….I’m headed somewhere.

Watching the “show” at the market reminded me that a fun workplace doesn’t require funny people.  You don’t have to be a funny, joke telling manager or leader to create a pleasant work environment.  At the Market, I didn’t see a single comedian.  I didn’t hear a single joke.  

What I did see was a staff that had been empowered to be (and have) fun at work. 

Fun without funny?

Tossing a fish is not funny.  Can you imagine tossing an albacore in your workplace and getting a laugh?  (My guess is that you’d get a quick visit from HR.    “Hey everybody, Janeen is just threw a grouper at me!”)

So what was so fun about the fish market if it wasn’t flying fish? In a word, the fun was in the work culture.  They are having so much fun it is infectious. 

My point?  This fish market encourages it’s employees to have fun.  It makes it safe for them to have fun.  And it rewards them for having fun.  

Nobody is required to be funny…yet the laughter and smiles are ever present.  (It’s important to mention that in addition to laughs and smiles, the Market is well known for customer service, quality product and a staff that is willing to make every shopping experience a positive experience.) 

If you want your work culture to be more fun and funny, remember that you don’t have to be funny yourself.  You just have to do your part to encourage others to be fun. 

Throwing fish not required.

Cheers,

Brad Montgomery
Washington Motivational Speaker, Fish Thrower*

* Ok, not really.  I’ve honestly never  thown a fish.  A small rabbit** perhaps, but never a fish.

**Yes, I’m kidding.  (Rabbits wiggle too much to really get a good spiral.***)

***I’m joking again.  It’s a bad habit.  But hey, it’s my job.

****Are you looking for the site above where there was “****” There isn’t one. This footnote is just a little added bonus joke. Ha ha. Get it? Ok, me neither.

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Do you think humor increases your ability to perform?

I just read (belatedly…. It’s been busy) an article about the golfers in the The Ryder Cup.

One US player, Anthony Kim, had everyone on the US team laughing.“He’s a funny guy,” said Paul Azinger, the USA team captain.

And then, after a 9 year drought, the USA team beat the Europeans.

The Rocky Mountain News reported that usually it’s the European team laughing it up, teasing each other, and generally keeping the tone light.   This year, it was the American team.

What’s my point?  You have to be relaxed to play golf well.  And laughter is a great way to relax.  (And its safer than Valium.)

Could humor have been the deciding factor in the Ryder Cup? Almost certainly.

Sure, skill is important.  Sure, confidence and other mental factors enter into the equation.  But in this case, it looks like laughter might have been the not-so-secret weapon.

Hey golfers!  Next time you’re thinking about buying that $300 driver or the $400 putter?  Perhaps your money would be better spent buying some audio recordings of your favorite funny speakers or comedians.

Hey kids….why not listen to me?

(Yes, I’d love you to buy my CD.   I’ll use 100% of the proceeds earned from the sale of my funny keynote recording to buy a some new golf balls.  Mine are at the bottom of the lake.   I had a very tense day – apparently unable to follow my own advice.)