Yesterday I was in the Salt Lake City airport going to a job in Sun Valley, ID when I stopped into Starbucks. I was chatting with the woman behind the counter. She was just a fun person with a big smile.

When she gave me BACK my credit card she held it out for me to take back. But here was the great part: when I grabbed it she didn’t let go. I pulled, but she hung on.

I looked up and met her eyes, and bingo; a huge smile was on her face.

She was doing it. She was using this tiny bit of humor on the job to help her do more than survive…. it helped her thrive. Humor in the workplace? You bet! She proved that adding (or creating) a smile or two here and there can change your day. And if you string enough of those days together….

Comedian magician (and pal) Michael C. Anthony just did something very cool. As he was on the road working for a college in Mississippi where after the show he went to visit three different shelters for those who lost everything during the hurricane.

Michael took it upon himself to do some magic for the folks in the shelter. I loved it! Not only did he go visit, but he shared the skill he has taken years to hone and shared it with those needing it most. He told me that the folks were bored stiff and probably would have reacted to nearly anything. But I know Michael, and he is a one of the nations most professional magicians… and so I know that he shared something really special.

Way to go dude! Way to share the laughter, the humor… and the magic!

click out my work as a corporate comedian magician

Dateline: Ft. Collins, Colorado I just got back from Colorado’s premier magicians convention called Magic in the Rockies. What a blast. Colorado magicians converge on three days of tricks, lectures, and laughter. A couple of my favorites were comedians (yup, you can be a comedian AND a magician) Dana Daniels and comedian magician Michael Finney. They were hilarious, honed, and clean.

One interesting note was that Michael Finney received a rare standing ovation from the magicians…. for not doing a trick. He did a long set of stand up comedy and KILLED! Even magicians were amazed — and laughing ’till their faces hurt — by this corporate comedian.

The best part of the convention for me was that it rejuvenated my love for all things magical and magic. I’ve been so involved with the comedian portion of my speaker job that I’ve taken the magician part of me for granted. No more…. welcome back Magic Boy!

Check out all the info about my work as a corporate magician here.

Not at my house. But recenlty I learned that the spoken word CAN be “Family Friendly!”

When I was younger (and not yet a motivational speaker– heck, I wasn’t even a fireman which was my first goal) I spent a great deal of time in a little house in Silver Plume, Colorado. There was no T.V. up there to distract me and my sister and brother. Instead, we found entertainment in four or five Bill Cosby comedy albums my mom and dad bought. We laughed tons and tons as we listened to the albums over and over again. We could have recited the entire albums– and probably did.

Years later, to my delight, my dad gave me the very albums that had been such an escape many years ago. After some trial and error, I finally figured out how to hook up the record player to my computer and copy these albums onto CD so they would last — with the same scratches and grooves for many, many years to come.

The best surprise I got out of doing this though was that my kids love these comedy albums just as much as I did as a kid. We can listen to it together and they love it! I love the comedy recordings now as much as ever for three reasons. 1. They are old friends and listening to them is like a hug from a friend you thought you lost. 2. They are hilarious! Cosby’s stuff really holds up. And 3. It’s a hoot to listen to them with my kids. It is really special to be able to share humor like this across the generations.

Even after all the years of being a comedian, I never thought it was truly possible to have family-appropriate humor that would really be enjoyed by everyone. Of course I had done many shows aimed toward the family that included magic, but Cosby serves as such a great example of how the spoken word alone can be very funny to audiences of all ages without being inappropriate. (Can you imagine encouraging your six year old kid to listen to Chris Rock?) Family Friendly comedy? How Cool is That?!

[Yup… I have a family friendly corporate comedian and magician show too! Learn more here.)

… no…. under the bed.

Often we don’t have to look very far to find humor in action. (At least not at my house.)

My wife Kim and I were putting our little kids to sleep. They are afraid of the monsters that might be around, and as I watched from the doorway asked Kim to close the doors to the closet and the bathroom. (Apparently monsters are unable to operate doornobs.)

“Do you want me to look under the bed?” she asked them?

Of course they did. So she bends down to look under the bed and says, “Ok Frank and Larry: they know you are here and they are scared so just stay where you are or you’re gonna freak them out. Ok? Ok.”

My kids eyes got really big REALLY fast. But I cracked up. I mean cracked up.

The kids … probably prompted by me … cracked up too. It was a great end of the day for them.

I loved it and have told the story several times since… including here.

Wanna know the funniest part? Kim doesn’t think she was particularly funny night… and she thinks the fact that I DO think it was hilarious is (further) evidence that I’m a wacko. Which of course, just made it funnier for me. So be it.

My point? You don’t have to hunt far for humor. Just pay attention and you’ll find very funny people who may (or may not) be trying to be hilarious. Without much of a fuss you should be find plenty of humor anywhere you look for it. (Especially if you look under the bed.)

It’s a Ten ….. Food folks fun freely.

It is one thing to speak to a group for 45 minutes (or an hour, or 90 minutes, or even a half day) and to teach them about the power of laughter, motivational humor, and just generally how to lighten up.

But it is another (sometimes much harder) thing to actually get people to do it. For them to actually change their behavior, their outlooks and their attitudes based on what I tell them.

I give my audiences a bunch of ideas about how they can take laughter with them (and how they can use it to help make their lives better.) But to be honest, I’m always unsure of how much they actually take with them. I wonder sometimes if they get it.

So, imagine how cool it was to get an email from a group of folks at the Quality Assurance Association (a bunch of food folks) with a great photo taken of a bunch of their members at dinner.

motivational humor in restaurants!

Apparently they did get it! What a blast.

Check out the letter and the photo:

Brad,

You really made a hit with our members. They kept quoting you all week,especially with “Incredible” and “ride the pony”. Some even wore their red noses to dinner. I have pictures of our group at dinner holding up 10 on napkins for our waitress who was asked to give us 16 individual checks!
I also have a sign we found at the lab we visited that everyone thought you could use in your program. I’ll fax to you if you send me your fax. I really enjoyed watching Joe Kelly , sitting opposite me in the meeting , go from no expression to actually laughing a few times. He looked like a stick in the mud most of the time.

Your motivation and humor helped a ton.. You are great and I had so many people ask how I found you.

Take care,

Ann Thompson”

(PS. They are holding up signs that say “10.” This is a very cool idea created by my mentor, Dr. Earl Reum (http://www.earlreum.com ) where you hold up a sign Olympic-Judge style after a co-worker does something cool, a new-hire finishes a first product, your spouse makes a great dinner, etc. You get the idea. It’s awewsome. Thanks Earl!)

Being a motivational humorist speaker rocks! I love my job!

I’m amazed at how often I hear it from my clients: “We just had a speaker and he (or she) told stories and jokes that were just TOTALLY inappropriate for our association.”
Well folks, I’m here to tell you that if you want your speaker to use humor… ask them whether it is clean humor. Ask ‘em how they define “clean comedy.” If you need to, ask for examples. Last thing you want is for your boss and HR director to call you in to their offices to show you the stack of complaint letters about the comic speaker who “just wasn’t funny.”

I was chatting with a meeting planner yesterday who told me the story that I think sums up meeting stupidity. A huge corporation booked a known comedian for a corporate event. This was a very well known comedian… a person who at one time had their own TV show, and had plenty of tape on HBO and the Comedy Channel. Anybody… and I mean ANYBODY who has seen even 23 seconds of this comedian gets the accurate impression that they don’t work clean.

It was more than an occasional curse word. It was the whole act. Sex. Genders. Ethnicity. Curse words. Making fun of nearly every group. Predictably (in my opinion), five minutes after the comedian started the show at the convention, the CEO walked on stage and personally escorted the act off the stage. The full fee was paid, the audience was shocked, and the CEO probably had a fit with whoever booked that act. (And the comedian probably wondered, “Why in the world did they book me if they didn’t want me to do my thing?”)

My question was this: What did they expect? There are a ton of great corporate comedians who work 100% clean and are both professional and hilarious. But it is up to the meeting planner — or whomever is booking the speaker — to check to see if they are clean. And if you have any doubts… keep asking questions until you know you have a speaker that you know will be more than funny you want a speaker who understands corporate, government and association audiences.

I was speaking to a potential client on the phone today and I was impressed with some of the questions she asked me. I was amazed at the quality of her questions. It was clear that this woman had a clear plan in mind when she started to choose and select her motivational speaker.

Most of her questions were centered around my experience; basically she wanted to make sure I had lots of it. Tons of experience. And I was impressed with her questions. And it struck me that she — perhaps without knowing it — should teach a short class in how to Make Sure Your Speaker Has a Proven Track Record. She wanted to make sure I:

•Am a motivation speaker with a long list of happy clients.
•Consider booking only speakers who have earned thier CSP (Certified Speaking Professional… this is a pretty big deal.)
•That I am a speaker who can provide RECENT references. And that ALL of my recent clients are happy clients.
•That I am a speaker who’s clients are not only numerous, but go back a LONG way. (She wanted to make sure that I had experience over time.)

What a great idea. It reminded me of how my wife and I engaged a construction firm to re-do our kitchen. We did check references, but we did not ask for the firm’s Six Most Recent clients. We should have done just that. That contractor was a nightmare.

He had references, but heck… anybody who has been in any business a few years can find happy clients. What I should have checked was this: are ALL of his clients happy? At least the ones in the last year?

So when this perspective client wanted more than clients… she wanted recent clients … I was impressed. And totally thrilled to give them to her.

Bottom line: book a speaker with a LONG and PROVEN track record. (Of course.. I’d love it if you book me. : )

Jason is my hero. Check out his blog here…. http://jasonspage.net. It’s a collection of weird news and some personal blogging from Jason.

His site rocks. But what to me is extraordinary is Jason himself. He’s a rock star. When I put out a cry for help witih my blog, it was Jason who came to my rescue. He is pro. He is an expert. And he is unbelievably helpful.

Even after I begged for tutoring (because I’m a novice at this WordPress software) Jason helped me.

How cool is that?!

And what’s best? He did it with good humor, grace, and warmth.