The Traveling Garden Gnome, and other Colorado - Housing Humor | Brad Montgomery

What’s Chafaning! (That’s an inside joke for the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, better known as CHFA. :) )
I just had the great luck to do my motivational speakers / humorist thing with the wonderful people at the Colorado Housing And Finance Authority. It was a total hoot for a dozen reasons. This is a team of hard-working folks who do their best for a group of people who need them most. They are a group that is ready to laugh and ready to have a good time. And today at our meeting at the Denver Athletic Club, we did both.

But I admit that as much fun as my job is, and as much as enjoy getting a group like this that works together but doesn’t always get a chance to laugh together, wiping the laughter-tears out of their eyes, my favorite part of the day was hearing about their traveling garden gnome.

This is a very cool idea, and I bet they would be flattered if you stole it and used it in your office to brighten up the humor quotient. Here’s the details for the corporate culture-building technique: Anybody in the office is encouraged to write cards “thanking” or “recognizing” their co-workers, bosses, employees, … anybody… for doing a good job, for something special, or for just doing anything noteworthy.

For example, there might be a card written for doing something over-the-top amazing like saving the company a ton of dough, or for helping cover the work when somebody is out sick, or maybe for just being good at your job. Each person who has a card written about them receives a token cash gift awarded at the end of the quarter. (The CHFA give each person either $5 or $10 depending on what you drew out of the “hat.” Which, as my grand father would say, is better than a sharp stick in your eye.) I was told that CHFA gives out about $400 per quarter — a small investment for morale.

Every two months, the managers and supervisors go through the cards and select what they see as the greatest one.  This is where the Garden Gnome comes in. That winner for the two month period is “awarded” the garden gnome to put on their desk for that period.

It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s inspirational. It’s morale building. And, best of all, it works. Humor in the workplace? Try “gnome in the workplace!” What an awesome example of a concrete idea that works wonders at one workplace and can easily be incorporated into your workplace.

Do you have a similar — or totally different — story about what happens at your work? Leave a comment.

Hey CHFA! What was the one A-HA you got out of our program there in Denver, Colorado? What did you learn? What will you do differently? Leave a comment.

Special offer for CHFA folks only! Get a free audio of Brad by clicking here.

And your meeting planner (and rock star) Alison Medina asked me to include a link to my books. (I’m flattered!) Thanks Alison. Click here for some cool stuff.

Thanks Chfians — (which is what you call folks from the Colorado Housing And Finance Authority.) I had a hoot.


Brad Montgomery
Motivational Humorist Speaker, Humor In the Workplace Consultant, Fan of Gnomes

2 replies
  1. Peggy Fernandez
    Peggy Fernandez says:

    Hi Brad,

    Thanks so much for visiting us at CHFA and helping us find some much needed laughter! And, reading your wonderful comments about CHFA and our “Traveling Gnome” was so flattering… back when I still worked in HR, my co-worker (Becca) and I created the idea of the traveling gnome and its been a great success!

    My A-HA moment? Realizing that the little things I do throughout the day that don’t seem very significant for me can have a hugely positive effect on others!

  2. Kim L
    Kim L says:


    You were great!! Our department really enjoyed your humor and helping to lighten up the day. We liked your “redneck” teeth and glasses so much, that I went shopping and bought some for our department, then when we had our production meeting, we wore them for our manager. We laughed so hard we had tears rolling out of our eyes and our manager’s reply was “That is so Cool”. We enjoy them on a regular basis now, to help break up the day. Thanks again for the laughs!!!

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