The Power of Fun at Work

In Reader’s Digest, Don Snyder tells us that he noticed his employees extending their allotted break time. So he put this sign on their bulletin board. “Starting immediately, your 15 minute breaks are being cut back from a half-hour to twenty minutes.” He says that using humor, employees got the message.

All our lives we’ve been told that you have to be so serious to be successful. It’s nothing but a myth! According to the business journal, Human Resources Focus, 96% of executives surveyed said people with a sense of humor do better at their jobs than those who have little or no sense of humor.

I was conducting a Keynote Program on Humor In The Workplace at a sales award dinner for Old Kent Bank. Employees were sitting at tables with colleagues from their bank branch. During my program, I noticed that every table was laughing, but one branch was having more fun than any other branch. After I completed my presentation, the winners of the sales awards were honored. Guess which branch came in first? MMMMM.

Would you like to be successful and have fun doing it? Here’s how. Turn the bulletin board in your work area into a Belly Laugh Board. Designate half of the board as a spot solely for humorous items such as comic strips, funny greeting cards, etc…. Post this sign on your board– “Budget is a Latin word which means, ‘Whatever you need, you can’t have.'” A manager had this sign in his office: “Which way did they go? How many were there? How fast were they going? I must find them. I’m their leader!”

Turn your staff meetings into laff meetings by starting the meeting with humor. Have each employee tell a funny story about a recent incident at work. Employees vote on which story is the funniest, and a reward is given to the winner. It could be a candy bar, a dollar, free lunch or the employee gets to leave work 15 minutes early which is a very popular reward. Why do this? Several research studies have shown that after people laugh, they become more creative at problem-solving. And isn’t that just what you need in your staff meetings? People who can solve problems. Humor promotes creative thinking.

Host a Positive Attitude Party at your work area. Each time an employee makes a negative remark, he/she has to donate 25 cents to a Positive Attitude jar. Once the jar fills up, throw a party that, ironically, was funded by negative attitudes.
What’s the difference between an employee who has fun at work and an employee who doesn’t? The employee who has fun at work makes a concerted effort to have fun. That’s the difference. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you really want to have fun at work, then you probably will.

The Associated Press printed a story about a 3 year legal battle in Syracuse, New York. The adversaries were Federal Express, the shipping giant, and a little coffee shop. The battle was about copyright infringement. When the coffee shop first opened, it called itself Federal Espresso. The shipping giant said no way. So, the owners agreed to change the name and they came up with Ex-Federal Espresso. The shipping giant didn’t think this was funny. Finally, they reached a settlement, and the coffee shop now has a new name: Freedom of Espresso. Humor gives power to the weak and neutralizes the strong.

Make your job fun and look forward to going to work each day!


What To Do When You Start Sharp And End Dull!

Do you know how many times we laughed when we were ten years old? 250 times a day! When we were kids, we laughed all the time and we said the cutest things. In Readers Digest, Kathy Stitt tells us she was playing tooth fairy when her daughter, Shelbey, suddenly woke up. Shelbey saw the money in her mother’s hand and shouted, “I caught you!” Kathy froze and tried to think of an explanation for why she, rather than the tooth fairy, was putting the money under her daughter’s pillow. Shelbey’s next words let her mother off the hook. “You put that money back!” she said indignantly. “The tooth fairy left that for me!”

Do you know how many times we laugh as adults. 15 times a day. And that’s on a good day, isn’t it? How did we go from 250 times a day to 15 times a day. What happened to us? As adults, we become more serious, don’t we? But life is too important to take yourself so seriously. It takes 26 muscles to smile and 62 muscles to frown. Why not make it easy on yourself?

Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughing at yourself in a healthy way is a sign of strength. It use to bother me when I started getting bald spots until I learned to use humor to deal with it. I don’t look at it as baldness anymore. I now look at it as more face. You know, you don’t really lose your hair. It just starts growing out your ears instead. When you’re able to laugh at yourself, your flaws start to disappear. And you feel better about yourself.

There are 4 stages in life:

  • Stage 1: You believe in Santa Claus
  • Stage 2: You don’t believe in Santa Claus
  • Stage 3: You dress up like Santa Claus
  • Stage 4: You look like Santa Claus


As adults, we keep getting older. Why didn’t anyone warn us about this when we were kids? You know you’re getting older when people call you at 9pm and ask, “Did I wake you up?” Remember as a kid how you hated to take a nap and now as an adult, you can’t wait to take a nap. You know you’re getting older when you stoop to tie your shoes and you wonder what else you can do while you’re down there. You know you’re getting older when:

  • You keep more food than beer in the fridge
  • Dinner and a movie is the whole date, not just the beginning
  • You start watching the weather channel


When we laugh at our imperfections, they become trite. They don’t seem significant anymore. Most importantly, we stop taking ourselves so seriously.

Laughter makes you feel so good, don’t wait for something funny to happen. Create your own humor. Turn life into laughter. At first, this may seem awkward, but with practice, you will get better at it. How do you turn life into laughter? I’m glad you asked. One technique is to interpret things in more than one way. Look for the humorous side of what you see and hear. A dry cleaners had this sign in front of their building, “38 years on the same spot.” This sign has both a serious interpretation and a funny interpretation. Now, you try it. Newspaper headlines, “Toilet seats stolen from police department. Police having nothing to go on.” See, you’re starting to get the hang of it. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel. And the best part is you will be laughing more often each day.

Life is too important to take yourself so seriously!

You Can Be A Great Leader Only If You Have A Heart

It was Sunday. I walked into the football locker room at Wayne State University. I was happy and proud to be an assistant football coach after Saturday’s victory. I saw the head football coach picking up athletic tape off the floor and throwing it into the trash can. The tape had been left over from the players after the game. I said, “Coach, why are you picking up the tape? Let the janitor do that.” He was bent over with a wad of tape in his hand. He looked up at me and said, “Walt, no job is too small!”

I was stunned. Here I was this young whippersnapper, just 25 years old; a college football coach who was too big for his britches and who got carried away with his title. At this moment, I was being humbled by a man who knew what leadership is all about. Leadership starts with being a role model. Be a great role model. It is the best way to inspire your people.

My track coach in high school said, “Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Your people will follow what you do, not what you say. Show your people that your are willing to roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work. If you ask your people to work overtime, make sure that they see you working overtime. Once a week, tell one of your people that you’re going to do their job for one hour. To really impress the person, choose a task that is boring or frustrating.

You can’t lead from behind your desk. Though your in-box is full, and you’re up to your ankles in alligators, you can’t seclude yourself in your office. You can’t sit at your computer and communicate with your people solely through e-mail. Ken Blanchard, the author of “The One Minute Manager” recommends MBWA, Management By Walking Around. Your people have to see you with your sleeves rolled up. They have to see you on the front lines where the real action takes place.

The good leader manages people. The great leader inspires people!


You Can Live Without Customers But Not For Long

I arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana. I checked in at the front desk and went up to my room. As I was unpacking, I discovered that I had forgotten to bring a bottle of sparkling juice. I needed this bottle for the Keynote Program that I had been invited to conduct for Indiana Business College the very next morning.

I called the concierge and explained my dilemma. He told me that the Director of Food and Beverages at the hotel could help me, and he transferred my call. I asked the Director if there was a supermarket nearby where I could purchase a bottle of sparkling juice. Without any hesitation, the Director said, “Sir, I leave this job in an hour. On my way home, I will stop by a supermarket, buy the bottle, and bring it to you tomorrow morning before you start your program. Is that OK?” I said, “Yes. Thank you so much.” After I hung up the phone, I said to myself, WOW! They’re good!

The next morning, the Director arrived with the bottle. I tipped him well, and I now had an important prop for my program. When I flew back to Michigan and arrived in my office, I wrote a glowing letter of appreciation about him and sent it to his supervisor. When your customer says “WOW!”, you know you’re providing customer service with excellence.

Nowadays, the world is extremely competitive and customers have more choices than ever. To develop customer loyalty, you have to distinguish yourself from your competition. This is a challenge because the bar for excellence is constantly being raised and customer expectations go higher and higher. What is the answer? It’s the human touch. A sign in the customer service department at Digital Equipment Corporation reads, “Customers don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”

How do you show that you care? It all starts with your attitude. Have you ever walked into a business, up to the counter and, within 30 seconds, determined how helpful the customer representative would be? The customer can feel your attitude, can feel how much you care. When the customer shows up, make the customer feel really welcome. Treat the customer as a guest not as a dollar sign. A warm greeting, eye contact, body language and a willingness to help make the customer feel glad he/she is there.

After you have made the customer feel welcome, it’s time for action. The essence of customer C.A.R.E. is to solve their problems and meet their needs quickly and completely. Bend over backwards. Go beyond the call of duty. Give your customer “lagniappe!” Lagniappe is a French Cajun word that, literally, means “a little more.”

When I was a child, the neighborhood grocery sold some items in bulk. If the customer asked for a pound of beans, the grocer would scoop the beans out of the barrel and weigh them. If the grocer wanted the customer to come back again and again, he would give the customer Lagniappe, an extra ounce of beans for free, to build customer loyalty.

Give your customer “lagniappe”, a little more. There is always something you can do for the customer that is extra, even if it’s giving them a little more of your time. Lagniappe distinguishes you from your competition and increases the number of loyal customers that you have. When you serve your customer well, the customer thinks, “This is nice.” When you serve your customer well and give a little more, the customer thinks, “WOW! This is great!”