Archive for April, 2010

Need a Creative Breakthrough? Step into the Humor Zone! – Part Two

April 29, 2010

When you find yourself involved in a difficult or stressful project and you need a creative breakthrough, take a short humor break.

7 Things you can do during a humor break.

1)      Write a funny poem for a special someone. Children, nieces and nephews are people who appreciate a note and a simple cartoon. When is the last time you have hand-written a note to a sibling. Send a drawing of a funny experience years ago and brighten their day while you exercise your creative mind.  A simple start is a Roses are red type poem then move on to limerick or rhyming verse.

2)      Draw a simple stick cartoon with a caption. To start you need a place, and character or two. One comments to the other about an object or thing they observe and you have a cartoon. Take it a step further and write several funny captions for your art.

3)      Clip a photo from the paper and write several silly captions to go with it. Read the Onion and take a photo from that paper and stick it at the top of a sheet of paper. Write several captions to go below it.

4)      Clip a Far side cartoon or other cartoon and stick it to the top of a sheet of paper and write comic captions for this.  It will get your mind going in creative directions.

5)      Eat a treat in a funny way. Actually imagine yourself in a old time movie and you are Charlie Chaplin eating a Hershey bar or ice cream sandwich. Use your fork and knife… tuck your napkin in your chin with aplomb and act like a high class lord or lady.  Just be silly and enjoy the moment. This assumes, of course, that you have a private office.

6)      Get up and do a silly walk. If you need lesson on this, study the British TV Comedies by the Monte Python’s Troup. They have an excellent skit where they work at the Government Ministry of Silly Walks. Get up, work out your body and mind at the same time. Then see how your mind is ready to move forward on the duties at hand. This assumes you have a very private office. I do know some creative guys that do art for books and it would be likely you’ll see them doing this or shooting Nerf darts at each other when they are in a creative slump.

7)      Inspire someone! Send a handmade quickie card. It can simply be a piece of cardboard cut from the side of a soda pop box. For example take an Orange Crush box, cut a 4 x 6 inch “greeting card” and write, “When the Crush is on I know I can count on you!” Or with Pepsi you might write, “You got more Pep than a Pepsi.” It does not have to be overly clever, just do something a bit creative and humorous and you will discover yourself moving ahead.

8)      Write a note of encouragement to a co-worker or friend. Write about a humorous moment that you shared with them. Or tell them something funny that happened to you recently. Keep a copy for yourself to have in your file. When you need a pick me up, remember the funny situation and in this way you can give yourself a humor.  Doing something positive for someone makes you more positive. (OK there are 8 but, 7 ways just sounded cooler)

What is your alternative? You could stay chained to your desk steeping in stress with your shoulders slumped and strained from a heavy burden, as if Mr. Universe were sitting on your shoulders. You don’t need that. You can solve this task and a bit of humor will lift you back into your creative zone.

Motivate your staff with the Teamwork and service presentation at


Have a Healthy and Humorous Life

April 28, 2010

Developing a comic vision for seeing the funny side of life is a vital element to keeping a positive attitude. Comic vision is the ability to perceive the humor around us. To develop this, we need to study and discover what tickles our funny bone.

What is the best way to make you laugh? Do you enjoy a joke or funny story? Do you find that a cartoon in the paper brings the biggest joy?  Do you like humor that is more visual such as that of a physical comedian or old time movie?  Are you a coinsure of more intellectual twists on things in life such as the sign at the store: “For your convenience, we will be closed Christmas Day.”

Another example of humor all around us comes from the newsletter, About Women on Campus,  published by the National Association for Women in Education, as reported in Chronicles of Higher Education, “More than half (55 percent) of women undergraduates are female.”  Newspapers are full of funny headlines, develop your comic vision and start seeing them.

I have a friend who is extremely punny. His favorite style of humor is puns and he has a million stories that have puntastic finishes. Some see this humor of his as pun-ishment.

Study what makes you laugh and do a bit of research to find more of the same. Share it with others and enjoy a laugh with someone. Try out other types of humor and discover how you react to it. A chuckle or a belly laugh, are both helpful in the stress reduction needed each day.

Expand your humorous vision by trying out a few humor prompters that you had not considered before. Try old comedy TV shows, movies or books and articles by comedians. Look at the world in a different way and see it through another’s perspective.  This will help in understanding others as you broaden your horizon of humor.

Once you begin to see the funny side, you will discover that the stressful things in life will still hit you, but you will be stepping over them faster and with grace.  This ability to quickly turn things around will help prevent the dwelling on situations that can compile stress in life.

The Serious Business of Humor in the Workplace. By Norm Barnhart

April 26, 2010

Life in the workplace is full of pressures, demands and change. With all these challenges bombarding us at work is it really important to take humor seriously? When we consider the positive effects of a positive attitude and the way humor helps us adapt, yes, Humor is a serious part of business.

A study done in 1985 by Robert Haft International discovered that just 15% of workers were let go because they lacked competence in their skills. The majority were fired because they were unable to get along with other employees.

They dug deeper and they asked H.R. and senior management to check off choice attributes they look for in an employee and one of the main ones was humor.

Humor is an asset in the workplace because it encourages communication, builds relationships and helps people get along. It helps generate a positive work environment and builds the team. Humor can also be key in helping people to get past mistakes and misunderstandings.

Humor is a uplifting addition to meetings. A little humor is helpful in making a meeting become energized and it encourages attendance.

Humor in the Workplace – Encouraging Communication

April 25, 2010

Humor Encourages Communication

Laughter helps people get closer and to connect and bond. When we laugh together we find common ground and this builds a positive work environment.

When we can poke fun at ourselves, we can make ourselves more enduring to others with self effacing humor. It helps us avoid looking arrogant or proud and we can be seen as down to earth.

In a difficult situation a bit of humor directed at ourselves can be a non-threatening way help work through a difficult situation. Humor can keep a problem or situation from intensifying and release pressure. A bit of humor can be like lifting a lid off a boiling pot and give a quick break so that the heat can be turned down and a positive solution discovered.

An example of using humor to ask others for patience is the frazzled secretary who posts the sign: “I have only two speeds, and if this one isn’t fast enough then I’m sure you’re not going to like my other.” Another is the somewhat scattered boss who places a note on his messy desk that says, “A Creative Mess is better than Tidy Idleness.” The message is clear, yet it is done with a light and playful way that is less stressful. The secretary uses a sign to poke fun at the situation she is facing daily, and the boss’s note pokes some fun at himself.

Humor in the workplace can help build a team and this is a positive benefit for any business.

Humor in the Workplace – Building and Developing Relationships

April 25, 2010

Humor: a Key to Building Relationships

Staff development is vital to every organization. This team effort is essential for keeping a workplace running efficiently. Humor helps to facilitate this positive environment. We can encourage our co-workers by making a humor bulletin board. This Humor Board is a place where people can post their ideas, cartoons and jokes. The obvious rule is to keep it clean and fun and avoid mean humor directed at groups.

You can add humor to an inner office memo or e-mail. This bit of wit can brighten someone’s day and this is a great way to encourage and uplift co-workers.  People will look forward to hearing from you and may be more open to what you have to say.

A bit of humor helps take the seriousness of work and place it in a lighter perspective. Many people find that they become more connected with those who can bring them a smile.

Humor in the Workplace – Energizing Meetings

April 16, 2010

Meetings are Energized with Humor

Every good speaker has a few jokes or stories up the sleeve. This is a dynamic way to capture and hold attention. We can also illustrate a point with the humorous story illustrating a point. A good laugh wakes up our minds and draws us into what the speaker is saying. A little bit of humor can brighten a meeting and get the group in good spirits to go back to their tasks.

Clinical Psychologist, Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D. states that, “in working environments where humor is supported there develops a culture that utilizes the humor to reduce stress and provide perspective. Learning to laugh at ourselves and our work lightens the load.”

Humor is a major asset to your work life and your career. It is something to get serious about. Now take action and find ways to look at the bright side and spread this to others. A cheerful heart is good medicine.  Find ways to increase your ability to look at things with humor and good cheer and share it with others.

The Serious Business of Humor in the Workplace – Continued

April 14, 2010

Humor can bring a Positive Perspective     by Norm Barnhart

Humor helps us step back and take a different look at things. It is good to try to see things from another point of view and to gain perspective.  Up close a situation can seem difficult or impossible, but if we step back and take a broader view it is possible find new solutions. A challenge can seem less daunting if we look at the problem from a ways back and then we can see that it is not that big in the broader scheme of things.

The old expression is, “someday, we’ll look back at this, and laugh.” For example if you are at a wedding, and the groom slips and falls into the cake, it is tragic. This is not very funny to the bride now, but years later… Of course the sooner we step back, pick ourselves up from our slips and mistakes and laugh at our foibles the sooner we can move forward and get more done.  If the bride laughs everyone is given permission to laugh and the stressful situation evaporates instantly.

Difficulties happen to everyone, we need to learn from our mistakes, but not kick ourselves in the rear continuously.

We need to forgive ourselves, and hope others will too. We also need to show grace toward others so that they will be positive and productive. An environment of grudge keeping and lack of forgiveness will lower productivity and stir resentment.

As Plato said, “Be kind, everyone is facing a hard battle.

Humor in the Workplace – continued

April 14, 2010

Humor – The Magical Stress Reducer

There is potential for stress in every workplace.  It can build and eat away at productivity. A little levity can help reduce stress in difficult situations. Humor can bring people together and this can help refocus their energy to the task at hand.

Stress can aggravate or cause illness. It can increase absenteeism and burn-out. The good news is that humor is a positive and powerful stress reliever. Clinical Psychologist, Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D. states that “humor is a great stress reliever because it makes us feel good, and we can’t feel good and feel stress simultaneously. At the moment we experience humor, feelings like depression, anger, and anxiety dissolve.”

Dr. Sultanoff states that laughter reduces stress by activating the physiological systems including the muscular, respiratory, cardiovascular, and even the skeletal. He says, “In fact, we may even lose muscle control, as many of us have, when we laugh so hard that we fall down or wet our pants. Laughter has been labeled a jogging and juggling of the internal organs.” Laughter can make us feel physically better. After a good laugh we can feel lighter and more relaxed.

The mind is amazing, we can only have one focused thought at a time. Like a television set turned to one channel our mind has one channel on at a time. What happens with laughter is that we can mentally change the channels in our mind and go from a negative or stressful thought to another channel and that brings almost instant benefits as we move to a positive thought.

Norman Cousins called this aspect of how humor changes our thoughts a “train wreck of the mind.” Humor takes two opposing ideas and brings them together in a quick way. The way humor works is that we find that things are funny as a result of going on one track then a surprise hits us. This surprise comes in the form of a punch line in a joke. We are thinking one way and the surprise of the punch line triggers a funny bone in our mind.

Humor helps bring a mindset of creativity because we start to see things in different ways. The more we practice the sense of humor the more our mind expands and looks at the possibilities in front of us. Understanding and enjoying humor is a basic skill for creative problem solving.  A joke has a surprise ending and the mind triggers a laugh because of the incongruity of the situation.

Many problems can be solved in unexpected ways and we can creatively find solutions by thinking in different ways.  Study and development of humor can help up develop this skill.

This Spring – Grow your Business!

April 11, 2010

I am watching the flowers sprout up all over the yard and have been planning the garden today. It is too early to put things into the ground but we have many plants inside the house slowly growing and getting ready for the garden.

Today was enjoyable as we looked over the garden plot and decided where to eventually put things in. It is fun to watch it all come up and to later enjoy the tasty tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and other yummy stuff.

Business growth takes planning too. Goals must be set now for projects that will net gains in the future.  It takes careful planning and preparation to see lasting results.  Last year I really worked to build up the strawberry patch. This spring it looks fabulous. Best ever. But all last year it was weed and hoe and help the young plants extend themselves and spread out into new areas.

Spring is a great time to make some plans for growth in your business. Where do you want to be in 3 months, in 6 months. Do you want to expand into a new market? Find new ways to reach out to old customers in a creative way? Make your brand stand out in a memorable way? Find new ways to show excellence in service to your customers and clients. Maybe it is time to weed out some weak part of your business, is there waste, duplication and inefficiency?

Don’t put it off. Make a list of goals and then get to them. Keep a positive attitude as you move forward on your goals. Make the goals clear and achievable. It is good to list sub goals for each goal. These are the steps necessary to achieve the goal.

Strive for excellence but don’t get over stressed. It is good to laugh and have some fun along the way. Enjoy the day and watch the results of your efforts make your business grow.

10 Business Success Secrets – Part 1

April 5, 2010

By Norm Barnhart

Your mind is a big factor in your success in business. How you think can have a huge impact on this success.  Check out the following areas and see if there are ways to look at things differently or ways you can improve your results through creative solutions.

What is your purpose for being in business? Many think that the purpose I to make some money. But if profit is the only goal the long term results can be very poor. You goal needs to be creatively getting and keeping customers. Excellence in service can keep customers and bring more in through referrals. Brian Tracy a business researcher, author and trainer says that, “Fully 50 percent of your time, efforts, and expenses should be focused on creating and keeping customers in some way.”  The benefit to your business long term comes from finding ways to innovate in the way you serve and help people.

The way to measure your success is with customer satisfaction. Your ability to really satisfy your customer’s needs and wants is very important. If you can give them more than they expect and really shine with service, they will tell their friends and come back again and again. This is the key to your businesses growth and long term success.  Oh yes, and here is where your profits come in. Everyone wins.

The Value of Value

If we can add value to the customer’s experience they will see the value and return. Be on the lookout for creative ways to add value to what you do.
The Most Valuable Resource to you – The Customer!
It is said, “the Customer is King!” This royal treatment of your honored customers is job one.  Some customers can be difficult or challenging, demanding or disloyal. But we need them to maintain our businesses so we need to creatively look for ways that and our excellence in service can turn around difficult situations. Our main goal should be to creatively find ways to keep customers in a positive place where they are excited about doing business with us.

The Magic Word
The word is Contribution! Brian Tracy says that, “In life, work, and business, you will always be rewarded in direct proportion to the value of your contribution to others, as they see it.”  What can you contribute to the community, customer or to others within your own business.  Make yourself a valuable part of every field by what you contribute. In a meeting when you contribute creative ideas, you will find that you are looked to for solutions and this makes you valuable to that group.