How Humor Can Save the World

Friday night was a big milestone for me. After 9 weeks of blood, sweat, and tears, I got on stage and delivered what’s considered “The First 5”. It was the first 5 minutes of my comedy act. Even though I’m on stage all the time as a professional speaker, I was super nervous. I wanted to stretch myself a bit. Push the envelope. Get out of my comfort zone.

Click on the image to watch my comedic debut!

It was nerve-wracking, to say the least. I wanted to call in sick. I thought to myself, “What if nobody laughs? What if I bomb?”

In spite of it all, I danced with the fear. People actually laughed. And it wasn’t at me, it was with me. 🙂

That 5 minutes demonstrated more than getting out of my comfort box, it was about the power of humor.

Humor brings people together. Humor breaks down barriers. Humor helps you cope through bad times. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress, boost the immune system and enhance brain chemistry through the release of endorphins.

I can’t do this research justice. Check out the TED Talk from my mentor and friend, neuro-humorist Karyn Buxman. During this outstanding clip, she dives into just how powerful humor can be in our daily lives and how it may even be able to change the world.

How Humor can Change the World

 

 

What Adventure Will You Take?

Have you ever started out on an adventure that seemed like a good idea at the time?  

Then later you found out that you should have turned back before you started?

I felt this way a few months back. I was in Phoenix, AZ for a conference. I was sharing a room with Lila, who is a health and fitness guru. She knew that I wanted to get into shape and start my fitness journey. Lila is an avid and experienced hiker.

For the longest, I’ve heard Lila rave about the high she received from climbing Camelback Mountain. When you make it to the summit, 2,704 feet above sea level, the payoff is a picturesque view of the valley.

Click on the photo to watch a fun video that Lila and I made about our adventure on Camelback Mountain

After doing a little research online, I learned that Camelback Mountain is regularly ranked one of the nation’s top hiking destinations for avid hikers. The range consists of two main trails, Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail; both of which are rated Extremely Difficult and subject hikers to steep elevation gains, very rugged terrain, and the harsh elements associated with the Sonoran Desert. Only experienced hikers with adequate preparation, during optimal weather,  should attempt to hike to the summit. So I brought up that last point to Lila. And she said, in only the way, Lila can: “ You can do! Just give it a try.”  So I decided to jump in with both feet.

At 5:00am, long before the sun was up, we were at the start of the trail. Knowing that I would be super slow, I told Lila to run up ahead of me.  Within 15 minutes, I realized I had met my match. Lila was nowhere in sight. It was one of the toughest physical activities I’ve ever done. The terrain was rocky and rough. As I made my way up the mountain, it seemed like everyone was passing me including this fragile old lady. After about 30 minutes, I came to a clearing in the mountain and could watch the sunrise. I received a text from Lila, who was almost to the summit. She recommended that I stop at the point that I made it to. It was a good stop and the degree of difficulty would only increase.

Sounds like good advice. Right? Right.

Do you think I took it? Wrong.

My ego got in the way. And I proceeded to move to the next step up the mountain.

I thought I met my match before but that was nothing compared to the next section of the mountain. I wasn’t wearing the right shoes. Before I knew it, I started slipping off the trail.  I thought I was going to tumble down the mountain backward. All I could think to myself was, “ I have to make it back home to Mr. Brown”. After that, I talked some sense into myself and started to come back the steepest part of the mountain on my butt.

At first, I was really disappointed that I didn’t make it to the summit. But after making it back to the base, I realized that it wasn’t about making to the summit. It was about getting started.

Here are the lessons from that experience:

  1. Just do it.
  2. Go with a buddy.
  3. Know your limits.
  4. Have the right equipment for the job.
  5. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

What is trust, really?

I was kicking back watching one of my new guilty pleasures, Soul School on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). She has some fascinating guests who are “life experts” on her show. Everyone from Michael Beckwith, star of the movie “The Secret” to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love”.

One expert particularly peaked my attention, the extraordinary Brene Brown. I know what you’re thinking, and no we are not cousins.

Brene Brown is a research professor, author and celebrated orator of one of the most viewed TED Talks in history.

During her time on the Soul School stage, she talked about the true essence of trust.  

Glued to the screen—I couldn’t peel my eyes away because she asked some very key questions:

  • What does it mean to trust someone?
  • What does it mean to trust yourself?

She broke down her world-renowned research.

Brene opens with a story about her daughter and how her trust was breached as a 3rd grader by a group of school friends.

As she consoled her daughter, she struggled with giving a definition of what it means to trust. The analogy she used was great: “Trust is like a marble jar”. You share those hard stories or situations with those friends and you fill up your marble jar. You’ve shared thing after thing with them and you know you can trust them.

Do you have marble jar friends?

Trust is often thought associated with a big grand gesture at a pivotal time in our lives. Brene’s research argues the opposite. Trust is built in small ways with micro-actions over time.

We trust those family and friends whose jars are full—people who have formed “trust” moments with us.

In her description of trust, she used a great acronym, she calls B.R.A.V.I.N.G.

B..R.A.V.I.N.G. is the anatomy of trust. It stands for:  Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgment and Generosity.

Boundaries — Trust does not exist without boundaries. I know where you stand. You know where I stand. We respect those lines.

Reliability — Trust can only be present when you hold fast to your word I can count on you doing what you say you will do, over and over again.

Accountability — I trust you when you make a mistake and you’re willing to own it, apologize for it and make amends and in return you will allow me to do the same.

Vault —  Keeping confidences. What I share with you, you will hold in confidence and what you share with me, I will hold in confidence.

Integrity — Brene’s defines integrity as choosing courage over comfort; choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and putting those values to practice, not just professing your values aka giving lip service.

Non-Judgment — We can both struggle and ask for help. I can fall apart ask for help and not be judged.

Generosity — Our relationship is only a trust relationship if we can assume the most generous thing about each others’ words, intentions and behaviors without checking in with each other. 

Using and understanding this framework, we can better identify and communicate when we are in need of more trust or when we are hurt. This creates a healthy conversation with our loved ones.  Even better, this could provide a common understanding and lingo.  

Yet, the most important trust relationship is with ourselves. We must trust ourselves.

BRAVING is about connection. Self-trust is BRAVING self-love, self respect, the wildest connection we will ever take in our entire lives.

Do you truly trust yourself?  Trust starts with ourselves. Our own marble jar must be full.  Essentially, we can’t give to others what we don’t have, and others can’t give us what they don’t have.

This totally shifted my perspective and challenged me on what it means to truly trust.

I’d love to hear you weigh in on this.  Leave your thoughts below.

Building Wealth Has Nothing To Do With Money

During a recent dinner out with my fellow speaker and copywriter buddy Maureen, the subject of money came up. 

I said to her, “Did you know that most people have a money set point?” She replied with a question in her voice, “We do? What is a money set point?”

I went on to say that your money set point is the amount of money you believe you deserve to earn or to make. Interestingly enough– it doesn’t matter if you’re a regular Joe or Joann working a 9 to 5 job or a seasoned business owner– we all have them. Let’s be clear– this isn’t a conscious decision. This limitation resides in our subconscious mind.

It’s not like we go around with a bubble over our heads– that screams “ HEY! I only believe that I am worth $100 for my services.” Or I only deserve to make $40,000 per year.

What’s interesting to note is that our money set-point is usually determined by what we see in our childhood or learn from our parents.

Can you remember your first “money” conversation? How did that conversation shape your experience with money? Did it take you to a place of lack or abundance? Did you tie your worth to that amount of money? What unspoken lessons did you learn around money and its value?

For as long as I can remember, my money set-point was $50,000. That’s because growing up I would hear my parents say, “ If you make $50,000, you can live high off the hog.” or “Man you’re making $50K, you are in there like swimwear.” (Hey– don’t judge my family has colorful sayings)

Having grown up hearing them say that, my value was tied to $50K. Having “arrived” meant earning 50K.

My very first job out of college, I made $46,500. For the life of me, I couldn’t get pass that elusive $50K mark.

Not soon after– I lost that job. And it would take me years to get back to anything close to that level. In retrospect, I’m not sure that I believed I deserved to earn that amount.

There is a book called, the Energy of Money. In the book, the author recounts her first “money” experience. She was 7 years old and her Uncle came over to visit. During his visit, he was telling his family about a new job. With a curious and inquisitive tone, the author asked, “Well, Uncle, how much do you make at this job?”

A hush fell over the room. She’d crossed a taboo line that she wasn’t aware existed. Before another word could be uttered, the author’s mother swooped in like an eagle pouncing on prey and said, “Oh, we don’t talk about those kind of things at the dinner table, dear. That isn’t polite.”

Polite. Polite? What does being polite have to do with money?  That was her first introduction to money. It was already a taboo subject.

Money is energy. Plain and simple. The actual paper that it’s printed on is worthless. It’s the value that we attach to it that makes it worth something.

What’s interesting is how we tie our worth to money. For many, the amount of money someone earns is automatically tied to their worth as a person.

We all have limiting beliefs around money that hold us back. Inner limitations that keep us stuck.

For example, My friend Mary can tie her “stuck” point back to childhood. When she was a little girl, her Dad worked a W-2 gig. In the evenings, he had a side handyman business, repairing odds and ends for people around the neighborhood. Mary came from a big family and she was the youngest and only girl. Often times, she would tag along with her Dad as he completed the side jobs. He offered hired Mary and her brothers as his gophers. They were responsible for carrying tools, setting up and cleaning up the site. He said to Mary and her brothers, “I will pay you 10 cents per hour for your work, and you must complete and turn in a time card in order to get paid.” Each time Mary would meticulously complete her time card outlining her duties and the amount of hours that she worked. And each time her father would “forget” to pay her. Yet, each time that one of her brothers went out he always remembered to pay them. This series of events shaped the way that Mary viewed money.

She felt that, as a woman, her time was not valued and she didn’t deserve to be paid. In her eyes, men were viewed as superior and their work, time, and efforts were more highly regarded. This subconscious belief worked in the background. She wasn’t aware of these beliefs until she saw the same patterns showing up in other places.

Mary owns a successful business. But it wasn’t always this way.

As a business owner, she had to really work on getting past this set-point. This mentality about her worth and value around money spilled over into her business. She would invoice clients and never receive payment. She never followed up. She wasn’t charging what she was truly worth and essentially would accept whatever people would give her.

Once she started working on inner talk around money things started to shift in her life and business in a BIG and positive way. She started working with more clients. She’d confidently give the price of her services without a sheepish look of anxiety. She learned how to unapologetically demand that she be paid for what she is worth.

Do you struggle in this area? Here is one tip to get you over that money set-point hump.

Start a new practice each day of spending 5-10 minutes just imagining how it would feel to earn a bigger income and have a bigger savings account. Keep increasing the amounts every couple of weeks. Within a few weeks. you should notice that you’re feeling much more comfortable with the idea of larger sums of money – to the point where they even seem quite small!

And over time you should notice that your own income and/or savings start increasing along with your money set-point. Again, it’s a gradual process, so take your time and enjoy it rather than trying to hurry anything to happen.

Keep me posted. I am always eager to hear how my tips are working for you. Comment below.

How I Got High At Subway

It was lunch time and I was starving. I stopped off at a local Subway to grab a sandwich. The sandwich artist who took my order was very pleasant and engaged me in conversation. You could tell that she didn’t meet strangers.

Not too long after, a regular customer came in to greet the friendly lady. He said to her, “Man, I am having a rough day and nothing is going right. I can’t seem to catch a break!”

She said, “Your luck will turn around. I just know it. The key is to believe that it will.”

She offered him these kind words of support and understanding in their brief interaction. Her sincere words of encouragement seemed to wash over him as his face developed a look of relief and comfort.

As I quietly listened to his story, a feeling came over me. I wanted to do something to make his day better. I wanted to encourage him, so he knew that things can change for the better.

When it came time to pay for my order, I whispered to the sandwich artist that I wanted to pay for his order.

A huge grin formed on her face, as she winked at me and honored my request.

I attempted to get out of the restaurant before he could notice. I didn’t want him to know it was me.   As I got into my car, the man from the restaurant runs out waving his arms. I tried to wave him off. But he caught me before I could leave. He said, “There really are nice people in the world. You made my day. You showed me that my luck can turn around.”

I learned that sometimes it’s the small things that truly make the difference. To give of free will with no expectations of a thank you, accolades or return of the same gesture can really make you feel good.

I must admit, I was being a little selfish by giving to that guy that day. A rush of excitement, enthusiasm, and joy oozed from my pores. It made me feel like a million bucks. You see, I actually would have preferred for him not to know it was me. It was the sheer act of giving that filled me up. I was curious about this. So I did a little research.

Here is what I found:

Scientific studies show that giving from the heart, without strings attached or expecting something in return, results in the release of hormones such as oxytocin – also known as “the cuddle hormone”.

Feelings of connection, gratitude, appreciation, abundance and the ability to give freely are all associated with the creation and experience of a coherent heart field.

The coherent heart field is central to experiencing health, happiness, personal empowerment and effectiveness, and overall well-being.

It makes so much sense, why I got this rush of what felt like adrenaline, but was most likely oxytocin. I got a high from giving at Subway!

My experience is proof of the saying ”When you give, you really receive”. I received a rush of joy, love, and human connection.

Interestingly enough, a few days later a stranger paid for my lunch unexpectedly. It’s amazing how things come full circle!

I’d love to hear when you have given to someone and your experience with “Paying it forward”  If you haven’t experimented with this, try it.

  • Pay for a stranger’s lunch or coffee
  • Leave a just because “thank you” note for someone that you admire
  • After you have a positive customer service interaction, ask to speak to their supervisor and share with them the great service you’ve received. More likely than not, they are accustomed to hearing the negative comments.
  • Add money into someone’s parking meter
  • Drop off donuts to your local fire or police department

Leave a note below and let me know about your experience.

Are You Valuing Yourself?

Are you honoring your time, talents and skills?

It had been a crazy weekend. It seemed like Sunday came quicker than I expected. Like usual, I’d been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. When things finally settled down, I realized the very next day I’d be on TV as a member of the “What’s The Buzz?” panel on “Live In the D”.

“Ugh,” I thought to myself, “My hair is a hot mess. I can’t go on TV looking like this.” What made matters worse is that I completely forgot to schedule a hair appointment. So, I reached out to my hairdresser, only to find out that she was out of town. I was between a rock and a hard place.

I mentally when through my rolodex (okay, my contacts in my iPhone) and started to reach out to people who could help me out of this bind. Desperation set in.Things were looking bleak. I thought I’d have to cancel my appearance on the show or wear a clown wig.

After a few frustrating calls, Tara agreed to help out on short notice. A sense of relief rushed over my body.

I was beyond thankful for her ability to step-up at the last moment. When I got her on on the phone, I asked the usually run down of questions pertaining to the appointment. Where is your salon? She offered to come to my home. Yay for me! How much do you charge? She said, “$25.00. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “ That is super cheap. I usually pay almost double that.”

She arrived at my home promptly and was super friendly. She offered tips on how to keep my hair nice and healthy and even threw in a trim for free.

As she wrapped up my hair appointment, I asked her the fee just to confirm what she told me over the phone. She said with hesitation, “It’s $25– but I normally charge $35 but you only have to give me $25.” “Huh?” I replied, “I am so confused. Why would you quote me one price, when what you normally charge is something different?”

She said sheepishly, “ I didn’t want you to say ”No” and not hire me.”

I almost flipped my lid!

I couldn’t help myself, I went into coaching mode. I asked, “Why are you undervaluing yourself? Your price is your price. If people can’t respect that, they are not the customers for you. You have to believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities. If you don’t have confidence in the service you provide, then who will? Screw what anyone else thinks.”

I went on to say, I asked you at the last minute to come perform a service that I wouldn’t attempt to do myself. You offered to come over my house and you provided education how to keep my hair healthy. The least I could do is pay you what you’re worth.

I paid Tara the $35 plus I tipped her.

Surprisingly, this is not an uncommon situation. In my coaching practice, I find that so many people, women especially, don’t charge what they are worth. I think it comes from a fear of rejection, people pleasing, and in some cases just plain lack of knowledge.

Here are some tips if you find yourself in a situation similar to Tara or me:

Back-Up Plan: Always have a backup hair-dresser. I’m teasing but on a serious note. Think about the importance of having people in your network who you can call on in a bind.You never know when a circumstance will arise when you will need to call on them.

Know Your Worth:  Quote your price with confidence. Price yourself accordingly. Practice your pitch with a trusted friend, mentor, or advisor. It’s extremely important that you come across with confidence. In most cases, price is relative. It’s all about how you present yourself.

Say It Out loud:  Things can sound differently in your head. I encourage you to practice your pitch out loud. Here what your voice sounds like when you give your price. Does your voice shake? Do you rush through the pitch? Do you sound like you know what you’re talking about? Are you justifying the price? Typically, if you have to explain why something is priced at a certain amount, you’re indicating to the buyer that you’re unsure or doubt might set in. Give your price and shut-up.

I’m happy to say that Tara is now charging appropriately for her services. She has no qualms about quoting her price with confidence. She honors her business and her clients respect her for it. Her business is thriving and she has learned to place some boundaries in her life and business.

Have you had a situation similar to Tara’s? How did you get over that hump? Share your thoughts below.