Catching up with Karyn

Designate a Humor Buddy (30-Day Challenge Day 4)

Shared humor is even more powerful than humor experienced by yourself. When you share humor with another person, you both get to experience the benefits!

Today’s challenge: Designate a humor buddy.

Reach out to someone who shares your sense of humor. Invite them to be part of the Humor Challenge with you. This person is someone you can laugh with, try out your humor exercises on, and can help hold you accountable.

I have a number of humor buddies that I love sharing humor with. I know when I send something their way, they’ll appreciate a chuckle and know that I was thinking of them. And when I’m in need of a boost, I can call them, email them, send them a text, give them a shout-out on social media, or get together over coffee (or other beverages of choice!) and they’ll provide the support I need in the form of something funny.

This challenge is about helping you create a humor habit so you can maximize the benefits that humor provides. You can do this by...

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Be Silly! (30-Day Humor Challenge Day 3)

I’ve often wondered what holds people back from using humor. I think a lot of times it’s because people don’t want to look silly. The word “silly” comes from an Old English term that meant to be healthy, happy and prosperous. (Who wouldn’t want more of that?)

When I think of “silly” I immediately think Monty Python’s John Cleese and “The Ministry of Silly Walks.” It’s a classic. You might be surprised to know that John Cleese—one of the funniest men alive—does not consider himself to be particularly funny. In his “real life” he’s not “the life of the party.” But he has the confidence to do something silly for his own enjoyment, and the enjoyment of others.

So what do you think? Are you willing to overcome your fear of looking silly? (FYI: I've found no medically validated cases of anyone dying from embarrassment.) For some of you, this may stretch you a little...

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Read for Laughs! (30-Day Humor Challenge Day 2)

Welcome back to today’s 30-Day Humor Challenge. Humor is abundant if you look for it. One of the places I go to for humor is my library. I love books, and I have a huge collection of authors who are funny and insightful. Books by comedians are an obvious choice, like Ellen DeGeneres (My Point, And I Do Have One), Dennis Miller (Rants), or George Carlin (Brain Droppings).

There’s also humor from modern-day philosophers like Robert Fulghum in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, or how about a little sci-fi humor with books like All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Star Trek or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Maybe you prefer something a little more classic like tales from Mark Twain (that other humorist from my hometown—Hannibal Missouri!).

I enjoy books from funny gal pals like Loretta LaRoche (Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal), Gina Barreca (It’s Not That I’m Bitter) and Mary LoVerde (Stop Screaming at the...

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But I'm Not Funny (30-Day Humor Challenge Day 1)

I speak to thousands of people every year about the power of humor. Nearly everybody “gets it,” and they all appreciate humor. But when I suggest that they consciously bring more humor into their lives, some of them resist, saying “But I’m not funny!”

To which I say: “GREAT!”

Here’s the good news. To enjoy humor, you don’t have to be funny! Some of the happiest and most successful people I know aren’t funny, but they recognize its value. They’re not humor initiators but they ARE humor appreciators!

So let’s kick off the challenge with something easy and start by examining your sense of humor. What makes you laugh? Do you enjoy deadpan humor like Steven Wright’s? Or do you like redneck humor like Jeff Foxworthy’s? Maybe you’re a fan of slapstick like The Three Stooges. (Knuuck, knuuck, knuuck…) Maybe you’re a fan of satirical humor like Sarah Silverman? And what are your favorite...

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Listening Beyond The Laughter Takes Courage

Humor is a valuable leadership tool because it opens up the avenues of communication between you and your employees, as well as between you and your customers.

When you've demonstrated that you're someone who appreciates humor and that it's acceptable to laugh with you, you're also showing others that you can be approached with other types of messages. People will feel freer sharing challenges and even bad news with you.

This doesn't really sound like a good thing, does it? If leading with laughter results in an increase of people having frank, direct conversations with you about less than wonderful news, some of you are saying, sign me up for Club Super Serious. Who wants to open the floodgates to every complaint and concern?

Good leaders do. Conventional wisdom may say ignorance is bliss, but conventional wisdom has never been blindsided by the fact they have a toxic employee who's actions are going to inevitably lead to expensive, reputation-ruining litigation; conventional...

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Lead with Levity: An Interview with Dr. Bob Dent, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, FACHE

Dr. Bob Dent is the Dean of Health Services for Midland College, as well as the VP of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer for Midland Memorial Hospital, which is located in Midland, Texas. He’s one of those impressive individuals who has more characters in the abbreviations of his professional accomplishments than most of us have in our actual name!

But his accomplishments aren’t just a result of his education, or his certifications. Dr. Dent’s caring, compassion, and charisma exude through his easy-going style and sense of humor. I’ve had the privilege of watching Dr. Dent during a visit to Midland Memorial and seen first-hand his mastery of leading with levity: setting the tone for fun while at the same time setting high expectations of his staff.

The result? They’ve achieved ANCC's Pathway to Excellence—twice! They are enthusiastic about their path on the ANCC Magnet Journey. Patient satisfaction scores are high and continue to climb, and...

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Lead With Levity: An Interview with Jacqueline Ko Matthews, CEO of PJMint

Jacqueline Ko Matthews is the founder and CEO of PJMint, a digital wealth management firm that delivers better, safer and cheaper comprehensive, advanced quantitative wealth management strategies online to everyday investors. She was the right-arm Investment Executive to former Virginia Governor/current U.S. Senator Mark Warner in his $200m family investment office and played a critical role in establishing the Goldman Sachs Investment Banking Hong Kong office focusing on China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets. She worked under then Co-Chairman Robert Rubin who later became U.S. Treasury Secretary.

We’re thrilled to have her insights on Leading with Levity to share with you.

Here are the highlights from our conversation:

Listen to Your Team

“There are leaders who only want people to listen to them. A better approach is to do more listening. Make decisions based on the input of your team members. Solicit multiple viewpoints and have them present you with the pros and...

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5 Reasons To Lead With Laughter

A sense of humor and the ability to laugh are powerful leadership tools. Below are 5 reasons why YOU should add humor and laughter to your Leadership Toolbox.

1. Leaders who laugh are healthier leaders.

Being in charge is stressful. The rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other stress-driven health complaints are much higher among leaders than among people who aren't in such stressful roles. Laughter is an all-natural, drug-free way to alleviate stress. When you're less stressed, you make better decisions: laughter can make you a better business strategist!

2. Leaders who laugh are better negotiators.

Humor puts the common bonds of experience and insight individuals have squarely in the spotlight. This strengthens the relationship. This is important when you're negotiating. Most leaders prefer to have negotiations where both parties feel like they're walking away a winner. Knowing what you have in common with the other party and what's important to them is a critical...

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Lead With Levity: An Interview with Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig

Robert Hartwig is the president of the Insurance Information Institute. He regularly advises Congressional committees, business leaders and the media on economic issues related to the insurance industry. We’re thrilled to have his insights on Leading with Levity to share with you:

Here are the highlights from our conversation:

Leadership Styles Change Over Time

"I definitely see myself as a different leader now than I was in years past. Today, I give my staff a great deal of latitude. They’re very good at what they do, and I trust them to do it. In years past, I was more of a micromanager.

"My micromanager tendencies emerged early—with my first small business – a paper route when I was 12—and continued through graduate school and into my early professional career. Working as an expert witness in particular reinforced the tendency to prepare thoroughly. There’s no one in that witness stand with you!

"Over time the industry became much more tech...

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In Loving Memory: Dr. William Fry, Jr.

How do you say goodbye to someone who has not only touched your life, but touched the world? When I saw the return address on the envelope in my mail this morning, I immediately knew. It’s been over a year since I’ve heard from William (Bill) or (daughter) Susan. But July is not the time they’d be sending a Christmas card. I intuitively knew that Susan was writing to tell me that her dad (my friend and colleague) had passed away.

My mind was immediately flooded with selfish memories—and guilt. I’d visited Bill about a year ago, and I had planned to go again this spring. But I was busy. Too busy to go see someone who meant the world to me.

The world knows William Fry as a renowned psychoneuroimmunologist who was a pioneer in the field of applied and therapeutic humor. His scientific studies on humor and laughter are too numerous to mention here. But his thirst for knowledge, his dedication to science, and his love of humor led him to be one of the most...

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