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The Laughing Leader: Have fun, laugh, repeat

Tim Gard Meets Steve Wozniak
Tim Gard Meets Steve Wozniak

Having fun and sharing laughter at work isn’t an option, I believe it’s critical. In fact, my mantra is: “I’m going to have fun and not one is going to stop me!” The great news is that I’m not alone in my quest for fun and over the years I’ve met business owners, industry icons, military  generals and was pleasantly surprised to discover that many of them felt having fun was key to their business success at every level. On a speaking trip a while back I met Steve Wozniak and after he found out what I did he told me all about how he and Steve Jobs had fun at work and the practical jokes they both enjoyed. Don’t just assume that because someone is a CEO or CFO that they don’t like to have fun or laugh. The most successful leaders actually find ways to share their love of fun and laughter daily. 

Recently I was once again speaking at a large conference attended by over 1000 people and I was waiting for my turn on stage hanging out in the “green room” behind the main stage. What goes on in the “green room” backstage at a conference is usually pretty reserved and formal. This green room was really nice, very formal even fancy but acoustically little more than a tent without a top and about 20 feet by 20 feet with chairs, a sofa, coffee, little tables, flowers and snacks. Like most green rooms it had very restricted access and is reserved only for speakers and top event personnel. One of those, “If you have to ask if you are allowed to go in there then you shouldn’t go in”.  

An hour before I was to go on stage 3 people walked into the green room together, the event organizer, the organizations CEO and my sponsor’s representative (I know it sounds like the beginning of a great joke, 3 people walk into a green room…..).   I had just read that the CEO had been at the White House last week, the event organizer was one of top of her field and the sponsor represented a giant company.  

Like most green room meetings it’s slightly formal as we all introduce ourselves and then begin to “chat” about the event, life and politics. Usually the discussion is awkward at first, then less formal as everyone gets to know each other. Not this one. Within seconds of meeting us the CEO looked me right in the eye and said: “Tim, what barnyard animal noises can you make?” Now that’s a good fun question! Without hesitation I did my best chicken (a little subdued) and then the sponsor did a horse and the meeting planner did a great cow.

The CEO then challenged us to get better and to show her level of commitment she then did an amazing pig impersonation and the competition was on. We all started doing our best animal noises louder and louder, with greater and greater character enhancement!  At one point while pausing between laughs and attempting to catch my breath I looked over and one of the production crew had parted the access flap to the green room and was looking in with a quizzical look on his face. We all burst out laughing even harder wondering what everyone must have been thinking as they heard us having fun in the green room. It’s my most fun  green room experience ever! 

As I said at the beginning, I’m going to have fun and no one is going to stop me and obviously I’m not alone in my quest. How about you? Are you a laughing leader?

For more information about Tim Gard, his seminars, humor coaching, his ex-stressories and all his training programs visit his website at www.timgard.com.  Remember, Laughter Becomes You!

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