Meet Barbara Winter


Barbara J Winter is a pioneering self-employment advocate, writer and teacher who has spent the last twenty-five years pondering the question, “Why aren’t we all self-employed?” Helping others discover the Joyfully Jobless life is her favorite occupation. To readers of Read more

Benvenuto!


Buon viaggio….good journey. How nice to have you along. This blog has been a long time brewing. Hardly a day passes when I don’t come across a fascinating new business idea, inspiring story or useful resource and want to pass Read more

A Journey of Joy

Barbara Postcard from Barbara 1

At the end of last week I made a whirlwind trip to Denver. It’s a trip I’ve made dozens of times so I was nicely relaxed and looking forward to seeing some old friends. I was also teaching three seminars at Colorado Free University, a marvelous adult ed program that I’ve had the pleasure of working with for a long time.

What I didn’t anticipate is how this familiar trip was going to be a festival of friendliness. When my Aunt Marge was alive and I’d go to visit her, she always encouraged me to tell her about my travels. “You meet the most interesting people,” she’d declare.

She was absolutely correct and this trip was full of interesting folk from beginning to end.

Because of my respiratory problems, I’ve learned to order a wheelchair at the Mile High City airport. My pusher was a young man who told me he’d arrived in Denver 10 months earlier from Sudan speaking no English. I was surprised by that revelation since we carried on a conversation during the entire ride. His resourcefulness was inspiring.

When I checked in at the Doubletree, my hotel of choice, I noticed a sign on the counter saying something like “Let us know. We’ll make it right.” I knew they meant it since I’d had a problem on a previous visit, sent an email to the manager as I was leaving the hotel, and had an email from him and a call from his staff apologizing (and canceling my bill) when I got home.

That unusually attentive response earned them a customer for life.

Then there was a three hour dinner with my longtime buddy Karyn Ruth White. As usual, it was three hours of hysteria. What else could I expect from a former stand-up comedian whose current mission is to teach other to manage stress with laughter?

The next day I had two seminars that included all sorts of interesting people. Was surprised to see Scott Poindexter in my I Hate Marketing class and excited to hear about his new online business to share his passion for environmentalism.

That evening one of the students in my Establish Yourself as an Expert class was CFU instructor Vikki Walton who entertained us with her adventures in Backyard Farming, a new passion that she now teaches to others.

When Dorinda Mangan, my volunteer chauffeur drove me back to the airport, I started telling her about my classes. “You meet the most interesting people,” she said, echoing my Aunt Marge.

My second airport wheelchair pusher was also a delight. Just 18-years-old, she to me that she’s currently in college, plans to become a pediatrician, has a burning desire to travel and said she’d discovered how simply smiling and greeting travelers as she whizzes through the airport seems to brighten their day.

I wanted to adopt her.

Then I boarded my flight where I was greeted by Steve, one of the most entertaining flight attendants ever. As I came on I commented that it smelled like they were baking cinnamon rolls. “It’s my new cologne,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

After he had all of us laughing during the normally boring requisite announcements, he continued spreading good cheer during his trips down the aisle. When I complained that I wished they’d still serve cookies instead of just pretzels and peanuts, he explained I need to take a longer flight since those are reserved for cross country passengers.

A few minutes later, he handed me a bag of contraband cookies.

I’m not usually sorry to land, but we were having such fun, I hated for the flight to be over.

It was a long day, with Making a Living Without a Job in the morning, two flights (Burbank via Las Vegas) and a drive home.

Back in Valencia, I made a quick stop at the post office and was wondering what in the world I was going to feed myself since I hadn’t had time to eat much all day. Imagine my delight when I got to my doorstep and discovered that my daughter Jennie had left a lovely home cooked dinner for me.

As I unlocked my front door, I realized I was energized, not exhausted, from my whirlwind trip. “Oh, I love my business,” I announced to my empty living room.

Love, laughter and learning. Think I’ve discovered the secret of a perfect trip.

Need a Laugh?

Barbara Money for Fun Join the Conversation!  

Shortly after I met my friend Chris Utterback, I found myself having an especially challenging day. I decided to give her a call and when she answered the phone I didn’t say hello. “Make me laugh,” I demanded.

“Just a minute,” she said. “I have to get my joke folder.” Joke folder?

When she got back to the phone she explained that she kept a file folder of cartoons and stories that she found funny. She promptly began reading me her favorites and before long we were giggling like second graders.

By the time I hung up the phone, the world was looking considerably brighter again.

Ever since, I’ve kept my own Make Me Laugh folders, along with other emergency supplies for moments when I need a dose of hilarity.

If you’d like to expand the amount of laughter in your life, here are some ideas that can help.

* Memorize this quote. Ernest Hemingway said, “The seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who can laugh in life the seeds are covered with better soil and a higher grade of manure.”

* Take a laughter class. If your local adult ed program has such a class, sign up at once. If you can’t find such a class, get a set of CDs or tapes from your favorite comedian and play them in the car. I’m especially fond of Prairie Home Companion’s Pretty Good Joke Show CDs.

* Meet my friend Karyn Ruth. The most hilarious trip I ever took was the London adventure I shared with Karyn Ruth White. We both recall it as a week of nonstop laughter. I always look forward to seeing her on my trips to Denver, where she lives, and know that our phone chats will be filled with noisy laughter.

If she’s not available to accompany you on a trip, order her Kiss My Botox CD, her Laughing in the Face of Stress DVD or her book Your Seventh Sense that will help you polish your own funny bone. They’re all available at KarynRuthWhite.com.

* Read something funny. There aren’t a lot of authors that make me laugh out loud, but one who does is Bill Bryson. His travel books are especially hilarious. I’m especially fond of Neither Here Nor There, although any of his books is bound to produce a giggle or guffaw.

You don’t have to be a Minnesotan to find the Pretty Good Joke Book from Prairie Home Companion pretty darn funny.

* Meet Annette Goodheart. The first laughter therapist I ever heard of was Dr. Goodheart whose adult ed classes in her hometown of Santa Barbara had long waiting lists.

Dr. Goodheart calls laughter ‘Portable Therapy’ and points out that its benefits include: strengthens your immune system, helps you think more clearly, replenishes creativity, releases emotional pain, and it’s free.

See for yourself at teehee.com and laughtercoach.com.

* Join a Laughing Club. The movement started by The Laughing Clubs of India is spreading throughout the world. You may have a local branch or you might want to start one yourself.

The concept is simple: get a group together and laugh for half an hour first thing in the morning. They claim all sorts of amazing cures among their members.

Or let John Cleese show you the benefits of Laughter Yoga on this video.

Don’t ever forget that laughter is a medicine that doesn’t require a prescription. Dose frequently. It’s good for you and equally good for your business.

 

Sitting on a Gold Mine?

Barbara Ideas Everywhere 2 Comments

Shortly before the end of the year, I was talking to Karyn Ruth White and the subject of resolutions came up. “I don’t really make them,” she said. “But I do sit down at the end of the year and write about ten lessons I’ve learned in the previous year.”

Then she added, “I’ve even had a couple of them published.” What began as a personal project, got shared with others.

Great idea, isn’t it?

While it could be argued that every business is informed and influenced by our personal experiences, a great deal of opportunity goes unused by people who fail to see the potential of putting that experience to work for them.

In order to create a profit center that grows out of your own life, there are four essential ingredients that need to be present. They are:

* Value Your Own Experience. Often the things that are easy and effortless for us are overlooked because we assume that what we can do, everyone can do. That’s almost never true.

Our special set of talents, skills and life experiences are a one-of-a-kind package, but we have to recognize why and how that can be valuable to others.

* High Self-awareness. Writer Carolyn See says, “I hope I’m wrong, but I imagine about 90 percent of the human race is snoozing along, just going through the motions.”

Staying awake for the journey is important if we are to find the gold in our lives.

* Generous Spirit. We must be convinced that what we have discovered will make other people’s lives richer, happier, healthier or smoother in some way. Keeping it to ourselves seems, well, selfish.

* Eager to Learn. Starting a business based on personal experience is just the entry point. It’s really an invitation to mastery if we use it to learn, grow and improve.

Personal experience lends itself to all sorts of enterprises. Here are some possibilities:

* Find a Better Way. Doris Drucker, the wife of management guru Peter Drucker, found a new opportunity for herself this way.

She writes, “For years my role as the wife of a professional speaker was to sit in the last row of an auditorium and shout ‘Louder!’ whenever my husband’s voice dropped. I decided that there had to be a better feedback device and if there wasn’t, I was going to invent one. Then I decided, at the age of 80-plus, that I would start a business to sell it.”

Solving a problem or simply finding a more effective way of doing something has been the start of many a successful business.

* Tell Your Story. Benjamin Franklin said we should all write something worth reading or live something worth writing.

Personal experience can be the basis for autobiography and how-to books, of course, but that’s not all. Workshops, seminars and consulting are other ways of making your experience pay.

You need to live it first, however. That may sound like common sense, but at least once a week I’ll get a call or letter like the one I got from a man in Idaho who went on at great length about how confused he was about what business to start, then added a p.s.saying he plans to organize a seminar on Discovering Your Purpose.

* Pay It Forward. A few years ago, Kevin Spacey was in a movie with that title and apparently the message of passing along our good to others took root.

Spacey took a year off from film making to put his energy into a website called Triggerstreet that is creating opportunities for the next generation of screenwriters.

Spacey says he realized that his considerable success was the result of others believing in him before he believed in himself and now he wants to pass that gift along to others.

Your experience could be utilized through teaching or mentoring those coming along behind you too.

If it’s time to plan a new profit center, take a fresh look at your own life. You may be sitting on a gold mine, you know.

Connecting & Collecting

Barbara Tricks and Treats Join the Conversation!  

The latest issue of Budget Travel magazine arrived today and as I was browsing through it, a piece on Denver’s LoHi neighborhood caught my eye. One of the businesses they mentioned was especially intriguing.

Sipping ‘N Painting offers classes for adult amateur painters. For $40, participants receive brushes, paints, and a blank canvas for an instructor-led session designed around a theme. Also included is a glass of wine or beer for those who are so inclined.

As soon as I saw the story, I hopped over to their website to learn more. Then I sent a link to Connie Hozvicka, who did such a fabulous painting workshop at the Jamboree. It seemed like an idea that might fit her portfolio of projects.

Had I not spent time with Connie and seen her in action, I probably wouldn’t have thought to send this idea along to her. Nor would I have alerted Karyn Ruth White to Ode magazine’s humor issue, if I didn’t know her passions.

Of course, it works both ways. Almost daily, someone sends me a link to an article or resource or clever business idea that they uncovered and thought I’d want to know about too. I am thrilled and appreciative.

When I got the hang of Twitter and began spending time there daily, I felt as if I’d just found a volunteer research staff. Hardly a day passes without someone sharing a terrific idea or article that I’d never have uncovered myself.

Connecting with entrepreneurial thinkers is a critical, but frequently overlooked, key to success. In direct and indirect ways, such folks will enrich your life, expand your horizons, add positive fuel to your dreams.

As Scott Stratten so brilliantly points out in UnMarketing, building a business today begins with building relationships. And unrestrained sharing of ideas, encouragement and resources.

The Company You Keep Impacts the Company You Build

Barbara Alternatives Join the Conversation!  

It’s easy to imagine people looking at the prolific William Morris and saying, “I wonder how he gets so much done.” During his lifetime, he produced a dazzling body of work that included writing, social activism, publishing and all those intricate textile and wallpapers.

I’ve always suspected that the secret of his enormous output stemmed from the weekends he organized at his home, Red House, where he invited his artistic friends to come and spend the weekend “making things.” Rosetti, Burne-Jones and the others who came to make up the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were participants in these Art Weekends.

In gathering all these creative souls around himself and nurturing their talents, he was taking advantage of that extraordinary energy known as synergism.

This phenomenon was first noticed and named by the pharmaceutical industry where it was observed that combining drugs sometimes produced a result greater than the individual parts. In other words, synergy says two plus two equals twelve.

The same thing can happen when people gather together and the result is greater than the individual contributions.

You’ve probably been the recipient of synergistic energy and know how powerful it can be. One November, I went to London accompanied by Karyn Ruth White, who is a perpetual idea machine. Everything seems to trigger a creative thought in her.

I returned home with a notebook full of ideas for my business. Happily, the momentum of that time kept my creative spirit on alert for months and months.

While synergy can occur spontaneously and in unexpected ways, the smart entrepreneur will consciously create situations to help it along.

This is particularly important for those of us who work alone and need to reach out to other self-bossers on a regular basis to take advantage of the rewards of synergism.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

° Instigate. “As I look at my life,” says Stewart Emery, “I notice that all my friends are people who support me in learning the lessons I have to learn. We have consciously chosen each other based on the contribution we can make to each other.”

Create situations and gatherings for the purpose of brainstorming. Form your own small Joyfully Jobless group. Have regular breakfast meetings with another self-bosser.

If you’re feeling really frisky, invite a few trusted folks to go away on a mini-retreat where you spend time away from normal demands and concentrate on generating ideas for all members of the group. You could even host your own Art Weekends ala William Morris.

° Show up. You’re  more likely to be the recipient of synergistic energy at a seminar than you are watching old reruns on television.

Today many people are enthusiastic participants in chat rooms on the Internet. While this may be an efficient way to share information, it’s not the same as being in the presence of other people. Communication is more than just words and, in fact, nonverbal communication is hugely important.

When you get involved in events and activities where ideas are encouraged and flow easily, like the upcoming Joyfully Jobless Jamboree, it can directly impact your success for years to come.

° Be opportunity-minded. My friend Chris Utterback and I seldom had a conversation without one of us exclaiming, “Oh, there’s a great business idea!”

We always were observing the world around us with the attitude of finding better ways of doing things or discovering something that was missing. Often this led us to giving ideas away to others who could carry them out.

More importantly, it conditioned us to see the world as a place filled with abundance and unlimited opportunities. We knew that we’d never run out.

What more valuable perspective could an entrepreneur have?

Laughing All the Way

Barbara Good Investments Join the Conversation!  

Should I ever wake up some morning and think, “I guess it’s time to get a job,” I know exactly how I’ll abort that thought. I’ll just get in my car and head for the nearest freeway. A few minutes spent in rush hour traffic would certainly bring me back to my senses. 

It’s not just the slowness of heavy traffic that annoys me: the behavior of my fellow drivers is one of the few things guaranteed to make me lose my cool. No thoughts of universal oneness and love of humanity surface when I’m spending time in traffic.

Shortly after being inspired by Marianne Williamson’s Everyday Grace, I decided to try a new approach. When a fellow driver would threaten my life, I’d send them a silent blessing and then say a short prayer that went something like, “Dear Lord, please send that person better driving skills.”

I figured there was a hidden opportunity here to start shaping up all the folks who didn’t bother using their turn signals or who were distracted by a fascinating phone conversation. 

It calmed me a little as I recalled the Biblical admonition to pray without ceasing and realized that bad drivers were propelling me to a constant state of prayer. I had no idea that another weapon awaited me.

A few years ago, I attended a Laughter Workshop taught by Kim McIntyre Cannold. After all, I love to laugh and I thought it would be fun. I didn’t expect to learn something so amazing, something that has proved invaluable already—especially in traffic.

Cannold, who is certified by the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, opened her workshop by talking about the different kinds of laughter and had us all try out various types from tittering to belly laughing. Then she boldly suggested that we could schedule a laugh fest every day and simply laugh our heads off for no reason other than it would improve our emotional and physical well-being.

That was news to me. Laughing for the sake of laughing? While laughing as a healing agent has long been known, I’d never heard it suggested that we could just laugh without any outside stimulus.

The next time a driver cut me off, I decided to laugh, although it seemed a bit hypocritical. To my astonishment, it felt great. It felt much better than fuming to myself, which didn’t change the situation. 

Laughing didn’t change the other driver’s behavior, either, (and I figured my prayers might take a little longer to be answered), but it sure changed me. It was obvious that the one who laughs gets the reward.

If you’d like to expand the amount of laughter in your life, here are some ideas that can help.

° Memorize this quote. Ernest Hemingway said, “The seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who can laugh in life the seeds are covered with better soil and a higher grade of manure.”

 ° Take a laughter class. If your local adult ed program has such a class, sign up at once. If you can’t find such a class, get a set of CDs or tapes from your favorite comedian and play them in the car. I love the Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Jokes album.

° Meet my friend Karyn Ruth. The most hilarious trip I ever took was the London adventure I shared with Karyn Ruth White. We both recall it as a week of nonstop laughter. If she’s not available to accompany you on a trip, order her video Laughing in the Face of Stress or her CD set from www.karynruthwhite.com. She’s a seriously funny woman.

° Meet Annette Goodheart. The first laughter therapist I ever heard of was Dr. Goodheart whose adult ed classes in her hometown of Santa Barbara had long waiting lists. Dr. Goodheart calls laughter ‘Portable Therapy’ and points out that its benefits include: strengthens your immune system, helps you think more clearly, replenishes creativity, releases emotional pain, it’s free. She’s got a great Web site with several surprising features. Go to www.teehee.com to see for yourself.

° Read something funny. There aren’t a lot of authors that make me laugh out loud, but one who does is Bill Bryson. His travel books are especially hilarious. I’m especially fond of Neither Here Nor There, although any of his books is bound to produce a giggle or guffaw. 

° Join a Laughing Club. The movement started by The Laughing Clubs of India is spreading throughout the world. You may have a local branch or you might want to start one yourself. The concept is simple: get a group together and laugh for half an hour first thing in the morning. They claim all sorts of amazing cures among their members.

 Laughter and prayer are certainly important for the entrepreneurial life so be generous with both. Look for the funny side and you’ll discover there’s no shortage of goofiness to help you meet your daily quota of laughs. Be bold and test it for yourself. It’s medicine that doesn’t require a prescription.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Barbara Good Investments 6 Comments

When Karyn Ruth White was a little girl she discovered that she could diffuse her father’s anger—and subsequent punishment—if she could make him laugh. Her father gave her plenty of opportunities to practice and she honed her comedic skills early in life. Somewhere along the way she decided that she wanted to spend her life making as many people laugh as she possibly could.

Karyn left her New England home after college and headed to Los Angeles to build a career as a stand-up comedian. After seven years of performing in nightclubs, she realized she wasn’t happy and it terrified her. She says, “I was afraid to stop because it was my dream and I thought if my dream isn’t making me happy, what’s going to become of me?”

Finally, she did walk away and gave herself time out. She worked at a number of mundane jobs while trying to figure out the next step. 

And figure it out, she did.

Today she continues to keep people laughing, but she’s reinvented herself as a speaker. Some of her stand-up material still finds its way into corporate presentations. 

Karyn hardly took a straight path—even in her current incarnation. Five years into building her speaking business, she felt burned out. Again, she gave herself permission to walk away, but then had an insight that changed everything.

 “I realized that it’s not the dream that’s the problem. It was the way I was doing the dream,” she says. “I was doing everything myself and I just couldn’t keep up.”

She let the dream get bigger and gathered a team that included a personal assistant, an accountant and a Web designer. She says she learned to set boundaries and reminds herself that the essence, not the form of her business, is what matters. 

Karyn describes the essence as, “To follow my soul and use my gifts for the greater good.” If the form that takes changes, she’s fine with it as long as the essence remains intact.

Making a commitment to the essence of your business is quite different than getting stuck in the form.

In their book Creating Money, Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer explain, “The essence of something is the function you want this item to perform, the purposes you will use it for, or what you think it will give you. Many things other than what you picture might give you the essence of what you want, so be open to letting what you want come in whatever way, size, shape or form is most appropriate.” 

Clarifying the essence of what you want in your life is also a way of gaining overall clarity and peace. It takes both time and practice to create while focusing on the essence of what you’re doing or what you want to have. 

Commitment  is a lot like love. It grows and strengthens over time when we’re truly committed to something that we care deeply about. 

We don’t always know at the outset what  will become commitment-worthy. What may begin as a simple flirtation, becomes more compelling as we learn more, increase our exposure and devote our energy to it. 

For many of us, we’ve tried to make commitments to things and people and ideas that we really weren’t that crazy about. As the poet  David Whyte warns, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”

No wonder the word commitment elicits feelings of dread and drudgery. And if we’re only willing to commit where the outcome fits our preconceived notions, we’re doomed to a life of commitment avoidance.

Perhaps commitment needs a new press agent to remind us that building commitment happens one day at a time.

And it’s built on innumerable days of recommitting ourselves for as long as it brings us joy, peace, growth and the essence of our best possible life.

Keeping It Light

Barbara Let's Review 1

There are hundreds of perfectly smart reasons to be joyfully jobless, not the least of which is that people who are doing work that they love tend to be, well, more loving and joyful. Want to bring more fun and joy to your business? Here are a few well-tested ideas.

Keep having Firsts. Challenge yourself to do things you’ve never done before. It can be as simple as trying a new food or taking a yoga class. This is harder to do than you may think since we humans tend to build habits and then operate in familiar territory. Having Firsts requires conscious, creative effort.

Exercise your entrepreneurial thinking to keep it in shape. You build entrepreneurial muscle by studying other enterprises, by acquiring new skills, by taking risks. Just like physical fitness, it needs to be a daily activity if you want maximum results.

Don’t be afraid to be whimsical. Small businesses shouldn’t look like miniature corporations. Lighten up. Create a costume and wear it when you work. Have toys or a guitar in your office for play breaks. And if whimsy’s not your style, purposely do something out of character once in a while.

Celebrate all victories and milestones. One of my favorite celebrations comes from Karyn Ruth White. When she had been in business for 6 months, she sent herself 6 roses with a congratulatory card. At the one-year anniversary, she increased that to a dozen. She’s continued the tradition although she topped off the size of the bouquet at a dozen and a half. Find your own way to celebrate your progress.

Turn ordinary chores into satisfying rituals. Got bills to pay? Instead of gritting your teeth, light a candle, put on some lovely music, pour a cup of tea and make it an event. Slow down and express gratitude for your current abundance. Look for ways to make the most mundane chores fun…or at least pleasant.

Plan Joyfully Jobless gatherings. Find five other self-bossers that like each other and let each one plan a monthly gathering just to have fun. You could find yourself salsa dancing one month and picnicking in a park the next. Hanging out with other entrepreneurs can be a lovely tonic, but don’t wait for somebody else to get things rolling.

Support that which supports you. This has been my personal and business policy for a long time and it hasn’t failed me yet. It’s partly a way of putting values to work and partly a way to acknowledge people who are helpful or enthusiastic customers and clients. This also has application when it comes to personal behavior.

Be kind. Stephen Covey writes that when we commit an act of kindness our endorphin level goes up. Likewise, when we receive a kindness it raises our levels. However, it’s also been found that if we merely witness an act of kindness, it raises endorphin levels, too. So go ahead and spread kindness around.

There is no question that a playfully light attitude is characteristic of creative individuals. ~ Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi

Little Shop of Humor

Barbara The Pleasure of Their Company Join the Conversation!  

The week before I was scheduled to have dental surgery, I was filled with anxiety. After all, I have a lifetime of horror stories about my experiences with dentists. One of my earliest memories is of my angry mother dragging 6-year-old me down the street after I bit the elderly dentist in our hometown and he demanded she remove me from his office and never bring me back. 

 

As it turned out, my visit to the oral surgeon was surprisingly pleasant. After Dr. Johnson and I had our pre-surgery consultation, I asked him why he had chosen this profession. “I like to hurt people,” he said. I wondered how he knew that was exactly the right answer to my question.

 

When I got home and opened the bag they’d sent with me, it contained post-surgery directions, a tube of lip balm, tea bags (to stop the bleeding) and a package of ramen noodles. I was even more impressed with the kindness of the staff who all seemed to recognize that nobody really wanted to be there.

 

A few days later, I was talking to my friend Karyn Ruth White about my experience and she told me about her favorite dentist. Here’s her story:

 

 If I had any doubts about whether or not I would like my new dentist, they all vaporized the minute I walked into the lobby and spotted the ten foot toy toothbrush in the corner.  I was thrilled to see, a lobby filled with color, walls lined with cartoons, and Dilbert books on the waiting room tables.  The front office team was polite, efficient and yes, even friendly. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble here, but they were actually laughing together. Where was I?  I was pretty sure that this was not your average dental practice.  

 

My suspicions were confirmed when, after a short wait, I was escorted to the back exam room. Again the walls were lined with cartoons and lots of pictures of a man in a safari hat with tribes of African children all smiling and holding dental floss.  Then I met him, the man in the picture: the magical, mystical, mercurial man they called Dr. Graham Coveyduck.  He was about 5’7”, slim build, sharp mind, big smile, youthful twinkle in his eyes and an unending inventory of filthy jokes.  I decided then and there that I had found my new dentist.  

 

For ten years, right up until he retired, I was his happy patient.  I knew that whatever I needed done, he would make it as pain-free and fun as possible.  One of my favorite memories was the stuffed toy mouse he placed in between the ceiling tiles, so that it would be the first thing you saw when you reclined in the dental chair.  I also loved that he hung a bird feeder outside the exam room window so you could hear and watch the birds while you were in the chair.  He had a great cartoon in the lobby of an old guy with no teeth ,the caption read “Your teeth…Ignore them and they will go away.” 

 

On one visit he got me laughing so hard that when it was time to rinse and spit I missed the bowl and spit on his floor.  The entire staff laughed for five solid minutes over that one.  Dr. Coveyduck looked at me in mock seriousness and said “Nice!”, which sent me into another round of laughter.   

 

As a motivational comedian and entrepreneur, I am always on the lookout for businessowners who embrace the power of humor and laughter as essential components to true success.  My mantra is  “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t success!”  

 

    *************

 

Need some fun? Visit www.karynruthwhite.com .While you’re there, check out her hilarious new DVD, Girls Night Out. It’s a fine–and very funny–addition to your home video library.

Laughing All the Way

Barbara Fellow Travelers Join the Conversation!  

Should I ever wake up some morning and think, “I guess it’s time to get a job,” I know exactly how I’ll abort that thought. I’ll just get in my car and head for the nearest freeway. A few minutes spent in rush hour traffic would certainly bring me back to my senses. It’s not just the slowness of heavy traffic that annoys me: the behavior of my fellow drivers is one of the few things guaranteed to make me lose my cool. No thoughts of universal oneness and love of humanity surface when I’m spending time in traffic.

Shortly after being inspired by Marianne Williamson’s Everyday Grace, I decided to try a new approach. When a fellow driver would threaten my life, I’d send them a silent blessing and then say a short prayer that went something like, “Dear Lord, please send that person better driving skills.”

I figured there was a hidden opportunity here to start shaping up all the folks who didn’t bother using their turn signals or who were distracted by a fascinating phone conversation. It calmed me a little as I recalled the Biblical admonition to pray without ceasing and realized that bad drivers were propelling me to a constant state of prayer. I had no idea that another weapon awaited me.

A few years ago, an adult ed center where I taught on occasion, had an open house. I decided to sit in on the Laughter Workshop taught by Kim McIntyre Cannold. After all, I love to laugh and I thought it would be fun. I didn’t expect to learn something so amazing, something that has proved invaluable already—especially in traffic.

Cannold, who is certified by the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, opened her workshop by talking about the different kinds of laughter and had us all try out various types from tittering to belly laughing. Then she boldly suggested that we could schedule a laugh fest every day and simply laugh our heads off for no reason other than it would improve our emotional and physical well-being.

That was news to me. Laughing for the sake of laughing? While laughing as a healing agent has long been known, I’d never heard it suggested that we could just laugh without any outside stimulus.

Then she went even farther and asked us to list things that bugged us. Bad drivers headed the group list. She proposed that when we found ourselves in those normally upsetting situations that we abandon our usual angry reaction and laugh instead. This seemed a bit over the top to me, but I decided to give it a whirl.

The next time a driver cut me off, I decided to laugh, although it seemed a bit hypocritical. To my astonishment, it felt great. It felt much better than fuming to myself, which didn’t change the situation. Laughing didn’t change the other driver’s behavior, either, (and I figured my prayers might take a little longer to be answered), but it sure changed me. It was obvious hat the one who laughs gets the reward.

If you’d like to expand the amount of laughter in your life, here are some ideas that can help.

° Memorize this quote. Ernest Hemingway said, “The seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who can laugh in life the seeds are covered with better soil and a higher grade of manure.”

° Meet my friend Karyn Ruth. The most hilarious trip I ever took was the London adventure I shared with Karyn Ruth White. We both recall it as a week of nonstop laughter. If she’s not available to accompany you on a trip, order her Laughing in the Face of Stress or (my favorite) Kiss My Botox CDs or her book, Your Seventh Sense: How to Think Like a Comedian. She’s a seriously funny woman.

° Meet Annette Goodheart. The first laughter therapist I ever heard of was Dr. Goodheart whose adult ed classes in her hometown of Santa Barbara had long waiting lists. Dr. Goodheart calls laughter ‘Portable Therapy’ and points out that its benefits include: strengthens your immune system, helps you think more clearly, replenishes creativity, releases emotional pain, it’s free. She’s got a great Web site with several surprising features. 

° Read something funny. There aren’t a lot of authors that make me laugh out loud, but one who does is Bill Bryson. His travel books are especially hilarious. I’m  fond of Neither Here Nor There, although any of his books is bound to produce a giggle or guffaw. You don’t have to be a Minnesotan to find the Pretty Good Joke Book from Prairie Home Companion pretty darn funny.

Laughter is certainly important for the entrepreneurial life. Look for the funny side and you’ll discover there’s no shortage of goofiness to help you meet your daily quota of laughs. Be bold and test it for yourself. It’s medicine that doesn’t require a prescription.

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As anyone knows who has attended one of my special events, there’s always a lot of laughter going on. I’m confident that Follow Through Camp will be no exception. While we are working to get ideas and dreams on track and moving ahead, we’ll find plenty to laugh about. There’s still time to join us, but you need to hurry or you’ll miss out. That would not be funny.