I’m kidding. But it was close. :)
Last week I was in Dallas, Texas speaking to a group of Microsoft Partner Account Managers. I was hired to facilitate a discussion on how to make their attitudes about their jobs more positive and therefore more productive. I had close to four hours with them.
motivational speakers in dallas texas
I was thrilled to get more time with this group than just a motivational keynote speech. They wanted more… they were eager to make sure their people left with tangible action items they could leverage as they went back to work across the country.

First of all…this is a big order. It was a room full of very educated, very busy, very motivated people. They did NOT want their time wasted.

Second, I was thrilled. Getting more time with a group enables me to facilitate a transfer of ideas. Sure, I’ve got a TON of ideas about how to inject more humor into their leadership style and into their workplace in general. But what good are my ideas if they don’t embrace them.

Third, I learned not to joke about “Blackberries” in a room filled with “Windows Mobile Powered Smartphones.” Seriously. I’m not kidding. Don’t even use the word. : )

The day was a success.

Why? I think there are several reasons for the success of the day. In no particular order:

• These managers committed to the idea of working to make their jobs more fun. They wanted to make work more joyful, and were willing to take it seriously. (Now there’s an odd sentence.)

• They were willing to learn from each other. Most of the ideas we ended up with were best practices from different managers at that meeting. No individual in the room had all the answers — including me. But as a group, we had some serious horse power.

• They needed it. They have had some trouble with some internal tools that haven’t been working as well as they would like, and the past six months have been more stressful than they deserve. So investing some time to inject some new creativity, positive attitudes and humor into this group was a welcome lift.

• Finally, it might sound small, the the room set up was great. My contact at Microsoft took the time to set the room right, seat the people correctly, and generally work to get the most bang from the buck from this event. It helps more than you’d think.

Ok, so what HUMOR TIPS did they come up with? Glad you asked.

Here are the groups’ TOP ideas for leading the way to humor at Microsoft (as selected by the groups themselves.)

1. Create a humor ritual of a “You Rock” rock. (This is a rock that moves from person to person. People “earn” the rock by doing something extraordinary at work.) Of course, Microsoft being Microsoft was eager to make the rock virtual. What a crack up.

2. Create a CFO — Chief Fun Officer in your team. That person is in charge of making meetings more fun by bringing toys, coming up with cool creativity exercises etc. One specific example is to buy a bunch of those Easter peeps. (Those horrible yellow marshmallow chicks.) We had made jokes earlier about the slang word for friends: peeps. So one idea would be to award PAMpeeps candy chicks Peeps for excellent participation at meetings (Partner Account Manager Peeps.). Somebody makes a positive contribution to the meeting, and you toss them a Peep and welcome them to the team.

3. Put pictures of celebrities over your photo on your name badge. For example, paste a photo of Julia Roberts (cut from a magazine) over your own photo. See how long it takes for people to notice.

4. For smaller groups, take a Walking Meeting. Two or three people walking can create a special and positive energy that remains elusive in a conference room.

5. Have rubber rats available at meetings. When anybody at the rubber rats for humor in meetings. Ratholes!meeting feels the discussion going down a dead end, or “rat hole,” anybody is encouraged to toss a rubber rat on the table. This is a fun way to keep the meeting on track. (And is WAY less negative than “whining” about the off-topic trend.) My group at the Dallas meeting loved this idea. When we broke it down, they decided that these silly and simple rats would:
– Inject humor into meetings.
– Help keep meetings on track
– Replace complaining
– And —most importantly — increase productivity. Wow…that’s a lot for a toy. Way to go PAMs!

I did your homework for you, Microsoft. Here is a link to some cheap rats! $1 for four rats! Get a few dozen!

6. Conference Call humor. There were two ideas for conference calls. The first idea is to “sign in” as an alias. For example, when you are prompted to give your name, give an alias. Brad Pitt. Bill Gates. Etc.

I had an idea that would be funnier…and more outrageous. If you’re a Microsoft manager, I dare you to sign in as Steve Jobs, or Michael Dell. I dare ya!

7. Conference call humor #2. The second idea was to create some sort of team building exercise for the people attending the conference. (I suspect this would work in smaller groups well, and that you might have to experiment with larger groups.) One idea was to start a song, and have different people take a verse. ie: John sings the first verse, Sally sings the second. I think a safe idea (read that: more likely for people to actually do) would be to tell a story one word at a time. If there are 6 people on the call, you’d say every 6th word. It might go like this:

First person: “Once”
Second Person: Upon
Third Person: “A”
Fourth Person: “Time”
Fifth person: “A girl”
Sixth person: “hated”
First Person: “Powerpoint”
Second Person: “Luckily”
Third Person: “She”
…and so on and so on.

8. Word Substitution Game. Need something to spice up a meeting? Choose a key word (or seven) and substitute wacky words for them. For example, instead of saying “PEG LIST” (or whatever it is you’re meeting about) you would instead say, “cauliflower.” Instead of “manager” you might use the word, “radiator.” This would keep people on their toes and increase the humor quotient.

9. Use Nick-Names at Meetings.

My audience at Microsoft laughed at an idea that…well…might get them fired. (I’m not even gonna write it up, but I can tell you that it was funny…very funny.)

The basic idea was that everybody creates a funny nick-name and is thereafter referred to by that name — at least during that meeting. Here is my much safer version of that game:

My Name is Dorfus Dottydunkin.

My 8 year old son LOVES Captain Underpants
(which is a very cool kids’ book). Heck, I love it too.
The following is excerpted from a children’s book, Captain Underpants
And the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, by Dav Pilkey, in which
the evil Professor forces everyone to assume new names…

So:-

1. Use the second letter of your first name to determine your New
first name:

a = snickle
b = doombah
c = goober
d = cheesey
e = crusty
f = greasy
g = dumbo
h = farcus
i = dorky
j = doofus
k = funky
l = boobie
m = sleezy
n = sloopy
o = fluffy
p = stinky
q = slimy
r = dorfus
s = snooty
t = tootsie
u = dipsy
v = sneezy
w = liver
x = skippy
y = dinky
z = zippy

2. Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first Half
of your new last name:

a = dippin
b = feather
c = batty
d = burger
e = chicken
f = barffy
g = lizard
h = waffle
i = farkle
j = monkey
k = flippin
l = fricken
m = bubble
n = rhino
o = dotty
p = hamster
q = buckle
r = gizzard
s = lickin
t = snickle
u = chuckle
v = pickle
w = hubble
x = dingle
y = gorilla
z = girdle

3. Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half
of your new last name:

a = butt
b = boob
c = face
d = nose
e = hump
f = breath
g = pants
h = shorts
i = lips
j = honker
k = head
l = tush
m = chunks
n = dunkin
o = brains
p = biscuits
q = toes
r = doodle
s = fanny
t = sniffer
u = sprinkles
v = frack
w = squirt
x = humperdinck
y = hiney
z = juice

Thus, for example, George W. Bush’s new name is: Crusty Chucklefanny.

My name is: Dorfus Dottydunkin

Microsoft! You folks were awesome. My one “take away” for you: in order to increase the humor (and attitude) at work, you DON’T have to be funny. You just have to lead the way to encourage positive humor to blossom.

I loved being on your team.

Thanks so much for bringing me into Texas.

Yours,

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, Humor Expert, Huge Fan of Microsoft Partner Account Managers!

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