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Motivational Speaker Blog

Fun at Work Test- How do you Score?

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:50 PM

funny motivational speakerHumorous Motivational Speaker, Jody Urquhart

How Fun is Your Organization?

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

Let fun at work happen, it will energize, motivate, and keep talented people on your team. Laughter’s invisible energy is a very powerful thing.

To be flexible and innovative in the face of leadership and change; take yourself lightly so you can take your work seriously.

Take this test.

How often do you hear people laughing at work?

A) Hardly ever

B) A few times a day

Select the word that best describes your organization:

A)  Practical

B) Innovative


A) Traditional

B) Imaginative


A) Down to earth

B) Visionary

A) Highly professional

B) Personal

A) Critical

B) Encouraging

A) Impersonal

B) Personal

A) Punctual

B) Relaxed

A) Regimented

B) Organized chaos

The more B’s you have, the more likely your organization is a fun place to work (if you have 2 or less B’s you may need help). Everything about fun is fluid, resilient, accepting, relaxed and engaging. The moment something becomes regimented, difficult, controlled or impersonal it is no longer fun. If you were playing a fun game and someone tried to control the outcome and regimented rules, objectives, timelines and personal quotas, the game would no longer be fun.

 There is no objective to having fun, because fun is in the moment, you are not trying to plan or plot. The whole objective is just to be there in the moment and have a good time.

Control the Work not the People doing the Work

Organizations are built around goals and objectives- so is it impossible to have fun at work? If you have had fun working before- than you know it’s not. The nature of work itself should be built around objectives and goals but this doesn’t give you license to control people.

I was a guest speaker at a conference and the keynote speaker suggested, If a work community suppresses humor, it is likely that it also suppresses communication, teamwork, leadership because employees’ humanness is restricted.

Humor helps define the human being. Humor is a way people express their true, intimate core selves, including their vulnerable, foolish, irrational, ridiculous sides.

Humor and the fun make these regimented environments fluid, engaging and flexible. Fun adds balance to regime. Fun personalizes structure.

 The more structured, organized, and planned a work environment is the more you need to have fun. Fun adds the fluid personal aspect that keeps people motivated and balanced.

Fun is an insurance plan

 Without it when things go wrong, the structure and plan fall apart, this regimented work environment collapses (or the people do). Highly structured organizations rely on logical analytical cause effect reasoning where employees can be rigid to respond to changing situations

When work environments are fluid and people are used to being flexible, they can laugh in the face of challenge and adapt to the new environment.

Organizations that are highly regimented and controlled are usually not trend setting and innovative. They prefer structure to change. They avoid conflict because it affects the status quo.

Humor conveys membership and builds cohesiveness. When you walk into the office and hear people laughing and talking this is a great thing because it means people like each other, they trust each other and they enjoy working together.

Funny often means giving up control

Questions to develop your leadership potential

1. Do I use humor as part of my leadership style? Why? Why not?

2. How have your past use of humor influenced the expectations of your co-workers?

3. What kinds of humorous situations or stories have you found most effective at work? List some acceptable and unacceptable topics.

4. What works best for you: self-effacing humor or humor that is directed (positively) toward coworkers? Why?

Experiment with responding to others in a way that is lighthearted.

Look for the funny honey..

Human beings are strange, unexplainable, hilarious creatures. Just notice how people look, what they say, what their intentions are. Notice the gaps; notice that interactions and feelings are unpredictable and messy. We are all beginners, all amateurs at being human, at interacting with others. Life is Messy and people are funny because they can be prejudiced, predictable, and picky. Find the humor in it.

Remember: Every time you laugh you orient your heart and mind

Regular Columns

1) Oh Lighten Up! Your quick, easy lighten up tip for the month

  • View your life in context. Even world leaders realize they have limited ability to affect others’ lives. While we might think taking the weight of the world on our shoulders is admirable it’s not good for you.
  • Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing
  • throw a pajama party at work

2) Game Spot - a fun quick activity you can use this month at work

  • Ask a group to brainstorm for five minutes on the qualities of the ideal team member and lists the qualities on a flipchart. The qualities range from having an excellent sense of humor, to being very serious about their work, to being an excellent goal setter and time manager.
  • Present definitions for “skill” and “attitude” and have the group come to agreement: A skill is something we learn, like riding a bike or speaking another language. Attitude is how we feel emotionally about those skills.
  • The group then decides if the items on the list are skills or attitudes (some may be both). Generally, attitudes dominate (approximately 85 percent to 15 percent)

3) Appreciation Station. A way to recognize, celebrate and appreciate people

  • HUDDLE UP! Create a tradition, stop everything your doing and “huddle up” for recognition moments. Everything stops for a few moments to recognize a great associate.
  • Simply stop. Stop chasing. Stop calling. Stop meeting. Stop worrying. Today, take a moment to stop what you are doing, call your people together, and give someone a much-deserved pat on the back.
  • Or make it regular and Start every work unit meeting with praise for accomplishments and behaviors since your last meeting.
  • A pep talk worth doing

4) Art of the Unexpected- Some funny simple tasteful pranks and other unexpected things you can try if you dare to throw people off guard and keep it fun

  • When someone wins an award the next day send out a memo to say the award has been discontinued
  • Go up to a complete stranger and ask if you can have your photo taken with them
  • Get some water guns
  • Get up, jog on the spot for 10 seconds and then sit down again.
  • Go up to a cashier and tell them your dog told you bad things were going to happen today and they should be prepared

 Jody Urquhart is a professional speaker who compels stressed-out and fed-up professionals to rediscover their passion, purpose & sense of play. To discuss having Jody speak at your next meeting please call us at 1(877) 750-1900 or email jody@idoinspire.com

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Tags: guest speaker, leadership and change, humorous motivational speaker, fun at work

Does your Sense of Humor Help you or Hurt you?

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:44 PM

Humor is a way for people to interact in a playful manner; it enhances group identity and enforces social norms. Yet it can have the opposite affect- what makes one person laugh makes another person groan. What is funny to one person may be insulting to another.

Have you ever considered whether your humor helps or hinders your relationships? We’ve all probably lost a few points over the years by joking around at the wrong time or in the wrong way.

Before undertaking a humor in the workplace program, consider the different types of humor in your analysis…

In a Leadership program with Leadership and Diversity motivational speaker Debra Long and Arthur Grasser (1988) recorded a number of episodes of the Tonight Show and found the following Types of Humor (more exist but these are some of the main ones)

What type of humor do you use most?

Overstatement and Understatement- Changing the meaning of something by changing it with a different emphasis

Irony- The literal meaning is opposite to the intended meaning

Satire- Aggressive humor that pokes fun at social institutions, politicians or lawyers

Sarcasm and Put Downs- Aggressive humor that targets an individual

Self Deprecation- Humorous Remarks targeted at yourself. This may put the audience at ease or demonstrate modesty.

Puns- the Humorous use of a word that evokes a second meaning.
(i.e. - I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me)

A practical joke is a joke put into action. (i.e. - A bucket spilling when a door is opened)

Black Humor- Humor based on easily offensive subjects like making love, body parts, and bodily functions.

What type of humor are the following?

May I have a glass of water?
Why, are you thirsty?
No I want to see if my neck leaks.

I sold the memoirs of my sex life to a publisher. They are going to make a board game out of it (Woody Allen)

Did you hear about the new morning after pill for men?
It changes their blood type

What’s the difference between Windows Vista and a Virus?
A virus does something

How does a man show he’s planning for the future?
He buys two cases of beer instead of one

I decided that becoming a vegetarian was a missed steak.

I love being married. It's so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life

My Dad has a deep and abiding respect for human life…unless it gets in his way

I could have gone to Yale or Harvard
Had I been accepted

Excessive sarcasm used over and over in close relationships can have a very detrimental affect. Sarcasm is a put down, use it sparingly.

Before motivating people to use humor in the workplace understand that some humor is harmful and some is helpful

Things to Ponder…

Be aware over the next few days…. what type of humor do you use the most?
What type of humor does your spouse or colleagues use?
Does this humor help or hinder your relationship?

The Levity Affect

I first saw a funny motivational guest speaker talk about humor in the 90's he suggested we switch back and forth between serious and playful states of mind throughout the day ( Michael Apter, 1991). The humorous and playful state of mind is a heightened state of awareness where more oxygen is present in the brain.

Whenever we laugh at something we are experiencing an emotional high that is rooted in the biochemistry of our brains.

A playful state of mind activates the reward network in the limbic system in the brain (Mobbs, 2003). The same parts of the brain are activated when we do pleasurable things like eating, listening to music, sex…This neuro chemical cocktail has further effects on many parts of the body including the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, digestive and immune systems (Fry, 1994)

There is no better way to create a more carefree and flexible environment than through some shared levity.

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Tags: Motivating People, guest speaker, guest lecture, motivational speeches, funny motivational speaker, fun at work

Leadership Rent vs. Own... How to Increase Job Commitment

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:10 PM

Employees don’t join an organization with the intent of being average, yet some can so quickly be converted. Why? To answer this I’ll share with you an analogy.

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Tags: guest speaker, conflict management, conference speaker

4 Wellness Tips... When your Body Wears Out- Where will you live?

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 03:47 PM

Wellness Guest Speaker, Jody Urquhart

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Tags: Stress Management Seminar, guest speaker, wellness, inspiration

Healthy Workplace Seminars- This Company is Causing Burnout

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 03:26 PM

I was a guest speaker hired to give a motivational speech to an organization to help them enhance wellness.

It was clear the attendees were stressed out, cynical, burnt out and at the end of their ropes. As a guest speaker, I had to fill out a third report to itemize the second report I was required to complete, I began to understand that this company is the root cause of its own burnout. People become cynical when they have to fill out reports to explain mundane things like why they need a bathroom break.

Burnout is often built into the very structure of an organization. Tell tale signs workplace wellness is suffering:

  • Impossible goals
  • Just-plain-stupid policies and procedures that show a lack of trust
  • Lack of clarity in roles
  • Pointless meetings
  • Consistent attempts to take the human element out of the work
  • Lack of inspiration, appreciation and recognition

Changing the dynamics of an organization like this usually requires an entire culture shift, with the biggest shift is toward a new perspective. It starts with giving people the benefit of the doubt, honoring staff wellness, clarifying roles, reducing meaningless rules and paperwork, establishing policies that give leeway for trust, recognizing the human element and appreciating people a lot. Changes like that don't happen overnight and require a strong commitment from leadership.

Restructure to Decrease the Workload
The result of overload are resentment and frustration. If employees are overworkedand the organization wants to focus on wellness and be more healthy and productive, the staff needs to have less work. It’s contrary to popular belief, but less work allows for the time spent on work duties to be more focused, more productive with fewer mistakes. Employees will be happier, healthier and more positive. Stress management tecniques that encourage wellness will become a priority.

People often spend time at work at the expense of their families, even though we can get new jobs and we can’t get new families. One of the best managers I have ever had wrote employees' important “family dates” on her calendar (soccer games, vacations, recitals) and made sure those shifts were covered. The employees who worked late consistently were told to go home. That manager understood that the bottom line is if employees spend too much time at work it puts pressure on family which puts pressure on the employee wellness and lowers productivity . . . and everyone loses. Reflecting on their lives, nobody ever says "I wish I spent more time at work;" instead, we hear "I wish I'd spent more time with family."

At a conference the guest speaker quoted Evan Robinson's article, "Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work." I looked up the reference:

More than a century of studies show that long-term useful worker output is maximized near a five-day, 40-hour workweek. Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.

In the short term, working over 21 hours continuously is equivalent to being legally drunk. Longer periods of continuous work drastically reduce wellness and cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error. In both the short-and long-term, reducing sleep hours as little as one hour nightly can result in a severe decrease in cognitive ability, sometimes without workers perceiving the decrease. (Evan Robinson)

Sometimes work can just be restructured to reduce workload. For instance, people who are more focused on results than on policies that require paperwork are more productive.

Clarifying roles and establishing meaningful goals decrease workload and emotional stress related to work. Very often work roles are redundant, inefficient and unorganized. Get to the bottom of it by letting employees - those who actually do the work and understand the flow - restructure their own roles and goals. The result will be leadership, increased wellness and employee ownership.

Appreciate the Human Element
There is nothing worse than being treated like a machine, designed only for function. The more you try to replace the human element with technology and functional outcome, the less human an organization becomes. Our customers, our employees, and our shareholders are all human. When we introduce technology to simplify our work it often requires people to multitask (do several things at the same time), but research shows we can only really focus on one thing at a time. The result is that we don’t do as well with the job and mistakes often occur.

When we focus on technology and quick results, we lose the human connection. It takes time to slow down and connect, build rapport and really establish relationships based on people, not productivity and results.

And in the long run it’s worth the effort.

As an employee in an organization like this, recognize there is only so much you can do. If you are being pushed to the limits and in the throes of burnout that no stress management seminar could fix, your first action should be to take time for yourself, to engage in some deep self-reflection and look for the root causes of the burnout issue. Then, consider action steps to reduce or eliminate the degree of burnout you are experiencing. Also be a wellness advocate and speak to company employees the virtues of stress management.

Workplace Wellness Guest Speaker Jody Urquhart

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Tags: stress management, guest speaker, wellness, leadership, health seminars

Factors that Kill a Memorable Meeting

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 @ 01:12 PM

Meetings need to be interesting, fun and meaningful to be memorable.

Below are a few commonplace things that destroy a meetings impact:

Boring, routine protocols. Just like a typical toastmasters meeting-many meetings involve a call to order, introductions and routine requirements that consume half the meeting. This agenda can become so routine and dry , people want to put their head down and have a quick nap.

Dry, uninteresting guest speakers. Many speakers say things just because it's information that is related to the group. However, it is reiterated or commonplace for most people in the room. They end up overwhelming the audience with too much information. Potentially eager participants tune out.

The guest speaker who would rather be somewhere else (and the audience can sense it). Leaders often ask someone to contribute to a meeting, so the speaker tries to pack into their already jam packed schedule- prepare for meeting. As the day draws closer, time gets away from them and they are not ready. The speaker ends up dreading the meeting and the audience can tell.

Meetings that go on and on with no clear direction. Without a concrete agenda, one conversation or person can monopolize the discussion. The meeting also needs someone to lead the group and keep the discussion focused.

No follow up or follow through. If nobody is left accountable for their actions nothing will happen and the meeting will be a waste. Meeting minutes and specific action follow throughs may be boring and tedious but they are necessary to respect peoples time.

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Tags: guest speaker, memorable meetings

Career Opportunities in Public Speaking

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 @ 01:16 PM

Do you have what it takes to speak in public? If you have confidence and the ability to engage an audience, there’s plenty of scope to earn a livelihood from your speaking skills.

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Tags: motivational speaker, guest speaker, public speaker, religious speaker

The Predictors of Job Satisfaction

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 01:31 PM

Given the high price of employee turnover, the proactive way to retain employees is to understand what makes a job rewarding.

This week I was a motivational speaker for a group of HR managers. The other guest speaker outlined the things that will make or break job satisfaction.

This list was culled from the book, the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White.

The main drivers of job satisfaction are:

Complexity of the work. The more complex and the less routine the work, the more satisfying.
General working conditions.
Appreciation and recognition.
Perception that the work is important.
Quality of interpersonal work relationships.
Coworker satisfaction.
Decision control.
Level of responsibility.
Workload. Too much work and overwhelmed employees will not be satisfied.
Financial Pay. Money will always buy some level of happiness

I appreciated the list the guest speaker for the hr conference shared, so I purchased the book. I'm sure I will be blogging about it again.

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Tags: guest speaker, Motivational speaker for hr, job satisfaction

How to Boost Mental Alertness

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 @ 01:08 PM

To maximize productivity in a time starved work environment, it helps to understand the workings of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain where complex planning and decision making takes place.

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Tags: guest speaker, Motivational speaker for EMS conference, boost mental alertness

Motivational Speaker for Women's Conference

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 @ 01:35 PM

On April 12, 2014 I am a motivational speaker for the Ponoka Agriculture Society Women's Conference.

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Tags: guest speaker, motivational speech, motivational speaker for Agriculture Society Women

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