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Are we having Fun Yet? Understanding the Power of Play

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:40 PM

funny motivational speakerSome people say, "I'll play when I feel better." One Funny Motivational Speaker, Clay Osborne says, "You'll feel better when you play!" Kansas Women's Leadership Conference Fox News

Play is valuable because it brings about whole brain thinking. Using the logical left brain and creative right brain together enables you to see the big picture. In the book IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE the speaker states, "Success is a function of one's ability to innovate, which in turn is a function not of one's capacity for focused, analytical logic - but freewheeling flights of fancy." This is the kind of thinking people indulge in when they think humorously.

Creativity leadership expert Roger Von Oech, author of the book A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD has this view: "If necessity is the mother of invention, play is the father. It's when you're not taking yourself seriously that your defenses are down, your mental locks are loosened, and there is little concern with the rules, or being wrong."

Another perspective on the value of play comes from Dr. George Sheehan: "We need play to leaven what we do. Without play, work is labor; it is doing something for money. But if we have work that's play then we have beaten the system."

Healthy people tend to be the most productive and laughter contributes to good health - mental and physical. Laughter improves circulation, fills the lungs with oxygen-rich air, stabilizes blood pressure and causes beneficial changes in the chemistry of the body. Leadership Laughter Pioneer, Dr. William F. Fry has been studying laughter for more than 40 years. He says that 20 seconds of intense laughter, even if faked, can double the heart rate for three to five minutes, an accomplishment that would take three minutes of strenuous rowing exercise. Motivational speaker, patch adams had a movie built around his hospital designed to help children heal with humor.

Why we need to have more fun at work:

  • Studies on show staff want to work in a fun, lighthearted environment
  • Humor and Fun increase energy and inspiration for the job
  • Laughing ignites whole brain thinking that enhances creativity and productivity
  • Hearty laughter speeds up the heart rate, improves blocked circulation, accelerates breathing and increases oxygen consumption
  • Laughing instantly decreases stress, increases wellness
  • Happy employees create happy customers. It enhances interpersonal skills
  • Fun broadens your perspective and enhances leadership skills.
  • A sense of humor is one of the essential leadership qualities. Leadership looks like they know what they are doing when they smile. It inspires confidence.
  • People with a good sense of humor are easier to get along with
  • Humor builds self confidence when you are able to laugh at yourself it makes you less afraid to communicate mistakes
  • Well placed humor softens criticism
  • Humor and Laughter defuse tension

Also, watching Dr. Fry give one of his inspirational speeches he says laughter stimulates the production of catecholamines, the alertness hormones.

The How To’s:

Including fun and play in job descriptions will be more common in the future as employers realize how cost effective it can be. How about a late afternoon break for employees to play a video or computer game? How about a joke telling break?

Humor should always feel good ( happy, relaxed, effective)

Humor should poke fun at stressful situations not people

Humor has very little to do with jokes (less than 12% of what we laugh at is joke like) and more to do with laughing at common stresses

Humor should not be used to insult or sarcastically get away with inappropriate comments

Consider starting your meetings with humor. As humor becomes more a part of your business, the more it will be perceived as acceptable. With humor in every meeting there would be a portion that everyone would look forward to. Humor, as a natural part of communication, also helps.

When you send out your next memo, write it in a light-hearted fashion.

Adopt a fun and playful attitude

Hire a Funny Motivational Speaker. Fun in the workplace speakers can inspire the funny bone in people  show you how to keep it alive.

The best way to use humor is to have the self confidence to laugh at yourself. Make sure people understand why you are encouraging humor, most people have only one way to deal with stressful situations and it is a negative response you are training them to see things in a positive way.

Studies show that we spend 75% of our time in work related activities! So, if we spend 75% of our time somehow involved in work, shouldn’t it be fun?

Jody Urquhart is a funny motivational speaker who for the last fifteen years has motivated and inspired professionals to use humor to change there lives. Please contact us to see how we can recognize and inspire professionals at your next event.

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Tags: fun in the workplace speakers, funny motivational speaker, fun at work, inspiration

Boost Morale and Passion at Work

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:11 PM

Can you tell if someone loves their job? Absolutely.
How frequently do you deal with someone who truly loves their job? Rarely.

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Tags: leaders, motivational speaker, wellness, inspiration, leadership speaker, boost morale

Banish Worry Now! Your Wellness Depends On it!

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:02 PM

If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. ~Don Herold
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Tags: stress, speaker, wellness, leadership, inspiration

Wellness and Mindfulness Motivation Tips

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 04:01 PM

Don’t Just Do Something- Sit There!
How mindfulness can transform your work

For most leadership the most difficult five minutes of your day would be to sit still and nothing. Don’t think about work stress, your priorities or other people.

Sit Still. Many professionals feel very uncomfortable doing nothing and suggest they thrive on stress. Nobody thrives on stress. What we thrive on is being mindfully caught up in our work and focused on making a difference. You are mistaking an intense life for a meaningful one. Inspiration builds when purpose shines in everyday activity.

Even as a leader,In your work you tend to chase after problems and focus on the stress of what goes wrong, leading to negative cyclical thought patterns. This mental thought pattern, pinpointing problems can destroy relationships at home and create conflict. Mistakes and fault finding can easily become wrapped up in your character.

Constant hurry translates to hurrying others thoughts and speech finishing their sentences.

When we worry, stress and fear our jobs we are in a very distracted stressful mindset. This creates a rigid black and white thinking pattern. Fiercely pursuing goals and agendas and always trying to go somewhere and never really getting there… welcome to the rat race. You need a motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river.

Cut back on mindless thinking and worrying, control your attention and place it where it matters most.
Psychologists define mindfulness as flexible, slow, nonjudgmental, reflective, thinking that is open to novelty.

This slow mindful thinking slows down your nervous system and be sensitive to people and situations. Instead of being focused on yourself and your stress you will start to be aware of others and your environment and the impact your decisions make.

Slow down and apply mental alertness and engagement to even the most monotonous and routine activities. Think about what you’re doing while you’re doing it and its greater impact. Say to yourself I love doing this – even if you don’t.

The positive mental energy you put to the task will start to naturally change how you feel and think about your work.

Leadership today realize that Faster is not better.

Wellness Motivational Speaker Resources here Download

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Tags: Motivation Tips, stress and leadership speaker, inspiration

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

Acknowledge People without Turning Them Off

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 03:32 PM

Does acknowledging your employees impel them to explore their potential further or is it more of a mindless clacking of cliché expressions? Is your recognition program a superficial ploy encroaching on your staff’s need to be candidly recognized and inspired? Don’t be disheartened because many organizations suffer the same twisted fate. Employee Morale boosters hinge on how well leaders recognize staff. Everybody likes to be appreciated for their efforts, but only if they are rewarded and acknowledged in a way that is genuine.

Include employees’ say in the way you salute their efforts. Most companies have a formal way of acknowledging employees with annual award banquets, including keynote speakers with motivational speeches,top sales awards and certificates. If your award program doesn’t invite a thunderous reception, it may be because it is too generic and not an inspiration


There are some major pitfalls to generic leadership award programs:

  1. The reward is handed down from leadership and reinforces imbalances in power.
  2. It can be patronizing to receive a small award for a large accomplishment.
  3. The leadership recognition program falters because the accomplishment is often a team effort. It fosters resentment when just one person gets the reward.
  4. They cause competition and conflict
  5. The reward usually occurs annually or semi-annually,thereby greatly postponing inspiration andrecognition for superior daily performance.
  6. Salary raises are nice, but seldom motivate people to consistently achieve on the job.
  7. Top performers are often the same people every month. A formal award system may become a program that neglects secondary achievements. How is this helping the rest of your staff? You may be causing resentment, conflict.Formal award nights with humorous keynote speakers may not speak to the heart of recognition for the whole team
  8. The most common flaw of leadership award programs is that they often reward people for doing work they were supposed to do anyway. It creates entitlement.

Why are formal award systems so popular as a leadership strategy then? The main advantage to formal awards is that they are easy to administer. All you need to do is calculate how close (or how far) people get to their goal, find the “top achievers” and acknowledge them with your standard reward.

This advantage is also the major disadvantage. Formal awards are a “mass acknowledgment” program. They can be very impersonal and don’t take into account the strengths, accomplishments, or efforts of individuals. They don’t take into account employees’ say.

Formal award systems recognize one narrow aspect of the job (such as increased revenue, Morale, sales or productivity) and those few employees who are good at achieving that goal. By contrast, informal recognition programs focus on spontaneous and personal appreciation of employee efforts.


Four Qualities of a Good Acknowledgment

Appreciating others is a brilliant and creative act. Leadership strategy needs to notice and nurture consistent acts of achievement. Yet many leaders don’t consider showing appreciation a part of their leadership skills. Other leaders realize that acknowledgment is important, but they botch the process. Spouting hollow praise too often will bring discouraging results.

There is an art to showing appreciation for others. Employees won’t be impressed by trite and generic compliments. Most leadership could use a bit of practice with thoughtful acknowledgments. Possibly a leadership seminar or workshop with a motivational talks to practice the 4 keys to a good acknowledgement. According to B.F. Skinner, a good acknowledgment has four qualities. It is consistently:

  1. Specific: Talk very specifically about what you saw the person do. General motivational clichés like “good team player” will have a lukewarm effect.
  2. Immediate: Obviously praising someone for something she did nearly a year ago is a waste of time because the best acknowledgment is immediate. “Catch” someone in the act of doing well and compliment the behavior on the spot.
  3. Personal: Use the person’s name and talk about the qualities they bring to the team.
  4. Spontaneous: Never script compliments or they won’t sound sincere.

I would add to this always link individual performance to the overall good of the group. Here is an example: “Mike, congratulations on how you handled that difficult patient just now. He was nasty and not about to give up, but you sympathized, calmed him down and set him straight.” This acknowledgment is specific, immediate, personal, and spontaneous.

Next, link individual performance to the good of the group. “Your taking the time to explain things to that patient builds understanding and agreement and makes that patient so much easier for the rest of the team to deal with.”

According to a study done by Robert Half International Limited, a lack of praise and recognition is one of the primary reasons why employees leave their jobs.

Action Plan

Acknowledgment doesn’t have to come from a leader. Train and encourage all employees to recognize each other. Train in the four steps above and have employees role-play to acknowledge one another. Create a culture of appreciation (see below) where employees regularly recognize each other’s contributions.

Rewards That Increase Say and Engage Employees

Increasing the say factor in your organization means increasing employee input to their jobs. Leaderships Motivational Speeches should Reward people individually and in a personalized way for their accomplishments instead of generally addressing the whole group for its performance level. Take time to find out what specifically motivates each of your employees and then see what you can do to make those things happen. How do you find out what motivates others? Ask them.

Increase the say factor in the job by getting people talking about what inspires and motivates them and engage them in the reward process. When people get rewarded in the way they want, they will be much more satisfied. Involvement equals commitment. The best management is what you do with others, not to them.


  1. Create an acknowledgment committee. This is a fun volunteer position and it should rotate regularly so all staff have an opportunity to participate. The acknowledgment committee is responsible for acknowledging other staff members weekly.
  2. Have the acknowledgment committee create a form that helps them get to know employees. Ask employees things like, “Share your favorite color, your biggest pet peeve, something interesting about your family, your hobbies...” Anything unique about a person that they would offer to share is valuable.
  3. File these forms away and every week (or month or however often) the committee randomly draws an employee’s name and checks the list to find interesting unique ways to acknowledge him. (e.g. Jason loves telling jokes so buy him a joke book). The “reward” is fun and does not cost a lot (usually under $10).
  4. The committee now has to catch Jason in the act of doing well and acknowledges him with the personalized item. You may even create a fun ritual, motivational talk,chant or saying when delivering acknowledgments.

Leadership Speaker shows you how to acknowlege others/blog/bid/44318/4-Tips-to-Lead-Employees-Older-than-You

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Tags: motivational speeches, keynote speaker, inspiration, morale boosters, leadership program

How to Increase Passion for Your Work

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 03:12 PM

Your Passion Plan at Work..

Leadership and Diversity Expert, Jody Urquhart,

Passion is the single most powerful competitive advantage and inspiration an organization can claim in building its success

Many organizations possess the same technology, resources, equipment, and expertise, but it is the organization that runs on diversity and passion that thrives. The passion-driven organization inspires its diverse employees, invigorates its customers, and reaps the benefits of their shared enthusiasm in its success. Authentic morale boosters boast passion.

Need Inspiration? Passion Matters

Both employees and customers have feelings that compel them to act the way they do. Employee’s performance can be directly linked to their feelings toward their work. Customers do not buy just anything. They make their decisions based on emotional responses to products and the organizations that provide them. We all operate on emotion, we make decisions on emotion.

Passion is something deeper than policies and practices that give an organization meaning, life and inspiration. A passion for what you do makes every day invigorating and rewarding.

A recent study highlighted in the Wall Street Journal Leadership Edition revealed that customers gravitate toward companies that appeal to them on an emotional level (Alsop, 1999).

To attract customers and employees, compete solely on price the relationship has no loyalty the relationship ends when a better financial reward is found. To have people committed during the ups and downs of business you need to build loyalty with passion. Passion builds advocates for your business.

Passion is uncommon. Not many people jump out of bed fueled by their passion to go to work. More often in organizations people are disengaged, cynical and cranky.

Many leadership methods alleviate the symptoms that afflict the modern company; few treat the disease that causes them, lack of passion.

Benefits of Passion

Provides direction and focus

Creates energy

Inspires creativity

Heightens performance

Builds loyalty

Attracts employees and customers

Unites the organization

Provides a critical edge

Brings the organization to a higher plane

Inspires action

The benefits of passion are obvious, so why don’t more organizations harness it? At some level there is passion present in most organizations, but it does not form the framework. Leadership may feel it, but not understand how to communicate it. Employees may sense it, but be uncertain or confused as to how to act on it. Customers may detect it in products and services, but may not feel it is consistent or compelling.

Somewhere along our journey we lose sight of what inspires us. We compromise our passion to get the job done. Unbridled growth, increasing technology, multitasking, fierce competition, labor shortages all have forced business to do more with less and what suffers is passion.

Define passion and have a way to sustain it. What is the core thing that people can be proud and passionate about? Link this to your overall business operations. Communicate it often.

(IDEA- Have regular team leadership workshop“huddles” where employees communicate what they are most proud of)

Brainstorm- What specific acts communicate passion? (i.e. - going out of your way for a customer, recognizing other team members, celebrating success, smiling, skipping down the hallway….( as one CEO does)

Keep overall enthusiasm and energy high. Strive to increase overall energy in your work environment. You need this energy to fuel passion. Smile, laugh, and engage in fun activities to keep energy levels high.

Fake it until you make it. The trick is to act passionately even if you aren’t, eventually it becomes a habit and in the meantime your energy will lift everyone up. Fun at work will follow, like it or not.

Everyday our body language comes through loud and clear. Is yours the inspiration that fuels confidence and energy in others or is it tired or just uptight?

Be innovative. Try new and different approaches to your work to fuel passion

Sharpen your skills.

What are you insanely great at in your Work? Recognize people for their contribution to your organizations purpose.

Stay Tuned for More ideas on keeping passion alive in further articles.

Downsize or Invest in People?

If an organization is trying to cut budgets investing in people is usually not their first course of action. Often it is the opposite; let people go, leaving more work spread among fewer people. Those left behind have to work harder, become burnt out and cynical resulting in even more turnover.

 We Need Each Other

Organizations need people (for their energy, effort, and talent); and people need organizations (for the many intrinsic and extrinsic rewards they offer), but these needs are not always well aligned. When the fit between people and organizations is poor, one or both suffer: individuals may feel neglected or oppressed, and organizations sputter because individuals withdraw their efforts or even work against organizational purposes. Conversely, a good fit benefits both: individuals find meaningful and satisfying work, and organizations get the talent and energy they need to succeed.

 Remember work like all relationships are give and take, both sides need to feel satisfied or one side pulls out.

Regular Columns

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

Use laughter and humor in the workplace throughout the day. Laughing with others is a great way to promote peace and fun in the workplace. It takes 16 muscles to frown and only 3 muscles to smile. Which would you prefer?

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

Ask participants to stand in a circle and introduce themselves by first name and one adjective that begins with the same letter as their name—for example, “I’m brilliant Brad.” He than adds a simple movement or gesture, such as a bow, a two-handed wave, or a dance step. Go around the circle and keep adding on until people can’t remember.

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

Try creating an award for people who aren't usually in the limelight. This award can be any form of recognition that you choose, but it needs to have a specific name and be given to people whose work is usually out of sight or low profile. Call it something like the Backroom Award, make a big deal about it, and present it on a regular basis (once a month or quarter).

The company newsletter is the ideal place to recognize employees. Submit employees’ names, inspirational quotes and photographs to the newsletter with a story about what they have done really well. Be as specific as possible, tell the story about what they did, what qualities they have 

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

  • Verbally Abuse your office furniture
  • Walk franticly down the hallway
  • Cut out photos and paste them on Popsicle sticks and have a puppet show
  • Give Inspirational Speeches
  • Fake an accent
  • Laugh out loud for no reason
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Tags: inspiration, inspirational speeches, leadership workshop, leadership and diversity

Minnesota Aging Services Conference Inspirational Speakers

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Jan 02, 2012 @ 03:41 PM

On February 9, 2012, I am an Inspirational speaker for the Aging Services of Minnesota Conference. The theme of the event, Inspire. Serve. Advocate is to celebrate the associations 45 year anniversary and to renew their commitment to inspire, serve and advocate on behalf of aging services providers in Minnesota.

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Tags: inspiration, inspirational speech, Inspirational Speaker for Aging Services

Extraordinary Motivational Speaker Bob Koehler

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 @ 03:01 PM

Last May I was a motivational speaker for a conference for educators, that day i was fortunate enough to meet Bob Koehler.

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Tags: inspiration, motivational talk, motivational speaker for a conference for educator

Conference for Government Employees Reveals Public Perception

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Fri, Apr 08, 2011 @ 10:47 PM

Last year I was the opening motivational speaker for a conference of government employees.

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Tags: inspiration, conference, motivational speaker for government employees

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