Dr. Patt Schwab is the owner of FUNdamentally Speaking, an international speaking and training company that believes in putting the “FUN” before “da Mental.” Her doctoral thesis, titled, People Support What They Help Create, was written on team building. She has spoken to enthusiastic audiences across three continents about the importance of humor as a leadership skill. Despite the fact that Patt’s only notable award as a college student was winning the UC Davis Campus Hog Calling Contest (something she credits with starting her public speaking career), Patt insists that she is a writer not a comedian.
Her interest has always been in using Connective Humor, because it is the easiest and most productive form of workplace and interpersonal humor. It is not the humor of sitcoms and stand-up performances. In fact, it’s not about jokes. It’s about finding and appreciating the lighter side of life and sharing that with others. Connective Humor makes individuals feel they are part of a team. It unleashes their creativity and loyalty.
During fifteen years as a college administrator, Patt learned that if you know what the people in your workplace are laughing about, you know what’s going on. If you actively shape that laughter, you can improve morale, productivity, and the bottom line. One way or another, all of Patt’s books are about building Connective Humor environments.
Later, as she transitioned into an international speaker and trainer, she quickly discovered that, just like with Oreo cookies, the good stuff is in the middle. Consequently, she focused on working with mid-level managers and aspiring front-line staff. Because each culture has a different take on humor, she gathered a delightful international group of workplace stories.
Along the way, Dr. Schwab learned about the power of a rubber chicken to bring laughter and creativity to darn near any situation. In fact, along with her rubber chickens, Patt is currently developing a meditative martial art form for people suffering from Irony Deficiency. It is called Tai Chi Ken.
Recently retired from public speaking, Patt is now translating the fun, useful, inventive ideas from her seminars and platform presentations into books, eBooks, and workbooks packed with laughter, insight, and practical tips.
Her first book, Leave a Mark, Not a Stain! covers what every manager needs to know about using humor in the workplace. Her other publications include; What’s So Funny About Long-Term Care – with tips, ideas, and examples of how patients and caregivers find humor in long-term care settings, and The Obscure Holiday eBooks, with more than 1,700 reasons to celebrate throughout the year.
Patt Explains the Chickens . . .
One day, just for a laugh, I introduced a rubber chicken into my presentation. It got a bigger laugh than I ever thought it would.
Afterward, a guy, I’ll call him “George” came up to me and told me that he makes the long commute from Olympia to Seattle every day. Inevitably some jerk cuts him off in traffic because he’s “not going fast enough.” The jerk goes merrily on his way, while George is left fussing and fuming about it.
“That doesn’t happen anymore,” he told me. “Now I travel with a rubber chicken in the front seat of my car.”
Confused, I asked, “Why? For the the HOV lanes?”
“Nope. That jerk cuts me off, I roll down my window and wave my chicken at him! Now he’s the one going down the road saying ‘What the heck was that about?’ ”
It was such a fun story I repeated it to my next audience, where someone brought down the house by yelling out, “Yeah! You want to flip him the bird — you can do this with the kids in the car!”
It went on from there. Every audience seemed to have someone with a rubber chicken story. One couple told me that when their daughter graduated from college, they gave her $1,000 in $1 bills stuffed inside a rubber chicken. “She graduated 15 years ago and she’s still talking about it.” they said. “Do you think if we’d given her a $1,000 check she’d even mention it today?”
I heard stories of how people put a rubber chicken on top of their cubical wall when they were having a bad day, thus ensuring that everyone would “leave them alone.”
A language teacher has one hanging in her classroom. If someone doesn’t know how to answer a question in the correct foreign language, they get up, stand under the chicken and answer in English.
I receive photos taken all over the world from people who travel with rubber chickens because they are such a great way to connect with the locals.
Given all that rich material, is there any wonder that I became a bit attracted to rubber chickens?
Patt’s writings show individuals and organizations how humor can make them more competent at coping with change, reducing stress, achieving their goals, and managing others. Below are some of her more quotable remarks about what she has learned.
The 3 secrets to a happy life are: good health, a short memory and someone to laugh with!
If you don't pause, nothing worthwhile will catch up with you.
Humor is the tangible evidence of hope.
The epitaph I would most like to have is the one my six-year-old neighbor requested for his pet hamster, Lulubelle, when she died:
“She was fun while she lasted!”
Celebrating a day of humor doesn't change an organization any more than it does a person. Adopting an attitude of humor that encourages risk taking, creativity, diversity and adventure...that is how to change an organization and those who are a part of it.
Laughing at something together implies shared values and experiences. It builds deep ties quickly. In fact, shared laughter is one of the two fastest ways to build a team. The other is through a shared crisis. If you are worried about the bottom line, laughter is usually a lot cheaper than a crisis!
If you want good customer service, treat your employees as you would your best customers.
If you really want to change an organization you must change the reward system.
On Technology and Stress
Much of our stress is caused by Artificial Urgency: the belief that because we can do something faster, we must do it faster.
Technology is here to serve us, not the other way around. Choose to be the Master of your Universe, not a Poster Child for the Breathless Society.
As Bob Rosner says in his
workplace survival guide, Gray Matters,
its important to add "Insight to Injury".