“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.
In this episode, we have the pleasure of having Greg Kettner, founder of WorkHappy, share how he epitomizes Maya Angelou’s sentiment. Greg shares his dedication to helping people feel valued and important through the transformative power of laughter and mindfulness techniques. He discusses the importance of making lasting impact on individuals’ lives, especially the ones within our inner circle. Greg also offers practical steps that prioritize self-care, enabling you to radiate positivity and illuminate the lives of those around you, just as he does daily. Come discover with us the power of laughter and happiness. Learn how to be a happiness architect and see how it can improve your personal and professional life. Tune in and enjoy the show!
Check out Greg Kettner’s TedTalk here: Change The World With Laughter
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
The Happiness Architect: Designing A Fulfilling Life Through Laughter With Greg Kettner
Welcome, Greg Kettner, to the show. He is a former sales professional and stand-up comedian. What’s interesting is how he combines these skills with his love for people at the firm he founded called WorkHappy. As the founder of WorkHappy, Greg is living out his possible by helping organizations increase productivity, reduce turnover, and normalize mental health conversations to create happy employees who thrive. Greg helps his clients as a speaker, trainer, comedian, coach, and happiness architect.
This episode reminds me of the famous Maya Angelou quote, which goes like this, “I have learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Greg is living this quote out loud. He is helping people feel they matter by finding ways through laughter and mindfulness techniques at work and in our communities. Listen for the simple steps to take care of yourself first, and then you can light up others like Greg is doing wherever he goes. Enjoy the show.
Greg, welcome to the show. I’m excited to have a chat with you. We are new friends. Somebody introduced us. You are the WorkHappy guy. I’m the Ignite Happy guy. What is not to love about all that? I can’t wait to hear all about what you are doing, how you are making an impact out there, where you came from, how you got here, and all these fun questions. I can’t wait to learn more about you.
Thanks, Darrin, for having me on your show. I listened to the first one. You are off to a great start. We are both in the happy space and live your possible, which makes us happy. I’m the WorkHappy guy. I’m glad that we did connect. I’m excited.
You have combined some skills. You used to be in sales with the Canucks. You are a comedian and you have a love for people. You are now bringing all that into the workplace with WorkHappy, and your focus is on well-being. I love to know what that looks like and what you are doing out there with WorkHappy.
It is amazing what COVID did for me. I was in sales and still am. I’m selling WorkHappy. I have been selling other people’s products for 27 years in professional sports like hockey and soccer, software, building supplies, and all those kinds of things. I took some time out. I got into stand-up comedy on a dare one night. After an event in Vegas where I got called up in front of 4,000 of my colleagues to do stand-up impromptu, I decided I was going to try doing stand-up for six years. It took me six years to figure out that I like money more than stand-up.
When COVID came, I lost my job as Director of our local Chamber of Commerce. The guy running the thing called me up out of the blue and said, “I have eliminated your position. You are no longer essential.” I said, “I disagree. I think you are no longer essential.” There I was. I had no idea what I was going to do going into COVID. I heard people are losing their jobs. We didn’t know how long it was going to last.
They told us 21 days. That was the problem. We all banked on 21 days. It was the better part of three years. I was talking to my wife. She said, “What would you want to do if you could do anything?” My first thought was to go back to comedy. I love making people laugh and happy, but being married doesn’t afford the resources to pay your mortgage. It is not good for a relationship when you are on the road three nights a week. She said, “Is there a way that you could use your passion for people? You are always positive. You love making people happy. Why don’t you go back and help businesses work happy so more people can work happy.”
We all know people who aren’t working happy. Studies show that 67% of employees are passively thinking about another job. We were talking and she goes, “Why don’t you call it WorkHappy and go make people work happy?” That was it. She was the real catalyst. I brought my sales, speaking, and humor skills to help people create workspaces where we can talk about mental health and put people before profits. That is where the magic happens.
Putting people before profits is where the magic happens. Profits will follow when done in the right order. We are going to dig into a lot of this. I appreciate you sharing all that. Kudos to your bride for encouraging you to do this work. It is a combination of your love for people, adding some level of comedic relief, and getting serious about the topic of mental illness and issues that are out there.
I read an article about mental health. Ninety percent of US adults feel like we are in a mental health crisis. That is unbelievable to me. There are other studies I have seen that show 70% of people at work are unhappy. I’m like, “What is going on?” Thank God we have you, Greg, because we need to work happy. When you are working with clients, what does that look like in the workplace? When we say work happy, what are we looking for? What are we looking to move towards?
It is not rocket science, Darrin. We all know this. More than anything, I’m a reminder and I share with people what can happen. For everybody that I talked to, the three biggest challenges that people have are productivity. People are just showing up and doing the bare minimum. Keeping good people, turnover has been huge during and post-COVID. The other thing is mental health. People are stressed and everything.
When we put people first and give them patterns and habits on how to care, how to go from lonely back to the community, and how to go from unproductive to productive, and create a safe space, people feel they can talk about mental health at work, either with a coworker, an HR member, or a manager. There is a study done by Lara Health that said eight out of ten people still won’t talk about mental health at their employment or where they work because of shame and guilt. They were like, “I want to get a promotion. If I tell my manager that I deal with anxiety, he is going to go, ‘I’m not moving Greg up the ladder.’”
Everybody is dealing with it. If you break down those walls, you have a safe space where you can talk about mental health. One of the bigger overlying things is when people think about mental health, they go to the extreme, bipolar, depression, I can’t work and function, or suicide. Mental health includes not feeling like getting out of bed in the morning or feeling like you are overwhelmed, or nobody likes me, or I’m lonely. There is such a huge degree. If we can have those conversations, it is amazing what can happen.
Every time I talk to a group of people or work with them, whether it is coaching or training, people always come up to me afterward and say, “Thank you so much for talking about it. Nobody does.” If a skinny John Goodman can talk about mental health, anybody can. It is making it okay to talk about mental health. It is not scary. You are not going to catch it. We just need to be more empathetic and say, “How can I help? How can I listen? How can I share what I have gone through that might help you?”
I appreciate that you are willing to go down this path and understand the sensitivities and importance. When you think about it, there is so much uncertainty now. There are layoffs, uncertainty with the economy, the whole banking crisis, the uncertainty around what’s going on with gun controls, gun laws, and senseless acts that are going on all around us. It is scary.
People saying “I have fear in the workplace. I want to keep my job. I don’t want to step up or lean in.” Some people are stepping aside, avoiding coming to work, and having the conversation. I applaud you for making it safe, providing tools, and showing what it looks like. What’s coming out of the other side is we are all going to be a little bit closer and caring to each other, or maybe even kinder. Are there a couple of tools that are high-level enough that you could share, or an example of a tool that someone can think about practicing?
One of the best ones I have done over the last few years is I started to meditate. I have ADHD. Mine is in high def. It is crystal clear. Because of that, there is no way I could sit still for five minutes and think of nothing. My brain is like an F1 circuit. It drives my wife and my kid nuts at times. With meditation, they encourage me to see my doctor, and now I’m on some medication for it. I was never a big medication fan, but I realized that ADHD is not only a deficit. It’s a positive because I always come up with these creative ideas. I’m always forward-thinking. I just have to control the other side.
It is negative and positive, but by taking medication, doing meditation and breathing, I can reduce that ADHD. I encourage anybody to meditate. I started out looking on YouTube for three-minute meditation because that is all I can handle. Now, every day, it is twenty minutes in the morning. I use the app Headspace.
When I get up in the morning, I start to meditate before I look at my phone and get on my emails. For me, that sets the day. I don’t have to worry about what is going on in the world and work. I’m calm and relaxed, then I can start my day. Meditation is great. The other thing is I quit watching the news. That has made a world of difference for me. If there is something big enough and it is going to affect me, I will hear about it. Maybe I’m old school or funny that way, but not reading the headlines every morning relaxes me. It allows me to not be overwhelmed or stressed out.Quit watching the news. It can make the world a difference for you. Click To Tweet
It’s feeding what is in our control and understanding what it is that we want to know. Do we want to hang out with positive people that will help us or do we want to hang out with negative people that probably won’t? Also, helping people laugh a little bit differently or get involved in different ways and positive ways. It is great to meditate too. I sometimes rely on my Apple Watch. It gives me a little buzz and says, “You got to breathe.” I will hit the breath button, sit there, close my eyes for a minute, and I will be like, “Am I good?” It is silly, yet I need to get that reminder once in a while.
I don’t know if you ever watched the Trolls movie. They had a buzzer go off that says, “It is time to get happy. It is time to give our happy shout.” I don’t know if you have ever seen that, but it is almost like Apple put that in my watch to say, “It is time to breathe. It is time to give somebody a hug.” It is little things like that that make a difference.
Breathing is another one. If I get stressed out, a call goes sideways, or a deal falls through, I can sit here. Anybody can sit at their desk (and calm your mind with breathing). You can even do it with your eyes open. You don’t have to close your eyes and do breathing for even 2 or 3 minutes. As you said, when your watch buzzes, you breathe. It reduces stress. It lowers your heart rate. It releases all the good chemicals that make us happy and calm.
Sometimes it is the little things. It is not rocket science. We just need to do the things we need to do so that we can be the best. I tell people, “We need to be more selfish.” We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. If I get up in the morning and I’m stressed and frazzled, how am I going to treat my wife, kids, and clients? If I take care of myself before anybody else gets up, I’m ready to go for the day. It is a lot easier to be calm, cool, collected, and work happy.We need to be more selfish. We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Click To Tweet
Self-care is critical. I’m hearing more about being selfish but looking at that in a good way. It is going to allow you and others to make a bigger impact in the world, starting with our family, our communities, and where we work. You get some joy out of helping people laugh. Laughter is sometimes called the best medicine.
Laughter is the best medicine unless you have diarrhea.
Tell us more about all of that.
We grew up listening to Bill Cosby, the Fat Albert. I know Bill Cosby is canceled now, and probably Fat Albert would be canceled as well. It was a good, clean, and wholesome comedy back in the early ‘80s when we were growing up. We had this sense of humor. I remember telling my dad that once when I was a teenager. He was a doctor. He was like, “Laughter is the best medicine.” I was like, “What about diarrhea, Dad?” He was like, “You got a point there.”
I use it up in my talks. I started using it in stand-up comedy. I incorporated that into my TEDx Talk that I did in TEDx Spokane, which was about the power of laughter and how when we laugh with people, we connect. When we connect, our hearts are opened up. If we laugh together, we are bonded. Even that much closer, we can share deeper and more meaningful things. When that happens, that is when we have the conversation about changing the world and making the world a better place, whether it is through volunteering, acts of service, being kind, and helping each other out. It has been powerful throughout my whole life.
Do you do the Fat Albert opening? Do you guys do that?
“Hey, hey, hey. Do that trick again.”
Tell me a little bit more about your growing up. Were you always the funny guy? Were you always the storyteller? Did that come about with your dad watching Fat Albert? How did that come about for you?
I was always the class clown. Probably the best class clown was Jim Carey, but I have always been able to make people laugh and remember jokes, whether they are silly dad jokes or funny stories. Growing up, I always had that ability. When I was working for the Vancouver Canucks with the boys, we may or may not have had a couple of adult beverages. We walked past this pub, and it was an open mic night. The guys were like, “You got to go up and do stand-up.” I’m like, “There is no way I’m getting up in front of people.” They said, “ We will pay for your drinks.” I was like, “All of them?” I’m a good negotiator.
I went up. I don’t even remember the story that I told, but I remember that feeling of having 20 or 25 people in the room laughing at the story that I was telling. I was like, “I got to do this again.” Afterward, I went back to talk to the pub owner. He said, “Yes, we are here every Wednesday night. Come by and bring friends. Five minutes is yours.” I kept on working my way up from 5 to 10 to 15 minutes. I reached out to the local comedy club. They started booking me to MC.
I got to the point where I was getting to work with guys like Norm Macdonald, Robin Williams, and Gilbert Gottfried and headlining clubs. It was so much fun. Looking back to what I’m doing now, it is as much fun but it is so much more impactful. When I was doing stand-up comedy or in front of a group of drunk people for a half hour, you are taking them away from their reality for 30 minutes. When you are up, giving a keynote, and sharing, “How do we work happy? How do we talk about mental health?” There is so much more of an impact in having these conversations.
After a conference, I was walking through the trade show floor. He came up to me and said, “I appreciate you talking about mental health. I never hear that being talked about. Let alone a guy that cried on stage in front of 500 people. That was impressive.” I said, “Was that the most impressive thing?” He said, “No. The most impressive thing is that I have had crippling anxiety for 25 years. Only my wife and my doctor know about it, and now you, a random stranger that I haven’t even had a conversation with.”
When we share our own stories, it allows other people to go, “I got the same thing.” One of my favorite quotes is from Robin Williams, and it is on the wall here. He said, “Everyone you meet is battling something you know nothing about. Always be kind.” That stuck with me over the years. When you have even short conversations with your buddy like, “How is it going?” He was like, “Good.” Ask the question again but say, “Seriously, how are you doing? I got ten minutes if you want to talk.” It is amazing the conversation that will happen.Everyone you meet is battling something you know nothing about. Always be kind. Click To Tweet
It’s stepping in differently. Be kind and show that you care. You made it safe for him to talk about this. That is powerful. If you are doing that one person at a time, maybe it is an organization at a time, share some humor with it because there are some commonalities of understanding, which is helpful. It is powerful. You mentioned a few comedians there. Are those your favorite comedians? Do you have other comedians that you always turn on when you need to laugh?
Robin Williams is great. My two favorites are Nate Bargatze and Pete Lee. I met Pete Lee through a buddy of mine who is still doing stand-up comedy, Lachlan Patterson. Nate Bargatze is a storyteller. He is clean. You can take your grandma or your twelve-year-old daughter to see him. Those are my favorites. I enjoy the other people out there, but it would be Nate Bargatze or Pete Lee right now.
What do you do to keep laughing? It is hard sometimes to say, “I got to go take time to laugh.” I appreciate that you send out Friday Funny. I recognize that it is Friday and I get your email. I’m like, “Did I make time to laugh?” It sounds funny to say that out loud. Do you make time? Are you just that person who always finds the laughs, irony, and that type of stuff?
I think a little bit of both. I encourage everybody to put it on their calendar. It is five minutes. You can YouTube your favorite comedian. You can watch Billy cat videos, accidents or falls. We have to make it a priority. We brush our teeth because we want to be able to talk to people and not kill them, but put it on your calendar.
It is 2023. We have to be careful that it is HR-approved. I have never heard anybody articulate it that way about the Friday Funny. You see it like, “Did I laugh this week?” It makes you think and that is great because I started that going, “I need something every week.” The Friday Funny came out at the beginning of COVID. It was the second month. I was working from home. I was cooped up. I was like, “I got to make people laugh. How am I going to do this?”
I started doing weekly stand-up comedy shows from my bathroom on Zoom. I had my tripod set up there. I had my jacket on and a toilet plunger for a microphone. I would tell jokes for about 15 to 20 minutes. That morphed into creating a group on Facebook called The HumorLab. It is PG13 and has no politics. I set it up one night. I sent it to twenty of my friends. I said, “If you don’t mind sharing this, it would be cool.” I have a group and have everybody share their sense of humor.
I woke up the next morning. There are 153 people in the group. It has blown up since then. I haven’t spent a dime on advertising or anything. It has gone viral because of the nature of it. It is clean. There are no politics. Last I checked, we are at 38,000 people in The HumorLab. It’s great. I get messages all the time, “Thank you so much.” One guy from China, I Google Translate it. He said, “I work hard. We had COVID. Every night, I go to The HumorLab, and I laugh at what I can.” Everything is in English in The HumorLab. Here is one guy, Google Translating the jokes in The HumorLab so that he can get a laugh. It is universal. It is like math.
Laughing, having joy, and our emotions are universal. We know when someone is having a good time or is in a good place. They are smiling or laughing out loud. I appreciate that. How do people join in? We will certainly add the link.
It is called The HumorLab on Facebook. It is the only one there unless there is a clone out.
You mentioned Rob Williams in that great quote, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.” There is another quote that I recall. It is something like, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Those quotes are impactful. Those are life lessons. He was talking to the world about some of the things he was struggling with. We all have things we need to overcome. I know you had gotten laid off. That impacted you. Were there things like that that gave you life lessons to help you prepare for where you are because you are making some amazing impacts?
The one that comes to mind in talking about what we are talking about is the night I got to work with Robin Williams. It was by chance. I was doing a show. It was an open mic. It was a 7:00 and 9:00 show. The rookies were on the 7:00. There were seven of us there, five comedians, a girlfriend, and a bartender. Nobody had to pay to get in. We had five minutes. We were trying to make it to the 9:00 show. Halfway through that, the door opened up and walked Rob Williams. I was like, “It is him.” I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to connect with him, and I didn’t know how.
He was sitting there having a beer and laughing at my jokes. It was flattering to me. Afterward, I walked off stage. I thought I’m going to pretend I have no idea who this guy is. We started having a conversation. He was looking at me all weirdly and like, “How does this guy not know who I am?” Finally, I started to laugh. I said, “I know who you are.” We had this conversation.
He said something that I would never forget. He said, “Greg, you are funny. Keep doing what you are doing because you are good at it.” I’m like, “That is a good endorsement.” He also said, “Keep making people laugh because you will never know the difference you make in their life.” I heard him and I’m like, “That is cool, whatever.”
Three years later, I was running my own show at a hotel bar. It was every Thursday night. We have anywhere from 20 to 40 people come in. One night, this father and son walked in about five minutes into the show. I was the MC. They came and sat in the front row. They put their feet on my stage. They were sitting there with their arms crossed. It didn’t look like they were in a good mood to laugh. For me and many other comedians, you go on stage to get laughs. It feels good when people are laughing at you. That night I thought, “I got to get these two guys to laugh.” I don’t know what it is, but I want to make them laugh.
I talked to them a little bit, back and forth. As other comedians came up, they started to lighten up. At one point, I said, “Bartender, if you can get these guys in the front row at the table here, get them another round of drinks, and put it on their tab, that would be great.” They started cracking up, smiling, and having a good time. Afterward, I went up and talked to them. This was when I understood what Robin Williams said, “Keep making people laugh. You will never know the difference you make.”
Fortunately, I got to know the difference that night because I was talking to them. I said, “Is this your first time at the show?” The dad was like, “No. We have been walking past for the last eight Thursdays.” I was like, “Are you moving here or waiting to find a house?” He goes, “No. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer eight weeks ago. We have been living in the hotel. The hospital is right across the street. Every day, we take her to appointments. We visit with her. We make her comfortable. We do everything we can. At the end of the day, we are still tired. We grab dinner and fall into bed.”
I asked the next logical question. I looked at the son and said, “How is mom doing?” He started crying and said, “Mom died this morning.” I was like, “Holy crap.” Here are the three of us in a hotel lobby bar. I didn’t know these guys had a battle. They were crying and grieving. They lost a wife and mom. Finally, the dad got it together. He said, “Greg, thank you for making us laugh tonight. It is the first time we felt normal in eight weeks.” What we did didn’t take their pain away, but it made them not think about it for 45 minutes.
That was probably ten years ago. I always had that thought in my mind, “Who else can I make laugh that might need a laugh because we don’t know?” Doing the work that I do, I think of it all the time. He said, “Make people laugh because you will never know the difference.” When I walk off a stage or I finish a training session or a coaching session, I always don’t know everybody who is going to be impacted. Every time I get off stage, there are 15 or 20 people who want to talk to me, share their stories, ask me questions, and do this.
I share openly with people. I’m not a counselor. I’m not trained in mental health. I have taken classes on how to talk to people about it and how to point them, and saying, “Maybe talk to your doctor. Have you tried counseling?” That impact, we will never know. That doesn’t matter to me, but it fires me up when I hear stories like that. People are moved to have conversations with the people at work and their spouses and kids. We just need more of it.
It is supportive of the whole methodology of it’s not about what you say or do. It is how you make people feel. What I love about this story is based on what you shared, it didn’t seem like you judged the fact that they were sitting there, arms crossed, and feet up on your desk type of thing. A lot of times, we judge and get perspectives that are probably inaccurate. People are dealing with things like what Robin Williams said. It’s like what you are sharing with this family.
I also feel this family saw hope in what you shared with them. They had that 45 minutes of, “It is dark right now. You gave me a little bit of light to know that I will get out of this over time. I can get there. I just did it now. Yet, I still am grieving.” The important thing is as we share all of our emotions, we need to accept that. We know they’ll be a brighter day. We have to go through it. We have to help loved ones through that experience at that time or other dark moments that we have in our days. You gave them hope and light of possibility.
The times that I do hear about things, it validates it. It is powerful and amazing, Darrin. You never know what is going to hit somebody when, whether it is a talk, a conversation, or something you post on Facebook. This was probably four months ago. I posted it and it was a couple of words. I said, “You matter to me.” That was it. I never thought anything more about it.
A couple of days later, I got a message from an old friend. She said, “Thank you so much for the positivity you shared with the WorkHappy and mental health. I have been going through a rough marriage, not liking my job, and battling depression. I go running a lot for my own mental health. I had a plan to end my life. I was going to go running and run off a cliff. I saw that post that I matter to Greg.”
Here I am at my desk crying and going, “I had no idea.” I’m saying one thing to somebody. It is not me. It is the fact that I did it. You can have the same effect. Your wife and kids can have the same effect. You have an effect on the people that you serve and people who know you, which is a different group than I do. If we all have these conversations, make these outreaches, love, and care for each other, that is where the magic happens.
It is a ripple effect. It is not going to be a law, mandate, or viral. It is a one-to-one conversation or one-to-many on social media, letting people know you care about them. I got many stories like that. It is humbling and rewarding when I hear them going, “The days when I struggle, I don’t work happy. I have to refocus. I have to breathe or start the day over again. It validates that what I’m doing is making a difference and can make a difference for anyone.”
That is a great message for all of us to take away. It was not knowing how we were going to impact people. If we do it with the right intentions, with heart and love, we are impacting people. We just don’t always know. It is far-reaching. If we could have trust and faith in that, this world would be incredible and better. Maybe we would be addressing some of the mental health concerns people have. At least people know they have an out. I appreciate you sharing what you are sharing because a lot of people have doubts and question, “Are they worthy? Are they making an impact?” We are. It is about how we show up.
Everybody does matter. If you are tuning in to this and wondering, reach out to Darrin, me, or a trusted friend. Starting the conversation is a little bit scary, but say, “I’m struggling. I am overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do. What about you?” That person is going, “Yes, me too over the last three years.” It might be scary, but people do care. People are here to listen and guide you, offer you help and space to bet or whatever it is, and offer you solutions.
There are many opportunities for people. This show is called Live Your Possible. I believe there is a light inside of all of us. There are possibilities waiting to be seen and found. It is taking those small steps and working with others. Doing that alone is hard. Asking for help, working with other people, and getting support along the way will help us get there. We will realize our dreams. You are living out your dream and what you are made to do. You’re connecting the dots with people, sharing love and humor, and talking about being the skinny John Goodman.
Either a skinny John Goodman or Prince Harry let himself go.
I don’t know if Prince Harry is a hockey fan, but it looks like you are a hockey fan based on what you have in the background. You said you worked with the Vancouver Canucks. Are you a hockey fan?
I’m a huge hockey fan.
Do you have a favorite player or team?
I have a Wayne Gretzky game-worn jersey that my brother got me for college graduation. Speaking about working happy. He knows how to make people happy. He has been signing an autograph since he was ten years old. He is the best hockey player ever. I was working for a junior hockey team in Seattle. Our coach used to play with Gretzky. Gretzky was coming up to a charity tournament for Ronald McDonald House. He knew I was a big fan. He said, “If you want anything signed, I will try and get Wayne to sign it.” I took my jersey in.
I got a phone call from the coach. He was like, “I need to talk to you down in the locker room about something.” It is weird because we were friends. He coached the team. I sold tickets. I walked into the locker room. The coach was nowhere around, but sitting in the locker room was Wayne Gretzky, the Stanley Cup, and my jersey. I was like, “I can die now.” I had a twenty-minute conversation with my hero. It was unbelievable. In the end, he goes, I need to sign the jersey. Do you want to make money or a keepsake?” I’m like, “Let’s make it a keepsake.”
It sounds like Gretzky is a nice guy. You talk about paying it forward.
It is personal. It is like a conversation you and I are having. Two buddies hanging out. It is being human. I love your message, Darrin, “Live your possible.” As we get older, it is harder to believe, but once you find your possible, it’s amazing. For the last few years, I worked a lot, but I don’t get stressed a lot because I love what I do and I love the impact. I don’t think I make an impact, but the message has been making an impact. It is great to see people having conversations.
I was working at Starbucks a couple of months ago. A friend of mine that I golfed with walked into Starbucks. I’m like, “How is it going?” He started crying. I was like, “What?” He goes, “My wife left me.” Here we are having a conversation at Starbucks, two guys with tears in their eyes. You would never see that 10, 5, or 3 years ago. For whatever reason, the message is getting out there. We need to be kind, be human, listen, and help each other along.
We do it to accept our emotions. That is something we talked about on your podcast, where 6 or 7 years ago, I would have been a little bit more uptight and not crying and sharing some of those pieces. It is so human for us to share all our emotions. You can’t have laughter and happiness without being able to cry and see some of the downsides and darkness to know that you could pull out of it and get through it. I appreciate your comments about Live Your Possible. It is something that we could all work towards. It is an idea of hope and thinking about how we can live an inclusive and authentic life.
It is a lot of things we are talking about. It is about belief and trust. If we put that together and take small steps, possibilities are going to start popping up along the way. We just have to trust and believe that it is there. We got to put it out there, try some things out, step out of our comfort zones, get there, and get support. It’s all the things we’ve been talking about which is great.
Going back to Gretzky. He was the guy that always said, “You need to go where the puck is going, not where the puck is.” That is what we are talking about. You are talking about the future of work for the WorkHappy. We are talking about possibilities that are sitting in front of us, waiting to be seen, noticed, and picked up. We are all looking for that. WorkHappy to me sounds like an amazing place. What does that look like in the future? I’m thinking about the future of work. What does that look like in the coming years?
It is a paradigm shift where the management, your CEO, and everybody down below gets a flat line. The CEO is still there to lead, guide, direct, push, pull, and help. If the janitor is making jokes and making everybody happy, why can’t he have a say? I was reading the study that Millennials want more than just money. People would rather have their voice heard, be appreciated, and be grateful versus the $10,000 raise.
If we get to the place where we put our people first, we make sure that they are taking care of their mental health and give them the tools to work happily, you are going to have happy employees, customers, and prospects, and the profits are going to follow. It is a weird theory, but I believe in it 1,000%. It is the Richard Branson approach, “Treat your employees like gold, and they will treat your customers like gold.” Put people first. That is where we are headed. When we trust people and show them love, they will run through a brick wall for somebody.
He also talks about happiness being a habit. As you are talking about leaders and employers thinking about making this a bigger purpose, mental health, work happy, and happiness, it’s putting that to a common level of intentional purpose. Everybody at every level is working towards that together to help each other, to bring it out, and to make it safe to have these conversations. It is an important first step for leaders to think about, how to make this known that this is safe to talk about. We need to address this in this society. We need to address it with all the different generations coming through. It is a great opportunity.
You are paying it forward in so many ways and paying it forward with humor. I always loved Jim Gaffigan when he talked about the bonus fry. When you find that bonus fry at the bottom of the McDonald’s bag, and you say, “I got this bonus fry,” he says, “Pay it forward.” You are paying it forward in many new ways. One other thing I wanted to ask about is, what is the Men in the Middle Group that you have going on? I feel like you are paying it forward with this group.
It is a great group. We started along with a group called Reach Out Walla Walla. It is a support group for people left behind after suicide and suicide awareness. In the US, the highest risk for suicide is 25 to 45. There was no real group. We brought some guys together in our community. It is a place where we can hang out and build trust. When you are doing something shoulder-to-shoulder with a buddy, you can tend to have a conversation. It is probably a third or fourth conversation. If something was going sideways with my marriage, my kids, or my finance, I’m like, “Darrin, help me. I need someone to talk to.”
We got this group of about 25 guys here in Walla Walla. We are starting to branch out online. We want to do some more Zoom information sessions. Every fourth Sunday, we go down to our Christian Aid Center. We cook dinner and serve the homeless population here in Walla Walla (Washington). We have a pub night once a week. We go golfing. We are looking for other things within our community to serve and to volunteer. Maybe an old lady needs her house painted or her yard cleaned up. We get ten guys. We bring them on. We show up on a Sunday afternoon and do that.
It is a community. It is a nonprofit. Two guys both lost their wives within a month of each other and now they are buddies. They are like, “What happened?” It is their conversation to have with each other. Because we know, like, and trust everybody in there, we can have conversations with each other when stuff goes sideways in our lives, and we need advice from older guys or guys who have been around the block a lot longer than we have.
As guys, it feels like we don’t share these types of emotions and have these conversations. It is great that you are creating this group, and folks can join online. That is fabulous too. Others can consider starting their own groups in other areas because men need to have an outlet. A lot of times, we are told, “Keep it in, be strong, and don’t ask for help.” Kudos to you for helping out in that way. When you give back, it serves you back too. You feel good when you do it. You learn and grow.
I feel the best when I hear the message has had an impact on people and meeting people like you. During COVID, this would have never happened. I couldn’t have started this without a major shake-up. I surrounded myself with people like you and other folks who are doing a similar thing or similar journey, trying to make the world a better place through happiness and kindness. I love what you are doing.
I’m glad to be on this journey with you. I’m excited that we are friends and helping each other out. I’m here for you. If you need to talk about anything personally or if you have things going on and we can help each other out, let me know. I’m grateful for our friendship. How can we get ahold of you? What is the best way to reach out to you?
The easiest is my website, GregKettner.com or LinkedIn. If anyone wants to continue the conversation or your organization is struggling to work happy, let’s have a conversation. If we can work together, it would be great. If not, I’m happy to give as many resources as I can. I’m always happy to have a conversation with someone who is struggling. If they don’t feel like they have anyone else, they can reach out.
Greg, thanks for bringing light to the world and making it a bit brighter every single day. I respect and appreciate you. Thanks for joining the show.
Thank you so much, Darrin. I appreciate and respect you. I’m a better person because of you. Thank you.
Thank you. Take care.
Greg is blazing a trail, illuminating the path for others, and making it safe for folks to practice and discuss our well-being out loud. According to a CNN article, 90% of US adults are saying, “We are dealing with a mental health crisis.” Another quote from Maya Angelou is, “If you don’t like something, change it.” It starts with each of us thinking about taking the small steps where we can make changes.
Greg gives us a bunch of ideas. He suggests that we begin with meditating or breathing every single day to help us slow down our minds and focus on what is right in front of us. He also encourages us to get more intentional at work and in our communities, to openly talk about mental health topics without fear of judgment or retribution.
He talks about laughter and finding outlets that will help us laugh more. He even suggests that we put us on our calendar to make sure we make time for it. I would encourage you to sign up for his HumorLab on Facebook or join his email listing to get the Friday Funny. It will help you smile and reminds you to laugh like it does for me every single week.
Lastly, I encourage all of you to incorporate well-being and happiness words as part of a well-known common purpose in your organization. We can encourage everyone to focus on the acts and make them safe so we can bring the words out loud and make them come alive by helping people thrive in the workplace and thrive with joy.
Greg told me after the show that he is living out his happy authentic self at work. He feels like a 100-pound bag was lifted off his back. There is something special about that and reconnecting with our authentic selves and not doing something or being something that someone told us to be. It reminds us of that and gives us the freedom to focus more on the steps down our own path of possibilities. Remember, take the time and small steps to live your possible.
- Greg Kettner
- Ignite Happy
- Friday Funny
- The HumorLab – Facebook
- Podcast – WorkHappy™ Podcast
- Men in the Middle Group – Facebook
- Reach Out Walla Walla
- LinkedIn – Greg Kettner
- TEDx Talk – Change the World with Laughter
About Greg Kettner
As the founder of WorkHappy, Greg Kettner is helping organizations increase productivity, reduce turnover and normalize mental health conversations to create happy employees who thrive. Greg helps his clients as a speaker, trainer, comedian, coach, and happiness architect. Greg is a former sales professional and stand-up comedian with some of the best (Robin Williams, Norm Macdonald and Gilbert Gottfried).