How to Find Humorous Stories to Tell

Written by Carla Rieger on . Posted in Build Your Expert Business, Fun, Humor, laughter, Public Speaking, Videos

If you lead teams, coach, educate or speak to groups, try telling a humorous story. It captures interest and helps people remember important points. Best mistakes stories, in particular, are great for teaching safety awareness and problems to avoid. They also build rapport by helping you appear more “human” to your listeners.

Think of a time in your life where a mishap befell you, where an embarrassing thing occurred, where you made a mistake, you had an accident, something bizarre happened to you; maybe it seemed hard at the time but later you laughed at it. There is an old saying that goes, “Some day we will look back at all this and laugh.” I like to say, “Why wait?” Check out this short video below for quick tips on adding humorous stories to your repertoire.


As the old saying goes: Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.  In fact, a great formula for humor is:    Humor = Embarrassment + Time. With that in mind, think of a story from your life that you can now laugh at. Maybe you couldn’t laugh in the moment, but now you can. It could be something small.

For example, back in the day of pagers, a woman told me that she went to a realtor’s conference because she wanted to see what it would be like to be a realtor. During the conference she noticed that everyone had pagers. At lunch she went home and put her garage door opener on her belt. When she went back to the conference, a guy walked up to her and said, “Nice garage door opener you’ve got there.”

Another example was a woman who went to the store…click here for more

She was in line with her items, but one item didn’t have a price on it. The cashier got on the microphone and announced “Price check needed on aisle 13 for Tampax, super size.”

The employee at the back of the store instead heard “thumbtacks,” so he got back on the microphone and said, “Do you want the kind you push in with your thumb or the kind you pound in with the hammer?”

Another example is when I was doing a series of presentations in Montana. I had gone for a run in the morning in Great Falls. When I got back to my rental car I realized that the key to my car was no longer in my waist belt. Clearly, it had fallen out in the grass and the grass was 3 inches tall. I looked but I couldn’t find it. My purse, all my money, everything was in the rental car. I had to get on a plane in 3 hours.

There were no cell phones in those days, only pay phones. And, there were only two people in the park. There was a little old man feeding the pigeons, and a guy, about 18 years old, smoking a cigarette, leaning against a tree. He had a Mohawk that was dyed green, and had the words “Pig Killers” tattooed on his head. I went to talk to the old man.

I said, “Do you have a quarter that I could use for the phone?

He said “Yes” and he gave me a quarter and I called the rental car company.
I said, “Look, I lost the key and I gotta get into my car and get to the airport.”
The rental agent says, “Sorry honey, we just don’t have a spare key for that car so we’re going have to send the locksmith on down there, but he shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours. You just hold tight.”

Then, she hangs up on me!

The old man didn’t have another quarter. I started to panic. I didn’t know how I was going to get back to my hotel to pack, check out and get to the airport in time. I took in a few deep breaths to calm myself down and wondered if one day I could look back on this and laugh. And if I did laugh what would help me get out of this? That gave me an idea which I acted upon.
I went up to the guy smoking the cigarette and I said, “I’ll give you $20 if you’ll break into my car.”
He says, “Fer sure.”

In fact, he has the exact implement for the occasion. He broke into my car in 2 seconds. I grabbed my purse, I gave him $30 instead and as he said, “I like doing it this way better.” I’m hoping I inspired him towards a career as a locksmith.

I call a cab and get back to the hotel. I hurriedly pack and take a cab to the airport. I make it to my plane with seconds to spare. When I arrive in my destination I call the rental car company and tell them where they can find their car.

What’s a mishap, embarrassing situation or accident that you can now look back on and now laugh at? It could be the first time you ever did something. Firsts are usually full of mishaps – your first kiss, first time driving, first day on the job. I could be the time you spilled the red wine all over the lady in the white cashmere sweater. Maybe it was the time you were caught lip-syncing Elvis. Or maybe it was the time that your hair piece fell off, or your falsie fell out, or your dress was see through under bright lights. Maybe you were caught telling a lie.

Write it out and tell it at your next social event. People love to hear embarrassing incident stories. And, according to neuroscientists, laughing about mishaps helps you extract the learning and release any trauma involved with the incident. It helps you let go and move on.

Then, the next time you are in the middle of a problem situation ask yourself “Can I look back on this and laugh one day? And if so, what would be a fun ending? That might inspire a great solution.”

When you bring your playful spirit to work it makes a huge difference for your colleagues and those you serve. It also lowers YOUR stress and increases daily enjoyment of your work. What are your tips, insights and questions about humorous stories?


The Power of Laughter (ebook and MP3): Get more examples of humorous stories. Laughter increases learning ability, camaraderie and engagement. Check out this entertaining ebook & MP3 program:


How to Unload Your Worries in Under 5 Minutes a Day

Written by Carla Rieger on . Posted in Mindsets for Success, Stress, Videos


If you let worry decay your day—read on. I am an expert on worry. I come from a long line of professional worriers. My dad in particular. He was so engrossed by all the fear inducing stories in the media, so having fun with him about it helped us both.

Sensible people worry

My father convinced me that I needed to worry or bad things would happen. I came to believe that worry was a sign of intellectualism, realism and “being sensible”. It only makes sense then, that being positive meant you were naive or in denial. Sally Armstrong, an award-winning journalist once noted, “If you write negative news, nobody asks you to prove it. If you write positive news, people want a jury.”

Great thinkers say worrying is–a waste of time

However, the more I studied the great thinkers in history, the more I questioned those beliefs. Recently John-Roger wrote “Worry is paying interest on a debt you may not owe”. Sixty years ago Mark Twain said, “I’ve lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened.” Four hundred years ago Moliére said, “People spend most of their lives worrying about things that never happen”. And finally over two thousand years ago Plato said, “Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.”

The Worry Jar experiment (10 minutes per week)

One day I decided to do an experiment. I got an old cookie jar and cut up strips of paper. At the beginning of the week I wrote down one worry thought per strip of paper. I put the strips in the jar as a symbolic way of “letting them go”. At the end of the week I pulled the strips out, and put them in three piles.

  1. “Never happened”
  2. “Happened and the consequences were manageable”
  3. “Happened and the consequences were just as bad as I imagined”

Guess which was the biggest pile? The first pile contained 85% of the strips, the second pile 14%, and the third 1%. I did this for seven more weeks and the percentages remained similar. I proved Moliére’s theory. Now I do this exercise with participants in my longer programs and people prove it for themselves.

The difference between “Taking care of” and “Worrying”

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from “taking care of” your priorities and unnecessary worry? Ask yourself this question “Is this something I can take action on right now? If not, let it go for now.

For example, I gave a presentation at a conference and after driving for 30 minutes, realized I left my purse in a public washroom at the conference. At first my thoughts were constructive. “I better turn around and go back. I better call the conference organizer”. These were actions I could take at that moment. However, when I discovered the organizer had gone home, and when I found myself locked in rush hour traffic, my thoughts began to darken. I watched my mind create increasingly worse scenarios. “I won’t find my purse, I’ll have to get new ID, I won’t be able to go on my trip tomorrow, someone will buy a Winnabago with my VISA card”. I became very bad tempered and anxious.

At one point, I realized that it made no sense to ruminate about “what if’s” because there was no action I could take yet. I started listening to Stuart MacLean’s Vinyl Café. After laughing through a story or two, the adrenaline eased off. I arrived at the conference center 30 minutes later to find the janitor had picked up my bag and was holding it for me, everything intact.

Worry is a mental parasite

Worry thoughts are like parasites that want you as their host. A worry thought convinces you it is your friend, that without it you would die or be a bag person with no legs, one eye, and a stock portfolio worth 2% of its original value. Worry thoughts fly through the stratosphere at millions of bytes per second. You can download them any time, anywhere, at no cost.

Beware of the Law of Attraction

This Law states that our negative thoughts attract negativity, and our positive thoughts attract positives to us. Therefore, if you spend time worrying about not having enough money, over time you are training your mind to not have enough money. In other words, what you resist persists. It makes more sense to spend your thought time in joyful, positive ways. After all, life is short.

How do you actually change your focus?

If you have ever spent a sleepless night worrying, you know that actually changing your focus can be difficult. You can download joy thoughts just like worry thoughts, but they tend to be more elusive. They are like flower seeds that must push up through all the dark matter in order to thrive. The proportion of worry thoughts to joy thoughts floating around at our present time in history is probably about ten to one. That is why it is so easy to get caught like a freeway commuter at quarter past five. Ridding yourself of the worry parasite requires a commitment to a habit. Here are some tried and true habits for daily Mental Flossing.

1. Refuse to download

Have you ever been assaulted by a pop up window asking you to download something? Worry thoughts are like pop-ups. You can simply click NO.

2. Observe and label

Okay. You got sucked in. You downloaded and the worry parasite has taken hold. Notice that you let it happen. This “observer” state can often help you detach and eventually delete the thought.

3. Do a reversal

What is the opposite of the worry thought? “What if my work isn’t good enough?” becomes “What if my work is excellent?” Or, “I might be late” becomes “I might be on time.” Just like trying on clothes in a store, decide to take off the worry thought, and try on a positive one instead. See how it feels.

4. Laugh about it

Laughter is THE cerebral laxative. It can purge you of unwanted thought matter. I remember racing through Vancouver Airport barely holding onto my wardrobe bag, computer bag and boarding pass. I came whizzing around the corner and saw a bronze statue of a man racing through the airport barely holding onto a wardrobe bag, computer bag and boarding pass. I suddenly saw myself from the outside and had to laugh. I walked the rest of the way to my gate resigned to whatever fate awaited me. Once there I discovered my flight was delayed 20 minutes. Look at yourself from an outside perspective and remember that “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused.”

Tell me about your best “Mental Floss” activity

Just as we brush our teeth daily, we need to have a regular habit to remove “thought plaque” that builds up. Do you have a habit that might inspire others? If so, send it in. Or, try the Worry Jar exercise above and send in your results. We are gathering case studies for a book and may include yours.

Carla speaks at conferences, staff development programs and leadership retreats.


How to Use LinkedIn to Get Speaking Engagements

Written by Carla Rieger on . Posted in Build Your Expert Business, Public Speaking, Videos

I made 3 small changes to my Linkedin profile recently based on Kevin Knebl’s advice. Within a few weeks I got 2 new speaking engagements. Try these tips and see the difference it can make for you. 

Check out this interview with Kevin. He is an International Speaker, Author, Trainer, Coach and the CEO of a Social Marketing Firm. He walks you through features of Linkedin that you might not be using.

He is offering a free review of your Linkedin profile if you contact him before the end of May. Just email him at Kevin [at] KevinKnebl [dot] com.

What tips do you have to use LinkedIn as a speaker?

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