The Heart of the Matter

hearts-583063_1280I am amazed at how many leaders forget the importance of the human equation when leading others.

It is easy in a world of mounting deadlines and shorter attention spans, to become myopic in the way we approach our work. It is easy to see only the goal line and forget about the team.

How far do you think Tom Brady of the New England Patriots would get in this month’s Super Bowl, if he decided to carry the ball himself on every play? Well knowing Tom Brady, probably farther than most.  But for the rest of us mere mortals, we need people around us to help us complete the play and drive the ball into the end zone.

The best leaders I have ever worked with, were the leaders who brought heart to their work and freely shared their hearts with their cherished teams. 

There was my first corporate boss, Bob.  Bob was a big, brusque Texan who put his feet up on the conference table during meetings, smoked a cigar and when he laughed, the entire building shook.  I watched Bob closely, and what I observed was a man who knew the importance of greasing the wheels of productivity with some back-slappin,’ good ole fashioned fun.  Oh, and by the way…everyone loved him, everyone went the extra mile for him and as a company, we rocked our goals and consistently came in ahead of deadline…all the while having a lot of fun doing it.

Then there was Jan, my first mentor in my comedy career. Jan was the manager of the Laff Stop in Newport Beach, CA and decided to take me under her wing and groom me for the stand-up stage.  I will always be grateful to her for encouraging me to pursue my comedy dream. Jan also had a wonderful, wry sense of humor and a very big heart.  Everyone in the club loved her and whatever Jan needed, Jan got. No questions asked. Jan showed me by her leadership example that you can maintain grace under pressure and that nice goes a lot farther than rude. A great lesson Jan taught me about understanding why people heckle in a club (or in life) was this; “Rudeness is a weak person’s attempt at strength.” I have never forgotten that piece of wisdom.

And finally, there was my former boss Gerry.  Gerry was a great guy.  One of the smartest men I have ever met.  Laid back, with an endearing touch of cynicism when it came to navigating the inherent B.S. that comes with the machinations of day to day business…and once again, a great sense of humor.

Gerry had some funny quirks. For instance, every week he would go through my Request for Expenditures Form and cross out every other item, always saying the same thing: “Nice to have, not necessary.”  “Nice to have, not necessary.” “Nice to have, not necessary.” I have NEVER been able to get this sentence out of my mind.  To this day, whenever I am considering a purchase in my own business, I will hear Gerry’s voice in my head…”Nice to have, not necessary.”

So here is the heart of the matter.  I have noticed several truths in my up-close observation of leaders from my past:

#1) Heart and Humor like to travel together.

#2) People work harder for leaders they genuinely like as people.

#3) More wins happen when people can have some fun working together towards the same end.

#4) The more you can connect from a heart space with people, the more meaningful, impactful and significant the work will be.

Here is an overview of 7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership from Susan Steinbrecher, the co-author of Heart-Centered Leadership. Find out more and listen to her podcast at

7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership:

  1. Know Thyself
  2. Know Your Impact
  3. Don’t Judge or Assume-instead come to understand
  4. Let Go
  5. Associates Have a Choice
  6. They Need What You Need
  7. Care for the Heart

Once again…The best leaders I have ever worked with were the leaders who brought heart to their work and freely shared their hearts with their teams.

So get out there and share your big, beautiful heart. Spread some love, light the way for yourself and others… and amid the quotas, the deadlines and the daily pressures of work…I implore you…LAUGH A LOT!!!

Karyn Ruth White is a “thought-laugher” in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is also an Author, a Comedian, a Keynote Coach and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their heart-centered greatness. Visit her on-line at or email her at

Leave It Better Than You Found It

littering-3Between political pundits and power leaf blowers, there sure is A LOT of hot air blowing this month.

Tomorrow we elect a new president. I know who I am voting for and why, do you?

I am amazed at how many people seem to look to leaders to “fix” the problems in their own lives.  Sure, great leadership is an asset, but the ultimate responsibility for your life and your happiness lies in your hands alone.

There is a little old man who walks in the same park I walk in.  He always has a white plastic bag in his hands and he stops to pick up litter as he walks.  I love that he has taken it upon himself to better his immediate environment.  My prayer for him is that he doesn’t let his anger toward the litterers eat him up inside.

When I see him, I am reminded of the power of individual initiative. If each person on the planet just decided to do the best they could in their own realm of influence, the world would transform.

Instead of cranking up your leaf blower and blowing leaves off of your lawn into the street and making them someone else’s problem, instead of leaving a shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot and creating chaos for the rest of us– we could decide to become a more mindful people.  We could think about our actions and the consequences they create, and we could exercise our freedom to make a grander choice.

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of personal accountability as a change agent for peace and progress.

The boy scouts have a great mantra- “Leave it better than you found it.”  This applies to camping, living and voting.

I love America (faults and all), and I will do my part, and more, to keep her great. Even if it means walking those five extra steps to put away my shopping cart…because…hey, that’s just the kind of patriot I am.

Karyn Ruth White is a thought-laugher in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an author, a comedian, a proud American and the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their greatness  Visit her on-line at or email her at



Definition: Minimizer; a person who habitually attempts to make other people feel less than. Less than valuable, less than worthy, less than capable, less than competent, less than deserving, less than perfect or less than human.

Minimizers are omnipresent, insidious, potentially powerful, creatures who abound in all shapes and sizes. (Oh and by the way, they tend to be miserable in their own lives.)

And Minimizers are a crafty lot. Their verbal attack can come in the form of what appears to be a “harmless” remark in public company.  If you call them on it, they will most commonly respond:

a)  You’re being too sensitive

b)  It was a joke

c)  I didn’t mean anything by it.

I think, that on this very human journey of ours, it is important to give people the benefit of the doubt, so the first time I feel minimized by you, I will chalk it up to human miscommunication and let it go. (This time.) But let’s be clear, the red flag has been raised.  If it happens again, then I will consider that to be pattern of behavior, and it will need to be addressed.

When I sense that someone is trying to minimize me or my work, I know that we will not be doing business together. I am always willing to be flexible and get creative whenever possible to make a deal a win-win, but it has to be because I like you and believe in your work.  I must believe that we are partnering for our mutual success.

I once had an associate (a habitual Minimizer) who tried to get me to edit her book for free.  In her inimitable minimizing style she asked me: “Oh, could you just run your eyes over my book and punch it up with some humor?”

“Just run your eyes over it.” CLASSIC!  To this day I still use this phrase with my team when I ask them to do a big project… “Oh, Barbara, could you just “run your eyes over” the OPS Manual and update it?” Then we laugh and get to work.

Minimizers, when you come right down to it, make a habit of not granting the other person proper respect.  So… it then becomes our responsibility to command it.

It is our responsibility to teach others how to treat us.

SHAMERS are in the same family as MINIMIZERS.

Shamers are people who try to shame you into doing something you don’t want to do, or shame you into believing something negative about yourself.

 I don’t let people get away with trying to shame me.  If someone says: “Shame on you.” I look them dead in the eye and immediately respond: “Shame off me.” That usually stops them cold. 

One must tread daily, the fine line between censoring every word another person utters in your direction, and not letting people trample all over you.

Important Lesson:

Let your self-assuredness stop Minimizers in their tracks. Confront them early about their behavior, or it will become a pattern. It is best to deal with Minimizers in a calm, confident and professional manner.

And…most importantly, don’t become a Self-Minimizer. Speak only self-value. Don’t run yourself down. Don’t repeatedly say or think negative thoughts about yourself…you might just start believing them.  Feed your mind daily with a positive focus.

Here are some resources for dealing with Minimizers:

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, by Amy Morin

Dealing With Difficult People, by Charles J. Keating

Make Difficult People Disappear, by Monica Wofford

Here are some of my favorite inspirational quotes to help you keep a positive focus around Minimizers:

“How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” Wayne Dyer

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“To belittle is to be little.” Carol Moran

“Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength.” Eric Hoffer

“To be yourself in a world that is trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment of all.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Karyn Ruth White is a thought-laugher in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an author, a comedian and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to live and work from their greatness (and never feel minimized.) Visit her on-line at or email her at

Jump The Goat

goat-1402613_1280My three brothers couldn’t believe it.  They couldn’t believe their eyes when I rolled up to the front of the house on my new metallic brown Honda 450 motorcycle.

All growing up my brothers had dirt bikes and they would never let me ride them.  I would beg them to let me ride and they always had the same answer… “No you’re a girl, you’ll ruin it.”

So I bought my own bike…and just in case you were wondering… “No you can’t ride it, you’re a boy, you’ll ruin it. AHHH, that felt good!”

I remember when I first got my bike being afraid to take it on a long ride.  I puttered around the backroads but I knew that I would have to take my initiation ride before it would really be mine.  So after several days of staring at the bike in my driveway and asking myself: “Is today the day you break her in?” I finally screwed up my courage, put on my safe riding gear; closed-toed boots, leather jacket, helmet and goggles and timidly headed out on the open road.

It took me all of 15 minutes before I was thinking, “This is great, I got this, let’s take her up the coast road”…so off I went.

About 10 minutes up Route 1 I was going about 65mph, feeling the wind on my face, swallowing bugs, loving my new-found freedom, leaning into the corner like they taught us in class when I look up, and standing 20 feet in front of me in the middle of the road is a GOAT! A flippin’ goat!

I had exactly 3 seconds to make a decision. I could swerve to try to avoid the animal but the road was narrow and there was an oncoming car…I could dump the bike in the ditch but I didn’t think that would end well for me or the bike…so I went with option #3.  I gave into instinct, took a deep breath, lifted the handlebars and JUMPED THE GOAT! That’s right, I jumped the flippin’ goat. He never moved, just stood there nonplussed, chewing.

Needless to say, after that, nothing scared me.  I was free and it felt good. Few situations scared me as a rider after that, I had earned my wheels and I was ready to roll. That’s kind of the same way I feel after surviving 10 years as a touring stand-up comedian, as a speaker very few audiences scare me…(with the exception of Cops and Custodians.)

Moral of the Story: Sometimes you don’t have the liberty of deliberating over a decision, sometimes the decision makes itself.  Sometimes there is a gift in taking drastic, expedient action.

The key is to trust your gut, take a deep breath and jump the goat.  Once you get through it you realize… that it wasn’t all that baaaaaad.


February Blog Series   Theme: Heart At Work

#3) …And They Call It Vendor Love…

Do you treat your vendors with the same love, attention and respect you give to your customers?

How an organization treats its vendors tells me quicker than any Mission Statement on the wall, where the true values of the company lie.

I have been on both sides of the Vendor Desk. I have hired vendors for large companies and for the past 25 years I have owned my own business and have been a consultant (vendor) to many Fortune 100 and 500 Companies.

Here is what I have learned.  The bigger the company, oftentimes the more frustrating the vendor process. 

I am happy to report that an exception to that rule and a glowing example of how a large corporation can run like a well-oiled machine is Home Depot. (

I work with them as a consultant, and from day one have been treated with the utmost respect and immediately made to feel like a valued member of the Orange Team.

Without your trusted vendors your business wouldn’t be able to function. So, it is in your best interest to treat them well.

Trust is a two-way street, treating people shabbily is a dead-end.

Here’s a newsflash…vendors are like teeth…ignore them and they will go away!

My personal business philosophy is to make sure that my vendors are paid promptly every time.  I make a point to tell them frequently how much I appreciate them and I continue to reward them with my business.  And guess what? When I need something…they have my back.  They are there day or night willing to go to work to help me shine. That is a beautiful thing!

If you want to get a read on how well (or not) you are treating your vendors…imagine this…

You see a very important prospect getting into the elevator with your smallest vendor.  Are you nervous about what might be revealed about you and your organization during their conversation ?  What would your smallest vendor say to your prospect about how you treat people and how you do business?  Would they win the prospect’s business or sabotage it? 

This is how important vendor relations are to your business. Your expensive marketing campaign, shiny brand launch and snazzy PR can all be annihilated by one unhappy vendor. 

So hug a vendor today, pick up the phone and let them know how much you appreciate them, send a gift or better yet…send them that overdue check they’ve been waiting for!

Karyn Ruth White is a Motivational Comedian, Humorist, Funny Keynote Presenter and Author. Her presentation style is high energy, clean, clever and very funny. She headlines conferences throughout the U.S.  Check out her Programs at For speaking inquiries, go to or email or call 303-369-8277.  For daily hope and humor follow her on Twitter @karynruth.