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

Bring the Love; 6 Ideas on How to be Nicer at Work

You want me to think about how to be nicer at work? Are you kidding? I am overwhelmed, frustrated, under-appreciated and tired…now you want me to think about how I can be nicer at work? Please! If being nice at work is so important, then let my co-workers go first…that’s right…let them make the first move in this little game called “Bring the Love.”

Ah-the truth-so refreshing to vent isn’t it? So, now that you’ve gotten that off your chest, let’s look at some other possible ways of thinking about this idea.

  1. Would you be willing to experiment with being just a tad nicer to the people you encounter at work?
  2. Would you be willing to do this experiment for one day, one week, one month?
  3. Would you be willing to write down any changes you observe as a result of your newfound niceness?
  4. Would you be willing to admit that there may be some validity in a personal advantage of being nicer?
  5. Would you be willing to make “Nice” your default operating system?

If you answered “No” to all of the above, that’s OK. Some people are happier staying miserable…however…if you are intrigued by the possible results of this little experiment, then go forth and be nice. Here’s a few ideas to get you rolling.

6 Ideas on How to Be Nicer At Work:

  1. Smile at people for no reason. (Smile must be genuine, no fake smiling.)
  2. Be willing to go beyond your job description to pitch in and help a co-worker in need.
  3. Be nice for its own sake, don’t have an agenda.
  4. Listen…no, I mean REALLY listen to people when they talk to you.
  5. Be willing to admit that the entire universe does not indeed revolve around you.
  6. Remember…we are all just trying to make our way in this world and a touch of kindness goes a very long way.


Karyn Ruth White is a nice person. She’s not perfect, however she is committed to growing her niceness every day. She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She presents very funny Keynote Programs at conferences around the U.S. She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC. Her life’s work is all about helping you apply the power of humor and laughter to work and life. See her in action at Follow her on Twitter @karynruth.

Gender Differences and Humor

5 Tips for Dealing With Gender Differences and Humor:
aka…He Laughs, She Doesn’t

The genders are never EVER going to agree on everything…including what is or is not funny. Gender differences on how to use and perceive humor can cause confusion, tension and affect productivity in the work and office environment.

Women often find things funny that men don’t understand and men often use humor in ways women don’t understand. Being informed and aware of these humor differences can help minimize misunderstandings. Here are some techniques:

1) Observe and Learn. Start observing how your male/female associates use humor with you and with each other. Do you notice any patterns?

2) Don’t try to be “One of the Boys.” Only use and invite a style of humor you are comfortable with. If you are comfortable with a more aggressive style of humor, then use it, but realize that you are setting the tone for the type of humor you can expect back. Remember being respected for your work is more important than being liked.

3) Establish Your Personal Humor Boundaries. Make your objections known to offensive humor. If your objection is stated in a non-emotional, objective, professional tone, you can state your point without offending. Better to seem a bit unfriendly and establish your boundaries, than to be repeatedly subjected to humor which offends you.

4) Use “I” messages. For example: “Frank, I don’t find blond jokes amusing.” (You can even smile while you’re saying this). This is more effective than saying, “Frank, you’re a jerk and I don’t find you or your stupid jokes amusing.”

5) Cultivate your own style of humor. Define what you think is funny and what is not. If you offend another with your humor, be quick to apologize. Then set an example for others by “walking your talk.”

TIP: If a joke is at the expense of another person or group, leave it out! Life is filled with enough good-hearted humor to skip the mean jokes.

Source: Karyn Ruth White is a Motivational Comedian, Humorist, Funny Keynote Presenter, Organizational Morale Consultant 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 regular words of hope and humor follow her on Twitter @karynruth.