Sara Blakely – Spanx for the Laughs

Sara Blakely – Spanx for the Laughs

Don’t be shy. You can check out my Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud.

 It was voted one of the top podcasts of 2021 by CTV. You can listen to this episode on the podcast too!

Did you know that the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, actually did stand-up comedy for two years when she was just starting out?

Even now, this incredibly successful American business woman and philanthropist believes that stand-up comedy is so important for customer relations that she makes all of her employees take a stand-up class!

She also encourages her employees to take debating and speaking classes. 

Blakely says that nothing helps you think faster on your stocking-less feet than stand-up comedy.

I agree! Once you’ve gone a couple rounds with hecklers in the peanut gallery at the comedy clubs, you can probably sell anything.

Remember when salespeople used to sell encyclopedias door -to -door? Maybe I’m dating myself with this reference. Hello, is this on??

But get this, Sara Blakely actually sold fax machines door-to-door!

How challenging would that be but that’ exactly how this young Floridian entrepreneur started out in her twenties. 

In fact, in the late 1990’s, Blakely did so well selling fax machines that by the age of 25, she graduated to the position of national sales trainer.

Blakely said she hated wearing pantyhose as she was walking all day in Florida’s hot climate.

She also hated the appearance of a seamed foot while wearing open- toed shoes. (You mean that’s not a style? I better stop doing that.) But she did like the way the control top eliminated panty lines and held all the junk in. So, once when she was invited to a private party, she cut the feet out of her pantyhose when she was getting ready. The pantyhose initially rolled up but, through trial and error with a lot of pantyhose, she developed a prototype that she could wear under her slacks. Tada!  The rest is history.

Those first ‘footless’ pantyhose eventually walked Blakely into Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People of 2012’. In 2014, she was listed as one the top 100 most influential women in the world by Forbes magazine. 

Blakley’s creation Spanx – ‘America’s intimate apparel company with pants and leggings’-was recently valued at 1.2 billion dollars after being purchased by the investment group Blackstone. Blackstone acquired a major stake while retaining Blakely as Executive Chairwoman.

In turn, Blakely celebrated the milestone by giving each of her 750 employees (mostly women) $10,000 dollars cash and two first class plane tickets to any destination in the world.

Now that is a true Boss Lady!

Not only is Blakely funny, brilliant and determined, but she has a heart of gold.

Blakely has always believed in empowering women.

In 2006, she launched The Sara Blakely Foundation to help women through education and entrepreneurial training. She got a little bit of assistance from her mentor Richard Branson. Blakely had once appeared on Branson’s reality show, The Rebel Billionaire. Branson wrote Blakely a cheque for $750,000 to start the foundation.  How much do you love these two entrepreneurs?

The foundation has also funded all sorts of scholarships for young women around the globe. Blakely also donated 1 million dollars to Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls in Africa.

In 2013, Blakely was the first female billionaire to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s The Giving Pledge, a group that billionaires commit to, to give away half of their wealth to charity.

And that’s not all. Remember those iconic leather pants that Olivia Newton-John’s character, Sandy, wore at the end of Grease with John Travolta?

Guess who bought them at an auction for over $162,000? Sara Blakely!

The money went towards Olivia Newton-John’s cancer treatment centre in Melbourne Australia.

In appreciation, Newton-John later sang at Blakely’s wedding.

Recently, during the height of the pandemic,  Blakely donated 5 million dollars to support female – run small businesses particularly hard hit by COVID.

 Sara Blakely: funny, generous, a visionary and an apparel powerhouse. To think it all started off with a little bit of stand-up comedy!

Until next time folks, laugh long and prosper!

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

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Wayne Gretzky -What Hockey and Humour Have in Common

Wayne Gretzky -What Hockey and Humour Have in Common

Don’t be shy. You can check out my Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud.

This past year, I signed up for the online learning course Masterclass.

Aaron Sorkin, Shondra Rhimes, Steve Martin, RuPaul, James Patterson, Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Malcolm Gladwell, Wolfgang Puck, Jon-Kabat Zin and Chris Hadfield were just some of the presenters who filled my head with hundreds of hours of information, ideas and inspiration.

Then there was Wayne Gretzky.

I knew Wayne was The Great One. Please, I’m Canadian.

Hockey is part of our heritage.

I was surprised by Wayne’s presentation because yes, he did speak about hockey but his takeaways could apply to anybody. Even a comedian!

Wayne talked about the power of routine, practice, anticipation, goal setting, having a mentor, having various outside interests and hobbies, keeping your head in the game and perhaps, most importantly, the power of play. Creativity. The importance of not getting locked into structure and a system too early. The need for young players (and comedians) to just play, have fun and have the freedom to discover their own unique skill set.

It was so obvious throughout Wayne’s Masterclass how much of an influence Walter, his dad, had over him.

Walter was a decent hockey player when he was younger, and Wayne’s mother was athletic. Wayne and his brothers and sister all played sports.

Wayne said that his dad built a hockey rink every year in the backyard of their Brantford, Ontario home. The neighbors wanted to know why Walter’s backyard was so green every summer. I guess they thought he was using a secret pesticide or formula. Wayne said it was probably from all the ice that melted in the spring!

Wayne said he loved skating on that ice every winter, from sunup to sundown and well into the dark. His passion and discipline helped him develop the skills that made him stand out in the sport at a very early age.

He worked on his accuracy by firing hockey pucks at a picnic table lying on its side with circled targets. Wayne said he sharpened his shot as a kid quickly because he hated walking in the snow and getting his feet wet while retrieving the pucks from the neighbor’s lawn.

Wayne’s skills developed quickly so he always ended up playing with older kids.

Walter told him that because he was smaller than his older rivals, Wayne would have to

to use his brain and skate with his ‘head up’ to anticipate the play, as well as to avoid injury.

This is where Walter came up with a unique exercise for Wayne.

As Wayne watched Hockey Night in Canada, Walter made him get a piece of paper and draw a rectangle. That rectangle represented the rink that Wayne was watching on TV. Walter told Wayne to watch where the puck was going and draw it on the paper without looking down. Afterwards, when Wayne looked down at the paper, he was able to see the patterns that the puck made during the game. He saw the areas that the puck travelled to most of the time. This later helped him develop a way to capitalize on those areas and helped him to score and set up many goals in the future.

Wayne is famous for the quote, “I skate to where to puck is going to be. Not where it has been.”

He followed the puck, not the players. He learned to anticipate the next play. Those hours and hours in front of the TV set following the path of the puck gave Wayne new ideas for scoring.

The thing that hockey and humour have in common.

Wayne says he is not a psychologist but so many times he sees coaches putting kids into a hockey ‘system’ too quickly. In his opinion, there is too much emphasis on structure and not enough emphasis on play.  He says this approach doesn’t allow young players to learn or think for themselves and thus develop their own style and creativity.

Comedy is similar. I see so many young comedians wanting to replicate somebody else’s writing style, cadence or physical mannerisms. In the worst cases, they actually steal another comedian’s material and do their jokes on stage! Of course, this is a major industry taboo.

I always say to my students: watch, study, and always write but, most of all, don’t forget to HAVE FUN. Play. Discover who you are on stage. Take the time to develop your own point of view.

This is comedy, after all. Don’t be so serious!

No matter who we are or where we come from, when we step out of our comfort zones and allow ourselves to have fun, we have a greater chance of discovering something new and wonderful.

You might not be the next Great One but you might be pretty good –The Pretty Good One! At the very least, you won’t know until you try.

As Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”

Until next time, play, have fun and don’t forget to laugh long and prosper.

 

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

Feel free to take a listen!

Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud

Wayne Gretsky – Hockey and Humour

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Creativity, Comedy and Keeping Your Job from the Robots

Creativity, Comedy and Keeping Your Job from the Robots

Don’t be shy. You can check out my Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud.

 

The robots are coming. The robots are coming.

Everyone is aware that artificial intelligence is playing a bigger part in our lives every day.

Whether it’s predicting your next online purchase, Nest regulating your home thermostat or opening your phone with face ID, AI is here to stay! 

In fact, how do you know that I’M not a robot?

You don’t, do you?

The initial numbers are staggering in terms of the number of jobs that could be replaced by AI

According to studies at Oxford University and the World Economic Forum, up to 50 percent of human jobs could be lost to artificial intelligence over the next 15 years. 

So how do you protect YOUR job?

Well, that’s where clowns like me come in.

Oh sure, everybody laughed at the classroom clown -no really, I killed every recess – but there is something to be said about the ‘fun’ and the ‘funny’ and the role that they play in our creativity and overall intelligence. In fact, as we lose our sense of play and creativity over the years, we lose our capacity to be genius and perhaps, even more successful. 

We lose our ability to be genius.

In the 1960’s and ‘70’s, an American psychologist by the name of George Land tested the creativity of 1600 children. He discovered that 98 percent of five-year-olds displayed genius levels of creativity. When he retested those same children five years later, only one third of the children displayed genius levels of creativity. By the time the children were fifteen years-old, that percentage had dropped to twelve percent. 

Here’s the good news. We can get our creativity back!

We can stimulate our creativity by learning to play an instrument, taking a drawing class or hey, (shameless plug) by learning how to write stand-up comedy with Judy Croon and her #1 bestseller Stand Up in Ten Steps!

Humour is a terrific tool to keep your content, customers and creativity in a world where the average attention span is now only eight seconds! According to researchers at Microsoft, since the mobile internet was introduced, the average attention span has dropped from twelve to eight seconds. We need all of our creative tools on board!

What humans do best. 

The other good news is that AI is really good at doing routine tasks and pursuing specific goals that we program it to do. However, humans excel at making connections and forming new ideas from previously learned material whether those ideas are related or not. This is known as divergent thinking.

Penicillin, x-rays, electricity, radioactivity and America were all accidentally discovered by people who were looking for something else!  Luckily, they were all able to circle back and find the connection. 

In 1901, French physicist Henri Becquerel left a piece of radium in his vest pocket. When he noticed that he had been burnt by it, he made the connection between radioactivity and medicine. He took the first steps toward developing radiotherapy which is still being used to treat cancer. 

In 1492, Christopher Columbus accidentally discovered America when he left Spain looking for a direct route between Europe and Asia. 

The point is that yes, AI is here to stay. We can benefit from all of its fantastic capabilities, but it’s the wonderful combination of creative humans with AI that makes our future look that much brighter and hopefully, a little funnier too. 

Until next time, laugh long and prosper!

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

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The Year of Living Danishly : Fighting Covid With Hygge

The Year of Living Danishly : Fighting Covid With Hygge

Don’t be shy. You can check out my Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud.

‘Laugh Long and Prosper’ is shelf help with a smile, stressbusters with a smirk, and information with a wink wink. You get the point. On Mondays, I host the podcast Just Another Mindful Monday. Recently, I interviewed a dear friend of mine named Heidi Petersen.

Heidi lives here in Toronto but she has over one hundred relatives covering three generations back home in Denmark.

I wanted to talk to Heidi because I had read two books last month:  The Year Of Living Danishly and The Little Book of Hygge. To find out exactly what ‘hygge’ is, here are a few excerpts from our chat together.

Judy: Heidi, welcome to the show. I wanted to interview you because I know that you also read two books that I love – The Year of Living Danishly and The Little Book of Hygge. According to an annual UN study, Denmark is regularly listed as one of the happiest places in the world. Canada is usually in the top ten, as well, but what makes Denmark unique is something that they embrace called ‘hygge’. I thought that with Covid continuing on for another year, what better time to talk about this incredible Danish super power? Perhaps we here in North America can draw from it.

Heidi, does the English word ‘hug’ come from the Danish word ‘hygge’?

Heidi: Yes, ‘hug’ is derived from ‘hygge’!

Judy: Heidi, for folks who haven’t heard of ‘hygge’, can you explain what it is?

Heidi: Sure! It’s actually a Danish concept. It’s a state, a mood, a coziness, comfort, feelings of contentment, being kind to yourself and others, self-care and self-love. It’s sort of derived from all of those things. But it also encompasses the idea of family and community. Doing things that make you feel happy – just being in your happy place.

Judy: I noticed in one of the books that they were talking about a ‘hygge kit’ that you should have ready when you come home from work, especially if you are feeling cold and damp.

The kit should include things like tea, candles, chocolate, woolen socks, books, a notebook, etc.

In other words, whatever you feel like. The author said that when you return home, you should crawl into your ‘hygge krog’ or cozy corner and get down to some serious ‘hygge’.

Heidi: Haha, yes, and keep in mind that ‘hygge’ is different for everyone. I know for myself (Judy, I know that you are also a big dog lover) but my dogs are part of my ‘hygge’. ‘Hygge’ also includes lighting, candles and texture. A nice chai latte or a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either.

Judy: It’s funny that you say that about lighting because according to a recent statistic, the average Dane burns thirteen pounds of wax, per year. Like you said, it’s all about the coziness – cozy corners with fun lighting, blankets and cushions.

I don’t know if this is part of ‘hygge’ but, according to research, the average work week in Denmark is 34-37 hours. The Danish attitude is if you can’t get IT done in that window, then you aren’t working efficiently enough. Haha.

Heidi: Yes, Danes work very hard during that time frame but we also play hard. Every Danish employee is entitled to five weeks of paid vacation per year. Danes are also very family- oriented. They take a lot of family vacations. Whether you have kids or not, it’s about spending quality time with your loved ones.

Judy: Speaking of family, the books also mention that if you have a baby, you get one year of maternity leave and you can split that time however you want between the two parents.

Heidi: As a result, many Danish couples share the responsibility of raising their children.

Judy: It’s funny because when we think of Danes, we think of pillaging Vikings. How did ‘hygge’ come out of all of that bloodshed?

Heidi: (laughs) I guess we evolved. Haha

Judy: How did we get to throw cushions?

Heidi: (laughs) It’s the Ying and the Yang.

Judy: It’s easy enough to adopt some of the ‘hygge’ traditions alone but I also read that ‘hygge’

includes a real sense of community and reaching out to others. In fact, the average Dane belongs to three clubs and/or associations. It’s almost like a group hug or ‘hygge’. So how are Danes managing with Covid when we are supposed to be isolating?

Heidi: It’s difficult. We have been doing a lot of Face Timing. However, because we are used to spending so much family time together in Denmark (now virtually), it’s easier to adapt. In fact, I notice that more North Americans are starting to grasp the Scandinavian concept of how cool it is to socialize!

Judy: So, while many of us here in North America are suffering from the ‘Zoomies’ ( dreading Zoom calls with our loved ones because we already spend so much time on work calls), I encourage our listeners to keep the dialogue going with their family, friends and individuals. Especially during these Covid times. Keep it going, folks. We will get through this together.

If your family feels more like an episode of ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ than ‘This Is Us’, have no fear. Persevere. Continue to reach out. Someone you know just might need a ‘hygge’.

Heidi, thank you so much for joining me on the show. Until next time… Laugh Long and Prosper.

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

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2021BringItOn

2021BringItOn

I don’t know what was scarier in 2020…Donald Trump or Covid.

Certainly, both of them have had me cowering in my house for a few months at the beginning of the year.

But then I felt inspired by Joe Biden: the little engine that could.

Slowly but surely, his campaign started to gain traction throughout the year and lo and behold, he and Kamala Harris won the US Election.

I felt inspired by Joe Biden for many reasons. His old-school talk about having ‘steel in your spine’ made me want to strike a Rosie the Riveter pose and start saving kittens out of trees.

I was also inspired by ‘The Joe Biden Jog’. You know the jog -the five or six little steps that Joe does just as he’s about to take the podium. I now do the ‘Joe Biden Jog’ myself whenever I’m on one of my slow daily walks and I think someone might be looking.

As 2020 progressed, I started to get mad at 2020. To hell with you, 2020.

As Covid raged on, I metamorphized from coward to full- blown ‘Snakes on a Plane’ Samuel Jackson. “That mother ##%$^^&ing 2020 is not going to get the best of me.”

I joined millions of humans around the world as we adapted to the ‘new normal’ by masking up, Zooming, home schooling, isolating, sanitizing and maintaining a responsible six-foot distance from others. That’s right, Winston Churchill would have been proud of us!  Okay, maybe we weren’t fighting in the streets with sticks and brooms but, when it comes to watching TV, no other generation can hold a candle to us. Fourteen hours of binge-watching The Crown? Child’s play. Not even a blink or a bathroom break. Hulu- come at me.

I don’t know about you, but I can watch the most obscure, fragmented channel for days. Have you seen ‘Estonia’s Next Baking Star’ on the Umlaut Network?  For a monthly subscription of only $6.99, I can assure you that it’s a bargain at twice the price.

Of course, Christmas 2020 was different because of Covid. It was smaller and quieter.  I notice that most of my Christmas gifts were chocolates, pajamas and books. Otherwise known as ‘Covid Gear’ or the 92-year-old Grandmother Starter Kit. Either way, I don’t mind! Bring on the comfort and cosiness.

I stayed with my dad this Christmas. We had a great time catching up. One minor observation- could the TV be any louder?

I’m sure even the neighbours know that the mystery on Oak Island is that there isn’t any treasure.

All joking aside, I will take the good lessons from 2020 and keep moving forward.

Family, friends, charity, gratitude and ‘Murder She Wrote’ are just some of the touchstones that have helped me to, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’- as Winston Churchill would say.

Hang in there folks, it’s going to get better. We just have to be patient.

Laugh Long and Prosper.

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

By the way, in case you missed the most recent episodes of my podcast ‘Laugh Long and Prosper’ -you can check them out here.

 

Laugh Long and Prosper: Psychic Friday – Friday January 1, 2021- Predictions for the year 2021 with Psychic Nikki

 

Laugh Long and Prosper -Monday Dec 21 2020 Just Another Mindful Monday with Meditation Coach Cara Coulson Part Two

 

Laugh Long and Prosper – Monday Dec 7 2020 – Just Another Mindful Monday with Meditation Coach Cara Coulson Part One

 

 

 

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