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

stand-up-in-10-steps-by-judy-croon-canadas-keynote-humorist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

stand-up-in-10-steps-by-judy-croon-canadas-keynote-humorist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Odyssey 2020:  COVID, Technology and Virtual Presentations

Space Odyssey 2020: COVID, Technology and Virtual Presentations

Admit it. How many of you got dragged into the virtual presentation world, kicking and screaming? How many of you had nightmares of sweat dripping down your forehead one minute before the green light came on in front of a virtual roomful of clients? How many of you felt like Dave from Space Odyssey 2001?

“HAL, open the pod bay doors!!”

“I’m sorry Judy, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“All right, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.”

“Without your space helmet, Judy, you’re going to find that rather difficult.”

Okay, so maybe this was my imagination going overboard.

For the past few years, I have been encouraged by friends and clients to do more video presentations. As a comedian and motivational speaker, I have always enjoyed live presentations and conferences.

In the past, I had been speaking and coaching virtually with some of my clients but then COVID hit. The game changed overnight. There wasn’t an option to do conferences or comedy shows.

So, like many, I was forced to make a choice. Wait it out or go all-in virtually.

I have to admit, the idea of speaking into a green light for an hour was a bit daunting. It was so different.  However, I took a lot of inspiration from my two sisters. One is a speech-language pathologist and the other is an elementary school teacher. I was impressed with how they both learned the new technology necessary for their work and adapted, almost overnight.   They had never done virtual presentations before. They were motivated by their young students and clients who really needed them to step up.

I don’t think people give themselves enough credit for making such a huge shift in such a relatively short time.  They beat themselves up for not ‘getting it’.  Luckily, both of my sisters were able to lean on their teenagers to help them navigate the new information asteroid fields. I’m sure there were some eye-rolling and gum-smacking along the way, but those little astronauts stepped up too.

I was proud of my nieces and nephews. All those years spent on Snapchat and Tik Tok (or Tic Tac, as my dad calls it) finally paid off.

So, if my sisters could step up for those that virtually needed them, then so could I.

During my first mission right after COVID, I talked to the green light for an hour and then I said goodbye. The green light went out.

It was just me alone in my pod.

I had no idea how the presentation went over.

It was only afterward when I received some nice comments from the organizers and participants via email and LinkedIn, that I knew that the presentation was a hit. Phew.

My next few presentations were via WebEx. Although WebEx isn’t as user friendly as Zoom, it is apparently more secure and as a result, a common choice for various businesses. Also, if it was good enough for guests on CNN then heck, I thought, it should be good enough for me. I may not be as political or incendiary as some of those talking heads but I bet I could still make Don Lemon laugh.

Since then, the platforms have changed but the work itself remains the same. Whether you are talking into a green light or a roomful of people, be yourself, tell your story, don’t be a HAL, be human and make sure you don’t have any space food on your face.

We’re all on the same ship together. It’s a new world but let’s travel safely.

Don’t get rattled. As HAL might suggest, “Look, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.”

It will be different but we’ll be fine.

Until next time, Laugh Long and Prosper.

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

Comedy, Creativity & Crisis

Comedy, Creativity & Crisis

The Beginning

At the beginning of 2020, I decided that I was going to make twelve resolutions (one per month) instead of one big resolution at the beginning of the year that ran the risk of fizzling out by January 3rd.

In January and February, I got a couple of good things done. Then Covid-19 struck and suddenly, like everyone else, I waited and wondered, ‘What was going to happen next?’

The world hit ‘pause’ and my yearly ‘things -to – do’ list turned into more of a personal survival guide.

After a few months though, something rather unexpected happened. Creativity kicked in. I probably should have panicked more but, instead, I took a deep breath and I started to write.

I started working again on jokes and writing projects that I had put off for years. 

There must have been something in the air because so many people that I knew felt the same way. They were writing. They were creating. They wanted to collaborate.

Caveman Brain

Since the beginning of time, creativity and stress seem to have gone hand in hand. 

When the cavemen heard an unknown noise outside of their cave, naturally their first reaction would have been fear.  However, when the dreaded monster turned out to be tiny creature instead, everybody probably laughed out of relief.

Research shows that when something is incongruous to our regular brain patterns, our reaction is sometimes laughter. 

When a punchline zigs instead of zags, we laugh!

Take my wife. Please. Hilarious. 

Sometimes we smile, sometimes we laugh hysterically, sometimes we cry AND laugh.

It’s like watching an episode of Ricky Gervais’ brilliant dramedy called After Life.

Half the time we don’t know if we are laughing or crying.

The Unknown 

When we face the unknown, we sometimes laugh. 

Covid-19 is unknown. We don’t have a cure.  Add that to global warming, pollution, protests, unemployment, Trump and never-ending Zoom calls and you’ve got a real comedy extravaganza (NOT). Over the past four months, I’ve had snickers, cry-laughs, belly laughs and laughs so maniacal that I’m surprised someone didn’t slap me across the face.

No, not everything is funny. In fact, right now, some things are pretty damn terrifying. 

But if we want to keep moving forward for ourselves and others, if we want to help, if we want to contribute, then we have to stay engaged. The best way of ensuring THAT happens is by keeping our right, bright, creative, brain happy. Yes, 2020, we’re mad as hell and we’re going to type, write, sing, dance, joke, paint and perform about it! 

I know I might not be the next Tina Fey, Carrie Fisher or Nora Ephron.

In fact, I’m probably a few lines away from ‘All work, no play makes Jude a dull girl’.

And that’s okay because I’ve always maintained that I would rather pee my pants laughing than pee my pants from fear. 

 

Create! Creating Comedy with Comedian Martha Chaves

I had the privilege of interviewing fellow comedian, Martha Chaves. Martha and I talk about the ‘creative process’ and what it takes to write the ‘funny’.
Martha Chaves is a veteran of multiple Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, and of all the other major comedy festivals in Canada, like the Winnipeg, Halifax, Edmonton, and Vancouver Comedy Festivals. She has also performed in Boston and New York Comedy Festivals, and in Colombia’s Festival Del Humour.
Martha’s infectious, candid style, and her natural ability to relate to any audience has made her a very popular headliner comedian at clubs, colleges, festivals, fundraisers, and corporate functions. Martha holds her audiences in a hypnotic spell of familiarity and they think they are her good friends, willing and happy coconspirators of all her adventures.
Her versatility has granted her to do shows all over the world and to entertain a wide range of audiences. For example, she performed for the Canadian troops in Alert, Egypt, Israel, and Afghanistan and also for a delegation of women led by Nobel Peace Prize recipients in Mexico and Central America. In 2015, she performed at the pre-opening ceremonies of the Toronto Pan Am Games, at the Rogers Centre in front of 45.000 people.
Her Stand-Up TV credits include her two national comedy specials: COMICS! On the CBC, and There’s Something about Martha on CTV and The COMEDY NETWORK; plus her multiple TV appearances in Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival and many others. You often hear Martha on Laugh Out Loud on CBC Radio and The Debaters, also on CBC radio.
In her film and TV career she has worked with Whoopi Goldberg (Strong Medicine), Chris Rock, (Down To Earth) and even had scenes with Denzel Washington in “John Q”.
Her One-Woman show, “In Times of Trouble”, was the opening show of Aluna Theatre’s CAMINOS Festival in November 2015.
Martha performs mostly in English, but also in Spanish, French, and Italian.
Martha can be reached at www.MarthaChaves.com
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