Meeting This Moment: Humor Part 2
8:55PM Mar 15, 2021
Alexis Gay (video)
Welcome back, everybody to part two of our episode on humor with MJ Ryan, hope you really enjoyed part one, if you haven't heard it, press the back button, go listen to it, it's great, it's 25 minutes, and then jump back in with us here in part two as MJ and I dive back into humor, and framing around the workplace, and professionalism, and how you can use humor to connect with others enjoy
breaks attention, and you know, there's so much research written on how you know, laughter releases endorphins, it releases dopamine, it can help you, you know, reduce your blood pressure, it can really helps well being all over and having been a caregiver personally, and in a hospital, you need it. So you have to find a way to do it. And again, not everyone's funny, but there are ways that you can try, you can, you know, maybe research a few jokes and share them or find funny things and surround your cubicle or your office with them. So that you can be reminded, you know, you don't have to be a stand up comedian, but you can certainly enjoy humor, it's just to break the sweat. And I know that even in business, you know, as a leader, I have a, I've always been a manager for the last 100 years. And I feel like even in difficult times, being a funny leader is better than being a not funny leader. And I find self deprecating humor to be good because it's a field level or you know, and, and it's interesting, because as I was reading some of the research on humor, that came up that humor, some leaders fail that it makes them look weak, I never thought that I feel like if they feel like they can trust me that I'm not, I don't have all the answers either. And I'm going to screw up, and I'm going to tell you when I screwed up, and I'm going to make it funny that that makes it safe for you to screw up some days, because we're all going to, and it also brings you a little closer. And I feel like they trust me, I can be transparent because I can laugh at myself. And so they know at some point when they when somebody makes an error that they can just laugh down. So now you don't want a medical error. The gentleman now is a little less intense, because I'm in more of a corporate job now that no one no one dies if if we messed up the English classes this week. But but but even in those situations where things were more dangerous in the healthcare field, obviously the the major, major problems or major problem, but just a typical, yeah, you know, he said, she said, Oh, somebody's arguing and you can usually bring that down to a level what's kind of laughing and or at least letting them know that we're all human and think that you know, you remember your funny teachers, you remember your funny bosses? Yeah, you remember your funny colleagues and those that don't have a sense of humor, I really don't have a lot of good memories of or I didn't stay very engaged with. I think it's a real socialization factor. You know, they say that one of the number one traits when you're looking for a mate is human. They have a sense of humor, and I couldn't agree with that more.
Yeah, you know, I consider it a win win. I can make my wife laughs still. Yeah, because the longer you're married, the longer you've heard that story.
And so I've gotten to be around her a little bit more during COVID. Because we just, you know, situationally, we end up at home a little bit longer. And oh, man,
speaking of needing a sense of humor.
I know it and so the days that I can actually get her to laugh because I finally told a new joke. That's the best I consider that a win
more research count Kelly mores yet
keep going and MJ I have to say It's not every day that I can, you know, make her laugh. I try. That doesn't stop me. Right. Right. And you mentioned something I think that's really important in terms of just leadership or or in the workplace. You talked about humor, it's a way to level that playing field. And so it's an equalizer. Yeah, if done, right. It's that nuance, it's an art. But don't you think that anything in terms of humanity is where it's that gray area that you really have to dig in?
I believe that's true. Yes. And as you said, it done wrong. It's a divider. So it's it's really, you have to finesse it a little bit.
I was joking earlier with you when we met beforehand. I thought oh, man, I feel like I have to be funny in this because it's we're talking about humor and what if somebody listens to this thinking they were gonna laugh the whole time and we didn't make them laugh, right. So speaking of making people laugh, I'm just curious and I bet people listening to this are curious. What are you watching listening to reading that just makes you laugh? I just want to get into your head in terms of what's funny to you.
I could watch Schitt's Creek 24 seven. I could definitely do that. And I'm surrounded by people. My partner's a lunatic. My best friends are all crazy because most of the people that surround me are a riot. And last weekend, I spent skiing with an 81 year old person who is a phenomenal skier, but also a who so I think it says surrounding myself with real life, people People that are funny. Yeah. And then obviously there's some there's some TV shows that I find humorous, but mostly it's Yeah, real life, people that are no matter what's going on in life, they find something funny.
I read too many news articles. I mean, I will tell you, and I found that a fun reprieve from that is Have you listened to the God cast?
I have not.
Oh my gosh, it's, it's a guilty pleasure, I will say, because it's not going to be an aboveboard type of humor, you're gonna it's funny, and you're just gonna laugh until you cry. On Twitter. There's, it's called the tweet of God. And it's literally God tweeting to all of us, and he started a podcast. And if you need to laugh, and you need to forget about your worries, Godcast is where it's at. You're gonna have to try it. I shouldn't be surprised. But when I asked you that question, I thought you're going to list a bunch of things like Schitt's Creek, but you mentioned people to you. It's the it's the people that make you laugh. Yeah,
you have to surround yourself with funny people, or you can sync and I think that in life, I've always sought them out. Yeah, you know, everyone says that you can feel the body, lose the tension, decrease the anxiety, all those things that scientists will tell you happens does happen. And there was a study done, I was reading in the greater good science center, which I know you've referred to before, in your podcast from UC Berkeley, they were talking about doing a study Yeah, there was a book call, I think the name of the book is ha, and very funny book. And it was a doctor who did a bunch of studies and there was a study done in a psychology course, and part of it was the first group of students was taught with humor, but not related to the classwork. The second group was taught with humor related to the classwork the third was taught with no humor. The second group six months later, had much better recall much better retention. So I think that just getting through life every day doing your job, if there's something funny going on, in a meeting, there's something funny just surrounding something, you probably perform better, because you're relaxed, you can accept things, listen to it, you know, remember it and enjoy it versus getting through it. and years and years ago, I noticed this because when I was actually in direct care, healthcare, that was a pretty stressful environment. And I went to a conference one time, and I heard the read on the ropes, because a humorous, and but she's still out there, she's 81 years old, she's still funny, but she did a bunch of a series of talks on PBS as well in the past, but she just makes you laugh, it's painful. You know, like, when you're at a conference with her, she just really makes you laugh. And it's mostly about just general everyday life, just seeing it out of the eyes of somebody funny, you know, could be she could say I had chicken for dinner, and I'd probably fall on the floor. Because it's the way she looks at things. It's the way she does things. And it's the perspective. And she's she's really about reducing stress, and really about getting through life and getting through life's difficulties as well as work and other conflicts and all of those things, long life of their husband, all of those things and, but it's just the way you can turn something around and laugh at it. And then you can get through it. And so I could also listen to her a lot and still listen to her and laughs
You are closely tied to this workforce development and health care industry. And I just see so many connections to your industry to education, and especially k 12. Oh, my gosh, kids, they're just the best because they love to laugh. It's their natural state. And too often adulthood kind of teaches you to stop. And so when you walk into a classroom full of kids, there's an energy in the room. That is I mean, it's truly palpable. And you can either you can either stifle it, or you can jump on board. Absolutely. That's where the magic happens. I mean, good educators, I bet are nodding their heads right now. And I think it's about is, it's people that can can say, my students are here, my I'm over here, I got to connect to this really boring social studies lesson to where they are. Absolutely. Let's laugh about this. Because otherwise, I can't get through it either.
I couldn't agree more. And I think it's really on educators to find a way to connect in any way they can. And I think that's a great way to do it. Because, again, you break down barriers, they trust you, you're not talking at them, you're talking with them, and laughing with them and respecting them as little people. Yeah, you know, is
the way to go. And you know, what's so poignant MJ is that teachers are probably right now screaming at at the you know, at their iPhone as they listen to this thing. I want that just get me back into the classroom if I can, if I have to stare at the screen of my students and their poor little faces or turning off their their cameras, so I can't even connect with them and look at their face to read the room. I mean, so much of good teaching and learning involves the back and the forth and the understanding of where your students are, if you're reaching them and if you're not and so my heart goes out to you teachers out there that are having to deal with that. Divide. You're literally not even in the same room. Have those kiddos and then when you do go back that child's behind a mask literally. Right?
can't smile. So true. You need
I think the student should have Yeah, those those clear masks that we use for Deaf patients. Yeah. So they can at least smile and see your reaction. And, and that's so again, you're right, we are very connected. Because even in the business world now, I'm in the healthcare business world. And I read an article in The Boston Globe last week about this, that the people are just suffering being out of the offices, because that will keep people engaged, especially younger people and all of us is that social aspect of work and you're used to spending like with your work, husband, you work wives, you're always together, and, and you had the inside jokes, and you had all of that stuff going on. And now you have zoom. And so it's focused, you know, I'm here to talk about, you know, nurse training today, blah, blah, blah. And that's what everybody's on. And then you hang up and you go, and so there are a few of us, I'm sure on the sidelines, still texting and saying kind of funny things or sending memes while people are on the on the zooms. There's always that sidebar, somehow, but in general is no accidents. There's no accidental laughs there's no accidental Oh, what did you wear today? You know, it's all of that socialization that's just gone. And you're very focused on work. And I find that you're much more tired. I used to have a four hour commute. And now I'm home and I don't miss the commute. But I miss the people in that four hour commute. added to my day job some days was less fatiguing than this. Because this is so serious all day, and I can put myself into meetings, one after the other after the other.
Hey, can you hear me? Can you hear me? Can everybody hear me? are we waiting on anyone? Can everyone see my screen? Oh, there we go. Welcome to my kitchen. Look at your little cat. His wife's also working from home so he's just hopping in her closet. Oh, sorry. I think you're muted. I think you're on mute. I think you're muted. You're on mute your backyard. It's gorgeous. Yeah, I should get a dog You look so nice. Why? Well without bows out without my internet seeing so beer today Denning desktop boxing chair, ergonomic, active sitting Google Sheets. It's actually designed to wobble like this. Look at this view. I can hear literally every single word my neighbor said last year for a sec. Let me just slack you a paper doc that if they migrated? Definitely 100%. That's the only way we're gonna drive cross functional alignment. You know how we got a visitor? What was that? It works. And I'm talking to myself.
Because this is so serious all day. And I can put myself into meetings, one after the other after the other. But I'm not out playing. I'm not playing with my friends at work anymore. And I'm old, but I still like to play with my friends at work. And now. I'm just working all day. I'm in front of the computer. And I'm working. I'm getting a lot accomplished. But it's all working this all work. No play, right? We know that. That doesn't go well.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I love that. That you just said, you know, you're playing with your your workmates. I mean, that's isn't that what good work should be?
Yeah. And that's what means retention. It means satisfaction. Because people are sick of just working. That's not the case when you're at the office with the friends you know, and or maybe you're just going out to lunch or, and sometimes when we're so busy. We barely look up, but we're near each other. Yeah. And there's a quick laugh or there's quick something that happens that you notice or you get off the phone with somebody like Oh, can you believe this and you can make something funny out of it. You know, one of the things that I was reading was a story about there was a woman in the Netherlands that was really upset really tense because the government was delaying a study she wanted to do. And then she was telling just a colleague about this and she was so mad. And she said, The delaying the study and the studies on you know, delaying care for young people. And they looked at each other and both started laughing because it was so ironic that she was aggravated because the government was delaying answer her and the study was around delays. So just like those little things that they're not funny on zoom, it's not even that funny right now telling you but it'd be funny with those two people. Yeah, that no, that looked at each other and go like it clicked in a second because they were in the same room and like, yeah, oh, yeah. Like, let's not stupid that sounds. Yeah. Then it's funny.
Exactly. Instead of being able to nudge the person or do that quick glance with when somebody who takes themselves too seriously says
you can't because you're all on the same screen. Yeah. Nailed. Yeah,
you are. But you know what, I just hope that teachers, leaders, people in the workplace, I hope they hear this and they think oh, man, I've got to let people do that. There's this thing called back channeling it back channeling is like the talking that goes on that basically like a chat, right, a chat session that goes on while while you're supposed to be watching. Well, guess what? That's half the fun and that's half the learning, if not more, because what you're doing by back channeling, or texting your friend when you can't believe your boss just said such and such or kicking somebody under the table when somebody takes themselves too seriously. That's how you connect to that day. And that's how you connect to the content right? So please people back channel. That's what it's all about.
It is who goes to a conference and learns Less in the sessions then than they do from the networking times or the cocktail hour. And those things, that's when people actually really network and learn, right, you can go to a few sessions, you may pick up a few pointers, but I think a lot of the work is done in the in the networking, in the connections that you're going to use later to true. When I go to conference, I respond to those people who are funny. And so to true, they, I connect with them, but we get a lot done after Well, I think in any business, lifelong learning really matters. I think in healthcare, it matters more than anything. And so we have to constantly re learning new equipment, new people learn, you know, new procedures and and the same is true now in workforce development, bring people in, we try to move people from the community into programs and will people up so outside and inside up to help people to reach economic self sufficiency. And so with that, there's a lot of people who are learning and relearning the things that they might have missed when they were in school. They have to, you know, relearn and do some remediation, but it's very, very closely related, I
associate with two very large academic medical centers. So teaching and education is primary with us to the end goal for Workforce Development is, like you said, is to empower people to basically build their career and seek that next opportunity. How does that work?
Well, it's also about equity, okay. And we're surrounded with a lot of communities that are at risk, and don't have the opportunities that that many have. And so it's about trying, again, leveling the playing field, but making sure that people have have access, we're very large, we employ 80,000 people across the state of Massachusetts, and many of them at least 40 50,000 in the Boston area. And we have a lot of neighborhoods where people, you know, the doors weren't open for them. They didn't they don't feel that they're ready to approach the healthcare system and get a job. And they're not aware of what those jobs are. If you ask kids in a city school, what are the jobs in healthcare, it's doctor nurse, okay. So it's about making sure they know what the jobs are trying to get to them young. So we have a lot of programs that serve youth, one of our programs is run at Brigham Women's Hospital, it's they catch people really young, then they get really intense around middle school, high school. And then right through college, we have the same thing at Mass General Hospital, a similar program. And it's about working with young people in their families. I mean, we've had young people go from homelessness, to NIH, MD research jobs, there are a lot of really good success stories. It's about reaching people, engaging them and getting them interested in the fields, and as well as our older people who are unemployed or underemployed. And what are the roles that we can get them into as a frontline job, something that that doesn't have a lot of barrier to entry? And then how can we help them to move up at some point with coaching and access to academic classes and things that they would need to move? Move ahead, it can be frustrating. But I think that, again, we're trying to build bridges with folks. And I find that the people that do this best really get to know the folks that we're trying to work with the kids and the adults and, and a lot of that is building rapport. And yeah, building rapport is meeting people where they are and and also, you know, sharing who we are. And some of that is just building really good strong relationships and, and you use anything you can to do that. Because we don't naturally come from the same spot. We try to have people that work with us that do we try to be more diverse, but but we're not entirely a diverse group of people trying to work with a very diverse target population. And so it's about learning from people, what, what's important to them and, and really trying to establish that relationship. And for me, it it has included some, some humor and other ways, any way that you can to connect and you're listening to people meeting them where they are trying to get them to where they're going to, they need to go where they want to go.
Yeah, what I get out of what you're saying is trust, you have to build trust. And it's sounds to me, like in any area in life, that takes work. It's not just it's not going to be the easy part of the process. But it's the it's the key part or maybe the foundation. Mj I don't know if you've ever heard of this organization. But have you heard of the family independence initiative?
I have not.
I think it's a really, really cool initiative, I would suggest to the listeners to take a look at this family in Independence initiative. They say they trust and they invest in families, and their goal is to make poverty escapable. If you look at the website, that ephi.org I'm a big believer in the fact that words matter. And if you just kind of look at the language being used, I just hear so much of a similarity between what you MJ are saying about this work, workplace development, providing opportunities, and I just see a lot of connections between what you're saying and this family independence initiative. And I'm I'm definitely going to start learning more about it.
Well, it's interesting that you mentioned that we work with law A large number of community based organizations because clearly they, again, meeting people where they are that community based organizations are more familiar with the needs of the community, and they're trusted by the community members. And we build really strong partnerships with those individuals to that run those agencies and, and we surround ourselves with brilliant people that that do really good work. I think that the people that are most popular in these circles are the ones that people can feel like they can truly trust really connect with the ones that that are coming in my mind right now are really funny people that are really dedicated and really care. I find people that take it really seriously can't, can't adapt, when it doesn't go the way they want it to go. And they can't be flexible. And you know, agile, I think the ones that can say, okay, we had this grant, and we totally blew it, what are we going to do now we got three days to make it work and, and the people that tend to be the most creative, will also laugh that way through it, but it's really about relationships. And so this work cannot be done. without major relationships, each person that can move from one place to another, requires a lot of different services and a lot of different resources and assistance. And if you don't have a group of people, that are experts in various roles, all collaborating and working together, it's not going to happen. programs don't happen in individual success doesn't happen. So similar, I'm sure to teaching as well, it takes a lot of individuals that are have to be able to be less above themselves and less about what they bring to the table than about how do we all work together. And it seems to me that our most successful partnerships are people who can relate well to each other. And a lot of that is that building that social capital, which is done often after hours and connecting and having a cocktail maybe and laughing and knowing each other
mg, I have to say you're speaking my language, when I hear you talk about the need for being flexible, the need for building partnerships, we can't be siloed, we've got to break down the barriers. And the system won't work if all the players don't play together, right, as you so often and so eloquently bring everything back to this humor piece and being able to connect with others in a meaningful way. Maybe humors the fuel that makes that connection happen. It's the it's the reason I think about that now is you mentioned the capital, right, it's the capital, it's what keeps fueling the fire. It's what makes this thing run. And so I just love the idea that that you're talking about that capital and that humor as the way to just, you gotta keep feeding this thing and fueling this thing.
Am Jade, very grateful for you coming on to this podcast and speaking to me, I was actually very surprised that you chose humor, because when I heard your truly inspiring story, just a few months ago, I thought, Oh, this MJ is a shoo in for flexibility because of creativity because you were so creative in what you did. And being with your mother. And then you said humor, and I'm just so happy that you did because you brought such a fun perspective on humor and how we use it as a human connection. And how do we use it to make meaningful relationships and build capital between people and make things happen? Mj, I just really appreciate you bringing your wisdom to this.
Thanks. I appreciate that. And I appreciate everyone at that nursing home who made me laugh a wave my mother laugh who made her feel important. And believe me, there was a lot of jokes I still go on about me wearing those scrubs doing that laundry, so I got some mileage out of that, too. So it brought me a lot of joy.
Well, I hope there are a couple frontline workers and a couple of healthcare industry folks and educators out there that are listening because it sounds to me like you and I are both sending our gratitude to them too.
We absolutely are. We are and they're very, very big. They're so important in the world. And I hope that they continue to, to help find joy in their work so they can bring joy to the people that they're working with. And we'll all be a lot happier.
Well, everybody, I'm glad you stayed for part two of this episode on humor. I really enjoyed speaking with MJ once again, a lot of gratitude to MJ amazing lady. Thank you so much. And also thank you to all of those audio track contributors out there that you're going to see credited in the show notes. Thank you to Alexis gaye, for that really fun montage that kind of encapsulates our lives. For those of us that have been on zoom for the last year. If you're interested in Loretta LaRoche has humor. Take a look at Loretta LaRoche calm. And also we can't forget the tweet of God on twitter at tweet of God and also God cast for a good laugh. Don't forget to rate review this podcast on Apple podcasts. Thanks for being here and we will talk to you next time.