Tag Archives: Humor

A Christmas Story To Warm Your Heart Like A Hallmark Movie!

Kelly Swanson, is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, motivational speaker,  and author of Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale, The Land of If Only, The Story Formula, and The Gutsy Girls Pocket Guide to Public Speaking. In addition to her role as a funny motivational speaker; Kelly teaches people how she does it by sharing what she has learned about connecting and engaging to have more influence in business, through the use of one tool – strategic storytelling. To book Kelly Swanson for your next Virtual, Onstage or Hybrid event call 888-766-3155 or visit: https://bit.ly/3pcR4Y3.


This column originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune syndicate and Medium.

For 30 years I’ve made my living as a standup comedian. I’ve stood on iconic stages including the Grand Ole Opry and the Chicago Theatre. I’ve gazed out at crowds as large as 10,000 and as small as six. We won’t talk about the six.

My moods following my performances have run the gamut from elation to despair. From feeling like I’m the first person to set foot on an uncharted planet to wanting to jump into a recently dug grave and instructing the backhoe operator to “just bury me now.”

The one commonality to all these shows was a live audience. The coronavirus has, for the immediate future, taken away my ability to perform.

Or has it?

Enter the concept of virtual entertainment, an idea that has never really taken off considering that, despite the available technology, most people ultimately think it’s weird to watch a hologram of Prince or another deceased rock star “playing” live on stage. The connection a performer feels to an audience works in reverse too; the audience must feel that same connection.

So when a show I was scheduled to perform for 1,200 members of the dairy industry in Madison, Wisconsin, joined the scrap heap of cancellations on my calendar, I was not hesitant, rather overjoyed, when the organizers said they wanted to me to perform virtually.

Of course, that would mean performing standup comedy to a camera, without a crowd. The audience, I was told, would watch from bedrooms, hotel rooms and home offices, surrounded, most likely, by nobody.

Not exactly the ideal audience for a comedian. Still, the show must go on.

At 8 p.m., I entered a conference room that looked as if preparations were in place for some sort of invasion. A half-eaten takeout pizza sat on a round table big enough to seat 10. Snacks, drinks and sandwiches purchased from an attached hotel represented lunch for the staff tasked with running the virtual operation. Dinner too.

A few IT personnel stared intently at laptops as another virtual presenter, speaking from God only knows where, gave a speech entitled “Practical Proven Systems for More Profitable Innovation.” I heard his voice and saw the PowerPoint slides he had assembled for his talk, but I didn’t see him.

Instead I saw an empty stage and a single camera pointed at it.

“That’s where you’ll be,” the conference organizer told me.

When the previous speaker had concluded, another member of the organizational team grabbed a mic and said, “We have some questions.” These questions, I assume, were submitted by attendees watching virtually. Of the 10 people in the conference room, nobody raised a hand.

The unseen presenter answered several questions and then it was time for me. Like a normal show, a tech clipped a lavalier microphone to my shirt; like a normal show I stood slightly offstage awaiting my introduction. And, like a normal show, I bounded onstage when I heard my name.

The next 45 minutes were left to my imagination.

The conference room participants — seven staff members and three techs — did their best to laugh at my jokes, which, naturally, included a few references to the massive elephant in the room.

“I’m staying in a very nice hotel here in Madison,” I said. “I only live two hours from here, so I don’t really need a hotel. But I was out of toilet paper and the hotel had some.”

Strangely, the longer I performed, the more confident I was that somebody was laughing somewhere. A few laughs from the 10 people in the room were all I needed to keep going. Yes, there were some uncomfortable moments, but it’s also uncomfortable doing standup at a party in the hull of a Catamaran. OK, I brought up the audience of six. Sorry.

I hope there will be no more virtual shows in my career. I hope to be back on stage soon, where I can see and converse with real audience members.

But COVID-19 has taught me one thing: Laughter cannot be quarantined.

Greg Schwem’s comedic take on the 21st century workplace and work/life balance has landed him on SIRIUS RadioFOX News, Comedy Central,pages of Parents Magazine, and as a Keynote Speaker for many business audiences. More than just a business humorist, Greg is also an author and nationally syndicated humor columnist. Whether Onstage or Online: Book Greg Schwem today: https://bit.ly/3dQ1BDL

How 15 Minutes and $15 or Less Will Create Amazing Impacts!

Do you have 15 minutes and $15 or less to see an amazing impact in your business and life?This principle works!

Recently I  presented at an event hosted by the University of Michigan, and enjoyed dinner afterwards with my client, Marilyn.

During casual conversation while deciding what to order, my host mentioned she “goes hog-wild” for A&W Root Beer. Good thing she didn’t say Dom Perignon, since dinner was on me!

I made a mental note of her affinity for A&W Root Beer and pondered a few alternatives on the flight back.  Arriving home I jumped online for less than 15 minutes and ordered a case of A&W Root Beer for less than $15, which was delivered to her home address within three days.

Pretty cool. The moral of the story? I was re-booked there the following year,  right? Ehhhhh…..no.
I was referred to a colleague who booked me the following year, right?
In fact, over three years went by, and I didn’t hear anything from Marilyn!

Until one day, I received a phone call. Here is how it went:
Marilyn: “Andy…Hi—It’s Marilyn from up in Michigan, do you
remember me?”

Andy: “Sure I remember you, Marilyn. How are you doing?”
Marilyn: “I’m great! Hey, I wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry I
hadn’t kept in touch. You’re not going to believe this, but, the very
next day after your program…well, I quit my job! I’m doing
something completely different now. But, guess what….?”

Andy: “What?”
Marilyn: “I just became chair of the planning committee for our
upcoming conference, and we’d love for you to be our keynote
speaker. Are you available on August 23rd ?”
Andy: “Yes…that sounds great. Would love to do it!”

Once again after that event,  Marilyn and I again enjoyed dinner together. I just had to have this conversation:

Andy: “So, Marilyn, I have to ask…After three years, what made you decide to track me down to present this program for you?”
Marilyn: “Sure, Andy. I’ve been waiting three years to tell you this. You know, I love your program. You’re really a great speaker. But, there are plenty of other great speakers out there who also present great programs, as well. Do you remember that case of A&W Root Beer you shipped to my home?”

Andy: “Sure….absolutely.”
Marilyn: “Andy, do you know I STILL have one can of that A&W Root Beer in my refrigerator, that I show my friends and family when they come over? That was the greatest small gesture that anyone has ever done for me when it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas.”


As great as we think we are at what we do, there is another person, or another company, who can probably perform the same function or service just as well as we can.

So, what makes the difference? The little things. The little things which take 15 minutes or less, and $15  or less. What an amazing investment of so little time, and so little money.

We use the excuses of: “I don’t have enough time” and “I don’t have enough budget,” don’t
we?  Sure we do. We should always have 15 minutes or less, and $15 or less, to spend on the most important people in our life and career.

Fifteen minutes per day is just 1/100 th of our time.  Here’s the challenge! What amazing impact can you make today with your special client, significant other, employee, or new contact, using just 15 minutes and $15 dollars or less?

Andy Masters is an award-winning author and international speaker who has written 5 books, earned 4 degrees, and presented hundreds of sales/service, leadership, and personal development experiences. Andy has earned the prestigious “CSP” designation of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the highest earned international recognition for professional speakers, in which less than 10% of speakers worldwide have achieved. To hire Andy for your next event call 888-766-3155 today, or click here: Hire Andy Masters

You Aren’t the Only One Having a “Crazy” Day!

You aren’t the only one having a “crazy” day.

The reply hit my inbox a full three days after I had emailed a contract requiring a simple electronic signature, a legally binding image created after the world got tired of searching for pens.

The contract was attached along with a message: “Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to this. It’s just been CRAZY around here.” Yes, crazy was typed in all caps.

Later that day, as I waited in a bar for an old friend, I glanced at my watch. Did he forget about our dinner plans? It was 45 minutes after our scheduled meeting time.

Five minutes later he breezed in. “Sorry man. My life is just so crazy right now.”

I tried to summon a smile to hide my annoyance. It didn’t work. He noticed.

“What? I’m here. Let’s have a beer.”

Not so fast, buddy. Same goes for my supposedly haggard contract recipient. It’s 2019, and I have grown weary of everybody assuming they are the only ones who live in a world of permanent madness and are therefore entitled to be tardy whenever they choose, chalking it up to “craziness.” Our morning routines — particularly those of us with school aged children — are crazy; our jobs are crazy; our weekends, designed to be 48-hour respites of relaxation, invariably feel like workdays. We arise at 6 to shuttle our kids to all-day sporting events, deal with at least one technological failure and invariably answer multiple work-related emails even though we vowed not to.

While many of my friends resolve to lose 10 pounds beginning January 1, each new year I choose a long simmering internal grievance and vow to take it public. In 2018, I decided I would publicly shame anyone who barged into an elevator before letting others exit. A businessman staring at his cellphone in a Miami Beach hotel most recently incurred my wrath.

“Would it kill you to wait?” I asked, purposely ramming his shoulder as I stepped into the lobby. He glanced at me briefly but didn’t respond. He was most likely having a crazy day.

This year, I will not-so-subtly remind everyone that there is no excuse for using the “crazy” excuse. I may have to embellish my own life events, but it will be so worth it when I finally receive that long-awaited email from that individual who feels only his or her life is running at warp speed.

“Talk about crazy,” I’ll reply. “A meteor just crashed into my house, obliterating the second floor. Lucky for me, I was downtown organizing a 20,000-person fun run for prostate cancer awareness. Sorry this response is so short. Right now there’s an insurance adjustor, three NASA employees and some dude from CNN standing in what’s left of my driveway.”

The next time my friend enters the bar late, blaming a crazy day for his lack of punctuality, I’ll fire back. “Yeah, I can relate. My car, with my cellphone and wallet inside, got stolen about an hour ago. I had to borrow somebody else’s phone so I could call an Uber. By the way, do you mind paying for dinner?”

Finally, a word of warning to all physicians, cable repair technicians and auto mechanics: Do not for one moment consider it OK to make me wait more than 15 minutes past our agreed upon appointment or pickup time due to the “craziness” surrounding your place of business. For I will delay payment for your services well into 2019 due to my “crazy financial status.” While you unsuccessfully attempt to decipher that phrase’s meaning, I will escort you out the door or exit your premises, leaving you to contemplate the absurdity of your defense.

Please stay out of my way if you see me in an elevator.

Greg Schwem is known as the “King of the hill in the world of corporate comedy!” As a funny man and nationally syndicated humor columnist, Greg’s taking on the 21st century workplace and work/life balance has landed him on Fox News, Comedy Central, and Sirius/XMRadio. Fortune 500 companies and professional business associations alike have howled at Greg’s clean, customized material that takes a hilarious look at today’s work environment while motivating audiences to use humor to improve business. To book him for your next event call 888-766-3155 or click here: Book Greg Schwem

If Astronauts Can Access Email, So Can You

I silently read the electronic response multiple times, seconds after it hit my inbox

“I will be out of the office today and will have limited or no access to email.”

After receiving three identical retorts from different message recipients in a single hour, I could take it no more. I hit ‘reply’ to a business associate in Washington and began typing:

“I had no idea you had left the earth’s atmosphere. Please respond when your spacecraft returns. And tell NASA to pony up some bucks for ‘in-shuttle Wi-Fi.’”

NASA, it turns out, has already done so. Just ask retired U.S. navy captain and astronaut Scott Kelly, who logged 520 days in space – 340 consecutively – before permanently returning to earth last year. Even from the International Space Station, Kelly was always connected.

“We could access our ground email, work or personal,” Kelly said. “People wonder how it’s possible to get email in space. I find this odd. Satellite communication is part of our everyday lives and the ISS is a satellite.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly could eat carrots AND check email in the International Space Station

If Kelly can receive emails while hovering 240 miles above the earth, then it is time to retire the bald-faced “limited or no access to email” lie that accompanies the convenient auto-reply feature we utilize when we wish to free ourselves from the burden of answering messages. At the very least, let’s replace it with a choice of more truthful statements:

  • “I am on vacation; therefore, I will not be getting back to you. That’s why it’s called a ‘vacation.’”
  • “I read the subject and the first line of your email and found it to be brain-numbingly dull. Therefore I will not be responding.”
  • “First time I’ve ever used this cool auto-response feature. Did it work?”
  • “Who are you?”

Some years ago, I took a job performing stand-up comedy aboard a cruise ship. Having never experienced a cruise before, I marveled at the environment’s serenity and stillness, despite the nightly, daiquiri-addled conga line that always seemed to materialize on the pool deck. The middle of the ocean, I reasoned, was truly the only place left where one was liberated from the steady barrage of vibrations and pings, signaling the arrival of yet another email on our phones.

I returned to the vessel a year later, dismayed to see that one of its cocktail lounges had been somehow converted into an annoyingly-titled “Wi-Fi café.” Throughout the day, up to a dozen cruisers could be found hunched over aging computers, responding to emails as they awaited their sixth meal. Or seventh. One loses track of the food schedule aboard cruise ships.

Much like President Trump, whose lies, misstatements and flip-flops are immediately revealed via photos, video clips and tweets containing damning, contradictory evidence, some of my contacts bust themselves. An associate in Minnesota, whose auto-response included the “no email access because I’m traveling” phrase, in ALL CAPS mind you, found the time and the technological wherewithal to post a steady pictorial stream of his travels on Facebook. Los Angeles, to be precise.

“There’s a Starbucks on Sunset Boulevard with great Wi-Fi,” I texted, mindful of his alleged email predicament. “And who knows? Maybe you’ll see Tom Hanks!”

Perusing my email app’s trash folder, where I quickly deposit the auto response messages, I did notice that a few contacts had taken the time to edit their responses (yes, that is possible!). Their reasons for ignoring me made perfect sense:

“I am off the grid.”

“Our office is closed. Please text my cell phone.”

“I’m gallivanting with Mickey Mouse.”

“I have retired.”

It is time to admit the only way to run away from emails is to disable one’s Wi-Fi and cellular functions, thereby preventing those pesky cell towers from locating us. Not doing so means you are connected 24/7, despite your lame attempts to hide via a prepared response. Don’t like it? Then I suggest you strap yourself aboard a rocket ship and blast off into…

Wait, that won’t work either. Just ask Scott Kelly.

Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian, nationally syndicated humor columnist for Tribune Content Agency and creator of the web series, “A Comedian Walks Into an Airbnb.” Visit his websites at gregschwem.com andfunnydadinc.com To book Greg for your next event, call 888-766-3155 or visit https://goo.gl/EBeOwV

Remarkably Successful!

A speaker who connects with the audience is relatively effective; a speaker who bonds with them is remarkably successful.  
                        —Janet Perez Eckles

My hand grew wonderfully sore as I signed books for an hour after my keynote presentation. When the room was nearly empty, a woman took me by the arm and asked: “Janet, could I talk to you for a minute?’

I smiled and replied: “Absolutely.”

“As you can see, my organization was blown away by your presentation,” she said. “We have a passionate group here. And I feel proud of them. Often, folks praise me as the President. But really my career has been successful beyond my expectations because of my team. I love my job.

But I have to tell you,” as she squeezed my arm, “what you shared from that stage changed me. You just gave me the clarity to see what I was missing. That’s why I was taking pills to sleep. Stress was about to kill me. But you just gave me the meaning of real success. You put the missing piece to my life’s puzzle. I can’t thank you enough.”

She shared other personal details that left me in awe at God’s way to bring the exact message through me.

If I were to analyze this, I would say there are three reasons:

  1. Humor. Sadly, stress is a way of life in the business world. But humor is the universal bridge to connect with others. Laughter relaxes their muscles, brings down their defenses, and stirs acceptance of the message.
  2. Stories told with transparency and authenticity. Each illustration has to carry an element with which all can identify. The story has to capture their attention and grip their heart. And when real-life examples with an impacting lesson evoke tears, the message becomes unforgettable. 3.
  3. Present practical, doable steps to apply now. Challenge the audience to explore their own potential, nudging them to conquer fear, overcome obstacles and to be bold in declaring their own triumph.

Janet Perez Eckles motto as a speaker for over 15 years is: if you make the audience laugh, they’ll like you. If you make them cry, they’ll never forget you. And if you teach them something to transform them, they’ll want more of you. To learn more and have Janet at your next event contact us at 888-766-3155 today!

Is Hope and Humor a Part of Your Business?

funfridayMany say hope and humor are those things that we don’t need to learn more about; and certainly not something you should pay to hear and learn about!

I consider myself a hopeful and fun person, but how did I get that attitude, and how can I keep it going in the world we now live in?  Many are learning that those who have applied hope and humor in their lives: live longer, have better relationships, are healthier, and have better results in their work and companies they own.

What key things do we need to put into our minds and daily living that will keep us hopeful and having fun? Dale Carnegie said: “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Oh, “WOW” that means we should have fun at work?  I know someone you will want to have as your next speaker who will help you do just that!

Award-winning Kelly Swanson travels the country bringing a powerful message and is “outrageously” Funny! Businesses and the lives of people are being changed! Some of her topics include: “6 Secrets to Connecting with People-that Help you Sell, Lead, and Impact Better”, “Help You Move from Creating Lists, to Creating Habits and Attitudes, which are More Valuable than Lists”, “Help You from Where You are Stuck, to Where You Want to Be.”  Kelly can also custom design topics you have in mind. To book Kelly for your upcoming event contact us here at www.simplysuespeaks.com/contact or email me at sue@simplysuespeaks.com.

Have a great fun week!


“Simply” Sue Falcone
Owner: “Simply” Sue Speaks! Global Booking Agency




Weekly #WOWfactor- Are You Ready to Travel?

mycarJuly is the chosen month by many to travel!Many of us here at “Simply” Sue Speaks! are joining the crowds! However, I keep working to make it a memorable experience not another added job that I don’t have time to enjoy, how about you?

I was greatly encouraged this week by Dr. Joey Faucette  in his recently published article  http://bit.ly/1qy6oen  “How to Cure Vacation Anxiety!”

I realized all my preparation for a time away was usually focused on what I needed to do before we left and while we were gone, never on defining what constituted an emergency while we were gone, or how I would handle our business and life once we returned!

No wonder I felt like when we returned I needed another vacation to get over the one we just experienced! Also can only imagine what a “high maintenance” process it was for my husband to handle as well!

I now have one week before our 2500 mile adventure! I am beginning my planning in a much different way! Won’t you join me and cure your vacation anxiety too?

Love to meet you along the way. Just click on contact here and send me a message, so we can add you to our schedule to have coffee or tea and share life together!

Thanks Dr. Joey for your valuable insight, and I can already see the change happening! Are you ready to travel?

Enjoy the trip,

“Simply” Sue  


It’s Motivation Monday with Kelly Swanson

sonMy nine-year-old son asked me, “Mom, what would you do if you had a million dollars?”

I immediately saw visions of more hair. And chocolate. And candles. And some more hair. And a walk-in closet where my shoes move in front of me on a conveyor belt. And more shoes. Definitely more shoes. And a new car with tons of room and no french fries under the seat. And a bigger house. Wait. Scratch that. That would mean I would have to box up this house. No way. I’m one trinket away from being a hoarder. No way I’m packing up all this stuff. I’ll just buy a new front to my house, so it will look nicer from the street.  That’ll work.

My son saw forty-seven-hundred light up Star Wars sabers – enough for all his friends to have a complete arsenal and secure his status as the neighborhood arms dealer. He saw walls lined with Chicken McNuggets and those spinning candy-filled toys at Cracker Barrel that I never let him buy because they cost more than my colonoscopy. He saw his own walk-in closet filled with super-hero costumes that never get too small, and a room full of Chuck E Cheese tokens that he thinks are worth more than quarters because they’re gold.

After a while, we got around to actually giving away some of that imagined million dollars. I’m not proud that it took us so long to get there. We agreed that we would have enough money to give to our friends and the family members that we liked – and even the ones we didn’t. And to charity. And to our church. And to feed all the dogs and cats in the world.  Because that’s the kind of people we are.  Especially now that we’re millionaires. What’s an extra thousand?

And we remembered that song “I want to be a millionaire” that we just love on the Glee album. And how the guy in the song wishes he was a millionaire so friggin’ bad. And we talked about how we shouldn’t say “friggin” inSunday School. And how the guy in the song would grant peoples’ last wishes, and give away gifts like Oprah. And it got us to thinking how easy it would be to give away gifts and grant wishes if you were Oprah.

Real easy.

Not really a sacrifice at all.

Because it’s easy to give when you have a lot.

In fact, we agreed it wasn’t that much of a sacrifice for a rich man to give away a piece of his riches.

And we remembered the story of the widow who barely had anything and gave it away. My son and I agreed that took much more of a sacrifice. That it’s easy to give when you have a lot – much harder to give when you have nothing. And maybe therein lies the test of true character. (Okay, so maybe I was the one who used the wordtherein – my son still can’t remember the days of the week.)

And we wondered why we should wait until we have a million dollars to give? What if the entire world waited until they were millionaires to give?  And my son and I came to the conclusion that what you do with a million doesn’t mean near as much as what you do with ten.

But we will still definitely get the hair and the light saber. You might as well look good while you’re giving.


Kelly SwansonKELLY SWANSON is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, author, motivational speaker. She has been described by Our State Magazine as one of North Carolina’s funniest women. She uses hilarious comedy, powerful stories, and a wacky cast of southern characters to make people laugh, remind them of their value, and show them how to stand up and stick out in their lives, businesses, and communities. Her shows have delighted audiences from coast to coast, from board rooms to cruise ships. To invite Kelly to your 2014 event, contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.

It’s Motivation Monday with Kelly Swanson

KellyforblogWarning: This post might sting a little. But hearing the truth doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, hearing what you need to hear just might be the greatest gift you have ever received.

The Disconnect in The Speaking Business

I attend a lot of conferences and I’ve seen LOTS of speeches. And very few blew me away. Very few  do I remember years later, or even hours later. Most of them fall in the range of bad to good enough.

What about you? Have you heard your share of speakers? How many really stood out? I would guess it’s a few among many.

The truth as I know it, is that most speakers aren’t great, yet most speakers are more concerned with their selling skills than their speaking skills. I hear most speakers quickly agree that speaking comes easy to them, that getting business is their problem area. I’ll give you one reason why you’re having such a hard time getting business –  because your speech sucks! (Told you this wasn’t going to be pretty.  But sometimes you just can’t sugar coat the truth any longer. )

Okay, so there are many reasons you may not be getting business. I’ll give you that. But no amount of marketing, PR, selling, fancy one sheets, compelling taglines, or great book covers will make up for an average speaker or a mediocre speech. The speech is your product!  (I’m talking about keynote motivational speakers especially, but I think there is an element of truth in all of this for other types of speakers to glean wisdom from.)

If you get up on a stage and hit it out of the park, business will follow. I promise. And if you do that over and over and over again, you will build a reputation, gain fans, and get spinoff business EVERY TIME. And marketing will become secondary. Your product will speak for itself.

So while it may not be true for you, there is a chance that you probably aren’t as good as you think you are. And even if it’s not true, it doesn’t hurt to believe it about yourself. It will push you to work harder, and to make that speech flippin’ brilliant. I can’t ever remember a time when I wrote a speech and said, Now THAT’S as good as it gets! Except for the one I just finished, and it is pretty amazing – but give me a couple of days and I’m sure the luster will have worn off. I am in a constant state of working to get better, pushing to try something new, stretching my wings, finding new ways to deliver what I do. And, yes, I’m not as good as I think I am, and I”m not as bad as I think I am. But I will never stop working.

What about you? Time to pick up that speech and get back to work?

(PS  I can hear some of you right now curling your lip and saying, “I don’t givespeeches. I facilitate conversations. I am a thought leader. I am an expert who speaks.”  Well, I don’t care what you decide to call yourself, or what you call that experience you give to an audience – it had better be good, worth their money, unforgettable, and holding great value, or you won’t be doing it for long.  I’m just saying.)

kelly cartoon

KELLY SWANSON is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, author, motivational speaker. She has been described by Our State Magazine as one of North Carolina’s funniest women. She uses hilarious comedy, powerful stories, and a wacky cast of southern characters to make people laugh, remind them of their value, and show them how to stand up and stick out in their lives, businesses, and communities. Her shows have delighted audiences from coast to coast, from board rooms to cruise ships. To invite Kelly to your 2014 event, contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.