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Makes me laugh

Published on May 3, 2013 by in Uncategorized

There is no end to the number of links one gets on Face Book, and I rarely click on them and even more rarely pass them on. This one, however is different. I don’t know why it strikes me so funny, but it does. Perhaps it’s in the telling, or perhaps it’s the joke itself, but it made me laugh and I feel I have to share it. After all laugh is a part of my name! Check it out!

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Emotional Intelligence

Published on April 29, 2013 by in Uncategorized

For decades we have known that mere intelligence isn’t enough to assure success in life. You probably know someone who, while obviously very bright, is not successful. In 1995 Daniel Goleman introduced the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to explain why people of rather ordinary intelligence often out perform their “smarter” colleagues. He suggested that unlike IQ which measures cognitive ability, and is fairly constant over time, emotional intelligence is a set of skills which can be improved. The difference is between ability (IQ) and skills (EQ).

In 1997 Multi-Health Systems published the first version of the EQ-i, which measures 15 emotional intelligence skills. Now they have released EQ-i 2.0 with improvements which make the reports even more user friendly. At present there are two reports, the Workplace Report, and the Leadership Report, each of which applies the assessment to a different environment, and provides concrete suggestions for improving the skills.

While I was working at the University of Kansas Public Management Center, I became certified to administer and interpret the EQ-i, and used the assessment to help scores of students improve their performance. I am now offering this service through Laugh2Learn.

Please take a look at the new EQ-i reports, and note how useful they are in improving performance for both workers and leaders.




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Sometimes you need a challenge.

Published on April 15, 2013 by in Uncategorized

My theatre experience expands over 20 years, and includes comedy, farce, drama, commercials and film. So why was my recent performance in a Theatre for Young Audiences Show at Topeka Civic Theatre so special? It was a musical! A musical in which I had to sing and dance! A musical in which I had to sing and dance a solo! I am probably the clumsiest person I know. I am extremely uncoordinated. I have made adjustments in my life that allow me to get along most of the time without injuring myself, but moving my feet and my hands at the same time in a coordinated fashion is more than a little difficult.

As rehearsals got underway  I was overwhelmed with anxiety. The first time I had to sing my solo during rehearsal on stage, I had such bad dry mouth I could barely speak, let along sing. But I stuck with it, and sing I did. Pretty well if I say so myself.

After much effort, I also mastered the dance steps for the grand finale and thought I was doing pretty well until the director reminded me I was supposed to be singing tool. Ok, full concentration, and I’m singing and dancing. Are they satisfied? No! Now they want me to smile! Finally, I got it. I’m singing, dancing, and smiling and they tell me I’m not supposed to look at my feet. “If you look at your feet the audience will look at your feet.” Well that makes sense, and the last place I want to audience to look while I’m dancing is my feet, so no more looking at my feet. Are they doing the right thing? Who knows, but they’re moving and I’m singing and smiling so let’s go for it.

The show was a success. The audience applauded. Friends and strangers complemented me on my performance. But for me, it was extra special because I had attempted something I knew would be difficult. And I had made it work.

I truly believe that we need a challenge now and again to make our lives meaningful. Something different, something difficult.

I don’t know what challenge I’ll set for myself next. I’m going to enjoy this one for awhile. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll clean up my desk.

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Objective and Outcome

What is the objective? What is the expected outcome?

Objective and outcome; two of the most important concepts in training, are also important in everyday conversation.

I was recently talking to an acquaintance, who was greatly exaggerating everything he said. As a matter of fact, I suspect this young man lives in a Walter Mitty world. His stories became increasingly preposterous, until I was tempted to tell him I knew he had to be making stuff up; that if he really did own a 1969 Camero, he would know they didn’t come in a five speed with a titanium crankshaft. And when he expostulated about when they flew B29 bombers off Aircraft carriers in World War II, I could have pointed out that the B-29 required a mile long runway. Then I asked myself what would be my objective? To make him feel bad? To make myself feel smarter? And what would be the outcome? He would be embarrassed. What is the good of that?

Now think about your conversations. How often have you been tempted to give a sarcastic response to something someone said? Have you ever wanted to call someone a nasty name? What would be your objective? What would you hope to accomplish by sarcasm or name calling? And, what would be the outcome? Would you strengthen a friendship with sarcasm or name calling? Would sarcasm or name calling resolve a conflict?

When working with a new client I always try to determine the objectives of the training. “What do you want this training to accomplish?” “How will your team be different after this training?” The answers to these questions are essential to developing and producing a successful training product. Similarly, you should ask yourself, “What do I hope to accomplish by saying out loud what I am thinking?” and “What will be the outcome if I say it?” Take a moment and ask these questions and you will build stronger relationships.

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When Failure Isn’t Failure

Below is a video of Bob Fisher, who holds 14 world records in free throw shooting.

I know about him because he lives just a short motorcycle ride from my home town. I am writing about him because of something the Topeka Capitol Journal quoted him saying: “With our brain, the key word is elasticity. Failure is not failure. Failure is progress. Failure is information.”

I have written about failure before, and how it isn’t failure, but the fear of failure that keeps us from success. Note in the video that not every shot goes in. Failures? No, information.

Once more, it isn’t failure, it’s the fear of failure that keeps us from success.

There is a whole new world out there, filled with excitement and adventure. I can’t guarantee you will succeed at everything you try, but if you don’t try, I can guarantee you won’t. And if you don’t succeed, don’t consider it a failure, consider it information, and take another shot!



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What’s in a name?

“Hi, my name is Tori, I’ll be your server.”

“Hi Tori, my name is Marvin, and this is Rebecca.”

So began an encounter at a restaurant recently. I wanted Tori to know that I saw her as a person, not simply “your server,” and I wanted Tori to know that we were Marvin and Rebecca, not merely “the customers at table 23.”

Names are important. They take us from being something – a server, a customer – to being human individuals. In a sense, they make us visible. They also make us responsible.

In the e-connected environment, we can post outrageous comments without being responsible for them. “Snuggles123” is free to say things that the person behind the moniker would be hesitant to have associated with her/his name. It does not lead to reasonable discourse.

But while names are valuable, they must be distinguished from labels.  Labels allow us to categorize people; to decide without thought whether we agree or disagree with them; whether they are worthy to be our friends and colleagues. When we name someone, we humanize them. When we label them we do just the opposite. And by labeling we can make early assumptions about a person’s ideas. Thus labeling stifles meaningful discussion. Think of some of the following:


Wing nut


Gun nut

Tree hugger


Once we attach one of these labels to someone we can decide without hearing what they say whether we agree or disagree with them.

We call it name calling, but it’s not, it’s labeling, and it divides us.

So, more names, fewer labels. We can get along much better.

My name is Marvin Stottlemire, and I approve this post. Heck, I wrote it!

Speaking of names, remember this?


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Being Stupid

Published on February 5, 2013 by in Jokes

Several years ago, when my boys were younger, I took them to one of the national haircut chains. We walked in and I said, “We would like three haircuts and a beard trim.” The receptionist asked our names.

“Joel, Glenn, and Marvin.”

“And which one gets the beard trim?”

“I do.”

“And you are . . .?”


Afterward I remarked to the boys how unobservant she was not to know it was me who needed a beard trim.

“Dad,” the boys pointed out, “She wanted to know the name of the one who got the beard trim.”


You never feel stupider than when you thought you had caught someone else being stupid and you are the stupid one.

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The kind of feedback I love.

Published on January 25, 2013 by in Uncategorized

Imagine my joy when Kim Fertig posted this on my Facebook page:

“Oh my gosh, Marvin! Everyone at McCrite Plaza is RAVING about how much fun they had with your team-building workshop yesterday!”

I absolutely love what I do, and feedback like this indicates it’s successful.

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The Right Thing

Several years ago, when I was working as a government attorney, I was punished for doing the right thing. Details aren’t important, but I was asked for a legal opinion, and I gave the best, most truthful answer even though I knew it wasn’t what my client wanted to hear. As a result I was demoted.

It made me think. How can we know how moral we are if we are always rewarded for doing the “right thing?” Can we be sure we did what we did because it was right, or because we anticipated the reward?

I think we begin to know a bit about our moral fiber when we do the right thing and are ignored, but the true test comes when the right thing leads to punishment.

Dr. King understood this. If you have a moment, read his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

My wife also understand this. While I was dealing with the hurt from being demoted for doing the right thing, she located and had printed the following, which graces my bulletin board to this day.

“Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe?
expediency asks the question, Is it politic?
vanity asks the question, Is it popular?
but conscience asks the question, Is it right?
and there comes a time when one must take
a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor
popular, but he must take it because his
conscience tells him that it is right…”

Thank you, Dr. King. RIP


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Things I Learned From My Dog

Published on January 3, 2013 by in Uncategorized

Things I Learned From My Dog

Wisdom comes from the strangest places. In recent weeks I have been learning from Rufus, my dog. I have long been using dogs as examples of good listening skills, and Laugh2Learn even has an improv game, “How to Listen Like Your Dog,” but lately I have come to realize that our canine partners have even more to teach us.


Rufus never gives up hope. Every time someone goes into the kitchen, Rufus gets up from wherever he is sleeping and comes to see what is being prepared and if a crumb will fall to the floor or, even better,  someone will share something with him. Hope and optimism are closely related, and optimism is one of the key emotional intelligence skills. We can all learn to remain hopeful and optimistic and, therefore happier. Thank you Rufus for a good example.

Rufus is persistent. Each evening Rufus and I share a bowl of popcorn. I sit and my recliner and he sits at my feet, reminding me that I am to share. Like me he’s not very coordinated, and misses most of the kernels I toss him. Occasionally one will go under the sofa. When all the rest of the popcorn is gone, Rufus will begin to work on retrieving the hidden popcorn. He won’t stop until either he manages to get it out, or he convinces one of us to recover it for him. Which leads me to the next lesson.

Rufus will ask for help. When the popcorn is too far under the sofa for his tongue or paws, he will approach one of us to let us know he needs help. This willingness to ask for and receive help is also a valuable human trait. How many of us are too proud to admit we need help, whether it’s something as minor as assistance carrying something, or as important as seeking professional counseling, we humans can learn from Rufus.

Rufus expresses gratitude. It doesn’t matter how long he has been kept outside, Rufus is always excited to be let in. He doesn’t pout or complain that he was out too long, he simply runs into the house, tail wagging in appreciation. And, it happens every time. He is let out of and into the house several times a day, and each time he is let back in, he lets us know he is grateful. Do we humans express gratitude for the events; for a well cooked meal, a trip to the grocery store, or to the garbage can? Our relationships will be stronger if we remember to be grateful even, or perhaps especially, for small things.

So,  here’s to you Rufus. Thanks for the lessons in successful living.


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