Seven years ago, I woke up, sent some emails, and went bowling for a friend’s birthday. And I did it all as a full-time entrepreneur. As of July 1, 2012 I was no longer a Procter & Gamble employee, I had officially started working on Humor That Works full-time. And 2,556 days later, I’m still at it.

Over the past seven years, I have: delivered 536 programs, performed 574 comedy shows, published three books, delivered two TEDx talks, spoke in front of 40,000+ people, launched a coaching program, online course, and awards program, visited all 50 states, 27 countries and 6 continents, and, most importantly, have built a sustainable business spreading the word about the power of humor.

But not everything I’ve done has gone according to plan. Below is a look at some of those “accomplishments” in a little more detail, along with the takeaways I’ve gained from each.

I wanted to share this recap not to brag about what I’ve done (you can see many aren’t brag-worthy), but to share the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, content creator, and idea haver. Not everything you do is going to work, not every project will be profitable, and not every video will be impactful. But if you never put anything out there, you’ll never create the thing that can change the world (or at least one person’s day, year, or life).

21 Lessons from 7 Years as an Entrepreneur

JULY 24, 2012: I did my first paid gig for Humor That Works after making it my full-time job.

The event was a 3-hour workshop for Santander in Dallas, TX that paid me $1,000 plus travel. Going into the event, the organizer acted liked there would be the opportunity to do a lot of different trainings for the group. After the event, I never heard from her again. That may have been because I didn’t deliver on what they were expecting, it was just hopeful optimism on both of our parts, or it was a way to get me to lower my price (like getting paid in “exposure”).

Takeaway #1: There’s never a guarantee for additional work unless it’s in the contract.

NOVEMBER 13, 2012: I uploaded a video called Zombie Tag to YouTube.

The video was a simple demonstration of one of my favorite applied improv exercises. I had little expectation of how many people would see it, I just wanted to share a fun activity. It slowly became a popular team-building video, now with more than 500,000 views. I foolishly used the song O Fortuna to make the video seem epic which means any ad revenue from the video goes to the music owner, not me.

Takeaway #2: You never know what’s going to resonate with people. As a result, create as though the entire world will see it, but only do the things you’d do even if no one saw it.

NOVEMBER 14, 2012: My first “real” book launched.

501 ways to use humor book

I say “real” because I had previously published a collection of quotations, but they were more curation than creation. I self-published 501 Ways to Use Humor, Beat Stress, and Increase Productivity in both print and on Kindle with the goal of providing a resource for people who wanted to use humor but didn’t know how to get started. The book has so far sold 6,123 copies, netting a 3.8 rating on Amazon off of 18 reviews.

Takeaway #3: You can’t have a third book if you never created a first one. Even if it doesn’t go gang-busters, the first attempt helps you learn for the next several.

MARCH 14, 2013: I officially launched my humor coaching program.

The goal was to provide one-on-one coaching for people who were looking to make a change in their life. After the first six months I all but abandoned the idea after discovering I didn’t really love coaching. I had a grand total of 12 clients, three of which were paid.

Takeaway #4: Just because a successful person does something a certain way, it doesn’t mean you have to. Find the things you like to do and focus on those, rather than doing something because you think you’re “supposed” to.

APRIL 3, 2013: I announced the first ever Corporate Humor Awards.

The awards were created to celebrate individuals and organizations that use humor in the workplace. They recognized five individuals and five companies that effectively used humor in creating a better work environment for the humans that worked there. I repeated the awards in 2014, completely ignored them for three years, and then brought them back in 2018 and (soon) 2019. Yes, I wish I had continued the Corporate Humor Awards every year, but I don’t want the inconsistency to stop me from bringing back the awards whenever I have capacity for them.

Takeaway #5: More important than being consistent is being persistent.

FEBRUARY 4, 2014: I had an enlightening lunch with a fellow engineer.

The lunch was with two PhD students at Carnegie Melon University. I had reached out to them because they were also engineers  who were interested in improv. Towards the end of the lunch, one of the guys asked me who managed my website. I proudly claimed I did and asked why. His response was, “When I talk with you now, I get that you’re an engineer and that you focus on humor because it works, and it sounds fascinating. But when I read the site, it seems fluffy and touchy-feely, and doesn’t seem like something I’d be interested in.” I was appreciative of the feedback and it made me wonder how many other people never reached out or considered booking me because they were turned off by the language on the site.

Takeaway #6: You hardly hear the “nos.” No feedback is, in fact, feedback. If something you try isn’t getting a response, it means something needs to change.

FEBRUARY 8, 2014: I delivered my very first TEDx talk at TEDxOSU.

humor at work tedx

Though the talk never went “viral,” it has racked up more 200,000 views and has led to 13 speaking engagements and over $30,000 in revenue. Looking back at the talk now, I still believe in the content but cringe at the delivery knowing that I’m so much stronger as a speaker now. Part of me wishes I had delivered a stronger talk, but that was a great delivery for my skill level at the time. Plus, I’d much rather look back five years and think I’m a better speaker now than look back five years and realize I haven’t grown at all.

Takeaway #7: If you don’t look back at the past five years and at least cringe a little bit, you probably aren’t taking big enough chances or continually improving.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2014: I had my first five-figure event day.

For the first time in company (and my personal) history, I earned over $10,000 in a day. To do so, I delivered a keynote, breakout, and two workshops over the course of one day for a group of project managers at Nationwide in Columbus, OH. It would be two years before my next five-figure day.

Takeaway #8: One success doesn’t guarantee another success, just as one failure doesn’t guarantee another failure. But a peak at one time can give you a glimpse of what the future could hold.

JANUARY 21, 2015: I launched an online course on humor at work.

After three months of planning, shooting, and editing, my first (and currently only) online course went live on Udemy. I hoped that it might lead to a nice stream of passive income and generate leads for in-person workshops… thus far it has netted $1,682 from 1,198 students and zero leads. Despite my insistence that it is not a course on being funnier, it sits at a 4.15 rating (on 45 reviews) with more than a few negative comments about how it doesn’t make people funnier. More than anything, it did force me to put together a cohesive workshop-style program that I used for in-person deliveries.

Takeaway #9: Passive income is very misunderstood; very often it’s delayed income from work you put in a long time ago, and it’s not guaranteed.

AUGUST 7, 2015: My second app, the Perfect Day (now called 5 Daily Habits), launched.

While I hoped others might benefit from the app, the primary purpose was to provide an easy way for me to follow my five daily habits program. My first app, 501 Ways to Use Humor, came out in November 2013 as an add-on to my first book and has made -$723 dollars off of roughly 200 downloads (revenue of $902 minus $1,625 cost to build). 5 Daily Habits has netted -$3,960 (the app is free but app development is not) with over 6,000 downloads, but it has more than paid for itself in keeping me accountable to my short- and long-term goals… that is until I stopped tracking my habits sometime in 2018.

Takeaway #10: Return-on-investment doesn’t always come in the form of money back, sometimes it’s a new skill, accountability, or additional credibility. Also apps are hard.

JULY 17, 2015: I did a talk for sales new hires at P&G.

Since leaving P&G, I’ve returned to the organization for a number of the events, including one for new employees in sales. In the audience for the talk was Adam, a new hire and the son of the president of the National Speakers Bureau, Brian. Adam enjoyed my presentation so much, he called his dad about it and two days later I talked with Brian about being part of his speaker line-up. That meeting resulted in them listing me as one of their speakers and I’ve done five talks with them for more than $25,000. I’m also friends with Adam and Brian.

Takeaway #11: You never know who is sitting in your audience and what opportunities may come when you deliver a good product or program.

FEBRUARY 11, 2016: I completed my 1,000th performance in my 50th state on my 32nd birthday.

performances by year running

The storytelling show in Hawaii was one of the defining moments of my career up to that point as it was the culmination and celebration of months of travels, years of performances, and decades of existence. I never would have guessed that this introverted teacher’s pet would go on to perform in more than 1,000 shows, let alone do it in all 50 states.

Takeaway #12: What starts as a hobby today could become your passion/career/purpose  tomorrow (where “tomorrow” is a metaphor for the future, 24 hours from hobby to career seems unlikely).

APRIL 22, 2017: I gave my second TEDx talk, this time on the skill of humor at TEDxTAMU.

I dedicated nearly four months to prepping for the talk, doing stand-up and speaking engagements to iterate on the message. I felt great about the performance and the end result. On January 2, 2018, six months after the talk came out, it only had 3,000 views. It hit one million views on July 2, 2018, currently has over four million views, and has been an idea worth spreading.

Takeaway #13: Success is rarely instant. Yes, some people “go viral” “overnight,” but often it’s the result of years of hard work before it happens. And yes, luck plays a huge role in success, but the harder you work, the luckier you seem to get.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017: My second book, The United States of Laughter, came out.

When I started my  nomadic journey on March 1, 2015, I had no idea what it would lead to or why I was even doing it. By the end of trip, I had traveled 159,023 miles, gone to all 50 states, and visited 14 countries over the course of 18 months. I also had such incredible experiences that I felt compelled to write about them. Like 501 Ways, The United States of Laughter was self-published but in a much more professional manner. It’s currently sold 2,220 copies and has a 4.7 rating on 54 reviews. It has led to 22 media appearances and, perhaps most importantly, gave me the opportunity to do a literal book launch.

Takeaway #14: There’s a cliche that asks, “If anyone wrote a book about your life, would anyone care to read it?” Why not do something worth writing a book about, and then write the book.

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017: I uploaded The Cliched Meaning of Life video.

The video is a stand-up bit that involves 100 cliches in 4 minutes exploring the meaning of life. I had spent years perfecting the performance but kept putting off uploading the video as I thought it had the chance to go viral (and maybe even get me on Ellen), and I was scared to find out if it would. The video currently sits at ~7,000 views and I have not appeared on Ellen.

Takeaway #15: Sometimes we hold off on sharing something with the world because the dream that it might work feels better than the confirmation that it won’t. But you can’t watch a video that’s never been uploaded, and holding on to a fantasy prevents you from building a new reality.

FEBRUARY 18, 2018: I delivered a talk at NSA Winter Conference on the Future of Content Creation.

The talk explores what the world of speaking may look like in the future and was well received. In addition to a standing ovation and a few speakers jokingly “bowing” to me, people afterwards told me they could see that talk being given at nearly every tech conference out there… I’ve only delivered the talk one more time, at another speaker event. However, it has prompted me to work on creating the creative assistant I imagine we’ll have in the future, which might be a product or service in the future.

Takeaway #16: Don’t let compliments or insults sway you too far one way or another. They can be helpful pieces of feedback, but they don’t guarantee success or failure. Only your attitude and commitment do.

JUNE 13, 2018: I streamlined my websites into two brands: Drew Tarvin and Humor That Works.

Drew Tarvin became a combination of Drew Tarvin (comedy / blogging), Andrew Tarvin (speaking, authoring), Slash Entrepreneur (entrepreneurship), and Create / Consume (time tracking). Humor That Works (humor at work training) absorbed Humor Engineer (humor work), Humor’s Office (funny office humor), Humor Awards (corporate humor awards), and Understanding Comedy (how to be funny). For those keeping score, that’s two successful sites out of nine that I started. Though none of the other sites really took off, I wouldn’t call them failures either because they helped me explored ideas and many of the posts still exists under the new brands.

Takeaway #17: You will fail more often than you succeed, but often you will only succeed because you’ve failed.

OCTOBER 25, 2018: I stepped down as co-owner of CSz New York.

CSz New York was the first group I did improv with when I moved to New York City. 10 years and over 350 shows later, I was co-owner of the organization and working to build its presence in the city. Eventually, Humor That Works grew big enough that I wasn’t able to commit time to running the organization or performing as frequently as I once did. The group remains one of the most supportive, hilarious, and joyous groups I’ve ever been a part of was one of the biggest things I had “give up” in order to build the business I wanted to.

Takeaway #18: Owning a business is not without sacrifice. Sometimes you have to stop doing the things you really like to do for the things you love to do.

FEBRUARY 1, 2019: The first Humor That Works workshop not delivered by me took place.

The facilitator-led workshop was a version of a communications workshop I had delivered 80 times for the Flatiron School over six years. But workshop #81 was delivered by Vandad, someone who I trained up to do the program. Since then, 22 Humor That Works programs, including one keynote, have been presented by people not named Drew Tarvin, allowing the message of humor to be spread even when I’m not available or already booked.

Takeaway #19: There’s only so much you can do alone. If you want to multiply your efforts, you’ll have to engage or partner with other people. As the adage goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

MARCH 8, 2019: I gave a presentation on my fifth continent in two months (and my sixth continent total).

After a few years of various conversations with IBM, I got booked with them to do three week-long events in three different countries (US, Spain, and Singapore) for the largest contract amount I had ever recorded (more than twice the amount of money I made my entire first year as a full-time speaker). Rather than just do those events and be done with it, I decided to seek out additional speaking opportunities in neighboring countries, adding a talk in Morocco and a workshop in Australia, giving me five continents in 47 days.

Takeaway #20: When you achieve success, find ways you can build on that momentum rather than rest on your laurels.

APRIL 1, 2019: My third book, Humor That Works, was published by hybrid-publisher Page Two.

humor that works books

The book was a culmination of everything I learned over 10 years regarding the what, why, and how of humor in the workplace. The book launched as a #1 new release and was featured in FastCompany, Thrive Global, and Monster.com. It was named a top gift for Father’s Day by Forbes and one of the best 49 business books for Empowered Professionals. In the first 3 months, it sold 941 copies, garnered a 4.8 rating on 29 reviews, and led to literal book launch version 2. To get all of that, all it took was over $30,000 in publishing and PR services… but it has led to increased credibility, workshop add-ons, and helped confirm a few booked engagements.

Takeaway #21: To get to the next level, you have to be willing to invest in yourself and your business. The payoff may not always be immediate, but it will come eventually (hopefully).

SUMMARY

That brings us to today, July 1, 2019, when I wrote this post capturing some of my successes and failures over seven years of working for myself. Reviewing the past septet of years has served as a helpful reminder of the importance of continuing to create. Honestly, I hadn’t remembered all the things that I tried that didn’t go according to plan. By always having things I was working on, I could focus on what worked instead of dwelling on what didn’t.

A sincere thank you to all who have supported me these past seven years, and for the haters who have helped me grow and get stronger. Here’s to another seven (and hopefully more) years full of successes, failures, and everything in between.

2017 built on the good and bad of 2016. Political discussion got more divided, the weather got harsher, and my personal year was great.

So, ignoring the macro and focusing on the DrewCo, here’s my review of 2017.

Best Achievement – Publishing The United States of Laughter

After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided to actually write a book about my experiences as a nomad. When I began, I wasn’t entirely sure I would publish it, maybe just keep it as a more in-depth journal of my journey. But after the first few drafts, and getting inspired by Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, I decided to unleash it upon the world. I’m very glad I did. As a result, I hit top new release in both Travel Writing and Humor Essays, I launched the book out of a catapult, I talked about it on a few different news stations, and 50+ people gave it a 5-star review on Amazon.

Runner-Up: My second public TEDx Talk.

Best Personal Development – Less Than 100 Grams of Sugar

As many of you know, I love sugar. It’s my biggest vice, far greater than any alcohol or Grand Theft Auto video games. For 2017, I made it a goal to consume less than 100g of sugar each day which meant dropping my usual breakfast (Pop Tarts), no longer pretending drinking juice was particularly healthy, and limiting myself to only one dessert a day. Yes, this was actually a challenge but definitely needed considering 100 grams is double the old recommended amount by the World Health Organization and four times the updated recommendation of sugar for an adult (25g or less than one soda).

Runner-Up: Read a book a month.

Best Business Decision – Attending NSA Influence 2017

There are a few conferences I try to attend every year and the National Speaker’s Association annual summer conference is one of them. Though I’ve attended in the past, this year helped me establish additional credibility as a humorist and helped me further build my network with some of the most talented, and giving, speakers I’ve ever met. Subsequent meetings and events that sprang from those relationships have already started to transform my business.

Runner-Up: Publishing The United States of Laughter

Best Personal Decision – Brother’s Bachelor Party in Texas

My brothers and I don’t always get a chance to hang out considering we live in three different states, but it’s always a great time when we do. This year, for Adam’s Bachelor Party, we surprised him with a trip to Texas for a couple of baseball games, great food, and general brotherly fun.

Runner-Up: Notre Dame visit

Best Speaking Engagement – TEDxTAMU

It was another busy year of speaking but nothing can top the 18 minute talk I did for TEDxTAMU. I got a chance to talk about my favorite subject (humor), one of my brothers and my mom were in attendance, and it went very well. The fact that I have a great video as a result of it is an added bonus.

Runner-Up: Women’s Foodservice Forum

Best Performance – The Armando Diaz Experience

Nate was the reason I got into comedy in the first place but we don’t often get a chance to perform together considering we live on opposite coasts. So, when presented with the chance to be the monologist for his Armando show, it was a no-brainer.

Runner-Up: CSz Cincinnati

Best Travel – Acadia

My trip to Acadia National Park could not have been more perfect considering the views, hiking, and the company.

Runner-Up: Brother Road Trip

Best New Restaurant – Di Fara Pizza

It’s hard to still be impressed by pizza, but Di Fara’s in Brooklyn manages to do it. All of the pies are still made by the original owner and they are exquisite.

Runner-Up: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

Best Movie (I Saw) – Get Out

I’m not usually a horror film fan, but Jordan Peele’s movie does everything so well it’s hard not to like. It feels like there isn’t a wasted scene or line in the entire thing.

Runner-Up: Moonlight

Best TV Show (I Watched) – Stranger Things

I was late to the game with Stranger Things but it was thoroughly enjoyable and well-executed.

Runner-Up: Doctor Who

Best Book (I Read) – A Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson’s book completely changed what I thought was possible with a memoir. It’s engaging, it’s entertaining, and it makes you laugh out loud. After reading it, I completely revamped by own book and was inspired to aim higher with what I wanted to write.

Runner-Up: Exactly What to Say

Best Tweet – 10 Marks the Spot

I’ve selected 20 of my best tweets of 2017 but my favorite favorite is this one:

The meme du jour of 2016 was how awful of a year it was for the world. Brexit happened, Trump was elected, and Carrie Fisher died. Of course, some people were in favor of those things (not the last one, who would want that?).

At a macro level, 2016 was bad, particularly for climate change and women’s rights in some states. But at a Drew level, 2016 was a pretty good year. Here, as usual, is the best of the year.

Best Achievement – Completing All 50 States

On my 32 birthday this year, I finished my goal of speaking or performing in all 50 states. Hawaii was the perfect state to end the journey, filled with beautiful scenery, fun adventures, welcoming cousins who showed me around, and a storytelling show. 10/10 would do the whole thing again.

Runner-Up: Reaching 1,000 Performances.

Best Personal Development – Doing Weekly Planning

The farther removed I am from my project management days at P&G, the less I leverage that expertise in my day-to-day life. In 2016, one thing I brought back was more deliberate planning, this time at a weekly level. Each Sunday (approximately), I would think about what I wanted to accomplish that coming week and plan one key task for each day. I didn’t always complete those tasks and sometimes the planning happened on a Monday (or Thursday), but it did make me more aware of how I was spending my time.

Runner-Up: Checking my phone less frequently.

Best Business Decision – Moving Back to NYC

Since moving back to NYC, I’ve established great new business contacts, delivered some great events, re-engaged with some awesome people, and have had the best bagels in the country. NYC has always been a great place for building my skills as a speaker and comedian, it’s now also turning into a great place to deliver those skills.

Runner-Up: Starting a Mastermind group.

Best Personal Decision – Stopping my Nomadism

Don’t get me wrong, being a nomad for 18 months was an incredible experience (and was heralded as 2015’s best personal decision), but this year was also the right time to end it. Since moving back to NYC in September, I’ve been able to focus more on my work and have a lot more time to relax; I didn’t realize how much time I was spending planning my next trip or figuring out where I was going to sleep.

Runner-Up: Reconnecting with Old Friends

Best Speaking Engagement – Women’s Foodservice Forum

I surpassed 100 engagements for the second year in a row and spoke for some incredible groups. From my first single facilitator delivery of a two-day training at Microsoft, to presenting to my largest audience (1,000 people!) in Columbus, I was apart of some great events. But the top for me was the Women’s Foodservice Forum where I spoke to 400 aspiring leaders who were gracious, eager to learn, and seemed to really enjoy my sense of humor. It’s also where I got witness the butt sketch artist first-hand.

Runner-Up: PMI Central Ohio Chapter

Best Performance – The Story of My Year as a Nomad

While I certainly gave better performances in 2016, the most meaningful was my 1,000th performance on my 32nd birthday in my 50th state: the story of my year as a nomad.

Runner-Up: Featuring at Go Bananas Comedy Club

Best Travel – Hawaii

I sound like a broken record but how can you beat the Islands of Aloha?

Runner-Up: Zion National Forest

Best New Restaurant – Eleven Madison Park

It’s hard not to go with the World’s #3 ranked restaurant but for me the reason it’s on the top of the list is that they somehow made brussels sprouts AND scallops that I could not only stomach, but I actually liked. I guess my new rule is that I don’t like sprouts unless they’re served at a Michelin three star restaurant.

Runner-Up: Chick N Cone

Best Movie (I Saw) – Doctor Strange

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the Marvel movies. No, I don’t care that there are a million of them now and yes, I’m excited for yet another reboot of the Spider Man series. I enjoyed Doctor Strange because it introduced me to a character I knew nothing about and explored a world that was new to me.

Runners-Up: All of the Best Picture nominees, The Nice Guys

Best TV Show (I Watched) – Rick and Morty

 

The show is very weird and it takes a few episodes to get into, but by golly is it funny.

Runner-Up: Luke Cage

Best Book (I Read) – Smarter, Faster, Better

Charles Duhigg’s book is a great read for learning more about motivation and effectiveness, and it’s given me a phrase I used in most of my trainings: psychological safety. I find myself recommending this book to people over and over again.

Runners-Up: Bossypants, Modern Romance, Sprint

Best Tweet – Ghosts

I’ve selected 20 of my best tweets of 2016 but my favorite favorite is this one:

I do a lot in a year. I eat a lot of food, drink a lot of milkshakes, and generally find enjoyable ways to spend my  525,600 minutes. Here are the best of those moments. (See previous bestofs here.)

Best Achievement – Visiting 47 States

OK, technically this achievement was not on the goals list at the beginning of the year… but I think the fact that I visited (and spoke or performed in) 47 states is quite impressive. And when you add West Virginia, North Carolina, and Hawaii which I’ll get to by February 11, I’ll have hit all 50 states in a 12 month time period.

Runner-Up: 107 speaking / coaching / training engagements

Best Personal Development – Writing More Stories

A by-product of my nomadic travels (see below) has been that I’ve been more conscious of the stories happening in my life. By searching for “story worthy” moments, it’s helped me better appreciate the experiences I’ve had, whether they be the not-at-all kidnapping of Italy or a Walmart Parking Lot in Maine.

Runner-Up: Allowing myself to relax

Best Business Decision – Going to the National Speakers Association Conference

The NSA Conference in 2015 was a great event for me. Not only did I present to fellow speakers and find success, I also met with a bureau (thanks to an event I did at P&G) that has started to represent me. I also met some pretty awesome people.

Runner-Up: Going Nomadic

Best Personal Decision – Going Nomadic

Since March 1, 2015, I’ve been a corporate nomad. I’ve lived out of two bags and have traveled to 47 states and 7 countries. While I’ve certainly missed having a homebase, the experiences of traveling have far outweighed any challenges of being on the road. Having an awesome friends in so many places doesn’t hurt either.

Runner-Up: Staying in Touch

Best Speaking Engagement – AIN 2015

I spoke at a lot of events in 2015 and enjoyed every single one of them. However none were as enjoyable as presenting to my fellow applied improviser in the beautiful setting of the AIN Conference 2015. I did two sessions, and based on the feedback, they both went very well. You can also now see my talk in improvising conversations online.

Runners-Up: Procter & Gamble, OSU Young Alumni, General Assembly

Best Personal Performance – Throckmorton

Thanks to a great connection, I was able to perform in the 200+ seat Throckmorton Theater in the Bay Area. It was a great lineup of performers and I got to do a mix of stand-up and a cliche bit I’ve been working for over a year on. Based on the audience reaction, during and after, it was well received.

Runner-Up: ComedySportz in New York, San Antonio, Seattle, Richmond, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Quad Cities, Provo, Twin Cities, Detroit, Los Angeles, Portland, Indianapolis, Sacramento, and Houston.

Best Travel – 17 State Road Trip 

A year of being a Nomad is likely to lead to some incredible journeys. From my awesome adventures in Norway to great moments in Ohio, I had a phenomenal year of travel. But my favorite part of the journey was the 17 State Road Trip I went on with my brother. It started with my ComedySportz family in Illinois and ended with my real family in Ohio, and I visited 17 states along the way.

Runners-Up: Norway, Grand Canyon, Multiple New York Trips

Best New Restaurant – Sandy’s Donuts

According to Foursquare, I checked into 830 places in 2015, a majority of them restaurants. I’ve had some interesting concoctions in some interesting locations, but the one I keep telling people about is the Smores donut I had from Sandy’s Donuts in Fargo, North Dakota.

Runner-Up: Dognvill Burger, Plan Check

Best New Food – Chicken Alfredo Burrito

Some might see Chicken Alfredo pasta wrapped in a burrito with added cheese and think “Why?” The folks at La Parilla think, “Why not?” So I tried it. And no it wasn’t the most amazing thing that I ate the entire year, it was definitely the most indulgent from an American standpoint. And it was delicious.

Runner-Up: Bunny Bites

Best Live Show – ComedySportz World Championship 2015

Can the best live show I saw be one that I was in? Well it is. The ComedySportz World Championship 2015 versus Quad Cities was such an incredibly fun match to play in, and it went down to the wire for the winning team (Quad Cities). It was great to participate in but even better to watch.

Runner-Up: Honey at SF Improv Festival

Best Movie (I Saw) – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Were there things that could be improved? Yes. Did it have some similarities to A New Hope? Yes. Was it the movie I was most excited to see and thoroughly entertained in the entire time? Yes.

Runner-Up: Straight Outta Compton

Best TV Show (I Watched) – Daredevil 

Since I didn’t really read much last year, I decided to add a type of media I did consume a lot: TV. And not in the traditional sense, but more in the Netflix and binge variety. For me, my favorite show of the year was Daredevil. It’s superhero meets grungy detective show which is a great combo for me.

Runner-Up: Archer

Best Tweet – Efficiency

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2015, here’s my favorite of the year:

Efficiency should be a one syllable word.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2015. See you next year!

3 years ago today I left my corporate job at Procter & Gamble to focus on Humor That Works full-time. In those 1,095 days, I’ve had some incredible adventures and met some amazing people.

In honor of my anniversary, I thought I’d answer some of the most frequent questions I get about leaving the safety and security of gainful employment at a company.

How did you know what you wanted to do?

I wish I had a “sexy” answer where I said it all happened in one single moment of hilarious clarity… but that’s not how it went down. It was a gradual progression of events and experiences that led me to teaching people about the value of humor.

When I moved to NYC with P&G in 2008, I had a strong suspicion that I wasn’t a lifer–that at some point I would decide to leave. But I wasn’t 100% sure of what I would do. I was performing a lot of stand-up and improv comedy at the time and thought I might want to do something in entertainment.

csz rachel dratch

In my experience, the only way I can know if I want to do something is to actually try it, so I experimented with a bunch of things part-time while still at P&G:*

  • I toured for a bit as a stand-up comedian. I didn’t like being in a different hotel every weekend with people I didn’t know where the most common form of passing the time was drinking in bars.
  • I wrote for a sketch TV show on Dish Network. I didn’t like giving over creative control of an idea I had and seeing it poorly executed.
  • I co-wrote and edited a short-film. I had a lot of fun on the project but realized I didn’t want to spend every day behind a computer meticulously shaving off milliseconds to get a shot to look right.
  • I acted in a few sketches and took an auditioning class. I didn’t like the process of auditioning and realized I wasn’t very good at “acting” (making memorized lines look spontaneous was hard).
  • I taught people about the value of humor and used improv exercises in some of my trainings. I loved this. It was like performing stand-up and improv comedy but with the added benefit of getting to tell people what to do.

Ultimately it was the humor work that I enjoyed the most, so I pursued it further.

How did you get started in talking about humor?

Again, no sexy story, just a lot of work and some reflective thinking.

The short answer looks like: Engineer -> Improv -> Project Manager -> Effective with People -> Stand-Up -> Blog -> Corporate Humorist -> Humor That Works.

This timeline covers the span of 3 to 28 years depending on how you look at it:

  • Engineer: I’ve always been an engineer and have been obsessed with efficiency. I went to The Ohio State University to get a degree in Computer Science & Engineering.
  • Improv: In college, my best friend wanted to start an improv comedy group and needed people, so he forced me to join.
  • Project Manager: After graduating, I started working as a Project Manager at Procter & Gamble, first in Cincinnati and then in New York.
  • Effective with People: While at P&G, I realized that you can’t be efficient with people, but instead you have to be effective. While that wasn’t covered in my CSE degree, I did learn the skills from improvisation.
  • Stand-Up: At the same time, I was performing stand-up comedy in Cincinnati and inviting P&Gers to my show. I was mostly talking about nerdy things like math.
  • Blog: My first year at P&G, I started writing an internal blog called Life of a New Hire, where I wrote about my experiences of a being a new employee at a big company. After a year, I figured I was technically no longer a New Hire, so I decided to start a new blog.
  • Corporate Humorist: Because of the stand-up I had been doing, a few different P&Gers had been asking me about humor. I decided my new blog would be about humor and proclaimed myself the Corporate Humorist of P&G. I also started offering up humor “services” to organizations within P&G, e.g. giving presentations on humor, leading teambuilding activities, and hosting events.
  • Humor That Works: From the internal blog I found I really enjoyed talking about humor and people were interested in what I had to say. I figured if people at P&G enjoyed it, the rest of the world might as well. So I started Humor That Works as a public version of what I was doing at P&G.

Why did you decide to leave?

I loved my job at P&G. I was working on challenging projects, worked with incredible people, and was consistently adding bad puns to the ends of my email.

But the more I worked on humor, the more I fell in love with it. The joy from P&G stayed the same while joy from humor increased, leading to a much larger delta between the two, as illustrated by this graph:

p&g to humor joy graph

Was it scary leaving your corporate job?

Honestly? No. Dishonestly? Scarier than 1,000 spiders.

No, it wasn’t that scary for me. I’m a Project Manager and pretty risk-adverse, so I did a lot of preparation before making the jump. I started blogging as the Corporate Humorist in 2007 but didn’t leave P&G until 2012.

In that time I tried a bunch of things out: I did speaking events in my free time, I took vacation days to see if I could actually motivate myself to work, I talked to people who were doing what I wanted to do. Basically I tried before I buy-ed.

In the days leading up to the decision, I asked myself two questions that I now use anytime I’m faced with a potentially life-changing choice:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen? Humans are driven more by punishment-avoidance than they are reward-attainment, so I tried to think about what the “punishment” would be in making a choice and see if I’m OK with that result.
  2. 30 years from now, which decision will I regret not doing? Very few of my regrets come from having decided to do something, most of them come from not having done something (asking that girl out, trying that food, or riding in that helicopter). So which option would I regret having not done?

Thinking about those two things made it easy. Even if I failed miserably at running my own business, I felt confident I could get another job. With P&G on the resume, improv and humor as a skillset, a network of incredibly smart, talented, and kind people, and a degree in the exploding field of computer science, that seemed a reasonable assessment.

And had I stayed, 30 years from now, I would have always wondered “What could I have I accomplished if I had left?”

So I left not feeling scared but excited.

How did you know it was time to leave?

Right or wrong, I spend much of life quantifying what it is that I do. I tracked my time, 24 hours a day, for an entire year. I know the number of times I’ve performed and the rough estimate of how people have seen me. I can tell you how many times I worked out last year (305).

As a result, numbers motivate me. So I created a list of goals to hit before I’d be comfortable leaving:

  • Speak in front of 50+ audiences.
  • Make at least $10,000 in a year from speaking engagements.
  • Reach 1 million visitors on my website.
  • Have at least 10 rock-solid testimonials.
  • Spend at least 7 straight days working on just Humor That Works.

Once I had achieved those, I felt ready to go. Then it was a matter of finding the right time for the business.

What did your mom think?

My mom, one of the greatest people in the entire world, was very supportive. She was a bit worried, of course, but she encouraged me to do what would make me happy.

I also told her the sooner I left to start my own business, the sooner I’d build it to the point it could support a family, the sooner I’d settle down, and the sooner she’d have grandchildren. That seemed to help.

What do you miss most about the corporate world?

Ask anyone who has ever left P&G what they miss the most and they’ll say the people. I thought it was such a cliche answer until I left and realize it’s 100% true. P&G hires some incredibly talented people and then helps develop them to become more awesome (you have to at a promote-from-within company).

I miss having great managers who guided me through difficult decisions. I have mentors that certainly help, but now that I run the show of my own company, there’s no one as invested as I am that can give guidance on what to do next.

Also, when employed by someone else, you know that a paycheck is coming unless something drastic happens. In self-employment, no paycheck is coming unless something drastic happens.

Are you happy you left?

Absolutely.

I wake up everyday working on something that I’m passionate about that I believe improves the lives of the people I work with. I work with great organizations from all over the world and have traveled to places I didn’t even know existed. My bio says that I’m obsessed with chocolate and event organizers often gift me with a box as a thank you.

box of chocolates

I’m definitely happy.

20 April 2015. Preikestolen, Norway

My feet hung over the cliff, where 600 meters (1980 feet) below, the blue water of the Norwegian fjord settled like blue concrete.

My right hand held a Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bar (basically a Norwegian Kit Kat) as my left hand held on for dear life. My friend and travel companion, Harald, took my picture as I tried to look as relaxed as was possible while sitting at the edge of a 600 meter drop.

I was at the top of Preikestolen, aka Pulpit Rock, named the #1 most breathtaking platform by the Lonely Planet.

My travel companion, Harald, was the reason I was there; not just there at Preikesetolen that specific day, but also the reason why I was in Norway to begin with.

I had met Harald three years ago at The Humor Project in Silver Springs, NY. He was there to improve his own humor education and I was presenting on how to effectively use humor at work. We connected afterwords over a shared love of standup comedy and stayed connected after the conference via the Facebook.

A few months after that, a friend of his was visiting New York City and he put the two of us in touch. She happened to be the producer of a comedy festival in Norway and was looking for talent from New York City. We hit it off and six months later I was in Norway for the first time to help her kickoff her production company.

Now, in 2015, I was back for the second year of her comedy festival which had taken place over past weekend. Harold had offered to take me to Pulpit Rock and I agreed. He even took the day off so he and I would be free to make the journey, and a journey it was.

To get to the top of the rock required a 3.8 km hike (2.3 miles) up 334 meters (1,095 feet). And though the temperature was 10°C (50°F) down on the ground, the trail still included quite a bit of snow once the elevation increased.

Preikestolen Route

During the climb, Harald and I caught up, talking about a wide variety of things, from nature to comedy to having kids to the hike itself (“Whoa, this is more strenuous than I thought.” “Yup.”).

We eventually got to the top where we took in the stunning view. There were quite a few other people hanging around, including a group of Frenchmen who were preparing a slack line to cross one of the gaps between the two rocks.

I had started off very cautious at the top, army crawling my way to the edge. My confidence slowly grew until I finally felt comfortable enough to sit at the edge (while holding on).

Sitting on the edge of a cliff while feeling a slight breeze as you eat chocolate has a way of making you think philosophically.

I thought about how spectacular view was. I thought about how so far on my journey, some of my best experiences had taken place in the company of other people, despite the fact that I consider myself very much an introvert. And I thought about the nature of effort and reward.

The view was naturally stunning. But it felt even more amazing because it had to be earned. There was no driving up to the top, there was no tram, no shortcut, no elevator. It required a somewhat strenuous hike that included ups and downs, wide rock landscapes and narrow snowy paths, easy strolls and hard climbs.

The hike up had taken 90 minutes. The hike down would take another 90. Depending on how long you stayed at the top, you might spend more time getting to and from the destination that actually enjoying the destination itself.

The same is true for setting goals in life. It’s not just about the end destination, it’s also about the journey to get there. And most of time, there’s more work to be down, even after you’ve reached the top.

My grip on the rock loosened ever so slightly as I took another bite of the Norwegian Kit Kat. I had enjoyed the journey up. I would enjoy the journey down. But for the moment, I was enjoying being at the top.

Peering Out

31 March 2015. New York, NY

“Who was the best teacher you’ve ever had?”

The question was posed to me as part of an interview. I was sitting in the The Flatiron School’s headquarters in New York. They were about to embark on a massive initiative to teach high school students how to code in 6 cities around the US during the summer; I was going to see how I could help.

I regularly lead for The Flatiron School’s adult programs. I help the students in their immersive programs learn how to communicate the skills they are learning so they can network, interview, and talk with colleagues more effectively.

And I’m a big believer in teaching kids to program. Even if they never become a developer, learning to program is learning a strategic way to thinking. It’s like improv, I think everyone should do it regardless of vocation or occupation.

Due to my passion for programming and my new nomadic life style, we were seeing how I might be involved. Unfortunately based on my schedule I wasn’t able to do much, but it still left me with this interesting question, “Who was the best teacher I’ve ever had?”

I’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible teachers in my life. Mrs. Kinney, my 5th and 6th grade teacher in middle school taught me it wasn’t enough to just be smart, you had to work hard as well. Mrs. Sherman, my 7 grade English teacher taught me to have high expectations for myself. Mr. Ferris, my 12th grade Theory of Knowledge teacher taught me to be inquisitive about the world.

But the best teacher I’ve ever had was my brother, David.

My mom likes to say the reason I did so well academically was that David, 2 years older than me, would come home and teach me everything that he learned in school.

And it was true, David always liked to share new things with me, though they weren’t always things he learned in school. It seemed that if David ran out of things to teach, he would just start making things up.

I’d then go spouting it off as fact and would learn that it was just fiction. As it turns out, there is no such thing as a “take off” bird. Birds typically don’t need to run on the ground for long distances in order to get enough speed to fly, nor do they come in and hit the group running when landing, like an animalistic airplane.

But whether what he taught was fact or fiction, he was very good at it.

Given my brother’s passion and skill for teaching, it’s no surprise that he’s now a professor at Texas A&M, where he consistently ranks as one of the top professors in the Communication department.

Here’s to hoping he’s just sticking to the facts with his students though.

With approximately 8700 hours in a year to do things, I like checking back on how I spent some of those hours. Here are some of my favorites from 2014. You can also check out past years’ bestofs.

Best Achievement – 100 87 Speaking Engagements

For the second year, one of my primary goals for the year was to do 100 engagements for Humor That Works. I only hit 87, but I’m still happy with the results considering the engagements included some awesome events (see more below).

Runner-Up: 2 million pageviews.

Best Personal Development – Start Being More Mindful

One of my 5 daily habits this year was 5 minutes of “meditation” or just counting my breaths. I started noticing that, in an environment where you can always have external simulation of some sort (namely from a cellphone), I had lost the ability to just do nothing but think / take in the surroundings. While I’m still pretty bad at the habit, just trying it was a great start.

Runner-Up: Getting more honest in my tracking.

Best Business Decision – Apply to Facilitator Role

I received an email via LinkedIn about a group looking for an experienced facilitator. I decided to apply for the role since it was a limited time commitment and I ended up getting it, which ultimately led to me working with a great organization doing events in Seattle and Madrid.

Runner-Up: Perform 30 times in August.

Best Personal Decision – Go to the Philippines 

While technically I headed to Manila for a speaking engagement, it was very much a personal decision as well, particularly to stay for a week+ and with a friend. It was a great overall experience and my first time visiting Asia which led to a lot of learnings, fun, and only slightly embarrassing attempts at learning some of the language.

Runner-Up: Visit LA for Nate’s Birthday

Best Speaking Engagement – TEDxOhioStateUniversity 

There were a number of great events this past year, including some with ChangeLabs, a full day with Nationwide, PMI, and FunnyBizz. But the most important event for me was the TEDx talk I gave on humor at work. It was a blast to do, was well-received, and has now racked up 25,000+ views online.

Runners-Up: ChangeLabs, Nationwide, PMI, FunnyBizz

Best Personal Performance – Comedians Coming Home 

My very last show of the year was my favorite for a few different reasons: 1) It was in Cincinnati in front of some friends and family, 2) The material was well received, and 3) It ended with an interview with Rajiv that included a number of puns.

Runner-Up: The 30+ Shows in August

Best Travel – Madrid 

I took 36 trips in 2014, with 115 days on the road and 94 nights away from NYC. I saw: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Vincennes, Columbus, LA, Boston, Milwaukee, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Providence, DC, Spain, Philippines, Scotland, England, Copenhagen. I enjoyed all of these trips but Madrid was probably my favorite given the event I did, the food I ate, and the best Gin & Tonic I’ve ever had.

Runners-Up: LA, Manila, Copenhagen

Best New Restaurant – Good Stuff Eatery 

I enjoyed a number of great restaurants throughout the year but my favorite was Good Stuff Eatery in DC as it included my favorite combo of foods: burgers + fries + shakes.

Runner-Up: Mandy & Joe’s Delicatessen, Gray’s Ice Cream

Best New Food – Spanish G&T 

It’s not technically a food and it’s rather bizarre that I’d choose an alcoholic drink, but the Gin & Tonic I had in Madrid was the best I’ve ever had and led me to do a lot of research on the history of G&Ts.

Runner-Up: Cabinet (aka Milkshake)

Best Live Show – No Man’s Land 

I enjoyed watching my buddy Rajiv in his one man show about love / relationships. It made me laugh, smile, and want to do a one man show of my own…

Runner-Up: Violet

Best Movie (I Saw) – Guardians of the Galaxy 

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for the Marvel movies. They have action, great lines, and superheroes. Guardians of the Galaxy with Chris Pratt was the most entertaining movie I saw all year with good performances, humorous writing, and a nice soundtrack.

Runner-Up: Dr. Strangelove

Best Book (I Read) – Fun Home 

An incredibly well done autobiography done in the style of a graphic novel. It was very honest and revealing, more so than any book I’ve read in recent years.

Runner-Up: Catch-22

Best Tweet – Math Perspective 

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2014, here’s my top pick:

Life is about perspective. They aren’t math problems, they are math opportunities.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2014. See you next year!

When I left Procter & Gamble two years ago to focus on Humor That Works, I wrote a love / break up letter of sorts to share some of my thoughts on the company I spent 6 years with. Here is that letter (edited slightly for non-P&G people).

My Break Up Letter with P&G

June 29th, 2012

Dear Procter & Gamble (aka P&G aka PeeG),

first day cartoon
My first day at P&G

It is with great sadness that I write type this letter. In my 2,138 days with you as a P&G employee, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow like I never could have imagined. Thanks to incredible managers and mentors, a grow-from-within culture, and an incredible amount of support, I’ve accomplished things during my career I never thought possible.

But it is now time we go our separate ways. Please, don’t be sad. Be happy for both of our bright futures and for the great moments we had together.

And we have had some great times together.

We worked on some incredible projects with some incredible teams. You had the confidence in me to let me lead a multi-year multi-million dollar project with people from 4 different continents, help build applications for predictive modeling of consumer behavior, work with engineers doing upstream development more than 7 years away, and analyze hundreds of thousands of data points to propose new organizational structures.

We’ve traveled to some amazing cities and places, with trips to Columbus, Dallas, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Mexico City, and Geneva (which included a personal journey to London, Paris, and Edinburgh). We’ve also lived together in two of my favorite cities in the world: my hometown of Cincinnati and the city that never sleeps, New York, NY.

You also granted me the opportunity to have some unique experiences, like the time I sat in the pressbox of a Cincinnati Reds game with a sitting CEO, shared the same training stage as a former CEO, co-wrote a story with the Corporate Storyteller, saw the inside of the corporate jet, produced a fashion show in front of a VP of beauty, sang karaoke with a director of IT, banged on drums with an entire sales organization, and talked workout tips with a Philippines-based VP.

And of course you helped me find and pursue my passion. You supported me when I proclaimed myself the corporate humorist of Procter & Gamble, wrote a blog about humor in the workplace, and led as many humor-based activities as I could.

pringles rap
MC Pringle

As the corporate humorist, I at one point had one of the top ten blogs internally, taught a 4-week improv class, performed stand- up at corporate off-sites, performed improv for a VP in IT (that included an impersonation of the CIO), taught communication training in New York, Cincinnati, and Mexico City, spearheaded a duct-tape fashion show, led a number of improvised talent shows, wrote a poem for the Fine Arts Fund, won internal awards for speaking and training, and even wrote a rap song for Pringles.

And you supported me through all of it (though we both know my rap career isn’t likely to take off).

So if things are so great, why must I leave? What did you do wrong? While it may be cliché, it’s true: It’s not you, it’s me.

You helped me find my true passion—my passion for speaking and training on humor in the workplace, for finding ways to improve the everyday work experience, and for helping others use humor to be more effective at work, at home, and in life.

And if you had the need for a NYC-based full-time corporate humorist, I’d stay in a heartbeat. But truth be told, you don’t need a full-time humorist. You already have a great sense of humor. You had one before you met me and will have one after I’m gone (though I hope I helped you grow your sense of humor, or at least your appreciation of puns).

That’s not to say that there’s not room for improvement. Are there times people need to be reminded of having fun? Sure. Could some individuals or teams use some in loosening up a bit? Of course. Should you hire me to train people to use humor effectively? Absolutely.

But you don’t need me like others do; you’ve already got a great start.

Our recent history together in Business Intelligence is a perfect example. In this organization alone, I’ve attended virtual trainings that used interactive elements to increase engagement (and asked important questions like what color socks are you wearing); I’ve been to off-sites where we’ve sang karaoke, threw paper airplanes to ask questions, and performed an improv show; and the leaders of the organization have dressed in thematic costumes ranging from formal Chinese attire to swash-buckling pirate outfits. I mean this is the organization that had special Humor Awards with categories ranging from Best Email to the “Free the Hamster” Award.

But it’s not the only organization with a sense of humor. I’ve also been to off-sites that have included massages, team-building events like bike-building, and of course scavenger hunts–I’ve scavengly hunted in Cincinnati, Boston, and Las Vegas (I’d love to tell you what I found but it apparently has to stay in Vegas).

You have entire organizations that are seemingly founded on humor, organizations such as the Clay Street Project (which includes improv as part of the business reinvention process), the Corporate Archives (which captures the history of P&G and its brands and is available for sharing and reapply)* and the Behavioral Science group (who explores creative ways to improve employee productivity).

Ivory Baby
Ivory Baby

*Side Note: The Corporate Archives also has a picture of what has to be the ugliest baby ever used in advertising.**
**Side Note Note: I’m not trying to be mean, just being honest. I’m sure the baby went on to become an attractive adult.

But the fun / humor / buck doesn’t stop there. You’re also teeming with incredible individuals who live and breathe humor in almost everything they do. Individuals who have avatars in their email signatures, mix witticism along with smart answers, and teach the power of storytelling.

Perhaps no individual effort is as great as the recently retired Corporate Storyteller, Jim Bangel, who over the course of 10 years wrote more than 100 stories helping educate employees on topics ranging from leadership to productivity to understanding percentage of booklet NPV (I didn’t know what it meant either).

Still it doesn’t end. The opportunity for using humor is available to any one of us, every day. For all the jokes I’ve shared at the bottom of emails, all the meetings I’ve started with a personal question, and all the projects I’ve given a fun name–never once was I told it was too much. Never once did I have to beg for forgiveness, despite actively seeking the bounds to which I could avoid asking permission.

Not everything I worked on was inherently fun, but almost everything I did could be done in a fun way. Did you still expect me to deliver my W&DP? Of course. Did I have days full of stress? Affirmative. But could I make the choice to use humor in a company that will support it? Most definitely.

In fact, that’s what I did for six years. Six years of including the same humorous observation in my OOO message:

Don’t you think it’s cool that the acronym for “Out of Office” is OoO? It’s like people are thinking “Oooooo, where’d you go while you were out of the office?”

Six years of incorporating pictures of myself into every presentation I’ve given:

pictures of drew

And of course 6 years of putting work-related puns at the end of my emails:

  • Why did the barge with bad breath open up our retail tracking tool? So he could get some ship-mints.
  • How is reading email on your iPad like Justin Timberlake? Because it always stays N*Sync!
  • Why did the new employee hire chauffeurs? He heard about the importance of success drivers.

Truly, you are a unique company, one that I hope continues to grow (and not just because of the stock I still own), but because of the incredible things you do and people you hire.

Don’t lose sight of what makes you great. And at the end of the day, realize that if your role or career isn’t as fun as you want it to be, it’s up to you to change it.

Sincerely,

Andrew Tarvin
P&G’s former self-proclaimed Corporate Humorist Chief Humorist of Humor That Works

PS. If you ever have any questions about humor or need help figuring out how to effectively use it, don’t hesitate to reach out; I’m always willing to help a fellow P&Ger. The price: your favorite joke.

Email: drew@drewtarvin.com | Web: drewtarvin.com | Twitter: @drewtarvin

365 days is a lot of time to do a lot of things. Here are some of my favorites from 2013.

Best Achievement – 100 73 Speaking Engagements

One of my biggest goals for the year was to do 100 engagements for Humor That Works. While I only hit 73, I still think it was my biggest accomplishment. More than 2500 people got to hear the things I train on and even if just a small percent of those people are better because of it, it was a good year.

Runner-Up: Publish an App.

Best Personal Development – OKRs

Although this is more recent, one of the best videos I watched on productivity this year was how Google sets goals. The idea of creating stretch goals and still being satisfied with .7 or .8 has helped me frame my thinking for both goal setting and success.

Runner-Up: Broccoli isn’t that disgusting.

Best Business Decision – Go to Norway

Early on in 2013 I had a chance to go to Norway for a speaking engagement plus some stand-up. Not only did I learn that what I teach about humor in the workplace is relevant in other countries, I learned that I can make people laugh even if English isn’t their first language.

Runners-Up: Publish an App, Present at GA.

Best Personal Decision – Go to Norway

The trip to Norway was both a professional and personal decision. Personally it reminded me of the wonders of international travel and how limited I am when I can’t use English. I also tried reindeer burger.

Runner-Up: Convince Pat to make Banana Pudding.

Best Speaking Engagement – CSz Talk

There were way too many engagements this year that I thoroughly enjoyed. It I had to pick one (and I do because I’m making me), I would choose my CSz Talk on Efficiency vs Effectiveness. It was my first TED-style talk and balanced humor and message.

Runners-Up: LSU, GA, OSU, WSJ, WNO, P&G, TGP

Best Personal Performance – Gilda Club Event

This was one of the hardest “bests” to choose as I had so much fun in the 100+ shows I did this past year. But the Gilda Club event takes the cake for a few reasons: 1) It was for a good cause. 2) It was in front of 1,200 people. 3) I performed with Rachel Dratch.

Runners-Up: Stand Up Bergen, Mint Condition Last Show

Best Travel – Norway

I was traveling for more than 100 days in 2013, with trips to: Baton Rouge, Norway, Cincinnati (x6), Napa, San Francisco, Columbus (x2), Tyrone (x3), Yulan, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Westhampton, Boston (x4), Norwalk (x2), and Epsom. But it should be no surprise (based on the Best Business and Best Personal Decisions) that my favorite was Norway. A very very close second was Westhampton, followed by all the other great places.

Runner-Up: All the other great trips.

Best New Restaurant – Amy Ruths

It was a good year for fried chicken as I tried both Amy Ruth’s and Pies N Thighs this year. Though both were amazing, it has to go to Amy Ruth’s because their chicken and waffles is incredible.

Runners-Up: Pies N Thighs, Gott’s Roadside, What’s Up Dog?

Best New Food – Pancake Snack

One of the best things about Norway was their midday snack of a fresh pancake and jam. I don’t know what they call it but I call it delicious.

Runner-Up: Banana Pudding, Max Brenner Hot Chocolate.

Best Live Show – Eddie Izzard Workshop

I didn’t see as many live shows this year as I did last year, but I hit quite a variety. While Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike was funny, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark was interesting, and Punderdome is exclusively puns, my favorite was seeing Eddie Izzard workshop material for his new tour.

Runners-Up: Punderdome, Vanya and Sonja and Masha and Spike, Big Dumb Music Festival.

Best Movie (I Saw) – The World’s End

Sadly I missed the Best Picture Movie Marathon so I was limited on what I saw, but I’d say The Worlds End was my favorite. Also a special shot out to Last of Us; it’s a videogame but the story is so good that if it were a movie, it would easily be the best I saw this year.

Runners-Up: Star Trek Into Darkness, Last of Us.

Best TV Series (I Saw)  Breaking Bad

I’ve watched some great series this year, including Sherlock and Archer (but they aren’t eligible for Best Series because they aren’t complete yet). I really enjoyed Luther but I think the last season of Breaking Bad makes it a great watch all the way through.

Runner-Up: Luther.

Best Book (I Read) – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I’m nowhere close to an avid reader, having only read Count of Monte CristoThe Sport of BusinessThe Challenger SaleLead with a StoryThe Sea-Gull, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Of all of those, Hitchhikers was my favorite because of it made me laugh out loud multiple times.

Runner-Up: Count of Monte Cristo.

Best Tweet – Good at PowerPoint?

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2013, here’s my top pick:

I thought I could sit on a bench. Some guy told me I couldn’t. I stood, corrected.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2013. See you next year!