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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!

For the third year in a row, one of my goals was to perform at least 100 times. Last year I hit 133 performances, the year before 119. This year it was 102.

Here are some stats regarding the performances:

  • 54% of shows were shortform improv, 5% of shows were traditional longform improv, 23% were musical improv, and 17% were stand-up.
  • I had 14 shows in July (my busiest month) and only 4 shows in September. I averaged just 8.5 shows per month (3 less shows per month than last year).
  • I performed for approximately 6,100 people in 2013, including 1200 people at the Gilda Club benefit and 5 at an early ComedySportz show.

And finally, a show breakdown by team:

  • ComedySportz – 56
  • Mint Condition – 23
  • Stand-Up – 17
  • Other – 6

If you’re wondering, yes I’m still doing that Quality Day thing. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Here’s the write up from last year:

As some of you may know, I’ve developed my own productivity system where I shoot to do 5 habits every single day. I track whether or not I complete each goal; if I complete 3 of the 5, I consider it a “Quality Day”; if I complete all 5, I consider it a “Perfect Day.”

(Read more about the system here: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions).

My 5 goals for 2013 are shared below, along with the number of days I completed them.

  1. Wake up without hitting snooze. 283 days (77.3%)
  2. Publish something for HTW. 289 days (79.0%)
  3. Exercise for at least 20 minutes. 305 days (83.3%)
  4. Eat at least 4 servings of fruits or vegetables. 290 days (79.2%)
  5. Reconnect with someone. 360 days (98.4%)

I finished with 365 Quality Days (100%!), with 183 of them being Perfect Days (just over 50%). That said, I dropped in each of the categories except snooze and reconnecting, so there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

I’ll be continuing the system in 2014 but switching up the daily habits. More on that to come (maybe).

If you’re interested in trying this system out yourself, check out How to Set Up Your Quality Day System or send me a message and I’d be happy to help you out.

2012 was a great year. Here are the Best of the Best moments for me. (See previous Best Ofs years.)

Best Achievement – Focus on Humor That Works Full-time

Based on my goals, I had a pretty productive year, completing 8 of the 10 things I set out to do. But the number one achievement was something I had thought about for a few years. In 2012, I finally decided to leave my job at P&G to focus on Humor That Works full-time. It’s only been 6 months, but I love what I’m doing and am excited to take my business to new heights in 2013.

Runner-Up: Publish a(nother) Book

Best Personal Development – Create / Consume

Thanks to Matt Shafeek, I decided to try the create / consume challenge and started tracking how I was spending my time. The goal was to spend more time creating (writing, researching, performing) than consuming (playing games, watching TV, browsing the Internet). As a result, I’ve not only been able to amp up my productivity, I’ve also been able to see exactly “where” my time goes.

Runner-Up: How to enjoy eating baked potatoes with skin on them

Best Business Decision – Focus on Humor That Works Full-Time

I know it’s repetitive from above, but it really was the best business decision I made all year. Publishing my book on humor in the workplace was a very close second.

Runners-Up: Publish a book, Attend AATH, Humor Project, TEDxEast, AIN Conferences

Best Personal Decision – Visit Cincinnati

At the time, it was a no-brainer, but it was a decision to return to Cincinnati when my dad had a stroke. We’re incredibly fortunate that he’s been able to bounce back quite well, but it was important we were all home as a family as we were still learning what was going on and getting through those initial days.

Runner-Up: Play Halo 4 (yes this seems silly but it was important for a few reasons)

Best Speaking Engagement – AIN Conference 2012

I was fortunate to deliver a number of talks and trainings this past year to a wide variety of clients, covering some great topics, including Strategic Disengagement, Productivity, and Stand-Up Comedy. My favorite engagement was probably my 2 AIN talks as I enjoyed the subject matter (Improvising the 5 Steps of Problem Solving and Defining Improvisation) and loved the audience (fellow passionate applied improvisers).

Runner-Up: Presentations at the Humor Project Conference

Best Personal Performance – Corporate IT Stand-Up

With 133 performances this past year, I was fortunate to partake in some great shows (and some not so great ones). My favorite was a corporate stand-up show I did for a group of IT managers–not only was it just me on stage (which is always a little intimidating), but it was for IT geeks like myself where I can get away doing jokes about wireless adapters and math.

Runners-Up: A number of Mint Condition shows, All of Silver Fox’s July Shows, CSz Championship, 8th Floor Alumni Show

Best Travel – San Francisco / Chicago

I traveled quite a bit in 2012, including: Pensacola / Gulf Shores, Baton Rouge (2x), Quad Cities, Chicago (4x), Atlanta, Columbus (2x), Silver Bay (NY), Dallas, Louisville (OH), San Francisco, Richmond, and Cincinnati (5x). While I enjoyed all of those trips, I have to go with the extended trip of San Francisco (for AIN) and Chicago (for a radio interview and general hang-out) as my favorite.

Runner-Up: All the other great trips.

Best New Restaurant – Kumas

I went to a number of new restaurants this year, but my favorite was probably Kumas (in Chicago). They make a delicious burger with some solid fries. It’s a bit of trek to get to, but it’s certainly worth it once you’re there.

Runners-Up: Veselka, Stand4, Cincy Steak & Lemonade

Best New Food – Womlette

I had a few “new” foods for me this year, but the best was most recent with a “Womlette” which is a waffle covered by an omlette. It’s at the Comfort Diner (walking distance from my apartment) and I never knew it existed. I know it exists now and it is delicious.

Runner-Up: Rice-Kripsies-Treat-covered ice cream cone

Best Live Show – The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler

I saw a decent number of live shows in 2012, mostly improv and sketch, but also some theater and plays. While I enjoyed such shows as Ye Elizabeths, Jersey Boys, Madama Butterfly, and a good number of great improv/sketch shows including the hilarious One Nation Under 1%, the winner for me this year was EPBB’s The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler. It was well-acted, well-written, and performed in an incredibly intimate setting.

Runner-Up: One Nation Under 1%

Best Movie (I Saw) – Django

I saw a decent number of movies in 2012 including new releases like The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Argo, Skyfall, and Jack Reacher; the Best Picture nominees of 2012 (The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Moneyball, War Horse, and The Tree of Life); and a few “new-to-me” films like The Big Lebowski, Footloose, and Rob Roy. The best film for me was also the most recent: Django. It’s not for the faint of heart (there’s violence, adult language, and more), but it is a great tale that mixes comedy, action, and drama together.

Runners-Up: Argo, Skyfall, The Avengers, Hugo

Best Book (I Read) – I Am America and So Can You

I didn’t read a ton this past year, but I did read some good books, including The $100 Startup, Ant Farm, Habibi, The Sales Bible, and Value Based Fees. But the best book I read was I Am America and So Can You by Stephen Colbert. I’ve never laughed out loud while reading a book as often as I did with that one.

Runners-Up: The $100 Startup, Habibi

Best Tweet – Good at PowerPoint?

I know it’s a bit weird to have your own favorites of what you create, but that doesn’t stop me. Below is my favorite of all my tweets from 2012 (You can read 24 other favorites in my 2012 Review: 25 Best Tweets).

“How good are you with PowerPoint?”
“I Excel at it.”
“Was that a Microsoft Office pun?”
“Word.”

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2012. Here’s to a 2013 that’s able to top this list.

For the second year in a row, one of my goals was to perform at least 100 times. Last year I hit 119 performances, this year I hit 133.

Here are some stats regarding the performances:

  • 41% of shows were shortform improv, 36% of shows were traditional longform improv, 18% were musical improv, and 5% were stand-up.
  • I had 19 shows in July (my highest) and only 5 shows in both September and October (my lowest). I averaged 11 shows per month or 2.5 shows per week.
  • I performed for roughly 5,000 people in 2012. My biggest audience was in front of 400 people (our CSz Championship Show in Chicago); my smallest was in front of 4 people (at a stand-up open mic).

And finally, a show breakdown by team:

  • ComedySportz – 51
  • Mint Condition – 29
  • Silver Fox – 18
  • Grappler – 18
  • Stand-Up – 7
  • Other – 10

Note: I’ve shared some of these things with people before. Some people think it’s cool and give it a try themselves. Others learn how truly devoted I am to my planning / productivity. And a handful consider me somewhat of a psychopath (in a good way I think?). So I guess read at your own risk of your opinion of me.

As some of you may know, I’ve developed my own productivity system where I shoot to do 5 habits every single day. I track whether or not I complete each goal; if I complete 3 of the 5, I consider it a “Quality Day”; if I complete all 5, I consider it a “Perfect Day.”

(Read more about the system here: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions).

My 5 goals this year are shared below, along with number of days I completed them:

  1. Wake up without hitting snooze. 273 days (74.6%)
  2. Write at least 100 words. 358 days (97.8%)
  3. Exercise for at least 20 minutes. 298 days (81.4%)
  4. Eat at least 3 servings of fruits or vegetables. 313 days (85.5%)
  5. Monthly Focus (See below). 303 days (82.8%)

The last one I gave myself the option to switch it up every month. Towards the middle of the year I found a habit that I wanted to stick with for most of the rest of the year.

  • January = Exercise voice at least 5 minutes. (23 days / 74.2%)
  • February = Play guitar at least 10 minutes. (22 days / 75.9%)
  • March = Improvise a song. (18 days / 58.1%)
  • April = Exercise voice at least 5 minutes. (15 days / 50%)
  • May to July = Reconnect with a friend / family member. (87 days / 94.6%)
  • August to September = Connect with someone old or new. (61 days / 100%)
  • October to November = Connect with someone new. (47 days / 77%)
  • December = Connect with someone old or new. (30 days / 96.8%)

As I share in the write-up, my goal really is to just hit a Quality Day (aka it’s ok if I don’t do something). Ideally these 5 habits are challenging enough that it’s not easy to do (my thinking being that if it was easy, then I wouldn’t need a system to help me do it).

Even though there were days that I missed individual habits, I did succeed at reaching a Quality Day for all 366 days of 2012 (for those wondering, I hit 193 Perfect Days, or 52.7%).

All in all, I was proud of 2012, and thanks to this system, I accomplished many of my goals. Here’s to an even more productive 2013 with renewed habits and motivation.

If you’re interested in trying this system out yourself, check out How to Set Up Your Quality Day System or send me a message and I’d be happy to help you out.

I made a bet back on New Year’s Day that the Bengals would beat the Ravens. They did not, and, as a result, I had to be a vegetarian for a week.

The bet didn’t take effect immediately, so I had time to prepare. I picked last week as the time to do it, strategically starting Sunday early evening on January 29th so I could start eating meat again on the evening of February 5th–just in time for the Super Bowl.

Incidentally, my last meal before starting vegetarian was Skyline Chili Dip. My first meal back–Skyline Chili Dip as well. I could go on for days about how delicious that is, but let’s get to the vegetarian week.

Here’s what I learned:

  • You don’t have to eat vegetables to be a vegetarian. I could have survived all week on PB&J, Ring Dings and ice cream. I didn’t, but I could have.
  • While it’s not that hard to cut out meat for only a week, it’s not something I want to do. I love chicken too much.
  • Being a vegetarian is more expensive (especially meal-time). It’s either expensive with regard to time (cooking / preparing food) or money (veggie burgers are more expensive than regular burgers).
  • Being a vegetarian can be inconvenient. If you choose to cook the food, you have to have the time and energy to cook it, eat it and clean it (‘it’ being the dishes in the last case). If you’re on the run, it’s harder to find hearty vegetarian meals at fast food places and bodegas.
  • Vegetarian dishes that try to pretend to be meat are upsetting. My preference for vegetarian meals are those that have a unique flavor or style of their own. Trying to cook tofu or seitan like chicken or beef just makes you angry because you’re eating tofu or seitan and not chicken or beef.
  • I tried to use the week as an excuse to try new foods. Here’s what stuck out from the week: despite my previous bullet point, vegetarian chicken fingers are good; pierogies are awesome; steamed broccoli isn’t as bad as I remembered; seitan is meh; peanut butter is delicious on everything.

Here’s what I ate:

  • Monday 1/30: OJ and Frosted Flakes; Celery with peanut butter; PB&J with potato chips; Carrots; Baked potato with butter and cheese; Black raspberry chip ice cream.
  • Tuesday 1/31: Banana and Frosted Flakes; Carrots; PB&J with potato chips; Vanilla cupcake; Granola bar; Chocolate milk; Pita and hummus, seitan with mashed potatoes spinach and green beans; 4 Reese’s PB Cups Miniatures.
  • Wednesday 2/1: OJ and Toasted bagel with butter / cinnamon sugar; Grapes and protein bar; Chocolate ice cream and cookie/pudding dessert; Cheese pizza rolls; Banana; Peanuts, veggie burger, cheese fries, Doritos and 2 Reese’s PB Cups Miniatures.
  • Thursday 2/2: Banana and Frosted Flakes; Protein bar; Carrots, PB&J with potato chips; 3 slices of cheese pizza; 6 Reese’s PB Cups Miniatures; OJ.
  • Friday 2/3: Pastry; Carrots, PB&J with potato chips; Granola bar; 3 Reese’s PB Cups Miniatures; Celery with peanut butter; Salad, pierogies, mac n cheese and chocolate custard.
  • Saturday 2/4: OJ and bagel with butter and cinnamon; Vegetarian chicken fingers with green beans, 2 Reese’s PB Cups Miniatures; Banana; PB&J with Doritos and Chocolate milkshake; Slice of pizza; 2 S’mores cupcakes; Slice of pizza.
  • Sunday 2/5: OJ and Eggo waffles; Celery with peanut butter; Vegetarian chicken fingers; Carrots/cucumber slices… FINISH!

Final Thoughts

Overall the week wasn’t that difficult. I won’t be going vegetarian anytime soon (ever probably), but it was a good challenge and I learned a thing or two. I’ll probably try veggie burgers more often and every now and then choose a vegetarian option over a meat one.

I do think I’ll have to try eating vegan for a week (in the distant future). Not for any health reasons, I just apparently like to torture myself.

For a good vegetarian only restaurant, check out Candle Cafe (1307 3rd Ave, at 75th street).

For a good vegetarian friendly restaurant, check out Veselka (9 E 1st St, between Bowery and 2nd Ave). Go for the pierogies, stay for the chocolate custard.

After 365, it’s time for the next installment of Drew’s Best Of, this time for 2011. For past years, check out 20082009 and 2010. But let’s stop all this preamble and get on with it.

Best Achievement – Publish a Book

I think by now we all know that I give myself 10 goals every year. This year I had some great goals and accomplished many of them, but the biggest accomplishment was finally getting published. I now have a book written by me sitting on my bookshelf!  Hopefully it’s just the first of many books.

Personal Development – Quality Days

Part-way through 2010, I created something called the Daily 3 Challenge. In 2011, I formalized this into the concept of Quality and Perfect Days and it’s done a wonder to my daily productivity and long-term goals. By converting my long-term goals into daily ones, I was better able to track them and make adjustments as needed.

Best Business Decision – Mention My Passion of HTW

I’m not that forthcomingly vocal about my work with Humor That Works. It’s not that I’m not proud of it (I definitely am), I just don’t like to force it onto other people. But, in 2011 I’ve talked about my passion with a few different people and it’s lead to some opportunities for training and discussion.

One great example of that technically happened in late 2010 but had a huge impact on HTW: talking with the former adviser of The 8th Floor about what I was doing. As a result, she helped me secure a spot to train incoming RAs at Ohio State, a training that went incredibly well and has helped spur a number of other potential opportunities.

Best Personal Decision – Get on OK Cupid

In recent years, I haven’t spent a lot of time dating, mostly do to other priorities. In 2011 I decided I wanted to get back out there more seriously. I didn’t want to date anyone I knew from either career (work or improv) so I decided to go online. At first I was on PlentyOfFish, but moved over to OK Cupid due to it’s better interface.

I had a few bad dates at first, but then met someone I liked a lot and have been with for 6 months now. It was a great decision to join the site and it’s been a fun ride with the GF since July.

Best Travel – Cincinnati / Baton Rouge

I didn’t travel anywhere brand new in 2011, but I still got around to some old great places. I went to Connecticut to visit Glenn’s cabin, DC for a CBD Sales Meeting, LA for CSz Manager’s Meeting, Las Vegas for Prestige Sales Meeting, the Caribbean for a cruise with some friends, Baton Rouge / Gulf Shores for a family vacation, Columbus for 8th Floor Prom, Philadelphia for a CSz exchange show, Cincinnati for Mom’s birthday, Indianapolis for CSz Tournament, Columbus for Moran’s Wedding, Columbus for Ohio State Training, Cincinnati for HTW Training, Baton Rouge for training at LSU, Boston for the NA BI Summit, Chicago for Nate’s show, Cincinnati for P&G training, and Cincinnati for Christmas.

While all of the travel has been enjoyable, the best of it was going to Cincinnati and Baton Rouge in one trip. Over the course of 5 days, I was in 3 different states doing 3 different HTW trainings. I enjoyed the process and gives me reason to believe that I would enjoy doing that more often throughout the year.

Best NYC Visit – Keenan & Rob

I didn’t have as many visitors this year in NYC, but I still had some great times. My favorite was when Keenan and Rob visited as it was great to catch up with them and also see TV on the Radio in Williamsburg Park.

Best New Restaurant – Pio Pio

I ate at a lot of new restaurants this year as part of my challenge to experience new places in NYC. My favorite of the year would have to be Pio Pio. The chicken is incredibly delicious and, for the amount of food you get, is at a good price.

Best Improv Show – 2-Person Show

I actually think I saw a decrease in the number of shows I saw this year (mostly due to the increase in the number of shows I performed in). I saw the standard greats like TJ & Dave, some of the weekend teams at OSU and some heavy hitters at DCM. I also really enjoyed the secret gay show at CSz Tournament.

But my favorite of the year would have to be the two-person show Nate was in in Chicago. It was slow paced, very patient and not much happened… and yet it was engaging the whole way through and hilarious.

Best Improv Performance – 2-Person Show

With 100+ performances in 2011, it’s hard to pick just one that I enjoyed. I’ve had some phenomenal shows with Mint Condition and Grappler, as well as some of my class teams. CSz has also had some great shows, including some at home, on the road and at tournament.

My favorite show of the year though would have to go to the 2-person show I did at P&G. Not only was it more challenging because there were only 2 of us, but it was also in front of people I work with, so the stakes were high. We had a great show and I impressed a lot of people.

Best Movie I Saw – Scott Pilgrim vs the World

I’m still not a big movie goer, but I did see all of the 2010 Best Picture Nominees (Toy Story 3, True Grit, The Fighter, The 127 Hours, Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, Black Swan, Inception, The Social Network, King’s Speech) as part of a 24-hour marathon earlier in the year, as well as a few other movies (Mission Impossible 3, Hugo, Apocalypse Now, Scott Pilgrim vs the World).

My favorite new movie from the year was Scott Pilgrim vs the World. It wasn’t incredible, but it was a lot of fun and very entertaining.

Best Book I Read – Last Words

I read a few good books this year (4-Hour Body, Laffirmations, Habibi) but my favorite of the year was Last Words by George Carlin. It was a great look back at his life and how he came to be famous as a stand-up comedian.

Best Tweet – Mirror Mirror

My favorite tweet of the year is a bit silly, but I like it. Here are the other picks:

Mirror mirror, on the wall. Dresser dresser, on the floor. Light light, on the ceiling. Room room, checklist complete.

Here it is, the much anticipated “Drew’s Best of 2010.”  If you’re super excited about my best of (or bored with everything else), you can check out previous best ofs.

Best Achievement – Perform Improv 53 Times

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, I gave myself 10 goals at the beginning of the year to accomplish.  2010 was no different.  This year, I successfully completed 6 of my 10 goals, which isn’t even a passing score, but is a lot better than if I didn’t set any goals.

My best achievement of the year was performing 77 times.  Not only did it greatly exceed my goal,  it also helped me grow a ton as a performer.  Thanks to a lot of great teachers and far too much analysis, I was able to blow past some of the barriers in my head and start performing more emotional, interesting and engaging characters.  Thanks to everyone who attended one or many of the 77 shows, hopefully you enjoyed it or them.

Personal Development – Daily 3 Challenge

Anyone who’s followed my goals in the past, or has had to share a hotel room with me, knows I love the snooze button.  I’ve tried a number of different things to break this cursed habit, but the only thing that has consistently kept me from hitting snooze was instituting a challenge with Pat.

Since Pat and I started the daily 3 challenge (not hit snooze, write for 1 hour and exercise) 73 days ago, I’ve only hit snooze 16 times.  Not perfect but far better than how I was doing for most of the year.

Best Business Decision – Go to LA for Speaking Conference

Humor That Works has seen quite a transformation this year and I’ve had a number of great opportunities to share the power of humor with some great groups.

However the decision that has had the biggest impact (if only mentally so far) was attending a speaking conference in LA. Not only did the trip give me 5 consecutive days to think about my business, it also helped me make some decisions on the direction I want to go.  And, perhaps most importantly, it gave me a sense of validation as to what I am doing and how it is something people are looking for.

Best Personal Decision – Move to Midtown East

Though I technically made the decision to move in 2009, I wasn’t 100% sure where I was moving to until 2010.  I first looked in Chelsea to be close to the improv theaters, but ultimately ended up in a great apartment in Midtown East (almost entirely thanks to Luke).

Though I’ve definitely had challenges in the apartment (no stove for the first month, bad windows for 3 months, a brief issue with heat), it’s proved to be a great place to stay.  It has a second bedroom for the vagrants that stay with me, has enough space for all of my crap plus some, affords me the opportunity to walk to work and is located such that I can almost always stop at home in between career #1 (work) and career #2 (comedy).

Best Travel – Geneva/Paris/Ediburgh/London

I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in 2010. I managed to spend some time back home in Cincinnati, in my second home of Columbus, had two trips to LA, a weekend in San Francisco that included some time in San Jose, five days in Las Vegas, three days in Mexico City, an overnight stay in Boston, a weekend wedding in Cape Cod, two trips to Chicago, and started the year in New Orleans / Baton Rouge. But of all the places I went, the most unique were the places I hit in Western Europe.

My first time in Europe (and incidentally the first of any of my immediate family members) started as a business trip in Geneva. I decided to make the most of the flight across the Atlantic and extended my stay long enough to see Paris (8 hours), Edinburgh (2 days) and London (1.5 days). I had the chance to see some historic landmarks, got to see a great friend and experience a traditional Scottish ceilidh, and learned a ton about myself (most notably my lack of appreciation for other languages and the wonder that is being in a foreign city completely by yourself).

I hope to make it back to Europe soon (specifically Tarvin, England and Italy), but I’ll never forget the first time there.

Best NYC Visit – Family for Christmas

I don’t think I had a single bad visit in 2010, but the most memorable was the recent visit from my mom, dad, brothers and one of my brother’s girlfriend. It was a jam-packed (including a trip to PB & Co) 4-days with great food, tons of walking, lots of pictures and non-stop time spent together.

Thanks to the fam for making the long trip and for keeping me fed during and after the visit (mmm leftovers).

Best New Restaurant – Peanut Butter & Co

I was able to try a number of great new (to me) restaurants in 2010 but my favorite was Peanut Butter & Co. Not only does it focus on one of the things I love, it has combinations I had never even thought of. My favorite: a peanut butter BLT (but sans tomato for me).

Sadly I discovered while thinking about this one that I ate at McDonald’s more than any other restaurant this year (actually it was probably 99 Cent pizza but I don’t have CC tracking for that).  To be fair, I did get a lot of the smoothies from there, but I definitely have to change that in 2011.

Best Improv Show – 2 Square

I couldn’t tell you how many shows I saw this year even if I wanted to (and I do want to). If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere in the 50 to 60 range. Many of them were awe-inspiring and hilarious, such as the many Gravid Water shows I saw, tons of shows at DCM (especially Improvised Shakespeare, Baby Wants Candy and Bash), and TJ & Dave.

But the winner for me was the final 2 Square show. Peter Grosz and John Lutz have continued to amaze me since the first time I saw them. But for their last show (at least in awhile), they managed to blow my mind with their commitment to and diversity of characters, connections between scenes, and an ending that couldn’t have been scripted better if the entire thing actually had been scripted.

Best Improv Performance – Level 5 Run

It’s hard to pick my own best performance for the year because there were so many good ones… and a lot of bad ones… and plenty that were just “eh.”  Also that whole subjectivity thing makes it tough since I didn’t get a chance to see me perform any of the shows.

So I won’t pick a single performance out of the 77, but rather a run of them; specifically the run of shows I had with my Level 5 class at the Magnet.  The class was full of incredibly talented people and every show was a blast to play in.  For me, characters from that memorable run included a drunk hotel patron, a Medieval Times employee looking for a date, and a man politically changed by a dream he had about bunnies.

Best Movie I Saw – Inception

I didn’t see a ton of movies in 2010 (only 6 of the Top 50 for 2010), but I did see some quality ones (Toy Story 3, Jackass 3-D).  The movie I enjoyed the most was Inception.  It had intrigued, action, solid acting, cool locations and an awesome plot that was engaging throughout.  I rarely like to watch movies multiple times, but I’d happily see this one again.

Best Book I Read – And Here’s the Kicker

I’ve read a decent number of books this year (including Predictably Irrational, Last Words, and Naked Pictures of Famous People), but the winner for me was And Here’s the Kicker.  The book is a collection of interviews with some of the top humor writers in the country and contains amazing insights, practical tips and lots of encouragement.

Best Tweet – Tux

I created a list of my 15 best tweets of 2010, but my favorite for the entire year was:

My tailor asked if I needed help trying on a tux. I said “No.” He said “fine, suit yourself.”