Is a sense of humour an essential entrepreneurial attribute?

Let’s be honest, to run your own business it helps if you can laugh at yourself (and others).

But is having a sense of humour an important attribute for entrepreneurs and business owners?

Do you use humour in your marketing?

Does your sense of humour get you through the dark days?

Has your sense of humour gotten you into trouble?

Do you fear that you DON’T have a sense of humour and want tips on how to grow one?

In this episode I’ll be digging deep into the funny side of business and how to make it work for you.

Tune in to learn:

In this episode we cover:

  • What humour actually means
  • How to deal with the offended folk
  • Poe’s Law and how to prove you’re being funny
  • How to find the funny in failure
  • Is it better to be lighthearted than funny?
  • Is there a time when it’s not a good idea to be funny?

With contributions from Jennifer Long, Sharon Tregoning, Maria Doyle, Dom Kimber and Sandra Dee.

 

Listen to the podcast below:

Or listen on iTunes or Stitcher

Buy the book:

Confessions of a misfit

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About Uldouz:

Uldouz Van Eenoo is a mum of three who understands the pull towards building a successful business while still staying true to your own personal values as a mum. A former lawyer, Uldouz founded The Mothers Den as a passion project while she was pregnant with her third son. The Mothers Den has since grown into a national community which champions mum business owners and entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses and lives that they love. Through their live events and coaching programs, The Mothers Den seeks to make business content more accessible those who are juggling business and family. Uldouz is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, a part-time fitness instructor and a speaker and advocate on all things motherhood, business and how to get the best out of both.

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Transcript:

 

 

 

Let’s be honest, to run your own business, it helps if you can laugh at yourself and others.

 

But, is having a sense of humour an important attribute for all entrepreneurs and business owners? Do you use humour in your marketing? Does your sense of humour get you through your dark days or has your sense of humour gotten you into trouble? Do you fear that you don’t even have a sense of humour and you want tips on how to grow one? Well, in this episode, I’ll be digging deep into the funny side of business and how to make it work for you.

 

Hello, my name’s Kate Toon. I’m the author of Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur, How to Succeed in Business Despite Yourself. Today, I’m chatting with the amazing Uldouz Van Eenoo about humour.

 

I met Uldouz at one of her Mothers Den Events, where she asked me to speak about my Misfit journey. I loved her cheeky approach to business. Of course, she’s a very serious business woman as well, but she struck me as someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Like me, she a little bit sarcastic, and I wondered if that had ever bitten her on the bottom. The truth is, everyone thinks they have a great sense of humour, but we can’t all truly have one. Can we? Well, hello Uldouz, thank you for being here.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Hi Kate, thank you for having me.

 

Kate Toon: It’s exciting, isn’t it?

 

Now, I must warn everybody, before we start the podcast, it’s very windy and it sounds like the roof of my little tune cave’s about to blow away Wizard of Oz style. So, if you can hear strange creaking in the background, it’s not Uldouz’s aching bones, it’s the roof of my house.

 

Well, I think it isn’t. I’m going to start by reading your bio Uldouz. Are you ready?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yes, I am ready, go for it.

 

Kate Toon: It’s always weird listening to someone else read out your bio, but here we go. “Apparently, you are a mom of three, who understands the pull towards building a successful business whilst staying true to your own personal values as a mom. A former lawyer,” I didn’t know that, “Uldouz founded Mothers Den as a passion project when she was pregnant with her third son. The Mothers Den has since grown into a national community, which champions moms, business owners and entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses and lives they love. Through their live events and coaching programmes, the Mothers Den seeks to make business content more accessible for those who are juggling business and family. Uldouz is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, a part-time fitness instructor and a speaker and advocate on all things motherhood, business, and how to get the best out of both.” What a wonderful bio. I didn’t know a few things. Things I know are, you are a fitness instructor.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I am. I like to do as much as I can do before I collapse. That’s the point on which I like to live my life.

 

Kate Toon: What sort of fitness do you teach?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I teach spin classes three times a week.

 

Kate Toon: Do you? Oh how cool, I could see you-

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yes I am. The only reason I started teaching was because it was the only way I could get my bum to the gym, was if I had to be there to teach the class.

 

Kate Toon: Wow! I don’t even think that would make me go there.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: That was a very elaborate way of forcing myself to exercise.

 

Kate Toon: I like that, I like that. Now, in the intro that I described you a little bit as being a bit sarcastic, do you think … and humorous, but when I asked you to be on the show, you were like, “What me? I’m not funny.” Do you think you’re funny? Do you think you use humour in your relationships, in your business and things like that? How does it fit in for you?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I do think that maybe you’ve confused me with someone else. I don’t know that I am particularly laugh out loud funny.

 

If you have a look at Mothers Den marketing and all that kind of stuff, it’s not a funny brand. But, I definitely do think for sure that I’m someone who doesn’t take herself seriously at all.

 

You spoke in the intro about how I was a lawyer in a past life. That life was very serious. It was very, very stressful. So, now that I have my own business, it’s very freeing. It’s very much an opportunity where you can kind of relax a little, not get too wound up in what’s going right and what’s going wrong and laugh at yourself. Honestly, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what is the point of any of it?

 

Kate Toon: Yeah I agree, and maybe we can talk about that through the episode, how much your personal humour comes out through your business. But before we do, I always like to start the show with a definition. I don’t know why I started doing it and now I can’t stop. So, being humorous is the quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech. It is also a state of mind, which I think is what you’ve just touched on.

 

So, you can have a good humour sense of mind. It’s also to comply with the wishes of someone, so, to humour people. I do that quite a lot. I think all of these apply in business and I’m sure you’ll agree Uldouz.

 

I think you made an interesting point there because I would say, that in person, you’re quite funny. You’re very sarcastic. In fact, you relentlessly took the piss out at me when I came to Mothers Den and then now I do it back to you. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but as you said, that doesn’t necessarily come through in your brand. Looking at those three elements there, being amusing, state of mind, complying with the wishes of others, do you think all of these apply to business? What do you reckon?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I think they do, I think absolutely, they have to because, I’m sure that we have all come into contact with business owners, who are just so freaking serious. They are so hard to relate to and connect with. I think that they are all really necessarily but I also think that number two, that state of mind … Are you speaking to us with day two over there Kate? What is that?

 

Kate Toon: Can you hear a beeps?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yes I can.

 

Kate Toon: I have my stupid fit bit, my God! My life is just surrounded by things that beep and suddenly, it does this weird thing called power save. Power save in three seconds, I don’t care, don’t beep. This is not something I need to know.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: That was after the [inaudible 00:06:44] Danny gave me about making sure that everything was turned off on my end.

 

Kate Toon: I know. I know you and your guy just heard a horn beep. [crosstalk 00:06:52] beeping your own horn.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I think that state of mind is everything.

 

Kate Toon: Yes.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Your outlook to everything is the way that you approach a business, it’s the way that you approach a life, it’s the way that you engage with other people. You are right. I do pay people less a lot. It is something that i have to be very careful with and gauge who I’m doing it with. But I find that in this time of social media, you feel like you know people better than you know them before you actually meet them, and that’s the time that it can also get you in trouble as well. If you feel like you’ve known someone for six months or for six years, and you’ve never met them before, and you start paying them out because they paid themselves out and suddenly they look at you like, “I don’t know you. Why are you being so mean to me?”

 

Kate Toon: Yeah. That’s something we’ll definitely touch on because that’s happened to me a few times recently as well. Well look, let’s get stuck into the episode. I think those of you who’ve read the book and I hope you all have, you’ll know that I take quite a humorous approach to business. The book is not a serious business type. It makes some serious points and is relatively insightful, I hope, but I’m not afraid of making a joke, taking a piss at myself. My go to business tactic is sarcasm and that’s not always great. I think I’m funny, and that’s what counts, I think. I think I’m funny. You might not get my jokes, not everyone’s going to like my sense of humour but I kind of don’t care. I wanted to chat today about how Uldouz you use humour in your business and whether or not it works and how I do it and whether or not it works for me.

 

I mentioned at the start of the show, that you struck me as a funny person, and we talked about that. So, I’m going to jump into writing, because for me, obviously as a writer, humour comes out through my writing and my blog posts, my status updates. I’m pretty self-effacing and I’m willing to share my ups and downs, and I try to do this in a funny way. So, we’re either going, “Oh my God! This terrible thing happened,” I’m like, “This thing happened, here’s the funny side of it.”

 

But sometimes, it doesn’t work. People take me seriously and worry about me. Of course, there are the occasions when jokes just fall flat. This is something that one of our listeners Sandra D. Raised. She said, “I’ll be worried that my sense of humour would get me in trouble in marketing. The written word doesn’t always translate the same, and you could always offend people. What do you think about this Uldouz?”

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I think that it ultimately has to come down to who you are speaking to. If you are dealing with bankers, obviously you’re not going to go out there and speak to them in the same way that you might be speaking to a hipster community, not that one is necessarily more funny than the other. I think that you do this really well Kate, because you know exactly who you are speaking to. I’m in your groups and I see the way that everyone rallies around you. I know what you mean about how we get worried about you sometimes. Sometimes you do say, “I’m having a bad day,” and we’ll go, “Kate, are you okay?” I think that part of that and what has made you successful in that is that you are so honest and wear your heart on your sleeve.

 

In terms of humour getting you into trouble, I think you just have to trust yourself, know your brand, know your audience, and then trust that they will come along with you for the ride. If you try and make everyone happy all the time, it will fall flat, especially now.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah. I think there is a big fear that you’re going to offend people online and I’ve got a little quote here, “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb and I also know I’m not blonde,” from Dolly Parton. I quite like that. I think the thing is, you are always capable of offending people and people literally go online to be offended. They’re waiting there to be offended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously, there are some topics I always avoid, I don’t really talk about politics unless it’s Trump, Because I’m guessing he’s pretty much universally disliked. I would never really touch on religion or any really deeply personal big political issues or things like that, but most of the things I think they’re up for grabs. Yes people are going to be offended but you can’t live your life that way, I don’t think, because people are so easily offended.

 

What do you think about offending people? Do you worry about it or do you just keep on keeping on?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I honestly don’t. Part of the reason that I don’t worry about it is because, I’m very much in tune with my own personal values as a human being, as opposed to as a non-human being I suppose. I would be like I … I know that I like to approach the world with love and with good intentions. If someone were to be offended, it’s not something that came from my heart. It was probably just a miscommunication. So, if someone were to say, “You were really mean or you hurt my feelings,” it didn’t come from that place. So, when you’re in tune with who you are, it’s easier to brush that stuff off.

 

You and I got into a miscommunication around that. I think someone asked about events and someone commented about Mothers Den Events and you put a comment that said, “Yes, but I’ve heard that Uldouz is a bit of a cow.” Then I emailed you and said, “You really hurt my feelings but I was joking.” Then, I think that that got lost in translation. You were like, “But I was only joking.” Then, it ended up being like this ridiculous back and forth. So, absolutely. That’s one of the pitfalls of online, is that whole lost in translation thing. But, life’s too shot to be wandering around, thinking if you’re going to be offending people. Just be you. Just do you.

 

Kate Toon: That’s it but, I feel what you said is such a good point that, if it’s coming from a good place and if you can own it and say … You’ve got to have the courage of your convictions. So, if you post something that you genuinely thought was interesting, fun or silly, and you thought it was great and then someone’s offended by it, if your immediate reaction is to delete that post and panic, because one person was offended, well, then you’re not really owning who you are and your sense of humour. If you then can see that point of view and go actually, ” Maybe that is a bit offensive,” then you just go, “Hey, I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I thought this was funny. Maybe I made a misstep,” that what we can do. We can delete it. I find this a lot with running the group.

 

What different people find offensive is huge. So, I’ve set some basic rules in the group that we won’t have big groups of women, that tends to be a thing on a Friday, where someone will post a picture of Channing Tatum, with his top off doing something, like, “Happy Friyaay!” I made a rule quite early on that we wouldn’t do that because I think Channing Tatum’s hideous, whatever he’s called Chanum Teeting, is hideous. I think he’s hideous, but also, there’s blokes in the group. If someone were to constantly post pictures of women in bras on a Friday going, “Hey, bouncy boob Friday,” women would be offended. But then other people are like, “That’s not offensive.”

 

There was something last week where someone’s post talked about, “How do you clean your microwave.” Everyone put comments in like, “I use jiff, I scrub it really hard.” Then later on, the person went back and changed the word microwave to vagina. So, the whole thing read differently. I got so many complaints that this person had made them look a fool, but I thought it was pretty … It was daft but it was pretty inoffensive. Again, managing that is really hard because some things that I find not necessarily offensive, but bad taste, other people think are hilarial. Hilarial?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: It’s okay toonism.

 

Kate Toon: It’s a toonism, I definitely think it’s hilarial. Also, there’s a funny old thing that I read about recently. Have you heard of Poe’s Law?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: No.

 

Kate Toon: There you go. I’m going to educate you on something great. We’ve got a new word hilarial, but Poe’s Law, so, Poe’s Law is the adage of internet culture saying that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views. What? What does that mean? Anyway, it was created by this guy called Nathan Poe. What he was saying there is that, sometimes you post something like that thing where I said, “Mothers Den’s great but the lady who runs it, Uldouz,” and then I tagged you, “is a bit of a cow.” Fullstop. I thought you’d think I was paying you out. You pay me out all the time. Then I wrote you, worried that I’d offend you, blah blah blah. If I’d put a smiley face after it, you’d have known I was being funny. You’d have known I meant that to be humorous. The smiley face covers a lot of bottoms. Do you know what I mean by that?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: It absolutely does, yeah. Do you think it gives people permission to be … It’s my podcast now Kate, I’m asking you the question.

 

Kate Toon: No, no.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Do you think it gives people a veil of, “I can actually go out and purposefully offend you. As long as I put a smiley face or a winky face it’s all okay?”

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, I think it’s very much misused. I think there’s a lot of people online who are pretty snide. Somebody did that the other day actually, they wrote some comment on some handwritten and like, “Nananana, smiley face.” It was actually just a nasty comment and putting a smiley face after it didn’t make it funny. It was still just as [crosstalk 00:17:07].

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah. It’s like saying, “No offence but …” and then saying something offensive. The no offence doesn’t cover the fact that it’s actually very offensive.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, or just saying, that’s the other one. It feels like, just saying, it appears like no effort to what you say, I don’t care. So, I think you have to be very careful. I think it’s so easy to misinterpret what people write online. You meant it as a joke, it just doesn’t come across that way because there’s no eye contact, there’s no anything like that.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yes.

 

Kate Toon: I’ve actually found that the easiest way to be funny online or to get your humour across is through Facebook Live. Because then, people can get the visual cues, they can see your body language. If you’re saying, “God! I really hate Mothers Den, it’s awful!” They can see the fact that I’m smiling as I’m saying it and making little fingers in the air … Do you know what I mean?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah, yeah.

 

Kate Toon: Like those other cues that help back it up, so, it’s really, really hard. So, the next question I had was around how funny we should be. I don’t think I ever aim for like, slap my thigh, Ricky Gervais funny. I think I just try to be relatable, and that sometimes is funny. I try to be lighthearted. So, do you think for those people who are trying to be a bit more amusing or engaging, that they should aim for lighthearted rather than funny?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Absolutely. I went to high school with this guy. He tried to be funny so much that it was like, “Here we go, we’ve got to pretend to laugh for the next 40 minute period.” I don’t even actually think half of what he said was funny but it was all punchlines and jokes, and we were like, “Haha, Darren, you’re a really, really funny mate,” and it just wasn’t. So, you’re either funny or you’re not funny. I think that if you can get around that by being … Can you hear scratching again?

 

Kate Toon: No, no, just ignore. It’s kind of brutal isn’t it?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Oh my God! Yeah, yeah.

 

Kate Toon: Which am I in? Am I funny, am I not funny? I don’t know.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Well, maybe ask the people closest to you. Basically, you should try and see if everyone is faking a laugh every time they’re around you. But, you can be lighthearted and that’s a really great way to go around it as opposed to going, “How can I try to make people belly laugh with this one?” Also, knowing what your brand is. I had an instance last year where I tried to be, I think funny and quirky with the Mothers Den, and it just fell flat on its face. I think it was April Fools Day and I wanted to promo the next month’s event. So, with the Instagram tile, rather than use this big, I can’t remember what it was, I used an image of, I can’t remember whoever the heartthrob of the day was. I put writing overlay of April Brunch, featuring blah blah. I got like two likes, no comments and I thought, “Tough crowd.” No one got the April Fools connection. So, it’s very important to-

 

Kate Toon: Did you delete it?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I deleted it because it just looked out of place. Then it’s like, “Do I go back and explain it or do I just carry on and move on?” In my personal life, and even what I bring to the events and I think Kate you commonly show this as well, I’m a very big dag, I don’t take myself seriously. I’m the first one to trip over and … Like if I would trip over walking up the staircase, I’d be laughing before anyone else would.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, that’s important. I actually did trip up on stage of The We Are Podcast. I fell flat onto the stage as I was about to present.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Well, then you and J-Lo are in the same camp because she tripped out to her Oscar.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, it’s true I was embarrassed, I made light of it. It wasn’t like I was going, “Brilliant, I’m hilarious, look at me.” That’s the thing I think that’s quite important, the distinction of you’re either funny or you’re not, I think that’s possibly true. I also think that some people are funny without consciously trying to be funny. Like sometimes I’m saying stuff and I actually don’t mean to be funny and people are laughing and I’m like, “Oh, I don’t get why you’re laughing, I don’t know why you find that so hilarious.” [inaudible 00:21:24].

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah, I agree. I don’t know if you ever watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld?

 

Kate Toon: No, I haven’t.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: It’s basically 15 minutes, Jerry Seinfeld takes a famous comedian out for coffee and they just, can you throw in this show, they just shoot the shit for 15 minutes, they just have a bit of a chat. Last when I watched, he took Jim Carrey out and Jim Carrey was just trying to be funny with every breathe, and Jerry Seinfeld was just doing these fake laughs the whole way through. It was really painful to watch. Whereas, if you watched the one that he did with Ricky Gervais or Colbert, they were just naturally, and they weren’t even trying to be, just funny.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, I’ve never seen it. You don’t want to be some kind of dadlaladala.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah, it seems like, yeah.

 

Kate Toon: … after everything you say. Also, when you make a joke, I do this terrible thing, and it’s not funny, I’m just realising now how unfunny it is, when I’m presenting I do this thing where I go, “Put your hand up if you’re something.” People put their hands up, “Put your hand up if you’re something else,” people put their hands up and I’m like, “Put your hand up if you don’t like putting your hand up.”

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: That is funny.

 

Kate Toon: It’s not funny.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: It’s funny.

 

Kate Toon: You see the way there was a big pause there before you go … I did it recently at the Business Blueprint Conference and no one laughed. I’m like, “I’ve got half an hour with you people and-”

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: That doesn’t meant they’re not laughing on the inside.

 

Kate Toon: No, they literally looked like they had death eyes. Do you know what I mean?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah.

 

Kate Toon: So, sometimes it doesn’t work and you’ve got to know your crowd. I think that was a very serious event and they take it quite seriously and I came on and I was a bit like, dadadlada, and no one laughed. They wanted aspiration and [crosstalk 00:23:05].

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: They wanted a big hook to come and pull you off stage.

 

Kate Toon: That was funny, coming out with the cloud thing from my nose that goes oink, oink. Did you hear the other strange noise my computer just made?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: No, I didn’t.

 

Kate Toon: Like it just went hollow. Honestly, my computer is like a box full of clown tools. It honks and beeps all the time, I don’t know how to stop it. Anyway, we think maybe lighthearted, don’t try to be funny, don’t try too hard, don’t literally tell jokes. I think for me, it’s always come out as being relatable. So, this thing happened, I spilled coffee all over myself at a meeting and instead of taking the angle of, “It was so embarrassing, oh my God! I’m never going to go to a meeting again,” taking the angle of, I made it to a conversation piece because it was actually the shape of Chairman Mao face. I don’t know, do you know what I mean?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah.

 

Kate Toon: I’m always taking the dark angle. I think this leads us onto our next question, which is if Dom Kimber.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Can I just say something on that last point about that?

 

Kate Toon: Well, about Chairman Mao, about coffee on my [inaudible 00:24:07].

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Exactly about Chairman Mao.

 

Kate Toon: Okay cool.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: You’ve just rambled on and made me completely lose my train of thought. I think not gone. Okay awesome.

 

Kate Toon: You interrupted me to make a Chairman Mao point, and then you forgot that?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I did, yeah.

 

Kate Toon: It’ll come back to you and you’ll just shuip Chairman Mao.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: What were you talking about before? I think you know, yeah.

 

Kate Toon: God knows, I’ve got no idea, no, let’s move on.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Oh, I remember what it is now. It was to do with the fact that also, don’t get too bogged down with this stuff, especially if you are new. Just trust the process, enjoy the journey and know that no one … If you look at the copy I wrote when I first started, I can’t look at it. I don’t know if you’re the same Kate, but it took a long time for me to evolve into a place where I found my own voice and felt comfortable and felt like yes, this is me not trying too hard, not trying to little, and finding my groove, but it took time.

 

Kate Toon: It took me ages. There have been a million times where I post stuff on Facebook that I thought was brilliant and hilarious and insightful, and it hasn’t even had a single like or comment. You’re like, “What am I doing? I’m just shouting into the void.” Some people might … Now, when I post something and people are like, “You’re hilarious blah blah blah,” and that’s lovely. But that’s taken eight years. Funny, they won’t even take any notice let alone find it amusing, so, totally. Now, I’ll get back to my question. We will bring Chairman Mao back into it later, poor Chairman Mao. The question was from Dom Kimber and she says, “How do you find humour in your failures?” So, I’m going to let you answer this first and then I’ll give you my thoughts.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: It’s such a tough one to answer and not sound naff or condescending or something, but the whole point of business is failure to a degree because no one goes, “Here’s a business handbook.” The only way that you will figure out the right way is by crossing off the wrong ways. As much as that hurts to sit in, in that moment, I think acknowledging that, that it’s part of it, makes it a whole lot easier. I think I was telling you Kate, my first event, I was in the red, 15K. It was just the most … It just really hurt because we’d borrowed against our home and it was supposed to be this amazing launch event, and it was a great event, but, it was also very expensive. Different people have different levels of expense that they can bear but for me, that was a nightmare.

 

What I ended up doing was going, “Okay, how can I remodel this so that I make sure that I’m never making a loss like that ever again?” Things like making sure you don’t have any issues with minimum numbers, I know we were chatting before the podcast on does that apply going into state with events, but that’s a different story. How do I make sure that I never end up in that situation again. So, I suppose also, with that, it’s knowing how much you can afford to fail and sticking to that if you are going to take it as a lesson. Does that help?

 

Kate Toon: Yeah it does. I think there’s failure and there’s failure. Losing 15 grand, I don’t think that’s particularly funny. Turning up for an event on the wrong day because you got your diary wrong, I think that’s pretty funny because, one of them hurts, is embarrassing, is humiliating, another, is mildly irritating. Do you know what I mean?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Mm-hmm.

 

Kate Toon: So, I do think there’s a scale, like you can go, “Hah aha, I think my business fell so fast I lost my house, my husband divorced me.” I think as we talked about awkward situations, embarrassing stuff … Like even two days ago, I was like, “Social media marketing world,” which I found relentlessly hideous, but I thought, “I’m going to try and get into this. I’m really going to try.” So, I went to a session and they said, “You’re going to make videos on LinkedIn, making live video on LinkedIn.” So, I went out and I took this video of, “Hey, I’m a social media marketing world, guru,” and I was doing it.

 

It was great, and I posted it and then I carried on merrily with my day. Then I realised about six hours later, I had posted it up side down on LinkedIn. What a loss. I thought, “That’s a bit embarrassing but I actually find that quite amusing that I’ve tried to be all like, I’m a social media genius, I’m a social media marketer.”

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I think that’s really skilled, I wouldn’t even know how to post a video up side down. I think that-

 

Kate Toon: Well, obviously I don’t either but … Rather than being mortified and deleting it, I took a screen graft of it and just took the piss at myself, because it’s something that we all do. I think that’s my point to Dom, is, find the humour in your failure. What does it tell you about yourself? You made that event, you wanted it to be great, it didn’t earn the money that you wanted to, it was a great event, don’t we all do that? Don’t we all throw money at stuff and it goes tits up. Don’t we all recognise that, that’s heading for an embarrassing and awful, not death threatening but I don’t know, life-threatening, death threatening, is that a thing? I think find the humour.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Toonism, toonism, yeah.

 

Kate Toon: Find the humour but also if you don’t take it all too seriously … As I said, I would not laugh at losing 15 grand. I would laugh at organising a workshop and no one turning up. That is gutting but it’s also a bit funny because you haven’t lost anything really, maybe the higher up the road.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah. I think I interpreted Dom’s question as even how do I see the bright side of failure, maybe not so much the laugh out loud humour of it, because I wast laughing.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, no, that’s it, how do you get the positive.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah.

 

Kate Toon: No, I bet you weren’t. How do you get the positive? How do you get the positive out of it? It’s tough and I do also think as you said, that also comes with experience. I wasn’t able to laugh at myself quite so much six or seven years ago, because I generally didn’t have a clue on what I’m doing. Now, if something fails, I’m like, “Well, that failed, but I’ve still got this, this, that and that, or I’ll just try again next month.” Because, I’ve failed so many times it’s like it doesn’t actually matter. No one will know six months from now that this was a flop. No one will care, not even me. So, that helps as well.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I think that is if you’ve got your own business and you’re at that point, that is one of the most empowering points that you can be at. If you’re not seized by paralysis and brainalysis of that idea of failure but can just get on with it, I think that is an incredible powerful position to be in as a business owner. Sorry to go serious on you there Kate, but I just-

 

Kate Toon: No, I love that. You actually put your serious voice on as well.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I did, I have quite much your serious podcast voice.

 

Kate Toon: My podcast voice is like butter melting on toast, that’s what I’ve been told by myself. Anyway, let’s go. The next question is from Maria Doyle, and she says, “Humour is a pre-” I can’t say this, can you say that word? Pre-req I can’t say it.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Pre-requisite.

 

Kate Toon: Pre-requisite, that was your serious voice.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: That was five years of legal training right there.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, you’ve got a lawyer voice. That’s what it is. I’d hate to be told off by you. I’d hate to be in trouble with you, that’s what I’ve just realised. You frighten me with that voice. “Humour is a prerequisite for business in my opinion, as it’s self-deprecating humour. It’s a sure far way …” I can’t read, can’t get my teeth in, “It’s a sure far way to work out whether you resonate with a potential client and why I am as me as possible. Also, it means that people can’t hack your sense of humour.” That’s a really good point. We often talk about being copy-catted but no one can get your sense of humour, no one can quite be that. So, I think the point that Maria is making here is that, the more real you are, the more yourself you are, the more easy it is to be funny. Do you agree with that?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah. This almost needs to be like a video thing because I’m nodding so furiously over here. I think that what Maria is saying, really comes back to what we were talking about earlier on and knowing exactly who you are and who you speaking to. Also, having a very good idea of who you don’t want to be speaking to, which is equally as important. Who do you want as clients and who do you not want to take money from because you know that if you do, they’re just going to be the biggest thorn in your side for the next six months. The best way to do that is by being you, and I really love that.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, I do too. As you said, it all does depend on whether you’re actually funny or not in person. Because, the more you become … If you’re boring git, then the more boring git you’ll become. I think there is humour in everything as well. I wrote a post a while ago about how no business is boring. So, even if you’re somebody who sells widgets, there will be widget humour, “I’ve got a box full of blue widgets and there was a green one in it.” No one else will find that funny but if you’re a widget person, you’ll know that. that’s absolutely hilarious. Us copywriters make jokes about colons and semi colons where, no one else will find that funny. It’s pure geeking out, that we do. So, knowing your audience is everything. That’s what I mean about being human and relatable, to not slap your bum funny but it’s lighthearted, it’s approachable and it’s humorous. It’s not necessarily funny.

 

Jenifer Long says, “I think humor’s an important attribute if it’s a big part of how you naturally are and communicate.” So, what we just said as a real person, and whether it’s something that’s suitable to your industry.

 

“I have a pretty daft sense of humour and it comes across in many areas of my life including my business. But, I also think I know how to self-censor when needed. Certain clients are a bit more serious and I also know things I find funny are a bit borderline on what general public might find amusing. So, I try not to cross too many lines or act the clown all the time.” Good question here and this is something I ask myself, “Is there a risk of acting the clown and not being taken seriously?”

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah, I like this question. I think even though I said before, you’re either funny or you’re not funny, that’s not entirely true because I think that as people, we are so multifaceted. Is that a human trait or is that just applied to skin cream?

 

Kate Toon: It’s true, it’s true.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: So, you have so many different layers and you can go in and have an interview with a banker or whatever it might be, a prospective partner, and still bring your lightheartedness and your sense of humour without going in and making those dirty jokes that you might share with your friends on a Wednesday night. It’s also part of the same person. You’re not trying to be anything that you’re not. It’s just not showing your full bag of tricks on your first card.

 

Kate Toon: Yes, I think that’s very true. You’ve got to reveal it, you’ve got to feel people out. It is something I worry about because as I said, I am quite open and honest and often, I’ll share something that’s happened to try and make other people feel better. But then, it gets flipped over on me and people are like, “Hey, are you okay? Do you want some advice?” It’s like, “No, no, no, no, no, I was sharing that funny thing that happened and telling you how awkward it was because I know that we all do that. I’m not putting out there so that you all hug me.”

 

So, I need to find that line. Also, obviously I teach people how to do stuff. So, if I’m some kind of like tumbling buffoon, people aren’t going to want to buy. They might like me, they might find me funny, but they’re not necessarily going to want to learn from me. So, there’s a fine line. I tend to try and post 70% serious, useful, helpful content, 30% daft stuff.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Can I ask you a question Kate.

 

Kate Toon: You may, you may.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Since you do share of yourself so openly, do you ever get taken aback by people thinking they know you better than they do and maybe crossing that line on the first meeting?

 

Kate Toon: Yes I do. Even when we first met, you really paid me out when I came to the [inaudible 00:36:29]. I must admit, for some reason, on that day, I was a bit nervous. I was like, “Oh, oh, she did. She’s being really cheeky.” But I got where you were coming from. But yeah, even when I went to Social Media Marketing World, a couple of the people in the group beforehand told me, their jokes about stuff that I was like, “Wow! That’s quite forlorn considering you’ve never met me.” So, of course I do but I do get it as well. I do get why people do it.

 

It’s the same with anything, when people come up and meet me at events, they’re like, because they’ve read the book and I’ve listened to the podcast, they’ve listened to hours and hours of my voice, so they feel like they really … I don’t know them from [inaudible 00:37:08]. So, people walk up and go, “Hey, it’s Sue.” I’m like, “Hello Sue. I don’t know who you are at all.”

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: You want to do a bit of a Jerry Seinfeld, “No thanks, Jerry Seinfeld.”

 

Kate Toon: Yeah.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I love how I asked you if you ever meet people who’ve crossed the line and you used me as an example.

 

Kate Toon: I did, yeah, I did. But the thing is, although you maybe crossed the line with me a little bit, look at us now. We’re on the podcast together, we’re actually running an even together, let’s do The Plug, it’s in Melbourne, I can’t remember the date. What dat is it Uldouz?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: It’s the 28th of March down in Melbourne. I’ve had so many people tell me, from when you did this talk in Sydney, that it was their favourite event of 2017, no offence to the other presenters Mother;s Den hosted in 2017.

 

Kate Toon: We sold out, we sold out I think. We had a couple of women who tried to sneak in and hide under a table during the event because they wanted to be there.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: We did, yes, yes.

 

Kate Toon: So, it’s about having a small business but a big brand. So, trying to have a really successful, enjoyable, profitable, popular business but still doing it in your pants, with no team and not necessarily all the other trappings. It’ll be brilliant. I thought it was a really nice event because it was very chill, very unpretentious, not too businessy, nice food. It felt like a gathering of friends rather than some relentless business horror.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Perfect. That’s one of the best things anyone can say, a gathering of friends, because it’s very much what Mothers Den really strives to be.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, and it’s not just all mothers because there were plenty of non-mothers there.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: No.

 

Kate Toon: So, it was more about lots of moms can’t go to stuff like this because they have kids but it’s really just for anybody, mothers, fathers, dogs, chickens.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah.

 

Kate Toon: So come along.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: With childcare.

 

Kate Toon: Yes, with childcare. Let’s get back to … That was a random plug, we weren’t planning that. That wasn’t scripted, so there you go.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Thank you Kate.

 

Kate Toon: Is there any time that you just totally wouldn’t try to be funny?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: A funeral maybe. Let me see. I think that I’m not sure. That’s an interesting question. I don’t know if I would ever not try to be me, but I would always just go in as me and gauge the room. Then, if whoever I’m meeting, so, it’s a first time meeting, that I see that they have got a bit of a wicked sense of humour in line with my own, I might start to bring that out a little, but I don’t know that I would ever make a blanket statement of I would never try to not be me or funny.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, well I think again it comes back to the fact that you’re not actually trying to be funny, you’re just trying to be you. Part of you tends to sometimes be a bit funny. So, I find in that Misfit Entrepreneur group, that people post all manner of things. Lots of it is funny but some of it’s heartfelt. That may be somewhere where I’m not so comfortable writing comments. I don’t necessarily know what to say. So, often, I leave those kinds of comments to Sharon Shizum because that’s her space. She’s a mental health expert and she’s good at that kind of stuff. I’m not as good. I don’t really see the funny in death or illness. I don’t know if I can play that well enough, balanced enough or I want to take a Ricky Gervais risk about saying something so outrageous. Some people might laugh but I don’t want to offend people.

 

Although I don’t think about it, I don’t like not being liked. I can deal with it but it’s not something … Some people set out to be controversial and use humour to do that. It’s not what I’m about. So, I think it’s just then just being yourself. Sharon [inaudible 00:40:49] made a comment, actually, I did a Facebook Live the other day on this. In my workshop last week, there was a discussion around the appropriateness of humour in the death and dying space. It’s absolutely vital and a powerful tool for easing tension sometimes. I think that’s very true but I don’t know that I can do that. So, I know my limitations, do you know what I mean?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Kate Toon: I’m not coming from a position of knowledge of death and dying. I don’t have a huge amount of experience with it. So, it’s not somewhere where I’d try and be playful.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah, I think just gauging the space is key.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah I agree, totally. I also think, with all of these episodes, sometimes you can overthink it, like you need to craft this series of hilarious posts or this amazingly funny Facebook post. You don’t need to do that necessarily. A well placed gif can be what you need. We now have these animated gifs and Facebook and other platforms. Sometimes just picking a funny gif and sharing that can allude to the fact that your business is both powerful, intelligent, and knowledgeable, but also a bit playful. So, don’t overthink it sometimes.

 

This is a point that came from Danika Lynsel. Sorry if I’m saying people’s names wrong. “I love using humour in business. Gif is like a second language to me,” I love that. “Yes, even in professional relationships, I find that when a client can relax around me, enough to laugh, they are a lot more open in their feedback, which in turn makes my job 1,000 times easier and the overall experience far more pleasurable. I’m also secretly collecting the world’s best third jokes. I come across in client emails to prepare myself a [inaudible 00:42:27] one day. You need to be ready.” What do you think about overthinking Uldouz?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: I think that everyone can tell. I think that if you have overthought and tried to craft the most amazing piece of copy or marketing, whatever it is, it looks desperate and people can tell. I also think that no one’s watching. Everyone is too busy worrying about how they are perceived by others, and and no one really cares. I’m not going to ring my girlfriend and go, “Oh my God! Kate put up this post and she thought it was funny and it’s really not all that funny.” People just don’t work that way.

 

Kate Toon: Some people do, some people are odd but majority of people don’t. I would agree. The times I wrote, sometimes was flying solo and the times where I sit down and think, “I’m going to write a funny post,” it’s a week later and the page is blank, the time when I just try and write a post and not care whether it’s funny or not, is when it generally goes up. I would say that’s 9/10 for me. I post something that I think is interesting or just a story and it’s not me who decides whether it’s funny or not. It’s my audience, because they find humour even I don’t necessarily see.

 

So, I think the summary we’ve come to is, it’s not really about being funny or not being funny, it’s what we’ll say. It sounds like a cliché but cliches are true. It’s about being yourself and letting your natural self come out. Some of that’s going to be funny, some of it’s not, but that’s what it’s all about, just being relatable in business. Do you agree?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Yeah, I think it’s important to note that humans are so multifaceted. Here I go again, multifaceted. We all have funny sides and we all have … Now I’m contradicting myself. We all have funny sides, we all have serious sides, we all get really upbeat, we all feel really down. To be relatable, it’s important to cross all of those things as well.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, I agree. I think that’s it and I think it’s not that someone sits there and thinks, “My brand is going to be funny and that’s all I’m going to do.” The best brands, the most well rounded human brands are the ones where we see all shades of you. Maybe not your darkest day and maybe not your utmost out there humour, so, you maybe choke the ends of your personality, but then, the middle bit is everything from that bad day to that grey day, the funny you to the sad you, the sensitive you to the overconfident you. That’s when people feel that they can relate to you. I think that’s powerful because it definitely works.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: So, the moral of this podcast is just be you really. Isn’t it?

 

Kate Toon: Be you, be multifaceted.

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Multifaceted just like a great skincare cream.

 

Kate Toon: Yeah, exactly. Well look, Uldouz, thank you so much for being on the show. I think that was an interesting discussion. I hope the listeners found it useful. Where can we find out more about you?

 

Uldouz Van Eeno: Mothers Den is one Facebook. I don’t remember the handle but it will be somewhere, and on Instagram @themothersden and also just plain old website www.themothersden.com.au. You can sign up to the mailing list to find out about events near you.

 

Kate Toon: Lovely. I highly recommend that you do. So, thank you very much Uldouz and thanks to you for listening to the Confessions of the Misfit podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, despite all the beeps, the blurbs, the shufflings and the wild winds, then please head to the blog post for this show and tell me what you thought. It will make Uldouz and I weep salty tears of joy. Also, for the love of all things furry, subscribe to the show so you never miss another episode, because let’s be honest people, I’m a little bit erratic with when I post because I’m just so goddamn busy.

 

Finally, if you like the show, you will probably also like the book. You can find it at katetoon.com/misfits or on Amazon and you can also head to Facebook to join the Misfit Entrepreneurs Group. Also, before I finish, don’t forget to check out my other two podcasts, The Hot Copy Podcast, with the delicious Belinda Weaver and the Recipe for SEO Success, where I talk about all things googly woogly. Find then where you find good podcasts. So, that’s it for this week Misfits. Keep on keeping on. You got this.