drewtarvin sandbox
2013 Review: Best of the Best

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!

2013 Review: Best Tweets

Ignoring retweets and direct messages, I tweeted 323 times in 2013. 99% of those tweets were puns. Here are my 20 favorites from the last year:

  1. Composers are unsung heroes of music.
  2. I bet Ford Mustangs get stolen a lot. It makes sense for a muscle car to get jacked.
  3. In highschool I was like butter on bread because I was honor roll.
  4. When deciding between a life of poetry or a life of crime, you have to weigh the prose versus the cons.
  5. Yo momma so FAT her max file size is 4gb.
  6. I got kidnapped because I was too lazy to try to get away. If only I had ran some.
  7. If I perfected cloning, I would be beside myself.
  8. I overcharged a man for a fishing rod that I claimed was magic. He bought it hook, line, and sinker.
  9. "Does this abacus work?" "I wouldn’t count on it."
  10. I’m so hip, old people break me.
  11. Age before beauty, alphabetically speaking.
  12. I can’t believe I didn’t win that essay contest; I’m at a loss for words.
  13. I can’t stand when my legs fall asleep.
  14. Do you buy used prosthetics from a second hand store?
  15. A girl called me at 3am last night, drunk, wanting to go look for treasure. Just another booty call.
  16. Sure worldwide is impressive, but what about worldlong?
  17. "Whatever, you’re not my real ladder!" -What I say whenever I use my step-ladder.
  18. "We should become pathological liars." "Let’s not and say we did." "That’s the spirit!"
  19. I’d like to cancel my trip to this restaurant but I have my reservations.
  20. I thought I could sit on a bench. Some guy told me I couldn’t. I stood, corrected.

Want to read new puns as they come out? Follow me on twitter.

2013 Review: Engagements

One of my new goals for 2013 was to do 100 speaking engagements. Little did I know that this is the goal most professional speakers have many years into their career… but why not shoot for it my first full year out on my own.

While I didn’t hit the goal of 100, I did do 72 engagements which I’m proud of. Here’s the breakdown:

INDUSTRY:

  • Corporate — 38%
  • Start Up — 22%
  • Higher Education — 14%
  • Improv — 10%
  • Other — 16%

TOPIC:

  • Humor in the workplace — 18%
  • Communication — 18%
  • Improv — 11%
  • Leadership — 10%
  • Comedy — 7%
  • Productivity — 6%
  • Career Transition — 6%
  • Other — 24%

My busiest month was October when I had 10 engagements; my lightest months were February and May when I only had 3 each.

Not bad for my first year. Here’s to an even better 2014.

2013 Review: Performances

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
2013 Review: Quality Days

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.

ianstroud:

Co-wrote and co-starred in a sketch with my girlfriend. WE’RE A HOLLYWOOD POWER COUPLE SO WATCH OUT BENNIFER! We’re called Emian or something.

seeking that rare story.

2012 Review: Best of the Best

2012 was a great year. Here are the Best of the Best moments for me.

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.

2012 Review: 25 Best Tweets

It’s no secret that I love puns and wordplay. At this point, it’s almost exclusively what I tweet, with 2012 being no exception. Over the course of the year, I had 319 tweets. My favorites are shared here.

  1. "How good are you with PowerPoint?"
    "I Excel at it."
    "Was that a Microsoft Office pun?"
    "Word."
  2. You should buy stock in Altiods because their can fits well into a 3-piece suit. It’s a good in-vest-mint.
  3. Windshield wiper fluid is the most gangsta part of a car. It’s from the hood.
  4. I asked a man “is that a cigarette you’re smoking?” He said, “Close, but no, cigar.”
  5. I sold a 50 cent lollipop to a guy for a $1. Haha, sucker.
  6. "Hey Sherlock, what’s that grade before middle school?" "It’s elementary, my dear Watson."
  7. Flight agent: “Your son is quite unruly. Do you want to check him with your bags?” Man: “Thanks but I think I’ll carry on my wayward son.”
  8. Did a winter activity last night while listening to 90’s rap. Yes, I went Ice Ice Skating (bun dun dun da da dun dun).
  9. A friend of mine is addicted to dressing like a nun. It’s such a bad habit.
  10. I’m waiting in line to get some ribs. Sometimes I hate barbequeues.
  11. At a slushie party for judges: “just ice will be served.”
  12. Too many grammar errors make me [sic].
  13. Better “late” than “never” unless you’re playing Scrabble.
  14. If you want to get a job catching lobsters, you have to be good at networking.
  15. A friend of mine was wearing a hideous looking pin on her shirt. I wanted to tell her but didn’t know how to broach the subject…
  16. My friend is going to marry a soccer player. I guess she’s a keeper.
  17. I rank playgrounds on a sliding scale.
  18. A man was accused of stealing cement but was released due to lack of concrete evidence.
  19. Before you criticize a British person, try walking 1.60934 kilometers in their boots.
  20. Deals that offer 60 of something for only 50 cents are a dime-a-dozen.
  21. In a rap battle, it’s one man verses another.
  22. Quasimodo? I don’t know who that is but the name rings a bell.
  23. If you think about it, shouldn’t “trial size” mean enough to serve 12 of your peers?
  24. If we talk philosophy at an Italian restaurant, I’ll give you some penne for your thoughts.
  25. Call me paranoid but ever since I joined twitter I’ve had this weird feeling that people are following me.
2012 Review: Performances

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
2012 Review: Quality Days

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.