Scholarship breakfast speaker makes student presentation at WCHS

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

Michael Kerr has made a career out of humour.

He’s an author and international speaker, who has delivered keynote presentations to more than 500 audience, from Iran to Honolulu.

But there was a time when he had a normal, everyday job. He worried as a naturalist for Parks Canada, and eventually found himself as a senior manager. When the job became “soul sucking” and fun sucking,” he set out on own, and became one of the continent’s leading authorities on how to create humour in the workplace.

That journey brought him to Lethbridge on Wednesday, when Kerr spoke at the Canada 150 Ice Awards Scholarship Breakfast, and then to students at Winston Churchill High School. His meandering career route was one of the topics he touched on during his WCHS presentation.

“You have lots of time to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life,” he told the group, which also included students from Chinook High School.

But whatever future career today’s students chose, Kerr urged them to consider a few important points about the world of work.

“Attitude is the key driver to success,” said Kerr, who added having a keen sense of humour is critical to developing the proper attitude. “Many people fail at their jobs, and it doesn’t have anything to do with skills or their talent, but it’s their attitude.”

More and more employers are looking for employees with the right attitude, and employees who are willing and able to have a little fun in the workplace. Kerr added employees who desire to move up in the world, and become the bosses of tomorrow, also need to consider something all good leaders possess.

“If you’re not likeable, there is a one in 2,000 chance of you becoming a good leader,” said Kerr, who added leadership is about character and values, and your ability to influence those around you in a positive way.”

Having a sense of purpose at work is important, as Kerr added employees need to take control of their own happiness in the workplace.

Controlling your own happiness, and injecting humour into your work, will inevitably mean increased service for customers, said Kerr, who added exceeding people’s expectations, and anticipating the future needs of your customers, is what makes good businesses great.

“Look for opportunities to be create and to do something special,” said Kerr, as he highlighted the service-first mindset all employees should have.

The power of our sense of humour can’t be underestimated, as Kerr added laughing at the things we have no control over, and laughing at ourselves on occasion, is important.

“Did you ever notice the people who take themselves really seriously, that no one else takes them seriously?”

Humour can help manage stress, help people become more creative and can helps you and those around you relax. Having the right attitude makes all the difference in the world.

“Nothing causes us stress – it’s our interpretation of things that happen to us that causes us stress,” said Kerr, who added it all boils down to controlling your own reactions.

There are ways we can grow our sense of humour, he went on to say, as he left students with a few final messages.

“As you carry on with your lives, I hope you remember the importance of bringing your sense of humour along for the ride,” he said, as he urged students to consider the importance of what they want to be, versus who they want to be. “What type of person you want to be is way more important. Who are you going to be when you eventually embark on your career is incredibly important.”

Date posted: Feb. 14, 2018