IAM1683 – Award-Winning Author and Speaker Shows People How to Use Positive Thinking and Humor Through Difficult Stuff

Podcast Interview with Allen Klein

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Allen understands that life is not always ideal. The difference though is he finds and uses humor as a tool to change the way that we look at things. Our circumstances aren't changing but often our perspective changes. It was also awesome to hear how he uses the “red clown nose” and how that helps change his and others' days.

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Allen Klein Teaser 00:00

Keep it light. Maybe have a feather around to remind you to keep it light because as someone once said, you're not going to get out of this world alive. And if you're not enjoying yourself, what are you doing? Why are you here? Why are you doing it? Maybe that's not what you're supposed to be doing.

So I guess three words. Keep it light.

Intro 00:23

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, and generate sales? And grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:48

Hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes under certain categories or topics that we think are gonna be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners.

This month is going to be about not forgetting about the human part of business. Often we forget about the human part of life. We often forget about the human part of business. So look for self-care tips, fitness, burnout, purpose, biz and personal, personal branding, motivation, drive, success, understanding your why, and of course, how important customer service is. But at the heart of it, it's all about, remembering the human part of business. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Allen Klein of, and that's A L L E N K L E I N.

Allen, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Allen Klein 01:50

It's double awesome to be here.

Gresham Harkless 01:53

Perfect. Even better. So what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about Allen so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing and he's been able to accomplish. And comedian Jerry Lewis has said that “Alan Klein is a noble and vital force watching over the human condition”. Klein is an award-winning author and speaker who shows audiences worldwide how to use positive thinking and humor to deal with life's not-so-funny stuff.

He's a recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. He also is a TEDx presenter and the author of 26 books, including The Healing Power of Humor, You Can't Ruin My Day and Secret Kids Know.

Alan, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Allen Klein 02:36

I am ready.

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Gresham Harkless 02:37

Awesome. Let's do it. So the first question I had is I wanted to hear a little bit more about your CEO story and what led you to start your business.

Allen Klein 02:44

Well, it started over 40 years ago. My wife had a rare liver disease and terminal illness, and she passed away, at the age of 34, difficult time. I had a silk screen business with a partner, and I thought, I am not supposed to do that in my life. I don't know what it was I was supposed to do, but I sold the business to my partner, hung out for a while registered or signed up for a school that was giving classes in death and dying.

And what that was, I became a hospice volunteer. And through the course of all of that, working with people that were dying and grieving, I saw how they used humor. Often sarcastic, cynical humor, but it was humor to help them get through that difficult time. So, I went back to school, got a master's degree in human development, and wrote my first book, which was the Healing Power of Humor.

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And so since then I've been teaching people about humor, therapeutic humor, and the value both in healing and in the workplace. And now I've broadened that out to include a more positive attitude, not only humor, which gives us a different perspective and gives us a positive attitude, but just a positive attitude in general and how that could help us get through the day.

Gresham Harkless 04:15

Awesome. Well, obviously I'm sorry to hear about your wife, and I know that's definitely a very traumatic experience. I appreciate you for, first of all telling that story, but also, taking, what you were going through during that time. Then also it sounds like finding that outlet, but also hoping to help other people that are going through either serious, I guess, issues that they're going through or just anything and how they can get through it.

Allen Klein 04:35

Exactly. Right. Yeah. One of my books is, You Can't Ruin My Day. And I got a traffic ticket and I was still happy singing. I was at the gym and talking about my traffic ticket and people were saying, Allen, how come you're so happy you just got a ticket for speeding And out of my mouth came, I'm not gonna let that ticket or that cop ruin my day.

I realize how often, and particularly people that are running companies or their own company, they let other people or other situations ruin their day. And I believe we do not have to do that. That book has a number of techniques of how to take control and rise on top of any situation.

Gresham Harkless 05:22

Oh, that's definitely a talent within itself. Because I've gotten a few traffic tickets and I was not singing. So I definitely have to make sure that I pick that up so that I can change my perspective. So it's great that you're able to do that.

So I wanted to drill down, I know you touched on a little, a couple of the things that you have in place. Your TEDx presenter, you're obviously the author of numerous books. So could you tell us, how would you define how you serve and how you help out your clients or the business owners, or whoever you work with?

Allen Klein 05:46

Well, first of all, when I do the humor programs and I have one coming up in Canada in a week, it's for hospice. So it's all these hospice workers, they're working with people who are very ill, dying or grieving, and they get burnt out, stressed out. So I show them some humor techniques. They all get a clown nose to use when they leave the meeting. But that's one aspect.

The other aspect, and it's what my Ted talk is about, and what I got really interested in lately, and particularly for CEOs, is the power of intention. Like, when you get up or when you get to the office, What do you intend to happen? Or what is your intention for your life? What are your goals? What are your dreams? And so I totally believe in the power of attention, and our thoughts, our words. We use our affirmations to help us not only get through the day, but help us achieve all of those dreams that we have for ourselves or our company.

Gresham Harkless 06:46

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And, sometimes we often forget how much power we do have. So that's definitely a good reminder. And, how you're able to shape your day, so to speak, where if you have that different perspective like you mentioned if you are using humor as a technique, then you obviously will have a different day as a result of it. Is that accurate?

Allen Klein 07:00

Right. Yeah. I'll give you one example. You talked about the TEDx talk that I did on the power of intention. Two years ago, in January. I always do or add or alter my bucket list. And so one thing I wrote down, this was January two years ago, I wrote down I would like to do a TEDx talk, almost a month to the date later I get an unsolicited email from a group in Cupertino, California doing TEDx talks.

Gresham Harkless 07:30

Oh, wow.

Allen Klein 07:30

Wanting to know if I would like to do one.

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Gresham Harkless 07:33

That's awesome.

Allen Klein 07:35

A couple of months later, in April, there I was on the red round rug of Ted doing the talk. Power of intention. Sometimes it blows me away. I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, middle of summer, usually very hot. It's my hometown but I had to be there and on a little post-it note I put, I want the weather when I'm there for that week to be anywhere from 75, no higher than 85, and low humidity. Six of the days that I was there the temperature was under 85 with low humidity. One day was hot and the next day I left.

Gresham Harkless 08:13

Wow. That's an awesome kind of a tool in your belt, I guess you could say. If you could definitely be, intentional about what it is you're thinking, you're putting out. You have to be careful of what you're saying and not saying, because it can manifest itself.

Allen Klein 08:25

Exactly. And it's so important for CEOs, to do that every single day.

Gresham Harkless 08:31

Yeah, exactly. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. And this might be something that you feel like it distinguishes you or sets you apart. Do you have an example you can share with us?

Allen Klein 08:40

Well, I tried to walk my talk. So, I always carry a red clown nose not all but most of the time. And so, just at the right moment sometimes, in traffic jams that come in handy to help other people lighten. A delayed flight once, I asked the flight attendant if I could stand next to her as people entered the plane and gave her a clown nose, and people just kind of lightened up. Most of them, not all of them, but most of them lightened up. So just try to spread a little joy and happiness around.

Gresham Harkless 09:13

Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah, we all could use that red clown nose in our pocket, so to speak, because bad things happen, good things happen. But you wanna make sure that you're looking at it from a positive standpoint and you're being intentional like we already spoke about.

Allen Klein 09:25

Right. Exactly.

Gresham Harkless 09:27

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So now I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this could be an app, a book, or a habit that you have or something maybe even from your books, one of your books that makes you more effective and efficient as a business owner.

Allen Klein 09:39

Well, one thing I've been using lately. Let me Look, it's an app. And let me get the right name. It's called Mindfulness Bell. I have it set so every hour during the day on the hour, this little chime rings and it just gives me this little moment to stop and take awareness of what I'm doing, what I'm feeling. Maybe I need a couple of more deep breaths. Maybe I need a little relaxation. So, I might meditate or breathe deeply for a couple of minutes, maybe I might stand up and walk around the room. It's just a reminder to not get so caught up in everyday stuff that we get caught up in.

So, I like it. It's simple, if I wanna ignore it, it's easy to ignore, but most of the time it's just a reminder to be here now and also reminds me of how grateful I am for all the wonderful stuff in my life and to be thankful for that. And Gresh, the more in my life, I'm grateful for stuff, the more I find that more things to be grateful for comes into my life. So that little bell on the hour is like a little knock on the head to say, just stop. Enjoy the moment, take a breather, and be thankful just for being alive if nothing else.

Gresham Harkless 11:05

There you go. Yeah, for every breath that we're able to breathe, we should definitely be thankful. So I think that's a phenomenal CEO hack, because a lot of times, you get stuck in the minutiae of the day-to-day and you maybe get stressed out and things like that. But if you have that subtle reminder to let you know that hey, be thankful, be appreciative, be present. I think that's a phenomenal CEO hack.

Allen Klein 11:24

Right. And then several apps you can get, mine is mindfulness bell, but there are others that you can get also.

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Gresham Harkless 11:31

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this might be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if you can hop in a time machine and go back and talk to your younger business self, what would you say?

Allen Klein 11:42

Keep it light. Maybe have a feather around to remind you to keep it light because, as someone once said, you're not going to get out of this world alive. And if you're not enjoying yourself, what are you doing? Why are you here? Why are you doing it? Maybe that's not what you're supposed to be doing.

So I guess three words. Keep it light.

Gresham Harkless 12:04

I love that. Great reminder. And a lot of times if you ask yourself, will this matter to me an hour from now or a week from now, or a year from now? A lot of times that answer is no. So you can definitely keep it light, as you said.

Allen Klein 12:15

You got it. Exactly.

Gresham Harkless 12:17

Awesome. And now I wanted to ask you my favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show. So I wanted to ask you, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Allen Klein 12:27

Well, mostly because I used to work for CBS television, so I know what nine to five is jobs of Life mostly. To me it means total freedom. I don't have to ask anyone else how to run my business, what to do, what steps to take, what risk to take when I could take a week off. I don't have to ask a boss for any of that. I am in complete control of my success or my failure. And to me, that is such a great thing because there's no one else to blame. It's all up to me. And I find that so rewarding.

And so even when things aren't going well, I realized maybe I made the mistake, I didn't do the right thing. I needed to do something else, but it's all on my shoulders and all the success I've had is there too. And so I love patting myself on the back for that. And I think just, being a CEO is a great way to not have to answer to other people and create the life you want. And that's what I've done.

Gresham Harkless 13:30

Awesome, awesome, awesome. It's all about like you said, attention and the bug stops with you, so, you can direct and create your life. So Allen, I truly appreciate you for taking some time out of your schedule. What I want to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, to see if there is anything additional you want to let our readers and our listeners know, and also how best people can get ahold of you, hear about your TEDx, and also all the awesome books you have in place.

Allen Klein 13:52

So, last words I think giving you my advice, my best advice people can read my books and get even more lighthearted stories. The Healing Power of Humor. You Can't Ruin My Day and a number of other books and go online look me up. and that's spelled A L L E N K L E I

Gresham Harkless 14:18

Awesome. Thank you so much, Allen and we'll have those links in the show notes just so that anybody can follow up. But I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Allen Klein 14:25

Thank you, you too. Gresh.

Outro 14:27

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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