Episode 50 - Pete CannGet your team laughing all the way to the bank! A 'laughter Yogi' talks us through the value of encouraging laughter in everyday life and business!
Pete Cann, The Laughter Man
Making Conversations about Laughing Count!
“By having a laughter session you can actually zone out for ten or fifteen minutes…’ –
Pete Cann, Making Conversations Count (special birthday episode),
Reasons to be cheerful, part two!
In this episode of the “Making Conversations Count” podcast, it’s host Wendy Harris’ birthday!
It’s been a big year for Wendy professionally, as you would have heard from her previous episodes.
Because of the nature of this being a time for celebration, the whole Making Conversation Count team thought who better to get on the show, than the master of fun and laughter himself, THE ‘Laughterman’ Pete Cann.
Pete describes how a visit to the WOMAD Festival put him on the path to honing his skill for using laughter as a tool.
Since that day, he’s continuously developed his skills and grown his business around ‘Laughter Yoga’, and teaching others the value of laughter-driven productivity.
There have been studies that have shown laugher contributes towards wellbeing so we feel it is our duty to support him in bringing awareness of ‘Laughter Yoga’ to as many workplaces as possible!
There are so many benefits to encouraging laughter at work!
Many of the studies have shown that laughter reduces stress, helps employees bond more closely with each other and most importantly leads to increased creativity.
Cultures who laugh together stay together!
Remember, listen to the very end of the episode so that you can get the birthday themed code word.
Once you have it, email Wendy directly to grab your FREE laughter session with the ‘Laughterman’, Pete Cann!
Listen to other episodes on your favourite platform…
Full Episode Transcript
Making Conversations Count – Episode Fifty
Wendy Harris & Pete Cann
30th September 2021
00:02:22: Everyone laugh now!
00:03:58: Laughter yoga
00:06:07: Bringing in customers
00:07:18: The science of laughter
00:08:35: Session content
00:09:46: Laughter is infectious
00:11:52: Pete’s future
00:13:18: The laughter workout
00:14:45: Pete’s pivotal conversation
00:16:58: The power of positive mindset
00:18:40: Creating and saving memories
00:20:50: Special offer!
00:22:27: Final thoughts
Wendy Harris: Welcome back to Making Conversations Count, reasons to be cheerful, part two. Now, it’s my birthday week and it’s a big zero on the end of the numbers, so to celebrate, we have a very special episode for you to join in, because we’re making conversations about laughter count; or, if you’re not posh like me, it’s “laffter“. Let’s go!
What’s new, Wendy Woo? Well, thank you so much for listening, you’ve got us back into the Apple Podcast Charts again in the UK and in Romania. If you’re listening from Romania, do drop us a line, say hi; love to give you a shoutout. What’s been your favourite show so far? I’d love to learn more. Oh, and you need to listen all the way to the end, because there’s a special prize up for grabs for you lucky listeners. It’s our birthday gift to you.
Anyhow, let’s get back to this laughter business. This show comes with a disclaimer. I want every listener to reach for a handkerchief right now. You may also need something a little bit stronger, because this episode is guaranteed to make you cry; and when I say cry, you are going to be streaming down your face, and you might even pop out a little bit of wee, because you’re going to be entertained today. This is my birthday edition and I can’t think of a better person to share it with than Pete Cann, the Laughter Man! If I had a whistle, I’d blow it.
Pete Cann: What have I got? I’ve got this “honk honk“!
Wendy Harris: Yes! Welcome to the show, Pete.
Pete Cann: Well, thanks for having me, Wendy, thank you. Happy Birthday!
Wendy Harris: Thank you. I am something with a nought; you can make it up as you go along.
Pete Cann: 30!
Wendy Harris: I’m going to keep it on for the duration; it’s better than my hair. Pete, conversation counts. What’s the best line you’ve got to get us all laughing straightaway?
Pete Cann: The best way to get everyone laughing is probably just to do a quick demo, I suppose, at the beginning, isn’t it? So, what we’re going to do, we’re just going to take a nice, deep breath in, and we’re just going to let out a long sigh. So, take a deep breath in.
Wendy Harris: Okay, and Neal’s got to join in. The producer’s here, he’s got to join in, because I am not doing this on my own; it was messy last time! So, come on, Neal.
Pete Cann: So, take a deep breath in, and we’re just going to let out a long sigh. Okay, now we’re going to take a deep breath in and we’re going to let out a long “ha“, so deep breath in. And, “ha“. Okay. So, now we’re going to take a deep breath in, we’re going to hold it for five seconds, and we’re going to laugh for ten seconds like we haven’t laughed all day. So, take a deep breath in, hold it, hold it, and, “laugh“!
Wendy Harris: Has anybody reached for the tissues yet?
Pete Cann: Amazing!
Wendy Harris: How on earth did you get into laughter yoga, Pete? It’s like the weirdest thing on the planet.
Pete Cann: So, I was at a festival, called WOMAD, in 2016; I had to think about when it was then. And, I was walking through the arboretum and I heard laughter and I thought to myself, “There’s a comedian on stage”. So, I walked round the corner of the arboretum and I was greeted by 100 people just lying on the floor, laughing, for no reason at all, and I was just, “What is going on? I know I’m at a festival, but this is crazy”.
There was a sign saying, “Laughter yoga daily at 11.30am”, so I thought, “Do you know what? I’m going to go and try this tomorrow”. So, I saw Chloe, my wife, and the kids and I said, “Look, I’m going to go and do laughter yoga tomorrow; do you want to join me?” and they were like, “No, go and do it yourself, go and enjoy yourself”.
Wendy Harris: Like a madman!
Pete Cann: Yeah, exactly. I went to the session and the lying down bit was the end of the session. So, we did lots of laughing and breathing exercises, and the fact is your body doesn’t know the difference between fake laughter and real laughter. So, we started doing all these fake laughing exercises, then this real laughter started coming on. Then, when we all lay down at the end, you just cannot stop laughing, and I was lying there and I was creased up for probably about ten minutes, just continuously laughing.
Then Steve, who was running it at the time, basically said, “Right, everyone just calm down a little bit and just let out any last giggles”, and this lady next to me just went, “snort“, like that and I was just straight off again, I was laughing! At the end of a laughter yoga session, you do a meditation. So, we did this meditation and it sort of grounded us in that, I sat back up and I felt really high, Wendy. I felt really wide awake, really just energised, and I remember going back and seeing Chloe at the kids’ field, which was just around the corner, and my eyes were like saucers; I was just really wired. She’s like, “What are you on?” I was, “This is laughter!” and I knew from then that I had to do more of this, because I knew how it made me feel at that moment of time.
So, in 2017, I dived in and I did all four days of the laughter yoga and just got onto this magical ride that I’m on at the moment.
Wendy Harris: How do you start a conversation with customers? So, when you want to be helping people, obviously you’re going to do this for free and naturally, because I can just tell you’re that kind of guy that would go round and go, “Oi, just have a little giggle with me. Come on, join in”. But in all seriousness, this is your job, you do this for real. So, how do you strike up the conversation with people and go, “I think you need a bit of laughter in your life”?
Pete Cann: Well, the first time, whenever I speak to anyone, I always start with a chuckle, anytime; it’s just that straight-on brand. I just start and just go, “chuckle“. I always ask how they find their dynamics in the team, how are their team meetings, how do they find the energy levels, because actually, especially at the moment where everything’s quite remote and a bit disjointed, I say, “Look, by bringing me into your team meeting, you’ll bring some energy into the room, you’ll bring the creative mind; you’ll also connect people”. So, it’s very much offering that as a service and just, like I say, energising their team meetings.
Wendy Harris: I guess it leaves people in a positive place?
Pete Cann: Yes, completely. How can you not feel good after laughing for 30 minutes solidly?
Wendy Harris: Just a few chuckles with you is good enough, I’m sure; a testament to that. What are the by-products then, Pete, because this has got to be a conversation starter as well, because whilst you want to feel positive and leave people positive, people are obviously going to reflect on why they don’t feel like that in the first place, and be able to pinpoint and identify some of those things?
Pete Cann: Yeah, so I think it’s just a case of trying to explain what the benefits are of laughter for a start; the fact that it’s a release of endorphins, which are our happy hormones, so it automatically makes us feel good about ourselves. But we also get a spike of serotonin, dopamine, which are also good positive chemicals, which also reduces stress and anxiety. So, there’s obviously a lot of that kicking around at the moment with just everything that’s going on in the world.
Well, actually, by having a laughter session, you can actually zone out for 10, 15 minutes, where you’re actually just conscious — well, you’re not conscious of anything apart from being in the present. So, it’s just trying to explain that to people and to say it’s not just about having a laugh; there are some scientifically proven facts that make this a good thing for you to do.
Wendy Harris: What would you recommend as a taster session for people, if they’ve got remote teams at the moment; what kind of session could they expect?
Pete Cann: It’s a 30-minute interactive session. So literally, I will come to their Zoom room, or Teams, or whatever platform they want to do it in. You’re learn the introduction into laughter, or the benefits, and then we do a 15-minute practical laughing/breathing session. So, it’s interesting, because some people are just sat there going, “I don’t want to laugh”, but actually the way that I’ve got my set list set out is, it’s just gentle.
Then, before they know it, the last couple of exercises, they’re laughing for two minutes solidly, and they’re just looking at their friends and colleagues doing all — I keep moving my hands like this, but I’m not going to be on video! But there’s lots of movement in the arms, looking like children, just being childlike. Then, I go into a five- to ten-minute grounding mediation at the end. So, at the end of my sessions, I always ask people to close their eyes and go through the meditation with me, and I always get everyone to rub their hands, put their hands over their eyes at the end, and come back with a big smile.
I’m always greeted with people just sat there blissed out, smiling at the camera, and I just know that it’s been good for them.
Wendy Harris: I kind of want to spread this message as far and wide as I possible can, because I know certainly that laughter is infectious, isn’t it? If somebody’s laughing, you can’t help but join in. I will see people laughing, and there’s a curiosity attached to it, isn’t there? If you’re not involved in the joke, or whatever it was that started the laughter, you’re like, “Hang on a minute, what?” You want to find out what it’s about, don’t you?
Pete Cann: Definitely. It’s been proven that, like you say, it’s contagious, infectious, because there are videos out there where people have gone — there’s another laughter yogi I know, you might have seen a video. He’s sat or stood on a tube and just looking at his mobile phone just laughing to himself. And by the end of it, the whole carriage are laughing with him. It’s just because of that infectiousness of someone watching the joy in somebody laughing and just being open to not having to worry about anything around them.
It’s the same with children. It’s a fact, which blows my mind every time I say it, that children laugh 200 to 300 times a day, every day; and as adults, we’re lucky maybe to laugh 10 to 15 times a day. Well, at what point did we stop laughing and being childlike? If you think about when we’re around small children, when they get into that childlike, you automatically just start melting in the middle and everything disappears and you just start giggling and you’re like, “Well, why are we giggling?” and we don’t know, but that’s the fun part about it, isn’t it?
Wendy Harris: Yeah, that is part of it, isn’t it? Why do we stop and how can we amplify it again; it’s tapping into those things that give us that freedom to, I suppose, drop boundaries, drop our guard.
Pete Cann: Yeah, definitely.
Wendy Harris: Sorry, my candles are waggling.
Pete Cann: I’m trying to work out how old you are by your candles! What is it, eight?
Wendy Harris: Seven; I’m seven! I’m going to laugh about 300 times this week, because it’s my birthday week. So, Pete, what’s next for the laughter man?
Pete Cann: I’m big into visualisation, into goal setting and just visualising my future. So, the big vision is to be on stage in front of 2,000 people in San Francisco with my lovely wife sat in the audience and if I’m sat there looking at Chloe, I can certainly just go, “Look, I said this was going to happen”. The fact is, with 2,000 people, on stage, I can’t just go to San Francisco and do 2,000; I need to build that up and start building my audience online and in person as well.
So I suppose, on stage, in events, I’m the person, the energiser, you know, that post-lunch slump where you’re at these events, and we’ve all been there where you’ve just had a little bit too much lunch and you’re just sat there. This person’s coming on, on the graveyard shift, and they’re trying to be educational or motivational, or whatever they are, but half the time you’re just sat there just trying to keep your eyes open.
But actually, you get me come onto stage, “Right, everyone stand up!” takes a deep breath in and just get everyone laughing and everyone moving, there’s definitely a space for me in that market.
Wendy Harris: I think that that slot needs to be accompanied with indigestion tablets that are branded, “Laughter Man”! And, do you know what, I don’t think there will be anybody that will be able to complain.
Pete Cann: Exactly, they’re going to be like giggle pills!
Wendy Harris: Giggle pills, yeah. Laughter is exercise in its own right, isn’t it? So, if you don’t want to go to the gym, just do laughter.
Pete Cann: Definitely; it’s a cardio workout. Again, it’s another scientifically proven that ten minutes of laughter is like 15 minutes on the rowing machine, because of all the cardiovascular movement that’s going in your lungs and the blood and stuff.
Wendy Harris: Do you know, I can just see everybody rushing to cancel their gym membership now!
Pete Cann: Exactly!
Wendy Harris: Because I think there’s a lot of people that would rather give up the rowing machine and laugh more, seriously.
Pete Cann: Yeah, definitely. I used to do laughter sessions at my gym, actually, and it was quite interesting the people that turn up. One of the exercises was row laughter. So, basically you get your rowing oars like this, Wendy, and come on, Neal, and you. So, we’re going to get our oars like that and we’ll go, “Laughing“.
Wendy Harris: I look like I’m riding a horse!
Pete Cann: Are you on a wheely chair as well, Wendy, are you chairs on wheels?
Wendy Harris: Yeah! Oh, that’s it, I’m on the bumper cars now! Oh, well, do you know what, I think that dirty laugh’s come out today, Pete. High five for that, high five!
We ask everybody that comes on the show to think of a conversation that created a turning point for them. So, I can’t wait to hear what yours is, because it could be absolutely anything!
Pete Cann: It could be anything. There’s a few, but I think one conversation that was a big turning point for me, this is pre-laughter actually. I used to belong to a programme, called The Entrepreneur Circle. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them?
Wendy Harris: Oh, yeah, Mr Botterill.
Pete Cann: That’s him, yeah. So, Nigel, I was listening to one of his podcasts. It was of a bit one-sided conversation, but he was talking about Nightingale power — I always get this next bit wrong! But anyway, it’s an audio about the power of the mind and before then, I didn’t really know much about positive mindset, so I literally just listened to this 30-minute audio and it just blew my mind. It was all about what you put into your mind, how you programme your mind, it’s what you become and all about visualisation, goal setting, and it just was a massive game-changer for me; because actually, all of a sudden, that was a start of my self-development journey.
All of a sudden, I’d be home, my bookcase is covered in goal setting and being the best I can be, the Seven Day, the Habits of Successful People, all of the classics basically, but it all came from —
Wendy Harris: Up at 5.00am in the Morning.
Pete Cann: Yes, they’re the ones, yeah. Funnily enough, I’m not up at 5.00am every morning, but you feel the difference though. The same as the laughter. I laugh every day for ten minutes on Clubhouse and I’ll be honest, don’t tell anyone, Wendy, but this morning I didn’t, because the guys, if you can hear them in the background, that are doing a bit of building work outside that I let in at the same time as my Clubhouse is supposed to be on, and I didn’t do it. Did I feel the difference that I didn’t laugh this morning? I did. I just felt my energy level was a lot lower, and it’s just really interesting how, if you miss —
Wendy Harris: You need your daily fix.
Pete Cann: You do need your fix. Thank you very much, because I’m getting it now!
Wendy Harris: You see, all things happen for a reason. You had a party to go to!
Pete Cann: Exactly!
Wendy Harris: So, would you say that positive mindset has been the turning point for you, in as much as opening your mind and the possibilities of so much more?
Pete Cann: Yeah, definitely. And just the fact of visualisation as well. We visualised this house we live in now, we went to America for a month and visualised that two years prior. Yeah, once you first visualise something that then manifests itself, it’s just pretty spooky, to be fair. So, a quick story.
My daughter is ten now, but when she was six, we did a vision board together and she wanted to swim with dolphins, was one thing; learn to read a book, learn to read more, should I say; learn to ride a bike. And there was also this slide, a water slide, because she knew that we were going to America. She was like, “I want to go on a water slide”. Two years later, we revisited that vision board and we were looking at it and I said, “Well, you’ve done the dolphins because Papa…”, my wife’s dad lives in Eilat in Israel, so we could swim with dolphins there, so that was a tick; the bike.
Then we looked at the water slide and my daughter said to me, “Daddy, that’s the actual slide we went on at the water park, where Mummy went to Warner Bros studio for the day”, and I took the kids to the water park. And I was just, “No”, and then I googled it and it was the actual slide that we went on out of a choice of, what, 15 slides in this one water park. Obviously in America, there are hundreds of water parks.
I just looked at her, she looked at me, and my mind was just, “How mad?”
Wendy Harris: Just that one, what are the chances; the chances of that happening?
Pete Cann: Exactly. And just knowing that if you want something that badly, it will manifest itself, if you believe in it.
Wendy Harris: No, I think it’s right. We have a tradition in our house. We don’t do New Year’s Resolutions; we actually do a memory board. So, what memories do we want to make this year? And, there are three of us in the house, there are four of us in the family, that’s growing, and there’s usually three or four things on this board that we want to do, and we feel pretty good if we’ve achieved two. Recently, it’s been harder to do some of those things, but it’s the memories that, I think, keep you going when you look back.
Pete Cann: Definitely.
Wendy Harris: So then, every year, you reset and you’re always pushing for something more.
Pete Cann: Yeah, celebrating as well. I’ve got a load of Champagne corks here that basically, every time we open a Champagne bottle to celebrate something, we write on the cork. So, this one here was when Chloe did the London Marathon in 2018, so we wrote on that. So it means that when you open your Champagne, you then open this and you start just looking back at some of the other stuff and you think, “Oh, actually that was when we got a new office; that was when we got a new house; that was when our daughter got into the school we wanted to”. So, it’s just a really nice way of celebrating just good things.
Wendy Harris: I love that.
Pete Cann: It doesn’t have to be big things either. I mean, my daughter getting into the school that we wanted her to get into was a choice of two in the area, and it was the better one that she got into, but we celebrated. Or, was it just an excuse to drink Champagne? I don’t know!
Wendy Harris: I was just thinking of how many excuses I could find! Certainly this week, I can find one big excuse; can you guess what it is?
Pete Cann: Is it your birthday?
Wendy Harris: I think it’s my birthday! But strangely, I do keep my corks and I’ve made cork boards, I’ve made a blackboard with a pinboard cork round it, and Champagne corks I do keep, and I usually put the year. I find a silver coin with the year that we popped it and I put that, you know, it’s like the old-fashioned put the coin in the top of the cork bottle. But I’ve never thought of writing on what the memory was, so you’ve taken it one step further for me; brilliant!
Pete Cann: You’re welcome. I took it from someone else, so don’t worry, I’m just passing it forward; that’s how it is.
Wendy Harris: There’s nothing wrong with paying it forward. We’ll pay it forward all the while. Now, I know that before we came on air, we had a little chat, and you very kindly offered me a birthday present and I said, “I only need memories”, and this is going to be a great memory for me. So, I did say to you that if you wanted to gift something to the audience, that you could put an offer out for somebody to have a laughter session with you.
So, it’s going to be a first-come, first-served, get in there, get in touch with us, and how would you want them to do that, Pete?
Pete Cann: Well, I think it would probably be best, Wendy, to go through you, do you think that would be the best way?
Wendy Harris: Yeah, no problem.
Pete Cann: Because, obviously they’re your audience, so if they want to have a free session, then I would love to gift that to obviously you, Wendy, for your big, I want to say seven then zero, but then isn’t going to work now, is it? Because you’ve got seven candles and have you got a zero?
Wendy Harris: No, no.
Pete Cann: So, 30, for your 30th birthday, is that better?
Wendy Harris: Yeah, plus VAT and custom duty!
Pete Cann: Plus VAT! So, yeah, if you’re listening to this and you’re even just a little bit intrigued into, wait there, how have these two just laughed all the way through this whole episode, and why am I laughing listening to these two people chatting about laughter? Well, that’s because laughter is so infectious and it’s so powerful.
Wendy Harris: Well, what we’ll do then, Pete, is we’ll come up with a code word and we’ll release it at the very end of the episode, and you’ve got to get in touch with the code word; you can tell me after we finish. Deal?
Pete Cann: Okay, yeah, that sounds like a deal.
Wendy Harris: I love a bit of intrigue! Pete, there’s only one thing that I can say to you now which is, thank you so much for joining me for my birthday episode. I really, really have loved having you on. And if people want to carry on the conversation, where are they going to find you hanging out and giggling?
Wendy Harris: Brilliant stuff. Thanks so much, Pete, see you soon.
Pete Cann: Well, Happy Birthday! Cheers, bye.
Wendy Harris: Thank you.
Pete Cann: You see, Neal’s got a silent laughter, look.
Wendy Harris: Well, that was Pete Cann and you had to listen right the way to the very end for the very special birthday gift, and that is that you need to email us with the word “candle”. Now, you know how many candles that I need, but I don’t need you to actually email or message us with that many candles; just one will do. And, we’ll be picking a winner and we’ll let you know in next week’s episode.
Listening back to that myself, it’s going to keep me filled up for a long time, and I do hope that you’ll carry on, not just the conversation, but the laughter, and reach out to Pete. He really does know his stuff. And, did you listen out for that code? Do get in touch, we’re waiting by the inbox.
Next week, we’re going to carry on with that reasons to be cheerful, because we’re going to be talking about engineering your marketing with Ros Conkie.
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