Allen Klein – Jollytologist and Best-Selling Author

[quote style=”boxed”]I make sure that I am at my desk every day at 9:00am. I take breaks during the day, but I make sure I stay there until at least five o’clock, or so. When you work for yourself, it is so easy to allow interruptions to steal your productivity.[/quote]

Ever hear of a “Jollytologist”? Well meet the world’s one and only—Allen Klein. Through his books and his presentations, Klein shows people worldwide how to deal with everything from traffic jams to tragedies.

Klein got into this unusual line of work after his wife died of a rare liver disease at the age of 34. He saw how humor helped her, and those around her, cope. He also saw how humor helped him get through that loss. He now teaches others how to find some in trying times. Those audiences include people in 48 states as well as Israel and Australia, and clients from IBM to the IRS.

Klein is a past-president of The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, an international organization whose purpose is to advance the understanding and application of humor and laughter for their positive benefits. He is also the recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Allen Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”

Klein is also an award-winning speaker and best-selling author as well as the recipient of a Toastmasters Communication and Leadership Award and a Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association. He is also a 2007 inductee into New York City’s Hunter College Hall of Fame

Klein’s first book, The Healing Power of Humor, is now in a 39th printing and ninth foreign language translation. It shows readers how to use humor to deal with everyday trials and tribulations. His second book, The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope, and Healing in the Face of Death and Dying, documents how people have used humor to triumph over tragedy. A recent book, Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying, shows readers how to embrace life fully again after a loss

He has also authored nineteen other books, including Change Your Life!: A Little Book of Big Ideas, Inspiration for a Lifetime, The Art of Living Joyfully, and Always Look on the Bright Side.

Klein has a master’s degree in humor (from St. Mary’s College in Minnesota—and that’s no joke!) And he is well suited to his subject. Years before becoming a “Jollytologist”, Klein was nicknamed the “King of Whimsy” because he designed all the children shows at CBS television in New York City. Among those productions was one you probably remember—the Captain Kangaroo show.

Although no longer working in the lighthearted world of children, Klein still believes that adults need to take a lesson from them and lighten up.

Where did the idea for being a “Jollytologist” come from?

As a keynote professional speaker as well as an author of therapeutic humor and motivational quotation books, I call myself a “Jollytologist.” In Greek, the word for laughter is “Gelos.” So I started to call myself a Gelotologist. But not many people knew what that was, so I changed it to Jollytologist, which gave people a better sense of what I do.

What does your typical day look like?

When I’m not on the road speaking at a conference, I’m in my office contacting meeting planners, publicizing my past books, or writing an article or working on a new book.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Generally, when I’m writing, one idea seems to beget others. I also get ideas from other books, magazine articles, or daily occurrences. I need stimulation to get ideas flowing so often a simple quotation or something I heard from someone else, triggers a whole lot of things I could write about.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’m not sure that this is a trend. It has been around for a long time but so few people fully get it. If they did, their life would be much better. That idea is summed up in one simple sentence I wrote in my first book: “Our attitudes are the crayons that color our world.”

Things are the way they are. Bad things happen to good people. It is our attitudes towards those things that determine how we live our life.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I make sure that I am at my desk every day at 9:00am. I take breaks during the day, but I make sure I stay there until at least five o’clock, or so. When you work for yourself, it is so easy to allow interruptions to steal your productivity.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was when I was in high school and got a job on Wall Street in the mail room. I learned two major things—never work on Wall Street (too glum) and never work for anyone else (no freedom and no fun.)

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Probably not much. Ever job I had was a stepping-stone to where I am today. For example, many moons ago I was a scenic designer at CBS television where I designed the Captain Kangaroo show. I realize today it is the basis for my playful attitude in my keynotes and of the many fun props I use to get my message across to the audience.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make it easy for people to deal with you and your company. Think of how you feel when you encounter a website that makes it difficult to find what you want. You probably don’t want to return to that site again.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Go out of your way to help your customers and clients. As a keynote speaker, I’m hired to give a great speech. But I do more than that. I help the meeting planner shine. Once, for example, a large percent of the audience was scheduled to see a show on a night without scheduled meetings. The conference brochure said the show started at 8:00pm. But, because it was a Sunday, the show started at 7:00pm. When I saw that, I notified the meeting planner. I saved the day for her and for the attendees who would have missed a great deal of the show.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I haven’t had many things that I would call failures because they were all great teaching lessons. One thing, however, that I’ve learned about setbacks is that if you are passionate about what you want to accomplish and persistent about getting it done, setbacks can be stepping-stones.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Not sure. Nothing is coming to mind at the moment.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I’m a former expert on how to cure baldness. : )

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I am very low tech. I believe that as we become more tech dependent we are losing our heart-to-heart connection with other people. That being said, I use and like Facebook and Twitter, especially to update my followers about my writing, books, and latest interviews.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

How could I not recommend one that I wrote? That book would be The Healing Power of Humor. The subtitle explains why everyone needs to read it: Techniques for Getting through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

New age thinkers like Wayne Dyer, Ken Keyes, Jr., and Charles Fillmore (co-founder of Unity).


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