Getting Serious about Having Fun: Play, Productivity, and the Art of Work with Ritch Davidson
Money, Mission and Meaning
Mark Michael Lewis

Episode 12 - Getting Serious about Having Fun: Play, Productivity, and the Art of Work with Ritch Davidson

In this episode Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of, interviews Ritch Davidson, Senior Vice Emperor of about the practical importance of having fun at work. Listen as Ritch describes the pleasurable effects of a playful attitude, including reducing stress, improving relationships, unleashing creativity, and building trust in house and with customers. Learn how you can use the power of your attitude to not only cope with, but surf the accelerating rate of change that is part and parcel of 21st century business.



Getting Serious about Having Fun: Play, Productivity, and the Art of Work with Ritch Davidson

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Mark Lewis:  Welcome to “Money, Mission and Meaning – Passion at Work, Purpose at Play”, where we explore how we can integrate our personal values and professional skills to create pleasure and profit in the business of life.

I'm your host Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of Smart Energy Enterprises Inc. – SEE Inc. - A Beautiful Future Now.

Today show focuses on how we can humanize our workplace with fun and play with speaker Ritch Davidson, who is the senior vice Emperor - yes, Emperor – of, a leading team building and productivity enhancing speaking organization.

Join us as I interview this inspirational and motivational man about the power of fun and play in creating a team oriented work environment in which people appreciate, respect and honor one another to bring out their genius.  Let's get serious about play.

But first, a few highlights from the show.

Ritch Davidson:  Many people in our audiences tell us that they are there in fact because they want to broaden their expression and broaden their ability to laugh and make others laugh like that.  So we make choices all the time and we can choose to have fun.

Ritch Davidson:  I learned for myself as part of doing this work the distinction between being serious and being solemn.  So for me, when we are solemn, there isn't a lot of room for fun or humor or playfulness but we can be serious and we can still be playful and we can still have fun.

Ritch Davidson:  How many of us come to work thinking, “I have to know exactly how to do my job”?  So many people who are afraid to go to someone and say, “I'm having trouble with this.  Can you help me?” because they think that somehow they will be looked at as, “This person doesn't even know how to do their job.”

But when we create environments again, through the play, the laughter, the connection, recognition, recognizing each other in positive ways, it makes it easy to say, “You know, I'm having a tough time with this.  Can I have your support?”  And we get it.


Mark Lewis:  So welcome Ritch.  It's great to have you on the show.

Ritch Davidson:  Thanks Mark.  It's great to be here.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah.  So Ritch, you've been speaking on the power and importance of fun and play for some 25 years now with clients such as AT&T, Charles Schwab, Price Waterhouse and McDonald's, among others.  I have personally given talks at probably a hundred big companies myself.  I've got to say fun and play are not the typical subjects of those corporate meetings.  In fact it's the opposite.

Can you help my listeners understand what it is that you teach that makes fun and play an appropriate subject for a corporate meeting?

Ritch Davidson:  Well sure.  Thanks.  And I guess I want to preface it by saying although my work is primarily speaking at meetings, what I speak to folks about is not just having fun at meetings, whether it be a conference or a management retreat or something like that but really spreading it out into the corporate culture in general.

And as I further answer what you just asked, I guess I would ask your listeners to ask themselves, ask a question.  Do they think that perhaps companies where employees are having fun or they are excited about answering the phones, they answer the phones like they are happy to be there, do they think that that might give their business a competitive advantage?

And that is our contention at Playfair that absolutely that it does.  Organizations that create that kind of environment at work that nourishes fun, that really supports people and all of who they are can have immediate beneficial effects on how their customers perceive them and how they work with them because people like to do business with people who like doing business.  So absolutely.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah.  I can also imagine that internally, within the company, if you are having fun it's just a lot more fun to go to work.

Ritch Davidson:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  I mean, we think for ourselves and probably in our work history over the years we have worked in - I know I have worked in places where there just wasn't much connection with the people with whom I worked and it wasn't much of a joy to go there.  I went to do my job and get my paycheck and make whatever or however much fun I could create for myself or enjoyment.

But when I have worked in organizations where I - let me put it this way, the people that we work with we spend more time with than we do with some of our family and probably most of our friends.  So why not create a work environment as one that is a joy to come to and to connect with those people with whom we spend so much time?

Mark Lewis:  Absolutely.  I think back on some of the organizations I have been a part of, people with whom I have trained and people for whom I have actually worked and it is the jobs and the organizations where I actually enjoyed the people where I found myself naturally giving my best.  Is that something that tends to happen when people start having more fun?

Ritch Davidson:  It’s been true for me personally.  And it has certainly been true from the feedback I get from my clients before and after our presentations.  I think you are right on there.  It's that sense of we are more than just our jobs.  We tend to think of every focus on what we do and somehow we think that's - even in the work environment that that is all our value is.  But we are much more than that.  And if we can appreciate the elements around us, the environment in which we work, the people with whom we work, that all has an impact on how we do our jobs, how we think about the people with whom we work and for whom we work.

And it can have real impact on long-term commitments to jobs, less burnout and less turnover if people come to work thinking, “This is a great place for me to be.”

Mark Lewis:  Yeah.  It's funny too, because this show is called “Money, Mission and Meaning - Passion at Work, Purpose at Play”.  It's really about integrating the work that we do on one hand and the purpose that we pursue on the other such that we can have both.

It doesn't need to be an either/or.  I think about the times where I have felt most aligned and most on purpose in my life are when I am creating something.  It's when I am seeing that there is a problem or an issue or a possibility in the world.  And then I work towards it.  The most fun I have ever had is when I am working towards a worthwhile project or goal with people I respect.

So how is it that you got into teaching this kind of material?  Again, it's not your average fare.

Ritch Davidson:  Well, no it's not.  You know, how I got into this is a sort of combination all of who I have been in my life all along - someone who has always had a great sense of humor.  I am not a comedian.  I'm pretty good at telling jokes.  I'm just really bad at remembering punch lines so jokes aren't really my forte.  But I have a great sense of humor and that's what I talk to people about saying, “You know, you don't have to be a jokester, comedian, clown.  That's not what this is about.”

So for me it's that combination of I have always been a people person, community has been important to me, I studied psychology for a while in college and I drifted towards community mental health just for that sense of connection.  So that was who I am bringing this in and then the other part was just lucky, wonderful happenstance of meeting Matt Weinstein, who is the Emperor and founder of Playfair.

We were friends before we started working together.  And when I heard the work he was doing, it just so touched something in me that said, “Yeah, this is what I would like to be doing as well.”  In a couple of years into our friendship, I said, “Hey, I want to work with you.”  And that's where it began.

So certainly who I was and what was important to me in my life made the connection for me when I met Matt but there was just this, as I said lucky happenstance to meet him.

Mark Lewis:  Now I've heard you say that at one point you made the choice to get good at having fun and playing.  Now a lot of people say, “Oh, sense of humor is something you're born with” or “Some people are just more fun than others”.  Is having fun and playing and enjoying other people and what you're doing, is that a skill you can develop or is that just something that you either have or you don't.

Ritch Davidson:  I think it is absolutely a skill that you can develop.  As you said, some people really do have an easier time at a developed sense of humor and having fun.  For others it is a little more challenging.  But many people in our audiences tell us that they are there in fact because they want to broaden their expression and broaden their ability to laugh and make others laugh like that.  So we make choices all the time and we can choose to have fun.

Part of it is about simply appreciating others and the sense of humors that others have, making conscious efforts, seeing what other people laugh about, listening to comedy yourself and discovering for yourself, “What makes me laugh?”  “What do I find interesting?” and then cultivating that.  As I said, it's not necessarily about telling jokes but so much of the humor that I appreciate is really stories and anecdotes.  People who are just developing it for themselves can keep a journal of these sorts of things – “What makes me laugh?  What doesn't?  What do I see around me that makes other people laugh?”

And just smiling more - simply the physical act of smiling creates chemical changes in our body that actually helps us to feel happier.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah, and it also helps other people feel happy with that contagious little smile.  So we've been talking a lot about fun and play but you are a serious business consultant.  You have a Masters degree.  You went to a four-year organizational development program.  How does your ability to have fun and go beyond the information into the relationships that you're building with people, how does that help you get across the ideas to your teaching?

Because a lot of business work and communication skills can be really dry and boring.  So how do you balance between fun and seriousness or what you like to call serious fun?

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah, yeah.  Well, first thing I guess I would say I learned for myself as part of doing this work the distinction between being serious and being solemn.  So for me, when we are solemn, there isn't a lot of room for fun or humor or playfulness but we can be serious and we can still be playful and we can still have fun.

So there is a business exec we met from Silicon Valley who really put it really well.  He was a model for us and he said, “You know, I take my work seriously but I take myself lightly.”  And I think if we can have that sense of the work I am doing is important and it has meaning perhaps for me or for others and for the people who are affected by the work I do, whatever the situation happens to be but it doesn't mean that I have to, that I can't smile about it.

Another exec, Jim Malone was the CEO of the Purolator Filter Company at a time that we did a presentation for them.

Mark Lewis:  Wait, wait.  Filters - that sounds really exciting and fun.

Ritch Davidson:  [laughs] Exactly.  Exactly.  I mean think of Purolator Filters, not Purolator themselves but just that kind of business.  And yet his motto everybody in the company knew.  It was ‘Profit Growth and Fun’.

So there is really that sense of - there is research coming out, there has been research.  Dr. David Abramis at Cal State Long Beach a number of years ago did some studies looking specifically at fun at work.  What he discovered is that people who have fun on the job are more creative, they are more productive, they get along better with coworkers, they have fewer absentee, late and sick days than a similar group of people who said, “You know, I'm satisfied with my job but I don't have much fun on the job.”

So what we are discovering in terms of where you are leading with the question is yeah, we can be serious, we can have fun.  The conventional wisdom has always been that if you're having fun on the job you must not be doing your work.  And what we are discovering is the opposite is true.  Having fun on the job can support people in doing better work.

When we are crisper, when we are alive, when we are feeling good, when we are excited, when we are happy, we are mentally sharper, which means that when we are then applying ourselves to our business tasks we are going to do it, we have the potential anyway to do it better.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah, we can have fun with other people, which kind of lubricates the social conversation.


Ritch Davidson:  Absolutely.

Mark Lewis:  We're about to take a break.  When we come back I want to talk with you about the accelerating rate of change we are experiencing in our culture and how the ideas you are talking about can help us kind of surf that wave rather than getting crushed by it.

Ritch Davidson:  All right.  I'll speed up my thinking.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah, great.  This is Mark Michael Lewis.  I am speaking with professional speaker Ritch Davidson on “Money, Mission and Meaning - Passion at Work, Purpose at Play”.  We'll be right back.




Mark Lewis:  And we're back with “Money, Mission and Meaning”.  I'm your host Mark Michael Lewis and we are speaking with Ritch Davidson about the importance of relationship and enjoyment in creating thriving businesses and personal lives.

Now Ritch, we were talking before.  The rate of change and the types of challenges that we are facing as organizations and as people is going up.  Everyone is talking about this.  Technology is going faster.  Whole new industries are coming into being.  Google didn't even exist 10 years ago and now it dominates the Internet advertising landscape and search.

The pressure is on companies to respond to these changes in terms of staying on top of it, staying on the edge of their games, staying competitive.  They are increasing as we are going forward.  So the quality of the people you hire and that you retain and how you tap into their resources is becoming ever more important.

How does the work that you're doing actually help people work together such that they can create the results and deal with this rate of change?

Ritch Davidson:  That's a great question.  A lot of the work that we do came from some early work that Matt and colleagues were doing at a place in Pennsylvania called “The Games Preserve” back in the mid-70s.  One of the things that we recognized of value was a model out of games and play that we've extended and we have applied to the work that we do in the companies with whom we work.  It's called the ‘Sink or Swim Model’.

That model in play is either we all win together or we all lose together but we are in it together.  So that's what we are talking about.  When people feel good about each other and they are having fun and by the way, we are talking a lot about fun and play.  I know you introduced at the beginning the concept of humanizing the workplace.  That's really what I want to underscore.

Fun and play are great just in and of themselves and we need more of it in our lives in general probably and certainly at work.  But that's not the end goal we are looking for.  That's just sort of the way in, the lubrication towards getting toward the end result of a workplace that feels really comfortable and respectful and we honor each other.  That's really what we are going for in this Sink or Swim Model, is a way of getting there.

The sense of when tough times hit, as they inevitably do in any organization, when we have created an environment that people feel good about each other and generally honor and respect each other, when those tough times hit rather than spending half your time looking over your shoulder and wondering, “Who’s out to get me?  Who's going to try and get my job?  Who's going to point the finger at me?” instead we can put more of our attention to the problem at hand which obviously is where it should be.

So there are, we believe great benefits in this sense of connection and sense of working together.  Again, humor is one of the tools that we have towards getting there.

Mark Lewis:  Right.  It sounds like it's really about creating an environment in which people can partner and tap into their humanity.

Ritch Davidson:  Absolutely.  Absolutely, which includes by the way the times when we screw up and when we make mistakes.

Mark Lewis:  That never happens.

Ritch Davidson:  Not to me but I've heard it does!

Mark Lewis:  Not to me anyway.  It's their fault!  Yeah, yeah.

Ritch Davidson:  And when that does happen, when we create an environment - how many of us come to work thinking, “I have to know exactly how to do my job”?  So many people who are afraid to go to someone and say, “I'm having trouble with this.  Can you help me?” because they think that somehow they will be looked at as, “This person doesn't even know how to do their job.”

But when we create environments again, through the play, the laughter, the connection, recognition, recognizing each other in positive ways, it makes it easy to say, “You know, I'm having a tough time with this.  Can I have your support?”  And we get it.  And any business leader is going to want to create an environment where his people, rather than hide what they don't know are willing to find the answers because that supports the whole business.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah.  And you have to be able to risk.

Ritch Davidson:  Absolutely.

Mark Lewis:  There are so many great ideas out there that don't get implemented that could change the business.  I mean if you think about virtually all the great companies that I studied, they came about because the person who created the idea couldn't get the people in his organization to listen to it because it was outside of the box, it was some type of risk.  So they just shut it down because it is safer to do what you have always done that is to try something new.

Ritch Davidson:  Right.

Mark Lewis:  It’s safer in the moment even if you miss out on the opportunity.  You know you talk about humanizing the workplace.  I have a mentor whose name is Jason Alexander.  He was a philosopher of capitalism.  He used to say that the key to understanding what makes the world work, what makes it grow and thrive is that money doesn't make money.  Ideas don't make money.  People make money.

It's the people who are faced with a situation and come up with a creative idea, a new way of resolving it that improves the quality of things, that partners with other people and brings resources together in a new way.  That's where the real wealth of our society is.  It's in the people.

And building this human workplace where people can actually tap into their genius and work together, that - you know, when I am working with businesses I am doing consulting with different CEOs - that's the question.  The question is always, “How do I tap into the power of my people because it is people that make everything happen?”

Ritch Davidson:  I couldn't agree with you more.  As you say, that's really the cornerstone of why we are out there doing what we do.  We are hoping that businesses, whether it is the CEO or front-line people, but everybody realizing, “I've got a place here.  And it's who I work with and how I work with them that is going to make the difference for this company regardless of what real investment I have personally in the product we offer and the service we offer.” 

It's this sense of the more we feel connected, the more we develop that sense of ownership and connection and partnership there.  So we want to put in the little longer hours and we are not going to complain so much when the clock hits five o'clock and we are immediately out of there.  There is that sense of, “I want to do more because there is a place that nourishes me as a person both professionally and personally and so I want to give back in that same way.”

You know what you were talking about in terms of just how people make a difference and you were talking about risk.  Well people aren't going to be willing to take risks if, when they try something and it doesn't work they get slammed.  So part of this humanizing influence we are talking about is especially not when things are going great and “Ha, ha, we're having a lot of fun!” but when things aren't going so great or somebody really does screw up.  How managers and coworkers deal with that situation goes a long way towards how people feel included and generating how much they want to continue to contribute.

Mark Lewis:  That brings up a question.  It could be kind of a thorny issue.  When things get uncomfortable, sometimes people will try to use fun and humor to break up the tension or to make themselves feel better.  Sometimes humor isn't necessarily always helpful.  It can sometimes be hurtful.  How do you deal with that in your work?

Ritch Davidson:  Well, first I think just by being conscious of it, we can be conscious of it ourselves, but also in appropriate, gentle ways pointing it out to others who might do that and letting them know the impact it has.  Again, not as a judgment or, “You’re wrong” or blame but, “Here’s how it lands with me.” 

You know, I do it myself sometimes when - and it's actually sort of two separate things that I want to suggest in terms of what you just offered.  One is where we use humor sometimes to avoid dealing with something that is challenging or difficult.  That's something that I do myself.  You know, if there is something serious then we make a joke.  And if we can just be aware, “OK, I did that because there is something uncomfortable here.  Let me go back to what was making me uncomfortable” and pay it that attention then actually it can be a really great signal for ourselves that, “Oh, I didn't even realize I was being uncomfortable but isn't it interesting I made a joke in this situation?”

So part of that can just be –

Mark Lewis:  It just points you to a place where you could look and there is probably some real juice that if you found it you could start to include it in the creative process and build whatever relationships in feeling in jeopardy in that moment.

Ritch Davidson:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  The other branch of that that you started talking about, which I think is more of a concern in some ways is the kind of humor that makes oneself or more likely someone else uncomfortable or feel bad at the end.  And that's humor that we in Playfair refer to as toxic humor.

You know, in the 25 years we have been doing this I'd say what I'm about to say was probably more of a concern 20 years ago than it is now.  But I think it still happens, whereas in many organizations, the only humor that happened was like sarcastic humor or putdown humor or jokes about someone or some group of people.  And we believe very strongly in nontoxic humor.

If you have to have fun at someone else's expense, we prefer you find another way to have fun.

Mark Lewis:  I'm sure that also falls in the category of racism or sexism.

Ritch Davidson:  All of that.

Mark Lewis:  OK.

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah.  Yeah. 

Mark Lewis:  And as I am thinking about this, the internal environment of the company is obviously important.  But you were mentioning, you know talking to people on the phone and things.  Our business models are beginning to change.  Now that we have got the Internet, now that we have got blogs, now that we have got instant feedback, it's our ability to adapt to what the market wants is going to allow us to concrete solutions.

I'm thinking about the Lego Corporation.  Right?  They were creating all of these different Lego projects and things and their clients began to take the Legos and create their own projects.  And they would create plans and they would sell their own plans.  And they would share their own plans on the Internet.

At first Lego went, “Oh no.  This is dangerous.”  They went into kind of a paranoid, defensive posture.  But then as they looked at it, they went, “Wait a minute, this is great.  Our clients are telling us what it is we want.”  And so they started having fun with them.  They started throwing them parties and bringing them in and asking them for their advice.  And all of a sudden the clients began to shape a whole new division of Lego that is now perhaps one of their most profitable.

And the ability to have fun is not only within the organization.  It's with your clients.  How do you help build an environment in which that kind of humanizing fun, playful experience also reaches out to the consumer?

Ritch Davidson:  Well, in part, again first you start inside.  You start internally.  And again, one of those humanizing aspects that we talk a lot about is reward and recognition.  And really it is recognition.  We define it as simply shining a positive spotlight of attention on a coworker.

So, going up to somebody and saying, “How is your job going?  Is there anything I can do to support you in making it better?” is recognition.  Or certainly the bonus in the paycheck and all that, that's also –

Mark Lewis:  Money never hurts.

Ritch Davidson:  Pardon me?

Mark Lewis:  Money never hurts.

Ritch Davidson:  It never does.  But you know something?  Whenever they have done studies looking at workplace incentives, and what motivates employees to do better and to want to be more part of the organization, although money is always on the list, it's almost never at the top of the list.

Mark Lewis:  Even though often people think that that's it, if they are really given the choice between having more money or having an environment in which they are really being acknowledged and recognized, yeah absolutely.

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah.  Yeah, I mean there was a study that was replicated, first done in the 1940s and replicated a number of times since then.  Basically they gave managers a list of things and said, “Rate them according to how much you think your employees will, how incentivized they will be by these factors.”  And then they gave the same list to employees.

And almost the top three of the managers were like the bottom three for the employees.  But what the employees appreciated were things like getting appreciated for work done or manager being sympathetic to their personal problems or being included in information rather than just being told, “OK, we're doing this and here's the change and law, blah, blah.”  Being told, “Here’s why we're doing it” and people would get a sense of, “Oh yeah, I'm included.  A partner in this rather then an effect of it.”

And that makes a difference.  So back around to the start of your question, first we start internally.  We give our employees the kind of attention we want them to give the customers.  And there is not an organization we've worked with that on some level hasn't said they want their employees to give service to smile.

Well what we say is first you've got to give your employees something to smile about.

Mark Lewis:  Excellent.

Ritch Davidson: Once you do that then it has an impact and that kind of attitude is translated to how they deal with customers.  And it could be just an attitude.  It could be just a kind of lightness in the voice.  Or it could be doing fun stuff with customers.

You know I have shared with my groups and people have written back that they have taken advantage of getting things like funny pens.  I have pens in the shape of vegetables  - a pickle pen and a banana pan like that.  I say, “OK, you're dealing with a tough customer and you pull your pan and say, “If you sign this contract right now, you can have this pen and use it!”” 

You know, just silly things like that.

Mark Lewis:  Sorry but no banana?  No!  You get the banana with this!

Ritch Davidson:  Things are tough.  It's tough to sign.  It's tough to have a tough time when you're writing with a pickle.

Mark Lewis:  Let’s get you out of this pickle.

Ritch Davidson:  Pardon me?

Mark Lewis: Let's get you out of this pickle.  Sign here.

Ritch Davidson:  Exactly.  Exactly.  And I know other people who, in dealing with their customers - there was one guy who had a pizza delivered to somebody he was - it was a salesperson - trying to get on as a customer.  He sent him a pizza and had the pizzeria spell out his phone number in mushrooms and sent it anonymously.  The guy picked up the pizza and then he called what on the mushrooms and then found out who it was.

It's that kind of stuff that is out of the ordinary that even if you don't make the sale this moment, any salesperson knows it's not just about the sales.  It's about building relationships and so that's what it begins to do.  And that's really what it's like at work.  It's not just about what we are doing, but building a relationship.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah, and building relationships with your customers.  I think one of the things about fun and play is that it is participative.  It's only fun and play when both people are doing it.  And it's an invitation.

When I offer a joke or when I reach out to someone in some kind of fun way, it's an invitation.  It's a way of saying, “Look.  We can be friends.  We can treat each other with respect and consideration.”

You know, money, mission and meaning is about integrating the money, the work we do with the meaning that we have.  And it's that participation in our lives, doing something worthwhile with people we care about that makes the whole game - you know it gets you excited to get up in the morning.

Ritch Davidson:  Just as you were saying that that's what I was thinking.  You know, what's going to get us out of bed beyond the paycheck, which only goes so far towards our satisfaction and well being, especially internally?  But that sense of, “I’m doing something important, either for me or for others or I'm making a difference in someone's life, whether it's my customer or the people I work with and helping to create a relaxed environment or whatever it happens to be.  Yeah, it's exactly that sense.

Mark Lewis:  Excellent.  It's time for another quick break.  When we come back I want to ask a little bit more about your personal experience with this and what it's been like to be an advocate for fun and humanity for such a long time.

This is Mark Michael Lewis.  I'm speaking with Ritch Davidson from  And we'll be right back.




Mark Lewis:  And we're back with “Money, Mission and Meaning”.  I'm your host Mark Michael Lewis.  Were speaking with Ritch Davidson about the importance of relationship and enjoyment in creating thriving businesses and personal lives.

So Ritch, in your biography I got a real kick about it.  You said that you graduated from nursery school back in 1955.  So you've been at this a long time.

Ritch Davidson:  [chuckles]

Mark Lewis:  You have certainly seen a lot of people go through this process of kind of getting permission to have fun, getting permission to allow the relationship.  And in fact going beyond permission even into encouragement, as we say ‘taking fun seriously’, getting serious but not solemn.  I really like that distinction.

Getting serious but not solemn about really bringing out the relationship and the fun and the cooperation in your business.  So what has it been like personally to focus so much of your life on this when so many people are focused on kind of grinding out the day?

Ritch Davidson:  Well, I think the first thing that comes to mind as you ask me that question is gratitude.  I just experience great appreciation and gratitude that I have had the opportunity.

Now, as I said earlier how much I appreciate how much humor and play has always played its part, a big part in my life.  And I'm so grateful that I get to have a job where I get to keep that congruent for me and I get to keep playing and having fun and even more so, I get to share it with others in a way that people are interested and want to know more about it.

So it gives some additional meaning to my beingness as a human being but also in my professional life, without wanting to get particularly grandiose or too serious about it.

Mark Lewis:  Oh come on, get grandiose.

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Just that sense of, you know this is important work and I really do hold it that way.  And on some level, and I do take this with a grain of salt, I'm wearing my clown nose as I say this, but on some level it also helps to save lives.  You know, maybe not keep somebody alive the way a doctor or a nurse might do but in the sense of our emotional life and our well-being.

As we have learned, and there is a lot of research that shows it actually does have a positive impact on our physical well-being.

So that's been really important to me and then I get to - at Playfair there are about 25 of us, most of whom are spread out around the country, many of whom I only see once a year at our company retreats in July.

Mark Lewis:  I can imagine your company retreats are a little fun.

Ritch Davidson:  They are so fun that we, out of a four-day retreat, I mean literally half the time we are either learning new games that people have brought in or we're constantly doing rituals of somebody's 10th year or 20th year.  Or new people in their first year we do some kind of a ritual to welcome them.

That's one of our beliefs.  People get the gold watch after 25 years of service.  We say, well why not celebrate people on the first day they begin working for you so they can look back on that over their 25 years and it gives them an idea what those 25 years might look like.

So my joy to share this with a group of people who are fun and conscious and thoughtful and sweet and playful and also have the sense of this is important work in the world just feels so good to me.  And as I said, I just have great joy and appreciation that I have created this for myself.

Mark Lewis:  I think it's great too.  A lot of my friends live in the Silicon Valley.  They are involved in computer companies or their entrepreneurs.  A lot of them have a choice about how they are going to be investing their time.  You know, they've got a lot of skills.  They can essentially choose who they work for.

And when I talk with them about it, sometimes my coaching clients, when I'm talking with them about what it is that they are going to use to make that choice.  Who are they going to choose to work with?  Always, top of the list, once people have a certain amount of skill, it's how much fun is it going to be?  Am I going to enjoy the people?  Am I going to enjoy the environment?

And I'm really glad that you have made it a piece of your life to help create the experience for more people.

Ritch Davidson:  Thank you.

Mark Lewis: You know, as you said, people typically spend more time at work with people with whom they work than often they do with their family and friends.

Ritch Davidson:  Mmmhmm.  Yeah, yeah.  I just want to really encourage your listeners, if anyone is listening in and just really wondering how do I make this happen or is it really - just go for it.  Give it a try.  So many times in our audiences people come up afterwards and say, “I'm the only one in my company who has been doing this stuff and I am already doing it.  Thank you for the affirmation.” 

I just did a series of programs in four cities in India.  And the audiences there were just so wonderful.  They were so earnest and so wanting to get these concepts and saying you know, “How do we do this?  How do we make it happen?  We recognize that there is value here.  What are some of the steps along?” 

And just for anyone who has any inkling of wanting to take it further or start from the beginning, just give it a start.

Mark Lewis:  Great.  Do you have resources on your website that people can get?  Is there a way that people can begin to use it?  They have been introduced to you.  Now how can they work with you and begin to bring these ideas into their lives?

Ritch Davidson:  Well thank you for asking that.  Actually there are two things that occur to me.  The first is, I was just about to say again my colleague and Emperor of Playfair, Matt Weinstein has a couple of books out, a couple of which I have contributed to but I'm certainly not an author of.

One is called “Managing to Have Fun”.  The other is called “Work Like Your Dog”.  And they are really great books.  “Managing to Have Fun” is just loaded with stories and anecdotes of what successful organizations have done to bring fun and play into the workplace, including by the way people who are the only one in the company who do it.

When you talked earlier about fun and play relating to others, while that is generally true it's something that you can do on your own.  If there is no one else in the company who is willing to play along, there are ways we can find to keep ourselves sane by just playing a little bit with ourselves.  That came out kind of weird but you know what I mean.

Mark Lewis:  You know, even though this is a show on money, mission and meaning and it's very serious and we are talking about fun and play, I am not going there.

Ritch Davidson:  All right.  Thank you so much.


Mark Lewis:  Again, you have “Work like Your Dog” versus working like a dog.

Ritch Davidson:  Well, OK.  Real quickly on that one.

Mark Lewis:  Please, because I just love that title.

Ritch Davidson:  Well thank you.  And I loved that Matt created it.  And basically the concept is people so often say, “Oh! I've been working like a dog.  My boss has been working me like a dog.” 

Have you ever stopped to look at how your dog actually spends his or her days?  I mean it's that concept.  The ideas of dogs - you know I have a golden retriever who I just love.  And she just teaches me so much about being.  And the excitement with which she greets me when I first come in, and then I'm in another room and I come back and I go out and I come back and she’s still really excited.

Mark Lewis: “Oh my gosh!  You're back!  Oh! You're back!  I thought you were gone.  Oh I'm so glad you're back.”

Ritch Davidson:  Exactly.  And what we are looking at is how can we take those sorts of attitudes and bring them to work.  If we treated our employees and our coworkers like that, if we had that kind of enthusiasm that dogs show if we're going for a walk or chasing the ball or whatever it is, it's that kind of a concept.

So it's a really sweet book.  So those are two of them.  He's got a couple of others that are great. 

But another resource that I want to talk about that people can use immediately on our website – it’s  - and on the homepage on the very bottom on the left side is something that says ‘send a standing ovation’.  We have a concept that we introduce in our talks about really appreciating others and asking for appreciation for yourself and being willing to receive support, which is tough for many of us.  So we set up a rule where anybody at any time in our presentation can stand up in the middle of anything and just shout out, “I want a standing ovation”.

And we will stop what we are doing and wildly applaud for that person.

Mark Lewis:  Cool.

Ritch Davidson:  It’s so great and so great to watch the faces, not only on the faces of the people receiving it, but the faces of the people giving it.  And it's almost as much of a gift to give to others, as it is to receive from others.  And both are important. 

So on our website, you can go and we have it set up that you can actually send a standing ovation to a work colleague via email.  And they will get a little message that says why they are getting it and it just says, “You deserve a standing ovation” and you can hear people wildly applauding in the background.

Mark Lewis:  Oh, that is great.

Ritch Davidson:  And it costs no money.

Mark Lewis:  Yeah, just do it.

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah.

Mark Lewis:  Don’t send “Oh, congratulations.  Well done.” You know send them a standing ovation.

Ritch Davidson:  Exactly.

Mark Lewis:  That is great.  Oh, I love it.  OK, well great Ritch.  Thanks for coming on the show today.  It's been great having you.

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah.  My pleasure.  Thank you so much Mark.

Mark Lewis:  OK.  Again, for people who want more information about Ritch or Playfair or perhaps having him speak in your organization or lead some games or sending standing ovations to people you care about - by the way as I understand it Ritch, this is only for business, you never want to send this to any personal friends or family members or people you love, right?

Ritch Davidson:  Well, I don't know where you got that understanding but - I know you're saying that tongue-in-cheek - no, of course I mean why not send it to a spouse at work or just a spouse at home, you know to their own email address or a friend or a daughter or a son, one of your siblings.  It doesn't matter.  It's a way to say, “I appreciate you”.

Mark Lewis:  Great.  And that's  Just the word play and the word fair.

Ritch Davidson:  F-A-I-R.

Mark Lewis:  F-A-I-R.

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah, all one word.

Mark Lewis:  Yes, I guess play fair - no I that would be different - OK, so

Ritch Davidson:  Yeah.

Mark Lewis:  OK. Great.

Ritch Davidson:  And if anyone has just any questions about anything we've been talking about, you don't need to contact me just to hire me, I'd be happy to be a resource and support you in any way I can.

Mark Lewis:  Great.  Well, again thanks Ritch.

Ritch Davidson:  Thank you so much Mark.  Have fun!

Mark Lewis:  Excellent.  For text and transcripts of the show and other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at

I'm your host Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of Smart Energy Enterprises Inc. – SEE Inc. - A Beautiful Future Now.  And that brings us to the end of our show.  So thanks for listening and join us next week on “Money, Mission and Meaning - Passion at Work, Purpose at Play” as we interview cutting edge business leaders who are committed to making a positive difference in the world about the motivation and practical ideas to create pleasure and profit in the business of life.

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