Healthy Wealthy & Smart

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Now displaying: August, 2019
Aug 29, 2019

On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guests hosts and interviews Sneha Gazi and Maria Muto on Physical Therapy International Service. Dr. Sneha Gazi is a physical therapist based in Manhattan who specializes in orthopedics and pelvic health. Sneha’s desire to bring her skills beyond her immediate reach drove her to start PTIS in the hopes of bringing PT services to underserved populations. Dr. Maria Muto is a physical therapist based in Manhattan who specializes in orthopedics.

In this episode, we discuss:

-How Sneha and Maria started Physical Therapy International Service as students

-The logistics around organizing a volunteer event abroad

-Roadblocks Sneha and Maria encountered along the way

-Advice for those interested in following in Sneha and Maria’s footsteps

-And so much more!



#PTIS #PTInternationalService #CerveraDelMaestre #Spain

PT International Service Website



For more information on Sneha:

Dr. Sneha Gazi, DPT earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Columbia University with a focus on orthopedics and pediatrics. She holds a BA in Honors Developmental Psychology from New York University where she completed a Concentration in Dance and published a scientific article on infant motor learning and development.

Dr. Gazi worked at clinical rotations in both outpatient orthopedic practices and acute care hospitals, gaining knowledge on high-level manual therapies and evidence based exercises to help her patients return to the activities they loved. She’s treated pelvic pain in pre/post-partum women, rugby players in New Zealand’s sports training facility and helped many NY’s Broadway and Off-Broadway dancers, actors, vocalists, and instrumentalists to get back on stage.

She combines her knowledge of how to rehabilitate lower back pain, neck pain, TMJ dysfunction, sports and dance injuries along with a compassionate energy. Sneha is also a certified yoga instructor and professional Indian classical dancer. She integrates yoga asanas, breathing techniques, guided mediation, and mindfulness exercises into her treatment sessions to enhance her patient’s recovery process. Sneha has a strong passion for service overseas and pioneered the first ever Physical Therapy International Service trip to Spain with Dr. Maria Muto.


For more information on Maria:

Dr. Maria Muto is a physical therapist based in Manhattan who specializes in orthopedics. Maria received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Columbia University where she began to analyze runner's running mechanics. In recent years, Maria has worked with the athletic population as a personal trainer. She hopes in the near future to obtain her certified strength and conditioning specialist certification (CSCS) to practice both training and rehab with high level athletes. As a physical therapist, Maria’s treatment approach is team-based between her and her patients. She believes that getting to know and involve her patients as much as possible within his or her care is the best way to optimize function and maximize movement mechanics for a true recovery. This belief of involving patients within his or her care at this level persuaded Maria to expand herself to this world and discover how to truly connect with others of varying conditions, cultures and fortunes. Maria has now practiced in Italy and Spain. Overall, Maria is excited and eager to continue to learn more about the world and her profession by these experiences.


For more information on Jenna:

Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas ( until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website:


Read the full transcript below:

Jenna Kantor:                00:04                Hello. This is Jenna Kantor. I am partnering as a host with healthy, wealthy and smart. And today I get to interview Sneha Gazi and Maria Muto. And they are the creators of physical therapy international service, which is PTIS, where they led the first ever international service trip in Spain, which is incredible. So I'm extremely excited to be interviewing these two. One they're good friends of mine, two their big goal getters. Literally this wasn't any teacher or any mentor telling them to create this service trip. This is something they just found a real hardcore desire to create from scratch. So this podcast is extremely valuable because they are going to be sharing exactly how they did it, maybe a little bit of obstacles, and then hopefully put a fire in your flame if you're considering doing something like this yourself. So the topic for today is very simple. It's just creating a service trip. All right, so first Sneha, would you just mind just saying hello one more time so people can really hear your voice. And Maria, would you do the same? Perfect. Alright, so first question, why did you decide to create a service trip?

Sneha Gazi:                   01:31                So we had multiple reasons to create a service trip, but two of the main reasons were, one, we wanted to provide physical therapy services to a group of people in a different country who didn't have that opportunity already. So we chose a small town in Spain. They have no physical therapy services in that town and the closest medical services they have to travel quite far to obtain even basic medical services. So physical therapy is sort of a luxury treatment for them in that town. And these are also people who work high levels of labor, their agriculture workers, they do a lot of physical demanding work, so they end up having a lot of physical stressors. So, that's one main reason we wanted to provide a service to people who didn't have it. And then the second reason, our main reason to join with two folds.

Sneha Gazi:                   02:23                The second one was to provide an opportunity for students to learn in a different setting. So this provides cultural awareness. This provides an opportunity for students to bring things outside of a classroom setting, even outside of a clinical affiliation setting where they have, you know, very structured environment into sort of the blue and an environment where they won't have a chance to, you know, readily look something up on the Internet, but they have to think on their toes. They have to know how to modify a treatment. They have a licensed physical therapist there to guide them throughout to make sure everything is safe and everything is moving forward very well for the patient to have the patients' interests in mind. But it's to provide these students an opportunity where they're kind of thrown out of their comfort zone.

Jenna Kantor:                03:05                That's excellent. So, okay, you started from scratch. How did you guys fundraise for this trip?

Maria Muto:                 03:14                Yeah, so we had three separate events. These were a happy hour events, that we advertised to people that we knew in the local area to come hang out with us downtown, come out and support this service trip. We had great turnout the first two times. It was so much fun to just gather with these people to help promote this amazing trip. Super supportive. It was a true gift, honestly. So, you know, we hope to continue doing this.

Jenna Kantor:                03:49                That's great. Yeah. Sounds so simple that you guys were just able to create these social nights and you're able to just make money from that. Was it difficult just to follow up a little bit more money? Yeah. So was it difficult putting together these fundraising events or was it rather simple?

Maria Muto:                 04:04                Well, the simple fact that we are housed in Manhattan kind of make it easy because there's so many opportunities to go out and explore the city. So, you know, between Sneha and I, and a third member, we kind of were just thinking about, you know, where do we want to be? Thinking about the audience that we were targeting, like young 20s, let's think about the area and location. So we did our research, we contacted, the coordinators of these local areas that we were interested in and things, you know, led to another. And we were talking about deals and we got really great offers and apparently our audience loved it too. So, it wasn't really that difficult. You just have to kind of reach out and speak to the right person.

Jenna Kantor:                04:50                That's great. I like how you say it. It almost sounds like boom, Bada Bang. It happens.

Maria Muto:                 04:56                New York is a land of opportunities so it is put yourself out there and you never know what you're going to get.

Jenna Kantor:                05:03                Yeah. So we learned right here, moved to New York is a good suggestion. Did you choose a location then for your actual service trip? Sneha you start to go into this a little bit saying all the benefits of Spain, but I'm sure you must have explored other locations as well. So would you mind telling me that journey?

Sneha Gazi:                   05:24                So, I actually had the wonderful opportunity before joining PT school to do a Yoga Shiatsu program where I got my yoga teacher certification in this very town. So the way I found that was I just looked up yoga teacher certifications in Europe because that's where I wanted to do it. And I know a little bit of Spanish. So I knew that that would be a little bit easier for me to mingle in with the folks in the town and have a good time and get to know different cultures. So I chose Spain, I ended up going there, made some amazing connections, you know, the smaller the town, the lovelier the people in a lot of ways. Everyone is so humble in that town. Everyone is so open and warm and you know, willing to let you into their homes and their town in their community, which is already so small to begin with.

Sneha Gazi:                   06:11                So I made some really good friends there and when I was thinking about places, Maria and I were discussing, that was one of our many options. And it also was the one that flew the quickest for us because of that connection that I already had there. So it wasn't easy to do the communication and you know, do the long distance back and forth, emails, thousands of emails, thousands of things to coordinate. But at the end of the day, that was the best route for us to go to because I already had been there before and I had known that it was a safe place. The people were wonderful and I knew that this would benefit both the town in the students and the licensed therapists who are coming along with it to make it a safe working environment and a safe learning environments. And that's why we chose that.

Jenna Kantor:                06:52                Yeah. Yeah. That's great. Oh so good that you knew that it was a safe area to cause I know for people traveling overseas that would be a concern. So having that background with Yoga, by the way, power to you being a physical therapist and knowing yoga. Wow, that's definitely given you a leg up for sure. But being able to have that experience before that, that's great. What a great way, how your life and kind of led you to creating something more in this area that you fell in love with through yoga.

Jenna Kantor:                07:53                So we talked a little bit about fundraising. Now my mind's going to how much would this cost if I was a student now I wanted to participate. How much did it cost for a student to go and be part of this service trip?

Maria Muto:                 08:17                So, because this was the first event, we kind of hope that the next following will be similar into what the expenses were for this one. But you know, as a student, finances can be very difficult. So, you know, trying to keep that within our minds. We calculated a fair of 450 euros, that would be per students. So kind of just thinking of the numbers, we were, you know, that's why we had those three fundraising events to try to cover for those costs. So, you know, we were planning accordingly. We did tell the students, which we have three students with us and two licensed PTs, we did tell them that their airfare would be on them. Because we wouldn't be able to cover that. Hopefully as we grow as an organization, we will be able to, you know, create larger fundraising events and have, you know, even more money to, you know, help us move this opportunity along and help you know, out the students, or whoever's participating more. But for the first time, that was pretty much what we had the students pay. So, you know, we'll see what happens in the future. But, it wasn't really that expensive. When you look at a larger scale of what it actually could potentially be per person.

Sneha Gazi:                   09:46                We have to say what the fundraising money went to. So we have to say that we covered the entire cost for the licensed therapists. 450 euros for two people.

Maria Muto:                 09:56                The 450 was covered like we provided coverage for the PTs and then everything, the airfares and all that stuff was on their own.

Jenna Kantor:                10:17                Selecting students and selecting mentors, I feel like this is almost like a raffle, you know, like who gets it? How did you do this? Was there some sort of like people wrote in letters and mentors. I mean, you were students at this time. So how many professionals did you know at this point to be able to pull in the ideal people to guide you over in Spain?

Sneha Gazi:                   10:40                Yeah, so the licensed PTs who came on this trip, the way we approached that was we emailed, texted, Facebook message called, kind of in any way, a form of communication to every license PT that we knew and our contacts list, and then ask our friends to give us more context. We had many people show interest, but we knew that we were asking a lot from them because they weren't getting paid to go on the trip. All we were able to do was completely cover they're living, food, transportation in Spain, which was the 450 euros that Maria mentioned, but we weren't going to be able to cover their airfare. So what these therapists had to do, and we are forever grateful for you, Patty and Michelle for doing this. They actually took off of work and paid their airfare to come to be a part of this trip.

Sneha Gazi:                   11:32                And the two therapists who came in were the ones who were able to give us a commitment as soon as, and we knew that everybody who we reached out to was a reliable, intelligent and wonderful therapist who we knew would be an amazing form of guidance for the students and for ourselves because we were students while we went on the trip. So we knew whoever came in and whoever signed our contract and said they were on board. And you know, there were many who are very enthusiastic about this. But whoever came in first were those. And then in terms of the students, we reached out to several schools. We did not want this to be a school trip. You know, never really was a school trip. This is an independent project. So we reached out to several schools outside of our own school.

Sneha Gazi:                   12:18                Maria and I go to the same school but reached out to other students to make sure that we get a diverse group of people so we can learn from other schools as well. And we wanted everything to be a sort of from different pockets of the states. So we were able to get three students from three different schools who joined in.  A lot of people sent in their applications and we sort of chose based on, you know, their essay of why they wanted to do it and sort of their background on the classes that they had taken just to make sure that we had a diverse group of people but single minded in terms of what we wanted to accomplish, which was service and learning because it's physical therapy international service trip. So yeah, that's how we chose everyone. And you know, that was initially we thought that this was a struggle but we found very quickly moving forward that that was the least of our worries. It was easy to get those.

Jenna Kantor:                                        Oh that's so good to hear. Cause I mean putting everything together from scratch is already enough on its own. So that's great that that ended up being a smooth journey for you both. Now, what was your biggest obstacle, because I'm sure you've had many obstacles as you were putting this together, but what would you say is your biggest obstacle that you encountered and how did you overcome it?

Maria Muto:                 13:30                I'm really glad that you were asking that question now. Just because the last thing that you said kind of segways into my response in that starting from scratch is pretty difficult. So as students, you know, we're trying to think of who do we know, what do we know, where do you know we want to go and how do we want to do this ourselves? You know, as very ambitious PT students, we really tried to, you know, Gung Ho and take sail what this in which we did. But that wasn't really easy to do because of who we are as just students. And with the experience that we had at that given time, which, you know, was a decent amount of experience and, you know, led us to having this project follow through. But I think, you know, we just had to kind of keep on rolling, keep on thinking, make sure that, you know, we had all of our grounds covered. You know, just having the trust in the people that we selected and which we did. So I think that that was hard to kind of try to really piece everything together. But you know, we just kept on powering through. We just really wanted to make this work and we're so thankful that it did.

Jenna Kantor:                14:52                We're up to the last question and this is just getting words of wisdom from each of you. What words of wisdom do you have for someone who's listening to this and goes, that's it. I want to plan a service trip now. What do you have to say to that person?

Sneha Gazi:                   15:20                So there are many, many things that go into planning this trip. I'm going to tell you that it ends up being sort of a part time job, especially towards when you get to the end of the race, when you're putting everything together. It took over a year and a half of preparation. We had many obstacles along the way like Maria had mentioned, but even through that, it did take quite a bit of time to put everything together. So I would say number one is make sure that you have a contact in the location that you want to do your service in A to make sure that this place is a safe learning environment and a safe working environment. And secondly, to make sure that logistically that you have a point person to get information from, to coordinate the patient's there to coordinate the simple things.

Sneha Gazi:                   16:10                And we had a wonderful lady Alaina, who did all of this for us while we were there and Kudos to her because if it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have been able to do this trip. But she was a local who volunteered her time to put together plints, towels, pillows, sheets, dividers, coordinate the schedule of the patients, get together the schools when we did our educational workshops to coordinate the location, the projector, everything. So I would definitely say you need somebody like that in this location. If you are not yourself able to travel back and forth throughout the year or however long it takes for you to plan it, to get there, you need to have somebody there. And the second thing is to make sure that you know how the money is going to play out from the beginning.

Sneha Gazi:                   16:56                So making sure you're very transparent with how much is food, how much is transportation, and how much is living costs, how much your supplies, and then devise a plan of how you're going to make this feasible. Like Maria and I had planned before we even got the location, we already started fundraising because we knew this was going to be expensive. So we put together the fundraisers, you know, three months before we even nailed the location down. So I would definitely say, make sure that you have a plan financially to get everything together and make sure that the place is a good place to be in and you will do wonders if you just have those two solid.

Maria Muto:                 17:51                So everything that they have said totally feel the exact same way. Wonderful, wonderful advice. But I think when you go abroad into another country, be very accepting and welcoming to the new culture that you're in. Embrace where you are, feel it, feed it, do everything that you can. Because at least from my experience, these people are so welcoming and just want to know about you as a person. They're very intrigued that you're American and there's so many other ways that you communicate with people other than just words. But I would advise for you to study up on the language in which that you're going to be treating in because it makes it a little bit easier. But there are other ways to, you know, understand people if you have that language barrier, but for sure, really tried to, you know, embrace the culture that you're in. And I think that would really make the experience even more fulfilling.

Jenna Kantor:                18:36                That's great. I actually just thought of something, I'm wondering what Spanish phrase did you use the most there?

Maria Muto:                 18:46                Because I was speaking so broken Spanish, like I was actually speaking more Italian. I think I would say like siéntese, por favor. Hola. Or Ciao. Aquí. Dolor.

Sneha Gazi:                   19:05                I think I used boca arriba the most, which is face up. It literally means upwards. Oh yeah. But it means supine. And I had to say, I had to tell people, can you lay flat or lay on your back? And it was very difficult for people to understand this. So one of my patients who spoke broken English was like Boca arriba.

Jenna Kantor:                                        For anyone who was interested in starting a service trip. Please reach out to Sneha and Maria. They are huge Go getters. I really, really appreciate you guys coming on here. This is extremely valuable. Thank you so much.



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Aug 26, 2019

On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Evert Verhagen on the show to discuss qualitative research and how the outcomes can be useful for clinical sports practice. Evert Verhagen is a human movement scientist and epidemiologist. He holds a University Research Chair as a full professor at the Department of Public and Occupational Health of the VU University Medical Center and the Amsterdam Movement Science Research Institute. He chairs the department's research theme 'Sports, Lifestyle and Health', is the director of the Amsterdam Collaboration on Health and Safety in Sports (one of the 11 IOC research centers), and co-director of the Amsterdam Institute of Sports Sciences (AISS).


In this episode, we discuss:

-The difference between qualitative and quantitative research

-How qualitative research influences sports medicine and injury prevention research and clinical practice

-How to design a qualitative research study and control for biases

-What is in store for the future of qualitative research in sports medicine

-And so much more!



Evert Verhagen Twitter


Sports Lifestyle and Health Research Website

IOC World Conference Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport


For more information on Evert:

Evert Verhagen is a human movement scientist and epidemiologist. He holds a University Research Chair as a full professor at the Department of Public and Occupational Health of the VU University Medical Center and the Amsterdam Movement Science Research Institute. He chairs the department's research theme 'Sports, Lifestyle and Health', is the director of the Amsterdam Collaboration on Health and Safety in Sports (one of the 11 IOC research centers), and co-director of the Amsterdam Institute of Sports Sciences (AISS). His research revolves around the prevention of sports and physical activity related injuries; including monitoring, cost-effectiveness and implementation issues. He supervises several (inter-)national PhDs and post-docs on these topics, and has (co-)authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications around these topics.


Read the full transcript below:

Karen Litzy:                   00:00                Hi Evert. Welcome to the podcast. I'm so happy to have you on.

Evert Verhagen:            00:04                Yeah, thank you very much. I'm really happy to be here as well.

Karen Litzy:                   00:08                All right, so today we're going to be talking about qualitative research in mainly sports medicine. But before we even start, can you give the listeners the definitions and perhaps the difference between quantitative research and qualitative research?

Evert Verhagen:            00:30                Sure. I think that is a really valid question to start with. I believe most people are familiar with quantitative research. It is what we do like in the word already, quantification of a problem by counting, by having numerical data or data that we can transform into statistics. And then we can quantify attitudes, opinions, define variables. And we can generalize that across the whole group of our population. So we can generate averages in given populations and we can compare averages between populations. Qualitative research on the other hand, doesn't go by numbers, it's more exploratory. And we try to get an understanding of reasons, opinions, motivations and instead of quantifying a problem. So, giving a number to it, giving a magnitude to it, we get insight into the problem and it helps us to develop new ideas and our policies. And that can be a precursor to do a bigger quantitative study in which you have an idea of where to look and where you would like to quantify and get some more thought. But you can also do it afterwards, where you have a quantifiable outcome and you want to understand better what that outcome actually means and what it means to your population and in the population. I think that is in essence the big difference.

Karen Litzy:                   02:06                Yeah. Thank you for that. And, now you have had over 200 peer reviewed articles in different journals and you yourself had done a lot of quantitative research. So why the shift now for you into more qualitative research?

Evert Verhagen:            02:22                Oh, it's not the first time I get asked that question. I'm a trained quantitative research. I'm an epidemiologist. I'm a human movement scientist. So I kind of live and swear by numbers. If I can't measure it for me, it shouldn't count that many people think. Now, I learned that through the years, if you can count it, it still doesn't mean anything. It still needs to have a meaning. So a difference between two groups in a trial, it just gives you the difference between the groups in a trial. It doesn't tell you how the individuals within that trial actually experienced it. The same with trying to get your head around an injury problems so you can capture an injury problem in incidences in prevalences, in severity, in numbers of days, lost availability during games. But what does it actually mean for the individual athlete?

Evert Verhagen:            03:23                What does it mean for the patient? And the same maybe with treatment outcomes, rehabilitation outcomes. It's nice to know that, you know, you reach a certain degree of range of motion after rehabilitation or reduced level of pain on a visual analog scale. But what is actually the opinion of, of that patient, does that actually align with what you can measure? And if not, where does the different come from? And if you do, it kind of shows you that you’re in the right direction. And over the years I learned that quantitative research can only help so much in solving the bigger issues we have where it concerns, prevention targets for presumed prevention. It stops at your number and then you need to do something with it. And the only way to do something with this, it's to understand where it comes from and also to understand what it means. That's where my interest kind of started.

Karen Litzy:                   04:23                Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense coming from myself from the clinical side of things. And I'll use the VAS scale when you're looking at pain as let's say one of those quantitative points. And I think this is a good example. Looking at the VAS scale, a four or five for me is a very different experience for someone else with the four or five out of 10 pain. Right? And so just looking at that number from quantitative research saying, well, this proves that this treatment, whatever it may be reduced pain by, I don't know, four points on the vas scale. Well, okay, that's great, but then what does that mean for the individual person and that you're just moving it because qualitative someone's opinion. This is an opinion of what my pain is and then we take it to quantitative data, but then it doesn't say how that patient is living with that pain. The pain has decreased, but I still can't walk to the store. I still can't play with my kids. So what does it mean?

Evert Verhagen:            05:27                Exactly. I think that what you just said that is purely qualitative talks about what does it mean, what impact does it have as one little, one little thing I would like to specify is that a VAS scale in essence, which is a subjective outcome measure, is still a quantifiable objective measure. It's not qualitative and that is something I run into every now and then in a discussion where people seem to think that a subjective outcome on a scale or a subjective outcome measure in a survey is qualitative. It is not you have to look behind those measures. So why does someone report a reduction from eight to four on a visual analog scale? That is what we're looking at and you're completely right from eight to four in someone who has a seating job for instance. Mostly behind the computer means something completely different than someone who moves from eight to four who has a really active job and we have four is still really limiting for them.

Evert Verhagen:            06:35                We may go to athletes, for instance, a pain of four today in preseason maybe or at the end of season when there's no big competitions around, I'm okay, I can skip the training, but a pain of four during competition when has a big game coming up? You probably will suck it up. And even though the pain level is the same, your experience and the burden it gives you is completely different. And those are the things we do work capturing in numbers. And those are the things that make the big difference for the individuals we do our research pool and our target population.

Karen Litzy:                   07:14                Yeah. And that actually leads nicely into the next thing I wanted to talk about and that's, how does qualitative research manifest itself in sports medicine or injury prevention?

Evert Verhagen:            07:25                From the research perspective you mean? Or the practical perspective?

Karen Litzy:                   07:28                Let's take research perspective first.

Evert Verhagen:            07:31                On a research perspective, I think it adds a new layer of information to what we already know. And you can think that in multiple ways. It gives you direction to where you would like to go with future research because you understand better your population, you understand their needs, their wishes, their opinions, their fears. You understand, their foci and based on that you can have more targeted either interventions or more targeted outcome measures to chart a problem or to monitor a problem. So it will guide quantitative research in that sense, which I would say is also really interesting in regards to machine learning and the complexity theories that are out there. We can't measure everything but if we get a sense already based on the public, the population where we should focus on it will gives direction to those novel technologies where we do data mining and all that.

Evert Verhagen:            08:38                Also on the other hand, if we do interventions or if we do objective measures of what we try to assess in research, we need to find a way to translate that to the population. Research of course it is about putting it in a nice article and publish it in a high impact journal if at all possible. But in the end, and I'm speaking for myself here, I do research because I want to help people, I do research because I have a general question that I feel is valid to ask in relation to an issue or problem I see in athletes. So I want that number to come for athletes as well. And in order to do so, I need to talk to them and get their opinions about how they feel about this number, how they feel they can use it, how they feel they may not be able to use it.

Evert Verhagen:            09:38                And based on that I can develop my next steps and I understand better what I did right, what I did wrong. I understand better what it means actually because I have my own opinion. And that's why I think qualitative and quantitative are synergetic to each other. Let me give you a clear example, which may be a bridge also to more the practical side of it. Maybe that's injury definition. If I ask athletes or students and fellow researchers how they would define an injury. Usually they come with the technical definitions. We also have in our manuscripts, like it is tissue damage. It leads to pain. That pain may lead to a diminished performance, maybe a limited availability, which is all fine. And if you ask athletes like, when are you injured? The elite athletes will say, well, pain is actually part of the game.

Evert Verhagen:            10:34                I always have pain. I'm used to that and I know how to deal with that. And I will not think this pain is a problem unless my performance is limited, which is already a little bit of a different injury definition. So the problems we see and we have in terms of pain and availability may not even be the problems they perceive to be problems. So we solving maybe something they don't even see to be an issue. Now if you translate the same thing to maybe recreational athletes or novus athletes, people who sit on the couch and say, okay, let's be a bit more active. They're not used to pain, they're not used to how their body reacts to physical activity. So we think they have more injuries, but maybe their perception of injuries is simply different from the perception of injuries we see in most of the papers we read. And I think there's a clear clinical message there is that, perspective, context, experience of the patients you have in front of you determines their perception of the issue they have. But it also determines for you as a clinician what you need to do and how you need to approach that. Because the numbers you see in the quantifiable manuscript that's all based on averages and not on that one single person in front you. And this is where qualitative research can help a lot to understand that.

Karen Litzy:                   11:59                Yeah, and that makes a lot of sense to me. And as a clinician, I think sometimes we can get caught up in the quantitative data and those numbers and lose sight of the person in front of us. Meaning sometimes we may say, and I see this on social media threads and things like that, which I'm sure you've seen as well. Well this is the study and this is what the study says. This is what you should be doing with your patient. Yeah. Well, there are a lot of nuances to that because like you said, you're talking about averages and not the person in front of you. And, I love the example you gave. What is an injury and what does that mean to different stakeholders within, let's say, injury prevention realm if we will. So the athlete versus the average person versus the clinician?

Karen Litzy:                   12:56                Well we have three different definitions of what an injury is. So how can we fill those gaps to be a little bit closer? I mean I can say, let's say I'm the average person who's working out. I know I am not anywhere near a professional athlete, but the problem is, and you alluded to it a little bit, is that when people have an injury, they read about an athlete that has an injury and they say, well, this athlete had the injury and they were back at their sport in four weeks. How come I have to wait four months? And I think that's a big disconnect. And maybe that's where getting some better qualitative research and around these definitions can actually help with the perception of what an injury is across the board.

Evert Verhagen:            13:49                Yeah, it's sort of framing but it's framing from both sides. It's framing for the patient so you can even better, why it takes for them four months instead of four weeks. Right. And usually in all honesty, by the time a professional athlete is already back training again, a recreational athlete maybe hasn't even seen a therapist. How then can you take a protocol or a guideline based on evidence that shows that on average after four to six weeks you need to be at a certain stage in the rehabilitation phase where that one single person in front of you as already been looking three weeks for a proper therapist to treat the injury and then they come in and they've seen this evidence like you said, but then you would like to know a bit better where they come from, what their context is and what they need to do, which is not shown in evidence is also not what the patient thinks about.

Evert Verhagen:            14:55                So having some knowledge about such perceptions and where they come from and what they mean I think can really help to support you in your clinical practice to use the evidence to a better extent. You know, in some of the issues we have in objective quantifiable research also apply here. I would say there is, for instance the discussion started a couple of years ago about we should screen or not to predicting injury actually to see if someone's at an increased risk. And one of the main arguments in there is, well basically what we're doing is we create two normal distributions and normal distribution is the Garcian curve where we think most of the population is in the middle and we have a few outliers and that is nicely distributed. So we have a normal population with our risk factor and a normal population without a risk factor. And if you know, the averages don't overlap too much, then Oh, we have a significant difference. But that negates the outliers on the top side and on the bottom side of both. And then you talk about an average, but there's even an equal amount of people who are in that overlapping phase that we still give the average treatment. And if we understand better why these people are on the outskirts and why are they in a position, we can actually make that evidence for them work. Because we can model it to their specific situation.

Karen Litzy:                   16:31                Got It. So that qualitative research, like you said, can help to guide quantitative research, which can then help to guide actual treatment practices for the average clinician. In a very simplified, overly simplified nutshell. So yeah, very, very, very oversimplified of nutshell there. Can you give us an example of what a qualitative research project may look like? Can you give an example of what that looks like in it's sort of set up phase and then throughout the project.

Evert Verhagen:            17:19                Okay. Well in essence, it looks a little bit simpler because for quantitative researching in big groups of people, because of those averages for qualitative research, you need smaller groups. One issue though is in case of how our specific needs, we would like to have groups that are quite specific. So if we have a group of elite athletes combined to recreational athletes and we want know perceptions about injury, like we were already talking about. That doesn't work because we get too many deviating perceptions in there. So you need to, you need to frame your research question correctly there. And the essence here is that you start doing your interviews until you reached so called saturation. So you do interviews, you get answers, and your next interview will give you a deeper understanding. You get different answers, you get more answers, you can ask a bit further.

Evert Verhagen:            18:18                But at a certain point of time, you start hearing the same thing. So you don't add any new information. That's when you're done. And now, depending on your group or your specific focus, that can happen between eight to 15 interviews. So in that sense, it sounds really easy. Then what do you need to do is you need to type those interviews out. So you need to transcribe them. And then the analysis start. And for most people, this is boring, but this is actually where for qualitative researchers me as I'm a changed person. I like that too, because you start to go, so you start to read through the interviews and you start to look for clues of what people say and what it might mean. Now as we need statistics, there are several philosophies you can follow. The different philosophies make a big difference. The same as in qualitative research, but that on the side.

Karen Litzy:                   19:21                So you go through this series of interview questions and you keep narrowing those questions down until you reach a saturation point and then you can start the analysis. And so then my next question was what set of statistics do you use to analyze qualitative research? And this might be a stupid question.

Evert Verhagen:            19:44                No, no, no, no, no. We don't use statistics. And that's not a stupid question because, you know, there's very few ways in qualitative research and arguably the most simple way to go is this so-called thematic analysis. So you do your analysis and you start to find themes in the interviews by coding. So you have overarching themes and within these overarching themes, you find sub themes, and you just report those themes. And that is really interesting because, for instance, if you're looking for barriers towards implementation of an injury prevention measure, you can say, okay, these are named barriers and these barriers can be categorized as time as  disinterest or as non belief in the effectiveness. And then within those main categories you can have sub categories of where that comes from. That's I would say one of the simplest versions of how we can use qualitative research.

Evert Verhagen:            20:46                Or you can also make it more intricate. You can build models, you can validate models. And for each of those research questions you have, you require a little bit of a different approach thematic analysis is easy. You just sit down, you have just semi structured interview, you ask people, about opinion, about a certain topic, they give you an answer and then basically you say, okay, can you give me an example of that? Can you explain that a little bit further than what you already know, the topics you're interested in. So you want to talk about barriers or facilitators so you can focus on that. You can also go open minded where you say, okay, I just want to know how elite athletes perceive an injury. So you need a different kind of approach of first you need, you would like to make them feel comfortable that they can talk about it, that it's a safe environment.

Evert Verhagen:            21:42                You would like to ask them about their previous injuries. So you get a sense of which of those had a high impact. Then you can dive a little bit deeper into, so what did it mean for you? How did you feel, what were the consequences of it personally, how did you recover? Did it take longer or shorter than expected? So you kind of, you kind of follow a story and that story unfolds itself. And if you do it really open, then you can do one interview. It gives you a direction and your thoughts and based on that direction in your thoughts, you look for your next participant and you continue where you were with your previous and then a bigger story unfolds. And that takes a bit more time because you do it by interview. But it's a lot more deep and rich information. But it all starts with the research question I would say. And it's different types of research questions that we have in quantitative research. It's not to compare this to compare that, it's not how big is this problem, but it's really diving into beliefs. It's diving into opinion, diving into reasons. And that can be because of something you did, but that can also be to understand better what's going on in the minds of people.

Karen Litzy:                   23:17                As the interviewer within these studies, how do you control for that interviewers biases? So you know, the leading question. So let's say you're doing this long form where you interview someone, you get really in depth, they give you their answers, you go onto the next person. How do you not then guide that next person to kind of be like what the first person said and then the third person, like the first and second person. So how do you control for like leading as an interviewer you can lead the direction of that interview really in any way you want.

Evert Verhagen:            23:52                Exactly. But isn't that the same in quantitative research? The way you're framing the question, you can already guide people towards answering questions. A really good example I encountered like last year in a project where the premise was that, there was a funding scheme and the premise was that projects that were driven by questions from practice would have a preference. So they asked in a particular sport and a particular association, two older members. Do you think injury prevention is important? That was the first question in a survey. Of course, everybody says yes. Then the second question was if you think it is important, do you feel that an app on an iPhone would be helpful? Yes or no? Of course. Many people say yes. So their conclusion was okay, 80% wants injury prevention and 80% want that in an app on an iPhone.

Evert Verhagen:            24:51                So we should have a lot of money to develop such an app was well a disaster. Because they finally developed it and they kind of scoped already with the public what they had of an idea. Instead of really have something driven by the audience. And so I think by in that sense, it's not only applicable to qualitative research. Subjectivity maybe is because you as an interview, have an understanding most of the time on what the topic you're interested in. And that's why in qualitative research. You also see a little paragraph on reflection where the interviewer or the authors explain what their background is, where they come from. And of course it's really hard to take that out of the interviews. It's practice and it takes a lot of self control. You can tell you that and it's not always possible. So that's why you need to be frank upfront that you are a physical therapist and that you ask questions about physical therapy guidance or physical therapy conduct.

Evert Verhagen:            25:58                And of course you have an opinion about them. And also of course it is the connection between interview or an interviewee that is important. If you interview someone who thinks you are a prick, you will not get much, much out of it. But if you have a good connection with someone and you really are empathetic, then they will open up. But that requires experience I would say. We do have some tricks in the analysis to reduce that. Two main tricks that may be of interest to say is we call that triangulation where you're not only interview patients but you also interview other stakeholders on similar topics and tried to find connections and similarities between answers. Because if three people from different perspectives say the same thing, that must be something that really counts, right? So it's not one thing and it's not just one person interpreting. That's one. And the other one is you can do is multiple coders. So you have one interviewer and you need to code the interviews. But you can do that with two people separately. Much like we do with systematic reviews where you check for the quality of papers. We have two independent reviews and then we compare notes. We can do the same here too. So you take a bit of that subjectivity out and that preoccupation out.

Karen Litzy:                   27:21                Yeah. Great. Thank you for that. And now where do you see the future of qualitative research moving?

Evert Verhagen:            27:29                Hmm, that's an interesting one. For how a specific field I would say it as a lot of ground we have to cover. We're getting there. There's a lot of interest in it at the moment. There is more and more papers being published at the moment. One of the, not issues, but one of the fears I have is that most of these papers still get published in not the mainstream sports medicine literature that is being read by the clinicians even though the messages are supposed to be targeted to the clinicians or the therapists. So we need to find ways to grasp that clinical message in such a way that it doesn't become this lengthy qualitative research paper and it will become a succinct, easy to read paper with a clinical message though with a constructive, strong methodology. We've been battling with that for a couple of years now I would say. And, I just got the word this morning from one of our PhDs that she got a full qualitative study accepted in British journal of sports medicine. That's nice because that was a journal that said one and a half, two years ago. We're not interested in qualitative research. I think that whole movement is gaining ground and we're finding ways to communicate our messages that it really is helpful for clinicians and it's readable by those journals, which I think are a few big steps we have taken.

Karen Litzy:                   29:13                Yeah, I would say they're very huge steps because if the research is there but no one's reading it and no one's talking about it, where is it going? It doesn't make the research any less meaningful, but it doesn't make it applicable if no one's reading it cause no one can apply it to their populations.

Evert Verhagen:            29:33                Hmm. But you know, the true theory is it's still quite difficult because if you want to write a manuscript that has the full qualitative methods and traditional version of the outcomes, in my opinion and probably people will be mad when I say that, it's kind of dry to read. It's not really interesting to read. So if you juice that a little bit so it becomes interesting and more concise and easy to digest for the more clinical oriented reader you lose a lot of information that for qualitative reader is required to assess the validity and the reliability of what you did. So we're kind of in the middle. We need to have suppression of information in there, in such a paper for the knowing reader that we did right. But it also need to be dumbed down to such an extent that for the unknowing reader, it's understandable and they see the method and understand the clinical meaningfulness of the message. And that is still a bit finding the balance. And I think that is one of the main challenges to do.

Karen Litzy:                   30:51                I will say that as the clinician, I very much appreciate your trying to kind of find that sweet spot between the dryness of what may be some people would think qualitative research write up would be to this applicable like you said, more juiced up version that a clinician can take and digest very easily. I think there is a space for that for sure. And I look forward to I guess more progress on that end. So it sounds like you're getting there but that there is maybe more work to be done, but I am sure there's always more work to be done, but you know, I think if you can find a way to blend those and make it digestible and allow clinicians to take this information very readily to their patient populations, then in the end, like you said, you got into research to help people. Clinicians are there to help people. So in the end it's hopefully this blending of research and clinical care that's there for one reason and to benefit the person in front of us.

Evert Verhagen:            32:14                I believe so, yeah. I believe we can achieve that. I don't think we are there yet still finding a direction. But in all honesty, if you look at most journals 10, 15 years ago, even quantitative research, it was sort of dry, straightforward academic language as well. And we have made big grounds there and I think we can draw on those experiences and that expertise that has been created there. And our field of sports medicine has been in the forefront, I would say. There are some journals who really, really do that really well. And it has helped us to get this topic on the attention. One other sign that is gaining the attention I feel it deserves is for the last two additions we tried to get it on the program of the IOC prevention conference and this year for the first time we got a dedicated symposium on qualitative research in sports injury prevention on the program. So that already shows that in the wealth of proposals they can choose from ours stood out and the topic is found interesting at such a platform. So it's now up for us to grab this opportunity and make it count.

Karen Litzy:                   33:41                Yes, it's up to you to deliver on in that focus symposium. And just so people listening we will have a link to this, but that's the IOC, the International Olympic Committees Injury Prevention Conference, which is march of 2020 in Monaco. I don't have the exact dates, but I know it's march. I think it's like the 14th and around there. Maybe. I'm not a hundred percent sure. I think it's around there. But we'll have a link to it in the show notes at if people want to check that out as well. So now if you could leave the listeners with let's say a highlight of the talk or a highlight in your opinion of the importance of qualitative research, what would that be?

Evert Verhagen:            34:33                My highlight would be that qualitative research gives deeper understanding and deeper meaning to the quantitative evidence we have to use in daily practice.

Karen Litzy:                   34:47                Perfect. And one more question. I probably should have told you this ahead of time, but I forgot. So I'm going to surprise you with it, but it’s the question I ask everyone, and that is knowing where you are now in your life and in your career, what advice would you give to yourself, let's say straight out of your graduate program, let's do that. So maybe even before PhDs happened. So what advice would you give to yourself?

Evert Verhagen:            35:22                I would give the advice to just follow your heart and follow wherever your thoughts lead you, don't plan ahead.

Karen Litzy:                   35:36                That is great advice and so difficult to do. I'm a planner. That is so hard to do, but I agree it's great advice.

Evert Verhagen:            35:46                I plan next week but I don't plan two years ahead. So it hasn't disappointed me.

Karen Litzy:                   35:53                It's worked well. That's excellent. Well thank you so much for coming on. Where can people find you if they have extra questions?

Evert Verhagen:            36:05                I'm sure you will share my email address.

Karen Litzy:                   36:08                I can if you want, or social media.

Evert Verhagen:            36:15                Twitter account, just drop me a line there or private message.

Karen Litzy:                   36:19                Perfect.

Evert Verhagen:            36:20                I have a website we should probably post as well. And most of the work we do also in qualitative research will be posted there once it's published.

Karen Litzy:                   36:32                Perfect. Perfect. So we will have all of those links for all the listeners. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing all this great information with us. I really appreciate it. And everyone, thanks so much for tuning in. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.


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Aug 19, 2019

On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Brenda Walding on the show to discuss Whole-Hearted Living. Dr. Brenda Walding is a Women’s Holistic Wellness Expert & Coach, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and HeartMath certified coach. Brenda specializes in supporting women health/wellness professionals in overcoming burnout and health challenges in order to truly thrive and give their gifts to the world.

In this episode, we discuss:

-Brenda’s incredible story of illness and recovery

-The 9 Essentials to Whole-Hearted Healing

-The importance of the biopsychosocial model in healthcare

-And so much more!



Sick of Being Sick: The Woman's Holistic Guide to Conquering Chronic Illness

Brenda Walding Website and a Free Gift: Dr. Walding is offering a complimentary 45-minute consult for any woman dealing with burnout or health challenges that has a deep desire to THRIVE. Schedule your consult and see how she may be able to support you in creating a life you love.

Brenda Walding Instagram

Brenda Walding Facebook


Heart Math Website

Women in Physical Therapy Summit 2019

Outcomes Summit: use the discount code LITZY

For more information on Brenda:

Dr. Brenda Walding is a Women’s Holistic Wellness Expert & Coach, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and HeartMath certified coach. Brenda specializes in supporting women health/wellness professionals in overcoming burnout and health challenges in order to truly thrive and give their gifts to the world.

She currently resides outside of Austin, Texas on the beautiful Lake Travis with her husband and dog. Brenda loves spending time in nature, connecting with her family and friends, dancing, facilitating women's circles, and learning about holistic wellness.


Read the full transcript below:

Karen Litzy:                   00:01                Hey Brenda, welcome to the podcast. I'm happy to have you on.

Brenda Walding:           00:06                Oh, thank you so much for having me, Karen. I'm excited to be here today.

Karen Litzy:                   00:11                And like I said in the intro you are a recently published author of the book sick of being sick, the women's holistic guide to conquering chronic illness. So without giving away the entire book, can you give the listeners a little bit more about your background and your story of illness and where you are and how that led you to where you are today?

Brenda Walding:           00:36                Yeah, sure. I'd love to. You know, it's really, I'll give you do my best to give you the cliff notes. It's spans the time period of over a decade. So really I grew up seemingly really healthy and vibrant. I was a collegiate athlete. I played soccer at TCU in Fort Worth. And then I went on to physical therapy school to get my doctorate in physical therapy. And then after that moved to Austin, Texas with my now husband. And during that time we passed our licensure exam, got new jobs, moved to a new city, got engaged, got married, and then after this whirlwind of all these major life events, my health started to rapidly decline. And you know, I was in a busy physical therapy practice and seeing a lot of patients, and you know, all of a sudden I'm just getting weaker and more tired and getting sick more frequently.

Brenda Walding:           01:35                And then it got to where I could hardly even get up and down the stairs. I was experiencing chronic fatigue and experiencing, I broke out into these rashes that literally covered my entire body for two and a half years. No one could really figure out what was going on and I just kept getting more and more sick and I was seeing specialists all over trying to figure out what was wrong with me at this time I didn't really know much about natural health nutrition, holistic wellness. I was just kind of in the conventional medical model, taking the steroids and the pills and you know, my blood work had come back pretty normal, so they couldn't really figure out what was wrong. But literally I had oozy itchy rashes, like covering my entire body where I had to pack my body full of ice in the evening to fall asleep and eventually developed in a systemic infection that led me to going on disability from my job as a physical therapist.

Brenda Walding:           02:40                And granted, this is, you know, I am in my late twenties, not even 30 yet, so very young. And you know, I got to the point where I thought like doctors kept giving me antibiotics and they were worried that the infection would get into my bloodstream and I thought I was dying. I was really, really at that point of like, okay, I think this is it. And by the grace of God, I had, I took four rounds of antibiotics and a month and a half, kept being sectioned, kept coming back, had pus all in my mouth and throat, couldn't swallow, couldn't hardly eat. So this was a pretty intense experience. And I found this article I was looking, researching and found this article called natural solutions to drug resistant infections. And it caught my eye and I thought maybe I have a drug resistant infection. And it talked about wild Mediterranean, Oregano oil and how it was, you know, healing people with malaria and different, you know, chronic.

Brenda Walding:           03:45                Very, very severe illnesses. So I thought I would try it. It's like $20 and I know bought it online and in, within a few days the infection went away. And for the first time in years I got some relief from the pain and itching on my skin. And so that really was the portal to opening me up to natural healing. And I thought, what is it? What do I not know? What else do I not know, you know, about this? And so that really became this entry point into studying natural healing and nutrition. And I started seeing more alternative and holistic type practitioners. And that over time started to gradually heal. I started to get some answers. I was full of toxins. Had lots of infections and a poor ability to really clear toxins from my system. So I started to get more answers, started to change my diet, slow down my life a little bit, you know, as that type a over achieving, you know, hardcore athlete and academic.

Brenda Walding:           04:54                And I realized that also was part of the puzzle here ever learning to slow down and then, you know, so for eight years I really focused on healing my body. Like it was a full time job. I was able to go back to physical therapy after a while and start working again. But it really opened up my passion into natural healing and started a nutrition lifestyle company with my husband and helping people heal their bodies through nutrition and lifestyle changes. And you know, it was a slow and gradual process and I started, you know, getting better gradually and then almost to the point where I felt okay, I think I'm almost ready to, you know, start a family. I had a few lingering symptoms but I was like, you know, I'm doing pretty well. Got my strength back. This is eight years later. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Brenda Walding:           05:51                And so this was a few years ago. So this was like, what am I missing? What am I not getting? Cause I was really, you know, dialed in my diet lifestyle. I started meditating. I was really, you know, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on healers and treatments, natural remedies. You couldn't find somebody more committed to their healing. And it was like a full time job. And I wasn't really living, I was just trying to get better and feel better. And then the cancer diagnosis came and so I had to step back and go, what am I not getting? And I really, you know, I share this in my book. I had to step back and I was in, this is actually, I found the mass in my breasts right before this, we had planned this epic trip to Italy where we were going to start our family.

Brenda Walding:           06:50                So it was this tragic, you know, oh my gosh, you know, why is this happening to me? And then, yeah. And so, you know, in the middle of the night at 3:00 AM I'm, you know, tears coming down my face going like, God, what do you want me to do? Because I knew that conventional chemotherapy and radiation was not going to be my path. I just didn't know what I was going to do. And you know, I heard this, I call it the divine whisper that said, if you're going to survive, you're going to have to learn to listen to your heart. And I just felt this immediate peace. And then I started to kind of panic because I thought, I don't know how to do that. I really don't know how. I don't know, like maybe like so many of the listeners and people and my clients that I work with, we're really stuck in our heads so much of the time.

Brenda Walding:           07:42                And, you know, my immediate reaction to a challenge would be to research it, to try to figure it out, to strategize. And this was like, no, no, Brenda, it's time for you to really go within and listen and allow your heart to guide you. And, so I knew there was a level of emotional and spiritual, you know, healing too that needed to take place. And so I committed at that point to learn to listen to my heart. And over the next few years I had a pretty interesting and incredible journey through healing, holistically and wholeheartedly I should say from cancer. And it really became the catalyst for me to live in even more extraordinary life. Now I can say that I can access joy and just living a life of purpose and wholeheartedness that I'd never experienced before cancer. And so now that's really why I'm, you know, I kinda quit physical therapy and I'm focusing on helping women, especially women, wellness professionals, to truly heal and thrive so that they can give their gifts fully to the world. So that's kind of my story in a nutshell.

Karen Litzy:                   08:56                And are you now cancer free?

Brenda Walding:           09:01                Yes. So I'm doing great. And yeah I'm doing awesome. And that's really where my focus is now, is helping women to heal and thrive and connect more fully to their hearts.

Karen Litzy:                   09:15                And quick question on, you know, so you're diagnosed with cancer, you did not do traditional cancer treatments.

Brenda Walding:           09:24                I did sort of a mix. I didn't do traditional chemotherapy and radiation, but I did do surgery. So I went to a couple of different clinics in the United States that focus on holistic and alternative cancer treatments. And so I did. It was a pretty wild ride. So we spent our entire life savings and did this treatment but then I also had a mastectomy.

Karen Litzy:                   09:56                Okay. I guess sort of a combination. Yeah. Cause I just don't want to give the listeners the impression that you don't have to go through traditional medicine when you have a very serious diagnosis as cancer and that, you know, sometimes that is the route that one needs to take. And like you said, combining it with other holistic treatments I think is perfectly reasonable. But I don't want people to think that we're saying no shun traditional treatments.

Brenda Walding:           10:27                Exactly. And you know, for me, this is what I do. What I do know to be true is that, you know, a decision made out of fear is never the highest best choice. So when I work with women, where you're working with people on their healing journey is like learning how to really access the heart to be able to tune in to that guidance to make decisions. So yes, you get the tests and get the information from doctors and healers and then trust your own heart to lead and guide you down that path. And that might look like conventional therapy for some people and that might look like alternative therapy for others. And that might look like a combination. So it's really, you know, definitely not shunning conventional medicine. But I knew for me in my heart that in this particular moment, you know, chemotherapy and radiation wasn't going to be my choice, that I was going to do a combination. And it really does differ for each person. And that's the thing is, you know, oftentimes we get scared into, you know, doing things because someone else tells us that we have to do this and we have to do that. And you know, my recommendation is to take the information but also really listen within and let your heart guide your journey as well.

Karen Litzy:                   11:42                Right. Yeah. Yeah. And I think in combination with your physicians and other practitioners that you're working with as well.

Brenda Walding:           11:53                Yes. It's important to have an amazing support team.

Karen Litzy:                   11:54                Yeah, I just don't want people to think that we're saying, no, don't, don't listen to your doctors, because that would be really irresponsible. But yes, you have to, and it's like what we say within physical therapy as well as you as the practitioner and wanting to give the patient all the available information and guidance that you have and then along with the patient, you make those decisions on what is best. And I think that that is what every healthcare practitioner strives to do and strives to educate patients as best as they can. Give them the knowledge, give them the odds, give them pros and cons and then along with the patient and their support team and physicians and nurses and whoever else you have working with you kind of make that decision on what is best for you. And, those decisions aren't always easy.

Brenda Walding:           13:01                No. Yeah. And Yeah, work with people, you know, work with people on your support team that you feel good about. That you feel supports you fully and is in alignment with your values. You know, I definitely navigating this path, you know, I definitely had practitioners that, you know, were trying to force me into something or I just had a gut feeling that didn't feel good. And so to really follow that and find, you know, doctors that are really on board with you and are listening to what you desires are. Because they exist, they exist for sure.

Karen Litzy:                   13:31                Yes, of course. Of course. Okay. So you've obviously gone through a lot, over a full decade plus it sounds like, of your life. So let's talk about kind of what you're doing now and how you're helping other, like you said, mainly women kind of navigate through a healing process.

Brenda Walding:           14:00                Yeah. So like Karen mentioned earlier, that I felt really called to write a book. And so this book really is my love letter to all women and it's applicable to men as well. But you know, it's really all the information I wish I would have had 10 years ago to really truly to heal and to really thrive. Cause it's, I spent eight years really focusing on the physical aspect of healing. And I think that's where we're naturally inclined to as sort of these physical beings is that we're like, okay, nutrition, lifestyle, medication, you know, the various things, focusing on our physical body. But, what I've come to find out that, you know, really looking at ourself holistically, taking into account our mental and emotional and spiritual bodies, so to speak and healing on those levels are equally as important as the physical.

Brenda Walding:           15:00                And then this sort of heart centered approach of really learning to get out of the head and allowing the heart to lead. So that is where I call it, like this whole hearted healing or this whole hearted living approach. And so that's what I share in my book along with my story. And, I did research on, you know, what, who are these men and women that were not only healing from catastrophic illness but that were really thriving and using that illness as an opportunity to create an even more extraordinary life and what did they all have in common? And so that's really how I, you know, navigated my journey. And also, you know, taking that research into consideration really came up with these nine wholehearted healing essentials. And I share that in my book. And that's really sort of the framework I use when I work one on one coaching with women.

Brenda Walding:           15:55                And then I also do, you know, create a curated experiences, a women's circles and workshops and things to help women to have an experience of some of these things. So that's kind of what I'm up to now.

Karen Litzy:                                           And can you share with us what your wholehearted healing 9 essentials are?

Brenda Walding:                                   Yeah, I'd love to. So the first one is taking responsibility for your health and your life. And that really, it just, it kinda comes down to so many of us, we kind of rely on other people, maybe it's even relying on a doctor or relying on, you know, other people to tell us what to do or to have authority over our life and our health. And this really is just taking your life and your health in your own hands, stepping away from that victim mentality and really taking ownership of everything that's ever happened in your life and taking responsibility for you right now so that you can be in the driver's seat of your life and what happens moving forward.

Brenda Walding:           17:06                And so the number two is creating a vision. And this is really, I have a mentor that I said, it's better to be pulled by your vision than pushed by your problems. And so there's a lot of research that has come out in the realm of quantum physics and the power of imagination of using our mind and elevated emotional states to actually change to affect us on the level of our DNA. And so I really got fascinated with the work of, you know, like Dr Joe Dispenza and Greg Braden, and really tapping and honing in the power of imagination and vision when it comes to healing. So that is something I really work with, with people to do is like what is it that we want to create and when we tune into that and imagine and tap into that elevated emotional state, that really helps to begin to pull that event towards us, whether that's healing or creating more of what we want in our life.

Brenda Walding:           18:12                And number three is thoughts and beliefs. So just learning to manage our mind and harness the power of our thinking mind to create healing and really looking at beliefs because our beliefs are our underlying beliefs can be something that is really in alignment with our vision and what we want to create. Or it can be subtly sabotaging if we don't really believe we're worthy of healing or we have beliefs that are contrary to what it is that we really want. So that's a piece I think often a lot of people overlook. And number three is feel your feelings. And so that is sort of tapping into that emotional part of healing, which I feel like there's a lot of energy that we deplete in waste because we are dealing with a low to moderate level of anxiety and stress a lot of the times.

Brenda Walding:           19:12                And that has a really huge impact on our physiology. So there's that whole element, it can dive into that more. But that's number four. Number five is nutrition. So really looking at what we're putting into our bodies, the quality of food, but not just what we eat, but how well we're able to digest and absorb and assimilate that food. Number six is live to thrive. And so in this essential, I really dive into lifestyle factors. So this is where exercise and movement and connecting with nature and getting sunshine and play and you know, these different how we go about living our life on a day to day. And then the next one is connection and relationships. So really looking at the quality of our relationships and, you know, found that in our relationships.

Brenda Walding:           20:17                That's where a lot of people can experience a lot of emotional drain. And we know that how our emotional state, you know, negative quote unquote depleting emotions affect our physiology. So really looking at the quality of our relationships and this piece around authentic connection. And I love this topic because this was actually a huge blind spot for me in my own life, is really learning what true connection really was, which is, you know, the ability to be, this sense of being, feeling connected energetically and being able to be seen, heard and valued and deriving strength and sustenance from the relationship. And, you know, there's so much research on the impact of chronic loneliness, you know, we're so disconnected. We're connected very much with technology, but there's so much loneliness. I think it was one study was talking about how chronic loneliness is equivalent to smoking, like several cigarettes a day.

Brenda Walding:           21:25                And the impact that has over time on our body of not being connected with one another in a deep and meaningful way. So that is a really incredible piece to look at. And then we have self love and self care, so love yourself and that really can encompass a lot of different things and can be an even bigger conversation. But really I found underneath it all is really healing and thriving is about all about truly falling in love with who you are and loving your life. And how does one do that? And then finally trust and surrender. So I found that, you know, of all the people that I researched, they all spoke about elements of really having this higher power that they were trusting, trusting, you know, source God, trusting within themselves, you know, and surrendering the outcome really learning to trust and as a power bigger and greater than them to guide them on their path. And so that is the last one is learning to trust and surrender.

Karen Litzy:                   22:36                I mean, that's a lot.

Brenda Walding:           22:38                Yeah!

Karen Litzy:                   22:40                That's a lot. But if you think about it and break those down, that's as human beings kind of what we need. So it seems like, oh my gosh, this is so daunting. This is so much work. This is going to be work. But if you take each one individually and break them down, I mean, it's pretty simple. It's what we all need to be happy and healthy and live our lives. So I get it. I'm on board.

Brenda Walding:           23:04                Yeah, exactly. And you know, like I said, they intention really was to create this holistic healing living roadmap. So it's like these are, I wanted to like, I've got this, all of this information downloaded and experienced in my life over the decade and I got the little bits of information here. Oh, you need to learn about nutrition. Oh, okay, great. I will focus on that for many years. Oh, okay. I need to understand how my emotions impact my health. Okay. You know? And so I got these little, these, this information and different from different books or different teachers. Then I realized like, oh, really, it's really about it. All of these things. And they're all important to really living your best and most full life. And it takes all of those things to some capacity to really, really live and thrive. And it doesn't, you know, like you said, you know, you don't dive in and try to do them all at once, right, yeah, you focus on one thing and you began to implement that.

Brenda Walding:           24:08                And that's why coaching is really amazing. It's like I had so many coaches and mentors and teachers that helped me begin to integrate all of these pieces. And so it's helpful too. Yes, my book is a good resource, but it's also helpful to have, you know, someone that can see your blind spots and can see, oh, hey, you know, let's dive into, you know, there's this emotional piece that you have held on to all these emotions from the past and that's taking up a lot of energy and negatively affecting your body. But I didn't really see that. And so let's work through that together. So there's a lot of things that can be helped when you have someone to help you move through some of these things together.

Karen Litzy:                   24:52                Sure. And how has your training as a physical therapist, how does that play into the role that you're doing now with coaching? Because I know there are a lot of physical therapists who might be looking for nonclinical roles or nontraditional roles. So how has your training helped prepare you for what you're doing now?

Brenda Walding:           25:09                How has my physical therapy training help me in what I’m doing now? Well, I think, well, and you know, I actually had the really beautiful experience recently of going back and doing some physical therapy part time. And so I've been able to kind of go from both directions. See the difference, how my training up until this point with all of this work has made me and even different, physical therapists how I interact. So from that perspective, I can, and I think there's a lot of value for physical therapists and any healers or practitioners to interact and address the patient or the client from this holistic perspective. Knowing that coming in this person with chronic pain or this, you know, ailment has, there's many pieces. Generally speaking, generally speaking, especially if it's a chronic issue and that it's more than just the physical aspect, oftentimes that there's an emotional piece and that there is a mental piece perhaps. And so being able to relate to that person in their wholeness can help me be a better overall practitioner to be able to offer some insights or how to relate to that person and help them, you know, experience a greater outcome.

Karen Litzy:                   26:37                Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it's that shift from a strictly biomedical to a biopsychosocial framework of treatment, which we talk about all the time on this podcast. I'm sure people are sick and tired of me saying it, but that is the way things should be in healthcare. So I will keep saying it many, many times. Now before we finish up, is there anything that maybe we didn't touch on that you're like, oh wait, I really want the listeners to know that.

Brenda Walding:           27:10                I think really a piece that I think is really helpful, especially for practitioners and you know, I don't know much if we'll have time to go into this, but this, I am a heart math certified coach and really we look a lot about energy management. And so we waste a lot of energy in the domain of emotions and repetitive negative and repetitive thoughts. And that affects our physical abilities and our physiology. And so really learning to manage our energy. And we do that through being able to get into a coherent state. So getting our heart, mind and emotion and energetic alignment through slowing down the breath and experiencing elevated emotional states like love and gratitude and can actually get the heart into a smooth coherent rhythm, which impacts the way that the rest of the body feels and how it can heal. And so I think if we learn some techniques, as practitioners to help manage energy we can improve outcomes for our patients and our clients. So this is sort of that combining of going beyond the physical and that heart math has some really incredible tools so that you can check them out I think it's a really great tool for a lot of practitioners. I just wanted to throw that out. Yeah. So I think that, yeah, that's helped me a lot in my own coaching on and with physical therapy.

Karen Litzy:                   28:48                Great. And we'll have all of that info at the show notes over at So if people want to learn more about they can just go click on it and you're there. So thank you for sharing that. And now the one question I ask everyone is, knowing where you are now in your life and in your career, what advice would you give to yourself as a new Grad right out of PT school?

Brenda Walding:           29:16                Right out of PT School? So I would definitely, I wish I would know now is really learning how to listen and lead from my heart. I feel like I got myself into a position where I was burned out running ragged, just trying to do the best I can as a new Grad. And I've missed a lot of the cues, you know, internally of Hey, slow down. These other aspects of your life are important to you. And you know, I think that was really the catalyst for me to start to get burnt out and sick. And so really to slow down and really listen to my heart is what I would tell myself.

Karen Litzy:                   29:42                Great Advice. And burnout is real. This year at the women in PT Summit in Portland, we have a whole panel on burnout. I'm really looking forward to listening to, cause I am not part of this panel. I'm not part of the creation of it. It was sort of pitched to us and I'm really excited to hear what the women on that panel have to say. Cause it's a thing and I think it's happening more and more with the newer grads because they're trying to work more and more. They've got student debt out the yes. What? Um, so I feel like it's a real thing, you know, and like you said, just to take a moment to slow down and focus on other parts of your life is, is something that that can help. So thank you for that. And now where can people find you if they have questions? Where can they get your book?

Brenda Walding:           30:49                Yes. So you can find me. I'm in the process of creating, readjusting my website. So right now you can really connect with me by emailing me at And then I'd also love if any of this resonated with you, if you're a woman that is dealing with burnout, exhaust exhaustion. I love working with wellness professionals. If you're interested in some of these heart math tools that I use, I'd love to hop on the phone and I'm happy to offer your listeners a complimentary 45 minute consult.

Karen Litzy:                   31:32                Oh, that's awesome.

Brenda Walding:           31:34                Yeah. So if you'd like to take advantage of that and you can go to and that is my calendar link. And so you would just set up a time to chat with me. Okay. And I love hearing your stories and hearing where you're at and what you need most support with. So happy to do that. And then my book is coming out in hard copy at the end of this year, but you can find it on Amazon.

Karen Litzy:                   32:02                Perfect. And you'll give me all the links. I'll put all the links up on the podcast website under this episode so that way people can get to you, they can chat with you. And thank you so much for offering a session for everyone. That's so nice.

Brenda Walding:           32:21                Yes. Awesome. I look forward to connecting with some of you.

Karen Litzy:                   32:24                Great. And, again, Brenda, thank you for coming on and sharing your really incredible story. And we are all very happy that you are today healthy and happy and moving forward. So thank you so much.

Brenda Walding:           32:39                Oh, thank you, Karen. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being here, so thank you for the opportunity.

Karen Litzy:                   32:44                And everyone, thank you so much for listening. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.


Thanks for listening and subscribing to the podcast! Make sure to connect with me on twitter, instagram  and facebook to stay updated on all of the latest!  Show your support for the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes!

Aug 12, 2019


LIVE from the NEXT Conference in Chicago, Jenna Kantor guests hosts and interviews the teams from the Oxford Debate which covered the question: Is Social Media Hazardous? The Pro team consisted of Karen Litzy, Jimmy McKay and Jarod Hall. The con team consisted of Ben Fung, Jodi Pfeiffer and Rich Severin.

In this episode, we discuss:

-How each of the debaters prepared and crafted their arguments

-Bias and how to research a question openly

-The importance of respectful debate on controversial subjects

-And so much more!



Jimmy McKay Twitter

Rich Severin Twitter

Ben Fung Twitter

Jarod Hall Twitter

Karen Litzy Twitter

Outcomes Summit: Use the discount code LITZY


For more information on Jimmy:

Dr. Jimmy McKay, PT, DPT is the Director of Communications for Fox Rehabilitation and the host of five podcasts in the category of Science & Medicine. (PT Pintcast, NPTE Studycast, FOXcast PT, FOXcast OT & FOXcast SLP.)

He got his degree in Physical Therapy from the Marymount University DPT program and a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University. He was the Program Director & Afternoon Drive host on the 50,000 watt Rock Radio Station, 97.9X (WBSX-FM).

He has presented at State and National Conferences. Hosted the Foundation for Physical Therapy research fundraising gala from 2017-2019 and was the captain of the victorious team in the Oxford Debate at the 2019 NEXT Conference.

Favorite beer: Flying Dog – Raging Bitch


For more information on Rich:

Dr. Rich Severin, PT, DPT is a physical therapist and ABPTS certified cardiovascular and pulmonary specialist. He completed his cardiopulmonary residency at the William S Middleton VA Medical Center/University of Wisconsin-Madison which he then followed up with an orthopedic residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Currently he is working on a PhD in Rehab Science at UIC with a focus in cardiovascular physiology. In addition to research, teaching and clinical practice regarding patients with cardiopulmonary diseases, Dr. Severin has a strong interest in developing clinical practice tools for risk assessments for physical therapists in a variety of practice settings. He is an active member within the APTA and serves on the social media committee and Heart Failure Clinical Practice guideline development team for the cardiopulmonary section.


For more information on Karen:

Dr. Karen Litzy, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist, speaker, owner of Karen Litzy Physical Therapy, host of the podcast Healthy Wealthy & Smart and creator of the Women in Physical Therapy Summit.

Through her work as a physical therapist she has helped thousands of people overcome painful conditions, recover from surgery and return to their lives with family and friends.

She has been a featured speaker at national and international events including the International Olympic Committee Injury Prevention Conference in Monaco, the Sri Lanka Sports and Exercise Medicine Conference, and various American Physical Therapy Association conferences.


For more information on Jodie:

 Jodi Pfeiffer, PTA, practices in Alaska, where she also serves on the Alaska Chapter Board of Directors.


For more information on Jarod:

Jarod Hall, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS is a physical therapist in Fort Worth, TX. His clinical focus is orthopedics with an emphasis on therapeutic neuroscience education and purposeful implementation of foundational principles of progressive exercise in the management of both chronic pain and athletic injuries.


For more information on Ben:

Dr. Ben Fung , PT, DPT, MBA is a Physical Therapist turned Digital Media Producer & Keynote Speaker. While his professional focus is in marketing, branding, and strategic change, his passion is in mentoring & inspiring success through a mindset of growth & connectivity for the millennial age.


For more information on Jenna:

Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas ( until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website:


Read the full transcript below:

Jenna Kantor:                00:00                Hello, this is Jenna Kantor with Healthy, Wealthy and Smart. Super excited to be talking here because I am at the NEXT Conference in 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. And there was an awesome debate an Oxford debate and I'm with almost all the team members. So that being said, I want to just interview you guys on your process, especially because everyone here is either extremely present on social media or uses social media. So it's funny that we had these two opposing teams really fighting different arguments here where everyone pretty much is on the same page that we all use social media. It's great for business. There's no denying. So as I ask my questions, would you guys say your name because people aren't going to necessarily, well maybe for some recognize your voice and also say what team you were on, whether it was team hazardous, which was correct me, Jimmy, which was the pro argument. The pro argument was saying that social media is hazardous and then the Con team was team Blues Brothers, which I've learned from Ben Fung it would have been the star wars theme except it had already been used in the past and they needed to be original. So that being said, I want to start off with #teamhazardous. What was your individual processes with finding your arguments since each of you are very present on social media?

Jimmy McKay:               01:39                Jimmy McKay team #hazardous. I think first of all, this was a very difficult argument for our opponents because, well, first of all, we didn't get to pick which sides. A lot of people think that we've vied for the sides. We were literally just asked if we wanted to do the Oxford debate and then been given a side and given a team. So I want to make that very clear. I think they did a great job. I was keeping track of all the points that I would've hit if I were on that side, I thought that was the uphill battle. Because people, when they found out we were pro social media it was like, oh, you don't like social media. But if you read the prompts for a debate very closely, it's like, is it hazardous?

Jimmy McKay:               02:18                Not is it good or bad? Right? So we agreed like all the things that the con side said, we agree with it's fantastic. It should be utilized. But just like PT why do we take the NPTE for example? Because if improperly used physical therapy could be hazardous. So that's why we take a test that makes sure that we're a safe practitioner of physical therapy. So, my thought process was I went on social media and wanted to grab all the kits, right? Like emojis and gifs and videos and Beyonce doing dances because that's what people resonate with. But then focus on the things where I think it falls short. Everything falls short, right? There's no Shangri-la and social media is no different. So just focus on the issues that stood out, right.

Jimmy McKay:               03:01                So all I had to do is can I just ask, what do you love about social media? Like what irks you, you know, what are things that you wish were better? And as you heard from tonight, I think in past Oxford debates, sometimes it was hard to get four or five speakers to ask questions. And I think they had to cut them off because everybody, it resonates with everybody and it's super personal, right? I mean, what was the stat? How many people, I mean minutes that people spend a day, 140, 116 minutes a day

Jimmy McKay:               03:29                It's probably hard, so it's super personal for people but I think again, the argument from the other side was just is really hard. I mean, I think you guys were put in a corner. But here's the funny part. Like you defended it, I think you defended that corner pretty well. So that was my process.

Karen Litzy:                   03:50                Hi, Karen. Let's see, #teamhazardous and yes, this is also my podcast, so that's, yeah.

Karen Litzy:                   04:00                So my process was pretty easy because I had just spoken about social media and informatics at WCPT in Geneva. So I was able to use a lot of that research and a lot of that information to inform this debate. And what I wanted to stick to was, I wanted to stick to the idea of fake news, the idea of misinformation versus disinformtion because there are different and how each one of those are hazardous. And then the other point I made was that it's not individual people, it's not individual groups, it's not even an individual platform. But if put all together, all of the platforms add in misinformation and disinformation, add in people who don't know the difference between something that's factual and not. So if you put it all together, then that's pretty hazardous. But the parts in and of itself maybe aren't. And then lastly that social media is a tool we need to really learn how to use it as a profession because it's not going anywhere as the team concept. It's not going anywhere. So the best way that we can reach the people we need to reach is by using it properly and by making sure that we use it with integrity and honesty and good faith.

Jodi Pfeiffer:                 05:22                Hi, I'm Jodie Pfeiffer. I was for the con team blues brothers. I got to be the lead off person as well. So I really just kind of wanted to set the tone. It was a hard argument. Everybody uses it. I would like to think most people try and use it well we know this isn't always the case and it is a really useful tool for our association and for our profession. But there are times when it is not, we were trying to just, I was trying to set the stage for my other team members to give them things to work off of, give everybody a little introduction of the direction we were going. And I also tried to play off of our opponents a little bit as well because you know, really their argument that they made so well kind of proved both sides, how good it is and the hazards. So yeah, that was the direction that I went.

Jarod Hall:                    06:20                This is Jarod Hall. I was on the pro team #teamhazardous and I remember when I was asked to be on the Oxford debate panel, the same day I was scrolling through social media of course, and I saw Rich Severin on Facebook saying, Hey, look, I was selected to be for the Oxford debate. And I thought, man, he's super well-spoken. This dude knows his stuff. He's going to come in strong. And then like I checked my email an hour or two later and I had been asked as well and I was pretty floored. I didn't know what to say. And they're like, do you want to do this Oxford debate and what side do you want to be on? And of course I said, I'm super active on social media. It's been helpful for me to find mentors and it's really positively influenced my career. I want to be on the side that's pro social media. And they said, cool, you're on the opposite side.

Jarod Hall:                    07:21                And I thought to myself, oh, ouch. Okay, I need to look at this subjectively. You know, I need to, I need to step back away from the situation and look at ways that either I myself have been hazardous on social media or things that I've seen that were hard for me to deal with on social media. And, when Karen and Jimmy and I were strategizing, you know we kinda came up with a couple of different points. We wanted to 8 mile, you guys, we wanted to 8 mile the other team and kind of take the bullets out of your gun. We wanted to address the points that we knew you would address. And Karen did a really awesome job of that because we knew you guys were gonna come with such a strong argument and so much fire that we had to play a little bit of defense on the offense.

Jarod Hall:                    08:07                And Karen got everybody hyped up and then our strategy was maybe, go the opposite way in the middle with me and maybe bring a little bit of the emotional component the other side of emotions and have people reflect on what does it feel like to feel not good enough? What does it feel like to see everybody else's highlight reel on social media when in reality, you're doing the day in the day out, the hard grudge, the hard trudge, you're putting in so much hard work and all you see is everybody's positive stuff around you. And it can, it can be a really defeating feeling sometimes. So we wanted to emphasize, you know, a lot of the articles that have been coming out across the profession about burnout and how that could potentially be hazardous. And you know, obviously we're all in favor of the appropriate usage of social media and when done the right way.

Jarod Hall:                    08:55                But to take the pro side of this argument, we had to reflect on how could this really actually pose a hazard to us both personally and professionally. And, you know, I think that that's one of the things that directed our approach. And it was a hard thing to do to take the opposite side of, you know, how I position myself. But, all of my own errors on social media were really good talking points and learning points to drive home the discussion. And, you know, we just knew that the other team was going to have such a strong argument. We knew that it's really hard to ignore the fact that social media has connected us. It has allowed me to meet everybody sitting at the table with. It's allowed me to have learning opportunities and mentorship and it's allowed me to have business opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise. So we knew that the argument was just, it was going to be tough to beat. And, you know, I think that the crowd just resonated with everything that was said from both teams. And at the end of the day we were able to shed light from both sides on a really difficult topic and have people, you know, reflect on it and really have some critical thought.

Ben Fung:                     10:10                Ben Fung here. I was a part of the con team. So that was so difficult. Pro Con. So I mean like it was interesting. I had a very similar experience when they asked me to be on the Oxford Debate. They're like, hey, you know, we'd like you to captain the team. I was like, okay, great. What am I debating? Or like, then when they would actually did tell me, they're like, oh, it's about social media. I was like, okay, yes, I'll do it. And then they're like, okay, you're on the con team. And so immediately I thought like, Oh, I have your job. Like I have the team, you know, #Hazardteam, I needed to somehow slam on what much of my success had been attributed to, you know, and I was like, okay, that'll be a tough job.

Ben Fung:                     11:01                Right. And then what's interesting is that, you know, then they sent me the prompt and I was like, oh no, no, no, I'm against the against statement. So I'm pro social media and, you know, then the other side I can promote this. And it was actually only in retrospect that I was like, oh, it can be an uphill battle. But then I decided just personally not to think about it from that perspective, from my, you know, debating approach cause we're trying to present, you know, we're trying to present a point, more importantly, just engage the audience, you know, because, the Oxford Debate in the past, for the most part it's been really positive and entertaining. But then in some past years have gotten a little too intense I think for the audience and some afterthoughts.

Ben Fung:                     11:40                So I just wanted to make sure that the thumping in the background stops, but also that you know, people were engaged, entertained, you know, that generally said some critical thought. You know, like those might've come into this being maybe a con member goes over to pro and vice versa. But really, you know, it was just really, really fun. You know, as people, I was like, you know, I know all these folks, it's going to be so much fun. And you know, if we can bring even like an ounce of the kind of energy that I know we all have and put it together, that stage is just going to be vibrant. So, you know, from what I can tell, that's what happened. And, you know, I'm very pleased regardless of who won, but congrats you guys though. You guys did a great job.

Rich Severin:                 12:32                And this is Rich Severin, was on the con team, which is again this incredibly difficult to kind of, yeah, team blues brothers. That's a better way to go about it. Everyone's said it, you know, this was, it's a difficult topic. You know, I asked like, who were, you know, were on the other teams, you know, realizing that, you know, we're going against some of the people who have, you know, some of the largest profiles in PT, social media and Karen and Jimmy and like, they have a really tough task here. I'm interested to see how they're going to go about this. Cause it's like, I even, I was like, man, I'm kind of glad I met on that side, but I don't know if I could somehow think of a tweet quoting me and like saying, ‘PTs social media is hazardous’ or whatever.

Rich Severin:                 13:12                But anyway, realistically the Oxford debate, you know, it's to present a topic that's challenging, that's facing the profession and dissected and debated. And that's kind of the beauty in having fun. And I think everyone there had fun. I had a lot of fun. And it was just, it was just good. And I think, you know, the pro team, or #hazardousteam, you know, they did a really good job. It's not an easy topic to debate because again, social media is kind of a tool in a lot of the problems are kind of the human nature in a certain stance on a platform. But, you know, addressing the issues of burnout, addressing the issues that people wasting time, fake news, misinformation, you know, those were our, you know, those were all good things, but you kind of brought to light throughout that debate.

Rich Severin:                 14:04                And I think our group, you know, came across with obviously with a good argument, but, you know, Karen came on the short and a little bit today. But, you know, it was a great spirit's good spirited debate. It's a lot of fun. It's a great time and having these conversations about tough issues, having to kind of take some time for introspection and looking through things was enjoyable. And enjoying hearing other people kind of, you know, doing the same. You guys definitely did like, I think put a lot of time into researching and discussing topics cause it's a serious issue, you know, our younger populations growing up using social media in middle school, you know, and it will, you know, the topic I thought you guys would get into was like the bullying and esteem issues that are happening and the mental health issues, anxiety, depression, it's linked to social media, you know, and whether or not that's the cause or it's a vehicle for that outcome.

Rich Severin:                 15:03                So like, you know, I do agree with the safe  #safesocial, right. Like you know, and it kind of led to like kind of on our side too. It’s a tool and how you use it, it's kind of really an issue and I think you guys brought a really, really good light to that issue. So yeah, I was like, it's a great spirited debate and the crowd had fun. I mean dressing up as the blues brothers in Chicago, right? I mean, so, so much fun.

Jenna Kantor:                15:28                Thank you so much. Now, I just want to leave it. Not Everybody needs to answer this, but I would like if anybody would like to do a little last words in regards to this debate, whether it be some sort of wisdom on doing an Oxford debate in general or pretty much what rich started to do on when he was just last talking in regards to social media being hazardous or not so hazardous. Would anyone here like to add onto that as a little like last mic drop, which is your outlet.

Rich Severin:                 15:54                I think we've hashed out the debate on both sides pretty well. Which I think, again, it's the spirit of the debate is they present both sides. And that's kind of where I'm getting yeah. Is that we need to have more of these kind of conversations and discussions. And you know, to me it's almost kind of a shame that this is the only really time in our profession. Like, you know, at a high level where we have these discussions where both sides do their due diligence and say, like, legitimately argue, like, you know, and like arguing is not a bad thing. Right? Debate is not a bad thing if it's done well done amongst colleagues and friends and with mutual respect and we need to have more of that.

Rich Severin:                 16:39                Social media is not necessarily a bad thing, but arguments necessarily a bad thing, but it's how you go about doing it. So, you know, I would encourage the profession to have more of these outside of just the Oxford debates. Well, when it was the women's health section, they did one on dry needling a couple of years ago and that was awesome. And I'd really encourage and support that again, you know, so that's my little, I don't know if it's a mic drop or not, but we need to debate more and do it well.

Karen Litzy:                   17:29                Rich, I totally agree with that. And this is the thing, we were able to do that because we were in front of each other and we knew that there is no malicious intent behind it. We can hear each other. We know that we're smiling at each other, we're clapping for each other and we're kind of building each other up. And I think that's where when you have debates on social media, as Jarod attests to and Rich, sometimes those spiral into something that's really not great. And so I think to have these kinds of discussions in person with our colleagues and it's good modeling for the next generation. And it just, I think, you know, social media has a lot of great upside to it. There's no question, but there is nothing that beats in person interactions.

Karen Litzy:                   18:20                And I think that that's what we need more of and I do see that pendulum shifting and you do see more in-person things happening now. But I agree. I also thought it was like a lot of fun and I was really, really nervous to do it and super scared to get up on stage and do all of this. But then once it started, it was a lot of fun.

Jenna Kantor:                                        Thank you so much you guys for taking this time, especially after, literally right after the debate. It is an absolute pleasure to have each of you on here.


Thanks for listening and subscribing to the podcast! Make sure to connect with me on twitter, instagram  and facebook to stay updated on all of the latest!  Show your support for the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes!

Aug 5, 2019

On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Andrew Tarvin on the show to discuss humor in the workplace.  Andrew Tarvin is the world's first humor engineer, teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. Combining his background as a project manager at Procter & Gamble with his experience as a stand-up comedian, he reverse-engineers the skill of humor in a way that is practical, actionable, and gets results in the workplace.

In this episode, we discuss:

-How to construct humor and learn the skill of humor

-The benefits of humor for the individual and the organization

-Types of humor that are appropriate for the workplace

-The importance of the “Yes, and” mindset

-And so much more!



Andrew Tarvin Website

Andrew Tarvin Twitter

Andrew Tarvin Facebook

Andrew Tarvin LinkedIn

The Skill of Humor TedX Video

Humor That Works Website


For more information on Andrew:

Andrew Tarvin is the world's first humor engineer, teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. Combining his background as a project manager at Procter & Gamble with his experience as a stand-up comedian, he reverse-engineers the skill of humor in a way that is practical, actionable, and gets results in the workplace. Through his company, Humor That Works, Drew has worked with more than 35,000 people at over 250 organizations, including Microsoft, the FBI, and the International Association of Canine Professionals. He is a bestselling author; has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fast Company; and his TEDx talk has been viewed more than four million times. He loves the color orange, is obsessed with chocolate, and can solve a Rubiks Cube (but it takes like 7 minutes).

For more information, please visit, and connect with Drew (@drewtarvin) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube & LinkedIn.

Humor That Works is available on Amazon and wherever fine (and funny) books are sold.


Read the full transcript below:

Karen Litzy:                   00:01                Hi Andrew, welcome to the podcast. I am happy to have you on. And now today we're going to be talking about humor and why humor is important in the workplace and in life. So the first question I have is you say humor is a skill, so how is it a skill and can that really be learned by anyone?

Andrew Tarvin:             00:28                I think a lot of people have this question or this belief, like, you know, humor is just an innate ability, right? You're either funny or you're not. I will say that I've done over a thousand shows as a standup comedian and spoken word artist, storyteller, et cetera. I have spoken or performed in all 50 states and 25 countries and on one planet. This one. But when I went to my high school reunion and people found out that I did comedy, they're like, but you're not funny. And that's because, you know, growing up I was never the life of the party or the class clown. My senior year. I was voted teacher's pet. So much more of an academic, much more quiet. You know, I'm a very much an introvert. And then I started doing Improv and standup in college and admittedly was terrible when I first started out.

Andrew Tarvin:             01:22                Like we often are in a new skill that we try, but with practice and repetition I got better. And so I realized that, you know, really there there's an art and science to humor. And so what we do with our organization, with humor that works is we teach people the science. So we teach things like comedic structure, things like a comic triple things like timing and understanding how to like position things in different, you know, strategies that humorous use between say association or incongruity or a story, et cetera. All of this kind of science stuff that's easy to, you know, this conceptually you can learn and then there's an art, there is an art piece to it, right? There is, you know, some of that comes from your own perspective, the thing that you like and that you improve with practice and repetition. And so what we say is, you know, with the skill of humor, we can help to teach anyone to be funnier not necessarily, you know, across the board. Funny. It's not like, you know, you can magically teach someone to be so funny, they're going to magically have a Netflix comedy special, but you can learn certain things that are gonna take whatever your base level, you know, ability to use humor is now and take it up to the next level.

Karen Litzy:                   02:30                Okay. So let's break this down a little bit because I know the listeners love to get these little nuggets of knowledge that we can start applying today in our life and in our workplace. So you said that with your company that you can teach people what is comic structure and timing. So can you first tell me, cause I don't even know the answer to this question, but what is comic structure?

Andrew Tarvin:             02:55                Yeah. So there's certain things that, you know, there's certain ways that you can structure a sentence or a joke that make it more effective. So, one of the big things is, is learning to put the funny part of the punch line of something at the end. So a great example of this is, I think it's a George Burns quote that says, ‘happiness is having a caring, a close, tight knit family in another city’ right? Which I think is a pretty funny, you know, a humorous line. That line doesn't work if you say, ‘happiness is having a family in another sitting who is in another city who is carrying and close and tight knit, right? So you put the funny part, the unexpected, the surprise piece at the end, right? So that's just a simple structure thing. It's kind of the structure of set up and punchline another example of that is something called a comic triple.

Andrew Tarvin:             03:52                And so a comic triple is anytime when you have a list of three things, the third item is something unexpected. So, for example, when I give my, you know, when I'm talking about some of the clients that we've worked with, we'll say, you know, we've worked with organizations such as Microsoft. The FBI and the International Association of Canine Professionals. And so that last one is just something different, something unexpected where it's like, okay, Microsoft, okay. Corporate FBI, all that's kind of interesting. They seem serious. That's kind of cool. International Association of Canine Professionals. What does that mean? Right? So it, and again, we put that at the end. So simple things like structure or things that you know, kind of anyone can learn. And that's a starting point. The other thing that's kind of important to understand, maybe not necessarily specifically about comedic structure, but about the skill of humor, is that humor is more broad than comedy.

Andrew Tarvin:             04:46                So a lot of times when we think of humor, we do think of comedy. We think of funny, we think of laughter, we think of jokes. But humor is defined as a comic absurd or Incongruence, quality causing amusement. So it could be a joke or it could be just something a little bit silly or something a little bit different that you do that doesn't necessarily make someone laugh, but maybe it makes them smile. And that broader definition means that, you know, maybe you're not a great joke teller, but maybe you're good at telling stories or maybe you're not going to storytellings or jokes, but you're really good at drawing interesting visuals that will get people to pay attention. Right? So that's, that's part of what we mean by this skill.

Karen Litzy:                                           And what about timing? How do you teach timing?

Andrew Tarvin:             05:33                It can be a tough one to do, but that's, that's where the practice and repetition comes from because even as standup Comedians, like, you know, Seinfeld or, Ellen or that kind of thing, when they're doing new special, when they're going to new materials, they have to get it in front of people to see, okay, where do people actually laugh and how long of a pause should it have. Cause sometimes the difference between getting a big laugh and no laugh at all is how long you pause or how long you allow someone to get something. So, one example within timing is a lot of times when people are first starting out with humor, they'll say something that's actually pretty funny. And they'll leave a brief pause and then they'll start talking again right away. And this is something called stepping on your laughter is if someone starts to kind of laugh, but then you start talking again, people will stop laughing, they'll shut down the laughter response because they want to hear what you say next.

Andrew Tarvin:             06:25                And so sometimes one of the hardest parts is a brand new comedian to learn. And sometimes you have to be quiet a little bit longer because it takes the audience a second to actually get the joke to then process that it is a joke process that it is funny and then start to laugh. And that, you know, you need to be comfortable kind of in that short silence to allow them to then laugh and then also to not talk while they're laughing so that, they kind of finish that laughter out as opposed to stopping at short.

Karen Litzy:                   06:50                And I would imagine if you're up on stage and your, you know, telling the story or joke that time from the end of you finishing your sentence to a little, maybe pause to laughter building must feel like it's an hour.

Andrew Tarvin:             07:10                Yeah. It can feel like a really, really long time, especially as you've, if you do a certain joke over and over again or one that you know, that works because as you went, you think about it and like, oh, that's funny. I want to share that you've already thought about and processed why it's funny. And so you're like, oh, if they don't get it immediately, they must not think it's funny and it's they've never heard that construction of those ideas together before. So for example, I love puns and wordplay and I recently tweeted out, you know, that I'm a pale person. The only time I get Tan is when I do trigonometry.

Andrew Tarvin:             07:47                And that joke, particularly when said verbally is it's talking about get Tan. So Tan being short for Tangent. Exactly. So the only time I get there is, you know, it takes a while. It takes a moment for people to be like, wait, why is that funny? Is that a joke? That doesn't, you know, what is what is, you know, that has to do with trigonometry. Oh wait, 10 to there was like cos sign and tan like, yeah. So it takes time for that to happen and you have to get comfortable kind of in that silence. The other thing to, to recognize though is that that's true specifically of, kind of planned humor. Things like conversational humor. They don't necessarily, one you may not have, it might not be a preplan thing, but even conversational humor, something that can be learned and something that can be practiced through, you know, drawing on some principles from improvisation.

Karen Litzy:                   08:40                Right. So now I actually took a number of Improv classes to help me with the podcast to help me, like you said, just carry out a better conversation and to yes. And, and all of that. So can you a little bit about improvisation and how that can help with general conversations, especially let's say at work.

Andrew Tarvin:             09:05                Yeah. So, you kind of mentioned the fundamental mindset of improvisation. The key that really helps with a lot of that in that is the mentality of yes and, where yes. And is really about kind of taking whatever was offered and building off of it. And so that can be fantastic for conversations. In fact, if you're ever in a conversation and you don't know what to say next, you can just simply yes. And the last thing that was said, so like you can even take, you know, the stereotypical small talk example of, how, how about this weather, right? So I'm in New York. It's sunny, it's 85 degrees. Someone asked me, how about this weather, if I'm say at a networking event, right. Or say one-on-one with a client, how about this weather, I can be like, yes, it is, it's beautiful out. It's, it's sunny out now. You know, if you weren't at this meeting, if we weren't interacting right now, how would you be out enjoying, you know, 90 degree weather? Right. And then so that gives him a chance to be like, oh well, you know, I'd go swimming because it's hot out or I'd stay indoors because it's too hot. Or I'd go out on the bike, you know? And that turns a conversation that was about weather into something more interesting about like in getting to know that person in terms of things like their hobby.

Karen Litzy:                   10:16                That's great. I love that because that networking and going to those kinds of events is always so daunting. And especially as an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you kind of have to do those things.

Andrew Tarvin:             10:30                70% of jobs are found through networking and, and to your point, entrepreneurs, I'd say it's a way that a lot of people drum up business. And I learned that pretty early on as an introvert, you know, going to networking meetings, like you said, is daunting. It's a little bit awkward. And so for me, I developed a three step process for being able to network with people. And that yes, and piece is the third step is how you continue the conversation is just to continue to build off of what was said.

Karen Litzy:                                           Nice. What is step one?

Andrew Tarvin:                                     Step one is to ask interesting questions. And so, you know, if we think about Dale Carnegie and how to win friends and influence people, you know, great quintessential business book, he said that you will get, you'll make more friends and a month by getting people interested, by being interested in other people than you will in an entire year in trying to get people interested in you.

Andrew Tarvin:             11:24                And so what that translates into is basically getting other people to talk and then shutting up and then listening to them. And you know, if we go to a networking event and we have the same kind of boring questions, the same, you know, what do you do type questions and at least the same boring answers. And that's not distinguishable. That doesn't stand out to anyone. And so instead of you, if you ask more interesting questions, so simple questions, you know, what's the coolest thing that you've worked on in the last three months? That a lot of times people, you will end up answering the question of what do you do, right? They'll say, oh, when I was working at blank. But it gets him to think a little bit differently. It gives him a more interesting response and you can actually kind of connect a little bit closer.

Andrew Tarvin:             12:11                And that's an example of something that's a little bit in congruent. So maybe it's not laugh out loud funny, but it is something a little bit different that maybe gets people to smile a little bit more or at least thinking a little bit differently. So that's step one is to ask interesting questions. The second step is to tell a compelling stories. So when someone asks you a question, right? Sometimes we hear this advice of like, Oh, you've got to ask people questions. That's how you build rapport. But if all you ever do is ask them questions and never answer anything that they say, it starts to feel like a weird interrogation. Or like why is this person being so closed off? And so when someone asks you a question rather than just giving a yes or no answer, you can give a little bit of a story or a little bit of a background.

Andrew Tarvin:             12:54                So if they're asking, you know, why did you get into healthcare? Why did you get into physical therapy? Or why didn't, you know? Rather than just being like, oh, it was fun. Like, you know, oh, growing up I always felt like this, or I was an app. Like just giving that background allows people to connect with those ideas and maybe they don't connect with physical therapy. But if you're like, oh, well growing up when I used to play soccer, I felt like this. And then on to the next thing, people are like, oh, I played soccer as well, and now you've created a connecting point with this person through a shared interest or a shared commonality.

Karen Litzy:                   13:25                That's great. Thank you. Those are great tips. And finally finishing up, like you said, using the yes and to continue that conversation is great. Now since you brought up health care and physical therapy, a lot of the audience, are in those professions. So sometimes humor in that workplace can be a little difficult cause there are times where we have to be pretty serious. So can you kind of talk a little bit about how using humor at work can even work when we have to, you know, sometimes give bad news?

Andrew Tarvin:             14:01                I think your is a great point and this is something I think for, for all professions to, to recognize with humor is that it's simply another tool in the tool belt in the sense that it's not something that you're going to use all the time. 100, you know, 24, seven and everything that you do. It's, it's true that there are times that humor may be inappropriate. And, one of the ways that we can avoid inappropriate humor is by following what we call a humor map. And the map stands for your medium, your audience, and your purpose. So your medium is how are you going to execute that humor? Is it an email? Is it in a one on one consultation or conversation? Is it in a phone call? Is it in a presentation to a bunch of people? Because that medium impacts the message, right?

Andrew Tarvin:             14:47                The second piece is the audience and who you know, who is the, what do they know? What do they need and what do they expect? Because when you're using humor and say communication, you probably are, you do want to deliver on what that person needs while doing it. Maybe in a way they don't just 100% expect by adding a little bit of something different can add be that humor component. The other thing is also understanding your relationship with that person because you know something that you, if you have a client that you're meeting for the very first time, that's going to be very different than the humor that you might use with the client that you've been working with for 15 years, right? You've got to know each other a little bit better. And then the final piece is the purpose. Why are you using humor?

Andrew Tarvin:             15:27                And this is the most important one. This is why as an engineer, I like it because humor can be effective in using or achieving certain goals. So you could use humor as a way to get people to pay attention. Or maybe you use humor as a way to build a relationship with someone to build rapport, right? If you're meeting a client or if you're just now starting to work with someone, you can find a way for you to both laugh together. You kind of show that where you're standing on the same side and then after you've built that rapport, then if you have to get more serious news, that's, that might be when you become a little bit more serious or a little bit more somber or whatever. Right? So again, it's just recognizing that it is, it's a tool. It helps us achieve certain goals and that when we have those as goals, it might be the appropriate tool to use.

Karen Litzy:                   16:10                Great. I love it. And I like that acronym of the humor map. That's really easy to remember. Now let's talk about, we're talking about humor, right? There's maybe good humor, bad humor. What is the type of humor one should kind of stay away from in the workplace?

Andrew Tarvin:             16:34                I think that's a great question. So to give it a little bit of additional context, a psychologist Rod A Martin defined four styles of humor. He said in general, humor kind of falls into these four buckets. The first bucket is affiliative humor and this is positive inclusive humor. This is to me, I think of like Ellen Degenerous, like her style of humor, her TV show, it's very positive, upbeat. Everyone is included. There is no target, if not aggressive. It's not calling anyone out. It seems like team building events in the corporate world or activities that you may be doing with your clients or your patients, right as positive and inclusive, everyone is included. The second style is self enhancing humor. And this is a humor where the target is kind of yourself, but it's positive in nature. To me it's kind of best summed up by, there's a great Kurt Vonnegut quote that says laughter and tears are both responses to frustration.

Andrew Tarvin:             17:33                I myself prefer to laugh because there's less cleaning up to do afterwards, right? It's that idea of like when we're thinking about the challenges or the hardships that we have to go through day to day, it's finding the humor in them so that you laugh about them instead of cry about them. So that's another great form of humor and that's, that's kind of like, you know, finding ways to make your own work more fun. It's, you know, listening to music when you have to go through email or you know, rocking out to a song and you're in the car on the way home, or you know, these small examples of things that are just improving your life day to day. A third style is self-defeating. Humor, self-defeating humor as a negative form of humor where the target is yourself. And so this is, you know, Rodney Dangerfield.

Andrew Tarvin:             18:15                I get no respect. That's kind of poking fun at yourself. And this can be a great form of humor when used one in a high status position. So if you are a presenter that sometimes adds a little bit of status to it, or if you're the boss or the CEO as a way to reduce status. Differentials can be very good. And it's best used when sparingly. So like you don't want to use it as every single joke that you do, but every now and then on occasion, and that can be a good form in many ways. But if it's used too much since people started to think like, oh, this person isn't confident or they're not actually good at what they do, or you know, they're throwing a pity party and I don't know if I laugh or not. So there's some limitations to that one.

Andrew Tarvin:             18:55                And then finally there is aggressive humor and aggressive humor is a negative form of humor where the target is someone else. You're doing it to try to manipulate them or try to make fun of them or that kind of thing. And so that tends to, to not be appropriate in the workplace. It includes things like sarcasm and satire, which can be okay in a group setting where you're all very comfortable with you, with each other, and it can be a very good form of Catharsis. So I know a lot of like say doctors, surgeons, we do some work with emergency first responders. They sometimes have a dark sense of humor as a group, because it, you know, serves as Catharsis. They see so many stressful, so many crazy things that they need some outlet to relieve that stress. And so that type of humor can be helpful there. But again, only when it's a very close knit group, when the relationships are kind of already formed and you know that it's going to be seen as catharsis and not seen as aggressive.

Karen Litzy:                   19:52                Yeah. And I think we've all been in those situations where you're just sitting there and it's like awkward. Like this did not fall the way that the person intended it to.

Andrew Tarvin:             20:03                Yeah. And that's why, you know, if you stick to the other three forms a lot more, you're going to be, it's gonna be a lot better. And, and that's the other differences, again, we're not trying to teach people how to use humor to become stand up comedians. Cause yes, absolutely tons of comedians or kinds of comedy shows, you'll see a lot of sarcasm, a lot of satire, a lot of aggressive humor. But that's not our goal. Our goal is using humor so that we get better results.

Karen Litzy:                   20:29                And so that was my next question. You just led me right into it. So let's talk about results. What kind of benefits can, let's say myself as an entrepreneur or within an organization, get from humor at work

Andrew Tarvin:             20:44                It's great question. And as individuals, there are 30 benefits at least that we found. 30 plus benefits from using humor in the workplace that are all backed by research case studies and real world examples. And so they range from ways to improve your communication skill as a way to, you know, for example, do you use a little bit of incongruity, get people to pay attention a little bit more cause they're like, oh that person just made me laugh. That's a little bit different than what I was expecting. Now I'm listening and paying attention, to helping with creativity and backed in one study they found that kids to watch a 30 minute comedy video before trying to solve a problem. They were nearly four times more likely to solve that problem in kids. You watched either a math video or no video at all.

Andrew Tarvin:             21:28                So we can use humor as a way to kind of just warm up the brain to be able to think about things a little bit differently. Give ourselves a different perspective. We can use it for things like relieving stress so we know that, you know, stress by itself is not a bad thing, right? As a physical therapist, you know that you have to stress muscles to some extent in order to get them to grow. That's what we're doing when we're working out is we're breaking down muscles, but then they grow when we rest and we feed them and the body, our capacity for being able to do work is the same thing. We can stress, you know, we needed a little bit of stress to sometimes get to that next level in terms of productivity. But if we never relieved that stress, that's when we see an increase in blood pressure and increase in muscle tension, a decrease in the immune system. Well humor can help counteract those things. When we take a break to actually laugh, we increase oxygen flow through our body, we relax our muscles and we boost our immune system as well. So we can use it for things like that as well.

Karen Litzy:                   22:25                Well they are all really great benefits especially to use at work. And now these are, like I said, these are all great benefits. So why is this not being implemented more? Why aren't more people quote unquote funny at work? And I know that's not the right term, but I think that's what people think. Right?

Andrew Tarvin:             22:46                Right. Yeah. And what we say kind of with humor in the workplace as a goal isn't necessarily to be, to make the workplace funny, but it is to make things a little bit more fun. And you ask a very, I think, important question to say, okay, why don't people use humor more? And we wanted to do the answer to that. So we ran a study through our site and we found that the number one reason why people didn't use humor in the workplace as they said that they didn't think that their boss or coworkers would approve.

Karen Litzy:                   23:12                Interesting. I can see that. Yeah, I can totally see that.

Andrew Tarvin:             23:15                Right? Yeah. Cause if you work in a culture and no one's really laughing or smiling all that much, then you're kind of like, oh, I guess it's not welcome. I guess it's not what we do here. It's a, you know, quote unquote serious workplace. And the reality is that 98% of CEOs preferred job can edge with a sense of humor and 81% of employees at a fun workplace would make them more productive. So I think people actually want it. It's just that we're still stuck sometimes in this old mentality that work has to feel like work and we don't that well, we're human beings. And humor is an effective way to reach human beings. And so if we want to be more effective in what we do, we have this tool that we can use. And I think specifically for entrepreneurs and leaders of others or team leads and stuff, that's an important thing to recognize is that if you're the leader of a team or an organization and people don't constantly laugh or people don't kind of have that sense of humor, it doesn't seem like you might be part of the reason why.

Andrew Tarvin:             24:12                And it's probably not intentional, right? You probably like haven't gone out to be like, all right, let me squash any remote mode of fun. That happens every single day. But if you don't use it yourself as a leader, if you don't encourage it, if you never laugh or smile in the workplace, if you never kind of express some humor or share a little bit more about yourself, people will kind of take whatever the leader does and say, this must be how we have to act.

Karen Litzy:                   24:36                I mean things trickled down from the top. There's no question. It makes me, as you were saying that the thing that came to my mind was the movie the Devil Wears Prada and Meryl Streep's character who was just, I don't think she cracked a smile except like the very end of the film. And you can just sense the tension among everyone that worked below her.

Andrew Tarvin:             25:02                Exactly. And I think we, I think we need more, we need more metaphors to the movie devil wears Prada. So I'm happy that we've gotten there for this. But I think you're exactly right. How the managers behave does tend to set the tone. And, but with that being said, one of the things that, you know, I'm a big believer in is that, you are responsible for your own happiness. And so even if you do work for an organization or you do work for a manager or a leader who doesn't really use humor, I think that it's still up to you. You choose how you do your work every single day. And, and it's not really the responsibility of your manager, your coworkers, or your patients or clients or customers to make sure that you're having fun, right? That's an individual choice that you make. And hopefully they don't detract from that. But even at a minimum, like they can't control how you think. Right. One of the things that I like to do when getting bored and emails that I'll start to read each of the emails in a different accent in my head. And this is something kind of fun, something a little bit different to do and no one can stop me from doing that, right? No manager could come up and be like, hey, you're reading emails in the accent in your head. Stop it.

Karen Litzy:                   26:10                Yeah, totally. And so when you go into these companies, you go into Microsoft or in working with the government, how do you enter into those situations to kind of explain to them that using humor in the workplace is important? Because I would have to think you have had to encounter some hard nuts to crack.

Andrew Tarvin:             26:38                Yeah, absolutely. And in conveying the value of humor is a little bit of a challenge. You know, no one really thinks of humor as a bad thing. They typically don't think of it as kind of a nice to have. But to me it's a must have. If you just look at kind of the statistics, if you look at the numbers, you know, 83% of Americans are stressed out at work, 55% are unsatisfied with their jobs and 47% struggle to stay happy leads to 70% of the workforce being disengaged. And then Gallup has estimated that's a cost on the US economy of about $500 billion lost, you can do the math of that. That's, you know, you take the number of employees and all that. It's an average of about $4,638.

Andrew Tarvin:             27:29                And lost productivity. And so then when you're starting to talk with people, so if you're talking with Microsoft or other organizations and saying, Hey, if you know 70% of your workforce is disengaged and each one costs you $4,700, now they start to see like, oh, okay, there's numerical losses here. Because if you look at the benefits of using humor, we talked about some on the individual level, when an organization uses humor, you see an increase and you one create a more positive workplace culture. You see an increase in employee engagement, you see an increase and company loyalty, see a decrease in turnover. And on a lot of organizations, you also see an increase in overall profit. And so when I'm talking with the organizations, it's talking about the business benefit of it. It's recognizing that, you know, well, as a gross simplification of it, I have a dumb question for you.

Andrew Tarvin:             28:22                But it's still wants you to kind of answer it, but, would you rather do something that is fun or not fun? Fun, right? Yeah. You'd rather do something fun. So if you were to make your work a little bit more fun, probably stands to reason that you might be a little bit more engaged in it. Or if you were to make your kind of conversations with your patients or your clients a little bit more fun, you might see that they might be a little bit more willing to actually want to go to them or pay attention in them. So that's a big part of when you consistently use humor, that's when people are like, oh they actually look forward to that meeting. They maybe know that it's going to be hard or they know that, you know they're going to have to do some work, but they're like, at least it's not going to be terribly boring.

Andrew Tarvin:             29:10                At least it's not going to be awful and that's that fun component. And so that's kind of the higher level. And then we have a bunch of studies and a bunch of background kind of back all those things up. But that's been the messaging is like, this is again, it's not about let's all hold hands, Kumbaya. You know, we should all enjoy our work just because we're happy. Go lucky. It's more of here's a strategic use of a tool that will get you better results. And here's all the research that says that it has done that.

Karen Litzy:                   29:42                And when, when we're talking about humor in the workplace, it doesn't mean like your boss coming out and doing a standup bit every morning.

Andrew Tarvin:             29:47                Exactly. Yeah. Right. It's more about making it a little bit more fun. It's more about bringing the your humanness to work. Right. And this is one of the things that I'll share with my corporate audiences, you know, I'll say to an entire room full of people is I'll be like, you know what my guess is that many of you, and this is probably true of your listeners as well, many of you are likable people at home, right? And then they go into the workplace and something changes right? At home. They laugh with their friends, they smile, they make jokes, say, are conversational, et cetera. Maybe a little bit silly, you know, maybe they sing in the shower, they dance in the kitchen, whatever. And then they go into the workplace and something changes. They put on a work face and they feel like they have to be like a robot with no emotions or anything like that. And that's not effective for the way that we work today. Maybe that made sense, the industrial revolution, whereas all about efficiency and the most widgets that you could produce. But now when humor, interactions are important now when your emotions impact your ability to be, say, creative or productive, we have to manage the human experience. And humor is just one effective way to do that.

Karen Litzy:                   31:00                And so if I'm hearing you correctly, when we're talking about bringing humor into the workplace, it's really about being kind of open and trying to be a little bit more yourself and perhaps letting your guard down a little bit to allow yourself to be present and to, like you said, be funny or to not be so serious all the time. Or to, you know, have more conversations where you're injecting your personality. Because I do think most people have funny things to say in conversation. We're not all like Debbie downers. Yeah, I'm green. And so is that kind of what you're teaching when you're going in and talking about humor outside of, you know, how you talked in the beginning about timing and about the comic triple and having those unexpected things at the end of your sentences or punchlines if you will. So you're kind of teaching these tools, but in the end, as the worker or as the company, it's sort about changing the culture.

Andrew Tarvin:             32:10                It is. Yeah. I think that's a great articulation of it. So in the book we had a book that just recently came out and it's called humor that works with missing scale for success and happiness at work. And, you know, we talk about 10 humor strategies for using humor in the workplace across five different kind of key skills at work. And so if you want to use humor to improve your productivity, you know, you can gamify your work or play your work and here are the steps how to do that. Or if you want to use humor and connecting with people here as a way to, you know, kind of a three step process we mentioned earlier about and that's a way to build empathy with someone. But at the end of the day, the bonus strategy and I think kind of what articulates what you're talking about is the biggest thing that we encourage.

Andrew Tarvin:             32:52                The biggest takeaway, and I would say the same is true of your podcast listeners, is to simply think one smile per hour. You know, what's one thing that you can do each hour of the day that brings a smile either to your face or the face of someone else. And so that could mean, hey, if you like telling jokes and you want to learn more of them and you have that, you know, like you like that witty kind of feeling great, do that. If instead you're about to, you know, get in traffic and you know, like how can I bring a smile to my own face? Like, Oh, well let me maybe listen to a comedy podcast on my way home from work so that I laugh and show up more present for my family when I get there. These are all just small choices. And to your point, I think everyone, everyone has a sense of humor.

Andrew Tarvin:             33:35                I think it might be a very specific sense of humor and sometimes you don't always see it, but I think everyone has one. And so it's like, okay, how can you leverage your sense of humor to bring that smile to the workplace? And the other thing is directing that you don't always have to be the creator of humor. Instead, you can be kind of the conduit of it or the shepherd of it where you know, you don't have to be the one that makes a funny joke. Maybe you find one online and you added as a pss or the end of a long email. Or you find images online using a creative Commons license and have that in your presentation as opposed to having a bunch of slides with just full of text. Maybe you watch a Tedx talk that you think is really, really good that you really like and you like, you share that with people to say, Hey, you know, let's try to incorporate this type of thing a little bit more. So you don't always have to be the creator of it, but you can be that source of it, that shepard of it.

Karen Litzy:                   34:24                Yeah. Great Advice. Thank you so much. That really helps to kind of break it down in my mind. And I would assume in the listeners minds as well. And you know, before I have one more question that I ask everyone, but before I do that, you had mentioned Tedx and I do want to mention that you had a great tedx talk that's been viewed millions of times. I watched it, I loved it. Where can people find that talk?

Andrew Tarvin:             34:48                Ah, yes. So they can find it. If they just Google my name, Andrew Tarvin, Tedx, it'll show up. Or they Google a skill of humor. Tedx, it's on the official, you know, Tedx Youtube Channel. If you just Google my name, it's one of the first things that comes up and you can getting near your, a fantastic story about my grandmother and we go in and talk. It's funny, it goes into a little bit of that deeper dive of the scale of humor and for me at a, yeah, that can be a great starting point for people. And I know plenty of people have used that as a thing that they share out where they're like, hey, you know, I want to incorporate more humor into the workplace. People don't necessarily know why. So let me send this out to my team and say, Hey, this was a funny talk that I really like. Maybe it should encourage us to have a little bit more fun in what we do.

Karen Litzy:                   35:31                Yeah, I really enjoyed it. It was a great talk and it was funny in that bit with your grandmother is classic Classic Grandma classic grandma's stuff. So everyone listening, definitely check out the TEDX. It's really great. And like I said, before I finish, I usually like to ask everyone the same question. And that's knowing where you are now in your life and your career. What advice would you give to yourself as a new Grad?

Andrew Tarvin:             36:00                As a brand new Grad. Two things kind of come to mind. The first, is more tactical and I would say do stand up comedy earlier, frequently. Just because one, I love stand up. I love doing stand up. It's I think one of the hardest forms of public speaking you will ever do.

Karen Litzy:                   36:22                Yeah. I would never be able to do it. I give you all the credit in the world.

Andrew Tarvin:             36:26                Well, one, you absolutely could do it if I could do it. Anyone. But it is intimidating, but it's made me much, much better as a speaker. In fact, that I think the reason that the Tedx talk has been successful is because I did a lot of stand up before it to work on it, to practice it, to try jokes. And it's where I've refined, you know, my sense and my skill of humorous, I'd say do that, you know, first. And then I think the other thing would be get more clear on the articulating the value of humor. It took me a while Kinda to your point, you know, why do companies hire this? At first I was like, no, humor is just a brilliant idea. Shouldn't everyone see that? And the reality is that no one cares about humor and the workplace, like in terms of they never think of it as something that they need. And, and they know that they need communication training or leadership training or they know that they need to improve morale or they know that they need to help people relieve stress. It just turns out that humor can be the tool to do a lot of those things. So getting more clear on how humor can be beneficial, I think would've helped my personal career a little bit more and would've gotten me out to sharing this message with more people sooner.

Karen Litzy:                   37:32                Great. I love it. And I don't know that I would ever do standup. But you're making me consider it. Like even when I took, even when I took improv classes, I had like an Improv teacher come to my apartment cause I was too nervous to go to a class because I didn't want to screw up.

Andrew Tarvin:             37:51                Yeah. But here's the thing though is you just rock this, this podcast and plenty of other ones in the future. That's all Improv as well.

Karen Litzy:                   37:58                I know that's why I took the class, but I don't know. There's something about being, I dunno, it's a fear. I should probably, I'm working on my public speaking. I've been working on that for the past year. But yeah, I think taking an Improv class in front of actual people and with other actual people would probably only benefit me. But it's just so darn scary.

Andrew Tarvin:             38:21                It is. That's why you have to, you have to leverage that one light, that one evening that you like, have that like, you know what, I should do it. And then you sign up real quick and then force yourself to like go and there were only reason why I say that is is because I'm a big believer. Improv is fundamentally changed my life because as I mentioned I am very, very much was an introvert and everything growing up and that's how I kind of got into this and so I'm a strong believer that anyone listening, you know if they have the capacity, if they have any slight interest in it, I think should take an Improv class because it teaches you life skills. In fact, one of the most popular blog posts that we have on our website is 10 life lessons from Improv. So much application. It teaches you the human skills to interact with other people on ways to be more present, to think on your feet, to be able to react quickly, to build your communication skills and your confidence. Like there's tremendous number of benefits and once you get used to it, it's so much fun to do.

Karen Litzy:                   39:19                All right, I'll think about it next time UCB has like a one on one class. Granted that's upright citizens brigade for those who aren't, I guess in New York. They may not know that. If I can make the cut cause those classes fill up in about five minutes. But maybe I will do it this time. We'll, we will see. And now you mentioned your blog. Where can people find you?

Andrew Tarvin:             39:42                Yeah, so if they're interested more in the human in the workplace, if they go to we have a bunch of, you know, blog posts out there about different topics on humor. There's a free newsletter to sign up to. There's a link to our new book that has a lot of resources there as well. I information about our workshops and coaching and all that kind of stuff. And they want to connect with me directly. They can find me @drewtarvin on all social media. So whether that's Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, a recently discovered, I still have a myspace page. So if my space is your jam, then you can connect with me there as well.

Karen Litzy:                   40:23                That's amazing. Well thank you so much, Andrew, for coming on and sharing all of this great information on how to use humor in the workplace. So thank you so much.

Andrew Tarvin:             40:35                All right, sounds great. Well, thank you so much for having me, and hopefully this was valuable for the listeners.

Karen Litzy:                   40:41                I'm sure it was. And everyone out there listening, thanks so much. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.



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