Welcome To the Join Up Dots Podcast with Allen Klein
Introducing Allen Klein
Are you someone that likes a laugh in life but sometimes feels that there is a time and a place for it?
You will suppress it and keep the stoney face that your bosses or environment seem to want as the normal way of being.
Well todays guest is an expert in Gelotology the study of laughter and its effects on the body, and travels the world presenting in a humorous but informative manner that audiences have been raving about for years.
He teaches us to find the funny in situations even if those situations aren’t outwardly the humorous types that we should be laughing at.
How The Dots Joined Up For Allen
And I guess that will make the world a lot nicer to live in I imagine.
Starting his career way back in 1963 designing shows for tv characters such as Captain Kangaroo, he seems a man that from the start has managed to mix work and play, enjoying himself in most situations that he found himself in.
And now with over 20 books written on the subject of laughter such as “The Healing Power of Humor, The Courage to Laugh, and Change Your Life!” does he still feel that their is a lot to be done to get his message out there?
And does he feel that the world is losing the ability to laugh quite in the same way as we would have done in years gone by?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, with Mr Laughter himself, Mr Allen Klein.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Allen Klein such as:
How he now looks back at his younger life and realised that as a small child he needed to lighten up and enjoy life more, which is a lesson it took years for him to learn.
How he began the process of finding the innocence in his work when working for Captain Kangaroo and having to start thinking like a child would think on a daily basis.
How when he started public speaking he never really believed that people would pay him to do it, so began speaking often for the salary of a free lunch.
How he found humour and lightness during the period of seeing his wife pass away, and had a very interesting connection with “Playboy” at the time too.
Why he believes totally in the words “You teach what you need to learn the most” and lives by these words everyday of his life.
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Transcription Of Allen Klein Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello, everybody and welcome to Episode 233 of Join Up Dots. I’m feeling good today. I’ve been recording for the last three or four hours. And I’ve got a chap on the other end of the line who should be feeling very good, because I’m letting you into a secret. I don’t actually record these alive so it is actually Thanksgiving in America and he’s sitting there probably in his pyjamas, resting, looking forward to a big lunch later on. And we’re going to touch on that as we proceed with the conversation. So a question for you. Are you someone that likes it? Laugh in life but sometimes feels that there’s a time and a place for it, you suppress it and keep the stony face that your bosses or environment seem to want as a normal way of being. Well, today’s guest is an expert in gerontology I hope I said that Why? The study of laughter and its effect on the body and travels the world presenting in a humorous but informative manner that audiences have been raving about for years. He teaches us to find the funny in situations even if both situations aren’t outwardly, the humorous types that we should be laughing at. And I guess that will make the world a lot nicer to live in, I imagine anyway, starting his career way back in 1963, designing shows for TV characters such as Captain Kangaroo, he seems a man that from the start has managed to mix work and play enjoying himself in most situations that he has found himself in, and now with over 20 books written on the subject of laughter, such as the healing power of humour, the courage to laugh and change your life. Does he still feel that there’s a lot to be done to get his message out there and does he feel that the world is losing up? To laugh quite in the same way as we would have done in years gone by Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots. We’ve missed the laughter himself, Mr. Allen Klein. How are you Alan?
Allen Klein [2:12]
I am terrific. I am totally smiling and laughing with your introduction of me. That was just great. Thank you, David.
David Ralph [2:21]
It’s lovely to have you here. I have to be honest, Did I say that right genitalia T is it Ghana? turnigy. How do you pronounce that?
Allen Klein [2:28]
jell O’s g lls is a Greek word meaning laughter and since I’ve studied laughter and humour, I actually have a master’s degree in human h2 MAN development. But my thesis was on the healing power of humour, the therapeutic value of humour. And my first book is the healing power of humour. And so I for a while was calling myself a jealous technologists jealous meaning laughter and ology study up but nobody knew what that was David. So I changed it to jolly technologist,
David Ralph [3:11]
which is quite hard to say as well, isn’t it? I struggled with that one Johnny otologist. Is he doesn’t really know naturally does it?
Allen Klein [3:17]
You have to remember like proct ologists and change it to john.
David Ralph [3:22]
And you wouldn’t get the two mixed up with you. You certainly will.
Allen Klein [3:25]
I don’t think I hope not.
David Ralph [3:27]
I certainly hope not as well. So it is a thanksgiving for you today. So Happy Thanksgiving.
Allen Klein [3:32]
Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m not doing much on Thanksgiving except going to dinner later on with my daughter, my son in law.
David Ralph [3:43]
So so what what is the real thing about public holidays in America because you seem to celebrate Halloween really big. And then three weeks later, you’ve got this and being Three weeks later, you’ve got Christmas of nothing for the sort of rest of the year leading up to that. Why do you squeeze them all in in the last few months.
Allen Klein [4:01]
Well I think Christmas we didn’t we didn’t invent. We didn’t invent that.
David Ralph [4:08]
The Americans think maybe invented everything don’t make
Allen Klein [4:11]
maybe a Hallmark card. I don’t know. Do you have a hallmark? Yeah, we do. We do. Yes. This certainly big on Christmas cards. But Thanksgiving you know the pilgrims came over and we were trying to escape your hold on us. And so we celebrate that. And what was the other holiday? Oh, Halloween Halloween?
David Ralph [4:36]
Halloween, don’t you?
Allen Klein [4:37]
Well, I’m amazed it seems to get bigger and bigger. I mean when I grew up, I don’t remember getting in costume or go trick or treating. And it would have been really easy because we lived in the Bronx New York in a fifth six story actually apartment house. We live Down the fifth floor. So there must have been at least, let’s see nine or 10 apartments on each floor. So they’re about 50 families in the building would have been easy to go around with my little Halloween costume and basket. But we didn’t do that. And that wasn’t
David Ralph [5:19]
the way he did. Because he does seem easy when you say that you think you could sort it all out amongst a lot of you. And when all the kids could walk up and down the stairs, and it’s all done.
Allen Klein [5:29]
Yeah, I never thought of that. But I would say 95% of the families in the building were Jewish. I’m Jewish. And it’s not really a big Jewish holiday, at least. Now, I think it’s more accepted. But at that time, I don’t know why it was. But I do know now I was speaking to a friend who lives in the state of Wisconsin in the US, and actually schools closed that day. So the kids can go Trick or Treating
David Ralph [6:01]
is bizarre because we haven’t got it quite to the level that you’ve got. But I was in New Orleans one year, and it was everywhere. I couldn’t believe how much it was it you know, it was every single shop every doorway, long, whatever, there was some kind of element to that, which is kind of I like I don’t know if you find that although I don’t like the actual concept of Halloween and all that business, but I do like it when people really go hell for levels like Christmas lights when you go into one street and one person’s got their lightsail. But when you go into the next street and they’ve all got it, it kind of brings community somehow doesn’t it?
Allen Klein [6:37]
It does. Yeah. And it’s fun, you know, people parading around because I live in San Francisco. So it’s like New Orleans. It’s a big day to celebrate. In fact, it’s usually a whole weekend. And you see people just partying and you walk down the street and there is Dracula and there’s Einstein and there’s Mickey Mouse. And it just brings a great big smile to your face. It is a fun time.
David Ralph [7:06]
And do you because I’m looking at a picture of you now and if anybody wants to know what Adam looks like, go over to the show notes. And you have got a clown’s nose on so you would fit in quite comfortably.
Allen Klein [7:19]
Right and that is I have such great stories about a clown as you know, I do. I’m a professional speaker and I do workshops and keynote presentations and I do a process in my workshop where I repackage the clown nose so nobody could see it. And in fact, it has I’m also bald and so on the package, there’s a cartoon of me being bald and it said, Do not open until you’re told to do so. Are all your hair will fall out and you will look like this speaker. So one point in the process But I asked people to close they have the packet of with the nose inside, which they don’t know what it is close their eyes and think about some negative stress in their life. So worry, upset concern. And then I asked them to concentrate on that for a few minutes. And then I asked them to keep their eyes close with that negative thing in mind, open the packet, put that thing on your nose and look around the room. And what do you think happens? David, they are hysterical laughing. They look at each other with the clown nose and they are laughing. And then I asked them, What happened to the negative things you were thinking about? And they say, Oh, I forgot it and I started to laugh. And so I invite them to take the nose with them and use it in traffic jams. Use it at staff meetings, use it with your kids, you know and just use the nose to change at least moment. terribly distressed that feeling
David Ralph [9:02]
because I thought that Alan but my I would say back in all the corporate environments that I’ve worked at, when I was under the most stress, everybody else was under the same stress. And so I can’t imagine that I would have got away with sitting in a board meeting and then putting a clown’s nose on
Allen Klein [9:20]
what just imagine, David, what if you before you started the meeting, gave everyone a clown nose to put on and that’s the way you start the meeting. Do you think it would have changed the meeting tone at all?
David Ralph [9:35]
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. If you did it in the beginning, but I do think and we’re going to touch on this because it is fascinating that you are developing a theme that I am passionate about, I think humour should be out there more than it is. But it’s the acceptance of humour in the workplace. That’s a hard thing. You can have people who are out to enjoy themselves and bring a light heartedness to any environment or a stressful situation. But if the other people don’t embrace it, then they’re going to be literally red faced on red nose don’t like
Allen Klein [10:06]
red nose. Yes. Well, you know, and I think it’s often people will look up to the leader so the boss or the manager might be the one that needs to start this. Because people, you know, they want to please that person often. And so if they are laughing if they’re bringing some red noses or humour into the situation, probably people will go along with it. So you’re right, it it it and the boss or the or the owner of the business, or the manager is setting the tone of how we’re going to operate. So you know, what kind of tone are they doing very serious and, and everyone’s upset with each other and stressed out, or they being lighter. Because if they can laugh together, that bonding, it’s a great bonding tool. And so it’s so important in business. One because it’s a bonding tool, and two because you get your message across David imagine all those commercials on TV that use humour. And they do so because they know people remember that they laugh at it and they could bond with the product.
David Ralph [11:19]
So So if we take you back in time Alan to the small child about wasn’t trick or treating in that that apartment block in the Bronx, where you naturally happy, you know, cheer for laugh a minute child or has this been something that you’ve developed because you can see a need in the workplace nowadays.
Allen Klein [11:39]
It’s so interesting. You picked up on that because I was a pretty serious child. I you know, I didn’t play that well without the kids. I love playing, you know, with my own toys and stuff, but I don’t think I was that happy. A child the world was serious. World War Two was on at the time. Yeah, their air raid sirens going off from time to time. My father was an air raid Warden and we’re run out of the house and the middle of the night. The world seemed pretty serious to me. But I think the couple of things really changed for me as I was a young adult. One was that I used to be a scenic designer for television. And one of the shows I designed for 10 years was Captain Kangaroo.
David Ralph [12:35]
And who is he? Because I haven’t heard of this. This Captain Kangaroo. But I mentioned gave me the intro because he sounds a bit bizarre.
Allen Klein [12:42]
Right? Well, it was a children’s show it was on for over 25 years. He was called Captain Kangaroo because he had very big pockets, like a kangaroo and he would pull stuff out of his pockets.
David Ralph [12:56]
So he was he wasn’t a real kangaroo was
Allen Klein [12:58]
a man A man, big grey moustache and kind of grey hair and kind of like your father grandfather type, you know, gentle, really easy. But I think more than Captain Kangaroo was some of the characters that he had on the show like he would talk to grandfather the clock that was a big old clock that would speak. There was bunny rabbit who was always trying to trick anyone at a giving him carrots. There was Mr. greenjeans, which was like a farmer, an actor who was like a farmer type. There was dancing bear great big bear that interacted with there was Mr. Moose, another puppet. So I think you can get the idea of this and it was very popular, as they say it was on TV for over 25 years. And so I was the designer and I had to think about Like a child. So if bunny rabbit came up with this machine that would trick Mr. greenjeans into pressing a button and all these carrots would come out. I was the one that had to design the set. So I would have to think like a child, how would a child make this? Well, probably a child would just take what’s around them. And so they’d get a cardboard box, they might get a strainer from the kitchen, they might get a little knob, the you know, lying in the basement, a string to put on it and so would have to I would have to think like a child. And I think that helped me lighten up about things because I started to see the world through the eyes of a child,
David Ralph [14:46]
and that didn’t help fill a gap. Alan, when you obviously were a quite a solitary child and wasn’t the happiest child, you know, quite serious as a small kid. By actually really Reaching in and finding that innocence that you needed to do that job do you think that filled a gap somehow?
Allen Klein [15:06]
I think I you know, was until later on I looked back and thought how that was the I think the turning point was there. But then the big thing that set that in motion was my wife was very playful. I remember even a wedding You know, when the bride and groom cut a cake and they feed it to each other. Instead of feeding me the cake, she put it on top of my bald head. So
David Ralph [15:35]
afterwards Alan was was a slight risky foreplay.
Unknown Speaker [15:42]
So we, you’re not gonna,
David Ralph [15:44]
you’re not gonna matter you’re gonna move straight on.
Allen Klein [15:47]
Right? Right. So we, we played a lot with each other, you know, and her thing and I truly believe this at least for myself, that often the Childhood that you may not have gotten when you were younger, often comes out later in life. And I certainly saw that. And so I, I just became more playful in my life because of her. And we would play a lot together, laugh a lot together. And uma was a very important issue in my relationship, and still is with all the people in my life. I mean, if I have a friend or someone who doesn’t laugh with me, you’re out, forget it, you’re cut.
David Ralph [16:33]
That’s a fascinating point that you’re making bear because he touches in to the essence of what we talk about on Join Up Dots. And the tagline of it is connecting our past to build our futures. And there seems to be an intrinsic need for us to actually reflect on our core essence and that was the what we should have been or what we love doing when we were small kids. And do you see that we have many, many people now. When you see something that I love doing, it’s normally directly in correlation with things that they like doing a small children. So if they liked nature was more children they love nature is when they’re adults, if they liked drawing, they might have ended up as an artist or graphic design or something like that.
Allen Klein [17:18]
Totally agree with you, you know, I’m now an author, author of 21 books. Actually, maybe more I just counted them up. And at one point, I got 26. So I’ve lost track. But I remember as a child, and I even remember in like sixth grade, I had to get up, excuse me in front of the assembly, and read a poem that I wrote about the school and the principal. I remember writing a little poem about washing the dishes after dinner, and how my mother would wash them and I would dry them and my father would put them away. And I wrote a little poem that was published in the school newspaper. So somehow I reconnected with all of that, as you’re saying from years ago. And and now really get great pleasure at a writing books.
David Ralph [18:17]
He’s amazing that we forget that that pleasure that we go through our education and from the moment of being five and six and eight and 10 and loving doing certain things. We move through sort of adolescence and come out of the upper end, and we’ve lost something. And it’s, it’s a problem across the world, and I’m really aware of it now. But it’s got to get a job got to get a job, and we don’t kind of reflect on the things that we should be doing that we love. We just think we’ve got to get a job and it’s not until you’re in your late 20s or your 30s that you start to think Hang on. I’ve taken the wrong path here. So you were quite lucky but your job with Captain Kangaroo actually was one of the cats. For you to start finding your path when you
Allen Klein [19:03]
were 18. And that actually came out of a younger experience. When I was seven years old, my parents took me to see my first Broadway show, Oklahoma, the original Oklahoma on Broadway. And I said so well through that, that they took me to see my second show carousel about a couple of weeks later. And I remember coming in late, and at the end of the show, I wanted to stay to see the beginning. I David, I thought it was like a movie where you just sit down ladies, and I didn’t know that I’d never been to a Broadway show. And so they said, No, we’ve got to leave you know, you can stay and I am told I was crying and kicking and screaming and wanting to stay. And then when I got back to school, and whenever the teacher would ask, you know, what do you want to do you want to be a doctor or a lawyer. What? And I would say Want to be a scenic designer? And the teacher sometimes they didn’t even know what that was. But instead of doing a book report, I would take a shoe box. And I would make a pretty little scene about the book. So I was basically a scenic designer since I was seven years old. And major thing that happened in my life, and it might lead us to another point is I got into Yale drama school, which was a very prestigious school for Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut in the US, and it’s a three year master’s degree. And I was kicked out after the first year, I was told I had no talent. And of course, David, I was devastated. I wanted to be a scenic designer since, you know, seven years old. And I went back to New York City where I was living, I got into the union and I was designing national TV shows including Captain Kangaroo, Ed Sullivan, Merv Gryphon shows like that. And my fellow classmates at Yale drama school was still in school doing school productions.
David Ralph [21:14]
And how did you flex your hustle muscle pain from getting that rejection, which obviously knocked you on your heels, to going to New York and actually getting these kind of jobs that so many people would want? How did you get that to work for you?
Allen Klein [21:29]
Well, one of the things I think was is I’m stubborn, and I think the more you say, I can’t do something, the more I work at proving you wrong, and so I I just, you know, I went back I studied I got in the Union as an apprentice. I was in a union shop, cleaning out brushes, and Paint buckets, you know, but I was doing everything to get involved with being a scenic designer. And just you know, I was a scenic designer since I was seven years old doing those shoe boxes. Nobody Nobody could tell me I couldn’t do something. So it was kind of tenacity to just do what I that’s what I wanted to do. And I went and did it.
David Ralph [22:20]
Is that something that we’re losing now Alan tenacity, do people generally feel that they should get it over a couple of weeks? A couple of months?
Allen Klein [22:31]
Well, you know, I believe it takes work to get what you want to have a goal to, but I also believe in a higher power. And that once you put your intention, I’m really big on intention. Once you intend to do something, the world supports you in doing that. So because like I wanted to be a scenic designer, so I’m in Hunter College, which is my undergraduate school and So happened, the professor there, went to Yale drama school, he was now a big lighting designer on Broadway. And he helped me get into Yale. You know, like the right people will be there at the right time for you. Once you put your intention out, you start moving in that direction and surround yourself with the right people. It’s it’s totally what I believe other people might not believe that. But I do believe the world supports us and doing what we want to do when we are clear what that is. I agree
David Ralph [23:33]
with you totally. But I also think that what we’re touching on now is that area where as you say, so many people don’t agree with because there’s almost a kind of mysticism that things just naturally line up. But what you’re saying and what hopefully you’re saying because this is my view on it, is the fact that you’re out there and you are flexing your hustle muscle and you’re making connections and you’re doing stuff. It’s more likely about the They’re going to come your way and line up because you’re actually making movements towards that. If you were sitting at home going, Oh, I’d like this job, I’d like this job and not picking up the phone or getting off your sofa is never going to happen, is it?
Allen Klein [24:12]
No. So you gotta do what you know, the bottom line is you got to do the work. But on top of that, I think you need to put your dreams and hopes out in the world. I’m always amazed when actors you know, become really famous. And the press, the media says, oh, they’re an overnight sensation. And then you read, you know, something they wrote about being an overnight sensation, and they talk about being in little local theatre, you know, since they were eight years old, you know, working in a restaurants and and, you know, sweeping the stage backstage at some theatre for four years. And you know, and it’s like, no, it’s not an overnight sensation. They really put a lot of time and effort and energy and they have Talent Yes, lot of people have talent and, and don’t pursue it. So they’ve actually pursued it. And And finally, we call them an overnight sensation.
David Ralph [25:11]
I can’t think of anyone who’s overnight. I’ve never picked up an autobiography ever 300 pages, and literally all of them are blank, because it’s all just done overnight. There. There is work to be done, isn’t there? And I’m going to play some words now from a gentleman who really is testament to that work ethic. And he he seemed like an overnight success when he suddenly appeared. But when you dive into him, then yeah, he took years and years and years. This is Jim Carrey. See what you think about this. Alan,
Jim Carrey [25:41]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. Do you believe those words?
Allen Klein [26:10]
Oh, I so doing it so hits home for me because my dad, when he was younger, he wanted to be a printer. And he became a printer and he worked for this printer. I remember he got a gold watch. So that was 25 years and then he kept working. And he was not happy there. He was happy being a printer. But he wasn’t happy working for someone else because they didn’t do things the way you know, he would do it. They were cutting corners on the job, and he was pretty unhappy. So I’ve always taught my daughter to do what you love, get good at it, and the money will follow and you will be happy. And that’s the way I live my life and when she was in college, she graduate Waiting and she got a job in a card shop and she was there about eight months. They really loved her. They were going to make her assistant manager, you know, instead of $5 an hour, she was going to get $7 an hour. And then she wanted to teach kids. She’s an artist and wanted to teach kids art one day a week, and they would not give her that day off. And she called me in tears and said, Dad, what should I do? And I said, I can’t tell you what to do, because doesn’t work out. Well, you’re gonna blame me. I said, but I’ve always lived my life, do what you love, and the money will follow. And so she quit that job. And within three months, she had a job in the art world almost every day of the week. And now she’s an artist. She’s been to Europe four times in the last four years. She does computers stop and go animation. She’s had shows in museums, and she is very happy doing what she’s doing. So totally believe what Jim Carrey just said.
David Ralph [28:04]
So you believe it? I believe it. Why do you think that the world doesn’t, and they are in jobs that they don’t like, and they’re willing to do that day after day after day. And I speak to my own mates and Ben are happy in their jobs and I go, Why? Why are you still doing it? Well, I will leave next year I leave and I’ll be doing something else. And they just seem to be content to be unhappy somehow when they have got the opportunities in front of them to create their own future is you’re saying, Why do you think the world doesn’t buy into those words?
Allen Klein [28:38]
Well, it’s a five letter word money.
You know, money takes hold of us. We like that we paycheck. You know, when I first became a professional speaker, I was getting $25 a speech if that sometimes I would get free lunch. But I realised it was like my apprentice period. I had to put that time in, and that at some point people would pay me and, you know, within a number of years that was happening. But there’s a fear factor. Fear, I think that you know, I’m not going to make it and maybe even fear like some people have a fear. Well, if I make it, and I became famous, you know, then wat that’s a frightening thing, too. So I think fear was probably the even maybe more than money, the four letter word before the letter F word, David. Yeah,
David Ralph [29:33]
yeah, I was gonna say exactly the same things. When you decided you were going to be a public speaker. In many ways. That’s one of the ultimate fears, isn’t it to actually stand up in front of people you don’t know and put yourself out there? city question really, I suppose. But were you scared at that time when you were getting your free lunch and you’re $25 was there times when you fall? Is this really worth
Allen Klein [29:57]
it? Scared David. I was I still get nervous when I speak in front of an audience and I think that’s okay. You know Barbra Streisand would not do a live concert, she would do recordings because she could record over and over, but not a live concert for over 20 years. Before she stepped in front of an audience. It is a big fear you are out there. And particularly if you doing humour, I don’t do jokes. But I do get a lot of laughs with my stories and interactions. And if I know I’m supposed to get a laugh and nobody’s laughing, it is it is not so funny.
Unknown Speaker [30:36]
David Ralph [30:36]
ones I don’t know, do you get the ones when they laugh and you weren’t planning to be funny, and
Allen Klein [30:41]
all that? Well, those i’d love because then I will maybe use that again somewhere else knowing that I will get a laugh. You know, it was like, Oh, I didn’t think that was so funny. But if the audience does, then it’s something I can use again.
David Ralph [30:58]
So how did you get your Theme your public speaking because I’ve been a public speaker for years and years and years, and I know the steps you have to take to find your thing. And it’s like being a comedian. Many comedians say that they start being a kind of hybrid of somebody else, until it starts clicking that being themselves is actually the way to go. being unique and authentic to themselves is their, their card to fame and fortune. And they are the sort of comedians that we remember the most the ones that aren’t like anybody else, they’re just naturally themselves and funny. So when you went up on stage for the first time, did you know what you were going to be like? Or has it just been a journey to where you are now?
Allen Klein [31:46]
Well, it’s been a total journey and I almost failed speech in college I got a D or something like a D minus. So for me to get up in front of an audience of 515 hundred and and speak amazes me, you know, if you told me 20 years ago I’d be doing this I’d say you’re absolutely crazy. I can’t speak in front of an audience. But it’s it’s started and you know, I mentioned my wife before, but it started over 30 years ago, we moved to San Francisco. We got the Victorian house we had always wanted. And then we found out that she had a rare liver disease called primary biliary cirrhosis. And there was no cure. There was no hospice at the time. There were no liver transplants. And Ellen did pass away three years after the diagnosis. So I’ve done it but she had a great sense of humour, David, and that’s where I, I found it helped us get through the difficulty. It showed me that tears of laughter very close, and that uma was a great therapeutic tool. I’ll give you one example. And it’s a it’s in the speaking business you probably know it’s called your signature story because nobody else can tell this story. And mine is she was in the hospital with a copy of playgirl magazine with the mail new centrefold. And she said, Alan, hey, I really liked this hunky man this month, can you put on the wall by the bed over there? And they sit down and set a hospital a little escape for that? And she said, Well, maybe you’re righteous. So why don’t you get a leaf in the plant over there and cover up that pot? And I did that David for the first day, things are fine. Second day, things are fine. Third day beliefs judge Tripoli and we came home from the hospital and we would look at a leaf or a plant and we would start to laugh. And I realised it wasn’t a lot of laughter five or 10 seconds, but it helped us always rise above the situation. gave us a little reprieve gave us the perspective that humour always does. And so after Alan died, I went back to school gave up a business I had here in San Francisco, went back to school, and got a master’s degree in human, as I said before development, and my thesis became the healing power of humour, which became my first book. And that’s what I’ve been speaking about for over 20 years.
David Ralph [34:29]
And Have you always been fascinated by the sort of human psyche? Why we actually do things?
Allen Klein [34:36]
No, I haven’t. So,
you know, her passing, although a lot of people would say was tragic, certainly totally changed my life. My way of thinking, realising that life is short that we’ve got to enjoy ourselves. Not to take things so seriously when we’re stuck in traffic jams or we lose our job or the plane is delayed. A cancelled that it’s all part of the bigger picture. And that we could lighten up about it no matter what it is. And so that’s what I teach audiences worldwide now.
David Ralph [35:14]
And so the passing of your wife, you would actually class as one of your big dots on your Join Up Dots timeline, it was one of those moments that you would almost say, I really wish I hadn’t gone through that. But it has actually set me on a path, which in many ways is a better path than it might have been beforehand.
Allen Klein [35:35]
Where you know, a lot and I was asking myself and a lot of people do when a loved one dies is, you know, why me? I mean, at that time, it was asking a lot Why me? We were, you know, this was not on my schedule, you know, my daughter was 10 years old, how am I going to get on with my life? All of those things, and I think sometimes in a more appropriate question was like, why not? Me. And so looking back, I see, there was like a higher I consider myself a spiritual person and there was some kind of higher, being a higher calling a higher, something else that was greater to do to help the world than I was currently doing at that time. I didn’t know at the time was going to be humour I had no idea what it was. But I knew it wasn’t silk screening, you know, running a business at that time. I knew it wasn’t that sometimes I think you need to just stop when those things happen. And maybe ask yourself, why not me? Why is this happening in my life? Is this for the greater good? You know what, what good can come out of this? Not so great situation. And one of the things I focus on these days is being grateful being very grateful and here, as we said is Thanksgiving. So it’s a day of being grateful for the not so funny stuff in our life because we usually grateful for you know, our kids, our job, our family, the food on the table, the clothes on our back our housing, we’re grateful for that, usually, but it’s the not so great stuff that I think sometimes presses our buttons or helps us to grow to help us may be be more loving or care care for people or change our attitude towards something or realise, hey, I hated that job. Anyhow, I’m so glad I was fired. You know, now I can move on with my life. So I think to be grateful for the not so great stuff is so important in our life.
David Ralph [37:45]
And do you think that’s the bit that we forget to laugh at? Because I worked for a company for about six months about 15 years ago, and it was helping people get out of hospital to basically Go home and pass away. So it was it was horrific, really. And it was totally out of my comfort zone. But I remember laughing more within that six months of stories and tales that people were telling me, even the sort of them the widows and the people that were left behind, they would come in and they would tell us the stories about what happened to their loved ones in their last couple of days and stuff. But they would tell it in a in a humorous way that I will never forget that job. And honestly, my science used to split every afternoon and I never worked out whether it’s because the stories were so funny, or I just felt guilty about laughing because you’re almost told not to. Is that an area that we should get over? Should we accept that if our body wants to laugh, we should just let it laugh and we would feel better. Does that release the pressure in us somehow?
Allen Klein [38:55]
them so glad you brought this up and we could probably spend another hour Just talking about this because one of my specialties is talking about humour in hospice. You know, Hospice is a place where people are dying basically. And I in my second book, The first book was the healing power of humour to second and actually the third book to the second book is the courage to laugh. And I documented almost 100 people that found humour in the process, whether they were dealing with cancer, whether it was funerals, where they were dealing with AIDS, where they were dealing with lingering loss, sudden loss, and they told me how you the funny things that happened, and how that laughter helped them get through that time. So for me humour is so important, you know, tears of laughter very close. And you know, sometimes you laugh so much that you have tears running down haze. And physically, you know, laughter is really good for us. Because it’s oxygenating the blood is a whole study of all the things it does in our body. And when we’re not, you know, when we’re crying, we tense up and the laughter helps us release endorphins like tears do, and it’s just really beneficial. And yet, you’re right. We walk on eggshells, we go someone’s dying, you’ve got a whisper, you know, and there’s been studies showing that actually, people, this is a hospice study. It was a small one, but it showed that the patient actually wanted more laughter in their life. You know, it helped them relax, it helped them communicate, it helped them, bond with other people. And yet often the family you know, was so upset at the time even when something funny came up. They would not laugh, and often the doctors too busy or their Nurses too busy and so humour gets pushed aside. Or the other hand people do laugh, and then they feel guilty. Oh my god, how can you laugh at a time like this?
David Ralph [41:11]
Because that was me. I used to laugh, as I say, and they were really funny stories, but I used to feel guilty for laughing. And even though we were all laughing, and
Allen Klein [41:22]
but you know, it’s a great, it’s a great coping tool and people in any of those kind of industries, whether you’re working with the dying, whether you’re an ambulance driver, a policeman, you know, some of the things they laugh that is like gallows humour, it probably should not be heard by anyone else, but within their little community with their fellow workers. It is so beneficial because otherwise, I mean, just think of ambulance drivers, all the, you know, things they see, and they probably wouldn’t survive it unless they were able to Step back, because as I said, humour gives you a perspective. So they get a different perspective and it helps them do their job better.
David Ralph [42:08]
So how will you books received? Because obviously, we’re talking about this, and I agree with you totally what you’re saying. But there’s a world out there that I can just imagine would frown but you are raising a concept, which would be alien to them somehow. So when you release that book, the courage to laugh, was it what was there a waiting audience that said, Ah, Mr. Klein, thank god somebody was brave enough to say this, or did you get a load of people coming out of the woodwork saying How dare you say this?
Allen Klein [42:40]
No, I didn’t find anyone coming out of the woodwork. It was not as popular as as the healing power of humour which deals with everyday situations because this specifically dealt with life challenging situations. And so but it is David it is in a ninth printing and I It has a couple of foreign language translations. So it is doing well but not as well as the healing power of humour, which is in a 40 of printing. And I do speak a lot to hospices, so they really embrace that book, as they do another book in that subject called Learning to laugh when you feel like crying, and that’s more about embracing life after a loss and going from loss to laughter.
David Ralph [43:29]
So So where’s your target audience been and where where do you most of your money, is it corporate gigs? Is it companies bringing you into, you know, raise morale? Is it for individuals, where do you do your speaking?
Allen Klein [43:43]
Well, you know, I found years ago, that when I’m doing a programme I want I want to feel really good afterwards. I want the audience to feel good. I want to enjoy myself when I’m doing it. And what I found was When I did corporate programmes and I do do some corporate, but I remember one financial planners meeting that I spoke at, I don’t think they laughed three times in the whole hour. They want you to know how to make more money. So the audience’s that I love best and that I market more to our what I call people to people, audiences. So it’s not about making money, but it’s about helping other people. So I like to work with those people. So I work a lot in the medical field, nurses, nursing home administrators. As I said, hospice, I do a lot of hospice conferences, teachers, anyone that works with other people or really cares about other people are my type type of audience that really are attuned to what I’m saying and trying to get across.
David Ralph [44:55]
It’s funny, isn’t it? How you’re such a people person now you can hear it in your voice. The fact that you like to be with people, but then we go all the way back to the Bronx again and you was a small child that was quite happy to be on his own.
Allen Klein [45:09]
Nice. We go back there.
You’re right. It just and again, I think it was my wife who, in fact I haven’t framed in my living room she gave me a little was snail shell. And somebody had made this little ceramic clay, little boy climbing out of the snail shell. And she gave that to me once is a gift and that was truly me. It was me climbing out of a shell. And as I said, it was it was her helping me do that because she was very gregarious, and everybody knew her and and she was a very powerful woman. You know, look at that she’s she died and she’s still I still talk about her 30 some odd years later, and thousands of people have heard that that fig leaf story or the leaf story about her now. So she still continues her influence, even though she’s no longer here.
David Ralph [46:17]
Did you think she was the person that knew you better than yourself? But she was the one that drew you out about show?
Allen Klein [46:25]
Oh, definitely. Because I, as I said, you know, who would have thought? Who would have thunk that? I would, I would be on shows like this and that we can chat for an hour unit. Oh, who would have thought I can stand in front of an audience or, you know, write a book that would be translated into nine languages. It just yeah, there was something that she totally changed my life and showed me how to exist in the world and have a great time. She knows as I say, We laughed a lot together in fact, A lot of our friends at the time would divorcing and we would say to each other we would ask each other Why are we still together two 910 years why are we still together? And she would always say her answer was always because you make me laugh. So that was a real important ingredient and I would say with her to her, Well, I knew you were an adventure for me. And I never knew when I came home from work because she was a gourmet cook whether we’d have 20 people for dinner, she decided to invite and make this gourmet meal whether it be a note on the table, you know, I made you dinner and I’ve gone out with my friends so there was always in a sense of adventure which I guess I liked and and she really brought that out in me and and so now I really love the senses of adventure and even when things are going wrong things I don’t like I go Oh, what a great adventure. This is
David Ralph [48:00]
You’ve got a personal belief in your own spirit to be able to overcome anything.
Allen Klein [48:06]
Yeah, you know, I’m human. And so some things get me more than I forget, you know, I forget about the laughter and the sense of adventure. But generally in a few seconds, I’m right back to that. And particularly because I, you know, they say, I don’t know how true it is, but they say that you teach what you need to learn the most. So certainly, you know, Lucky back in my childhood, I need to learn, had to learn at that time, how to lighten up. And so now I learned that or keep learning that and now teach that to others.
David Ralph [48:42]
Well, let’s play some words now, which make up the theme of the show. And this is the words that Steve Jobs said back in 2005. And to be honest, they’re relevant to most of us. So I’m going to tell you the words and then we’re just going to talk about how relevant they are to this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [48:56]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [49:31]
So only relevant to you Mr. Klein.
Allen Klein [49:34]
Oh, they ever and and the word trust really stood out to me. It just I just trust the process now. You know, and and I, we talked a little about this before, but I kind of help the process along too with that trust. So when I and I do believe in the Higher Power will lead me in the right direction. So I trust that. And so I put a sign above my computer where I saw it every day and the sign said, the perfect publisher will find you. The perfect publisher will find you. And I went to a book meeting. And there were these two women talking to someone else. And I overheard them say, we’re starting a new division of a very successful company. And we’re looking for books that motivate, inspire, uplift. And I turned to them and I said, You know, I have seven books that do that. And that’s started a relationship to now doing my next I think it’s a six book for them the next year, but more than that, later on, I went to one of their parties and the owner came over to me, she said, You don’t know me. I live in the UK, she said, but I own this company. I’m so glad you With us, because I’ve known you for many, many years. And I said, No, me, I don’t I looked at I don’t know you. She said, I used to live across the street from you and I would watch you walk your dog every single day. And I thought the perfect publisher found me
David Ralph [51:19]
that’s true faith isn’t that it’s true. Just trust in Yeah. But you’re putting yourself out there. And you’re making those connections exactly, as we said at the beginning, but by being proactive about your future, more often than not, things do come your way. And it does blow your mind. I talk about this a lot in the show, that things are happening to me on a daily basis, I kind of go, Wow, how the hell did that happen? That’s a fluke. Because it’s not on a time you’ve done 250 shows and you’ve spoken to 250 people, you’re building up connections. And so it’s quite obvious, really, but as long as you you touch that person in the right way and you make them feel good about themselves that more often than not, they’re going to try and do Nice brings you back. And that’s how you win.
Allen Klein [52:03]
Exactly, yeah. And I find the more you give, the more you get.
David Ralph [52:08]
You totally buy into that.
Allen Klein [52:11]
I buy into it because I’ve seen it over and over and over in my life. You know, the more you can help people, the more comes back to you.
David Ralph [52:24]
And it’s a nicer world to live in as well, isn’t it?
Allen Klein [52:27]
Well, hopefully, yes. There’s a lot of not so great stuff happening in the world right now. But we could each take our little world and do what we do best and help people that way. Absolutely. And I
David Ralph [52:41]
promise you if we could get all the bad people in the world to wear clowns nosies it’s going to be quite hard to be bad, isn’t it?
Allen Klein [52:48]
Can you see that? I mean, just imagine
them trying to confront each other. About to
David Ralph [52:57]
have been loud and would have had trouble when they were clean without clowns nose on
Unknown Speaker [53:01]
David Ralph [53:02]
as a different story altogether, well, this is the end of the show. And this is the part that I’m going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And this is the part we call the Sermon on the mic. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Alan, what age would you choose and what advice would you give? Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the theme and when it fades you up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [53:37]
On the mic.
Unknown Speaker [53:49]
So this is Alan is a little boy
Allen Klein [53:54]
Oh dear, going back in my childhood, which is, as I said, was not serious. So What I tell that little boy and little Alan, what I would tell him is, lighten up. Come on, lighten up. You know, all this stuff we’ve been talking about the last hour is all part of that. trust, trust your gut. Trust that even the not so great stuff will turn out great. Just you know, trust, if you have a passion, go do it. Nobody can tell you you can’t do it if you really want to do it. Now, there may be some physical limitations. If you’re five, six tall and you want to be a basketball player, that may not work but if you have a passion, follow your passion, and the world will definitely support you in doing it and don’t be afraid. Trust the world is abundant, the world will support you The world is loving and just keep remembering that and all worked out perfectly in this perfect world.
David Ralph [55:05]
And how can our audience connect with you, sir?
Allen Klein [55:09]
Well, there’s lots of ways they can go online and go to my website, which is triple W. Allen klein.com. Now they do need to spell the Allen Klein correctly. It’s the same way as the Beatles manager, which I’m sometimes mistaken for. So it’s triple W. ae, l LENKLEI. And calm. We will then on?
David Ralph [55:38]
Yeah, yeah, I was gonna say we’ll have all the links on the show notes to all your social media as well.
Allen Klein [55:43]
Oh, terrific. That’s what I was gonna say. Thank you.
David Ralph [55:47]
Well, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Allen Klein Thank you so much.
Allen Klein [56:01]
Thank you, David. I loved it.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.