Karyn Buxman

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Funny Means Money: Humor and Your Marketing Message


A bunch of guys are playing football in a park. The ball is hiked. The quarterback steps back to throw. The receiver—an old woman!—shuffles down the field. Ninety-year-old comedic actress Betty White nearly catches the ball, but suddenly she’s brutally tackled. One of her teammates teases, “Hey man, you’re playing like Betty White out there!” She’s given a Snickers Bar, which transforms her back into his proper male form. The tag line: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

It became one of the most talked-about commercials in Super Bowl history.

Ask folks if they watch the Super Bowl and you’ll often hear, “I just watch the game for the commercials.” People remember and talk about these ads! Especially the funny ones.

This is why leaders at companies like Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, Allstate Insurance, Reebok, McDonald’s and Budweiser pay $4.5 million for 30-second spots, most of which are humorous. Why do they do this? Because they understand that FUNNY MEANS MONEY.

According to Mark Levitt, professor of marketing at NYU, “People will pay more attention to a humorous commercial than a factual one, because humor undercuts logic, appeals to the emotions, and opens people to be influenced.” When we find something funny, our level of alertness goes up and we retain information better. This, in turn, improves brand recognition and sales.

Just ask the folks at Taco Bell. When a tiny Chihuahua uttered the words, “Yo Quiero Taco Bell,” the company saw a substantial rise in sales. Not only that, their mascot’s phrase became part of the nation’s lexicon. The Aflac duck raised brand awareness from 12% to 90%. And Geico’s Gecko Campaign played a major role in their emergence as one of the leading auto insurers in the United States.

Be strategic. Check out funny commercials on YouTube and think about what makes them work. Then look at your organization or department and start writing down how you could weave some humor into your messages. Don’t be afraid of being silly—after all, if talking geckos, ducks, and Chihuahuas can be successful, you can afford to be playful.

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

She can also be reached via:

Karyn@KarynBuxman.com

Twitter: @KarynBuxman

Facebook: FB.com/KarynBuxmanSpeaks

LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/KarynBuxman

Candy-grams: 1465 C St. #3318 SD, CA 92101

Smoke signals: avoid when prohibited by fire season!

Posted in: Business, Humor, Leadership

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Defusing Difficult Conversations

professional speaker
It was 1984, and the second presidential debate between Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan was underway. After the first debate, critics observed that Reagan looked tired, and they wondered if he might be too old for the job. Understanding how this precarious issue could affect the outcome of the debate—and the election—Reagan’s team went to work and prepared his response.

Sure enough, shortly after the debate commenced, a reporter asked Reagan, “Given the fact that you are already the oldest president in U.S. history, would you really be able to function should a crisis arise?”

Reagan assured the reporter that he’d be perfectly capable of dealing with any situation at hand—and then he quipped—”I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

When the laughter died down, so did the question of Reagan’s age. And he was elected president for a second term.

When you’re engaged in a difficult conversation, people often pose what author Malcolm Kushner calls a “Hostile Question.” The purpose of their question isn’t really to gain information, but to challenge you, embarrass you, make you express frustration, and put you in a negative light. You might hear questions like, “Who do you think you are?!” or “Whose budget is this coming out of?!”

You have numerous ways to approach the situation. You can be serious. You can debate. You can take the situation elsewhere. You can walk away. You can BS your way out. Or you can defuse the situation with humor. All of these approaches can succeed, but determining the right choice at the right time requires some discernment on your part.

Used strategically, humor can alter the hierarchy, placing you in a more powerful position. It is a sign of confidence, and a way of taking charge. The goal is not to get the other person laughing so hard that you can escape unnoticed, but to defuse tension, establish more control, and then guide the conversation in the direction that you want.

For leaders, humor can make people more receptive to your messages, build good relationships with employees, and build a more positive and productive corporate culture. For salespeople, humor can break the ice, ease tension, enhance communications, differentiate you from your competitors, and make you more memorable.

Set yourself apart by being strategic with your humor. Think back to a time when you were faced with hostile questions, particularly ones you might face again. Write down as many of these questions as you can think of. Then select one and begin creating a list of humorous responses. Come up with half a dozen or more. I can tell you from experience that the first few will probably be the funniest—but also the most perilous. (The purpose here is to defuse the bomb, not light the fuse!)

For leaders, your goal is not to get into a power struggle, but to reach a resolution. If you practice, you’ll find a response that will placate the situation and allow you to move the conversation in a more productive direction.

For salespeople, your goal is not to be a wise-ass, but to lessen tension and lighten the mood.

It was 1984, and the second presidential debate between Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan was underway. After the first debate, critics observed that Reagan looked tired, and they wondered if he might be too old for the job. Understanding how this precarious issue could affect the outcome of the debate—and the election—Reagan’s team went to work and prepared his response.

Sure enough, shortly after the debate commenced, a reporter asked Reagan, “Given the fact that you are already the oldest president in U.S. history, would you really be able to function should a crisis arise?”

Reagan assured the reporter that he’d be perfectly capable of dealing with any situation at hand—and then he quipped—”I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

When the laughter died down, so did the question of Reagan’s age. And he was elected president for a second term.

When you’re engaged in a difficult conversation, people often pose what author Malcolm Kushner calls a “Hostile Question.” The purpose of their question isn’t really to gain information, but to challenge you, embarrass you, make you express frustration, and put you in a negative light. You might hear questions like, “Who do you think you are?!” or “Whose budget is this coming out of?!”

You have numerous ways to approach the situation. You can be serious. You can debate. You can take the situation elsewhere. You can walk away. You can BS your way out. Or you can defuse the situation with humor. All of these approaches can succeed, but determining the right choice at the right time requires some discernment on your part.

Used strategically, humor can alter the hierarchy, placing you in a more powerful position. It is a sign of confidence, and a way of taking charge. The goal is not to get the other person laughing so hard that you can escape unnoticed, but to defuse tension, establish more control, and then guide the conversation in the direction that you want.

For leaders, humor can make people more receptive to your messages, build good relationships with employees, and build a more positive and productive corporate culture. For salespeople, humor can break the ice, ease tension, enhance communications, differentiate you from your competitors, and make you more memorable.

Set yourself apart by being strategic with your humor. Think back to a time when you were faced with hostile questions, particularly ones you might face again. Write down as many of these questions as you can think of. Then select one and begin creating a list of humorous responses. Come up with half a dozen or more. I can tell you from experience that the first few will probably be the funniest—but also the most perilous. (The purpose here is to defuse the bomb, not light the fuse!)

For leaders, your goal is not to get into a power struggle, but to reach a resolution. If you practice, you’ll find a response that will placate the situation and allow you to move the conversation in a more productive direction.

For salespeople, your goal is not to be a wise-ass, but to lessen tension and lighten the mood.

Whether you’re dealing with irritable staff, cranky customers or obstinate teenagers—humor is a powerful means of defusing difficult conversations.

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

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Humor as a Negotiation Tool—or—How Humor Saved the World

OCTOBER 1962 — The world held its breath as America and Russia went to the brink, with nuclear weapons at the ready. Russia was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba—a mere 90 miles from the Florida coast. The 13-day crisis played-out in real time on TV around the world.

As American and Soviet delegates came together to negotiate, tensions were high, and they soon became deadlocked. And then…a Russian delegate told a joke: “What is the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Communism, it is the other way around.”

Delegates on both sides laughed, and this created a bond among all of them. (Hey, ya gotta start somewhere!) With the tension eased for the moment, talks resumed, and eventually a deal was struck that avoided blowing up the planet—no small feat!

Whether you’re negotiating for world peace or for which movie to go to, humor can play a crucial role in your success.

According to a recent study on business negotiations, humor has numerous functions in the negotiation process. It can put the negotiators at ease; it can introduce a difficult issue; it can foster togetherness and team spirit; it can help the other negotiator save face; and it can be a way of being cooperative in spite of disagreement.

Additional studies show that if you can inject humor into your negotiations, you’re more likely to get what you’re negotiating for.

Once when I was negotiating with a potential client over the phone, it became obvious that budget was a delicate topic. I could feel the tension rising, and when he posed the question: “How much is this going to cost me?” I wanted to reduce the tension.

I paused and said, “Are you sitting down??” He laughed, and from that point, the conversation about money went smoothly.

Those four little words, spoken in just the right tone of voice, have helped me close dozens of deals over the years.

Think strategically. Who do you negotiate with? It might be with a colleague, a competitor, a customer, an employee, a boss, a colleague or even a family member. (You do understand, I hope, that getting a child to go to bed is not something that you command, but rather something you negotiate. Some of those rugrats make Johnnie Cochran look like an amateur. And don’t even get me started on teenagers!)

What are you negotiating for? Examine it and look for an opportunity to weave in a little humor—like a humorous and relevant anecdote, a funny comment or gesture. You probably want to start with something whimsical. Something short. Something that relates to the situation at hand. Negotiations are often important and intense, so use humor wisely, cautiously and professionally. (No “sharp jabs” like Don Rickles is famous for!)

The ability to successfully negotiate is a helpful skill for everyone, but it’s an essential tool for anyone who plans to sell or lead. You may not be called upon to save the world from nuclear war—but I guarantee that sometime soon you will be called upon to save a deal, or make the sale, or advance your agenda in some manner. Humor, used strategically, can make you a more powerful and effective negotiator.

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

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“Planned Spontaneity”

liscarf
The travel gods smiled upon me. My bag and I both arrived at the same airport at the same time, traffic to the hotel zoomed along, and the line for hotel check-in was shorter than the TSA’s.

As I made my way to my room, I observed this hotel’s unique (and somewhat goth) décor: elegant, comfortable… and dark. Dark! Dark! Dark! The walls were black, the furniture was black, I even think the water was black—but I couldn’t tell because, well, it was so DARK. (And I’ll let you guess what color the ballroom floor and the staging were…)

The meeting began and halfway through my presentation, I stepped forward to make a dramatic point…and walked right off the front of the stage. (Picture Wile E. Coyote stepping off a cliff.)

As you might have guessed, the black carpet and the black stage floor merged visually, leaving no hint that there was a drop-off there. The audience gasped, wondering (in the dark) if I was injured; then they held their collective breath. While the stage was only four feet high, the fall seemed to last forever. Thoughts raced through my mind. Would I bust my butt? Break my neck? End-up paralyzed? Is there a lawyer in the house?

Wham! I landed flat on my back. The wind was knocked out of me, and for several moments I was unable to breathe—my mouth gaped open and closed like a fish out of water. The audience sat in stunned silence.

Being a long-time speaker, I’d maintained a death-grip on the hand-held microphone. And then I pulled out the “saver-line” that I had tucked neatly away in the back of my mind for just such an (unlikely) occasion. I sat up, looked at the audience and said, “And now I’ll take questions from the floor.”

The audience laughed with relief and applauded as I climbed back up onto the stage. I refused to let them see how badly I’d bruised my ego—and my bottom! Some members of the audience thought I’d actually done it on purpose! (“Oh, she’s so clever!”) Good grief! But like a magician who never divulges “how it was done,” I didn’t tell anyone that it was “planned spontaneity” that saved my…butt.

Planned spontaneity is a great little technique for sales professionals. Hold on, hold on—I can hear several of you in the back, murmuring, “I don’t need any planned spontaneity! I’m witty, I’m quick, and I perform best under pressure.” Hey, good for you. Now get over yourself and take a tip from one of my teachers in the world of Improv: “You need to be sharp and quick to perform Improv, but you also need to practice. Practice, practice, practice. Only a fool goes up on stage armed only with his ‘natural born’ talents. Yes, it’s possible to ‘get by’ for a while. But if you want long-term success, you might want to follow in the footsteps of the greats who are brilliant—folks like Carol Burnett, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, and Chevy Chase.”

A novice salesperson often lives on the edge by being only marginally prepared. A professional salesperson expects the unexpected. You prepare responses for sales resistance, right? You’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you also prepare for unlikely, and even outlandish, situations.

Quick, answer each of these questions. You’ve got two seconds to respond. If you delay any longer you’ll get the gong. Ready? Go!

You’ve prepared meticulously for the 30-minute slot your prospect has allotted you for your sales presentation. As you walk into their boardroom your contact whispers to you that your time has been cut to 10 minutes. Now what?

  • You’re addressing a ballroom full of potential clients and the sound system goes down. What do you say?
  • You suddenly get the hiccups.
  • Your PowerPoint goes down.
  • Aliens land in the client’s atrium.

When the unexpected happens or—heaven forbid!—you make a mistake, humor can be the saving grace. I’m not saying you should just laugh off a serious mistake. However, when used mindfully, humor will decrease the tension, acknowledge the error, and provide some comic relief. Done well, it can also show others that you have the ability to laugh at yourself. The manner in which you respond may actually strengthen your relationship with that prospective client.

If you listen carefully to successful comics and politicians, you’ll begin to notice the saver-lines they pull out after a snafu. They’ve thought ahead and crafted a clever response (probably several responses) should the need arise.

*  *  *

Try this: Start writing a list of the possible—and the probable—mistakes, glitches, problems, interruptions or Freudian slips you might experience. Then write a list of possible comebacks. (Capture every idea. Later on you’ll edit-out the lines that are really funny, but are inappropriate to use. [Save those for your stand-up act!])

As you develop your own potential saver-lines, pair them with your possible blunders. Now practice them. Aloud! Why? Because the goal is to get them well-planted into your subconscious mind. Practicing in your head is good, but practicing aloud is great. By saying the words aloud, you are literally putting words in your mouth! And when you actually say the words, and hear yourself saying them, you are creating more connections, and stronger connections, between your neurons. So when the need arises, your response will come of its own accord, and appear to be spontaneous.

Mistakes happen. As a sales professional, you can plan ahead and use humor strategically to acknowledge a problem and bounce right back.

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

She can also be reached via:

Karyn@KarynBuxman.com
Twitter: @KarynBuxman
Facebook: FB.com/KarynBuxmanSpeaks
LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/KarynBuxman
Candy-grams: 1465 C St. #3318 SD, CA 92101
Smoke signals: avoid when prohibited by fire season!

 

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I Knew That! (Applied Humor: Knowing versus Doing)

“To know and not to do is not to know.” Chinese Proverb

John glanced quickly over his shoulder as he was driving me to my speaking venue and asked, “So you’re the speaker? What do you speak about?”

Ah! Did he know that this is a professional speaker’s favorite question?! “My body of work for the last 25 years has been the study of humor’s relationship to profitability and health. This afternoon I’m going to share how to use humor as a competitive business edge,” I explained, delighted to share my passion with him.

I could see John’s smiling eyes in the rearview mirror. “Did you know that humor is really, really good for you?” he asked in all sincerity. (Yes, I knew that!) John then went on to tell me a somewhat fuzzy version of Norman Cousins overcoming his life-threatening illness by watching funny movies. It was fun to hear someone else extol on the benefits of humor—and I was encouraged that the word was getting out to the general public that humor has practical benefits.

As I got out of the car and headed toward my meeting, I thought about what John said. Everyone knows humor makes us feel better. Everyone knows it’s enjoyable. Everyone knows that “it’s good for us.” So making humor part of our daily repertoire should simply be common sense, right? But as integrative neuroscientist Dr. Heidi Hanna points out, “Common sense is not common practice.”

Just because we know something is beneficial doesn’t mean we act on that knowledge. I know eating a low-calorie-high-fiber kale salad instead of a piping hot slice of delicious pepperoni and sausage pizza would be better for my waistline—but my belt size can attest to the fact that I don’t act on that knowledge—at least not consistently! My inconsistent actions keep me from experiencing benefits I know to be true.

Just because you know humor can enhance your leadership skills, or give you a competitive edge in sales, or improve your health doesn’t mean that you’re actually experiencing any of these benefits. The truth is that the vast majority of people allow humor to happen by chance, rather than by choice. They stumble across something that makes them laugh in the midst of their busy day and then hurry on—places to go, people to meet. The good news is when you let humor happen by chance, you can still experience some benefits. But when you purposefully implement humor by choicenow you can really leverage the advantages and reap tremendous rewards.

Exercising on an occasional basis is better than no exercise at all, but you really gain the most results when you exercise consistently. It’s similar with humor. When you stumble across humor occasionally, it can elevate your mood, it can decrease your muscle tension, and it may even boost your immune system a bit. But to truly build your resilience, improve your creativity, increase your likability, enhance your communication skills, and reap other additional benefits, it’s best to practice humor consistently—every day.

Let’s say you make a commitment to run a 10K marathon. Would you wait until the day before the race to start working out at the gym? Only if you want to set yourself up for a huge fail! Instead you’d work out on a regular basis—increasing your strength and your stamina. Your commitment to run the race would be futile if you didn’t consistently prepare for it. Business development expert Mark Leblanc once told me, “Consistency trumps commitment every time.” If you want to experience humor as a competitive advantage, then set yourself up to succeed by practicing a bit of humor everyday.

There are many ways to practice humor on a regular basis. Below are three ideas. Pick one and practice it consistently over the next 21 days. (You get extra credit for keeping track of your experiences in a journal.) I promise you that you will begin to see a difference not only in yourself, but also in those around you.

  1. Seek humor from one other person. This can be a customer, a colleague, a friend or a family member. Ask them to share a joke, a funny story, or an embarrassing moment they can now laugh about.
  2. Set a goal to discover one humorous incident in your day. This could be something you read, something you hear, or something that you experience.
  3. Watch one funny video that tickles your funny bone. This might be a gif on your smart phone, a YouTube clip on your computer, or a sitcom on your TV.

Set yourself apart and ahead of the crowd. Give yourself a competitive edge. Practice humor not by chance, but by choice—Humor is power!

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

She can also be reached via:

Karyn@KarynBuxman.com
Twitter: @KarynBuxman
Facebook: FB.com/KarynBuxmanSpeaks
LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/KarynBuxman
Candy-grams: 1465 C St. #3318 SD, CA 92101
Smoke signals: avoid when prohibited by fire season!

Posted in: Business, Humor

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Leadership and Humor: Jolly Good!

As I began the interview for my podcast, I looked at his boyish grin and into his playful eyes. “My guest today is Chade-Meng Tan, and he’ll be sharing his insights on leading with levity.”

Meng got a puzzled look on his face and said, “Levity? Oh, I thought we’d be talking about levitation. I guess I’ll have to throw out my notes!”

“Uh-oh,” I thought. “This might be a disaster!”

Chade-Meng Tan then tipped back his head and laughed. Perhaps I should mention that Meng is known as Google’s Jolly Good Fellow. “Leaders need to establish trust—and humor is one way of establishing trust,” he said.

Recently retired from Google (at age 45), Meng is an award-winning engineer, bestselling author, TED talk presenter (check out his TED talk  where he shares his insight: “Compassion Is Fun”), and Co-chair of One Billion Acts of Peace, which has been nominated seven times for the Noble Peace Prize. As a leader, he demonstrates that you can use humor not only to lead in your workplace or organization, but on a global scale.

In your pursuit of better leadership skills you’ve collected an extensive set of tools: Focus. Vision. Values. Strategy. Tactics. Emotional intelligence. Goal-setting. Decision-making. Storytelling. Mentoring. Humor.

Humor??!

I’ve noticed that MBA programs rarely teach humor. And business books don’t extoll the benefits of humor in the corporate—or any organizational—setting. And that’s too bad, because humor is a tool that enhances many of the other leadership tools that you use. Humor enhances communication; bonds teams; improves retention; increases productivity; and improves profitability.

The effectiveness of humor used to be anecdotal. But now it’s a scientifically proven fact that humor has physiological, psychological, and social benefits. Over the past several decades neuroscientists, psychologists, social scientists, and integrative scientists have been ferreting out the secrets of humor.

Research from Wharton, MIT, and London Business School reveal the practical benefits of humor in the workplace. Even “The Harvard Business Review” acknowledges that humor is an important leadership skill.

As a leader, you need a variety of tools that will help you better guide, direct, and inspire others: Your overall temperament and personal style; the manner in which you give guidance, instructions and reprimands; your ability to adapt your techniques to each person and each team you’re addressing (“emotional intelligence,” anyone?!); the tone of your voice; the different styles of communications for one-on-one interactions, for small group meetings, and for large audience situations; your flexibility, your writing style; your confidence; your level of expertise, and—your use of humor.

A good leader knows that when humor happens by chance, positive things can happen. But a great leader knows that humor applied with purpose, intention and mindfulness can change the world.

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

She can also be reached via:

Karyn@KarynBuxman.com
Twitter: @KarynBuxman
Facebook: FB.com/KarynBuxmanSpeaks
LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/KarynBuxman
Candy-grams: 1465 C St. #3318 SD, CA 92101
Smoke signals: avoid when prohibited by fire season!

Posted in: Business, Humor, Leadership

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Humor & Home Sales: What’s the Connection?

real estateSelling real estate requires a unique combination of skills. Not only must realtors know everything there is to know about the homes they’re selling and the neighborhood those homes reside in, they must understand the tangled process of financing a home purchase.

On top of that, they need tremendous people skills, in order to attract buyers, understand what their needs are, identify the best properties for them, and provide support and encouragement through the home buying process.

Humor is one of the most essential – yet seldom discussed – tools the real estate agent has at his or her disposal. The realtor who knows how to use laughter to begin relationships sells more homes.

I saw a great example of this on Twitter this morning (Thanks, @sjsincanada!) There are plenty of people who’d shy away from buying property near a cemetery – blame it on too many late night horror shows or cultural traditions that are uncomfortable with the idea of being too close to the departed – but with a humorous twist, this agent turned a potential negative into a positive.

Additionally, the laugh may be enough to make people driving by give the home a second look – and if they like what they see, it’s a lot easier to pick up the phone and make a call. Using humor removes barriers to communication. People who use humor as part of their presentation are less intimidating, and therefore more approachable, than someone who has a stern, all-business-all-the-time affect.

You don’t want potential home buyers to be afraid to contact you. Look for opportunities to use humor as a door-opener; a way to ease people into doing business with you. If you can make someone laugh, you can help them find the right home. It’s as amazing -and amusing! – as that.

 

Posted in: Business, Catching Up With Karyn

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My “BIGGAS” Savings

Truth is, I don’t watch TV much. Mostly it’s bad for your health. And honestly most of us don’t watch TV as much as we let it drone on in the background until something manages to cut through the clatter.

 

My stress level begins to climb after just a few minutes of listening to Natalie Morales telling me about the war raging in (name-your-location-here), or Norah O’Donnell telling me about the effects of global warming, or Jean Chatsky telling me I’ve invested poorly and am going to have to let my favorite child pick out my nursing home. I’ll admit it, my chest feels a little tighter, my anxiety is a little higher, and I’m wondering if a glass of Merlot for breakfast would count as a fruit on my Weight Watcher points.

 

But yesterday something different cut through the clatter. I’m thinking, “Did I hear that right?!”  I stopped what I was doing and looked up. The commercial for Kmart’s gas savings was quick—and by the time I got to where I could see the TV, the ad was over. But what I heard was so clever and quirky that I was compelled to fire up the computer and look it up on YouTube.

 

Funny? Hysterical!

Witty? You bet!

Edgy? Without a doubt.

 

But Kmart understands that Funny Means Money. If you want someone listening, get them laughing. And now your message, your product, your service is heard above the noise. Trust me. I’m not the first one to forward Kmart’s link to hundreds of my BFFs. Kmart has managed to generate two million hits in just a few days. You can watch it for yourself here. I gotta run. I’m going to get my “BIGGAS” savings.

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What’s So Funny About Business?

You might not have an immediate answer for that question.  Business is hard work. Owning and operating a business can consume your life.  Working for somebody else – whether that’s in operations, marketing, hr, or the dreaded accounting division – isn’t necessarily a piece of cake, either.  We devote tremendous amounts of time, energy, and resources into our work, because so much depends on being successful.

Surely this is no laughing matter.

Actually, laughing is the best thing you can be doing.  We’d even argue that you have to laugh, if you want to succeed. Don’t believe us? Just ask the people at Southwest.  Their uniquely humorous approach has earned them significant goodwill and provided them with a valuable differentiator in a crowded and competitive marketplace.

You see, it turns out that the strategic use of humor is one of the single most important tools businesses have at their disposal.  The ability to use humor:

  • effectively attracts more customers to your brand, increasing market share and profitability
  • augments and enhances every marketing strategy
  • makes your company appear more ‘human’ and approachable – vital in a world driven by social media
  • helps ensure superior customer service, from effective customer engagement to resolving complaints quickly
  • makes it easier to attract and retain valuable employees
  • creates a positive workplace environment

And there’s more!

Posted in: Business

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Russian Prosecutors Probe Parasailing Donkey

I stared at the headline in disbelief.  This world offers up many strange things, I know.  You can’t be a nurse for any length of time before you run headfirst into the impossible, the insane, or at least the definitively ill advised.  But here we are, looking at the New York Times, a reasonably well respected journalistic outlet, reading that Russian Prosecutors Probe Parasailing Donkey.

Somewhere, a Times editor is laughing his head off.  Not at the story, which is little more than a questionable marketing stunt that left a donkey dangling above the Azov sea, braying its displeasure as the waves crashed beneath its hooves for half an hour.

It’s the headline itself that’s funny – read it aloud to anyone at random, a colleague, a friend, a stranger on the street – and you’ll get at least a chuckle.  The words are so absurd – the juxtaposition of donkeys and parasailing so unexpected – that the only thing you can do is laugh.

Sometimes, you can’t make this stuff up!
That’s the beauty of humor.  You don’t have to BE funny to SEE funny.  A major part of the effort to integrate humor into your life on a more regular basis – whether you’re doing this as a way to manage stress, increase your physical and emotional health or just have more fun – is learning how to view the world through a selective lens, keeping our eyes open to the things that are (perhaps unintentionally) funny that pop up in everyday life.

There were countless headlines in the Times this week.  What went wrong in the Gulf? What is Goldman Sachs doing to the market now? Are academics seeing the end of the tenure tradition?  All important, worthy questions, worth considering.

But it’s just as important, just as essential for our souls, our well being, our ability to cope with a world of oil spills and investment bankers, that we consider other things as well.  Things that make us laugh.  Things that make our heart delight.  Things that are just too silly to be taken seriously.

When we see Russians Probing Parasailing Donkeys, that’s a gift from the universe – delivered, perhaps, via an editor’s twisted perspective.  Smile.  Laugh.  Give thanks you’re not a donkey.  Recognize the benefits that are part of your existence and go forth with a merry heart to share the joy. Ponder the existence of aviation goggles for donkeys, to be worn with a leather cap and a white scarf knotted around the neck and mane. You don’t have to be funny. You only have to see funny!

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