Businesses which encourage humor also suggest: 44 1. Take Risks. 2. Don’t worry about making mistakes. 3. Take iniative. 4. Spend energy on solutions. 5. Shoot for total quality. 6. Don’t worry about breaking things. 7. Focus on opportunities. 8. Experiment. 9. Take responsibility. 10. Try easier, not harder. 11. Stay calm. 12. Smile. 13. Have fun. (Morreall : 459)
How do you encourage humor in your business?
Flatten your organization by reducing the levels of management.
Allow workers more discretion in making decisions.
Foster creative thinking.
Accept employee attitudes, emotions, and suggestions.
Encourage teamwork and collaboration.
(Morreall : 458)
A Robert Hall survey of 100 of the largest American corporations found that 84 % of vice presidents and human resource directors preferred employees with a sense of humor.
They concluded that “People with a sense of humor tend to be more creative, less rigid and more willing to consider and embrace new ideas and methods.”
(Morreall : 459)
A Hodge-Cronin survey polling 737 CEOs of major corporations concluded that 98 % of respondents said that humor was important in the conduct of business, that most executives did not have enough humor, and that in hiring they gave preference to people with a sense of humor.
(Morreal : 459)
Match the Slogans with the Products
“ Athlete’s Foot,” “B. O.” “The beer that made Milwaukee famous,” “The drink that makes a pause refreshing,” “Good to the last drop,” “Halitosis,” “Knocks Eczema,” “Natures spelled backwards,” “Say it with flowers,” “The skin you love to touch,” “Snap, Crackle and Pop,” “VapoRub,” “When it rains, it pours,”
Absorbine Jr., Lifebuoy Soap, Schlitz Beer, Coca Cola, Maxwell House Coffee, Listerine Mouthwash, Noxema, Serutan, American Florest Assoc., Woodbury’s Facial Soap, Rice Krispies, Vicks, Morton Salt
CREATIVE SPELLINGS: E-Z, Kwik, ReaLemon, Reddi-Wip, Tastee-Freez, Toys Я Us, While you wait
(Bryson, : 427-430)
The Staying Power of Brand Names
“ In nineteen of twenty-two categories, the company that owned the leading American brand in 1925 still has it today. Examples include:
Campbells in soup
Del Monte in canned fruit
Gillette in razors
Ivory in soap
Kellogg’s in breakfast cereals
Kodak in film
Nabisco in cookies
Sherwin Williams in paint
Singer in sewing machines
Wrigleys in chewing gum
(Bryson : 431)
Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns
Many advertisers are so successful that their product names ordinary words in the language. Ironically, this is because of their own advertising campaigns:
“ Kodak as you go.”
“ Thermos is a household word.”
“ Drink Coca Cola.”
“ Because of the confusion, and occasional lack of fastidiousness on the part of their owners, many dozens of products have lost their trademark protection, among them aspirin, linoneum, yo-yo, thermos, cellophane, milk of magnesia, mimeograph, lanolin, celluloid, dry ice, escalator, shredded wheat, kerosene and zipper.”
(Bryson : 433)
Materialism in America
“ If Greece gave the world philosophy, Britain gave drama, Austria gave music, Germany gave politics, and Italy gave art, then America has recently contributed mass-produced and mass-consumed objects.”
“ In all cultures we buy things, steal things, and hoard things. From time to time, some of us collect vast amounts of things such as tulip bulbs, paint drippings on canvases, bits of minerals. Others collect such stuff as thimbles, shoes, even libraries of videocassettes.”
(Twitchell : 454-455)
“ Materialism does not crowd out spiritualism; spiritualism is more likely a substitute when objects are scarce. When we have few things, we make the next world holy. When we have plenty, we enchant the objects around us. The hereafter becomes the here and now.”
“ The Nike swoosh, the Polo pony, the Guess? Label, the DKNY logo are what consumers are after.”
(Twitchell : 457)
The Marketing of the Sugarplum Fairy and the Nutcracker
Enid Nemy tells about seven-year-old Mollie Kurshan who attended “The Nutcracker Suite” at Lincoln Center and then told her mother:
“ There was a Sugar Plum Fairy and beautiful costumes, and ‘best of all they stopped in the middle so you could go shopping.’ The Kurshans now have a cute little wooden nutcracker, bought at the gift shop during intermission.”
(Twitchell : 459)
Marketing Controls Our Lives
“ Not only are all major museum shows sponsored by corporate interests, but they all end up in the same spot: the gift shop.”
“ The year is punctuated by extravaganzas from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day to Halloween”
“ We even know when prices fall: Washington’s birthday, Labor Day, after Christmas.”
We also know what kind of candy to expect on certain days: candy canes, sugar hearts, chocolate, candy corn, and instead of water breaks, we have coffee breaks, tea time, cocktail hour, and night caps.
(Twitchell : 460)
Brand Names & Car Bumper Marketing
We buy name brands like Hilfiger or Calvin Klein clothing, Paul Newman popcorn, Jimmy Dean sausages, or Michael Jordan cologne.
On cars we find such bumper stickers as:
“ Shop ‘til you drop.”
“ He who dies with the most toys wins.”
“ People who say money can’t buy happiness, don’t know where to shop.”
“ When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”
“ But I can’t be overdrawn! I still have some checks left.”
I’m spending my grandchildren’s inheritance.”
“ nouveau riche is better than no riche at all.”
“ A woman’s place is in the mall.”
(Twitchell : 460)
Products are More Important than People
One ad features an attractive young couple in bed. “The man is on top of the woman, presumably making love to her. However, her face is completely covered by a magazine, open to a double-page photo of a car.”
“ The man is gazing passionately at the car. The copy reads, ‘The ultimate attraction.’”
(Kilbourne : 467)
People say, “I don’t pay attention to ads. I just tune them out. They have no effect on me.”
“ Much of advertising’s power comes from this belief that it does not affect us. As Joseph Goebbels said, “This is the secret of propaganda: those who are to be persuaded by it should be completely immersed in the ideas of the propaganda, without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it.”
(Kilbourne : 468)
Products are our friends, and our gods.
“ I once heard an alcoholic joke that Jack Daniels was her most constant lover.”
“ When I was a smoker, I felt that my cigarettes were my friends. Advertising reinforces these beliefs so we are twice seduced—by the ads and by the substances themselves.”
“ Advertising performs much the same function in industrial society as myth did in ancient societies. It is both a creator and perpetuator of the dominant values of the culture, the social norms by which most people govern their behavior. At the very least, advertising helps to create a climate in which certain values flourish and others are not reflected at all.”
(Kilbourne : 469)
Advertising is a religion
“ Infiniti is an automobile; Hydra Zen is a moisturizer, and Jesus is a brand of jeans.”
“ Consumerism has become the religion of our time (with advertising its holy text), but the criticism usually stops short of what is at the heart of the comparison. Both advertising and religion share a belief in transformation.”
(Kilbourne : 470)
Advertising can change cultures
“ In 1980 the Gwich’in tribe of Alaska got television, and therefore massive advertising, for the first time.”
“ They no longer had time to learn ancient hunting methods, their parents’ language or their oral history.”
“ Legends told around campfires could not compete with Beverly Hills 90210.”
“ Beaded moccasins gave way to Nike sneakers, and “tundra tea” to Folger’s instant coffee.”
(Kilbourne : 470)
During interviews of job candidates, Nancy Hauge, Director of human resources at Sun Microsystems “notes how soon job candidates laugh.”
She watches for how long it takes the interviewee to find something funny, tell her something funny, or share their sense of humor, “because humor is very important to our corporate culture.”
(Morreall  459)
Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations
The back cover of Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations pictures the author (Tom Peters) dressed in a gray suit from the waist up, and in loud orange-print undershorts from the waist down.
This is followed by the following quote from the book: “Welcome to a world where imagination is the source of value in the economy. It’s an insane world, and in an insane world, sane organizations make no sense.”
(Morreall : 460)
The Grouch Patrol
One branch of Digital Equipment created the “Grouch Patrol.”
Whenever they see a sour face, they make a bat face.
To make a bat face, push the tip of your nose up, flick your tongue in and out quickly, and make a high-pitched “Eeeee” sound.
(Morreall : 460)
Humorous Sales Reinforcement
The 75-member sales team of IBM’s Inside Sales Center made a pick-up orchestra, and recorded their sales in fun ways—by smashing a gong, or by moving a toy race-horse around a race track. In the saddles were pictures of the various sales personnel.
Within a year their sales figures went up by 30 percent.
(Morreall : 460)
In their Humor at Work , Esther Blumenfield and Lynne Alpern tell about a group of women who had a co-worker who would routinely drop his pencil on the floor so that he could look under the table at their legs.
So the ladies used a magic marker to print on their knees, one letter per kneecap: “HI RALPH.”
(Morreall  462)
John Cleese’s Video Arts Company
In one of his business-training videos, John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) tells how laughter helps people pay attention, relax, learn better, and develop a less-defensive attitude.
In his video entitled, “Meetings, Bloody Meetings” he shows a meeting in which everything that could go wrong does go wrong.
Employees have to admit that they have made some of these same mistakes, but they are not on the defensive for having made them, and can do better in the future.
(Morreall : 466)
When one business manager made a really bad mistake, and had to call a meeting to talk about it, he walked into the meeting wearing a t-shirt with a large red bulls-eye in the front.
Everyone laughed, relaxed, and began working on the problem.
(Morreall : 466)
Benefits of Humor in the Workplace
1. Humor is physically and psychologically healthy, especially in reducing stress.
2. Humor fosters mental flexibility, blocking negative emotions (fear, anger and depression), and helping workers keep their cool and think more clearly.
(Morreall : 470)
3. Because humor is based on enjoying what is unexpected, humor gets us out of ruts and helps us think more creatively.
4. Because humor involves switching perspectives, it helps us cope with change and increases our tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.
5. Because humor helps people develop rapport with each other, it serves as a social lubricant. Companies which promote humor have higher morale, more loyalty to the company, and closer bonds among employees.
(Morreall : 470)
Examples of Humor in the Workplace
A debt collection letter reads as follows:
“ We appreciate your business, but, please, give us a break. Your account is overdue 10 months. That means that we’ve carried you longer than your mother did.”
(Morreall : 471)
The CEO of a large Canadian bank appears in a monthly corporate video that is shown to all employees to discuss recent issues and plans.
“ But part way through his presentation, a hand puppet appears to ask him questions about recent problems in the bank and even to poke fun at him.”
(Morreall : 471)
Just as the California police arrive on the scene of a family fight, one officer hears loud noises and screaming. Then she sees a portable TV set come crashing through the front window.
She knocks loudly on the door, and when the occupants ask, “Who’s there,” she responds,
“ TV repair.”
(Morreall : 471)
Scott Adams’ “Dilbert”
“‘ Dilbert” themes include downsizing, heavy work loads, micromanagement of budgets, humiliating small cubicles, the accelerating pace of change, corporate gobbledegook, management fads, cruel bosses, annoying colleagues, and red tape.”
Guy Kawasaki, a management expert at Apple Computer says: “There are only two kinds of companies, those that recognize that they’re just like ‘Dilbert,’ and those that don’t know it yet.”
(Morreall : 472)
Herb Kelleher is the CEO of Southwest Airlines.
In 1994, Fortune magazine featured Kelleher “dressed in a WWI-style leather aviator’s helmet and goggles flying with just his arms. The caption read, “Is Herb Kelleher America’s Best CEO? He’s wild; he’s crazy; he’s in a tough business—and he has built the most successful airline in the U.S.”
The article goes on to show how “Kelleher’s sense of humor, his quick mind and business savvy, and his ability to create an enthusiastic team are interrelated.”
(Morreall : 473).
In his job interviews, one of the questions that Kelleher asks is, “Tell me how you recently used your sense of humor in a work environment. Tell me how you have used humor to defuse a difficult situation.” He explains why:
“ What we are looking for, first and foremost, is a sense of humor. We don’t care that much about education and expertise, because we can train people…. We hire attitudes.”
(Morreall  473)
Herb Kelleher vs. Kurt Herwald
In 1992, the slogan of Southwest Airlines was “Just Plane Smart.”
In 1992, the slogan of Stevens Aviation was “Plane Smart.”
So the two CEOs decided to arm wrestle for the slogan.
(Morreall : 474)
The Arm-Wrestling Match
Herwald was a beefy 37-year-old weight lifter.
Kelleher was a 61-year-old long-time smoker and bourbon drinker.
When Kelleher came to the match, he had his right arm in a sling, and a bad case of “Athlete’s Foot”—the result of “overtraining”
(Morreall : 474)
Kelleher Lost the Match, but…
The Southwest people were in the stands shouting, “Herb! Herb! Herb!”
Although Kelleher lost the match, the Southwest people still enjoy telling the story.
More of the story of Southwest Airlines can be found in Kevin and Jackie Freiberg’s book, Nuts! Southwest Airline’s Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success
(Morreall  474)
Herb Kelleher’s Southwest Airlines
Southwest employees are encouraged to create a playful environment.
When there is a delay at the gate, the ticket agent might award prizes to the passengers with the strangest items in their pockets or purses.
They have even been known to sing the flight safety announcements to the tune of the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies TV show.
(Morreall : 474)
Logical Infelicities and Language Play in Advertising:
Ape Lincoln, bleeding heart liberal, male chauvinist pig
our Christian heritage, unquestioned patriotism, silent majority
kissing babies, eating Polish sausages, fried chicken, or blintzes
Stroking (Argument ad Populum)
you fine people, heartland of America, backbone of America
Argument ad Hominem
fanatics, lesbians, Lincoln the baboon
(Cross : 149-159)
MORE LOGICAL INFELICITIES:
Transfer (Guilt or Glory by Association)
Ku Klux Klan, as American as apple pie
the Pepsi generation, Blings & Icies
Faulty Cause and Effect
frisby suck, when I wash my car it rains.
Don’t change horses in mid stream.
(Cross : 149-159)
STILL MORE LOGICAL INFELICITIES
Begging the Question
rhetorical question, Why did you murder your wife?
The two-Extremes Fallacy (False Dilemma)
America, love it or leave it. You’re with me, or you’re against me.
Card Stacking (Cherry Picking)
If it bleeds it leads. ct. the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
Joe Namath selling panty hose, a TV doctor (or a real doctor) promoting a certain medicine
(Cross : 149-159)
!59 Doublespeak & Newspeak
As chair of the National Council of Teachers of English’s Committee on Public Doublespeak, William Lutz has been a watchdog of public officials who use language to “mislead, distort, deceive, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.”
Each year the committee presents the Doublespeak Award, recognizing the most outrageous use of public doublespeak in the worlds of government and business.
Lutz considers doublespeak to be “language which pretends to communicate but doesn’t, language which makes the bad seem good, the negative appear positive, the unpleasant attractive, or at least tolerable.”
(Lutz : 177)
Weasel Words—named for the empty eggs that weasels have sucked the contents out of:
New and Improved
Works Like, Works Against, Works Longer
Twice as Long
(Lutz : 422-451)
Sissela Bok says that we need to distinguish between the various ways there are to mislead people, including “duplicity, mendacity, deception, deceit, lying, exaggerations, and euphemisms.”
(Bok : 190)
Defenders of The War in Iraq
“ Defenders of the Bush administration’s war policies reject all imputations of deceit. True, some among them acknowledge, their predictions turned out to be wrong; true, they may have relied on faulty intelligence or untrustworthy informants. But they spoke in error, they insist, never intending to mislead.”
(Bok : 196)
Opponents of the War in Iraq
“ Increasing numbers now question whether intelligence was simply erroneous or whether it was twisted, ‘cherry-picked,’ to mislead the public.”
“ They are skeptical about the sincerity of those who claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and who issued warnings such as that ‘the smoking gun that could turn into a mushroom cloud’ or who claimed to know that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al-Quaeda.”
(Bok : 196)
“ Even among those who hold such sharply discordant views, however, there are two areas of agreement. First, most people now agree that President Bush and other public officials presented arguments to support going to war that relied on evidence later found to be false. Second, most also agree that the burden of death, disability, and suffering resulting from the invasion is far greater than the proponents of going to war had predicted.”
(Bok : 197)
HUMOR IN BUSINESS
In Humor Works , John Morreall said that people do their best work when they have control over their lives and when they feel they are valued members of a team.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 57)
Morreall outlined five advantages of humor in the workplace:
It helps reduce psychological distance between management and non-management.
It minimizes formality and makes it easy and comfortable for people to communicate across levels.
It fosters camaraderie and team spirit.
It promotes positive rather than negative reinforcement.
It encourages people to take risks and try new things.
(Nilsen and Nilsen 57)
Robert Frost said, “By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.”
(Nilsen & Nilsen 57-58)
“ SOFT SKILLS”
C. Thomas Howard, director of the MBA program at the University of Denver said in a New York Times interview:
“ It’s interesting that hard skills are considered better than soft, but when people go into management, it’s the soft skills that…make the difference in career success.”
(Nilsen & Nilsen 58)
LETTUCE AMUSE U
In California, first-time traffic offenders can go to traffic school rather than having a ticket go on their permanent record.
In designing traffic schools, Ray and Linda Regan had less success in traditional schools than in funny schools.
(Nilsen & Nilsen 58)
The humor in the funny traffic schools is always “on task.”
One instructor said that an extra reason for keeping a child safe in a backward-facing car seat is “If you get rear-ended, you’ve got a witness.”
Another instructor said that most car accidents happen within 10 miles from home and then says, “The last time I mentioned that, a guy jumped up in the back of the class and said, ‘That’s it. I’m moving!’”
(Nilsen & Nilsen 58)
HUMOR IN ADVERTISING
In Funny Business: Humour, Management and Business Culture , Jean-Louis Barsoux said that there are similarities between good humor and good advertising copy:
1. They require brevity
2. They open people’s minds to enable them to have a new viewpoint.
3. People get involved in processing the message, and therefore remember it longer.
(Nilsen and Nilsen 58-59)
A HUMOROUS AD
Volkswagon successfully introduced the VW Rabbit into the United States with a 10-second commercial.
It showed two rabbits looking into the camera, with one of them saying,
“ In 1956 there were only two VWs in America.”
(Nilsen & Nilsen 59)
!THE LAWS OF BUSINESS
MURPHY’S LAW: “If anything can go wrong, it will,” extended to “When left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse,” and “If anything can go wrong, it will, and even if it can’t it might.”
O’TOOLE’S LAW: “Murphy was an optimist.”
DAMON RUNYAN’S LAW: “In all human affairs, the odds are always six to five against.”
(Nilsen & Nilsen 95)
!!THE PETER PRINCIPLE: “Each employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.”
PETER’S COROLARY PRINCIPLE: “When people are doing well they will be promoted, which means that everyone not upwardly mobile is incompetent.”
MARSHALL’S GENERALIZED ICEBERG THEOREM: “Seven-eights of everything can’t be seen.”
PAUL HERBIG’S PRINCIPLE OF BUREAUCRATIC TINKERTOYS: “If it can be understood, it’s not yet finished.”
(Nilsen & Nilsen 96)
!!!THE FINAL RULES OF BUSINESS
RULE NUMBER 1: “The boss is always right.”
RULE NUMBER 2: “If the boss is wrong, see Rule Number 1.”
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