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  • 1. HUMOR IN BUSINESS Wali MemonW ALI MEMON 1
  • 2. IS HUMOR GOOD FOR THE BOTTOM LINE? BUSINESS AS USUALW ALI MEMON 2
  • 3. BUT WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF BUSINESS AS USUAL?W ALI MEMON 3
  • 4. BUSINESSES ARE NOW LOOKING FOR NEW APPROACHES An Office at Google Professor John Morreall works with Humor consultant John many successful companies. Morreall advises businesses He helps them find ways to on how to make employees make their employees WANT “like” to come to work. to come to work. It is fine to decorate an He stresses that decorating office or pin up cartoons, an office or pinning up funny but really, it i much more cartoons is just a beginning. complex than that.W ALI MEMON 4
  • 5. BUSINESSES WHICH ENCOURAGE HUMOR ALSO: Take initiative and risks. Do not worry about Do not worry about making breaking things. mistakes. Try easier, not harder. Spend energy on solutions. Stay calm. Shoot for total quality. Take responsibility. Focus on opportunities. Experiment. Smile. Have fun.W ALI MEMON 5
  • 6. TO ACCOMPLISH THESE GOALS, COMPANIES HAVE TO: Flatten the organization by reducing levels of management. Allow workers more discretion in making decisions. Foster creative thinking. Accept employee attitudes, emotions, and suggestions. Encourage teamwork and collaboration.W ALI MEMON 6
  • 7. ADMINISTRATORS’ VIEWS OF HUMOR- IN-BUSINESS : A survey of 100 of the largest American corporations found that 84% of administrators preferred employees with a sense of humor because, they “tend to be more creative, less rigid, and more willing to consider and embrace new ideas and methods.” In a different survey of 737 CEO’s, 98% said that humor was important in the conduct of business and that they therefore gave preference to people with a sense of humor. C.Thomas Howard, director of the MBA program at the University of Denver said in a New York Times interview that “It is 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.”W ALI MEMON 7
  • 8. MORE SUPPORT FOR HUMOR The director of human resources at Sun Microsystems told Prof. Morreall that in interviews she watches for how long it takes an interviewee to laugh or to find something funny, or in some other way share their sense of humor “because humor is very important in our corporate future.” Employees in a branch of Digital Equipment took it upon themselves to encourage a humorous tone in their workplace. They created a “Grouch Patrol” so that when they see someone with a sour face, they respond by making a bat face, which involves pushing the tip of their noses up, flicking their tongues in and out quickly, and making a high- pitched “Eeeee” sound.W ALI MEMON 8
  • 9. WHEN HUMOR “BUBBLES-UP” FROM EMPLOYEES, THERE WILL OF COURSE BE LOTS OF VARIETY. Practical jokes we’ve recently heard about include decorating or putting foam packing bubbles in the cubicles of colleagues who are absent. A boss who went on a three-week trip, came back to find real sod rolled out in his office just to prove that “grass does grow under your feet.” One company sponsored a door-decorating contest on the cruise ship that was taking 12 of their outstanding employees to Mexico. The winners were four secretaries who had photos of their faces superimposed on pictures of jungle animals. They used the slogan “Where the Wild Things Are” when creating a fake jungle. Losers teased them for getting professional help with their photos.W ALI MEMON 9
  • 10. AT OUR LOCAL BEADS GALORE STORE AN EMPLOYEE MADE THIS SIGN FOR THE WINDOW. “UNATTENDED CHILDREN WILL BE APPARENTLY, SHE WAS TIRED OF GIVEN TO THE GOBLIN KING” REARRANGING THE DISPLAYS.W ALI MEMON 10
  • 11. OTHER EXAMPLES OF WORKPLACE HUMOR A debt collector sent out a letter reading, “We appreciate your business, but, please, give us a break. Your account is overdue 10 months. That means we’ve carried you longer than your mother did.” A business manager, who made a really bad mistake, wore a T-shirt with a large red bulls-eye on it when he went to a meeting about the problem. Everyone laughed, relaxed, and began working on the problem. A large IBM sales team improved their record 30% when they formed a pick-up orchestra and recorded their sales in fun ways, e.g. by blowing a horn, smashing a gong, or moving toy race-horses around a race track.W ALI MEMON 11
  • 12. MORE EXAMPLES In their Humor at Work, Esther Blumenfield and Lynne Alpern told about four women who conspired to get even with a male co-worker. At meetings, he would routinely drop his pencil on the floor so that he could bend down under the table and look up their skirts. One day before a scheduled meeting, they used a magic marker to print on their kneecaps: H I (space) R A L P H. John Morreall tells about how the CEO of a large Canadian bank appears in a monthly corporate video shown to all employees to discuss recent issues and plans. But part way through his presentation, a hand puppet will appear, and sort of like a jester for a King will begin poking fun and asking him about recent problems in the bank.W ALI MEMON 12
  • 13. PART OF THE REASON THAT THE JIMMY JOHN’S SANDWICH SHOPS ARE GROWING SO QUICKLY IS THEIR QUIRKY HUMOR.W ALI MEMON 13
  • 14. CARTOONIST SCOTT ADAMS HAS MADE HIS CAREER DRAWING “DILBERT” CARTOONS WHICH EXPLORE THESE BUSINESS-RELATED THEMES: Downsizing Heavy work loads Micromanagement of budgets Cubicles that are humiliatingly small An accelerating pace of change Corporate gobbledygook Management fads Cruel bosses, Annoying colleagues and red tape. HOW DO THEY WORK TO RELIEVE TENSION?W ALI MEMON 14
  • 15. ADAMS ENCOURAGES READERS TO SEND IN THEIR TRUE STORIES. HIS CARTOONS ARE SO POPULAR THAT THEY ARE PUBLISHED ON THE BUSINESS PAGES OF MOST NEWSPAPERS. Guy Kawasaki, a management expert at Apple Computer said, “There are only two kinds of companies, those that recognize that they’re just like Dilbert, and those that don’t know it yet.”W ALI MEMON 15
  • 16. ONCE EMPLOYEES INCORPORATE HUMOR IN THEIR DAILY LIVES, IT SEEMS NATURAL TO EXTEND HUMOR TO THEIR CUSTOMERS AND POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. For example, Volkswagen introduced the VW Rabbit into the United States with a 10-second commercial showing two rabbits looking into the camera. One is saying, “In 1956 there were only two VWs in America. . .” At a California traffic school that is named Lettuce Amuse U, the teachers are comedians, who try to make up for the angst their students feel because of being ticketed, e.g. one teacher explains to his students that an extra reason for keeping your baby safe in a backward-facing car seat is “If you get rear-ended, you’ve got a witness.”W ALI MEMON 16
  • 17. IN ARIZONA, EVEN THE STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT USES A SENSE OF HUMOR WHEN BEFORE THREE-DAY-WEEKENDS,THEY PUT LIGHTED WARNINGS ON MAJOR HIGHWAYS.W ALI MEMON 17
  • 18. AS PART OF A SUBSCRIPTION DRIVE, THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC GAVE AWAY UMBRELLAS COVERED WITH REPRINTS OF THEIR COMIC STRIPS, WHILE AT OUR FOOT DOCTOR’S OFFICE, WE WERE AMUSED TO SEE HE HAD INCORPORATED THE ANTI-FUNGUS TOENAIL GANG TO TELL US TO TURN OFF OUR CELL PHONES.W ALI MEMON 18
  • 19. CONNECTIONS BETWEEN HUMOR AND ADVERTISING Jean-Louis Barsoux compared good humor and good advertising copy when she wrote: They both require brevity. They open people’s minds to enable them to have a new viewpoint. People get involved in processing the message, and therefore remember it longer.W ALI MEMON 19
  • 20. MATCH THE SLOGANS WITH THE PRODUCTS Your grandparents, and maybe your Match them up with the popular parents, will remember these slogans. products. Is there humor involved? The beer that made Milwaukee famous Rice Krispies B. O. Schlitz Beer Say it with flowers Seratan When it rains, it pours American Florist Assoc. Snap, crackle and pop Maxwell Coffee Nature’s spelled backwards Morton Salt Good to the Last Drop Livebuoy SoapW ALI MEMON 20
  • 21. ADVERTISERS USED CREATIVE SPELLING BEFORE TEXT MESSAGING--TO MAKE THEIR NAMES MEMORABLE AND TO HELP WITH TRADEMARK PROTECTION. Some Early Examples More Recent Examples E-Z Aspercreme Kwik Dunkin’ Donuts ReaLemon E-Z-on Reddi-Wip Haggar Expand-o-matic Ry-Krisp Kwik Kopy Krispies Playskool Tastee-Freez Sominex Toys “Я” Us Whataburger U-Haul Wolverine DurashocksW ALI MEMON 21
  • 22. THE STAYING POWER OF BRAND NAMES ACCORDING TO BILL BRYSON, NINETEEN OF THE TWENTY- TWO COMPANIES THAT OWNED THE LEADING AMERICAN BRAND IN 1925 STILL OWNS IT. CONJECTURE ON THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS. • Campbells in soup Kodak in film • Del Monte in canned fruit Nabisco in cookies • Gillette in razors • Ivory in soap Sherwin Williams in paint • Kellogg’s in breakfast cereals Singer in sewing machines Wrigleys in chewing gumW ALI MEMON 22
  • 23. WHY DID BAND-AID, KLEENEX, SCOTCH TAPE, THERMOS, AND ZIPPER BECOME COMMON RATHER THAN PROPER NOUNS? These are relatively older Think of other examples. products. Of course manufacturers like their products to be considered the “benchmark,” but today they work harder to “protect” their names so that consumers will look exclusively for their products rather than for the imitators.W ALI MEMON 23
  • 24. JAMES TWITCHELL, USED HIS OWN KIND OF HUMOR TO CRITICIZE AMERICA’S MARKET CULTURE. HE WROTE: “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.” He added that our materialism is a kind of spiritualism, but instead of looking at the next life for our rewards, we are looking for “The Nike swoosh, the Polo pony, the Guess? label, and the DKNY logo.” DOES HE HAVE A POINT?W ALI MEMON 24
  • 25. JEAN KILBOURNE OBSERVES THAT: People say, “I don’t pay attention to ads. I just tune them out. They have no effect on me.” But, she adds “much of advertising power comes from the belief that it does not affect us.” Back in Nazi Germany, 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.” This is where humor comes in. If we are amused or laughing at a commercial or a program, then our defenses are down and we are more likely to want to buy whatever is being shown.W ALI MEMON 25
  • 26. KILBOURNE GOES ON TO SAY THAT PRODUCTS ARE OUR FRIENDS, AND OUR GODS. Alcoholics joke that Jack Daniels is their constant lover, while smokers feel that cigarettes are their friends. People are twice seduced, first by the ads and then by the substances. At the very least, she says advertising “helps to create a climate in which certain values flourish and others are not reflected at all.” “Infiniti is an automobile; Hydra Zen is a moisturizer, and Jesus is a brand of jeans,” and then adds that “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.”W ALI MEMON 26
  • 27. SHE GIVES A POWERFUL EXAMPLE: “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.”W ALI MEMON 27
  • 28. MUCH CLOSER TO HOME, EVEN TEN-YEAR- OLDS ARE BEING TURNED INTO COVER GIRLS. Each girl at this weekend celebration in Louisville brought her “American Girl” doll. All the girls were photographed and put onto a “fake” cover of a local magazine. What parent could resist buying it? But what is the long term result?W ALI MEMON 28
  • 29. CRITICS ASK WHETHER SUCH COMMERCIALIZATION BUILDS HIGH EXPECTATIONS THAT CAN NEVER BE SATISFIED. Humor enters the picture because when we laugh at something, we are less likely to be critical or to analyze its true worth.W ALI MEMON 29
  • 30. WHILE WE SMILE AT THE FOLLOWING BUMPER STICKER MESSAGES COLLECTED BY JAMES TWITCHELL, DO WE ALSO “SORT OF BELIEVE” IN THEM? A woman’s place is in the mall. But I can’t be overdrawn! I still have some checks. He who dies with the most toys wins. I’m spending my grandchildren’s inheritance. Nouveau riche is better than no riche at all. People who say money can’t buy happiness, don’t know where to shop. Shop ‘til you drop. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.W ALI MEMON 30
  • 31. WE WILL CONCLUDE WITH MISCELLANEOUS “LAWS OF BUSINESS” DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS: 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.W ALI MEMON 31
  • 32. MORE LAWS . . . THE PETER PRINCIPLE: Each employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence. PETER’S COROLLARY 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 cannot be seen. PAUL HERBIG’S PRINCIPLE OF BUREAUCRATIC TINKERTOYS: If it can be understood, it’s not yet finished.W ALI MEMON 32
  • 33. 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.W ALI MEMON 33
  • 34. BUSINESS HUMOR WEB SITES ADBUSTERS’ SPOOF ADS: https://www.adbusters.org/gallery/spoofads BURGER KING AD: EAT LIKE SNAKE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAwcj6d8XTQ BUSINESS-HUMOR FUSION (ROZ TRIEBER): www.humorfusion.com CHEERS: http://www.tv.com/cheers/show/66/summary.html DILBERT: http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/W ALI MEMON 34
  • 35. DIRECT TV AD (CHRIS FARLEY & DAVID SPADE): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvyZC5Wajj0 FRASIER: http://www.tv.com/frasier/show/70/summary.html THE GREATEST BUSINESS LINKS: http://www.allmyfaves.com/ THE HAPPINESS MACHINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=lqT_dPApj9U HOME IMPROVEMENT: http://www.tv.com/home-improvement/show/635/summary.htmlW ALI MEMON 35
  • 36. HUMOR AT WORK (CLYDE FAHLMAN): http://home.teleport.com/~laff9to5/index.html HUMORWORKS (JOHN MORREALL): http://www.humorworks.com JUST SHOOT ME: http://www.tv.com/just-shoot-me/show/160/summary.html THE KING OF QUEENS: http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/kingofqueens/ THE OFFICE: http://www.nbc.com/The_Office/ OLD SPICE AD—PUNCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sk-gHgP03yw&feature=channel SKITTLES AD--LONG BEARD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WASn6PRG1FcW ALI MEMON 36
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  • 50. 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 [2008]: 472)W ALI MEMON 50