Catching up with Karyn

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...

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Defusing Difficult Conversations

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...

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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...

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“Planned Spontaneity”

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...

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Leadership: “Sarcasm—Handle with Care”

“I’m trying to imagine you with a personality.”

“This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.”

“Don’t bother me. I’m livin’ the dream.”

Sarcasm. Gotta love it, don’t ya? Used for comic effect and dry criticism throughout the ages—by us common folks and by the famous.

Oscar Wilde observed: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

Stephen Bishop said: “I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”

Mark Twain once quipped: “I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

Sarcasm. You hear it nearly every day, from all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations.

[Yeah, we all know—or think we know—exactly what sarcasm is. But for the meticulous among you, here’s the precise definition, according to Webster’s Dictionary: “the use of words...

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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...

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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....

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Lead with Levity: An Interview with Dr. Bob Dent, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, FACHE

Dr. Bob Dent is the Dean of Health Services for Midland College, as well as the VP of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer for Midland Memorial Hospital, which is located in Midland, Texas. He’s one of those impressive individuals who has more characters in the abbreviations of his professional accomplishments than most of us have in our actual name!

But his accomplishments aren’t just a result of his education, or his certifications. Dr. Dent’s caring, compassion, and charisma exude through his easy-going style and sense of humor. I’ve had the privilege of watching Dr. Dent during a visit to Midland Memorial and seen first-hand his mastery of leading with levity: setting the tone for fun while at the same time setting high expectations of his staff.

The result? They’ve achieved ANCC's Pathway to Excellence—twice! They are enthusiastic about their path on the ANCC Magnet Journey. Patient satisfaction scores are high and continue to climb, and...

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Lead With Levity: An Interview with Jacqueline Ko Matthews, CEO of PJMint

Jacqueline Ko Matthews is the founder and CEO of PJMint, a digital wealth management firm that delivers better, safer and cheaper comprehensive, advanced quantitative wealth management strategies online to everyday investors. She was the right-arm Investment Executive to former Virginia Governor/current U.S. Senator Mark Warner in his $200m family investment office and played a critical role in establishing the Goldman Sachs Investment Banking Hong Kong office focusing on China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets. She worked under then Co-Chairman Robert Rubin who later became U.S. Treasury Secretary.

We’re thrilled to have her insights on Leading with Levity to share with you.

Here are the highlights from our conversation:

Listen to Your Team

“There are leaders who only want people to listen to them. A better approach is to do more listening. Make decisions based on the input of your team members. Solicit multiple viewpoints and have them present you with the pros and...

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5 Reasons To Lead With Laughter

A sense of humor and the ability to laugh are powerful leadership tools. Below are 5 reasons why YOU should add humor and laughter to your Leadership Toolbox.

1. Leaders who laugh are healthier leaders.

Being in charge is stressful. The rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other stress-driven health complaints are much higher among leaders than among people who aren't in such stressful roles. Laughter is an all-natural, drug-free way to alleviate stress. When you're less stressed, you make better decisions: laughter can make you a better business strategist!

2. Leaders who laugh are better negotiators.

Humor puts the common bonds of experience and insight individuals have squarely in the spotlight. This strengthens the relationship. This is important when you're negotiating. Most leaders prefer to have negotiations where both parties feel like they're walking away a winner. Knowing what you have in common with the other party and what's important to them is a critical...

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