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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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“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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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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Humor & Home Sales: What's the Connection?

Selling 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...

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When Funny Means Money: How LaughFest Helps Grand Rapid's Bottom Line

Okay, if you're from a community that has no financial worries, or you're in charge of economic development in a town that's already booming, you can skip this post. Everybody else, keep reading! I want to tell you something amazing about the power of humor and how laughter can mean some serious money for your town.

I've just come back from speaking at LaughFest, a great event that began as an offshoot of Gilda's Club (humor for cancer patients) that today promotes the message of humor as a vital part of emotional health for all. This event is really designed with something for everyone. Top tier comedians like Lily Tomlin and Jay Leno were there to entertain the crowds, and there were many, many free or low cost events so everyone could participate and have a good time.

An absolutely amazing legion of volunteers makes this event happen, ensuring that performers made it to and from many venues throughout the city. Performances weren't limited to pricey convention centers. The...

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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...

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Using Humor To Build Your Business: Signs That Make You Smile

I'll admit it - when I first saw this restaurant sign featured in the Huffington Post, I laughed out loud. Chances are you did too!

Now imagine what your reaction would have been if, instead of encountering this sign on the internet, you saw it while you were driving through your neighborhood. It's still funny - and the fact that the restaurant shared a funny sign might just be enough to motivate you to turn in and have a taco (even though they're not free!)

Humor is Power: Building Your Business

Businesses that offer their customers a way to laugh gain a significant competitive advantage. Humor is disruptive. It attracts our attention and makes us change the way we think.  The Mexican restaurant advertising “Free Tacos – Yesterday Only!” will make us laugh, but they’re also planting that seed reminding us how much we like tacos. Couple that with the powerful emotional associations people have with humor, and you’ve got circumstances that...

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When Funny Means Money: Sales

I know what some of you left brain logical people are thinking. Humor: It’s cute. It’s entertaining. But it’s just not practical.

Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can ask the people at American Express or Jell-O. These companies understand that while people use logic to justify their buying decisions, emotion is what sells. And one of the quickest connections to emotion is humor.

Whey else would American Express spend millions of dollars to feature Jerry Seinfeld in their ads? (He now also has a $10 million deal from Microsoft!)

Why would Capitol One present David Spade in their commercials?

Why would Jell-O hire Bill Cosby as their spokesperson?

These companies understand that humor fosters connection, and that this connection, in turn, affects people’s buying decisions.gitomer When Funny Means Money: Sales

My buddy and Sales Guru, Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling (and dozens of other books!) says that humor...

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