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Humor, Seriously – Great Combo of Science and Business

Authors: Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas

Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (and How Anyone Can Harness It. Even You.)Goodreads Link

🥦 Impressions

I found some great insights on how to avoid the downsides of humor while also getting the most out of it. Instead of trying to hard to be funny, the authors suggest just bringing more levity to various situations.

Approaching things lightly and with a playful attitude that can lead to more humor in your conversations and interactions. I have seen the value in just the few weeks I’ve implemented this philosophy.

And to their credit, the authors made me laugh out loud a few times, particularly with their footnotes!


The most valuable lesson from the book applies to how to incorporate humor in work. You don’t necessarily have to make more people laugh. In fact, it’s enough to show your sense of humor by laughing with others.

💬 Top 3 Quotes

1) The power of humor among managers (even just by laughing more!)

The mere act of signaling that your sense of humor has a heartbeat is enough to make a big difference—especially if you’re in a leadership role. One study by researcher Wayne Decker found that managers with a sense of humor (regardless of whether they themselves were funny) were rated by subordinates as 23 percent more respected, 25 percent more pleasant to work with, and 17 percent friendlier.

2) Add levity to your emails (hint: try a humorous signature)

Today’s average employee spends close to 30 percent of their work hours on email and receives 120 messages per day.
But online correspondence—whether on email, group chat, text, TikTok, or whatever new technology has already replaced all of these things since we wrote this sentence—doesn’t need to be soul-sucking.
Instead, think of digital messages as bite-sized opportunities to invite genuine connection with your co-workers and partners.
Even a touch of levity can start a chain reaction that shifts the dynamic.

3) Wisdom worth opening your mind to

In the wise words of the Dalai Lama,
“Laughter is good for thinking because when people laugh, it is easier for them to admit new ideas to their minds.”

🗣 Top 4 Stories

The book offers countless examples where humor has lead to better outcomes.

1) The CEO arm wresting match

When the upstart Stevens Aviation discovered that Southwest Airlines had accidentally copied their slogan “Just Plane Smart” they chose a different tact than suing.

The CEO Kurt Herwald challenged Southwest’s CEO to an arm wrestling match.

Herwald was declared the winner, but he promptly offered to share the slogan. The stunt was performed publicly and not only saved the companies from heavy legal fees, and also earned millions of dollars in positive press!

2) Warming post-Cold War

Madeleine Albright broke down barriers during tense international summit regarding Myanmar with the Russians in 1998.

The US Secretary of State performed a duet with her Russian counterpart which they called “East West Story” with Primakov singing “I just met a girl called Madeleine Albright.”

3) Comedy Show Fridays

Early in Google’s history they hosted a company wide meeting weekly TGIF.

After reviewing news, product releases, and product launches, they would answer questions, mainly with heavy emphasis on humor. The jokes bounced between Page and Brin like a comedy show.

4) Release the Valve on Ideas

A culture that emphasizes humor can leave space for more creative ideas and problem solving.

At X, the moonshot factory, the AI pioneer Astro Teller leads “bad idea brainstorms” to help create a sense of levity to get the great ideas flowing.

🎙 Podcast Interviews

#423. A Serious Case for Humor | Jennifer Aaker & Naomi Bagdonas (Ten Percent Happier Podcast)