I am addicted to laughing.
I am addicted to deconstructing humor and why certain people are really funny. I LOVE creating humor myself. I think one of the main reasons why some of my past business teams continued to work with me in really challenging environments is because they knew that I would create some sort of a laugh each day. (Okay, I will admit that my dream job would be head writer on Saturday Night Live. I do worship Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And Amy Schumer. And Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake together. And Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg together. The list goes on and on...)
I have recently read many thoughtful commentaries about work place culture and employee retention, especially on the heels of the current “Amazon has a sucky culture" press storm. I can even add to the Amazon "expose" as I recently spoke with a former fantastic employee of mine who revealed she felt like crying when she left her day-long Amazon interview in Seattle. I told her that I would NOT give her a job recommendation for a job at a company that made her cry BEFORE SHE STARTED WORKING THERE. Nope. Life is too short for you to be that scary, even if you are AMAZON. Sorry! You need to wait until we are actually working for you before you make us CRY.
At work, at home and even in our marketing messaging and strategy, humor is a much needed diversion. After listening to the morning news recap on my local NPR station, I feel like there is just too much bad stuff going on in the world to even begin processing it all in an intelligent manner. I need a laugh. Or two. Don't we all?
I think humor needs to be a huge part of both work and play. Laughing together as a group, laughing together as a family, laughing together as a team creates these amazing bonds of support. It’s like sharing a meal together. It creates trust, care and intimacy. And at work, having a team that can laugh and feel free enough to laugh together is a powerful tool for motivation, focus and productivity. There is something wonderfully "chemical" about laughing that brings us closer together in the best possible way.
But, I will admit that humor in the wrong hands - especially in the work place - can be problematic. My numerous David Letterman-type "Top Ten" lists emailed to my team were always directed primarily at myself or others on the team who we all knew would enjoy a good shout out. I do take seriously the adage that anything you share at work should be viable posted on a billboard in Times Square. So... my humor digs are edited to a very small category of people, places and things. It is amazing how you can still get your point across without saying anything that anyone could REALLY find fault with. (At least in court of law.) That's the challenge of comedy.
"Humor is a great coping mechanism in real life. I know things are getting stressful if I lose my sense of humor in any situation. Part of being successful is being a good collaborator — and being smart enough to find the right people to work with". - Tina Fey
Finding the right people to work with... ah yes. People who do not make you cry, first off. People who realize that their job is important, but maybe not THAT important. People who can enjoy humor, laughter and not taking themselves quite so seriously at work. That's what I want. And that's what I strive to create on my teams.
And anyone who has ever closely worked with me, very quickly understands, that we always need, "MORE COWBELL".
Nancy Bullock is the President of Digital Market Solutions, Inc, a marketing firm that assists both small and large companies in creating and fitting together their digital strategy with traditional offline market strategies. She is currently watching Season 5, episode 5 of Parks and Recreation.