S3E9 The Totally Fun and Effective Business Edition with Andrew Tarvin

S3E9 The Totally Fun and Effective Business Edition with Andrew Tarvin

James chats with Andrew Tarvin, the CEO of Humour That Works, a leadership development company that teaches professionals how to use humour to achieve better business results.


He’s partnered with top organisations including IBM, the UN and the FBI to solve human challenges with humorous solutions. A best selling author, he’s featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc and Fast Company and has been named a visionary under 40 by the P&G Alumni Network.


His TED talk on the skill of humour has been viewed more than 6 million times and only half of those were his Mom. He loves chocolate and he loves tweeting puns.


They discuss working with an armed audience, using humour to get better results, having fun vs being funny, Victor Borge, recycled toilet paper and bringing efficiency with joy.


Contact Andrew:


Web: www.drewtarvin.com
Email: drew@drewtarvin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drewtarvin
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drewtarvin/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drewtarvin/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drewtarvin
Andrew’s TEDx: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdZAMSyn_As&feature=emb_title

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan 0:54  Hello and welcome to the only one business show with me your host James Nathan and a fantastic guest in the studio today, all the way from New York. He is the CEO of Humour That Works a leadership development company that teaches professionals how to use humour to achieve better business results. He’s partnered with top organisations including IBM, the UN and the FBI to solve human challenges with humorous solutions. A best selling author, he’s featured in The Wall Street Journal Inc and Fast Company and has been named a visionary under 40 by the P&G Alumni Network. His TED talk on the skill of humour has been viewed more than 6 million times and only half of those were his Mom. He loves chocolate and he loves tweeting puns. Please welcome Andrew Tarvin. Andrew, how are you?


Andrew Tarvin 1:47 I am doing well. Thank you. What a great reading have a great voice for reading introductions. I was fantastic.


James Nathan 1:55 Thank you very much. I’ve read a few in my time, I must tell you but I’ve not ever read one that connects the IBM, the UN and the FBI in one speech, what did you do with the FBI? Or is it top secret and you can’t tell me.


Andrew Tarvin 2:10 I can I can reveal a little bit. So as you can imagine, even I was a little bit you know, when I first got the email and first got the call from the FBI, a little bit intimidated. So, the FBI can be pretty intimidating. And they, they have an office of private sector. So in addition to all of the work that they do, they also work with private companies. So if there’s, you know, cybersecurity crime or embezzlement issues, or whatever it happens to be, they want to develop these relationships with senior leaders at top organisations and they’re realising that they’re having difficulty building rapport because everyone was intimidated every time they would show up, right. And so we work with them on how to use humour to connect at a human level with some of these people. And I will say even for me, it was one of the most intimidating rooms I’ve ever been in because it was one of the few times that I presented where 90% of the room was armed, not speaking, it’s like if they didn’t like a joke, they can really let me know.


James Nathan 3:07 It’s like being in Texas. But… and someone’s putting a spotlight in your eye that wouldn’t help either. How did you get into humour? Andrew, how did you what’s the story that got you to where you are today?


Andrew Tarvin 3:19 Sure, I mean a the natural the quick response is that I went to the Ohio State University and got a degree in Computer Science and Engineering. And that only creates more questions in people’s minds. Like humour and engineering. That’s not what I think of. But while I was at Ohio State, my best friend wanted to start an improv comedy group, he needed people and forced me to join and I fell in love with it. We weren’t very good. Who you know we had no idea what we’re doing we watched Whose Line is it Anyway on tried to repeat what we saw. But one we got better over time with a lot of practice and repetition and two, I fell in love with it in realised once I graduated and started working at Procter and Gamble as an IT project manager, I realised that I was drawing just as much, if not more from improv, as I was from the technical things that I had learned. And I realised, you know, and this is the reason why we have kind of a wide range of clients, like, you know, IBM and the UN and the FBI is that they all involve humans. That’s one kind of common thread that they have. And I learned that improv and stand up and humour in general was incredibly helpful for me to interact with the hardest resource I ever had to work with, which was other humans.


James Nathan 4:36 Right. And they’re all very serious businesses, aren’t they?


Andrew Tarvin 4:40 They are and that’s the recognition is that you know, that even if they are serious business or your work is serious, or the the message is serious, it still doesn’t negate the fact that it’s humans that are doing the work and doing the process. And so humour is a skill that works particularly well with people. And in fact, we’re doing some more With the Red Cross right now and the gentleman that we’re working with, is doing presentation for things like disaster preparedness and talking about how to, you know, do things in case of a flood or a drought or what have you. And he was the one that said that in those situations, boredom has very serious consequences. And so we need to be able to use humour as a way to encourage people to pay attention to be listening, and then you can tell them that important message there. So using humour doesn’t negate the fact that something is maybe serious or important.


James Nathan 5:33 But it’s a great icebreaker as well in difficult times, isn’t it?


Andrew Tarvin 5:38 Oh, for sure. It’s a great way. It’s one of the best ways to to build rapport. I mean is Victor Borge said the shortest distance between two people as a smile, right? A great way to break the ice, get people kind of smiling and then if you can use a little bit of humour to get people laughing and because when you laugh together, you kind of are showing that you’re on the same side together, when you make someone laugh, there’s kind of a an inherent aspect of saying okay, you understand me at some level, enough of a level to make me laugh. We must be…. there’s some type of connection that we can have here.


James Nathan 6:07 And that’s very different between having a shared connection around something that’s funny to both of you and just being a funny guy, isn’t it?


Andrew Tarvin 6:15 It is yeah. And I think that you know, I think anyone is capable of learning how to be at least what we say for our programmes is that we can teach anyone to be funnier. We we’re not necessarily going to make you a stand up comedian or make you laugh out loud hysterical where you’ll you’ll get a Netflix comedy special or be showing up on a BBC you know panel show as soon as you do one workshop but you should be able to move that skill. Right and if it’s a skill it means it can be learned.


James Nathan 6:44 I mean, I get why put you want to build rapport I guess what I get why businesses want to improve the communication between each other but you know, where? What is it really for? Does it make them more money? Does it make them more efficient? What what’s the purpose?


Andrew Tarvin 7:00 I mean, there are 30 plus benefits of using humour in the workplace ranging from improving execution, right, increasing productivity, because one of the things you do…. as an engineer I’m obsessed with efficiency, right? Like I am obsessed with it like to the point that I listen to podcasts at one and a half speed. Because not only is it faster, but also more people sound like me. Higher pitch, right? So there’s there’s a lot in efficiency. And one of the things that I’ve discovered in my research around productivity is that it is very difficult to be productive, if you are dead. Or if you feel like death, right? If you’re sick, if you’re tired, if you’re burned out, stressed out, worn out, very difficult to be productive. And so using humour strategically throughout the day, maintains employee engagement, allows you to stay kind of focus, because we know that time management is important, but also it doesn’t matter how much time you have if you don’t have the energy to do anything with that time. Right. We experience that over like a weekend where we have all the things that we want to get done over the weekend, we’re excited about it, you know are going to do that finally, you know, clean out the garage or whatever we have to do. And it gets to the weekend, you have no energy left because of the, how long the week felt. And then you just the only thing that you’ve completed is like watching you know, season three of Stranger Things, right? You’ve only binge watched up. And so how do you manage that energy and humour is a great way to manage it. So I mean, there’s there’s 30 plus benefits ranging from execution, thinking, communicating, connecting and, and leading across basically the five skills of work, which all of those things do impact and lead to people having an increased sense of, you know, workplace satisfaction, to feeling like there’s a more positive workplace culture, to decreasing turnover to increasing engagement and ultimately impacting in a positive way, the bottom line.


James Nathan 8:53 And that’s the that’s the key isn’t it? The more money you make, the more time you can spend looking at How you can make make things more efficient and better in the business?


Andrew Tarvin 9:04 Yeah, in a sense. I mean, it comes down really in a way to a simple question. And it’s a dumb question. But the simple dumb question is, would you rather do something that is fun? Or not fun? Right and it’s a dumb question. But a people would want to do something that is more fun. So that means that if you were to make your own work a little bit more fun, you’re probably a little bit more willing to do it. If you’re gonna make your meetings a little bit more fun, you’re probably a little bit more well, like people would be more willing to come to it. If you’re to make your say customer service a little bit more fun, you’d probably be getting more positive reviews and building better rapport with your customers as part of the process. And that’s really kind of what it’s about is about changing the way we do things, not replacing the work that we do, but changing it slightly, just so that we enjoy the process a little bit more and then oh, by the way, based on psychology and physiology and some of these, you know, this other research, it’s also going to get you better results, what do I need?


James Nathan 10:01 Is that changed over time? Because I, you know, I look back to my career, I started life as a chartered accountant and, I remember going into my first job thinking, oh, this is all very, very serious, I better be pretty serious too. And, you know, and it never occurred to me that actually enjoying what I did was probably a good thing as well. And, you know, now having, you know, being much, much older Andrew than it was then, you know, one of the core pillars of my business is fun, it has to be enjoyable, otherwise, it’s not worth doing. Do you think? Do you think generationally or just across time people have started to recognise it actually, you know, have fun workplaces is a great place.


Andrew Tarvin 10:40 Absolutely. I mean, it is still, it’s not quite there yet. But the millennial generation is the first generation to list fun as a core value for what they’re seeking at work. They are a group of starting to recognise it and you know, people are realising that work doesn’t necessarily have to feel like so much work and to your point. There’s sometimes a cultural difference of you go into the workplace…. And so that even still with a little bit of a transformation, that the number one reason why people don’t use more humour in the workplace is they don’t think that their boss or coworkers would approve. And what that means is a couple of things. One, it means that if you’re the leader of a team or an organisation, and that team isn’t having fun, if they’re not laughing, if they’re not finding joy in the work that they’re doing, it means you’re probably part of the reason why. Not necessarily like intentionally, but there’s something that you’re doing that preventing it from happening. And two, it means that, you know, it’s just more of a, it’s more of a perception thing, because 98% of CEOs prefer job candidates with a sense of humour and 81% of employees prefer a fun workplace. They think it would make them more productive. And so, you know, people are clamouring for humour in the workplace, they want it, but people just don’t necessarily see it and they don’t think that it’s welcome.


James Nathan 11:57 Well, that confuses me. Why would it not be welcome?


Andrew Tarvin 12:00 I mean, again, there’s that there’s an older mentality that, you know, there’s there’s this old cliche kind of joke where, you know, if work was meant to be fun, then it would be called play. There’s almost like some people that live with that kind of mindset. And I think it makes sense from in the industrial revolution, you could be obsessed with efficiency, because I think that’s where we’re at was is still as organisations, we’re often obsessed with efficiency. And if you’re working in a factory, if you’re building out the scope of the factory that makes sense, how do we make these widgets as fast as possible with the least amount of work possible. And the problem is that you can’t be efficient with humans, because humans have emotions and feelings, right? And they get sick and they get tired and all of those things and so in a new knowledge economy, where your mood impacts your ability to be creative, or to get work done or to show up more present in a meeting, or to be able to effectively send emails or communicate out these different messages. As work has shifted in terms of what we do our mindset hasn’t. And so that obsession with efficiency keeps us from saying, okay, well, if this is extraneous, then we don’t need it. But what we’re losing out on is effectiveness, right? Because there’s a difference between being efficient and being effective, right? It doesn’t matter how fast you can run a race, if when you know, the starting gun goes off, you run in the opposite direction. And so sometimes we’re losing our effectiveness in our quest for efficiency. And so humour is about being more effective in the workplace. And so I think that’s part of the reason why it just takes some time for people to catch up. And then there is a component too of how to use humour appropriately, because we’ve all had that experience where someone you know, has said jokes that have made you like cringe or not funny and all that. So that is the second component is like, okay, once you get past the idea of, should I use humour in the workplace or not? Okay, I should, how do I actually do it?


James Nathan 13:54 Right, because this is where I was going to get my next question was going to come from. I’m sat at my desk, I’m running a team I’m thinking I’ve heard this guy Andrew, I really liked what he had to say I’m gonna stop using humour. Where do you start with that?


Andrew Tarvin 14:08 Well, I think you start with your own work and your own sense of humour. So we, you know, like I said, I’m big believer that humour is a skill personally because I had to learn how to use it. Right? I’m not the life of the party type person. I’m not the class clown type person. You know, I’ve done over 1000 shows as a stand up comedian. I’ve now spoken more than 500 times on the value of humour in the workplace. My TEDx talk on the skill of humour does have more than 6 million views and what I share in the talk is I recently went to my high school reunion, met classmates of mine from high school, and they found out that it did comedy and they’re like but you’re not funny. And that’s because that growing up I wasn’t that outwardly facing humour thing. So I do think humour is a skill in the way that we break down humour is it’s three things it’s your sense of humour, your ability to humour and your agency with humour. So your sense of humour is simply starting, like what do you find interesting? What do you find curious? What makes you smile? What makes you laugh? And how do you incorporate that a little bit more into your work? So for example, if you’re starting, if you’re like, I want to get started with using humour in the workplace, okay? Can you listen to one of your favourite comedians or to a fun podcast like this one on my on your way home from work so that you laugh and relieve stress and show up present for your family when you get there? Or can you at the bottom of your emails include you know, a PS link to a YouTube comedy video that kind of is related to the point that you want to make? Right? So how can you make your own work a little bit more fun is a great starting point. And then from there, it’s growing it to say okay, how do I then do it in an appropriate way? And this kind of builds into the ability to humour. Okay, how do I what is set up and punch line? What does the structure mean? How do I, what do I need to do for delivery, delivering with confidence and then building past that to the agency of humour which is your ability to use humour to get a specific goal. So the engineer in me is like, don’t just use humour for the sake of humour. I mean, that’s fine. But instead, you can use humour to solve challenges that you already have in the workplace and be like, okay, I have this challenge where people aren’t reading my emails, how can I add humour to it? Oh, well, maybe I can add a little bit incongruity in my subject line, maybe I could, you know, parody a song lyric in my subject line. But, you know, I think I saw one recently, like, I will do anything for sales, but I won’t do that. And then it’s like, in the here’s, here’s the thing not to do in sales, right? Having just a little bit more fun. And that can get you started into like, okay, how do I solve this problem that I have and see if humour is a solution?


James Nathan 16:38 Is there a level of authenticity then is it just really being yourself more?


Andrew Tarvin 16:43 I mean, it’s being it’s being the best version of yourself. If you’re a terrible person, it’s not just like a licence to then continue to be a terrible person in the office, but and it’s and it’s about being an appropriate version because there is a difference between, you know, comedy in a stand up comedy club and comedy or humour that you’re going to use in the office, right? Because in a comedy club, people can kind of say all manner of things, they can be inappropriate, they can be lewd, you know, they can talk about blue material, right? So sex, drugs and rock and roll and all that kind of stuff. Whereas in the workplace, you do want to be…. you want to frame it as more positive and inclusive. You want to be, you know, more…. you don’t want… what we say is you want to follow the newspaper rule, right? The newspaper rule being, would you be comfortable with whatever joke or thing that you did showing up in the hometown of your front page, the front page of your hometown newspaper, or showing up on Facebook or Twitter and if you’re like, I don’t, I don’t know if I’d want everyone to see that joke that I just made, then it’s probably not inappropriate joke for the workplace. You do want to keep it more positive, inclusive, where the goal isn’t… and the goal isn’t for people to be like, Oh my God, you’re so funny. Oh you should do stand up comedy. The goal for you is to be effective using humour.


James Nathan 17:56 When you’re talking about the newspaper thing people used to say, you know, would you want your Mom to read that? If you don’t want your Mom to read that then then don’t put it online. It’s as simple as that. It’s as simple as that.


Andrew Tarvin 18:06 Exactly. Exactly. I did share that one says like yeah, would you mind if someone raised their hand and like my Mom has a terrible sense of humour she like loves Anthony just because it curses like a sailor so my Mom would be okay with it. Like okay, well think about your grandmother.


James Nathan 18:24 Choose someone else, choose someone a little bit less…. a little less open to madness I guess.


Andrew Tarvin 18:31 Exactly, but I mean part of it and so the, the way that we train on agency of how to know what type of humour to use is we’ve framed something called the humour map, and I sense for your medium your audience and purpose. So medium is you know, how are you executing that humor in emails in a phone call? Who is the audience and then what is the purpose? Is it to get people to pay attention to this email is it to remember an idea a little bit longer is it to relieve your own stress, is it to lead people to think more creatively, etc. But that audience piece is important because there are always going to be some people in the workplace where you can say, you know, you can have a little bit of a say either darker sense of humour or more risque. Like we do some work with some emergency first responders and they tend to have pretty dark humour at times with each other because it serves catharsis because they see such terrible things day in and day out, they need some way to relieve all the stress and, you know, emotion that is pent up and so that dark humour can be part of it. So as a group together, that audience is appropriate for them use it, but then if they were to use that with, you know, a patient or someone that’s outside of that world, then people wouldn’t understand it and think it’s offensive because they don’t have that same context. So that audience piece, who that person is, your relationship to them does impact the type of humour you can use.


James Nathan 19:53 In your introduction, you mentioned tweeting pans, and I love puns. I’m a real fan of corny jokes. I love Dad jokes, I love you know that sort of stuff and I’ve seen a few businesses recently in fact I was talking with someone only interviewing on this podcast yesterday, she’ll go out in a week or twos time and they were talking about Chewy the pet food place and you know the pans that they love to chuck into their, into their emails, you know, Over and Snout and stuff like that. Is that a quick and easy way to start?


Andrew Tarvin 20:25 I mean, I think that it can be so the other world from a from a starting point even easier starting point than say puns is to recognise that to use humour effectively you don’t even necessarily have to be the creator of humour, right? You can be the curator of humour, you can find humour elsewhere and leverage it. Now, when doing that you want to make sure that you give proper credit and you don’t violate any copyright rules. So you don’t want to just steal like things out there. But for the most part, it seems like as a society, we’ve decided that you know, memes are free to use so for a lot of times it’s using a meme out there, or there’s plenty of jokes that exists right? Yeah if you’re the the dog company then Chewy’s like pet food then you can go and research dog jokes, simple dog jokes and throw in ones like, you know, it’s raining cats and dogs outside I got stuck in a poodle. Right? That’s, that’s like a public kind of joke. So you can share that there is no kind of ownership over that particular one. So you can use things like that. So you don’t have to necessarily be the one creating it. Or you can link to stuff if you like, like as a leader of an organisation, if you want to say, Hey, you know, let’s start using humour in the workplace in a funny way to start is watch this TEDx talk on the skill of humour by this very handsome and attractive gentleman named Andrew Tarwin like, right so you can have a shameless plug. Anybody can start with that, that curation of humour for people?


James Nathan 21:50 Absolutely. I mean, I just love the idea of that and I love the self deprivation stuff as well. I mean, I do that a lot myself. And it works fine, especially when I’m when I’m speaking on stage. If I you know, if you have a little go yourself people seem to like that it makes them it warms them to you a little bit as well which is, which is really great.


Andrew Tarvin 22:09 It doesn’t it never and it reduces status differentials right. Self deprecating humour is a great way to let people know that you don’t take yourself too seriously. And it gives you a little bit of free rein, like not free rein, but like, at least in comedy clubs, you’ll notice people will a lot of times start with poking fun at themselves so that a little bit later if they’re poking fun at something else, you recognise it as a sort of sense of humour as opposed to out of aggressiveness towards that thing. It’s like okay, you know, I can laugh at myself, I can laugh at these other situations that arise.


James Nathan 22:40 Which, which companies are doing this really well? Who are your favourites?


Andrew Tarvin 22:44 Company wise? Um, let’s see, I really so The Hustle is a newsletter here in the US that’s focused on startups and things. I think they do a good job of balancing humour and the work that they do. They you know, speaking of curating humour they every Friday they leverage shower thoughts from Reddit, where they just kind of curate some of the best shower thoughts there where. They’re not the ones creating it, but they’re just kind of posting, hey, if you want to check out more go to Reddit, but here are some of our favourites from the past week. That’s a great leveraging of that. They also use a lot of great humour in their headlines and things. So I think that’s done very well. There’s a website, what is the full website? There’s a toilet paper company? I think it’s Who Gives A Crap I don’t remember if it’s like calm or.org or something like that. But the brand?


James Nathan 23:31 Yeah, yeah. So they they’re the complete the recycle guy.


Andrew Tarvin 23:33 Yep, exactly. Recycled toilet paper, they ship it to your door. They have great sense of humour on their website, just in terms of the imagery that they use, the words that they use, the branding that they use. So I think that does those very well. Yes, I mean, I think those are a couple there’s, there’s a tonne out there that are doing great things. I mean, the Wendy’s Twitter feed is hilarious because they like roast people. That’s very, that seems kind of like a very millennial style generation of things but they’re they’re roasting people out there. So they’re very, very good on Twitter. So there’s a lot of different groups that are going well and part of it is about identifying, you know, just like and we’ve worked with some companies of just like having say a brand style guideline have a humour style guideline, what is that? What are the what’s the sense of humour of a brand or of an organisation? What should people be feeling right? The the stereotypical answers is Zappos and Southwest but Southwest now has a humour style guide, in a sense, I don’t know if they have it written down, but you know what you’re going to experience from kind of, you know, plane ride a plane ride where it’s going to be positive, sometimes cheesy, but overall, like positive and fun, sense of humour.


James Nathan 24:45 Yeah, and if you want that you fly Southwest. I remember when Virgin first started in Australia, they were called Virgin Blue and, and you know, you had a similar thing. It was a little bit slapstick, they got people out of their seats to do the, you know, here are the exits and this is how you put the vest on and all the rest of it, but it was, if you wanted that great if you don’t want that don’t fly it.


Andrew Tarvin 25:05 Right. And I think that’s an important point for people to recognise is you know, you’re never going to be able to please everyone. And this I had to learn by looking at, like, at the comments on my my TEDx talk or the YouTube comments is because you look at them in it, it’s overly positive, it’s like over 100,000 you know, thumbs up that people like it, and then there’s still I think there’s like almost 3000 dislikes. And if you read through the comments, some of them are very positive, but a lot of them are also like, this guy isn’t funny, or this was terrible. One was like, go back to engineering, please. And brutal in some sense at some of these things, and what I realised is that your humour isn’t going to appease everyone. Just like your product or your service isn’t gonna appeal to everyone. What would your humour can do is help you find your audience, help you find the people that do resonate with this thing, and then it’s going to build the relationship even more and for me, I recognise that, you know, every second that I was wasting on an ounce of energy that I was wasting on the people that don’t like what I do meant that I wasn’t serving the people that already do like my sense of humour that do like wordplay and puns and kind of a nerdy style. And it’s not to be that, oh, I don’t need to be everything to every person, but humour can help me better identify who that audience is, and provide even better value to them.


James Nathan 26:22 If you’re serving the audience, the right audience, everything’s wonderful, and I think kind of what you’re saying there is quite interesting if you, if you if you, if you can find those people who are like you, then they will like you more. And the more you’d like each other the best relationship becomes, the better, you know, the better you do business together, and it’s self perpetuating. But also, I’m sure there’s examples where people have tried using humour and it’s fallen flat and it’s lost them relationships. So if you have ever come across that kind of thing?


Andrew Tarvin 26:53 Well, I mean, certainly there are plenty of you know, articles in the news of people getting fired because of inappropriate use of humour there are, you know, examples of, you know, and within the, quote unquote, Twitter, you know, counter culture that those things have happened because of humour even that was used like 1020 years ago. So absolutely, there is a risk to using humour. And so what we encourage again, going back and thinking about that newspaper rule within the corporate place, it’s less about being funny and more about things, making things a little bit more fun because it is important understand that humour is more broad than comedy, right? It’s specifically why my company is called Humour That Works in comedy that works because it is more broad, and it is comedy, but it also is maybe something that’s just a little bit silly or something that’s a little bit different that causes amusement. So understanding that I think is important and and recognising that if your humour is positive and inclusive…. because that is what people are scared of. They’re scared of either saying something inappropriate, or it being awkward. And so the inappropriate thing is, yeah, that is kind of about subject. So, you know, there’s typically three reasons why humour is inappropriate. One, it has an inappropriate subject. So like I said before, using humour at work is not an excuse to then say something incredibly racist or sexist or something or offensive, right? It’s not but it was just a joke. It’s like no, it’s still a subject, it’s not a comedy club. It might have an inappropriate target. And so you know, maybe you’re making fun of something that you don’t have the right to make fun of. So this is actually one of the things that happens. I’ve had multiple coaching clients that have come over from the UK and in the US and they’re like people think that I mean, and it’s because in the culture of UK and in Australia I’m finding is there’s there’s a kind of a banter, kind of quality, where people where you meet someone right away and right away the terminology is and this is just saying it is taking the piss out of someone. And that’s kind of a fun way to do and I and they do that with people that they barely, like they they’ve met for the first time. Whereas in the US if you do that, it comes across to many people as aggressive and you can get to that point, but only after you’ve known the person for a while. And so recognising that it’s going to be different based on on different cultures and so, uh, but all that to say so it might have an inappropriate target, people might not feel comfortable about you making fun of that particular thing yet, because of your relationship. And then finally, it could come at an inappropriate time. This is not to say that humour is always going to be the right thing to say, at every single moment. This is just saying it is a strategic tool that we can use in certain moments to be effective. And so if people avoid those things they’re typically going to do well. And again, going back to positive inclusive if you say a positive inclusive joke, and no one laughs it just becomes a positive inclusive statement. And typically, it’s only awkward if you make it awkward…. if you like do very clearly like a setup and punchline and think it’s gonna be hilarious and they’re like, eh? Right guys, right? Hmm, that was funny, huh? Was it right like if you just kind of move past it if you like, give a brief pause, no one laughs and then you move on to the next thing. A lot of times no one even kind of notices what’s going on.


James Nathan 30:07 If you have to explain a joke, it’s not a joke.


Andrew Tarvin 30:10 Exactly.


James Nathan 30:11 Andrew, it’s been fantastic chatting with you. I’ve watched your TEDx I’m gonna go back and watch it again. I’m gonna put a link at the bottom of this as well, because I think if people were, you know, keen to find out more about you, that’s a great way of getting to start. Before we go, though, could you leave us with your one thing, a big idea, your Golden Nugget, something that people could do in their businesses today to make them better for today and better for the years to come? What would that be?


Andrew Tarvin 30:39 It would be kind of the distillation if you want to get started with using humour in the workplace. So part of it would just be the high level start using humour. But the more actual version of that is to simply start thinking one smile per hour, or one smile per interaction. And this isn’t this doesn’t mean just smile once an hour, once an interaction. Instead do something that would create a smile for someone else or for yourself, right so if you’re having some type of interaction with a customer or client do something that would make them smile, you know, incorporate some interesting imagery into your slideshow or you know, start with a story that’s then related to the subject that you’re going to talk about. Or do it for yourself. If you’re getting ready to sit in traffic on your way home from work like I said, listen to a comedy podcast or rock out to you know, Hamilton soundtrack or whatever you know, type of thing is going to bring you a little bit joy but thread a thing about Okay, each hour of the day, what’s one thing that I can do that brings a smile to either my face or someone else’s face. That helps you to start to develop your humour habit. You’ll start to see there’s opportunity for humour in all the type of work that you do and that will get you, get you started.


James Nathan 31:46 Fantastic tips there. Andrew, thank you so much for your time, I’ve love chatting with you. It’s been great.


Andrew Tarvin 31:51 Excellent. Thanks so much for having me.


James Nathan 31:53 It’s an absolute pleasure.



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