Notes From Ed Text

The Special Ingredient for Business Leadership Is… Humor!


leading with humor Notes from Ed

The topic today is humor and its importance in leadership, in business management, and even relationships. But first… let’s start with a joke:

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Why do priests make great entrepreneurs?

Because they have the best access to angel investors.

If you got that joke, God bless you.

I want to warn you ahead of time that there will be lots more jokes, but also some facts.

The first fact is courtesy of Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, whose TED Talk discussed the importance of humor in leadership. They say that leaders with a good sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating.

The second fact comes from my own humor research. Here it is: leaders with a good sense of humor are seen as 43% better looking than those with no sense of humor.

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Well, maybe not exactly.

Anyways… The world has long been a very serious place, too serious in many ways. There is a humor deficit curve–yet people are starting to understand that when it comes to leadership, business and personal relationships, humor is an extremely important component of communication. 

When it comes to leadership and business, some “funny” goes a long way towards lowering the temperature of the workforce. Smart bosses know when to use humor to help get a message across.  Listening improves with a ladle of humor placed upon a message.

Speaking of smart CEOs, here’s a joke about everyone’s favorite billionaire innovator:

Elon Musk walks into a bar with a monkey. The bartender says, “You can’t bring that in here! It’s a health code violation.”

The monkey says, “Sorry!” and he turns around and leads the CEO out.

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This joke is clearly a poke at Musk, but can you imagine if Musk told this joke himself to a room full of his employees? 

I guarantee the room would fill with laughter, and everyone would be all ears and receptive to whatever message Musk wanted to impart next.

Unfortunately, Musk has yet to make such a self-deprecating joke, but experiments are being conducted to see if artificial intelligence can be taught to be funny–presumably to help make unfunny people (like Musk) into funny people (like me!).

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Researchers at Microsoft tasked an AI with reviewing news headlines, and replacing nouns and verbs with words that are objectively funny. What did they learn?

Can a robot use an algorithm to be funny?

According to an article on titled “Codifying humanity: Can humor be reduced to an algorithm? (,” the answer is NOPE.

Jokes can be reduced to formulas. Just about anything can be reduced to a formula, but “funny” isn’t a thing. It’s a perception. Just like you can’t hand me an ounce of satisfaction or purchase a mile’s worth of courage, you can’t quantitatively produce funniness in a lab.

Ultimately, while an AI can be taught to do something humorous, “funny” is subjective and rests entirely with the audience, and people don’t tend to find AIs funny yet. 

Here’s a fun fact: when the results of this study came out, I immediately fired all my employees who were artificial intelligences. They now drive cars for Tesla. 

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So if AI robots can’t learn to be funny. Can humans?

In his excellent book “The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey through the Art and Craft of Humor,” comedian and author Keegan-Michael Key gives a detailed breakdown of humor through the ages, and through this breakdown, we can see how humor is utilized in a technical sense by people whose job it is to make others laugh.

In other words, there are techniques to humor. And they’re used much like puzzle pieces to transform something that would otherwise be boring into something rich in comedy. 

So yes, since there are techniques, and tricks and tools to be used, humans can learn humor.

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That’s why, whenever my wife tells me I’ve done something wrong, I’ve learned it’s better to just nod my head, agree with her and laugh… I know this because I used to try to hide, but there was no escape–she’d always manage to find me.

You might have noticed that the last joke illustrated the importance of humor in relationships.

Going back to Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas and their TED Talk, they said, “We can do serious things without taking them so seriously, and we can often do them better.”

Relationships are serious things, and all jokes aside, I can tell you that a healthy dose of humor helps keep all the gears lubricated and turning when it comes to family, friends and even employer/employee relationships.

I take great pride in keeping my family smiling with humor, and at Bold Business, we value fun so much that our website has an entire page devoted to it, and every Friday meeting ends with jokes.

I hope I’ve made you laugh in the last few minutes, but even if one–or more–of my jokes fell flat, the underlying message was underscored by the attempts:

Humor is important, and can be an essential component of effective communication.

Keep ‘em laughing, keep ‘em chuckling, keep ‘em at least smiling, and ultimately you’ll keep ‘em.

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Wait, that wasn’t a joke…

Keep living Bold!

You can listen to the radio show recording of this discussion here:

P.P.S. PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success is a complete system for planning your life to get what you want, and has been a top seller in three categories: “Motivational Growth & Spirituality”, “Personal Success & Spirituality” and “Management Skills”. I hope you check it out if you have not purchased a copy.

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Ed Kopko

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