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Clowning Achievements

clown.jpgIn case you’re wondering, there isn’t a typographical error in today’s title. We don’t want to talk about crowning achievements.

We saw a fantastic article in Business Week about the impact of humor in organizations. It’s an interview with Chris Robert, a management professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of a recent study The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure.

Now there’s a professor with a great sense of humor!



Chuckles and creativity are connected

In his paper, he points out that humor is a universal language. It helps us feel more comfortable with other people. It brings out our child-like nature. It’s also contagious – one joke often brings on another.

Humor is also associated with intelligence and creativity, highly valued traits in today’s workplace. Dr. Robert notes that the main theory about humor is that we often laugh when two disparate things are put together.

A theory about humor? How funny!

He states that creativity often involves the same thing – connecting the dots. This link between being funny and being creative is supported by a number of studies.

Crack a joke and keep your employees

There’s also a strong connection between humor and positive emotions. He says that numerous studies have linked positive feelings with productivity in the workplace. So if you want a higher performing team, develop a sense of humor.

Finally, he points out that the real benefit comes in employee retention. People are less likely to quit if they feel their place of work is a positive place to be.

So how do you bring humor into the workplace?

Connect the dots

As we mentioned earlier, connect things that don’t naturally fit together. Here’s an example from Jay Leno:

“It’s crazy. First we had Mad Cow. Then we had bird flue. Now we have swine flu. Do we have to check the Chinese horoscope to see what flu is coming next?”

He’s mixing a current topic in with animals and the Chinese horoscope.

Pull it back in

Bring up a topic that was funny earlier. Or maybe it wasn’t funny earlier but it may be funny now. David Letterman is a master at this. Do you remember, “Uma … Oprah”? It bombed at the Oscars, but Dave often gets a bigg chortle when he does this.

Word play

The title to this post is an example. It may not make you laugh out loud, but you might get a little chuckle out of it. Sometimes a play on words can set off a bigg laugh.

A few lessons

Share other people’s humor like we did with Jay Leno. Understand that humor is subjective. You have to know your audience. Dave’s humor didn’t fly at the Oscars.

Be yourself. You can’t force it. Some people are good at off-the-cuff comments. Others have to plan it out.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to be funny yourself to participate. Laughing at a joke connects you just as much as making one!


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Please join us next time when we talk about a great way to have fun with your friends using only things you already have in your home.

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!


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5 Interview Questions for John McCain

questionsHere in the United States, it’s convention time with the Republican National Convention winding down tonight as John McCain strives to land the biggest job in the world.

Whenever any of us goes for a job, it pays to think about our strengths. What makes us unique? What sets us apart?



Now when we think of the Republican Party, we think of elephants! Sure enough, this huge, bumbling animal has become the symbol for the Republican Party.

Last week, we talked about what a donkey could say in an interview to stand apart. This week, we’ll do the same for an elephant. So we showed our fictional elephant how to hold his trunk so it looked like a tie, and sent him off for an interview. Of course, we gave him a healthy breakfast of grass before he left!

Our elephant stressed that he has an excellent memory. He will help you remember important things about your key clients. He can also recall facts that may not have been documented.

Our elephant emphasized that he was as strong as any creature you’ll ever find. He can shoulder weights that you would never dream of on your own. Elephants have been used to transport goods all over the world. So our elephant stressed that your work will be much easier if you hire him.

If you remember, our fictional donkey also stressed how strong he was. We found this intriguing – two animals both emphasizing the same strength. It’s interesting, though, that they’re still different. There are situations where you would use a donkey, but not an elephant and vice versa. So don’t just think about your strengths – think about the nuances of your strengths and how a potential employer might find them useful.

Comedian Jake Novak, of Jake’s Comedy Corner, called in for today’s show. He’s thought about some common interview questions that might be good for the Presidential candidates. Last week, he had some questions for Barack Obama. This week, we’ll share questions for John McCain. 

Jake’s Take – 5 Interview Questions for John McCain

Question #1: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Please don’t say the Shady Pines Nursing Home, because that’s where I want to put my parents and there’s not enough room as it is! So try a different nursing home.

Question #2: Are you willing to travel for this job?

Because you know, Senator McCain, you tend to get cranky when you have to sit on the plane for more than fifteen minutes at a time!

Question #3: Describe your employment history.
And I’d like you to leave out all of the stuff before the invention of metal tools!

Question #4: What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?

Because the last time I checked, the Senate has 115 Republican white guys who want to be President! You’re not really that unique in that way!

Question #5: What will you do when you get this position?
I’m just hoping you won’t go on Jay Leno again, because that’s really not doing right by the American people. “Executive privilege” means you don’t have to appear on other people’s TV shows.

Our main question comes before the job interview … when John McCain filled out the application for the job of President, what did he put down for his address?

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Next time, we ask if it pays to be honest with your employees even in tough times. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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How to Attract and Retain the Next Generation of Talent

soft_skillsBeloit College recently published their eleventh annual Mindset List about this year’s crop of incoming freshmen. Check it out to understand the perspective of the Class of 2012.

For example, Jay Leno has always been the host of The Tonight Show for this group. Bring up Johnny Carson only if you’re prepared to explain who he was!



Putting it into con-text

We have a friend who thinks they lack social skills. He believes they’re so busy texting that they’ve never developed the ability to communication personally.

We disagree – we think they’re very social. A generation before, we e-mailed or called someone on their cell phone instead of texting. In our mind, the only difference is the medium used.

We wanted to dig a little deeper to fully understand the perceptions of young people in their late teens and early twenties. After all, they’re the ones who will be coming to us for employment in the near future.

The Media Center at the American Press Institute calls this group of people the “Content Generation” – they use text, videos, and photos (often generated from their cell phones) to connect and inform.

Understanding the paradigm

They have witnessed September 11, corporate scandals, mass layoffs, sweat shops, the burst of the bubble, and now the subprime mortgage crisis.

When they think of the future, they realize that they will have to fund their own retirement while they start and raise a family. Since their parents are older than previous generations, they will also likely have to care for them at some point in their lives.

The workplace for the next generation

All of these things impact the jobs they will choose. They don’t expect to stay at the same company for their entire career. They won’t necessarily take the job that pays the most either – they’re looking for more than money.

This generation grew up with Tom Peters and the idea of Me, Inc. They understand personal branding and seek lifelong employability. So two of the most important components of a good job are:

  • Personal and professional growth – They want a job that helps them develop skills that will be valuable in their career and at home.
  • Work – life balance – They want a job that allows them to enjoy their lives now. They’re not willing to wait until they retire to “live”.

They want to work for people in a company that truly values its employees. These people live the values they talk about. They follow through on what they say. They’re authentic.

For example, if you say you’re “green”, you better be green. You recycle. You use energy-efficient light bulbs. You work to reduce paper use. And that’s just the start!

We admire them because they’ve figured out some important things already that we didn’t have worked out at their age. They have a lot of potential. Time will tell if they live up to it.

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Next time, with the Democratic Convention wrapping up, we’ll talk about donkeys. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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Bigg Contributors

Meet our regular guests who share their bigg talents with Bigg Success!

wynn_biggWynn Bigg is the inspiration for Bigg Success. We’re fortunate that he occasionally shares some of his wisdom with us and our community.

A quiet man, he retired from a successful career in entrepreneurship and real estate investing after many years.

Now he pursues his passion to travel the world with his wife, Fanny. He says he thoroughly enjoys living “the bigg life” and wants us to share his secrets to bigg success with as many people as possible. He believes every one has the potential to do great things. 636 Read Wynn's latest bigg contribution].

dana_mancusoDana Mancuso lives and works in Urbana, Illinois in the public relations field. "I was always very quiet in class, not one to make waves. But I would make smart or funny comments quietly to my neighbor, and more often than not he or she would repeat them out loud and get a laugh from the group."

Today Dana loves to share funny, odd and sometimes serious stories of every day things that happen in her life in her writing. She spends her non-work time as a mom of two and wife to a gregarious husband, who also steals her quick-witted one liners and gets the bigg laugh! 1495 Read Dana's latest bigg contribution.]

jake_novakJake Novak is a comedy writer whose material is used by more than 100 radio stations across the world!

Jake's material is featured along with comedy from Dave Letterman and Jay Leno every Thursday in Newsday. He also has a Jewish humor column in every issue of The Jewish Week and a brand new comic strip "Schmooze or Lose" in the L.A. Jewish Journal. You can also read his humor daily on his blog, Jake's Comedy Corner. When Jake's not making people laugh, he teaches Journalism at New York University. Jake is also with the recently-launched Fox Business Network. 1147 Hear Jake's latest bigg contribution.]