How Humor can Boost Creativity and Trust at Workplace with Jennifer Aaker & Naomi Bagdonas

Naomi Bagdonas & Jennifer Aaker Authors Humor, Seriously chat with Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner Prime Venture Partners.

Dr. Jennifer Aaker is a behavioural scientist, author, and General Atlantic Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Coulter Family Fellow. She studies how purpose and meaning shape the choices individuals make and how technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Mixed Reality (XR) are redefining human interaction.

Naomi Bagdonas is a bestselling author, innovation strategist, media coach, and Lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. At Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, she teaches courses at the intersection of humor, purpose, and leadership.

Listen to the podcast to learn about

01:00 - Humour at the Workplace - Why & How

11:35 - Standup, Sweetheart, Sniper, Magnet: What’s Your Humor Style

23:00 - The Core of Humor: Truth and Misdirection

28:00 - “People want to be valued members on a winning team”

34:50 - Why your Agenda should be Half work and Half play

Read the complete transcript below

Sanjay Swamy 01:00

Hi, everybody, this is Sanjay here and we are, welcome again to another episode of the prime venture podcast. I have two very special guests today, Naomi Bagdonas and Jennifer Aaker, they are both in the Bay Area. And I had the privilege of attending a workshop that they conducted recently entitled humour in the workspace, or in the workplace. And I felt there were some really amazing lessons there and requested them to join us on the podcast. So Naomi and Jennifer, welcome to our show.

Naomi Bagdonas 01:35

Thank you, it’s so nice to be here.

Sanjay Swamy 01:38

Great, great to have you as well. And I think it would be great for the listeners to know a little bit more about your backgrounds and why you created this space, or this specialisation around spreading the mantra of humour in the workplace.

Naomi Bagdonas 01:57

Great. All right, so I’ll start. Naomi here, I teach at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business along with Jennifer. Courses about the power of humour in business, and also courses about this new type of leadership anchored on purpose and fueled by humour. Jennifer and I are the authors of “humour, seriously”. And I specialise in coaching and consulting organisations and high performing leaders on the intersection of humour and business, which is a relatively non traditional intersection. But I work with CEOs and celebrity clients to have more humour and also authenticity in the way that they lead. And then a bit of background, I spent my career really focused in business and in particular, on designing executive sessions for teams, so facilitating board retreats or corporate off sites and really focused on the strategy of organisations.

Meanwhile, I was doing improv comedy nights and weekends and sort of living a double life where I was keeping those two worlds completely separate. Until about a decade ago, when I started integrating those two and realising that actually bringing more humour to work is not just helpful for us to be more, happy and have more fun at work, but really to make us more effective, more bonded, gain status and influence, and ultimately be more effective at our jobs as well. So that is around the time I met Jennifer.

Jennifer Aaker 03:31

And I’m a behavioural scientist, most of my work is really focused on how happiness and meaning and life differ, how to use time in meaningful and unconventional ways, and how to leverage technology to cultivate human well being, none of which is humorous in the least. But one thing that happened to me was, when I first met Naomi, she was teaching a session for me and she was guesting in my power of story class. And actually, the topic had a lot to do with quantitative analytics. And so she was talking about neuro chemistry and eigenvalue analysis to really understand how does data versus story move teams. Again, not humorous stuff. But what was really remarkable was watching the students react to the lecture, they were laughing as they were learning. And fast forward.

Eight weeks later, she scored extraordinarily high on ratings, not because she was entertaining, and not because they laughed, but because they remembered it more, the content, took away more from it, and they were more persuaded. And it was more memorable. So that’s one of the things that started me down this path of, what is the science of humour? When and why does it work? And how, because I’ve always thought of it as this improvisational tool that couldn’t necessarily be studied or learned, frankly.

Sanjay Swamy 04:53

Right. So that’s always been my view, as well. And humour is something that’s more impromptu. And generally, whenever you attempt to be funny, you end up being not so funny, but when you don’t, it ends up being kind of natural and authentic, as you said earlier, Naomi. It would be great perhaps if you could use, share a couple of examples, which you have noticed that has really worked well for people and sometimes in a repetitive way, with a new audience, and that might probably set the tone for some of the various types of humour and when to do it, and how to read the audience and all of that, but maybe we can start with a couple of examples from each of you.

Naomi Bagdonas 05:40

Sure. So, we have so many favourite examples from the leaders and execs we’ve worked with one one more recent example during the pandemic is a CEO we worked with, We actually teach with as well named Connor Diemand Yauman and Connor is the CEO, the co-CEO of a large nonprofit here in the US. In early 2020, just weeks after the world, or at least the US, had gone into quarantine. He’s leading his first ever virtual, all-hands meeting with his entire organisation. So people are exhausted, they’re scared and Connor wants to show care and reassurance but isn’t quite sure how. So during the session, he makes a few remarks, shares his screen and then passes to another teammate to speak.

But when he does, he intentionally leaves his screenshare on so the entire organisation, thinking this is a horrible mistake, is watching as he closes his PowerPoint, opens up a Google search and types in “things inspirational CEOs say during hard times”. Everyone laughs, everyone totally loses it. And it’s sort of this beautiful moment of bonding where people are seeing each other smile, some of them for the first time on Zoom. But we also know from the research that moments like this have real upside for Conor and for his organisation. So we know that leaders with a good sense of humour are seen as 27% more motivating and admired. And their teams are more bonded and creative.

Sanjay Swamy 07:13

Now, that’s fascinating. I think the fact that is actually, I guess humour seriously is in itself, enough of an oxymoron. But the fact that it has been studied scientifically, I never thought I would be having a serious conversation about humour. Naomi, any example or Jennifer, any examples that stand out for you?

Jennifer Aaker 07:36

Well, I love that one. But I also have one where we had Dick Costolo, who is the CEO at Twitter. He’s also been in venture angel investing at Google and a lot of the spaces that you play in. And one thing that was interesting that he shared with our students is, especially when you’re playing at high status levels, the goal here is just to disarm, just to come across as human. So people actually are candid with you. And so he uses humour for lots of different reasons. But one of that is just to basically disarm and have him show up in ways that are more human.

So he shared a story with our students, where one day he was in an elevator, this was at Twitter and the Twitter building, and someone entered the elevator with him and whispered to their colleague, that’s the CEO. And Dick sort of loudly says, I’m here, my name is Dick, great to meet you. It’s not rocket science, but that small little story is, I think, so illuminating about how the power of being humorous and human and how it can disarm.

Sanjay Swamy 08:53

Wonderful. Yeah, I think a lot of it is really just getting people around you to be comfortable with you. And I think many times these things don’t pan out as, as one would have thought. And sometimes they can even backfire, especially when there are cultural differences or speaking across zoom, and the other, the face to face is often quite different, because you see the full body language and everything like that. But sometimes it’s very hard to read eyes and so on. So what are some, perhaps even examples of things that may have backfired? And sometimes famously, or in and what are some tips to ensure that people are not making a huge blunder as they’re trying to be funny?

Naomi Bagdonas 09:45

It’s a great question. Well, sticking with Dick Costolo, for a moment. One thing that we know is, especially at high status levels, self deprecation is so powerful. And now we have these four humour styles, which we will talk about in a minute, but we know that dick is the sniper stand up style of humour, and so he tends to build intimacy through teasing. Now, the problem for a high profile CEO who wants to build intimacy through teasing is that it can come off as punching down, it can come off as sort of making fun of people of lower status. And so especially with a global audience, he’d be leading these all hands with 1000s of people around the world dialled in, he had to make sure that his humour wasn’t coming across in an inappropriate way.

And so what he did was, he actually had some of his team members join him on stage, and he would encourage them to make fun of him. So basically just however you would treat me normally behind the scenes, I want you to treat me that way. And so one of these people was April Underwood, who’s a longtime colleague and Senior Product Director at Twitter, so the two of them knew each other very well. And he would bring her up on stage and she would just rip into him. It was playful, it was funny, but it was also self deprecating. And the fact that it was unplanned, that it was unfolding in the moment, made it even funnier. And of course, it was a really safe way to do this, because Dick and April could play off of each other in a way that felt completely natural and fun, without it feeling pre planned or without feeling too sniper or stand up.

And actually, this is something that Larry Page and Sergey Brin did too, along with Eric Schmidt at Google. So Eric told us about, not long after Google’s founding, Larry and Sergey instituted these hour-long company wide meetings at the end of each week called TGI F, “thank goodness it’s Friday”. And for the first 30 minutes, the team just reviewed news and product launches for the week, but it was really anchored on them also showcasing their personalities with each other. And especially this sort of witty repartee between the two of them. And later between Eric as well, was often a real highlight. And it continued to reinforce the culture that they were building there as well.

Sanjay Swamy 12:27

So maybe we can dive into the different humour styles that you sort of alluded to. Maybe Jennifer, you want to give us some background on that and how people can analyse themselves?

Jennifer Aaker 12:40

Yeah, absolutely. The biggest thing for me is someone who never viewed myself as humorous, didn’t want to use myself as funny. The biggest unlock for me personally, has just been this idea that being humorous is not the same thing as being funny. humour and funny are not equated. And one of the ways that people can start to internalise that is through a finding that Naomi and I have shown over the last decade of a lot of research, which is there’s four different humour types. So Sanjay, we will get yours at the end of this. One of them is the stand up and they’re boisterous and bold, they’re unafraid to ruffle a few feathers to get a laugh. And so they’re probably really good at roasting others at big weddings.

The opposite of that is the sweetheart and their humour style flies under the radar. They’re honest and earnest and understated. They would never do anything that would overstep or hurt someone’s feelings. They’re really outstanding at uplifting others. We have a common friend Selena, who actually scores quite high on sweethearts. Then comes the sniper, and she also has a little bit of sniper in her too. And that’s edgy, and that’s dry and nuanced. And they’re the masters, the unexpected dig. It’s sometimes hard to get snipers to laugh, but when you do you feel great. And the last are the magnets and they’re expressive and charismatic. They might tilt a little bit toward the physical or the silly. They’re generous with their laughter; they’re often the life of the party. So, Naomi, do you want to guess what Sanjay is based on our brief interaction with him?

Naomi Bagdonas 14:32

I was going to say, more sniper but in your bio Sanjay, you say “Sanjay loves his wacky sense of humour”. Which is such a magnet thing to say.

Sanjay Swamy 14:48

That was written by my partner, it wasn’t written by me.

Naomi Bagdonas 14:52

So your partner’s a magnet and you’re a sniper.

Jennifer Aaker 14:59

That’s great. What’s interesting, Sanjay, is that each of these styles have downsides to, for example, the stand up and the sniper, because they often tease as the former.

Sanjay Swamy 15:10

This was just when I was starting to feel good about myself.

Naomi Bagdonas 15:15

Let me just give you about five seconds to bask in your awesome style.

Jennifer Aaker 15:19

That’s right. We want to get to know your partner. He sounds very fun and wacky. But anyway,

Sanjay Swamy 15:26

He is no longer my partner. He’s fired.

Jennifer Aaker 15:28

Okay, he’s out of there. That’s nice. But snipers and standups, because they use humour as a form of intimacy. So if I tease you, firing my partner, for example, that often means, I trust you, I know you, I like you. But there’s also the risk of offending or alienating audiences if they don’t understand that about you. And in contrast to the magnets and the sweethearts it’s because they’re so focused often on uplifting others. They’re at risk of over indexing on self deprecation, which, as Naomi said, is a great asset when you’re at high status levels. But at lower status levels, it can boomerang.

So what’s useful about this is that people often think humor has so many risks, specially right now, during a time we all feel kind of humourless, and we’ve seen other people overstep or inadvertently, or advertently actually, offend or alienate, but the reality is, is that knowing our own humour styles, then knowing how to read the room, which means understanding other people’s humour styles, and being open to shift, given the context, that is a tool set that is extraordinarily useful at mitigating risks.

Sanjay Swamy 16:53

Yep. So I think, while it’s true that one can certainly be in the room, it’s a lot, perhaps a lot easier. And perhaps you fixate on a few people and try to build your confidence when you’re in the room. Nowadays we’re having all these virtual meetings just like this one over zoom, where one of you has the camera off because it’s not working. But in general, you’re going to have

Naomi Bagdonas 17:21

I like the air quotes around not working just for everyone listening to the podcast Sanjay gave the most passive aggressive sniperish air quotes. I feel like we need to publish on YouTube, just so that everyone can see.

Sanjay Swamy 17:41

Yeah. So I guess, it’s kinda not working. And so it is just a lot harder. I mean, even in half the time people are perhaps on the phone, and you have a small screen, and it’s very hard to suddenly even make eye contact. So what are some things people can do to perhaps gauge the audience and even just know the mood people are in, and sometimes, humour might uplift and sometimes it might just culturally as well. As we’re now doing a lot more global meetings. And suddenly, if you’re talking to people in Japan, or I used to always struggle with when I went to Europe, and I had meetings in Switzerland, I never knew.

I studied in France. So I sort of was trained to understand the French sides of humour, which actually can be quite dry, but very, very funny. And but when you go to the German side of the world, it’s not that obvious that they’re appreciating what you’re saying suddenly in a business meeting, right. So what are some tips and I think people who are inherently funny, probably just curb themselves a lot in these business meetings, because they just are scared to make a mistake. So it would be great. If there are some tips you could share on things that as a technique people can do to do the right thing.

Naomi Bagdonas 19:12

Yeah. The first tip is, don’t try to be funny. Try to be more human. So it’s so tempting to jump into the agenda of the meeting, to lean on efficiency, especially with Zoom fatigue, especially with just how busy we all are. And there’s a CEO I work with who has a post it, right next to her computer that says how was your weekend? And it’s her reminder to ask every person, it doesn’t have to be that question. But some personal questions at the beginning and Sanjay, even in this podcast, before we started, we had, we were not recording, you told us a couple of stories, which made us laugh, we sort of shared, we had some shared experiences, and were able to warm up before we dove in.

So that’s one thing, just try to be more human. If you want to be more structured around it. We work with many execs who have a sort of icebreaker or something that they start with before they dive into their meetings, what we find is, again, things that are just aimed at giving people a window into your life are the most powerful. And this is, we have a real advantage over zoom because we’re all in our living rooms or converted closets or offices or whatever they are. And so one example is we work with a senior leader who runs a global team, hundreds of thousands of people around the world and her with her executive team, who’s in 12 different geographies. She the other day started the meeting and said Okay, before we dive in, I want everyone to go to your refrigerator and pick out one item that no one else on this call has, bring it back. And we’re going to present that item everyone presents in 30 seconds.

And so, people are laughing about what’s in the fridge, people are sharing different things that they cooked with their family members, whatever’s mouldy, whatever that is. But it’s this really, it was such a beautiful way of acknowledging cultural differences, because you’re going to have different foods that are culturally relevant, and bringing in humanity rather than humour. And of course, there was a lot of laughter from that as well.

Sanjay Swamy 21:35

That’s taking icebreaker a bit too literally, though.

Naomi Bagdonas 21:43

That was great, Sanjay. Look at you go with your dad humour, you are really shifting into different styles in real time.

Sanjay Swamy 21:53

Anyway, so that’s actually interesting, but I think generally, the whole idea of icebreakers as well, and just getting the ball rolling. I think that people, even those who are not naturally sort of inclined can sort of start off well. But I find quite often people who, as you said, attempt to be deliberately sort of funny and structured about it, end up becoming too sort of rigid when they’re delivering it. So, it doesn’t happen naturally. And what are some pieces of advice? Some people may just never be able to pull it off? And is the advice, is there a structured way in which people can build things into their repertoire? Or is it just, don’t try to be who you aren’t?

Jennifer Aaker 22:47

Yeah, so think about it from starting at kindergarten, then going to high school, then, college and grad school. So it’s a level, the first step is just understanding what you find to be humorous. And “embracing that more authentic sense of humour”. And most people can remember when they were younger, what did they laugh at and find to be humorous, as a way of kind of jumpstarting that if you have lost, your all sense of humour, which, by the way, in investment banking, certain worlds like the investment world that has very, oftentimes very little humour and levity, and so you might have to again, go back to kindergarten, and then once you understand your own humorous style, and then number two, starting to understand the styles of others.

So again, you can start to read the room, and understand that there’s very different styles of humour. The next thing is really to start, you know, adopting some secrets from comedians. And so the core of humour is really about truth and misdirection. So as you said, it’s not about being funny. It’s really just starting to, like notice the truth in certain environments, like the fact that for the last two years, I have not combed the back of my hair, just the front, that’s not necessarily funny. It’s just true.

Sanjay Swamy 24:19

It works on Zoom.

Jennifer Aaker 24:25

That’s right. And then you use rules that we know from comedians who, oftentimes seem naturally funny, but there’s actually a real art and science to it. One of those little rules is, misdirection. And so it’s like giving people neurologically, two things that they expect are coming like, one, two, and then a ham sandwich. And that unexpected third thing or that unexpected last thing is what creates that misdirection and surprise.

Sanjay Swamy 24:58

Got it. So the multiple choice set of questions you ask, the last choice is so far off.

Jennifer Aaker 25:07

That is right. And another simple tool, we could go deep on this, but in Chapter Three of the book, “humour, seriously” has a host of examples that are actually quite funny. Another one is simple callbacks. So Sanjay, you’re in a meeting with a portfolio company. And someone in that meeting makes other people laugh. And you just take note of it, you write down that phrase, and that at a later point in time you make reference to that phrase, something that I’m sure you do naturally all the time. That’s called a callback. And the reason that one is so powerful is, a), there’s no risk associated with it. And b) it makes the person who originally created that laughline and made others laugh, actually feel quite valued. And we’re living in a time right now where when people feel seen and valued, that really matters.

Sanjay Swamy 25:57

Absolutely. I think yeah, go ahead. Naomi..

Naomi Bagdonas 26:02

I was gonna say just to put this into practice, this idea of misdirection is often why we see people fail from a humour perspective. So they can have a great idea, but it just doesn’t land. And so I’ll give one example of a joke that you made earlier. So I said, this bio is great. And you said, oh, my business partner wrote that. And something like I’ll fire him or he’s fired, but I’ll go ahead and let him know. That’s really funny. And so what I would do to that to make it even

Sanjay Swamy 26:36

Wouldn’t be funny if he wasn’t fired, he’s actually been fired, not just kidding.

Naomi Bagdonas 26:40

oh. We’ve walked into a landmine here. Okay, so what would you make that even funnier if you want to build misdirection? So that makes us think that you’re going to say something nice about him. So you could say, oh, thank you so much. My business partner actually wrote that he’s so creative like that, and all, I’ll let him know, right after I fire him, you want to lead people in one direction before revealing that unusual thing and you will get, It’s amazing that you’ll get more laughs you’ll get people actually getting the humour more if you’re able to do that.

Sanjay Swamy 27:18

Yeah, I had one of these incidents that completely fell flat, the other founder talking, we’re all the partners in the media. And he said, Look, I find these meetings really, really productive. And I’d love to have more of these. And when all of you are together, I learned so much. And I said, I really apologise, that wasn’t our intent. And he said, What are you talking about?

Naomi Bagdonas 27:42

I love it. Just the unexpected. The misdirection is built in there. People expect to say, Oh, thank you so much, but instead by flipping it, that is such an effective strategy. And Sanjay, what you’re doing there is you’re just being on the lookout for those moments to say the unexpected thing. And oftentimes, we get on autopilot with each other, where we just say the expected thing, the expected thing, and throwing in some of those unexpected lines, gives people a dopamine hit in their brains, it makes them pay attention more. And so not only are you lightening the room and making people laugh, but you’re also, by the way, perking people up who have maybe zoned out and getting them reengaged in the conversation.

Sanjay Swamy 28:28

Yeah and I think I’m really fortunate to have two amazing partners actually, who also have a great sense of humour, and when you least expect it, they’re going to say something that sort of brings it back on track. And it also can humble you very fast as well. So it’s great. So a lot of this also, as you mentioned earlier, is about building trust with the people and certainly over a period of time, especially across geographies across cultural differences across, hierarchy in the organisation in all in all in the business relationship. The other day, you mentioned an expression that I’ve written down, I tweeted it and I got a lot of retweets.I apologise, I didn’t attribute it to you guys then. But I will now.

Naomi Bagdonas 29:20

You wait, I’m giving air quotes right now. Did you forget to?

Jennifer Aaker 29:28

Naomi, I know why we’re invited. On this podcast, I just envision a series of tweets that will again, the source will be forgotten.

Sanjay Swamy 29:39

Forgotten. Yep. So one quote you mentioned was, “people want to be valued members on a winning team on an inspired mission”. And I would really love for you to elaborate on that. It’s such a powerful statement. In fact, somebody retweeted it saying it’s a billion dollar tweet.

Jennifer Aaker 30:04

Oh my gosh. Sanjay we’ll start getting more money and more respect and also greater trust. Just want you to know Naomi’s last name is spelled Bagdonas, mine Aaker. We’re both on Twitter.

Yeah, so this is a lot of the behavioural science around what actually creates meaning and purpose in life are really reduced to like three or four different things. And the power of this single sentence is that four elements of what actually creates meaning in life in work, are embedded in it right. So people need to feel connected to something bigger than themselves. That’s the higher purpose. The inspired mission, they need to have that feeling of connection. They’re a part of a team and they need to feel valued. So they need to feel like there’s a sense of autonomy and then a positive connection. And then last but not least, they need to have a sense of sort of excellence. What is winning and what is high performing in this context. And you don’t have to be winning, “all the time”. But you need to know what the path is, toward getting to that Northstar, that that form of excellence.

So we call that PACE, purpose, autonomy, connection and excellence, which is captured in that sentence. What’s really interesting is having a sense of levity and humour actually enables that sentence, that context to be better operationalized because, when you laugh with others, or you really do make them feel valued. When you do have a sense of humour, you actually are much more likely to feel like you’re on a team. In fact, one study found that when you simply laugh, just briefly before a conversation, you’re 30% more likely to divulge personal information. So you divulge personal information about yourself much more easily. And so that feeling of trust, and I’m on the same team with you can happen. So in essence, humour can actually shrink the distance between two strangers.

And then it also allows you to be able to achieve your goals and influence others, working toward that inspiring mission, as well as be more effective in a path of what is winning or high performing. In fact, some of the people that we interviewed for this book, as well as good friends of ours, are really in a really remarkable context. We’ll pick a couple. One is Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who would use humour to disarm one time, she was actually going into a meeting with a Russian foreign minister and had heard that there that the room was bugged.

So she put on this big bug pin that she had, t’s just a ginormous pin. And so as she walked into the room, the Russian Foreign Minister couldn’t help but smile. And she didn’t have to say anything. It’s just and that disarm the situation. And she, she relayed to our students in our class, how that shifted the nature of that conversation. But we’ve talked to Stephen Curry, who is a prominent basketball player, or the CEO, Sara Blakely, these people that really drive high performing teams use humour incredibly adeptly. And one of the reasons is because it does help that sentence that is a billion dollar idea.

Sanjay Swamy 33:52

Absolutely. Naomi, anything to add on, in about this, sort of bringing levity and really helping people feel great about themselves and be more inspired especially, given my audience here is largely entrepreneurs. Startups have, I always say, 360 days of frustration and five days of glory in a year. And in the leap year, it’s the 361 days of frustration, you don’t get a break even then. So during those 360 days, you need a lot of this, because you’re really living for those five days in the startup, unlike in a large company, where every day is kind of a similar blood pressure. In the startup, it’s a lot of hard work, and you really just have to believe, and then you have these moments that really are awesome. So, yeah, we’d love to hear your thoughts around the topic.

Naomi Bagdonas 34:51

Yeah, I think especially for many of the founders we work with, who are growing fast, sprinting, there are too many things to juggle. And so they feel. And so two things happen. One, culture can sometimes be on the backburner, because there are too many business imperatives that they’re focused on. And then two, there can be this bias towards over programming or indexing on really serious things. So, I’ll zoom out for a second and give an example of the founding of the elders. So the elders is an independent, a group of independent global leaders that was formed with the goal of, furthering human rights and peace, world peace, founded by Nelson Mandela. Some of the founding members were Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. President Jimmy Carter and during the founding of this really important group, just a couple days before all of these folks were going to convene on Richard Branson’s private island.

They, so again, world leaders from around the world flying for this summit to found the elders. And so three days before the session, Jean Oelwang, who runs Richard’s foundation arrived with Richard. And she put on the table, a PowerPoint, a stack of PowerPoint documents about a foot thick. And she said, Okay, great. We have so much to cover, we’ve got data, we’ve got global trends, we’ve got the entire agenda mapped out for the next three days. And Richard took one look at it, he flipped through, he said, this is fantastic. I’m gonna need you to cut it in half. And everyone sort of looked around at each other and said, Well, what do you mean, cut it in half, we have so much to do. And we have such important people. And we’re at this important founding moment of this organisation. But that’s exactly what they did. So they made their agenda half work and half play, which he said needs to be half play time.

And so they had these structured sessions. But in between those structured sessions, they had swimming lessons and activities on the sand and hikes and things like that. And as Richard and Jean reflected on the experience, they shared with our students that it was during playtime, when some of the real most important work happened. And in particular, they recalled this moment where Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter, were sitting together during playtime their toes dug into the sand laughing, where they came up with the founding principles of the Elders that Nelson Mandela would later report out to the world. And so I share this story, because, especially when for founders who are racing and juggling and feel they have such a business imperative to tackle, build levity and humour into the agenda allow for play time, because it’s often when some of the most creative ideas happen, it’s often when some of the most important connections happen.

Sanjay Swamy 37:33

Fabulous. So I think we’re kind of coming up on the hour now. And I know we could go on and on and on, maybe we can spend a little bit of time on the book itself. And how people can probably get it and get a copy. And maybe, Jennifer, you can talk a little bit about that. And I also know that you guys have a TED talk that’s coming out. And I think by the time this podcast is out, the TED talk will also be live. Any secrets about the TED Talk that you’d like to share as well?

Jennifer Aaker 38:16

Well, yeah, absolutely. So the TED talk is only nine minutes, which is very exciting, because we all have nine minutes and it comes out on November 18. So that will be wildly exciting. And yeah, just come visit us at humorseriously.com. My dog is in the background and he’s very enthusiastic about all of you visiting at humorseriously.com. But yeah, you can take the quiz there, which helps, allow you to figure out your humour style. Mackey my dog, who is Naomi’s God dog is definitely a magnet, a very fierce magnet and your cat is probably a sniper. Anyway, come on to humorseriously.com and check out the book and the quiz. And we’re so delighted to have spent this time with you, Sanjay, thank you so much.

Sanjay Swamy 39:08

Thank you, and great having you guys on the show as well. And really looking forward to the quiz, the book, the TED talk, and of course, the release of this podcast that I will share with you. Thanks so much. Have a nice day. It

Jennifer Aaker 39:21

It was a total delight. No air quotes needed.

Sanjay Swami 39:25

Thank you so much.

Jennifer Aaker 39:28

Thanks, Sanjay.

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