Ithaca Blog

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Levity Effect: The Value of Play at Work

"The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up" is a business book due out this month that says that an active sense of humor is not just a good personal trait, but helpful for success at work.

A survey of 700 bosses shows that 98 percent say they are more likely to hire someone with a good sense of humor. A survey of workers shows that humor among bosses increases worker loyalty and productivity.

Google, the epitome of modern business success, has roller hockey games in its parking lot twice a week, and intermittent Scrabble games every day. The Lego company has scooters for workers to ride around its business park.

Albert Einstein made it pretty big in physics, and we don't know if he really said the many funny things attributed to him (Yogi Berra syndrome), but he looked like a pretty funny guy.

Willie Stargell, the beloved leader of the 1960's and 70's championship Pittsburgh Pirates, was once asked how his success as a player fit in with his affable attitude. He said, "At the beginning of the game, the umpire doesn't say " 'Work' ball."

One reason we couldn't get into the show "24" was the complete lack of humor in it. We figured Jack Bauer could have gotten a lot further a lot easier by making guys laugh than biting their necks out. The guy never relaxed. Look at James Bond, on the other hand. Top-notch spy; wry guy.

Everyone who has ever done public speaking knows the cardinal rule: start off with a joke. Or at least some levity. When they're laughing, they're listening. Something to think about in a world where laughing and listening are sometimes hard to find.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

1 comment:

Joseph Onesta said...

Steve, Thanks for your blog entry. It really lines up with a keynote I'm working on and I love the Willie Stargell quote. Any idea where you found that?

Joseph Onesta