Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


The Onion article headline

Culture, Peter Drucker (allegedly) noted, eats strategy for breakfast. And every company wants to know the magic formula to get that super company culture that encourages hard work, long hours, ownership, risk-taking (but, you know, not too much risk taking), and a willingness to say, “Holiday bonus? No, just working here is all the bonus I need!”

But of course every job is work. And work always comes with pains in the ass, or they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it. Even the best job, the one we love to do, isn’t as good as sipping cocktails by the pool in Majorca. And if your job is sipping cocktails by the pool in Majorca, I bet you find yourself thinking, “Really? Another Mai Tai? Come on Friday — I just wanna get home and curl up with a good spreadsheet.”

Though there’s no magic formula, laughter comes close. If your workplace is one where people are encouraged to laugh, at which jokes are welcome even at serious meetings, your people will be flat out happier and, studies show, healthier. (no link here. Just type “Laughter is” into Google and see what auto-fill offers you). I also find that humor sprinkled throughout a day of serious presentations makes those serious messages land better. And when something goes wrong with a PowerPoint or the lights or a microphone, a joke makes everyone relax and enjoy the moment. Flop-sweat on the foreheads of the presenter (and the folks trying to solve the problem) does not.

And humor sets a light tone where open communication is more possible. Because — and again, there’s NO MAGIC FORMULA — teammates thrive when they feel heard, have a sense that their ideas are listened to and built on instead of yes but-ed into oblivion, and are encouraged to be honest with themselves and each other. Laughing together helps.

Am I biased? Oh yes. But that doesn’t mean I’m not right. Humor makes business better. And if strategy is culture’s breakfast, laughter is the cup of strong coffee it needs to jump-start its day.

Pep Rosenfeld

PepPep Rosenfeld

As Director of Creative Content, Pep does it all: He’s a high level event host & facilitator, writer, stand-up comedian, public speaker, coach, and developer of innovative corporate programs. A co-founder of Boom Chicago, Pep’s passion is using comedy to make hard-to-communicate messages land and stick, as featured In his 2012 TED talk, ‘Fight, Flight or Make Your Opponent Laugh.’ Pep hosts events like TEDx Amsterdam, The Next Web Conference, The Nordic Business Forum, and the Spin Awards to rave reviews, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on America’s long-running television show, Saturday Night Live.