A recent study of 54,000 Norwegians (who knew there were so many?) showed that adults who have a sense of humor outlive those who don’t find life funny. And, the survival edge is even greater for cancer victims. The greater a role humor played in their lives, the greater the chances the cancer victims had of surviving.
Humor is critical in business as well. And, I think far too many businesspeople take themselves and their jobs too seriously (especially in the agency world). Ed and I, for example, worked at a totally humorless agency in the mid-1990s. The culture reflected the humorless man who ran the shop. While I can’t comment on mortality rates, I can state that the business was in total freefall as key people and clients defected one after another. Who wanted to work with or for a bunch of sourpusses?
Studies have shown that chemistry is a huge factor in why clients choose one agency over another. The corporate decision makers want to work with bright, happy and upbeat people. In fact, when we conduct a post mortem immediately after a big new business pitch, we evaluate how much the prospects talked and laughed. The more chatter and chuckles, the better our chances of winning.
There are lots of ways to live one’s life. In my opinion, humor is a critical component to building one’s image and reputation over the course of a career. Speaking only for myself, I’d rather have a tombstone that read, ‘He made people laugh’ as opposed to ‘He made a lot of money.’