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Humor That Works

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Member Reviews

Andrew Tarvin's Humor That Works (2019) is an extended look into why humor is a great vehicle for communicating and how to make that happen. It's especially intended for those of us without a funny bone. Tarvin describes himself as "the world’s first humor engineer". Through his company, Humor That Works, he teaches people how to get better results for their companies or themselves in business by having more fun. He didn't start as a funny guy. In fact, he's an engineer but in college, he started an improv group, probably realizing engineering above all other professions needed an approachable way to communicate with the masses. He found he had a knack for humor. When he tried it in work situations--at meetings and trainings--it made learning easier as well as more memorable. Because of this, and because most people appreciate the spice humor adds to group situations but have no idea how to effect it, he started his company:

"...with my team at Humor That Works, we’ve helped more than 25,000 people from more than 250 different organizations from all around the world use humor to achieve success and happiness in the workplace."

Now, he's written this book on what humor is, how to become a funny guy (or gal) and how it can help you achieve your business goals. It is a business how-to book but uses humor as the vehicle to deliver greatness:

"I’m obsessed with efficiency; I believe the word efficient should be one syllable."

"...saying, “Let’s circle back on this” when I never wanted to talk about a subject ever again."

Here are some of the thirteen chapters:

Why Choose Humor
The Skill of Humor
Humor and Execution
Humor and Communication
Humor and Connection
Humor and Leadership
Success and Happiness at Work

It's difficult to get across how wittily effective Tarvin is so I'm just going to share a few of the quotable ideas he uses in the book:

"No one is expecting your weekly status report to be hilarious. So, when you add a small joke at the end of it, or you replace your meeting summary with a haiku, or you simply smile as you walk"
"...always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific.” --Lily Tomlin
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” --Mark Twain
“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.” --Jules Renard
“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” --Linda Grayson
"“Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.” --George Carlin
“Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.” --Ellen DeGeneres
“I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, I wanna grow up and be a critic.” --Richard Pryor
“My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.” --George Bernard Shaw
"...this book isn’t about being funnier: it’s about being effective-er.”
"When discussing which Row/Column to Put Data into in a Spreadsheet, quote Hamlet: “2B, or not 2B: that is the question.” 

There are a bunch of how-to-succeed-in-business books but none that I can think of that focus on the importance of humor to achieve goals. This is highly recommended as one of the books to be included on your business bookshelf.

--this book will be reviewed on my blog, WordDreams, in April
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Fun read on incorporating humor into work

I enjoyed this book. Not surprisingly, Andrew Tarvin writes with a great sense of humor and in a conversational tone. I didn’t find him dogmatic in his common-sense approach. This is the second humor book I’ve read recently. The other one, “You Can Be Funny and Make People Laugh” by GG Peart, was also an interesting read but focussed more on how to be funny in conversation. That book itself wasn’t funny. Tarvin’s book is funnier, including the footnotes. Tarvin also gives lots of resources and interesting and humorous links. While he did plug his business in the book, the way he did it made it acceptable. Just in terms of reading enjoyment, I give the edge to Tarvin’s book.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley for review purposes.
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