What makes a comedian funny?
I've been watching a lot of comedy specials recently. And what I've learned is that I like a story. But more than a story, I like a relatable story. Comedians who just tell random jokes are fine, but comedians who OBSERVE, who notice things and call them out, to me they're the funniest. Observational comedy is by far, the highest bar. (Allow me to recommend The Old Man and the Pool by Mike Birbiglia, Look at You by Taylor Tomlinson and I Wish You Would by Trevor Noah.)
Life is comedy
But while we expect comedians to be funny, and it's kinda their job, I love when humor is found in the least expected place. Like the sky.
I was recently on a Southwest flight to Atlanta to visit my brother, and while Southwest is known for their humorous announcements, this one particularly struck a chord. The whole cabin was laughing. Because not only was it funny, it was true. Everything in the typical announcement that we hear on every flight and tune out, is basically pointless (sorry flight attendants). So why not say so?
Not only did this humorous take make people laugh, it made them all LISTEN. For example:
Please bring your seat backs to their upright and most uncomfortable position. This takes an annoyance we know we have to do while acknowledging that they too understand it's not comfortable. This brings us into compliance because they say the quiet part out loud.
In the unlikely event of a change in cabin pressure, which if we anticipated a change in oxygen, we wouldn't have come to work today... Again, it's cheeky but assures everyone that this is something no one wants or expects.
If you need anything, please keep it to yourself. Kidding, please push your call button. I love this because it hints at people who are total PITAs and perhaps might get someone to be less needy before summoning their attendant.
Get people on your side
There was so much more and honestly I'm mad I didn't write more of it down, but it inspired me enough to realize this was a "teachable moment." That by being humorous and saying what most people and most flight attendants are thinking, they got all of us on their side. And made the entire experience so much more enjoyable and memorable. But humor alone a business doesn't make.
There happened to be a girl on board celebrating her sweet 16. So they called her up to the front of the plane, gave her a tiara (paper crown), some playing cards and other goodies, and then dimmed the lights and told everyone to push their call button as "candles" for her cake. Then the whole plane sang Happy Birthday.
You might think this was cheesy, but the girl loved it and honestly it felt more sweet and thoughtful than contrived. And once again, Southwest became more human than business. They leaned into their Personality Brand and demonstrated caring and relatability. And honestly, they probably earned more customer loyalty because if you've flown these days, you know that most airlines suck. (I also acknowledge this wasn't one of their many canceled flights, so I take this experience with a grain of salt.)
It definitely made me more likely to fly them again and more importantly share this story with my audience. The fact that they were honest with their customers but in a way that didn't shame, is rare. And this directness, this humor and this kindness has led to word of mouth marketing and brand ambassadorship. Something no campaign can match.
Sounds like authenticity
Of course the same holds for anyone. Whether you have your own company, work for yourself or work inside an organization, having a clear sense of who you are, understanding your audience and saying not what they want to hear, but what's true and relatable is how you build trust. And how you become memorable.
No one remembers a good flight. We sure as hell remember a bad one. But we also remember a meaningful one. A different one. A genuine one. We recall the experience and how it made us feel. This is something we're all trying to do with our own brands. Make our clients or customers feel something. Feel included. Feel seen. Feel special. But to do that, we have to know who we are.
How to be a badass at work
According to Gallup, businesses with engaged employees report 41% less absenteeism and a 17% increase in worker productivity. But what drives engagement, retention and attraction?
Connection. Connection to the job you’re doing, to the organization, to your team and to your manager. Simply having the skills to do a particular job is no longer sufficient. Your ability to partner with team members, make an impression, network in your industry, and stay primed for opportunities depends on the social capital that you can connect to the capital your company is building. As women, we also have to contend with declining trust that seems inevitable as we progress in our career. The way to combat these obstacles is by controlling your own narrative.
Join me and Sarah Salvatoriello for this virtual presentation where we'll share:
- Ways to identify (and clear!) the obstacles that keep you from being understood by others
- Steps to help you craft and communicate your unique value proposition
- Tools to dig deeper into your core purpose and weave empathy into everyday life
- How to use your personality to showcase who you are, who you help and what you’re good at so you can get visible for the right reasons