As part of our Humor Code project, Joel Warner and I asked a couple of NBA knowledgeable comedians the question:
A glimpse at the exchange:
Joel Warner: First question: Who’s on your all-time funniest-player short list, and why?
Alonzo Bodden: Charles Barkley, for his openness while playing and his analysis in retirement. From his “I Am Not a Role Model” campaign to him saying a team sucks when we know it sucks but no one else will say it.
Kenny Smith for being the only person who can shut Charles up.
Blake Griffin for his Kia commercials.
John Salley was funny on The Best Damn Sports Show Period and was man enough to actually do a bit of stand-up.
Rick Fox for his hair.
Blake Griffin for his Kia commercials, his Twitter feed, and his interviews.
Peter McGraw: I am surprised that Jalen Rose was omitted. He has great stories, including the time he stole Patrick Ewing’s TV.
5. Kevin Love (Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves). His awkward handshake.
4. Jalen Rose (Guard, Retired). As I mention above, his story about stealing Patrick Ewing’s TV, and other stories.
3. Shaquille O’Neill (Center, Retired) Besides his dedication to studying humor, he is highly quotable:
I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, and wear Reebok.
2. Charles Barkley (Forward, Retired). His quotes are better than Shaq’s:
These are my new shoes. They’re good shoes. They won’t make you rich like me, they won’t make you rebound like me, they definitely won’t make you handsome like me. They’ll only make you have shoes like me. That’s it.
Bonus: NBA’s Least Funny Players
Michael Jordan (Guard, Retired): Incredibly competitive. Punched Steve Kerr.
Kobe Bryant (Guard, Los Angeles Lakers): Anyone who nicknames himself The Black Mamba takes life seriously.
Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest; Forward, Los Angeles Lakers): A career defining moment: Malice at the Palace.
Bill Russell (Center, Retired): Played with a rage.
Panelists: Alf Lamont, Joel Warner, Heather Knight and me.
-We know that comedy and the Internet go hand in hand but is there more to this marriage than meets the eye?
-What’s really behind the success of Funny or Die? , College Humor, and Cracked? Do Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter all share this commonality?
-Reach beyond cat videos and memes to see how behavioral scientists, journalists, a roboticist, and her robot are advancing our understanding of the world by tapping in to your funny bone and developing the algorithms that may be the key to unlocking The Humor Code.
-All this AND the first robotic comic ever to perform at SXSW!
Three SXSW events that I am attending:
SXSW Comedy Opening Party (of course)
I visited Erasmus University on a sabbatical visit. While there, I interviewed some of the faculty about their research. Here is the second interview, where I asked marketing professor Nicole Mead about her research on money
Does handling money make you a bad person?
So there you have it: It depends on whether the money is clean or dirty. Dirty money leads to bad behavior.
The paper: Yang, Qing, Wu, Xiaochang, Zhou, Xinyue, Mead, Nicole L., Vohs, Kathleen D. & Baumeister, Roy F. (Forthcoming). Diverging effects of clean versus dirty money on attitudes, values, and interpersonal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Does the cue of money lead to selfish, greedy, exploitative behaviors or to fairness, exchange, and reciprocity? We found evidence for both, suggesting that people have both sets of meaningful associations, which can be differentially activated by exposure to clean versus dirty money. In a field experiment at a farmers’ market, vendors who handled dirty money subsequently cheated customers, whereas those who handled clean money gave fair value (Experiment 1). In laboratory studies with economic games, participants who had previously handled and counted dirty money tended toward selfish, unfair practices— unlike those who had counted clean money or dirty paper, both of which led to fairness and reciprocity. These patterns were found with the trust game (Experiment 2), the prisoner’s dilemma (Experiment 4), the ultimatum game (Experiment 5), and the dictator game (Experiment 6). Cognitive measures indicated that exposure to dirty money lowered moral standards (Experiment 3) and reduced positive attitudes toward fairness and reciprocity (Experiments 6–7), whereas exposure to clean money had the opposite effects. Thus, people apparently have 2 contradictory sets of associations (including behavioral tendencies) to money, which is a complex, powerful, and ubiquitous aspect of human social life and cultural organization.
Ricky Bobby: If you ain’t first, you’re last. You know, you know what I’m talking about? [to television camera]
At the talk I am giving tonight, I will start with the line, “Workplaces are getting more and more competitive. The stakes are high, the competition is tough, and the economy is uncertain.”
And that is if you have a job. What if you don’t?
I talk about the Ricky Bobby quote to my students. Most jobs have one opening. You either get the job or you don’t. See the connection?
Most applicants don’t have the talent to get the job, and even if they do, they don’t stand out enough. As a counterexample, consider the guy who has the best resume ever (story). Consider also the provocative post by Cal Newport about how to get into Stanford with B’s on your transcript. And if not being first is unacceptable, be sure to check out Newport’s excellent book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
How would you get so good that they can’t ignore you?
It’s that time of year. If you are in love, good for you. If you are not, good luck getting some. In any case, a good sense of humor (GSOH) is a highly-desirable quality in lovers and friends. Why?
Two (of many) reasons why a good sense of humor is so important.
1. Happiness: If you and your partner make each other laugh, it means that you will experience more joy in your life. And happy couples are more likely to stay together and have less conflict.
2. Similarity: If you and your partner make each other laugh, it indicates that you share the same values, beliefs, and interests. Sharing these qualities is a good predictor of relationship success.
GSOH and Benign Violations
Both a similarity account and a happiness account are consistent with the benign violation theory of humor. The account suggests that people experience humor when a situation is simultaneously seen as 1) wrong or unsettling in some way (i.e., a violation), and 2) okay or acceptable in some way (i.e., benign).
Benign violations & happiness: People who can readily transform the bad things in the world (violations) into things that funny (benign violations) are going to be good companions. They will make the world more pleasurable than it otherwise might be.
Benign violations & similarity: People who have similar values, beliefs, and interests share the same perceptions of the world. In that way, agreeing on what things are wrong or okay (or wrong and okay) indicates that two people will get along. It is problematic when one person perceives a benign violation and laughs, but the other perceives a (malign) violation and doesn’t. In short, sharing laughs indicates that people are compatible and will make good companions.
Talk invite: Decoding Humor at Work
Business is serious business. The stakes are high and competition is fierce. But has work become too serious? Could life be better if you enjoyed more humor in your personal and professional life?
Come to a Happy Hour talk on February 20th to find out.
Boulder’s Quick Left has invited me to give a talk about humor in the workplace, and you are invited. The event is open to the Boulder/Denver startup community (and beyond). Learn about what makes things funny and develop simple actionable steps that will help you enhance creativity, improve negotiations, and avoid “too soon” comedy fails.
Join us on Wednesday 2/20 at 5:30 pm for drinks sponsored by the consumer insight firm, Now What. My favorite salsa White Girl Salsa, will also be there providing snacks. The talk is from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.
Reserve your spot HERE.
Quick Left builds custom and mobile applications for your startup or established business. Quick Left is a WorldBlu organization, a global network of organizations committed to practicing freedom and democracy in the workplace. This is a prestigious designation reserved for only 48 companies around the world. We promote the idea of democracy within the space, itself, literally.
Quick left’s blog.
Although I will continue challenging myself to eat a salad a day, I am wrapping up the social media aspect of The Salad Challenge. It can’t last forever. But don’t be sad. If you ask me, The Salad Challenge has been a huge success. I had fun. I ate salad. I made new friends. The only thing I didn’t get was media coverage, but with blogging, who needs the media? Thank you everyone for participating.
Looking back on the last month, here are a few highlights:
“Alcohol: Because no great story ever started with someone eating salad.” – Unknown
“Well, it is time to change that.” – Pete
Favorite event (tie)
……………………………..Mad Greens (sponsored) Lunch
Thank you again for your participation (or at least your tolerance). I was impressed with the response that the project received. I had a great time, and I have developed a really helpful habit.
I promise another “challenge” event in the future — and I am taking suggestions.
All about The Salad Challenge.
The Salad Challenge blog.
The Salad Challenge Facebook page.
The Salad Challenge Pinterest board (which I never got into)
I like my work (a lot). Yet a challenge is that it is tough to keep up. There is always something to do. In order to deal with the potential for stress, I have started to “switch off” at the end of the day.
My switch off process: 1) Make a to do list for the next day, 2) power down my computer, and 3) turn off my phone.
…I initiated it as a New Years Resolutions this past winter. I didn’t have a lot of work related stress at the time, but I liked the idea of getting the absolute most out of my relaxation time.
I’m happy to report that it has worked better than I imagined. I’ve basically eliminated stressful work-related thoughts from my evenings and weekends. As you might expect, this has really improved my ability to relax and focus on other things.
Cal even goes as far as saying a termination phrase: “shutdown complete.” BTW, you can go big and shutdown for an entire day.
(Photo credit M. Winchary.)
Does it work? I think so. Sabine Sonnentag, a professor at the University of Mannheim, recently published a paper that shows the ways that switching off is beneficial. The abstract:
Psychological detachment from work during leisure time refers to a state in which people mentally disconnect from work and do not think about job-related issues when they are away from their job. Empirical research has shown that employees who experience more detachment from work during off-hours are more satisfied with their lives and experience fewer symptoms of psychological strain, without being less engaged while at work. Studies have demonstrated that fluctuations in individuals’ psychological detachment from work can explain fluctuations in their affective states, and have identified positive relations between detachment from work during off-hours and job performance. Trait negative affectivity, high involvement in one’s job, job stressors, and poor environmental conditions are negatively related to psychological detachment from work during off-job time.
Sonnentag, S., Perrewé, P. L., & Ganster, D. C. (2009). Current perspectives in job stress recovery. Research in organizational stress and well-being. 7, 114-118. Another paper that is similar.
Give it a try or let me know how you “switch off.”
But first, according to Urban Dictionary, the definition of a mashup (in the musical sense):
Musical genre. Involves cutting and pasting samples and loops from two or more popular tracks to form a new track, often forming a surprisingly catchy new tune.
I don’t do research in this area, so I asked someone with more expertise to comment. I sent Adam’s video to Spencer M. Ross (@srossmktg), an audiophile, coffee snob, and hockey enthusiast, who is finishing his PhD in marketing at the University of Massachusetts.
“Seeking out and embracing patterns” in “the familiar and unfamiliar” may be one reason listeners enjoy mashups. But with any collage- or remix-based artform, its enjoyable qualities result from the artist’s own ability to synthesize sonic components in communicating how he understands other artists. The enjoyable mashup heavily relies on the artist’s intimate understanding of rhythm, dynamics, and other fundamentals of music theory much as it does the listener’s innate musical comprehension.
Prof. Bradley couldn’t demonstrate this more clearly than in his reverence for DJ Cappel & Smitty’s mashup of Biggie’s “Everyday Struggle” and Sinatra’s “A Day in the Life of a Fool” as “better than the either of the source songs… like it was meant to be”. Artists who’ve been most successful in creating enjoyable mashups (e.g., Beastie Boys’s Paul’s Boutique, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…, Girl Talk’s Night Ripper, Max Tannone’s Jaydiohead, etc.) have done so, not merely because their laptop can splice the structures of two pop music songs together (e.g. http://youtu.be/0P7gar7efHI) but because they’re also able to get us as listeners to delve back into the artistry of the original compositions.
Adam’s favorite mashup:
My favorite mashup:
Spencer’s favorite mashup:
We are more than a week into the new year. Have you been able to stick with your resolutions? One way to be successful is to create a habit.
Here are three ways to make that new habit stick:
1. Make it automatic
Work by Peter Gollwitzer highlights the benefit of removing the need to make a choice. He has convincingly demonstrated how helpful it is to set up a “when then” connection in your mind (e.g., When X arises, I will then perform behavior Y.). For example: When I get home from work, I will then go for a walk.
2. Tell the world
If you want to create a new habit, you can make your intentions public. The accountability to others will help you stick to your goal. For example, unless you have been stuck under a rock, you know about The Salad Challenge. See how I told the world about it here (and a bunch of other places).
Amendment: I received a comment from Justin that suggests that this may not be an ideal strategy. Evidently, announcing your goal to others may lead to premature satisfaction and undermine the effort that people put into a goal. I am not sure yet about habit creation, nor have I read the original research. In any case, I don’t want you to worry. I am still going strong and eating a salad a day.
3. Put your money where your mouth is.
Make failure a more unappealing option by imposing a cost (financial or otherwise). There are now several websites that will help you do this. Take stickK for example. You create a “commitment contract” and if you fail to keep your goal, you pay. See what The New Yorker had to say about them.
I saw the evolution of stickK when I became friends with one of the founders, Dean Karlan. He tells about how it got started (from the stickK website):
After three years of the Ph.D. program in Economics at M.I.T., I noticed that my weight was higher than it ever had been. My close friend experienced the same problem. We were equally dismayed with ourselves – how we had let our studies get the better of our bodies. Our financial circumstances were considerably leaner; we each had savings about equal to a few years of annual income (which wasn’t very high, given that we were in graduate school). So we entered into a contract to lose 38 pounds each. I had to drop from 208 to 170 and my friend from 218 to 180. The targets were based on the high end of the optimal BMI (Body Mass Index) range. We set our target date based on a reasonable weight loss of 1.5 pounds per week. The stakes were steep: half of our annual income.
Here’s the funny thing: at first, neither of us lost weight. Why? Because we hung around together and kept noting that neither of us was doing anything. So we renegotiated and extended the deadline! That‘s when we realized the obvious; that if you have the ability to renegotiate, it inevitably kills the deal. So we added a clause: any attempt to renegotiate the terms of the contract would result in an immediate forfeiture of the bet. It worked. Both of us lost the weight, weighing in at 180 and 170 in January of 2002.
We then drew up a maintenance arrangement to ensure we each kept the weight off. But we didn’t follow through and each of us gained back about 20 pounds. So we put a new contract in place which required us to lose weight and keep it off. By now we had “real” jobs so our salaries had increased, but we kept the stakes the same: half of our annual income. It worked. We both lost the weight and then maintained it. At one point, my friend bounced up a bit, so he had to pay me $15,000. This payment was an investment in his ongoing health. Had I refused to accept it, no future contracts would ever work. Eventually, the contract ended by mutual agreement, and I moved on to a contract with Ian Ayres since we were founding stickK together.