I’ve been a bit slow posting here lately. I’ve been experimenting with humor, storytelling, and coaching. You can follow along for my comic sketches on my instagram @matagi.me and for OB nerdiness check out the new @brenegosling. 

After almost two decades working in the corporate, I’m finally coming around to trusting my funny bone. It’s a weird highly litigious polarized time to be alive. If I make joke publically, I need to accept that I will offend people:

  • There will be people who don’t know me, and therefore won’t get the irony of some of my jokes.
  • There will be trolls who will intentionally take what I say the wrong way, and
  • Let’s not forget my EXTRAORDINARY ability to stick my foot in my mouth (next time we have a beer ask me what I said to the CEO of J.Crew that time).
I’ve had this as my personal twitter tagline for 5 years, no one has disagreed with it yet.

If you don’t lose a negotiation every so often you’re not negotiating hard enough. (My corolary: If you don’t cross the line every so often, you probably aren’t funny)

~ Keith Chen, my negotiations professor now teaching at UCLA after being the chief economist at Uber

No Joke

My first week as the Insurance Marketing Director, the Leadership team gave me the feedback that I “did good work, but needed to stop making jokes.” I really wished I had the confidence and perspective to push back on that feedback. It’s the sort of casual disempowerment that destroys psychological safety, kills innovation, and very likely communicated an unexamined gender default bias. Unfortunately, fear-based organizations, don’t understand how to care personally without being creepy and default to political correctness. In those atmospheres humor and trust wilt.

Humor, like manners and booze, can be a social lubricant – IN MODERATION.

Comedy can be as succinct as poetry, as sticky as stories, and in the right context – reduce barriers so that challenging subjects can be raised for discussion. It’s also a sign of a confident, happy, trusting organization.