recognizing and celebrating the strategic role of humor in business
Based on our mission to shine the spotlight on corporate humor, The Stand-Up Strategist Top 23 Rankings and Awards aims to select, score and applaud the most outstanding April Fools’ Day campaigns from around the world on such factors as entertainment value, and likely impact on business strategy & internal culture. Learn more.
In the beginning, there was humor and there was laughter. And it was good. But then, work became suffocatingly serious. Until now.
Today, we stand at the precipice of a new era. Future-shaping business leaders are re-discovering the power of humor as a vital driver of organizational success.
The Stand-Up Strategist Top 23 Rankings and Awards recognize & celebrate the pivotal role of humor as a catalyst for future-shaping corporate strategy and high performing organizational culture.
We believe that in our VUCA world, every organization is either a future-shaper or left behind in the wake of those who are. The connection between corporate strategy and humor is clear: Like the navigation of a vehicle, smart strategies must guide an organization in the direction of ongoing relevance. The engine that propels the vehicle is innovation, and the engine’s fuel is creativity. One of the key elements and manifestations of creativity is humor.
Given this backdrop, we have noticed a significant and worldwide phenomenon: Each year, more and more organizations are embracing humor by commemorating April Fools’ Day, the annual celebration of laughter and childlike fun. These companies conceptualize and bring to life farcical campaigns on April 1st, signaling to all internal and external constituents that they, as an organization, have a sense of humor and appreciate levity.
The SUS Top 23 Rankings and Awards selects, ranks and applauds the most outstanding campaigns annually for such factors as sense of humor, quality of execution and the likely strategic impact on business and internal audiences.
Entertainment Value: How universally funny, original and clever is the underlying concept? To what extent does it make you laugh, ponder, and make you want to share it with others?
Quality of Execution: How well is the underlying concept presented, what is the level of execution, attention to detail and overall campaign quality?
Opportunistic Absurdity: To what extent does the underlying concept actually capture the seed of a new business idea or potential market offering?
Brand Relevance: To what extent is the underlying concept consistent with, and can help propel the brand essence and market positioning of the company behind it?
Cultural Impact: To what extent can the underlying concept serve to unify and align the staff of the company behind it around optimal strategy and culture?
Jamie is Professor of Strategic Management at Antwerp Management School, and Visiting Professor at INSEAD. Named a management guru in the Financial Times, and included on Business Strategy Review’s list of the world’s top 25 management thinkers, Jamie has been described as a ‘stand-up strategist’. He has given a recent TEDx talk on ‘Leading with Humor’, and has co-authored articles on the topic.
Gabor George Burt
Gabor is a leading business trans- formationist and creator of the Slingshot Framework, enabling organizations to overstep perceived limitations, reimagine market boundaries, and achieve sustained relevance. He is a front-line proponent of applying humor in corporate leadership and culture, has co-authored articles on the topic with Jamie Anderson, and has penned a soon-to-be-released collection of humorous anecdotes.
Art is a strategic marketer with over 25 years experience managing the marketing and advertising efforts for leading brands including Tonka Toys, VISA, AT&T and Beautyrest. From his start on Madison Avenue, and working with such ad agency icons as J Walter Thompson and BBDO, Art credits humor for the success of many campaigns, and its ability to pave the shortest path between a brand message and a sale.
Spotlight On Humor
Who's Talking Humor
"In business, humor serves to create trust. Last year the head of our Netherlands office and I were pitching for an important $100 million + new mandate. Against one of the most prestigious, global investment banks. Using humor in our presentation, we got to a point when the two of us could not stop laughing. Not really something investment bankers normally do when pitching. For a moment we thought our prospect was unsure how to react. Then, a few seconds later they joined in the laugh. The trust the shared laughter created ‘opened up’ the discussion to a more personal, in-depth level. We won the mandate."
Managing Partner & Executive Chairman Drake Star Partners
“Extraordinary leaders understand the strategic importance of humor as a vehicle to embed key points and concepts within the hearts and minds of their people. Emotion opens mental and physical pathways in the brain. The best way to get a new concept or key idea to ‘sink in’ is to share it with a story that elicits an emotional response. You could share a story that makes them cry, but I prefer a humorous story that gets them to laugh. That’s the kind of story the listener will intern share with others which magnifies the impact of your core message.”
Author of seven bestselling books
Executive Coach, Leadership Expert, International Speaker
“Having started my career as a talking Christmas tree, a tap dancing bear, and a hand model for Fancy Feast cat food, I can’t say I’ve ever taken myself too seriously. And working in the hectic but humorous world of television before becoming an executive coach, I’ve seen time after time that the best leaders are those who recognize that laughter (at their own expense, but never at anyone else’s) can connect people and drive performance better than any corporate team-building exercise ever could.”
Dr. Anthony Paustian
Educational Psychologist, Innovator and Author
“One of the biggest drivers of game-changing creativity is attitude. Creative leadership is a process, never a result, and that process must be built on a foundation of positive emotion in order to persevere. I believe there’s no better positive emotion than humor. The laughter that comes with it will ultimately help anyone ratchet up their innovative spirit and see it through until the end.”
Expert on 21st Century Leadership
"Humor acts as a catalyst to influence and inspire others. It fosters an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, engagement and creative thinking. Leaders who use humor put others at ease and make themselves more approachable. Humor is a great way to win over a team."
Marketing Maverick, Former Director of Communications for Harley-Davidson
"Every association we have with a business is a reflection of its culture which, in turn, is a reflection of its leadership. So what could possibly be better for a business and the people it serves than leadership that embraces the most desirable, attractive, unifying and model-able human quality, humor?"
President & CEO Fujitsu Caribbean, Central America & Mexico
“Contemporary leaders must understand that ultimately, their role is to be the curator of human centric experiences, for which laughter and joy are essential ingredients. Perhaps this can start in the boardroom to get individuals to LOL or even ROFLMAO!!”
American Playwright and Author
“I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the important of humor in the working world. From a little joke at the end of an email, to breaking the ice with a few laughs at a beginning of a presentation, it’s become clear over the course of my career that not only is laughter the best medicine, it’s also the best way to solidify a business relationship. Which reminds me: These two executives walk into a bar…”
CEO of MEKAR, Indonesia
"Laggardship is the new leadership. Ever been on a hike with a large group of people? It's the slowest person that sets the pace. Gradually everyone realizes they have time to enjoy the scenery and get to know each other better. This exemplifies how humor can be used to make a crowd think differently, and get your team to accept and work as a team. Leadership is getting a team to work together, accepting each other's weaknesses and turning them into strengths."
Producer, Arranger and Emmy Award winning Music Director
"As a music director and conductor for films, concerts, and Broadway shows, rehearsals can be intense and the pressure to accomplish a lot in a small amount of time can be great. The “old school” approach for conductors was a dictatorial one, and often involved berating the orchestra or performers. I’ve found that the effective use of humor can engender an atmosphere that helps everyone concentrate and make it through the long days. Even in a time crunch, taking the time for humor gets you to a successful finish line faster!"
VP for Innovation at BPOST FutureLab, Belgium
“The magic about a good laugh is that it takes away any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy between people. And since business is about people, humour helps us to emotionally connect. So it’s time to not only recruit people based on their ‘IQ’ and ‘EQ’, but also on their ‘HQ’ (Humour Quotient). Can you imagine how much more fun interviewing people would be?”