Today, I spoke to Adrian Gostick, a bestselling author, who gives us a lesson in the importance of humor in the workplace.  He has some excellent and eye opening research for you that proves people need to loosen up in the workplace in order to establish trust.

What is a personal/corporate/product brand without a personality? Why do you think humor is a key part of one’s personality and what is the perception of those are that are humorous (will it benefit their career)?

The Harvard Business Review found that executives with a sense of humor climb the corporate ladder faster and make more money in their careers.

Why? The traditional wisdom suggests that serious people are given more credence in business. After all, who would want a goofball handling finances, dealing with an upset client or piloting your plane? But levity isn’t about being silly, it’s about lightening up a presentation, workplace or relationship to enhance communication, trust and credibility. It really does work. After all, who would you rather be managed by, sold by or taught by: someone who is fun to be around or someone who thinks lightening up is rolling up his sleeves?

What are 3-5 benefits that humorous managers will get by being light-hearted and funny with their employees?

We found an overwhelming amount of evidence that trust is significantly enhanced with levity. And we are all looking to increase the trust levels with our employees. Other benefits are better communication, since when we are laughing we are listening. Also, creativity is stronger. Boeing uses fun to drive creativity in their organization, which is a fascinating case study in the book.

Can you name a few managers that have succeeded because of humor/a strong personality?

You bet. The book is laced with them. One great example is Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Empire and a really, really rich guy. He’s crossed dressed, bungee jumped, hung out in bars and done about everything possible to connect with and have fun with his people. He’s a billionaire who got there by building an organization that is serious about winning, but serious about having fun along the way.

Can you reveal a few statistics from your book that connect a fun workplace to business results?

The Great Place to Work Institute was kind enough to share some amazing data for our book, The Levity Effect. As they cut their 1-million person research study, they found that the top 100 organizations every year (Fortune’s top 100) have more than 80 percent of their employees who say they have fun at work.

In the companies that try to make it to the list but don’t—still very good companies—the number is just 60 percent who say they have fun. That is one of the largest gaps on the survey. Great organizations take time to think about fun from a strategic standpoint. Strange, but true.

What are the drawbacks from holding back on your personality and by sticking with a boring 9-5 day workplace?

Not much, as long as you don’t care about enhanced trust, stronger sales, better communication or greater creativity. Oh, and the evidence also shows you’ll live longer and be happier. And Harvard says you’ll also make more money. And Scott says you’ll be taller and better looking if you follow our advice, but I think he’s pushing it with those two. After all, though he’s really funny, he’s no George Clooney. Just don’t tell him I said that.


Adrian Gostick is the author of several very successful business books including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller The Carrot Principle. His latest book, which is coauthored by Scott Christopher, is called The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up.

He also wrote the bestsellers The Invisible Employee, A Carrot a Day and the 24-Carrot Manager. His work has been called a “must read for modern-day managers” by Larry King of CNN, “fascinating” by Fortune and “admirable” and “startling” by the Wall Street Journal. Adrian’s books have been translated into 20 languages and are sold in more than 50 countries around the world. As workplace researcher, author and presenter, he has appeared on network television programs and has been quoted in dozens of business publications and magazines.