70% of Americans aren’t engaged at work. Are you one of them?
More importantly, are you a part of the problem?
Most of us aren’t strangers to challenges in the workplace. Things like donor engagement, sales, marketing, etc. are thrown at us each day from every direction.
But what if there was a more efficient and effective method to solving those problems that actually made people happier?
[Image: coworkers laughing by/reading something on a computer]
Andrew Tarvin is a humor engineer who’s worked with companies like CNN, Fast Company, ESPN, and the FBI. He studied computer science and engineering where he learned how to solve challenges using technology. But there was always a human connection missing in the solutions he found.
It finally hit him when he joined an improv comedy group. The performances he did with his group made him realize that it was comedy that made him successful in the early stages of his career in corporate America, not the technology.
It was the little things he did like write witty subject lines that made others want to read his emails or attend his meetings. He realized it was all about taking ownership of your own happiness and making boring things enjoyable.
But this message wasn’t as obvious as it seemed to him. No one was telling people this.
This is where humor engineer was born. Andrew wanted to help people solve their challenges in the workplace but, instead of computers, he wanted to encourage them to do it with humor. He wanted to empower people to have more fun at work so that they could be more effective and reach their professional goals.
[Image that reads: “You go to school and learn how to do a job but no one ever teaches you how to enjoy that job.” -Andrew Tarvin]
Since no one else was teaching people how to do this, he decided he would. But he didn’t jump right in, he put a strategic plan in place to make his dream job title a reality.
Two Things To Do Before Making Any Major Decision:
- He laid out the data.
Data doesn’t lie. It functions as the good guy and the bad guy.
So before taking the leap into pursuing this humor engineer career, Andrew created a spreadsheet titled Operation: Leave Corporate America.
It was a list of all the things he had to accomplish before he could leave his stable job at Procter and Gamble. It contained things like have a website with client testimonials, schedule X number of client events, make $X as a speaker, etc.
This was all stuff he did part-time as a side hustle until he built it up to a full-time possibility. The spreadsheet was his end goal, and it motivated him to stay patient at Procter and Gamble because it was all in service of this final goal.
- He answered these three questions:
What’s the worst that can happen? Usually, the answer is death, and it’s not very realistic.
What will I regret more not doing? People on their deathbed usually regret the things they didn’t do, not the things they did do.
What makes for a better story? If someone made a story about my life, would it be interesting? Which decision would be more interesting for the story?
[Image: taken from his site: https://andrewtarvin.com/ under “Andrew’s Programs”]
With this plan in place and a year’s worth of savings in the bank, he made the leap and officially left corporate America. During the process, he learned there’s a science to everything, even comedy. He learned about the 10 commons shortcuts comedians use to create comedy, so he broke those down and made them less ambiguous.
Humor is more broad than comedy. When we think of comedy, we think of punchlines and jokes, but humor is different. It’s simply something different and unique that brings amusement. And that’s what Andrew teaches his clients. He starts with the science of it and then how they can add their personal style and personality to it.
It’s a great way to make people pay attention in the workplace. Once it empowers an individual, it tends to spread into the culture of the organization.
Remember, if you’re bored while talking, they’re bored while listening.
So how can you make meetings more interesting? How can you engage people in every email that you send? Or at networking events, how can you stand out with the questions that you ask?
Three Ways To Be The Most Interesting Person At A Networking Event
- Ask interesting questions.
When you ask the same boring questions, you get the same boring answers. Tweak the typical networking question, what do you do?
Instead, try things like: what’s the coolest thing you’ve worked on in the last few months? What is true for you that is not true for anyone else in the room?
Adding these tweaks will get them talking about what they’re truly passionate about in depth.
- Tell compelling stories about what you do.
Instead of just telling someone your job title and company name, tell a brief story about how you got there or why you work there. Why are you passionate about that industry?
Telling them an interesting story gives them more opportunities to relate and connect with you, and opens the door for them to ask you more questions.
- Continue the conversation.
Find a connection you have as a means to follow up with them.
Maybe you talked about an interesting TED Talk or article, get their contact information so that you can follow up with the link to share that content. Give them something of value based on the conversation you’ve had. Don’t let the conversation end in that room.
At the end of the day, as Andrew says, it’s all about taking ownership of your own happiness, especially at work. Finding ways to bring humor, engagement, and happiness back into the workplace and other professional settings will transform how satisfied you feel with your life.
So how will you adjust your emails, meeting agendas, or networking events to make them more enjoyable for you and for others?
To learn more about Andrew Tarvin, visit andrewtarvin.com