Monthly Archives: May 2011

Mutual Amusement: A look at her sense of humor

By Jeanne Corrigan

Women are funny creatures. I know because women’s humor is a part of my daily life — research participants often show flashes of wit and some are downright hilarious. At On Your Mark, the office chats are full of quick retorts and funny perspectives as are my own conversations with friends.

When I think about women and humor, I’m reminded of a quote from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” – “Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.” While I agree that not everyone can have good taste, what about a sense of humor, is it possible that all women have a sense of humor?

Woman-to-woman humor is unique and inclusive. We tend to laugh together – it’s a shared experience, particularly among close friends because it’s about seeing a situation, or the absurdity of the situation, in the same way. Women tend to be collaborators in their humor while men are more individual performers. Men often set-up a joke, deliver the punch line and wait for laughs. Humor among male friends includes sarcasm and a lot of good-natured ribbing. And it seems men want to share that kind of humor with women, too. According to a survey of 331,138 eHarmony male users, men are most interested in women who have “guy humor,” which consists of “sarcastic, juvenile, geeky or raw” jabs.

In female relationships, humor is about a shared perspective and it often defines the potential for friendship. In fact, the line between casual acquaintance and good friend is often set by how often and how much humor can be shared. You don’t just laugh with the women you are closest with, you cackle, literally fall off your chair, and turn heads at restaurants.

When I was in my 20s, I moved from working in an ad agency in the Midwest to working in a regional bank in New England. I felt completely out of place because no one seemed to “get me” and my sense of humor. Then, in the middle of a boring meeting, I began smiling to myself about something funny and I noticed someone else was suppressing a smile, too. That smile was a sign that there just might be someone in that bank that I could connect with and maybe become friends. That was 15 years ago and Lorrie Burns is still one of my closest friends, all because of a smile in a dull presentation.

Finding the same things funny is often the first hint that another woman might “get us.” And we are closest to those women who do. So, in thinking about the original question – can all women have a sense of humor – it seems to me that most women are funny to someone. And that someone likely laughs about the same things we do . . . so maybe we can all have a sense of humor.

Confessions of a Twenty-Something Road Warrior

By Stephanie Milam

The Road Warrior is a unique subset of the full-time professional, who instead of working a standard 9 – 5, clocks a large chunk of their 40+ hours in airports, planes, and hotels. The twenty-something traveling professional is the streamlined version 2.0 of the Road Warrior because of our comfort and ability with technology and general youthful amount of energy. Becoming a Road Warrior initiate, however, still requires some serious adaptation.

The on-the-go skill acquired by the business traveler overlaps incredibly well with the twenty-something generation’s everyday habits. We grew up IM-ing while writing papers for school, texting and emailing while waiting in any type of line, and are well used to looking at content on teeny tiny screens for long periods of time. Looking at content on teeny tiny screens while sitting in teeny tiny airplane seats in an attempt to manage projects at 30,000 feet is where it gets tricky. Which is why it is crucial to find your flying zen.

The twenty-something travelling professional is not likely to be in a position worthy of first-class airplane seats, so we must learn to get comfortable in economy. Economy seats are designed with no regard to your personal space bubble, so having a flying “routine” can help create a level of familiarity and regain a feeling of comfort. For me, it’s reading a book during take-off and landing and ordering ginger ale from the beverage service cart. Because I can’t use any electronic devices at the beginning and end of the flights, I can’t do work, which means this is my small amount of “free” time. I use this time in the same way for each trip I take, and because of this consistency, it has become something I actually look forward to when traveling.

I also look forward to breakfast.

One of the most surreal aspects of business travel is the hours. At 7am, one of the hottest places to be for Road Warriors is the hotel breakfast buffets. For the normal full-time worker, 7am is just the wakeup call. But for the Road Warrior, 7am is primetime for rubbing elbows with the other well-tailored travelers over a bagel, or, if you’re lucky, an omelet.

I’ve been traveling for work for about 5 months now and, as a recent inductee into the Road Warrior culture, I believe it truly takes a twenty-something Road Warrior to know one. There’s a mutual respect for one another that goes unsaid but is nonetheless understood. Because even though we’re good at having our whole world exist through our smartphones, that doesn’t make airplane seats any more comfortable. But in the fluorescent lights of terminal waiting areas, it’s nice to enjoy a sense of camaraderie that can be accessible wherever there are Victorinox carry-ons.

How She Overcomes Decision Debilitation

By Crystal Markowski

It isn’t news that consumers have endless options in today’s marketplace. The ability to customize a product or service to exact personal wants or needs has in fact offered a competitive advantage for many brands. But what does that really mean? More choices the consumer has to make. When I read Dave Pell’s NPR blog post about the existence of too many technology choices, this reality sunk in and made me realize: Having to make all of these buying decisions can cause real anxiety for shoppers.

In this blog post “Consumed by Consumption, Now I Can’t Decide What to Buy,” Dave sums up what a lot of us feel when presented with too many choices – confusion. This wondering and indecision brought about by so many options is all too familiar to me. In fact, just yesterday as I sat down to lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, I was confronted with four pages of meal options numbered one through one hundred and five. Even after deciding where I was going to dine, I still had to mull over more than a hundred options before I could eat lunch! If situations like these can make one feel confused and even paralyzed, then how do women, makers of 80% of purchase decisions, deal with this bombardment of choices on a daily basis?

From talking with women in our studies, it seems that many often streamline day-to-day decision making through shortcuts, whether they are aware of it or not. When situations present women with thousands of options, they have simple techniques to narrow their selection quickly. Some women may have a strategy for choosing based on what’s most important to them – “It’s what’s on sale this week.” Others may rely on habit or emotions to eliminate the effort of deciding – “This is the brand my mother used to buy.”

Savvy marketers are aware of this and try to understand how women use their shortcuts to make buying decisions. Quickly calling out a particular feature that’s important to her can make the difference between making the sale, or being quickly eliminated from her consideration set. Now, if only I could find a shortcut to help me decide what’s for lunch.