Andrew Tarvin: Humor That Works Founder & Best Selling Author

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My Native Admission Statement: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with efficiency. Even my name is efficient. My full name is Andrew, but I go by Drew because it’s only one syllable. Efficient. As an IT Project Manager at Procter & Gamble, I led multi-million dollar projects for a $350 million brand. As a super-nerd (computer, math, engineer, sci-fi and video game) I was all about getting results. While there, I discovered that you can’t be efficient with humans, you have to be effective. I didn’t have the skills I needed to be effective with people, but I had started doing improv and stand-up, and realized that work wasn’t just about what you did, but how you did it. So I left P&G to become the world’s first humor engineer, teaching people how to use humor to get better results and have more fun at work.

How did you get into the industry?

I have always been an engineer. As a kid, I liked to take things apart and put them back together again, things like clocks, radios, and my brother’s sanity. Becoming a humor engineer was much more happenstance. In college, my best friend wanted to start an improv comedy group, needed people, and forced me to join. And when I first started, I was not very good. But over time, with practice and repetition, I got better. Once I started working at Procter & Gamble, I found that some of the same skills you need to be effective as an improviser are the same skills you need to be effective as a leader. I eventually proclaimed myself the corporate humorist of P&G to combine my two passions: engineering and comedy. I assumed, at some point, someone would stop me. Someone from HR or legal would say, “Hey, you can’t just create your own job title.” But no one ever did. Instead, people just started referring to me as the corporate humorist. I fell in love with the work and started Humor That Works part-time in 2009. I spent the next three years building it into a business while also testing ideas through blog posts and internal training events at P&G. By 2012, I decided to take the leap from the corporate world and focus on the company full-time, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

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