Silly Me: The Beguiling Power Of Self-Mockery
Like many freelancers, I’m always looking for that next job. I check out job posts, and wind up visiting a lot of sites.
Recently, I had occasion to visit a design agency called Rusty George Creative. The
site made a wonderful impression on me, and it was due to the firm’s penchant for self-mockery. Every time I called up a member of the team, a random generator would spin the torsos and legs, mixing various costumes and poses. One of the oldest humor tricks in the book, but always funny. And the message was clear: We can laugh at ourselves. We’re relaxed, so you can be, too.
The site made me think a lot about humor, its enormous power to create both positive and negative impressions. Consider the About card for firm principal Rusty George himself.
I loved the idea that the most important thing about design is that it has to work. It’s a statement that inspires confidence, and I really believe it myself: bells and whistles are all for naught if one’s design fails to connect with people.
Then I read: Who he admires: Anyone who doesn’t shop at Walmart. I know that’s supposed to be funny, but it also sounds elitist. Humor can unite people, it can also divide them. Humor at someone else’s expense puts one on dangerous ground– especially in business. I think it was a mistake.
By contrast, consider the About card for RG team member Alyssa below. It doesn’t just say she’s a Big Sister and a volunteer. It says she’s committed to achieving sainthood by being a Big Sister and volunteer. That made me roar with laughter, and created a wonderful impression. Good works are impressive, but they can sometimes be a little daunting. Good works and self-mockery are virtually irresistible.
One of the funniest sections on the Rusty George site concerns bogus “Weird Holidays.” They came up with one called Hidden Talent Day, and it features RG team members demonstrating their hidden talents in a series of videos that mimic grainy old film clips. The videos display in a frame designed to look like an old-time movie theater.
It’s a fun feature that succeeds on two levels: the self-mockery is endearing and puts you at ease; it also showcases the talents of RG Creative when it comes to video production. Here are a couple of stills from the videos. OK, the fake “film streaks” should probably be behind the curtain, but hey, that’s quibbling.
I’ll close with two photos that continue the self-mockery theme, but which also convey something vitally important: the sense that the people at RG Creative are a team. As in: We like each other, we pull together, and we bring that extra power to all our clients’ projects. Check out Halloween and Christmas at Rusty George Creative:
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