Todd Hirsch: The Role of Humor in Corporate Environments

Todd Hirsch - Humor in the C-Suite

Incorporating Humor In Corporate Environments

In this episode you’ll hear: 

  • Todd Hirsch discussed how using humor can help build relationships and create an engaging culture in the workplace.
  • Todd shared examples from his career in economics where he used humor and self-deprecating jokes to make complex topics more accessible and connect with audiences. He emphasized reading the room and adjusting his tone based on the context.
  • Todd also reminisced about using humor and office pranks to bond with colleagues.
  • The discussion highlighted how humor can be an effective tool to lighten moods, bring people together, and make the workplace more enjoyable and collaborative.



Key Takeaways:

  • Incorporating humor into corporate environments can create a positive atmosphere and help build stronger relationships among team members.
  • Humor can be particularly effective in high-pressure situations, such as during economic presentations, as it helps to alleviate fear and make complex topics more approachable.
  • It’s important to read the room and gauge when humor is appropriate, as there are times when levity may not be well-received.


In this thought leadership article, we explore the power of humor in the corporate environment and its ability to create a positive atmosphere for employees. We draw insights from Todd Hirsch, a former chief economist and current director of the Energy Transition Center, who shares his experiences using humor in the workplace.

The Role of Humor in Corporate Environments

Hirsch highlights the importance of incorporating humor into corporate environments to create a light and friendly atmosphere. While serious work still needs to be done, there should always be space for jokes, pranks, and playfulness. Hirsch shares his own experiences of using humor to keep the office environment light and friendly, which helped to bond his team and create a positive work culture.

Using Humor in Economic Presentations

As a chief economist, Hirsch found that incorporating humor into his economic presentations was a game-changer. Many people find economics intimidating, but humor helps to bring down the fear level and make complex topics more understandable. Hirsch emphasizes the importance of using humorous images and storytelling instead of relying on charts and graphs, which can be overwhelming for the audience. By using humor, Hirsch was able to disarm his audience and make his presentations more engaging and relatable.

Navigating the Fine Line of Humor

While humor can be a powerful tool, it’s essential to read the room and understand when it’s appropriate to use humor. Hirsch shares an example of a time when he had to rein in the humor due to the seriousness of the situation. During the global financial crisis, he had to be sensitive to the fears and anxieties of his audience and adjust his approach accordingly. Hirsch emphasizes the importance of gauging the audience’s needs and using humor wisely to either calm their fears or provide levity when appropriate.

Using Humor in the Energy Transition Center

In his current role as the director of the Energy Transition Center, Hirsch continues to use humor to build relationships with the young entrepreneurs and innovators he mentors. He acknowledges that his lack of technical expertise in their field allows him to approach conversations with a sense of humility and curiosity. By being open to learning from them and using humor to bridge the knowledge gap, Hirsch creates a supportive and approachable environment for these young professionals.

The Impact of Humor in the Workplace

Humor has the power to bring people together and create stronger bonds within teams. It helps to alleviate stress, foster creativity, and improve overall well-being. Hirsch emphasizes the importance of being authentic and true to oneself when using humor in the workplace. By being genuine and not taking oneself too seriously, leaders can create a positive and inclusive work culture.


In conclusion, humor can be a powerful tool in the corporate environment. It helps to create a positive atmosphere, build stronger relationships, and make complex topics more approachable. However, it’s important to read the room and use humor wisely, as there are times when levity may not be appropriate. By incorporating humor into the workplace, leaders can foster a more inclusive and enjoyable work environment for their teams.

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