Humor In Executive Communications

How can finance chiefs use humor effectively?  Jack McCullough, President & Founder, CFO Leadership Council turns to one of the best, Jimmy Tingle, for advice.  

Jack is a Senior Contributor to Forbes CFO Network.  An excerpt is below.

Chief financial officers are known for many things; Financial Expertise. Analytical Skills. Ethical Leadership. Problem-Solving Ability. But though the image of finance chiefs has changed considerably during the last decade, and mostly for the better, they are not exactly known for their  sense of humor.

Picture of Jimmy Tingle

Jimmy Tingle has been a stand-up comedian, political correspondent, entrepreneur and politician.  JIMMY TINGLE PRODUCTION

Honestly, this is a shame, because many CFOs are actually extremely funny, though they don’t always share that side of themselves in a professional environment. But they should. A good sense of humor is one of the most effective tools executives have at their disposal, as long as it’s used appropriately. And, let’s face it, humor has likely never been more needed than it is in our current workplace environment.

But how can finance chiefs, who are known for their sobriety, use humor effectively? To get some ideas, I spoke to one of the funniest people I know, Jimmy Tingle.  I first met Tingle when he was a stand-up comedian, though he is much more than just a funny guy. I call Jimmy “America’s most cerebral comedian” (with apologies to Conan O’Brien). He was the American correspondent for David Frost’s PBS show, “The Strategic Humor Initiative,” was a commentator on “60 Minutes II” (he was the Andy Rooney of that show) and has been a contributor to MSNBC. He also earned a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and was chosen to give an address at the Harvard commencement ceremony that same year. Finally, he is a successful entrepreneur in his own right, and recently shifted his business model to offer virtual performances.


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About Jack McCullough

Jack McCullough is a recognized thought leader in the field of financial leadership, with a career that has included CFO positions at 26 companies. He founded the CFO Leadership Council, a global organization dedicated to empowering senior financial executives through innovative professional development programs and peer networking. His other accomplishments include chairing the MIT Sloan CFO Summit, and creating the vision behind CFO Week, a one-of-a-kind learning and networking experience jointly executed by the CFO Leadership Council and MIT Sloan. He is a contributor to, where he writes for the CFO Network on challenges and opportunities facing financial leaders.  He is an entertaining and insightful public speaker, and has spoken to thousands of CFOs, and is frequently contacted by members of the media who appreciate his candor, insight and wit.


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About The CFO Leadership Council

The CFO Leadership Council offers both live & online programs that feature expert panels and interactive sessions that drive meaningful conversation and leadership development among our membership. Our collection of leadership development resources similar to this article contain pragmatic insights and advice sourced directly from our members and industry experts.  Recordings of CFOLC webcasts are made available to our current CFOLC Premium & Virtual members. To learn about membership options and CFO Week, visit

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The CFO Leadership Council is a community dedicated to empowering our members to grow and thrive. We  provide insights needed to overcome any challenge a CFO may face and meaningful connectivity to a dynamic community of peers in a way that is most convenient and beneficial. Who are our members?  CFOs, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents of Finance, Director of FP&A, CAO, Controllers, Directors of Finance, and other senior financial leaders make up our membership and are invited to join.  Start engaging today at

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