Don't Get blown away! The Skills of Improvisation builds stronger teams.

We learn very early in life that the strongest survive.  We know that building a house of straw or sticks isn’t the smartest plan. The solid choice is brick, carefully placed one by one and bound together by a strong adhesive.  It might take longer and the work is tedious, but the end result will stand strong and weather the storms (or a hungry wolf).

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Don't be a D ___! Check your Ego and Humanity at the Door.

One of my early improv coaches had a philosophy and it was “Don’t be a - D _ _ _!" (rhymes with tick) Basically, don’t be mean and remember to leave your ego at the door because improv has no place for it. The art form is purely about being selfless, inclusive, and kind. Maybe it’s one of the reasons I latched on so passionately. I viewed it as more of a code I wanted to not only practice on stage but to live by as well. I had found something that was not only artistically satisfying, but that could also set the tone for how people should strive to be as humans.

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How to Handle a Sticky Movie Theater Seat

My Mom has always told me that when I was a little girl, I liked to clean up messes. I guess this was odd to her, because most kids did not enjoy this task. She said she noticed this about me early on when I helped her with at her home daycare wiping faces and changing diapers, all with a big smile on my face. She asked me why I liked cleaning things up so much and I said to her, “Because I like to see something go from messy to clean”. This trend continued throughout my life, even through my work. There is nothing more satisfying than transformation for the better or taking a challenging situation and helping make it less challenging.

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The Painful Truth About Innovation

It's so refreshing to talk to people who are passionate about Innovation and I love it that now more than ever, companies are making room for it, not only in titles, but also in budgets. Who doesn't want to be innovative? Problem is everyone wants it, rarely are people willing to do what it takes to get there. People throw the word innovation around loosely these days like it's just another attribute they need to use in their company description or profile with little understanding of what it really means. Innovation doesn't come easy, and it requires razor focus on creating an environment with all the right elements for innovation to breed.

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Kristy WestComment
Show Up or Get Chopped

I love the art of improv applied to the stage and comedic performance, and through the years I have realized that it's not as much the comedy I enjoy as much as the thrill of not knowing what is going to happen and navigating the unknown. Comedy is just the by product (we hope) of improvisation for stage, improvisation at its core is the art of showing up, using what you have and creating something in the moment.

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Kristy WestComment
Are you Selling a Company Culture or Air Hockey?

During my years working in the staffing industry, questions about a company’s culture came up a lot. Staffing companies play an important role as the liaison between prospective candidates and the company doing the hiring. A company’s culture is a critical piece in enticing talent to want to work at a particular company. I was always amazed at how many companies undervalued their culture. Even when I explained to my clients that candidates rate culture in the top 3 of what’s most important to them in finding their next position.” In other words Mr. Client, I am going to go back to my office and try to sell your opportunity and when asked about your company culture, I will repeat exactly what you tell me." The typical answers I got from hiring managers ranged from, “We have casual Fridays” to “We’re fun and laid back”, or one of my favorites, “You can bring your dog to work!”

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Kristy WestComment
Is Today's Learner a Returning Customer?

As an L&D professional, we are constantly challenged to create learning that is engaging and sticks. For the first time ever, we have 5 generations in the workplace, so the challenge has never been greater. In L&D, our customer is the learner, and it is our job to find out how to create the type of experience that will yield engagement and retention.

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Kristy WestComment
On Improv and Choices

Improv is all about choices. Life is all about choices.  I’ve continued to have a struggle over the last few years as a teacher of improv where I realize how incredibly difficult it is to really do what we teach. In our safe bubble, where every choice is the right choice, because no matter what our partners will support us, it’s easy.  In real life, we are not always in a safe place and there are no partners in sight.

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“Oh the Places They’ll Go!” Transforming our Youth through Improvisational Training

I teach improv and my 15 year old daughter cannot make eye contact.  For a Mom who considers eye contact one of the most critical steps to connecting with others, this scares me.  You know what else scares me?   She is petrified to express herself in school. She tells me that the very thought of raising her hand in class to ask a question sends her to a near panic attack. 

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3 Roles that scream,” I need to learn improv!” Sales, Leadership, and Customer Service please stand up.

I’m the first person to proudly proclaim that improv skills are good for everyone, doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Improvisation provides a life changing set of skills. So, that’s my disclaimer.  The following are just three capacities that are on my hot list right now. They’ll be more to come, you can count on it.

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The Secret to Kindness is Improv

When learning how to improvise for stage, you learn quickly that you MUST be kind in order to succeed. If you are not nice to your partners, then your scenes will fall apart. It's like the structure of improv was built to hold up only when and if people are being nice to one another. It is no surprise that some of the very basic building blocks of improvisation are: listening, agreement, putting others before yourself, empathy, trust and getting each other's back. Imagine running that checklist through your mind at work or in a social setting. 

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Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? How to Manage Fear in the Workplace.

Fear is tricky.  We are taught from a very early age to color inside the lines.  In business environments, fear comes in many forms; fear of being judged, fear of sharing your ideas, fear of innovation and fear of the unknown.  With all that fear, it’s no wonder people are stressed out and miserable much of the time.  The weight of constant fear impairs your ability to reach your goals and basically paralyzes you.  This sounds excruciating.

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5 Reason Why Holiday Parties Need Improv

Another year is coming to a close and companies are faced with planning yet another exciting holiday party. You want to close the year out with a fun and memorable event. Your people have worked hard and you want to reward them with something different.  You’ve already done the Dave and Buster’s thing, having it at the CEO’s house is not an option and karaoke has just worn out its welcome.

You're in a pickle.

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3 Improv Skills Every Salesperson Needs

The art of sales is a lot like the art of improv.  Both disciplines require training and practice in heightened communication skills.  They also require a vulnerability, wherein participants put themselves out there, hoping to succeed, but with no guarantee.  Neither improv nor sales is easy, and achieving success in either one is a satisfying accomplishment.  Because of my dual careers as an improv performer and as a salesperson, I learned almost all of the successful techniques cross-over. I want to   share 3 important lessons that I took from the stage to my sales work which elevated my career and made selling a hell of a lot easier.

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Change Your Company Culture, or Else

During my years working in the staffing industry, questions about a company’s culture came up a lot.  Staffing companies play an important role as the liaison between prospective candidates and the company doing the hiring.  A company’s culture is a critical piece in enticing talent to want to work at a particular company. I was always amazed at how many companies undervalued their culture.

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