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Special Guest Post: Yes! to Improv, By Terry Daves

I was onstage, in the moment, facing an invisible tiger, when I realized the words  “yes, and…” can change the way a person does business.
I ended up at the Peoples Improv Theater in my ongoing search for better ways to serve clients and motivate staff.  I run Medallion Retail; we develop shopper experiences and environments for big retail brands.  We’re all about creating a positive experience.  Turns out, so is improv theater.
Our workshop at PIT was inspiring, invigorating and insanely fun.  It was a safe space where non-actors like me got to play, mug and feel the thrill of really thinking on your feet.  Being in the moment – and outside of your own head — is empowering.
Through scenes, games and exercises (Crazy 8s was a favorite!), I learned that the cornerstone of good improv is an affirmative attitude.  Openness, flexibility and a willingness to extend yourself result in a good performance – on a stage or in a client meeting.  
Good improv, and good business, require 
·     Commitment

o   Truly believe in what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to.  

·     Collaboration

o   Share your vision and trust your team. Trust leads to empowerment, which leads to surprising and delightful performances.

·     Energy

o   Exude positive vibes.  Your audience – paying client or patron – can feel and feed on your excitement and passion.

I use my newfound improv skills everyday in my business to animate idea sessions, motivate staff and wow clients.  Would I take another workshop at PIT?

Terry Daves is the President of Medallion Retail, a full service retail strategy company, offering end-to-end research through implementation expertise specializing in custom branded selling environments.

Medallion Retail helps great businesses become great brands. Fortune 1000 companies, global brands and the nation’s largest retailers rely on them to enhance and shape the customer experience at retail.


Twitter: @MedallionRetail



Use Improv to Get Off Your Butt

As I sit here writing this blog post, I only have a few ideas without a cohesive picture of a final product.  I don’t really know where to start.  I have no idea how this will finish, and yet I still must produce.  And with that I call upon my improv training to get the ball rolling.  Looking up, I notice that the first paragraph just wrote itself…Here’s how it works…

Nothing and Everything

Just about every improv scene starts out in the same way: An Empty Stage.  Without a script and without a safety net, the improviser must step on stage and produce something.  While there seems to be nothing on that stage, the opposite is true.  Everything is on the stage.  The improviser can call upon an infinite number of possibilities to create.  However, this can be even more daunting than the prospect of having nothing at all.  An infinite number of possibilities force us to answer the question “Which one should I choose?”

Do Something!

The answer: It doesn’t matter what you choose to do first; just do something.  Once we allow the judgmental part of our mind to get locked up in the infinite options, we stall in an attempt to find the best possibility.  The best choice is to simply do something…anything.  The only wrong choice for the improviser is to leave the stage empty.  For the writer, “Do Something” means put a word on the blank page.  For the artist, put paint on the canvas.  For you, just start somewhere.

Adjust Your Course

Once you commit to doing something, it gets you out of your judgmental mind.  You can take a moment to notice what you did and adjust course accordingly.  At the very least, this process will shift you out of the stalled state.  Making the initial move on an exercise program, or when writing, or whenever you start a new project is the first step on the path of momentum.  So stop reading, and Do Something!  

~Tommy Galan, Director of Corporate Programming at The PIT