How Improv’s “Yes and…” Rule Can improve Your Business

While trolling my news feed I came across  Fast Company’s profile on Amy Poehler for Most Create People in Business of 2015.  Of course I clicked on it, she’s my hero. While I was expecting a highlight on everything she’s done in front of the camera, I was surprised to learn how successful she’s been behind the scenes. Including creating a 5 million strong army of “smarties” in connection with “Amy’s Smart Girls.” I was surprised, although I shouldn’t have been, that she pulled from her improv past to ensure one of the most creative environments for her staff:

Most Creative people in business 2015“There’s a thing in improv called the “ ‘Yes, and . . .’ rule,” adds Poehler’s Parks cast mate Aubrey Plaza. “It means that if you’re in a scene with someone and they set up a premise, you have to say ‘yes’ and go along with it. If your partner says, ‘You’re a doctor and I’m your patient,’ you can’t say, ‘No, I’m not, I’m a fireman.’ Because then the scene is over.

Amy has let the ‘Yes, and’ rule bleed into her daily life. She never shuts you down. She always listens and wants to hear what you have to say. But at the same time, she knows what she wants.And you always feel very safe having her in charge, because there’s just this underlying sense that she can steer you in the right direction.”

Quoted from Aubrey Plaza in the Fast Company article ‘AMY POEHLER IS REALLY MAKING HERSELF UNCOMFORTABLE’ written by  Benjamin Svetkey

I think it’s safe to say people love to hear themselves talk, so much so that they frequently shoot down others ideas without laying the possible ground work where that idea could have flourished.

While you may not always agree with your coworkers suggestions you never know who is going to surprise you with a home run. Rather than shutting people down  try the approach of “yes I like that idea, and we could… ” adding more to their thought could help you think outside the box. It could also strengthen their idea.  A simple “Yes, I see where you’re going, what else were you thinking” – it doesn’t tie you to loving the idea, but it gives them a further chance to explain and develop what they are thinking.

In the past I’ve found it’s helpful to have a manager, or to be the manager, who follows this rule. It allows coworkers to develop their idea, and take it on different paths. It’s open collaboration – rather than bring negativity to the table, you’re keeping the space safe and  open for suggestions.

Next time you’re in a position where a coworker brings you an idea, even if you don’t like it, try going with it. By hearing the person out in a positive way you may get to a place neither of you had originally expected – who knows the original idea Edison brought to the table that eventually led to the telephone. Imagine if someone had said no without hearing him out.

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5 Rules for Being Unemployed

unemployedSo I’m currently unemployed and I’ve found that going from a very structured day to one where I can go horse back riding at noon is difficult to adjust to. I’m aware I’m not alone in this current transition to bleeding money while waiting for something that will re-passionize me to come along (I don’t think that’s a word but I’m going with it.)

Since we’re on this journey together I decided to come with a few simple rules that we should all start following – myself included.

1. Make your bed every morning – it’s important to still have a sense of “this is the day I’m not going to go back to sleep after I’m done walking the dog.” So when you get up, get up for the day. Take a shower, make your bed, go about life as you normally would if you were employed.

2. Go outside at least twice a day – It’s easy to stay inside, wistfully wasting away while watching countless episodes of Criminal Minds. But, instead of lulling yourself to an oreo coma get up off your butt and head outside. Some study said even 20 minutes outside will boost your mood (maybe even strike you with some inspiration).

3. Have a schedule – It’s important to create routine when you have none. Try splitting up your day into segments. This is how I did mine (luckily I have a dog to help divide my time): Get up, make bed, walk the dog, apply to jobs, have lunch, walk the dog, write, walk alone, get dog, walk the dog (maybe even talk to people), eat dinner – the night is when I’m least routine, but by then it’s 7 and Big Bang Theory is on.)

4. If you feel sad or discourage talk about it – It’s not fun being on the other side of the tracks (well maybe the first week or two it is) and it’s okay to be sad – just remember you’re not alone. Talk to someone about it, join a discussion board if none of your friends have felt this way. Just remember that it takes a while to find a solid job that you will enjoy, and that it is okay.

5. Don’t settle – you’re unemployed because your last job didn’t work out (or for other reasons) so instead of rushing into the first thing that pays it’s okay to wait it out. Find something you can be passionate about, something that will challenge you, and let you grow. In my next job I’m looking for a place that has those three things. I want to be jazzed about the job just by reading the description – luckily I’ve found a few of those already!

Remember to not freak out, enjoy this time to figure out what you want to do next, and breathe. Chances are this free time will fly by, so take advantage of it while you have it.

I Quit My Dream Job

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I quit what I thought was my dream job yesterday.

After struggling for a month and a half to force myself to love both the highs and lows I decided to leave. With a heavy heart I wrote my brief resignation letter and waited until 4:30pm to discuss with my director the next steps moving forward.

It’s not a decision I made lightly. I had been in talks with him since March to find a different place within the company, something that involved more creative duties. But alas (yes I just wrote alas) there was nothing that fit my needs and theirs.

After a job proposal, an internal interview, and over a month and a half since admitting to both myself and the company that I wasn’t happy my journey here is finally over.

I’ve avoided writing about my struggles with this company for a while, but I think it’s important to fully address it now.

As I’ve mentioned in the past I have issues with stress. My body basically doesn’t have the right balance to deal with stressful situations. So when I get into an overloaded stress situation my body shuts down. Which is what happened in late February.

It was terrifying that a job I though was my dream career was basically shutting down my body. Eventually I went to the doctor, after suffering three panic attacks in a month, and was put on anxiety medicine.

The decision to quit at first had a lot to do with my physical health. I was told by countless friends that I couldn’t let a job basically destroy my health. They were right, but I couldn’t admit to myself that I wasn’t able to handle this balancing act.

I felt inadequate, so rather than listening to my body I kept pushing on.

I was so stressed out that I wasn’t remembering to eat. I was exhausted all the time and bitter. Not to mention just plain mean.

I worked late, and resented my job for it. It was impossible to meet the amount of deadlines I was dealing with while still thinking about my health.

I don’t know what woke me up, but I finally realized I didn’t want to live like this. I didn’t want to put my health on the back burner and do something because “it was supposed” to be my dream job.

Sometimes dream jobs don’t work out the way we want them to, and that’s okay. 

When I started this job it had all the elements I’d always wanted, building strategies, dealing with multiple clients, and surrounded by an amazing work environment. But that’s not exactly what it ended up being for my actual position.

So I quit with a months notice to smooth over transitions. I quit with no job offer because that’s what I needed to do, because when we finally see what a job does to us it’s important to fix all of the wrongs before moving on.

And the first wrong I’m fixing is to start putting my health first.

Nanny Diaries: Can an exorcism be performed on a baby?

I had no idea how much babies can spit up in an hour when I first applied for this position. Not only can they spit up at least 10 times in one hour, they will, also sometimes you get a projectile spit up. Sometimes landing up your sleeve. yes I said up not on.

If there is one thing I can not handle it’s white, sticky. lumpy goo coming out of someone’s mouth. Oh please, get your head out of the gutter.  Basically anything that is coming up from ones stomach, I’m against.  So you can imagine my delight to find out how often it occurs on a regular basis.

My first thought was, clearly this baby is possessed. I mean there are even other signs, it’s not like I would make this stuff up…

The signs:

1. Projectile vomit

2. skin pealing in hair-line

3.Can turn head all the way around (well maybe not completely, but I’m sure if he could control his neck then yes, absolutely).

So you can understand my concern. Instead of watching Jabba’s offspring I’m stuck with satan in baby form.

I’m also positive that he controls the washing machine, as it goes off whenever he starts to cry…a mere coincidence? I think not. There are no coincidences in exorcisms.

And that, my loyal readers, is why I’m posing this question to you…and if you do know someone who can perform them get in touch (soon!). Stay tuned for next week: “Nanny Diaries: Baby Talk”

Playing the Waiting Game

In life, it seems, we are always waiting for something. Waiting in line, waiting for a call, waiting for a grade, waiting for an email about a job…always waiting. We spend 1/4 of our life just waiting.

It doesn’t always have to be waiting for something physical, something like waiting for something better to come along, waiting to realize that you need to change careers…so much waiting, and it would seem so little doing.

And you know what, waiting absolutely sucks. It’s stressful and boring and I’m pretty sure it causes weird rashes.

Why should we spend so much of our time just waiting

on things to happen? Shouldn’t we just tell ourselves to do it already and stop expecting something else to happen to us?

Since graduating I’ve spent every single day continually checking my email, waiting, wishing, hoping that there is an email asking me if I would like an interview.

Still nothing but more waiting.

With dating, waiting is a game that everyone involved likes to play. Well everyone involved except me. I hate all of the rules “Wait 3 days to call him or you’ll seem needy!” Um why can’t I just call him a day later to talk? It’s not like I”m going to be up in his ish…I just don’t want to wait around eating bon bons for my maybe prince charming to call.

Yes, I do usually ask the guy out, as you can guess I’m not the type to wait until he gets the courage to ask me out.  And yes it usually ends badly…like the time I demanded the guy take me on a date if he wanted to get any. What can I say, I’m just classy like that.

So what do you say? Let’s stop waiting and more doing, well at least for the things we can change. There will always be the phone call you’re waiting on, but why not call them? Why not at least do something productive while waiting in line, take the time you would be spending doing nothing…and just do something! Even if it is taking time to call your grandma, or picking off the nail polish you hate (okay, bad example I know). Let’s make a pledge to stop wasting time with just waiting, or at least try to.

Because, believe it or not..your time IS valuable.