Category Archives: Learning Tools and Issues

Yes…and? (Thought Leadership as an Improv Game)

Sometimes you “learn” something you’ve always known and that’s really a blessing.

You have been operating under a premise or a practice, but later in life, at the right time and in the right setting, someone gives a name to that practice and you get to see it anew. You are given the chance to use your own tools in new ways.

That’s what we’ll help you do.

My mother was the best at it and to this day, I’m eternally grateful I wasn’t abandoned on a corner somewhere because when I look back on my antics as a curious if not precocious child, I would have left me behind, that’s for sure.

My mom was the best at an improv practice loosely referred to as “yes, and?” She loved to play and she never shut things down. I heard my fair share of “because I say so” of course, but typically, when my curiosity or declamations got the best of me, she’d roll with it and that’s how I learned.

I once took all my stuffed animals and socks (apparently the two most important things in my world) and bagged them in food storage bags (an entire box full) and laid them neatly on the kitchen table. I was a latch-key kid, home only 30 minutes before her. That day was fire safety day at school and after exploring my home for known dangers (we clearly had far too many extension cords in use), I determined I needed a fire plan.

When she came in the door, beleaguered from a very long day, she didn’t ask me to clean up the table full of plastic-suffocating teddy bears.

Instead, she asked “What’s this?”

I replied, “My fire plan. When the house burns, see, we can each grab a few bags of my things, then all the animals will be saved. And my socks.”

I was so proud, I really had thought it through.

Now, here’s my mom’s “yes, and…” She didn’ t say no. She said instead, “What about my things? What about our socks, your dad’s and mine?” She jumped right into the plan. As a result, I suddenly had to strategize further than the immediate moment.


Lip bite.


And right back to her: “I ran out of bags.”

My mom then suggested we would find a better way to save my things and frankly, the house wouldn’t burn (and as long as I lived there, it never did) and we went on with dinner.

This concept–of opening up the possibility–is one we could use more of in our workspaces. Often, great ideas are shut down with “we don’t/can’t/won’t do it that way” or the age-old (ha) notion of tradition.

If instead, we opened ourselves to a sense of “yes, and?” maybe brainstorms and work meetings, project reports and problem solving would work better.

The next time someone says “I was thinking we could consolidate this process by putting these two teams together,” resist the temptation to say “That’s a lot of work; where will they work, who will manage them, we don’t have the time and that’s out of my pay grade.”

Instead, try answering “Yes! And we could move Susie Q. into that area to help staff the project. What else?”

 Life is an improv event… and it always goes better when you open up to your fellow actors.

You’ve been doing it all along; your personal life often allows you to explore possibilities and “bite” when baited. Now, deploy this strategy in your work life.

Try “yes, and?” today each time you’re tempted to say “we can’t.”

We bet you can.



Back to School

One thing I’m pretty confident about is that I don’t know much about the bridge from idea to action.
Every personality test I’ve ever taken leaves me lofty and idealistic, never on the side of the task masters.

I like being that kind of leader, though, in my career. I do *do*, of course. It’s a bit cheap to say you’re an idea person NOT an action person… we’re all action people, we have to be. I just have more big ideas than I do big motivation to reorganize my cd collection or my spice rack.

But for this project, the public spectacle of trying to get it right is a nice motivator, for sure.
(Which brings me to another post I’ll have to generate about how often I’m only externally motivated.)

So, we’re studying. A lot. My latest subject was trademarks and copyrights. Creative Bravado may be a placeholder, I don’t know, but I like it and if we stick with this framework and name, I don’t want anyone else using it. The same is true for this blog. What if the wisdom and lessons learned we share here look so good to someone else, they quote them as their own? So, my recent homework has been to apply my own journalism and mass media knowledge on the subject to this new endeavor.

Tricia tweeted about this the other day (Follow her @LadyTerror) and called this blog an incubator.

I love that term as it relates to research and think tanks, of course. But my first thought was something akin to a comic book or sci fi movie.
We will incubate here and all emerge as giant human flies. Or we’ll incubate here and somehow pop out with wings.

I think we three already have wings. We’re already more than human. Maybe a challenge for us all would be to write what we do in a given week: the arguments, the efforts, the housework, the work work, the ideas, the projects, the meetings, the dates… One week from each of us and you’d believe superhuman for sure.

What we’re incubating is YOU.
We’re cooking up this project to best serve a set of clients who are lacking what we have. I may be externally motivated, but I am personally inspired.
I inspire myself all the time. So does Tricia, so does A-E. We want to teach you how to do that.
And how to make it pay off in all the things you do, every week.

Keep watching us. Use our idea but don’t take it–I’ve got it copyrighted. 🙂