Category Archives: business improvisation
“Average performers believe their errors were caused by factors outside their control: My opponent got lucky; the task was too hard; I just don’t have the natural ability for this. Top performers, by contrast, believe they are responsible for their errors.“
How Do Excellent Performers Differ from the Average? - via Farnam Street
“My posse’s in effect and we’re doin’ the do
And we got more rhymes than your damn crew” - Beastie Boys, Posse in Effect
I have a posse. Why are you laughing? My posse is beautiful. For the purposes of this entry, “posse” isn’t my friends. It’s the people I interact with frequently. More specifically, the ones that enable me to do what I do; my dry cleaner, my bartender, my hairstylist (hate that word, but trust me – she ain’t no barber. Haircutress?), etc. So, my posse is…people I’m paying for goods and services? Well, yeah. At first glance. But the difference is in my attitude toward them. I’ve made them an important part of what I do. They are my posse. My business partners. My Team.
Figo owns three Devrim Cleaners locations. He keeps my shirts crisp, my suits sharp, and he’s fun to chat with. I’m sure he and his family provide personalized service to all of their customers. But when Figo is tailoring my suit, it’s not just A suit. He’s tailoring JAY’S suit. That’s an important difference.
Joe mixes some amazing cocktails. He makes me a cherry coke (cherrys + grenadine + whatever high fructose Coca-Cola approximate they sell) to get me fired up at the start of a long night of comedy. Joe makes devastatingly good margaritas to mellow me out at the end of a long day of #Hustle. I tip well, he pours heavily, and we both benefit.
Stevie has cut my hair for ten years. She’s had to listen to stories about every single time I have vomited in public, yet she still takes personal pride in sending me out into the greater world looking my best.
“Got my hand in my pocket and my finger’s on the trigger
My posse’s gettin’ big and my posse’s gettin’ bigger” – Beastie Boys, The New Style
With the birth of our son 3 years ago, my posse has exploded. We have a pediatrician, preschool teachers, and a cabal of ultra-capable babysitters. All people who I trust fully (or mostly) with my son’s health and well being. Without them I couldn’t leave the house to make the funny without worrying about the little guy. And trust me, my son is always on my mind – so my posse allows me to leave with secure, happy thoughts.
In comedy improvisation, we put a strong emphasis on creating relationships on stage. A scene in which two strangers meet and haggle over the price of a taco can be the most excruciatingly unfunny thing in the world. But two characters who know each other, sharing their lives and opinions and philosophies while *not* discussing that taco? That will be at least interesting, with strong potential for hilarious.
Because I’ve made these people an important part of my ability to create comedy professionally, I’m interacting with members of my team; my co-conspirators in world domination. Because of them, I can be in front of an audience or workshop and feel confident about looking competent. That makes my job a lot easier. And all I had to do was focus a little time and energy on creating basic relationships with my goods and services providers. My POSSE.
“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one… characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.”
- Henry David Thoreau
“Because you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop…”
- Beastie Boys
Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth…Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.
- Noela Evans
Seriously, just go.
Yes, going first has been scary since the dawn of time. Do you think
that prehistoric fish was all juiced about getting out of the water
and flopping around on land? Probably terrified the little guy. But
you’re more evolved than a prehistoric fish, aren’t you?
Growing up, I always wanted to go last, especially in gym class. By
studying my fellow students diving, jumping rope or (God forbid)
square dancing, I figured I could learn from their mistakes. Turns
out, you learn best by making your own mistakes.
“The longer you wait, the more the jump rope
becomes a big steel cable.”
- Susan Messing
Our brains have the amazing capacity to turn any mole hill into Mount
Everest. As we sit and stare and ponder, the world goes by and we
accomplish nothing. It’s like waiting for that perfect moment to kiss
a girl. You won’t know it’s the perfect moment until she’s kissing
In the improv world, we sometimes fall into the trap of being polite.
We want to create scenes together, so we stare at each other and wait
for the other person to make a move. Empires rise and fall in the
time it takes an improviser to initiate. Your improv heroes just
start anywhere. It’s the reaction to that first line that usually
sets the tone of the scene. But your scene can’t start until somebody
Fear stops many voyages before they begin. Halfway across the
Atlantic, Columbus was probably conjuring every worst-case scenario
imaginable. But he had a crew behind him. So do you. You have
family and friends. You have teammates. Most importantly, you have
yourself. What’s the last time you made a fatal error? You’re still
breathing. Trust that your brain and body will work to continue that.
Thomas Edison tested more than 6,000 different filaments before he
found the right material to make a light bulb. Would you be willing
to do something 6,000 times before you got it “right”?
Take a running leap.
Kiss the girl.
Pull the trigger.
And if it doesn’t work out, dust yourself off and go again. Battle
scars are cool! And you only fail when you don’t try.
- Ben Bowman
Ben Bowman is an award-winning filmmaker, director and improviser
living in Chicago. He’s the author of the Boiling Point Improv Blog.
He wants to be Han Solo when he grows up. You can follow him on Twitter @BowmanInc.