Sometimes conversations just need to be ended – do you know when? Maybe you feel it in your gut, and haven’t been able to just get the confidence to walk away. Or maybe you feel like you’re just a rude and impatient person – guess what? You aren’t. Some conversations just weren’t meant to be.
We are so grateful to our newest hire, Magalie Yacinthe, who is keeping the Admin side of EE afloat while Erin Moncada is on maternity leave! Magalie is a kickass business owner who is heavily involved in her community, and also working on her first novel!
–What is your role at The Engaging Educator? Administrative Assistant.
–Where are you from and how did you make it to WInston Salem? Born in Nassau, Bahamas; raised in Miami, FL. Work & family brought me to Winston. The arts & entrepreneurial spirit kept me in Winston.
–When did you first start to love Improv? April 2016, which is when I met Jen and was fully exposed to the world of Improv.
–What is something you want to Improv(e) on? I want to improv(e) on my love life!
–Where is your favorite place in the city? Carolina’s Vineyards & Hops
–What’s a not-so-secret skill you have? Event planning & execution
“AaahhhOOOgah” makes me feel free… like I just want to jump up and down and run around
“Yes, and” to Wine, Brunch, Lazy Days!
We’re thinking about conversations in our video series – when they stall, what do you do? Start here!
by Engager Olive Persimmon
“I work in a male-dominant industry and sometimes in meetings they talk over me. I have to fight to get my ideas heard,” a vice-president at a large bank said to me.
“When I don’t say anything, they tell me I ‘need to be more assertive’ and when I’m assertive, they tell me I’m being too aggressive or bitchy.”
“Some of the other women I work with are catty, they try to put me down to make themselves look good.”
“My boss told me to smile more. Another colleague said I need to smile less because people might think I’m being flirtatious. Now I’m obsessively thinking about if I’m smiling at the right times.”
These are all comments I heard while teaching a women’s program for a client in the finance industry. Unfortunately, comments like this come up all the time. I wish I could say these were anomalies but I’ve taught women’s programs for three years and I keep hearing the same responses. Again and again. Women who are taught to play small. Women who feel uncomfortable voicing their opinions. Women worried about being too much of something (too assertive, too passive, too tall, too small, too whatever…)
One of my most memorable comments came from a younger professional named Chelsea, “I’m 6’1 and my boss is intimidated by my height. He always makes snide comments about it. Is it okay to try to make myself smaller in his presence so he’s not as threatened?” For me, it was a heartbreaking comment because it represented how women are taught to shrink to accommodate.
I thought about my answer for a second because I knew what I was about to say would be important to Chelsea. I looked at her and carefully said, “No, it’s not okay to shrink. His insecurity is not your problem.”
It’s been a huge part of my life’s work to help women find their voices and stop playing small. I am incredibly lucky to work for a company that supports this mission. The Engaging Educator was not only founded by a badass woman, it hosts a whole staff of amazingly talented women. As a testimony of our commitment, I received an email from my boss on November 9th, the day after we didn’t elect the first female president. She told us that we were going to give away some free seats in our women’s workshops. This was our way of contributing to all the women who felt powerless and defeated post-election.
I was so excited! Another Engager, Minna Taylor and I had been designing women’s programs for years. I planned an amazing curriculum with improv-based exercises for this new class. We’d work on taking up space and using the full force of our voices. We had exercises for dealing with aggressive counterparts, exercises that addressed thoughts & behaviors that were holding us back. I carefully crafted and designed this program thinking about all of the comments I had heard over the past several years. Then I waited.
No one signed up. Not one single woman. Even though many of the seats were 100% ABSOLUTELY FREE. Finally, deep in my despair, ONE lone, brave woman registered for the workshop.
I was beyond disappointed. I teach storytelling, public speaking, presentation skills, and improv for professionals. They ALWAYS have students. This absolutely free and critically important class failed to draw students.
Perhaps it was a marketing failure on our part, I don’t know. Maybe, it’s just one more example of women not putting themselves first because it seemed selfish or unimportant to take the time to learn how to be comfortable being a woman. Maybe there were good specials at the bar. Maybe the ladies were too busy running their own companies. I have no idea. Despite this, we’re still offering free spots in ALL of our classes for women because we believe it’s THAT important.
I went to the Women’s March in January and was so excited to see so many men and women coming together, actively. It was incredible to see people fighting for their rights and the rights of other people. I know that the fighting isn’t going to stop. We’re going to have to keep fighting the next four years and maybe eight years beyond that. Maybe fifteen years beyond that.
Give yourself some tools to help you fight. Come to class. Invest in yourself.
by Founder Jen Oleniczak Brown
Man, listening is tough. When I set out to work on these videos, I shot them in one day, and immediately realized I had content for DAYS. In this installment, I’m focusing on one way to show you listen – and it isn’t immediately going into a personal story about the same topic (I’m looking at YOU, people that do this!)
We’re back with another video tip – and this week, we’re starting a 4-part series on listening and conversation.
Check out how to start listening better. Hint: Stop thinking about dinner. =)
By Engager Hillary Murrell
When do we learn that failing is not an option?
This is a question that has been plaguing me over the last few years as a museum educator. I teach all grade levels in museums from kindergarten to senior adults.
Yesterday I toured a group of 3rd graders through the museum. In groups they looked at fiber art in the gallery and were able to touch the same object from the artist to discover textures and process. They wrote down what they saw, what they thought and what that made them wonder. I am always amazed by the number of hands that go up in the air the minute I ask to share as a large group.
“I saw lots of colors”
“I think it looks like mushrooms, and I have lots of mushrooms in my backyard that my mom tells me not to eat”
“I think it looks like pixels on a blurry TV screen”
Their answers are inquisitive and they are genuinely willing and interested in sharing their thoughts. They don’t feel restricted to have to say the “correct” answer.
Contrast that with a group of undergraduates I toured last week. My assumption was that because they were Latin American Studies majors and the exhibition was on a Cuban artist we would have deep stimulating conversations in the galleries.
I open the tour with a question.
Not one student was willing to talk through their thoughts or attempt to critically look and discuss a piece of art. I always joke with them that if the 3rd graders can answer questions, they definitely can. But really, it isn’t a joke and it makes me sad.
Why do we teach kids as they get older to stop exploring through conversation? There really is no wrong answer if you are able to back up your postulations through critical analysis. But all students hear is “keep your mouth shut so you don’t sound stupid.”
I think this is where Improv training can make a deep impact in how we educate. Improv skills help us learn that we are going to fail and when that happens we try again. There is no wrong answer in “yes…and”. It is about discovery and confidence and exploration to eventually get to a “correct” answer. I think we do students a disservice when we teach to tests and only “correct” answers when really the process of discovery, curiosity and failure is the greatest way to learn.
My goal as an educator in 2017 is to incorporate “yes…and” and confidence building in all my classes. I truly believe that teaching students (and adults!) how to fail is crucial in removing fear and opening a path to deeper learning that remains hidden when we teach that success is the only option.
Hi all, Jen here!
I know we said we’d move to bi-weekly videos in the new year for me to focus on writing, and in reality, I also wanted to up our tech game/quality of the videos before we moved forward.
Guess what? I have a motivated drive (duh) and a fantastic husband (also duh) and between the two, I ended up upping the tech game AND setting up the new studio in no time.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing! I’ll keep at it here, on guest blogs, LinkedIn and a super secret cool announcement coming soon. For now, enjoy our new trailer AND video today. In our video, we’re thinking about how to introduce yourself – because let’s admit it, it’s a difficult task. Enjoy the trailer and tips on introductions, and remember to YES AND today!
How to Introduce Yourself!
–What is your role at The Engaging Educator? Engager
–Where are you from and how did you make it to LA? I’m originally from Ithaca, NY. I came out to LA for a full-time job as an Educator at the Getty Villa. I stayed for Improv.
–When did you first start to love Improv? When I began to recognize that improv wasn’t about being funny, and it wasn’t about me, that it was about working together and co-creating. When I really started to work with others and I experienced how it felt to truly make something original together, that’s when it got awesome!
–What is something you want to Improv(e) on? I want to be a ninja at listening, and not interrupting or talking over people.
–Where is your favorite place in the city? Mi’s Westside Comedy Theater! My favorite place to see and perform Improv and Sketch Comedy in LA, and it’s my second home where everybody knows my name.
–What’s a not-so-secret skill you have? Word combination. Are you bored and lonely? Save time and say you’re bonely!
Random: I have a pop music problem. Is it too late now to say sorry?
“AaahhhOOOgah” makes me feel: relieved that I don’t need to take myself so serously.
“Yes, and” to crazy patterned colorful yoga pants!
By Founder Jen Oleniczak Brown
Other applicants might lead you to believe…
I could do what other people will do when applying for this job…
Most companies want you to believe…
Some people asking for this scholarship would say…
Have you said or written one of these things in a job interview or maybe an application? Or even as an entrepreneur, have you brought out the faults of others while making the case for yourself?
There is incredible value in knowing your competition. You should know who you are up against — what you shouldn’t do is passively insult them in efforts to uplift yourself. You waste valuable time that you could be using to talk about how amazing (re: different) you really are!
So what should you do?
1. Know your competition. If you are applying for a job, getting a new client, interviewing — think what the ‘norm’ is. Make a list.
2. Know how you are different. On that same list, where do you go against the grain? Again, list.
3. When you’re talking about you in an interview, talk about these differences. That’s what will get you hired.
4. If you have to bring them up, do it sparingly, complimentary and ONCE.
With The Engaging Educator, people think our competition includes places like Second City and UCB. We are not Second City or UCB. When I’m talking to clients, I acknowledge that we are a group of improv-educators, not improvisers. We don’t put on a show (and won’t), and places like UCB and Second City are fantastic if they are looking for professional development with an additional element of performance. We plan a curriculum and customize communication skills training — we just also happen to use interactive improv. See? Acknowledged in a complimentary manner and focused towards US.
In an interview, the other candidates are literally nameless individuals, so why draw attention to them?
Good luck! Get the job because of how awesome you are, not because you insulted them.
Want to uplift others? Check out our TEDx on Yes, Anding the Shine Theory.