Category Archives: corporate

How to SHOW You Listen

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!)

Enjoy!

How to Start Listening Better!

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. =)

YesAnd Tube Trailer + New Video!

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!

-Jen

How to Introduce Yourself!

Stop Promoting Your Competition

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?

STOP.

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.

What You Should Be Doing Before Meetings That You Aren’t

By Founder Jen Oleniczak Brown

bored-employees-in-presentation-1940x900_29877Meetings often suck. Don’t be confused, I love meeting new people and planning and figuring out action items, but a lot of time we end up rehashing what we did/do and set up plans for things that require more meetings. When I sit in for companies, observing communication styles, I often think the worst part of meetings for other people is that whole speaking part.

Think about it: You sit around and either wait for a chance to speak or you spend a large part of the time working up the nerve to speak. And what happens when you do? You might ramble or trip over words. You’re not completely thinking about everything that’s coming out of your mouth. You finish, and you’re either stressed about what you said or regretting that you didn’t say enough.

If this sounds like you, you probably aren’t doing the one thing that WILL help you speak in a meeting: Warming up.

Think about it — do you run 13.1 miles without warming up? No. Well, why would you speak without warming up the muscles in your mouth? Our mouths contain 10 muscles and it takes up to 100 muscles to speak! *

*I told this to a client I’m working with this afternoon and she literally laughed and said “That’s why I hate it so much.”

So how do you start to fix this? First off, know that no solution is an absolute. This is ONE way to get better at speaking in a meeting, specifically how to trip over words less and pay attention to the words coming out of your mouth. Much like running and getting in shape, it’s a process. Second, admit the amount of time you have before a meeting. In reality, you have minutes.

The quick way to warm up in minutes before a meeting: tongue twisters.

Think about it — people trip over words because they are running their mouths or speaking before they think. You have to concentrate before you say a tongue twister. You have to think about the words to get the correct — you have to PAY ATTENTION to what’s coming out of your mouth. Also, tongue twisters TWIST YOUR TONGUE. They are meant to trip you up, because they flex different areas of your mouth.

These are a few I give clients when they are specifically working on warming up quickly:

Red leather, yellow leather.
Irish wristwatch.
The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue, the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.
Betty Botter bought a bit of bitter batter. (Say the t’s as t’s — not d’s)

Prior to a meeting, head into the bathroom, outside or sit at your desk. Say them out loud, three times each, slowly, and over-enunciate. Maybe you spit a little when you say these — that’s ok! You don’t run the same way you warm up — all you are doing is activating these areas.

Then head into your meeting and see what happens. Remember, this isn’t a fix-all (nothing is), but chances are, you’ll be a bit more cognizant of the words coming out of your mouth AND trip over your words less. Good luck, and enjoy that next meeting!

EE Turns 3! What’s next?

Three years ago, I started EE thinking it would be a nice nod to my solo career – and that’s it. Nothing more than a name that would be a way to sum up the scope of my freelance work. I remember my first public workshop – it sold out, but I didn’t charge people until they got there and half of them didn’t show up. I had a pieced together website that I made myself (shudder) and I was asking friends and coworkers to be in photos so I had some appearance of stability. Literally anything to look bigger than the imposter-syndrome ridden ex-actor that was trying to figure out how she fit in to museums and education.

EE-Nasher-PurpleThe three years following were great, good, ok, tearful, rough, rewarding and stressful. Up until this past June, I was also working as a museum educator, building EE on the side. I jumped on every travel engagement and job, worked for free and for photos and reviews. When I had more jobs than hours in the day, I started to hire my friends. Fired some of them. Learned a lot and got taken advantage of a lot, but didn’t sleep a lot – I was answering emails past midnight and trying to figure out how to do a business. Some people thought what I was doing was ridiculous – I distinctly remember overhearing a conversation at a museum I was working at as an educator, and two managers were making fun of EE and me. I’ve lost friends, business relationships, and personal relationships. The business side of business is hard enough – I actually think the personal side is much harder. Few people understand that you ALWAYS have to be working to some degree. I completely get why 75% of businesses close in the first three years, and it isn’t all financial. This is not and has not been easy, and won’t ever be easy. I was just telling my partner last night that I sometimes envy his working for someone else. Being a boss is hard, being an effective and good boss is harder and being your own boss on top of that is insanity.

Teen-Facilitator-WebThat being said, it HAS been so very worth it. I’ve built this amazing company, and I’m finally getting over my imposter syndrome and owning the fact that EE is pretty badass. We help a lot of people in a lot of ways, and we’ve done some cool stuff – and I just keep thinking about what next. I don’t like to dwell in successes – I see them much like I did when I was an actor. Get job, tell everyone I got job, leverage job for next job. Same thing with EE – get a job, speaking arrangement, press – take it, share it and use it to get something bigger. Build a program and then think, what next.
My favorite part in the last three years? I not only get to find and collaborate with like-minded folks, I also get to surround myself with people who are incredible at things I struggle with. I really think this is where people make mistakes in business – you should always surround yourself with people that do things better than you. It not only makes you better, but it allows you to focus on your skills – and they can focus on the skills they’ve mastered. And then next thing you know, you have a community of people that are invested and have ownership in your baby. And it’s not just a nod to a solo career – it’s a mission.

NC-Nasher-MuseumIt’s been a heck of a ride, and I and we would NOT be here without some very key people. Starting from a seed of an idea from a friend to lead a presentation skills workshop at the Brooklyn Museum – thanks Adelia Gregory – to people believing in me, EE and the good of improv above all things – thanks Sharon Vatsky, Hannah Jack, and Michelle Lopez. It’s all about a team incredibly skilled educators who I trust with the mission, that see it out and take ownership – thanks David Armstrong, Andrea Kamins, Don Waisanen, Jill Frutkin, Lawrese Brown, Kayla Rivera, Minna Taylor. It’s the newest of the new in the “stuff I don’t do well and need help with” – thanks Shaelyn Amaio – and the lady behind all of the organizational aspects of EE – thank you SO MUCH Erin Badenhop Moncada.

It’s all about the unwavering support from my absolutely incredible group of friends and family – so THANK YOU, David Armstrong, Angelina Salgado, Nick Pavlik, Shoshana Torn, Rachel Ropeik, and Mike Murawski for constantly saying “HEY YOU CAN DO THIS.” And it’s very much about the strength I’ve recently found to do this as my career, and the support and love from my partner Alex Brown.

And it’s all about every last one of our students, corporate clients, museums, schools, and organizations. Thank you so much for all of your support and business in the last three years.

So stay tuned, because we are far from done here. To all the Yes, And, all the AaahhhOOOgah and all of the What Next.

Xo
Jen