We don’t always take the time to check in with ourselves. Even with a mindfulness craze, we don’t take that time to stop, think, and note our emotions. Want to start? Or maybe, NEED to start? Watch this week’s video for your personal development plan in self-awareness!
by Engager Jen Glantz
The truth is, none of us are ever fully prepared for anything that we do. We can spend hours, days, even months practicing for something and still feel as though we aren’t ready. One of the greatest lessons learned in improv is that all you need to do, sometimes, to succeed and have fun, is just simply show-up.
While I agree that is a daring and very bold first step, the real trick to making it through something we might be scared, at first, to do, starts way before we enter the room to give a presentation, to take an improv class, or to just have a sticky conversation with say our boss. It starts with the self-talk, or pep talk, we give ourselves beforehand.
I remember a few years ago, I was about to walk into a job interview and felt so nervous that I could feel my body tell me, through jitters and stress-sweat, that it wasn’t feeling confident about what was going to happen. So I let my mind listen to my body and all of a sudden I told myself that I wasn’t good enough for the job I was interviewing and the person interviewing me would notice that instantly. I practically stuck my resume in the trash and walked out at that point, but before I could make that motion, they called me to begin. I didn’t do well on that interview and I didn’t get the job. Looking back now, it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough work experience or knowledge, it was because I didn’t walk-the-walk, or talk-the-self talk beforehand.
This happens a lot. We show up to an Improv class, an interview, or just to a new experience that scares us more than anything else, and we talk ourselves out of it. Our body language adapts and before we know it, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
After that memorable (for not a good reason) job interview was over, I promised myself that before I did anything I wasn’t feeling confident about again, that I would trick myself into thinking that I was. That I would arrive early, find a quiet space where I could be alone, and positive pep-talk myself into believing, really and truly believing, that what I was about to experience was something I was worthy of and something I would enjoy.
I use this method every single time it’s my turn to start an Improv scene or even teach an Improv class. I hope you’ll try it too.
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!)
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!
OMG, we are FOUR YEARS OLD TODAY!!! Thanks to the Engagers and Staff who took a little time to share something they’ve improved upon during their time with EE, or something they love about their job!
As a new member of the EE team, I’m excited to Inspire others to feel confident in front of a room, whether it’s for work, their hobby, or even just a gathering of old friends and new. Feeling comfortable in your skin is something that I’ve learned is so important when being your most genuine and authentic self! All my love, Jen – Jen Glantz, Engager
Being an engager is a dream job: I get to meet new people and learn, laugh and improv(e)! It is endlessly satisfying to see how improv – and the EE ethos – helps us listen, communicate and make progress on our goals. I feel so lucky to work with such an inspiring, smart and caring staff of women as we grow and expand. Happy Birthday, EE! Let’s all eat cake! – Jill Frutkin, Engager
As an engager, I have learned the enormous potential held in every single person. I have witnessed what is possible when we come together to explore how to share our voice with the world. – Minna Taylor, Engager
I love working with people who are so enthusiastic and passionate about the work they’re doing. I love feeling like it’s okay — encouraged, even! — to be excited about the work we’re doing and the folks we’re doing it with. – Shaelyn Amaio, Social Media and Graphics
I’ve definitely improved on initiative taking and thinking outside the box for creative admin solutions! Working with a team of people who are all creatives, not to mention just awesome people, makes admin work a joy! Plus, I love that our team is all women! – Erin Moncada, Admin Director
What I LOVE most about being an Engager is being a part of a group of bad-ass (can I say that?!) women who bring a varied set of skills, strengths, and accomplishments to the table. I’m inspired every time I co-teach, observe, and speak to the fellow engagers. The Engagers and the professionals that take EE’s classes always challenge me to bring my A-game – and no two classes are ever the same. I’m undoubtedly a better facilitator and educator because of my time with EE, and I’m looking forward to another amazing year. – Lawrese Brown, Engager
I LOVE my job. How many people get to say that? I get to help people get out of their heads and feel good about their communication. Not to mention, it’s fun! Seriously, huge love for EE, the other engagers, and all the wonderful people we’ve had the privilege to teach. – Olive Persimmon, Engager
What I love most about being an Engager is what I learn from students. A lot of people think that teachers are the ones with the answers, but I’m constantly being taught by the people who take my classes. It’s so inspiring to see how bravely people embrace something so foreign to them and it makes me more courageous in my life and work. – Molly Anne Coogan, Engager
Engaging Educator has made me more fearless! I love being part of a team of fearless woman who take risks and ‘yes…and” to success. – Hillary Murrell, Engager
By Engager Lawrese Brown
“Think outside the box.” We’ve all heard the expression before. It’s the call to action to innovate, the definitive dog whistle for Think Different. In the past, us non-creatives were off the hook, because the creative types were easily spotted: They worked in theatre, fashion, music, and media. But now every industry calls for us to create and innovate. With technological disruption and an ever-changing hustle and gig economy, innovation is everyone’s responsibility.
And we can do it, right? At least we think we can. What’s so hard about trying to think of new ways to approach our problems, products and processes? So when pushed to take risks, we raise our hands and nod our heads in agreement, and then we soon realize that relinquishing our boxes isn’t so easy. The irony of creativity is that it takes work.
Why? Because everything about us as professionals is trained towards obsessive logic. In school and business, there is a right answer and wrong answer. There is efficiency and inefficiency, there is time saved and time wasted, there is work and play….and play can’t be work?
We can’t ovethink creativity, and even that is counterintuitive. Creativity is a tool best offered when we let loose. It’s in that freedom that we are most imaginative, instinctive and inventive. For example, one of my favorite improv games is the active listening game, “Last Word Response.” The game calls for participants to use the last word of the previous person’s sentence as the first word of their sentence. So if I said, “I love you,” the next person would say, “You are the greatest,” and then “Greatest love of all,” and so on and so forth. The game usually works well until someone says something like, “This is cool” and someone says cool is…. Cool *pause*…..cool *longer silence* ….suddenly without an immediate answer….we feel stuck.
As one improviser said of the game, “It’s hard because there is pressure to make sense.” To which I ask, “who said you had to make sense?” Who’s to say you can’t say “Cool cats,” “Cool is an adjective,” “Cool Kids rule” or “Cool Whip is my favorite topping on pancakes?!” In those moments we realize that “the pressure to make sense” is code for saying something that “we know works.” Something that is familiar. Something that is reasonable.
Improv enhances our creativity because it pushes us to think outside the box by encouraging flexibility, increased initiative, positive risk taking and fun. Quite simply, improvisation and creativity shift us out of what’s proven into more of a focus on what’s possible.
Expectation is the sister of anticipation, and there’s no anticipating in improv. The skill set teaches us to be comfortable with the unknown and enables us to take risks, constantly shift, and elevate what could be. Essentially, improv kills the box and with no box, we realize that the greatest obstacle to our creativity are ironically, the limits and rules we continue to put on ourselves.
We’ve been with Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship High School for almost two years–and we’ve officially gone from novice improvisers to off-Broadway!
On May 7th, these students are putting on a show for fellow students, teachers, and family at The Playroom Theatre in Manhattan. Since we started working with them, we’ve seen huge improvements in respect, listening, teamwork. Above all, our students have turned into talented and hilarious improvisers.
Because of some incredible supporters, we got our space and pizza that night fully funded within 24 hour–but we aren’t stopping there! If you’d like to give to the Mather performance, all proceeds above $500 will go towards scripts, props and costumes for next year for their very first play!
To further prove our point: the above photo was taken after we told the students how 30 amazing individuals believed in them–enough to fund their very own performance. Let’s give them even more and help them realize how brave they are performing improv Off-Broadway. Every little bit helps, so skip a coffee today and “Yes, And!” their arts education.