the blog

According to LinkedIn Learning, communication skills are the number one skill gap across major cities in NYC. Here are three easy ways to start getting ahead of the curve:

  1. Listen more than you talk

    Too often we talk more than we listen, and unfortunately, we often spend more time thinking about what we’re going to say next versus listening! Do yourself and everyone you interact with a favor: spend more time listening than speaking.

    It’s stunning what you start to notice when you start listening more. People are constantly talking over one another, repeating what has just been said, adding to a point that is already dead and buried – all because so many people are agenda orientated, and believe that their opinion and thought is the most important in the room. Sometimes it is! A lot of the time, it isn’t. Aim to listen twice as much as you talk.

  2. And Instead of But

    When you’re having a conversation, avoid the word ‘But’ when you’re inserting your opinion. The word ‘But’ not only pits ideas against one another, it also elevates one over another. For example:

    I know you want pizza for dinner, but I want salad.

    You’ve elevated your own needs above the person you’re talking to.

    When you use the word ‘And’ you are linking the two together – you’re not agreeing with the other person: you’re simply weighing them the same.

    Try to substitute And for But whenever you can and see what happens!

  3. Mind Your Non Verbals

    Your body tells your story more than your words: 55% of understanding comes from body language! Take some time to make sure you’ve unclenched your butt, you’re not crossing your arms or legs, and you’re making clear eye contact.

Imposter Syndrome is a THING. That little voice that says, “You’re a fraud! No one is going to believe you! You don’t know what you’re doing!” isn’t something that you’re dealing with yourself. Research shows up to 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome in their life…70%!

You’re not alone.

Couple imposter syndrome with issues like the confidence gap, fears of public speaking and the leadership gap, and you have a perfect storm of what it feels like to woman. You don’t often get second chances at life or work situations, so what better way to “practice” that confidence than with improv? Here are three ways that improv for women makes magic happen:

Experimenting with Space

I firmly believe that space equals confidence. But what space do you want? Women take space differently than men, and when you’re working out what kind of space is YOURS, you don’t want to be influenced by another person who views space differently. Improv is all about experimenting: whether you want to practice an assertive speaking style or taking initiative, you’ve got a safe space with your fellow woman.

Collective Battles

You know who knows what it’s like to be a woman? Other women. When you’re in a space with other women, it feels a little easier to talk about things you’re dealing with in your personal and professional life. Couple that comfort with the team vibes and YES AND of improv and you’ve got a massive juggernaut of power to conquer those gaps and issue that women face every day.

Confidence Looks Like…

Confidence looks different on every single woman. It might look outgoing and assertive or powerful and soft-spoken – or even somewhere in between. When you’re in “real life” it’s hard to see what works and what doesn’t because you (should be!) busy living in the moment and the here and now. In improv, you can be in the here and now AND have the reflective aspect of the group helping you find your confidence – and a great group to bounce your ideas around.

Improv and teambuilding is hardly innovative: traditional icebreakers that usually embarrass more than they break ice are usually based in some improv slash drinking game. Since the 90s are long gone, improv for teambuilding should go the way of over plucked brows and butterfly clips – out.

Improv can do so much more for businesses than break the ice. Here are five reasons businesses are turning to improv for professional development:

  1. Interpersonal Communication Skills

    Folks in the office not communicating as well as they should? Improv might be the cure: not only do you practice specific skills like active listening, responding and conversation, it fine tunes your personal style. You get to practice interactions and moments without repercussion: when in life do you get the possibility of a do over like you do in an improv workshop?

  2. Public Speaking, Presentation and Pitch

    Improv is heightened reality: everything exists at a higher state with higher stakes. What better way to practice the stressful act of public speaking and pitching than in with the playful activities of improv? Not only do you get to rehearse, which is more than most people do before they speak (we see you!) you’ll be able to find nuances that you never knew existed. Sure, you’re not going to pitch like you’re in a western, but what if practicing like you’re in a western helps you slow down when you are explaining something?

  3. Feedback – Giving and Getting

    Reflective practice is imperative to a healthy company culture. How do you help people feel comfortable giving feedback when they are nervous about giving feedback? Improv involves group and partner activities and giving feedback should be part of every activity. We like to do Glows and Grows: what are you doing well, and what needs work?

  4. Conflict Resolution and Customer Service

    Yes, And is the magic conflict resolution phrase. Affirm what the person who is upset is saying – YES, I hear that you’re unhappy, YES, that flight was very delayed, YES, those nacho fries were cold – and then add to the conversation – AND I want to help you, AND can I offer you a voucher, AND, here’s a free order. Most of the time someone is upset, they want to be heard and not argued with – and most of the time when someone is upset, we say the dreaded word BUT: a confrontation building conjunction.

  5. Confidence

    “Follow the Fear” is a BIG improv principle – greatness lives on the other side of fear! Improv builds confidence not only by embodying a “go for it” attitude, it helps you think about what risk ACTUALLY is – is making a mistake or looking foolish going to end your life and career? Probably not, so why not suck it up and just go for it? Most people are too afraid – you’ll immediately look, and feel more confident!

Reposted from Thrive Global

You’ve probably had your share of sleepless nights worrying about your career or the fate of your business, especially during the harder times. But losing sleep is unlikely to help you improve your game or make you a better leader or team member.

To make the most out of your days, you’ll need to be intentional about getting a good night’s sleep. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t begin when you crawl into bed and start fluffing your pillow, trying to get comfortable and get your mind to stop racing through all the things you need to do. Getting a good night’s sleep actually starts long before bedtime.

Below, 15 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share some of the ways you can make sure you get the rest you need and recharge, especially when facing busy days ahead.

1. Do Some Light Stretches

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By Originally published 3/29/18:

Women’s History Month may be coming to an end, but women-owned businesses are just getting started.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 35.8 percent of businesses are owned by women. Yet many women business owners have a difficult time obtaining traditional bank financing for their companies. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s most recent findings on barriers to women’s entrepreneurship found that “only 4 percent of the total dollar value of all small business loans goes to women entrepreneurs.”

Fortunately, there are resources, including financial assistance, available to women business owners.

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Originally published March 22nd on She Owns It, by Jen Oleniczak Brown

Girl on girl crime isn’t simply something to laugh at from Mean Girls. It’s unfortunately very, very real. Recently, a female ‘friend’ of mine spun a connection I helped facilitate. The focus was when I connected them, the lack of diversity and women in a local organization, and her spin not only distracted from the problem, it proposed a solution that was very much in ideation. Her reasoning when confronted?

‘I had to.’

‘I couldn’t lose my relationship with [insert problematic organization].’

This is the same problematic organization whose owner asked (after I had rented space there for a two years at $150 – $300 a month) if I really owned my business, if people worked with me or I was still in ideation, if I hired a ghostwriter for the book I had just published, and if I had actually started my business – all in front of other business people and potential clients.

All by the same guy who had put other women in awkward and uncomfortable positions.

The same problem this friend and I were fighting to fix in the community.

Before this goes too far down the rabbit hole, this isn’t about that organization and its practices. This is about the girl on girl crime that happened and continues to happen.

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This post was originally published:

Giving a presentation can be nerve-wracking even to the most seasoned public speaker. When you’re already on edge, interruptions can be hard to handle.

We talked to more than a dozen people who give speeches or presentations regularly. This is how they recommend preventing interruptions during your next speech or how to deal with them if they do happen.

How to Prevent Interruptions in the First Place

Preparation is critical to giving a good speech. In the same way, it’s important to prepare your audience to hear it. These strategies will help your audience settle into listening mode and give you an air of authority.

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100 Women, 100 Hours

This post was originally published on BizGalz

Late last year I was about to present my company a sample curriculum at a national training session geared towards trainers. An acquaintance came up to me and said, “Oh, you look taller!” I laughed, knowing it wasn’t a height thing. In truthfulness, it was a confidence and owning my business thing. I told him as much – I went through a lot and was finally taking charge in my life, and it was showing all over the place.

And then his partner, a woman, laughed and said, “Oh, it’s her hair – and she’s an actress so she probably is wearing lifts in her shoes.” For some reason, that infuriated me – I was confident and that’s why I looked taller – I was carrying myself differently! I said this, and she scoffed again, and said, “Sure, Jen. Maybe it’s your outfit.”

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Originally published on as part of the YEC Women Community Voices.

by Jen Oleniczak Brown

“Never have I caused someone to get stitches.”

Remember this game? Never Have I Ever: that game you played at slumber parties when your mom closed the door or maybe at some party with your crush in high school. I remember it fondly, actually. Recently, those memories surfaced when a client told me that one of their senior staff members brought the now card game into an orientation lunch for a new senior staffer.

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Hi Everyone!

I feel like I JUST wrote one of these for our three-year, and again for our one-year. Guess what? We are now officially one of the few businesses that make it to FIVE years!

Looking back on the last five years is both exciting and a little sad. Exciting: We’ve done so much. We’ve reached over 25,000 students (and that was at the beginning of 2017!) we’ve expanded to additional locations, added classes, added teachers and friends and partners, worked with incredible clients, started a video series and just started prototyping activity cards. A little sad: We’ve had to pull classes for lower enrollment, we’ve held off on our LA location, we’ve lost a few great teachers and staff to other projects, pulled back from a video series and played a bit too safe with some risk.

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