Spread the Love: Help Marlene Get To Laughlin

Marlene AdamsHave you ever known someone who influenced you in a positive way and you had the opportunity to give a little of what they’d given you back to them?

That is how it is how I feel about my friend Marlene Adams.

At the age of 75, Marlene is TRULY an inspiration. She is well known at the hottest karaoke bars in the desert area not only for her singing and stage presence, but for her warmth and encouragement of EVERYONE who has the guts to get up there!

Knowing Marlene for several years now, has really helped me to envision my later life in a way that is positive. She has shown me that I will always be young as long as I continue to express myself creatively, share my creativity with others, nurture my friendships regularly and always make it a point to have fun.

Obviously, karaoke plays a big role in keeping Marlene young. For three years now, she has entered the TalentQuest karaoke contest in Laughlin. She is hoping to go again this year Sept. 16-23, but at present she lacks enough in funds to get there. “I have made so many friends from all over the country and Canada. It is like a family,” she says. “Winning is secondary to tthe friendships. (I) don’t know how many years I can travel to Laughlin because of funds(or lack) and age.”

I would really like to see my friend Marlene enter that TalentQuest contest this year, the year she turned 75. That’s why I’m starting this ChipIn to raise money for her trip. All she needs is $500 and with all the good energy she has put out there, I’m sure that we can funnel some of her good karma toward this ChipIn! Your help, an any amount, is VERY appreciated.

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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CEO’s Abandoning Control In Favor of Improv Skills

I came across an article today on a new trend in leadership.  It seems more and more CEO’s are abandoning their traditional command and control way of doing things in favor of a more team-oriented approach.

In fact, A recent IBM study of more than 1,700 chief executive officers from 64 countries and 18 industries worldwide  said they were looking for the following skills in employees:

  • collaboration (75 percent)
  • communication (67 percent)
  • creativity (61 percent)
  • flexibility (61 percent)

If these skills sound familiar to you, dear reader, it’s because these are the very skills improv concepts and games teach so well.

More and more companies are recognizing that knowledge sharing in all directions and seamless collaboration are necessary to stay current during these times of RAPID innovation.

Check out the article here.

(Photo by mdgovics)

 

 

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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Improv Principles Provide Essential Business Guidance For Difficult Times

Not long ago the idea of teaching improv performance principles to business leaders was considered radical.  After all, how could the antics of comedians like Steve Carrell, Amy Poehler or Jane Lynch have anything to do with running a company?

But because so many of us have had the experience of being transformed by these ideas we have evangelized the message and now almost every other week I see another article about how improv principles are being taught and used to help businesses.

Improv ideas that are making their way into corporate culture include:

* building on what others bring to a brainstorming session (Yes and..)

*making your fellow team members look good

* avoiding blocking ideas

* learning to be agile in thinking and business

* encouraging risk and failure

* learning from and building on mistakes

* learning to think quickly

* avoiding too much analysis

* an emphasis on creativity

Why are big and small companies alike learning to think like improv artists? Because the time in which we live, possibly more than any other time in history, calls for these skills.

A highly volatile economy; the almost dizzying changes to business brought on by rapidly evolving technology; and an entire world civilization that is desperately trying to find sure footing amidst all of this make new approaches to business and to life in general essential to our survival.

Improv principles give us comprehensive tools with which to navigate these choppy waters.  Don’t believe me? Check out the following videos and links.

The Second City Way of Better Brainstorming

Improv Works to Fuel Powerful Innovation

Do Improv Comedians Make the Best Design Thinkers?

The Seven Habits of Highly Innovative People

Creativity: A Skill That’s In Demand and Can Be Learned

5 Ways Improv Tools Can Deepen the Value of Your Conference, Meeting or Session

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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Ban Meetings that Make People Stupid

A recent study proves that meetings can actually lower your IQ. Seriously.

According to research led by scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the act of seeing someone who seems smarter while doing a presentation can make us feel stupid and get in the way of how our brains process information.

The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to find out how the brain processes information about social status in small groups and how perceptions of that status affect expressions of cognitive capacity.

They took individuals matched for IQ, placed them in small groups in which they were ranked by performance on cognitive tasks against each other and broadcast those rankings back to them.

The findings showed dramatic drops in the ability of some of the subjects to solve problems. The scientists have noted that the social feedback had a significant effect.

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, what these scientists are describing sounds a lot like performance anxiety – that feeling you get when thoughts about not measuring up invade.

What can possibly counteract this feeling of fear and help turn your meetings into productive, enjoyable experiences that foster collaboration and creation?

Encourage an environment of non-judgement

We do much of what we do with an eye toward how others will view it.  This activates parts of the brain that create caution and an avoidance of being noticed.

When we trust, it sends hormones such as oxytocin through the body, creating a sense of peace and connectedness.  We are able to let go of the judging mind (lateral prefrontal cortex), which allows other regions of the mind to become more active.   Creativity is supported and empowered when there is a sense of trust.

The ability to recognize where things can be improved is a skill that must be nurtured, but it must be done with love and a light touch.

In improv, for instance we use various methods of recognizing mistakes in  in a light, fun, non-punitive way. The fun, non-judgemental atmosphere encourages more participation, which leads to fewer mistakes, effective collaboration and creative thinking.

Encourage Averageness

In improv, in particular, it’s easy to be intimidated by what appears to be genius.  Just watch Robin Williams, Asssscat or Who’s Line Is It Anyway and you are likely to believe that all improvisors are super-humans with thinking and creating skills that are FAR above average.  However, the genius you see lies more in the improvisors’ willingness to follow improv rules and risk failure than anything else.

In fact, improv pioneer  Keith Johnstone is known for encouraging improvisors to  “Just be average.”  Think about it. If your goal is to just be average, you are not under pressure to perform and when that pressure is eliminated we are all MUCH more creative.

Make Others Look Good

Del Close, another legendary improv pioneer said an improvisor’s first obligation is to support his fellow players. Imagine what this would accomplish in a business meeting.

If, rather than comparing yourself to the rockstar colleague with the amazing presentation, you are finding ways to support him and make his ideas even better, you are not in the fear mode but in an open collaborative mode that keeps you positive and thinking more creatively. You are also more likely to experience a meeting that actually accomplishes something other than lowering IQ’s

Play

There’s evidence to support the idea that beginning a meeting through some form of play, is a great way to prepare the brain to think more effectively.

According to Dr. Stuart Brown founder of The National Institute for Play, “Nothing lights up the brain like play… Three dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe, the executive portion; helps contextual memory be developed; and, and, and…”

Play keeps your brain healthy and ready for learning. It helps you stay present oriented which makes you more productive and creative. It lowers your stress levels and keeps you from getting depressed.

I realize that envisioning a business meeting without judgement and competition; where participants are encouraged to be average and play may be quite a stretch.  But science is once again proving that our old tried and true methods may not be so true after all.  Isn’t it time we actually use the research it provides to create better ways of doing things?

For creativity, productivity, collaboration and even just for our own individual happiness, let’s ban meetings that make people stupid.

(Some of the information for this post was provided by neuroscience researcher, Andrea Sullivan.)

(Photo by Lord Jim)

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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Look Where You Want to Go, NOT at the Bush!

Once upon a time, I wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. So my husband bought me a dirt bike and took me off-road.

Ever a man of few words, he showed me how to shift and brake and told me the best way to learn was by doing. So I hopped on and shakily began to make my way around the popular desert dirt-biking location to which he had carted me, our 10-year-old son and our three dirt bikes.

I say shakily, because though I was well-armored with leather jacket, heavy jeans and a helmet, I felt extremely vulnerable and clueless atop what seemed to be a very loud and unpredictable metal beast of a bike.

As I made my way around, I noticed my son and husband having a good old time, scaling what I considered to be a very steep hill. Maternal worry crept into my thoughts, but I soon realized that managing my bike was going to take all of my concentration. So I put all my focus into balancing my shifting, accelerating and steering.

‘Though in my mind, I was trying to avoid this bush with every fiber of my being…. I ran right into it.’

After a short while, I started to notice that there seemed to be a lot more bushes than there had been when I’d first started. The thought occurred to me that I could very easily run into one of them. As I swerved around bush after bush, this thought, started to possess me.

Suddenly I was aimed straight for a massive bush. As I stared at it, my biggest fear was that I would run into it and both me and my bike would go flying, I might land on my head, sever my spinal chord and be a paraplegic for the rest of my life.

Though in my mind, I was trying to avoid this bush with every fiber of my being…. I ran right into it. Both me and my bike went flying and I landed on my head.

‘If you are staring at a bush, that’s where your bike will go.’

The good news is I didn’t end up a paraplegic. I got right up, with only a few bruises.

Later on, when I took a class to get my motorcycle license, I learned the mistake I had made that caused my crash. On a motorcycle, it’s imperative that you keep your eyes on the place where you want to go. Your bike will follow your gaze. So if you are staring at a bush, that’s where your bike will go.

It was a painful lesson, but one I’ve remembered and apply now, to just about everything.

As a speaker, I take time to envision the details of how I want my presentations to go off and be received. As a team-building activity facilitator, when I’m leading games that ask people to go beyond their comfort zone, I imagine them trying it and being delighted at their abilities and at the fun and laughter they experience.

‘I realize that often, I’m afraid to commit to my intended destination.’

I realize there are many places in my life where I’m still fixated on the bush. For instance, I focus on the difficulties in our family dynamics, not where things could go as we grow into the future.

I realize that often, I’m afraid to commit to my intended destination. I hear this internal voice desperately arguing that deep contemplation of the bush will protect me from running into it. I’m learning to turn the sound down on that voice. Because I’ve seen way too may bushes fade into nothing when I envisioned what I truly wanted to happen.

I still live in a world FULL of big, fat, menacing bushes. But I’m a much more confident rider these days because I’m spending most of my time looking at where I’m trying to go.

I don’t expect that means I’ll never again fall on my face. But I think it will happen less often. And when it does, I expect that I will pick myself up and be stronger in the long run because THAT’S where I’m looking.

(Photo by Michael Heidenreich)

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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5 Positive Psychology Tips For Achieving Success Via Happiness

Recently, my friend Judy Kucharuk turned my attention to a TED talk given by Shawn Achor, CEO of positive psychology consulting group Good Think, Inc, in which he laid out five simple habits that are proven to make humans happier and more successful.

In the talk, Achor explains, “Ninety percent of your happiness is predicted not by your external world, but by the way your brain processes your external world.”

So the old idea that if I work harder, I’ll be more successful and if I’m more successful then I’ll be happier, is backward. Positive psychology researchers have found that if, instead, you raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present then their brain experiences what’s known as a “happiness advantage” – intelligence, creativity, energy all rise and every business outcome improves.

Success doesn’t bring happiness. But happiness is much more likely to bring success.

Here are the five steps that Achor defines. You can watch the video of his entertaining talk below.

1 – Write down 3 new things you are grateful for everyday

Doing this for 21 days in a row rewires your brain to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative but for the positive first.

2 – Journal

Journaling about 1 positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.

3- Exercise

This teaches the brain that behavior matters.

4 – Meditation

Meditation allows the brain to get over the cultural ADHD you create by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows the brain to focus on the task at hand.

5 – Random or conscious acts of kindness

Write one positive email every time you open your inbox praising or thanking someone in your social support network.

(Photo by Kelly Finnamore)

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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How Making Others Look Good Leads You to Success

Del Close, a true improv legend, was fond of saying that the first responsibility of any improvisor is to make his or her fellow players look good. I have found this idea to be invaluable when it comes to business.

Applying this idea to my network of business relationships and friends has smoothed and facilitated partnerships; created brand ambassadors and opened doors I never knew existed.  It really is the basis for most of my strategy on social media and as a result I have successfully launched several new projects and been offered several paid jobs that I’ve enjoyed.

But it’s so contrary to the traditional approach to marketing, many people still have difficulty believing it works.

Well let me give a couple of examples of how it has worked for me.

* I got into a habit of retweeting (that’s tweeting a previously posted tweet while giving credit to the original source) a lot on Twitter. When people would thank me, I often took the opportunity to start a conversation that turned into a friendship. On several occasions this alone resulted in such positives as: loyal brand ambassadors who promoted the content I put out; referrals and recommendations.

* I offered to contribute guest posts or a series of posts for others on their blogs at no charge to them in order to help them promote something they were trying to do. This, of course, strengthened several of my online friendships and in one instance, it led to a side job that has been quite lucrative for me.

* In one instance, I had a new online friend who posted a new headshot on Google+. It was a gorgeous picture and I commented and +1′d it.  That led to an offer of a speaking engagement.

* In another instance I admired a blogger on whose posts I often would comment. We met at an event where he experienced a session I led. He recommended that I lead a session at another subsequent event. I later helped him promote a webinar. All of which led to a longer term position as a social media manager.

* Another time someone I had retweeted a few times but had never even had an online conversation with, recommended me as a keynote speaker for an event.

Now I’m not saying that doing nice things for others is all that it takes to be successful. Obviously you need to work hard, take some risks, create good content that shows people what you can do, etc. But making other people look good helps A LOT!

For more on this subject, check out this blog post on Entrepreneur that my friend Dennis Shiao recently shared with me. It’s called “Forget networking. How to be a connector.

(Photo by hbppics)

 

 

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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Improv Helps Alzheimers Patients

 

While the use of improv as  an effective personal and business development tool continues to rise, one of the most exciting developments I’ve seen is it’s use as a rehabilitation tool.

Recently my friend Shannon Assion posted a link on my Facebook page to a CBS news story about how one experienced performer is using improv games to help a group of Alzheimer’s patients.

The group, made of people experiencing the early stages of the Alzheimers disease, is benefiting from an improvisational theater class facilitated by Linda Gelman, Founder of the New York City comedy troupe,  Chicago City Limits.

Gelman uses a combination of word games and role playing to help participants remember the roles they used to play and share stories about their lives with others who understand what they are going through.

Gelman works with participants and their caregivers to revive old memories, as recent memories become more difficult to recall. Laughter and the feeling of community that members of the group share also have proven benefits.  Social and cognitive stimulation has been associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzhiemers and may help ease depression in Alzheimers patients.

I invite you to click on the link and check out the video. Watching it warmed my heart and made me very happy to be sharing improv with non-performers.  We have only begun to scratch the surface of what these tools can do.

(Screen shot of CBS News graphic)

 

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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5 Ways to Break Your Negative Cycle in 2012

We’ve all been there.  You’re stuck in a bad relationship, or your having trouble finding employment or you dream of doing something that you just don’t have the guts to try.

Sometimes it’s a phase in life that we can’t do anything about. But more often that negative cycle is a mindset we’ve settled into that blocks us from what we dream of achieving.

Breaking the cycle isn’t easy. But small steps can eventually lead to the change we seek. Here are a few small but powerful steps to get the ball rolling.

Commit to Doing Something Your Bad At

“I’m an awful singer.” ” I have two left feet.” “I’m not technically inclined.” Judgmental comments we say to ourselves can give excellent clues about what will offer us the most opportunity for growth. Take notice of these thoughts, particularly if the comment regards a skill or talent you’ve always admired in others.

Allowing ourselves to be bad at things, gives us the opportunity to get good.  It follows that the ability to be patient and accept being bad at things makes it more likely that we will eventually be proficient at many more things.

So take those voice or dance lessons; jump in and try something new on your computer or learn a new language.  Just learning to be ok with being bad is a great feat in itself and imagine the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have if you actually achieve proficiency!

Collaborate

Bringing new ideas and new blood into your work environment can be just the thing for breaking out of a rut and collaborating on projects with others has never been easier.

Social media, skype, conference tools such as Google Hangouts and collaboration tools such as Google docs, among many others, are making team projects much easier. They make it simple to meet and work with people from all over the world. 

Yes! Your Ideas

You have a great idea for an app but you just don’t have the nerve to even attempt to make it happen.  Why? I used to tell myself that if it’s a good idea, it’s probably already been done. It took me years to change that one extremely destructive thought. But once I got the ball rolling, it was amazing how many of my ideas led to success.

In improv class, I was instructed to Yes! my ideas. Getting into the habit of just supporting myself, without looking for approval or support from others first, was truly liberating. Sure, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and do a little analyzing. But too much analysis leads to stagnation. Yessing your ideas, whether they succeed or fail, is much more likely to lead to growth. (And success is nearly always much closer than you think!)

Learn to Observe Your Thoughts

As noted in my example above, just one destructive thought can keep you from leading a truly fulfilling life. So it follows that removing or countering such thoughts can unleash great potential. But no such changes can be made unless we are able to see what needs changing.

There are many ways to develop your inner thought observer. The first step is realizing that you are not your thoughts.  Some effective ways to get in touch with your true self and begin to notice your thoughts as separate from you are: meditation, yoga, silence, journaling and staying present oriented.

Reading books that guide you in this process can be of great help as well.  Some that I’ve found helpful are: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda; A Course In Miracles; Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes Jr.; The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle; The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer; and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra.

Stop Taking Things So Seriously

Imagine what you could do at this very minute if you truly believed that nothing is the end of the world. You’d probably take a few more risks, you’d almost certainly laugh a lot more and take more joy in life.

Wearing life lightly, as they say, has these and many other advantages.  The gambler who can afford to lose is often more likely to win so lowering the stakes can really help. You can do this by refusing to believe that losing is the end of the world.  I try hard to visualize success, but I also visualize being ok with not succeeding.

I also try hard to play, laugh and not judge myself or others. “Everyone has the right to make an ass of themselves,” as Ruth Gordon says in Harold & Maude. Also, “L-I-V-E LIVE! Otherwise you’ve got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”

(Photo by sosarem)

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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Clear, Complete & On Time: A Business Communication Game

I was recently asked to develop a fun activity that would help a large group of builders understand the importance of placing orders that are clear, complete and on time.

I have to say that brainstorming about this topic with my Eventprov colleague Jeanette Knight, made me realize how crucial the ability to communicate clearly is in business.

Think about it.  The customer goes to a service provider and has to clearly communicate exactly, among other things, what service he or she wants, how much he or she is willing to spend and when the service must be completed.

The service provider must make sense of all of this, put it into his own terminology, decide what supplies he will need and then order a complete and clear list in plenty of time to receive them and provide the service by the date the customer expects.

Developing skills such as remaining present oriented, reading body language and establishing eye contact can make such a difference in your ability to communicate clearly and of course there are many games that will help to demonstrate this.

One of my favorite games that helps to develop your communication skills is Pictionary.  But we wondered what a game of Pictionary would be like if we focused a little more on the skill of listening.

We call our version “Clear, Complete & On Time”. It demonstrates the importance of clear descriptive language used efficiently, listening, and observing all under a deadline to communicate and create a desired team outcome.

Clear, Complete & On Time

This game can be played with as few as 6 players or as many as 25 to 30 players in a game show format. The following is an outline of how it can be used as an event activity.

SETUP: Theater seating with an aisle down the middle.  A stage with large white board on an easel. A podium for the announcer. Prizes for winners.

Game show music playing and everyone is welcomed as they enter. Each must write their name on a piece of paper that is put into a bowl (or the names can be collected in advance and put into a bowl.) Each must also write the name of an object that is EASY to draw on another piece of paper that is placed in a different bowl.

Once everyone is seated, announcer in a very excited game show way ala “The Price is Right” draws names out of bowl and says “John Smith come on down!” Until there are 21-30 players.

Players are placed into groups of three – a describer, a drawer and an observer are chosen.

* Describer chooses a word from collection of paper and then must describe how to draw the item without naming it.

* The drawer must draw based on this description.

* The observer must guess what the drawer is drawing.

Winning team is team who’s observer comes closest to naming the object in the shortest amount of time.

Debrief and prizes.

What did you learn ? How does this relate to what you do?

How does this activity relate to placing clear orders?

How does this game relate to delivering components on time and complete?

What can you learn from the most successful teams?

What contributed to making the most complete drawings?

(Photo by jeff schuler)

 

Jenise Fryatt

Jenise Fryatt is the founder and chief trainer of Eventprov.

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