Bob Kulhan, a veteran improv comedian and instructor who also happens to be an adjunct professor at Duke and Columbia Universities, has built a thriving consultancy, Business Improv, by providing experiential training to companies such as Ford, American Express and Verizon Wireless.
Kulhan learned at the feet of comedy royalty such as Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, but he also draws on cognitive psychology and behavioral economics to teach people how to think on their feet. The key principle in modern improv is “Yes, and”—a gesture of trust and acceptance that enables a comedian (or businessperson) to build on what they’ve been given. Its contrast, “Yes, but,” kills the comedy, or in business, stifles communication and creativity. “The same skills that make for exceptional comedic improvisation—intense listening, focus, energy, engagement, teamwork, authenticity, adaptability—are skills that any person can utilize to positively impact the workplace.”
Getting to “Yes And”
By Bob Kulhan with Chuck Crisafulli
January; Stanford Business Books; $30
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.