Press & Reviews for GETTING TO “YES AND”

Can Playing This Card Game Save Your Hopeless Meetings?

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Want to have better brainstorms and faster meetings? Reshuffle everyone’s status and rank.
by BOB KULHAN for Fast Company

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 9.45.30 AMStatus is powerful. Once a team gets working, any initial willingness to communicate can go right out the window if nobody feels comfortable disagreeing with the VP at the end of the table, or the new junior salesperson who might have something to say.

But our positions within a company are actually a combination of rank and status. Your job title and the responsibilities that go with it comprise your rank. But your status is given to you by other people, or taken away by other people (either to your face or behind your back). Most of the time, people with a high rank are granted a great deal of status by coworkers—that’s the nature of a corporate ladder. Read More


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Adapted from “Getting to “Yes, And”: The Art of Business Improv” by Bob Kulhan, (Stanford University Press, (c) 2017 Robert Kulhan).

logo_100_BOne of the keys to success in any business lies in the ability to generate a tremendous amount of ideas, because when it comes down to it, almost every organization is, at heart, in the idea business. This is not a revolutionary concept. However, what often is overlooked—or simply misunderstood—is that the generation of great ideas is a numbers game. Businesses ostensibly are always looking for killer ideas that will boost profits and cut costs; ideas that streamline processes and maximize investments; and ideas that will have significant impact in the marketplace. To get to those killers, though, a business may have to cough up a mess of ideas that are ridiculous, budget busting, unusable, or simply awful.

A business that runs on the assumption that it will come up with a great idea exactly when it needs one is severely limiting, if not deluding, itself. That business is most likely achieving “greatness” by simply lowering the standard of what counts as great. The fact is, to get to unimpeachably great ideas—sharp, innovative, outright brilliant ones—you have to come up with an ugly pile of horrible ones, too (Osborn, Alex, “Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving,” 3rd ed., Creative Education Foundation Press, 1963). By way of analogy, think about the old process of gold panning. As you might remember from elementary school studies of the California Gold Rush, panning is the art of extracting gold from a river by scooping up sediment with a large pan. Panning is a sloppy, difficult process, and it can get results.

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10 Keys To A Business Culture That Can Adapt Quickly

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by Marty Zwilling, Veteran Start-up Mentor; Executive (for Huffington Post)

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 10.27.46 AMAs an entrepreneur, you have to improvise and adapt quickly to survive and thrive in the face of the unpredictable challenges of the market. But this improvisation a not a comedy, although there are some distinct correlations, in relation to reacting, adapting, and communicating. In business and in comedy, you win most often with “Yes, and …” instead of “Yes, but ….”

I definitely learned a few things about how to improvise effectively in business from a new book, “Getting to ‘Yes And’: The Art of Business Improv,” by Bob Kulhan, who is a master of the art in both comedy and business. Kulhan is a professor at the Duke University School of Business, but was trained in improvisation by some comedy greats, including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

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Recommended Reading: Top 17 Creative Leadership Book Picks For 2017

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By David Slocum (for Forbes)

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 10.11.26 AM2017 is opening with a stack of new and helpful books on technology, transformation, and the human and business challenges faced by creative leaders. Here is a list of 17 recommended titles.

Getting to ‘Yes And’: The Art of Business Improv

Bob Kulhan with Chuck Crisafulli, Stanford Business Books , January 11

An actor, former teacher at Chicago’s famed Second City troupe, and now an adjunct professor at Duke and Columbia business schools shares insights from comedic improvisation for better business performance. Kulhan’s lively guide to developing listening, focus, energy, engagement, adaptation, and decision-making skills provides leaders fresh ways to drive positive change in today’s fast-paced workplace. Read More

The Joke That Makes or Breaks You at Work

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Using humor at the office can boost your status, but only the right kind of humor
Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 12.47.06 PMColleagues who make others laugh are seen as more self-confident, competent and higher in status, according to a series of experiments by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School. This conclusion, compelling for the many people who have spent on clothes, cars, credentials or coaching to burnish their image, has gotten some understandable attention recently.

Laughs are a risky path to prestige, however: Tell just one inappropriate joke and your status among peers hits the skids.

Humor is often seen as a sign of intelligence, and delivering a joke well requires sensitivity to others’ moods and tastes. John Thorne often uses self-deprecating humor to elevate his employees’ status among clients. As president of Automotive Events, a Cleveland-based producer of car-related promotions, he’s often the one who wins new clients. Read More

Associations Now Review of “Getting to ‘Yes And'”

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Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 5.13.35 PMYou won’t find giggles in this script for mastering business improvisation by Second City alumnus Bob Kulhan. A skills-focused walkthrough to “allow serious people to accomplish serious business in the most effective way,” the book shows how improv draws on communication science like behavioral decision theory.

Using Kulhan’s “yes, and” approach, leaders create “mental hiccups in the business mind” that upgrade reacting, adapting, and communicating to higher levels of critical thinking. One key: teaching our brain to postpone natural leaps to judgment in favor of “unconditional acceptance.”

With advice from Kulhan—now an adjunct professor at Duke and Columbia universities—and practice, you can improvise better negotiations, brainstorming, and that meeting with your moody boss.

It’s an admission ticket to a performance of you at your best.

Read More – Reading List: Getting to “Yes And”

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The Art of Business Improv

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 11.12.40 AMBob 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.” Read More