Hey, it’s the last day of Public Speaking week!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the amazing public speakers we’ve already brought your way, and now we’re finishing up strong with Mike Ganino, Jeff’s very own best friend!
Mike has spent over 20 years in the hospitality, travel, and tech industry helping to grow iconic brands like ChowNow, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Lettuce Entertain You, Yum Brands, Pressed Juicery, and Protein Bar. He’s trained and performed improvisation at the world-famous Second City, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and Improv Olympics.
Now, he delivers keynote speeches, leads workshops on all the things that drive radical cultures: collaboration, leadership, vision and values creation, human resources, and customer service.
And in this episode, he’s gonna talk to us about how to use improv to improve your company culture. Enjoy!
- Running time: 48:50
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(5:02) – Who do you want to educate here? Describe them the best you can.
This is for is anyone who has a strong desire to be a great manager. Some people think that management and leadership are two different things, but they’re the same. This is for someone who says there’s a deeper way to connect at work, and I want to find out how to get that relationship.
(7:22) – How do we go about creating some sort of a structure?
I don’t think any of this stuff is in a book…this is about learning where connection comes from and gaining awareness of it. This is about listening to what other people are saying, listening to yourself, and understanding it. I frame this by the idea that we are victims of this default thinking; it can help us to have these paradigms to play with. I try to remind people that this default thinking is wrong and to understand that they have a choice to decide if something is true.
(12:44) – Do you mean that default thinking is always wrong, or it is an impediment to being able to see things in a new way and seeing your options?
I think it’s often wrong, it can be an impediment to moving forward.
(13:53) – For the executive whos trying to go into a meeting and be prepared, isn’t improv introducing an element of chaos into what would otherwise be a well oiled, well rehearsed presentation? How is it helpful?
First, rehearsing makes sure you are really comfortable with your content. The rehearsal process for the executive or speaker, is helpful because it allows you to know your stuff so well for when you go live.
This brings me to my second point because you don’t know what’s going to happen when you go live. In the professional speaking world, you might have less time or something might happen on stage, and being prepared for this can be really helpful.
Third, if rehearsing is helpful and if everything goes wrong and I need to be prepared, how can I prepare for it? The first rule of improv is to always agree, you could say “yes, and…” to agree and then contribute. Improv helps you to figure out a framework or a couple of ideas on what might help you to connect to what’s really going on.
(17:09) – How does that translate over into the world of business by using “yes and” in team dynamics?
Saying yes isn’t about saying “Yes, you can do that.” It’s about saying “Yes, I hear you.” If you think about meetings, how often is it that no one really hears what everyone is saying? In that context, saying yes is not about agreeing to something, it’s about saying you hear them and see that they want to do that.
The “and” is about contributing. In a business setting, saying and is about creating a bridge, saying “How can I help you do this?” You’ll often get to a place that’s entirely different than before.
I usually see a lot of “Yes, but…” that shuts down ideation and creativity and finding a solution to something. “Yes and” is really, essentially to give great customer service. For me, using “Yes and” allows me to respect myself while also listening to the customer.
(24:33) – Imagine a company with a bad culture. People aren’t excited to come to work. They think the communication has been broken down and there isn’t a lot of trust between them and their leaders. What’s the worst thing the leader can do to try to correct this and then walk me through what your process to fix it.
I think the worst thing to do is blame everyone else for it. If the people in the company are unhappy and disengaged, it isn’t the fault of a hundred employees.. They aren’t the common denominator, the worst thing you can do is to blame them for it.
(28:25) – Where would you go to work then? How would you start?
You need to really listen. There are four steps, you don’t have to follow them in order or even do them all, but they are:
- Be obvious
- Use everything
I’d do some sessions to see what’s really going on. I’d try to agree, let them know that you heard them and try to see what you can do. Find where the employees feel like they aren’t being listened to.
Next, I’d share what I’m seeing and contribute, create a narrative about what’s happening, and be obvious (or very clear) about what I heard and how we can use everything to fix it.
(33:05) – What do you do if you meet a team that has no hope?
I understand the idea that some people just want to come to work and collect a check. I think the reality is these people do want to be more engaged. I don’t believe that people come to work and think “I want to sit here for 8 hours a day and be really bored.” I think that just happens to them. So, in this case I would acknowledge that they aren’t into this and try to find out what’s going on.
Sometimes it’s about getting conversation going thats productive. One exercise I do is get everyone to write down on sticky notes what they think is wrong, then I would put everybody’s comments on the wall, have people star the ones they agree with, then talk about what that means.
(38:55) – How as a leader can you use improv to communicate that an employee is performing poorly, not to make them feel bad or get them to leave, but to help make them better? Start with what the worst thing you can do.
The worst thing you can do is ignore it. Even if you don’t know how to do it, address the issue so the person knows what’s going on. I think ignoring it is the worst thing to do because you have helpful information for this person, you shouldn’t keep it from them.
I would start with the performance of the person. Acknowledge the fact that you care about this person, and then offer your feedback. Then talk about it, and agree on a future story of vision; be clear about what great looks like and create some tips on how to get there.
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SPECIAL THANKS TO
Caroline, our Producer.
Thanks for everything you do to make this show happen.
Ray, our Audio Engineer.
Thanks for cleaning up our voices and adding all that sexy production value.
Stranger Things Vol. 2 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack) on Spotify.
This episode was powered by Stranger Things Vol. 2. To be clear, they didn’t pay us any money, but their moody synth jams did keep my energy up while writing this post.