The Improv Is No Joke Podcast

Welcome to the Improv Is No Joke podcast hosted by Peter Margaritis, AKA The Accidental Accountant and author of the book 'Improve Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. This podcast series is also available on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.

Ep. 98 – Scott Palmer | Improvisation in the Workplace: Disarming Angry Customers & Remembering How to Communicate

Scott Palmer is the Executive Director of Adult Education at Butler Technology and Career Development Schools, and he joins me to discuss how the principles of improvisation have helped him create a collaborative environment with his team, his students, and the institution.

 

Scott has been in adult education for more than two decades, and he loves this work because he is able to help others realize lifelong goals, whether that be pursuing a degree, completing a certificate, or getting a job.

 

Scott has always utilized improvisation, subconsciously, but over the last couple years, he’s been making a point of using the principles of improvisation to consciously improve his communication.

 

Improv & Angry Customers

 

Scott gets ample opportunity to practice because, like many of us, he deals with angry customers on a regular basis. The practice seems to be paying off, because he’s learned a lot!

 

When a customer comes in angry, they usually just want to be heard. However, a natural reaction to an angry person is getting defensive – but that’s the worst thing you can do with an angry customer.

 

Scott’s goal is to disarm the angry person, without them knowing they’re being disarmed. He does this by listening, expressing empathy, and asking questions that give the other person an opportunity to be part of a solution (e.g. What would you like to see happen?). This conversation is about them, not you.

 

“Being grateful, the simple act of saying thank you and saying please, and showing respect through communication goes a very long way, especially when working with students and customers.”

 

You don’t have to like them to effectively communicate or improvise with someone – but you do have to respect them.

 

“People have forgotten how to communicate. The technology has allowed us to become lazy and insincere in the ways that we communicate, and I would suggest that we, as people, are suffering as a result.”

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Resources:

  • Check out Butler Technology and Career Development Schools at ButlerTech.org

Improv Is No Joke is produced by Podcast Masters

Ep. 97 – Kay Frances | Lighten Up & Stress Less with America’s Funniest Stressbuster

Kay Frances is a motivational humorist who has shared her message to “lighten up, stress less and take care of ourselves” for over 30 years. Kay is “America’s Funniest Stressbuster” – and she even wrote the book on stress, The Funny Thing about Stress; A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life!

 

When it comes to humor, Kay is the real deal. She performed as a professional stand up comedian for many years and appeared on a number of national television and radio programs. Plus, as you’ll hear in this episode, I was laughing throughout the entire interview!

 

But Kay isn’t just funny; she uses humor to put her examples in a context that is relatable to everyone in the audience. However, when she is discussing ways to reduce stress, she is very serious and to the point – and this ability to make you laugh, while remaining serious about the message, is what elevates her to the level of a great humorist (and stressbuster).

 

For the accountants out there, this is an especially stressful time of year – but Kay has some advice:

 

  • Knowing how stressful this period of the year will be, it is even more important to let go of stress about things that don’t matter.
  • Self-care is more important than ever. We all know that we operate better on a good night’s sleep than three hours of sleep. Eating a bag of Cheetos may sound better than a salad, but you will feel and function better after the salad.
  • You have to make time for relaxing (without compromising your self-care). Even though it may not feel like you have time to wind down, making time for it will actually give you more energy throughout the rest of your day.
  • Learn to say NO. You’ll have more time in the other 8 months of the year, but you have to protect your time during the busy season; you have to make yourself a priority.
  • Be optimistic! The American Heart Association found that, all things being equal, people with an optimistic spirit have better heart health, a stronger immune system, and a decreased risk of stroke.

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Resources:

Ep. 96 – Bob Pacanovsky | Develop a Black Tie Mindset & Discover the Power of Hospitality

Bob Pacanovsky is what you might call a “Wow!” expert – with 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, primarily in the hospitality space, he has learned how create engagement, retention, and loyalty with customers, employees, and clients. Bob took that expertise and founded The Black Tie Experience, which helps companies and leaders create that Black Tie Experience for their customers and employees.

The black tie is much more than a uniform – it’s a mindset. You don’t actually have to have a black tie on to deliver a Black Tie Mindset, you just have to create an impression that LASTS:

  • Look
  • Act
  • Speak
  • Tact (or how you behave)
  • Serve

We tend to rush to the service part because we want to create an unbelieve customer or employee experience, but “we have to know how to look the part and act the part before we can actually serve the part.”

One of the most important things to keep in mind – and this can be difficult – when working with other people, whether they’re your customers or employees, is that it’s not about you as a host or leader, it’s about them.

“If you have a mindset of making people feel differently about your product, your service, and themselves than they ever have before, then you’re really living the Black Tie Mindset.”

The 4 Principles to Create a Black Tie Experience:

  1. A Culture of Welcome – Create a welcoming culture (not only for your employees, but also for your customers or guests). What is the culture, or the atmosphere, like in your company?
  2. The Way of Doings Things – What is your company’s way of doings things? Disney, Apple, and Starbucks all have their own unique way of doings things, and it affects how you experience their brands. However, most companies aren’t spending enough time training their employees to wow people.
  3. Impact Points – These are the subconscious impressions that people make about your business before, during, or after they purchase something. For example, what impression does your website make, or what does your restroom look like?
  4. Put Yourself in your Customer’s Shoes – What does your customer see, hear, touch, or smell when they come into your business, or interact with you online?

You’ve probably heard me say in the past that we’re all in the people business, even if we’re accountants – Bob takes it a step farther, arguing that we’re all in the hospitality business… and it makes a lot of sense!

The definition of hospitality is, “The art of making that personal connection with someone,” and based on that definition, aren’t we all in the hospitality business, first and foremost?

So yes, we are in the people business, and we do need to focus on customer and employee experiences and retention, but we can’t excel at those things if we forget about the power of hospitality.

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Resources:

Improv Is No Joke is produced by Podcast Masters

Ep. 95 – Kristen Rampe | Another CPA Who’s All Things Improv Shares a New Training Tool for Speaking Success

Kristen Rampe,  Founder of Kristen Rampe Consulting, returns to the show to discuss how CPE educators can get the best out of their presenters and subject matter experts and a new training tool for those who want to build confidence when speaking in front of a crowd: PowerPoint Improv!

 

If you want to get better at speaking, this episode is for you.

 

Kristen conducted an excellent breakout session during the 2018 CPE Educators Conference, in which a group of us discussed how we can get more engagement from our audiences.

 

One of the things she talked about was giving the different personas in the room what they need – but what does it really mean to know your audience?

 

You need an understanding of…

 

  • Who’s in the room
  • What their background is
  • Why they’re there
  • What they want to learn

 

If you don’t know who they are and what they want, it’s going to be a lot harder to provide value or engage them. Remember: in any speaking engagement, it’s not about you, it’s about the audience.

 

PowerPoint Improv

Kristen recently discovered this new kind of improv, which she’s calling Slide Deck Improv, and I’m fascinated by the concept. It sounds like excellent training for any professional speakers, or just anyone who wants more confidence in front of crowds. Plus, it sounds like fun!

 

The premise is simple:

 

  1. After some basic improv education and warm ups, participants get on a stage with a slide deck that they’ve never seen before.
  2. In proper improv fashion, they get a topic from the audience.
  3. The participant gives a presentation on that topic!

 

Kristen says most people go into this a little bit nervous, naturally, but then they realize just how much they can do, how much they know, and how many stories they can tell.


Check out kristenrampe.com/slide-deck-improv to learn more, and to see a video of Slide Deck Improv in action.

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Resources:

 


Improv Is No Joke is produced by
Podcast Masters

Ep. 94 – Chris Loehrer: Creativity, Collaboration, & Innovation in Traditional Business Environments

Chris Loehrer is a right-brain person living in a left-brain world, meaning he is extremely creative, has a BFA in animation and film, but currently operates in a leadership role within The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA)… not exactly what you might expect from a creative type.

In this episode, Chris offers a unique perspective on the topic of leadership and shares the challenges he faces with getting some of his ideas across and accepted in a numbers-driven, linear thinking business environment.

Chris is the Studio Operations Manager at OSBA. He was hired to create innovative products and services for membership across all departments, as well as communication plans that tell the story of membership benefits and the value of membership.

However, the bulk of his work in recent months has been implementing new and innovative delivery methods for getting those products to members. In the process, he works with many different teams.

When working with different teams, Chris takes a “Minnesota nice” approach. He believes that we don’t have to be anything but friendly in our teams; it won’t serve you to act upon knee-jerk emotional responses, or for leaders to approach the team with a “this is the way it is” attitude.

A team doesn’t operate effectively, in the long run, that way.

The best teams are full of learners, Chris says, especially creative learners – people who can see beyond an obstacle and find previously unseen avenues for success are critical.

And while lawyers and accountants may not immediately consider themselves creative right now, Chris says, “People don’t consider themselves creative until they are given the opportunity to be creative.”

Like in improv, there are no wrong answers when trying to collaborative solve a problem; bad ideas are just bridges to good ideas. So fostering an environment where new ideas are not only accepted but encouraged creates more opportunities to solve problems.

“I’ve learned through fantastic leaders that active listening and thoughtful acceptance of what you’re hearing from other team members is a big deal, and you don’t have to be the person in the room who has the answer all the time.”

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Resources:

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters