Eileen Kahana is the Founder and CEO of a Chicago nonprofit, Room to Improv, a non-profit dedicated to raising the self-esteem of students, veterans, and seniors, and, ultimately, empowering them to enrich their lives. It teaches them how to explore, embrace, and adopt the techniques of improvisation into everyday living in order to motivate individuals to care about themselves and others, make healthy choices, effective decisions, and use their confidence to overcome their fears.
Improv had always been a part of Eileen, but it was only recently that she discovered its name and process. After retiring from an accomplished career as a teacher and mentor from the Chicago Public School System, Eileen challenged herself to take an improv class at the Second City. That one class turned into a two-year, life-changing experience, and inspired her to create Room2Improv. The more she took, the more she realized that everyone needed an improv class. And she realized that this is what Chicago Public School children need.
She thought about all the things improv can bring to people: confidence, being in the moment, public speaking, team building, supporting your partner, and being in a place where everything you say and do is correct. These were all things students needed. We raise kids at home and at school constantly telling them “no” and what they are doing wrong. Why would anybody want to be in an environment that is not supportive? Improv was an environment needed in school.
Eileen started this nonprofit, Room2Improv, that’s dedicated to raising the self-esteem of students and, ultimately, empowering them to live enriching lives. Her goal is to make improv available to those who wouldn’t think to do it and to those who can’t afford it.
There can be a lot of pushback about introducing improv in schools, though. Besides the misunderstanding that improv is just comedy, and that it’s not important, there is the issue of budgets. The arts are continuously being cut across the board, not just in Chicago, but in many school systems. But this is so important, because a well-rounded student needs the arts.
No matter what neighborhood or school, the needs are the same. Students have a human need for confidence, which motivates people to care about themselves. And once you care about yourselves, it trickles down into caring for others. It’s the fundamental human need of being validated, encouraged, and accepted.
The goal of Room2Improv is to make improv available to everyone. To make this possible, to give space to visit schools who don’t have the budget to spend on the arts, they rely on donations and fundraisers to give access to as many people as possible.
Please visit room2improv.com. There are some great videos there talking about their mission and some of their accomplishments. If you keep scrolling down, there’s an area for giving. If you feel compelled to do so, please consider donating. This is a cause that is making a huge difference in children and in the military. Let’s help Eileen reach this goal of bringing improv to as many people as possible.
- Learn more at: room2improv.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/Room2Improv
- YouTube: youtube.com/user/room2improv
Eileen Kahana: [00:00:00] When you have self-confidence and good self-esteem, you’re not going to allow anyone to bully you, and you don’t need to be a bully.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:20] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:05] Welcome to Episode 39. And my very special guest today is Eileen Kahana, who’s the Founder and CEO of a Chicago nonprofit, Room to Improv. After retiring from an accomplished career as a teacher and mentor from the Chicago Public School System, Eileen challenged yourself to take an improv class at the Second City. That one class turned into a two-year, life-changing experience, and inspired her to create Room2Improv.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:33] Now, the mission of Room2Improv is dedicated to raising the self-esteem of students, veterans, and seniors, and, ultimately, empowering them to enrich their lives. By teaching them how to explore, embrace, and adopt the techniques of improvisation into everyday living, we motivate individuals to care about themselves and others, make healthy choices, and effective decisions, and use their confidence to overcome their fears.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:00] I met Eileen this summer when attending a two-day improv workshop in Chicago taught by Jay Sukow. Now, Jay has been a guest on this podcast before and was Eileen’s first improv instructor at the Second City. And as part of Room2Improv’s team, he is Eileen’s improv mentor. Also, Annie Conderacci, who’s also been a guest on my podcast, sits on the board of Room2Improv. The more I learned
about the outstanding work she does, I had to have her on my podcast, so she could share her story and mission with you, my audience.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:34] After you listen to this episode, and you feel compelled to donate to Room2Improv, please go to www.room2improv.com, and scroll down to the gift section, and donate whatever you can to this wonderful cause.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:50] Now, before you get to the interview, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite family radio of podcasts. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Fact with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com. And you can also listen to this episode now on iHeart Radio.
Announcer: [00:03:20] This podcast is part of the C-suite Radio Network: Turning the volume up on business.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:27] Now, a word from our sponsor.
Sponsor: [00:03:30] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at email@example.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.
Peter Margaritis: [00:04:19] Now, let’s get to the interview with Eileen Kahana.
Peter Margaritis: [00:04:25] Hey, welcome back, everybody. I’m very excited about my guest today, Eileen Kahana. I met her—up to taping of this, I met her about a month, a little over a month ago. I attended a two-day improv improper intensive workshop in Chicago. And I met Eileen, and she has such a wonderful story that I had to have her as a guest on this podcast. First and foremost, Eileen, thank you very much for taking time to be part of this podcast. I’m so looking forward to our conversation.
Eileen Kahana: [00:04:56] Thank you, Peter, for inviting me. I’m looking forward for this opportunity as well.
Peter Margaritis: [00:05:03] So, I have to ask this question first, right off the bat, how does a former teacher in the Chicago Public School System create this wonderful not-for-profit, Room2Improv?
Eileen Kahana: [00:05:18] It’s a great question. I wish the answer were simple or short. Let’s put it that way. The answer is simple. Improv has always been my way of being. And only recently did I discover its name and its process. So, my career ended unexpectedly. The Chicago Public School System decided that I was no longer beneficial for their needs, and I wanted to go out on top of my career. So, I-
Peter Margaritis: [00:05:56] Okay.
Eileen Kahana: [00:05:56] I resigned. I retired. I did not resign. I retired. And I wasn’t ready for a rocking chair or knitting needles. And I challenged myself, as I have my entire life to learn new things, and I decided to take one class at world-famous Second City in Chicago. And that was my intention, take one class and move on. And then, maybe go do piano lessons or something else. And that one class turned into a two-and-a-half-year, life-changing situation. The more I took, the more I realized that everyone needed an improv class. The more I took, the more I realized that this is what Chicago Public School children need.
Eileen Kahana: [00:06:59] Being involved with the system, every two years, there were new initiatives. How can we make Johnny stay in school? How can we get him better
grades, better attendance, whatever? And they would spend millions, and millions, and millions of dollars on these initiatives. And it took any teacher an entire year to figure it out. By May, we finally got this new system. And then, in September, they said, “Forget what we did last year. We’re starting all over. [Crosstalk].”
Peter Margaritis: [00:07:38] Jeez.
Eileen Kahana: [00:07:38] And so, I saw millions, and millions, and millions of dollars wasted. And then, I thought about improv, how its confidence, and being in the moment, and public speaking, and team building, and support your partner, and being in a place where everything you say and do is correct, I said, “That’s what students need.” They leave home after their moms told them, “No, no, no, no.” They get to school and all they hear is, “No, no, no, no.” And why would anybody want to be in an environment that is not supportive? So, I thought improv was an environment needed in school. So, where—I started this nonprofit that’s dedicated to raising the self-esteem of students and, ultimately, empower them to live enriching lives. I want to make improv available to those who wouldn’t think to do it and to those who can’t afford it. That was my goal.
Peter Margaritis: [00:08:47] And thank you for doing this. Clearly, I get it. And the person that you took this improv class, Jay Sukow, is also the instructor that we attended in Chicago. But I’ve interviewed him before on this podcast. And he’s always said, “If everybody would just take one improv class, the world would be a better place.”
Eileen Kahana: [00:09:13] Agreed.
Peter Margaritis: [00:09:14] And that’s—you know, people kind of look at it, “Okay, that’s kind of pie in the sky,” but that’s dead on. If everybody just took one improv class, and just learned the simple basic skills, and apply them every single day, the world would be a much better place.
Eileen Kahana: [00:09:28] Right. I agree with that. It’s a mindset. It is such a positive, welcoming environment that—I mean, I marketed to schools as bully busting.
Peter Margaritis: [00:09:44] Nice.
Eileen Kahana: [00:09:45] Because when you have self-confidence and good self-esteem, you’re not going to allow anyone to bully you, and you don’t need to be a bully. And it works.
Peter Margaritis: [00:10:02] You’re right. And I would imagine, it’s tough to get this into the school system, into the classroom, because my interactions is when I introduce improv out into the business world, I hear, “I don’t—I’m not—I don’t want to be funny.” I say, “This has nothing to do about being funny. This has everything to do with the confidence, and having a positive outlook, and moving things in a positive direction by using the two magic words – yes and.” Do you get much pushback from schools?
Eileen Kahana: [00:10:32] I get a lot of pushback from schools for the reasons you just mentioned and, unfortunately, money. They don’t have the money to have the programs. And the arts are continuously being cut across the board, not just Chicago, but in so many school systems. And that, to me, is the saddest possible. I mean, a well-rounded student needs the arts. Yes, it’s a hard sell because of what you said with the, “Oh, I don’t want to be funny,” or “I’m not funny.” And I, again, talk about the bully busting and what improv really promotes, which is the fundamental needs of humans of being validated, encouraged, and accepted. And once Johnny, the student, feels that, he’ll show up, and he’ll be there regularly. And once he starts liking himself, he’ll learn how to like others. And I just know children. I mean, I have a passion for education. I have a passion for accelerating the effectiveness of teaching. And this is the way to do it. Period.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:22] Okay. Now, I’ve got goose bumps. I literally have—I really have goose bumps because I feel that passion coming through this conversation. And being a a believer, you’re spot on. And it’s just getting past that mindset that it’s, you know, we don’t bring funny here, or this is a serious situation. Improv is serious. I mean, it’s very—it’s very—it’s easy. It’s kind of laid back to some degree, you know, but there’s a very serious side to this because when you apply it in the manner that you’ve described, it helps with self—like you said, self-esteem, confidence.
Peter Margaritis: [00:13:08] And it’s interesting that we’re having this conversation because last night, I was having a conversation with Annie Conderacci, who is on your board, while I was in Chicago. And we both said the same thing. When we have gotten away from that almost daily dose or weekly dose of improv, we find ourselves transitioning back to—transitioning away from it, not having it in the forefront. But when we keep it in our lives as constant as we can, we see how we show up differently. We see how our lives, how we embrace every single day in a much different, more positive manner than we ever have before and even before the introduction to improv. And along the same lines, you talk to students about this, but you also talk to more than just students. You talk to veterans.
Eileen Kahana: [00:13:57] Correct.
Peter Margaritis: [00:13:59] And I’m trying to remember the other audiences. Well, you’ve got veterans, you’ve got seniors, you get the faculty members.
Eileen Kahana: [00:14:08] It sounds like I’ve got everybody covered.
Peter Margaritis: [00:14:11] Actually, the only part that you don’t have covered is the extreme youth from 0 to 9. Outside of that, I think you do have everybody else covered.
Eileen Kahana: [00:14:22] Yeah, I’m about effectiveness, about quality over quantity.
Peter Margaritis: [00:14:29] Yeah.
Eileen Kahana: [00:14:29] I want to make sure that, at least, by the age of 10, that’s our minimum age, although we have gone into classes of third and fourth graders, and they just love it. I mean, part of what they love, and any educator will tell you this, is that when the kids are having fun, or when the kids are learning and having fun, they don’t realize they’re learning.
Peter Margaritis: [00:14:58] Right.
Eileen Kahana: [00:14:59] And so, the tools of improv and the way of teaching improv is such a fun way of learning/living that you promote it to go home and tell your moms and dads what happened today. And hopefully, you tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on. And it becomes the mindset and the way of living. I mean, we have been fortunate enough to go into very diverse geographical neighborhoods where all of them have been quite different, and their needs are all the same. I don’t care what neighborhood we’ve gone to, what school we’ve gone to, the needs are the same. It’s the human need. I just have a passionate belief in building of self-esteem to develop people’s confidence, which just motivates people to care about themselves. And once you care about yourselves, it trickles down into caring for others. And think about like what Jay Sukow has quoted, how the world would be better. It’s that simple.
Peter Margaritis: [00:16:35] It is. And it’s hard.
Eileen Kahana: [00:16:37] Correct, correct.
Peter Margaritis: [00:16:38] Because—and the conversations we’re having before we start recording, you said something about the five Ns.
Eileen Kahana: [00:16:46] Yeah. I mean, I believe or I try and practice to eliminate the five negative words in my vocabulary – the no, not, never, none, nothing. And that includes contractions.
Peter Margaritis: [00:17:12] And we could put the word “but” there as well because that’s a negative word.
Eileen Kahana: [00:17:17] Well, the minute you say “but,” you negate the first part of the sentence. For instance, as my students would say, “I did my homework, but I left it at home.” So, I say to them, “Keep your but. I have my own.”
Peter Margaritis: [00:17:38] I love that. And how would they reply back to that?
Eileen Kahana: [00:17:50] I always got a laugh. Yeah. They—you know, we’re on the same page. I always made sure in my classroom that there was fun on a regular basis. I do believe everything is about the teacher and the relationship that she or he builds with their student. Teaching will only happen once there is a relationship. And that philosophy and that mantra goes with life, goes with improv, goes with anything. Everything is about relationships – everything. And in order to have that happen, you have to have your self-confidence, and you have to be a team player.
Peter Margaritis: [00:18:47] And I think a big word is that in order to have that relationship, there has to be a level of trust.
Eileen Kahana: [00:18:57] Yes.
Peter Margaritis: [00:18:58] And that’s one of the aspects that when I look at—when I teach improv, what I call the foundation. And one of the foundation blocks is trust. And there’s a quote that I used [indiscernible] David Horsager, who wrote the book, Trust Edge, “Everything of value is built on trust.” The lack of trust is the biggest expense organizations, people, whatever, incur. Once we lose that trust, it takes a long time to get it back. And improv is based off and relationships are based off of the ability to maintain trust and be trustworthy.
Eileen Kahana: [00:19:36] Correct. I agree with that. That’s a quote that should go up in everybody’s office.
Peter Margaritis: [00:19:43] Absolutely.
Eileen Kahana: [00:19:44] I mean, think about the trust and, again, the relationship when—we don’t even have to take the classroom. We can take an office environment. When an employee goes up to his boss and says, “I’ve got this great idea that I think would help our organization,” and the boss knocks it down, says no.
Peter Margaritis: [00:20:12] Yeah.
Eileen Kahana: [00:20:12] So, why would I want to work hard for you? Why would I want to work more for you if I’m always going to be shut down? And there are ways—and it’s the same thing in the classroom. When Johnny raises his hand, and he knows the answer or thinks he knows the answer to something, and he’s wrong, and the teacher goes, “No,” why would he want to participate again? It’s so important to encourage and accept the ideas, the answers, the input to help motivate and build that self-esteem in your organization, in your classroom, in your business, in your life, in your relationship with your spouse, with your children, with friends, with everybody who likes to feel good about themselves.
Peter Margaritis: [00:21:17] So, when I am listening to you say that, I’m going, “Okay. So, what gets in the way when the boss says no?” And that’s basically-
Eileen Kahana: [00:21:27] Power.
Peter Margaritis: [00:21:27] The power, the ego.
Eileen Kahana: [00:21:29] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:21:29] And improv is all about, you know, basically putting your ego aside.
Eileen Kahana: [00:21:33] Right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:21:34] And in a conversation I had recently with Jay, it’s like improv is all about deferring judgment.
Eileen Kahana: [00:21:41] Correct.
Peter Margaritis: [00:21:41] And there’s no such thing as a mistake. It’s a gift. And we shouldn’t punish for that. We should praise that, “Okay. So, what did you learn? How are you going to do this differently?” or “How do you perceive this differently now that this didn’t work?” versus having that punitive effect by saying, “No, that was wrong.” It
just stops conversation. And if people can just set their egos aside, and defer judgment, and and fill that basic human need of listening to other people, which shows appreciation, just morale should never really be bad.
Eileen Kahana: [00:22:26] Sounds great. It sounds like the perfect world.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:30] And I caught myself that time. And it is hard to do because other factors tend to get in the way.
Eileen Kahana: [00:22:37] Because everyone needs to be aware of the value of improv.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:46] And that’s what I love about what you are doing because you’re introducing this at a school level, at a youth level. And by introducing this power of improv and the positive effects it have at this youth level, it’s almost like I can’t wait until they grow up. I can’t wait until they’re out of college, and they’re running businesses and stuff, and see how that all morphs itself and change if they’ve maintained that improv muscle over the years.
Eileen Kahana: [00:23:20] Thank you. Thank you for recognizing that. I am very proud of the lives changing and making a difference to those schools, and children, and veterans, and seniors who I’m able to touch and, hopefully, you know, increase those numbers. And I’m so proud. I’m really very, very proud of where we’ve come from, where we’ve gone, how we’ve grown. And. If it stays where it stays, I’m so aware of the difference that has been made. I don’t know. The Beatles called theirs a Magical Mystery Tour. I call mine an Incredible, Intoxicating, Improv Journey.
Peter Margaritis: [00:24:17] Oh, I love that.
Eileen Kahana: [00:24:19] And it is intoxicating. I just want to get the word out there. And I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to help grow our opportunity to be in more schools.
Peter Margaritis: [00:24:37] You had me at hello when you were explaining to me in Chicago what you’re doing. And I came back home, and I was bouncing all over the place, (1), because of the two days; and (2), I tell my wife, “I met this incredible woman,” and I started explaining. And I’ll say, “By the way, I got the shirt,” which I’m wearing right now. And I’m just like all over the place. She’ll go, “Would you slow down? Take a breath and tell me about Room2Improv.” And I did. And she kind of—actually, I mentioned this before we got started recording, this has always been at the back of my mind, this is why I’m so passionate about what you do, because I have that same passion.
Peter Margaritis: [00:25:21] And she saw that in my eye and said, ‘You’re thinking about it again, aren’t you?” And I said, “Absolutely.” I said, “Not right now,” but you helped replant that seed in my mind because I believe, and I believe you’re making a huge difference, you’re absolutely making a huge difference in the Chicago area, and I want to make a huge difference in the Ohio, the Columbus area. Right now, I’m trying to make a huge difference in the corporate world. But eventually, I want to bring that down to the starting point, children, and having an impact on their lives, do something as intoxicating and magical as improv is.
Eileen Kahana: [00:26:03] Wow! I’m on your team.
Peter Margaritis: [00:26:07] But one question I have is, how all—when did you—what year did you start this?
Eileen Kahana: [00:26:11] It is five-and-a-half years old.
Peter Margaritis: [00:26:16] Okay.
Eileen Kahana: [00:26:17] And we have reached over 400 students in over seven different communities. We are not just based in the Chicago school system, but we have gone to neighboring suburbs and, also, in Chicago area of the Great Lakes Naval Base. We have been fortunate to work with, not veterans, but military men and women currently. And they just loved it. They just love the opportunity to feel supported, and
understood, and validated, which I believe our country needs to improve on how we treat our military and our veterans. And let’s not be political here.
Peter Margaritis: [00:27:21] Right, yeah. But you’re right, we do need. You know, when I—in my travels, if I see someone in uniform, or I hear that someone has served, I always thank them for their service.
Eileen Kahana: [00:27:31] Exactly, yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:27:32] And—but—so, you’ve done work for the military, which just in that essence, when we think of the military, we don’t think—they’re not trying to be funny. If there’s ever an example of an organization that really doesn’t want to be funny, but they’re bringing you in, and they’re embracing this concept, and embracing this improv as more than being funny, that right there is a bedrock. That is—well, if the US military is using us, why can’t you?
Eileen Kahana: [00:28:04] Right. I mean, think about it, who more than veterans need self-esteem, and confidence, and team building, and feeling validated, and appreciated.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:19] I have some family members who are in the military, and I’ve had an uncle is a retired colonel. And he did a few tours, who flew jets for the Air Force, did a few tours in Vietnam. And coming back to the States at that point time, I mean, we know how rough it was. And I assume, I’m making this assumption, that some of these veterans that you are working with may have served during this period of time.
Eileen Kahana: [00:28:44] Correct.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:45] Yeah. And it’s a wonderful work that you’re doing with the veterans because without them, this country wouldn’t look like the way it is.
Eileen Kahana: [00:28:55] Exactly.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:56] We would—you know. As my uncle said, you know, “We have our freedom, but it’s not free. There’s a cost.”
Eileen Kahana: [00:29:01] Exactly, right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:03] There’s a cost to it. A lot of people have given for a greater cause in order for our freedom. So-
Eileen Kahana: [00:29:12] We also do classes for a nonprofit organization called Kids Rank. And they are all military children.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:25] Oh!
Eileen Kahana: [00:29:26] So, for instance, the average age or the youngest age is 10. And last year, that 10-year-old was already in his Seventh City.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:38] Oh, wow!
Eileen Kahana: [00:29:38] So. these kids don’t feel belonging anywhere, or at home anywhere, or always an outsider. So, this fabulous woman started this nonprofit called Kids Rank. I found out about it. And I said, “You guys need us.” And so, we’ve been working together, and we provide classes for them. And that is, usually, on a military base in the Chicago area, which has been awesome. The kids love it. And if you go to the website, under testimonials, or you’ll hear all of the kids, not all of them, but, obviously, you will see some great feedback that it makes—it’s a very feel-good result.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:44] You know, I never thought about that, the military children. And my uncle was stationed in a lot of different places over his career and the family was there. And even to the point being overseas for a number of years. And if improv could help anybody—I mean, you have to assimilate and adapt a lot-
Eileen Kahana: [00:31:10] Exactly.
Peter Margaritis: [00:31:10] … a lot quicker than those who don’t have that situation. And if you don’t have an ability to do it, that—those times can be very stressful.
Eileen Kahana: [00:31:19] Right. And it can cause depression or lead to a lot of negative behavior.
Peter Margaritis: [00:31:27] Right. Because I’m leaving my friends. I’m leaving this area that I love to go to another place. And this is the seventh time I’ve moved in. We’re just-
Eileen Kahana: [00:31:37] And I’m 10.
Peter Margaritis: [00:31:39] And I’m 10, yeah.
Eileen Kahana: [00:31:39] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:31:40] Yeah. Well, let them ask you this question, and we’ll take a phone from the school perspective. You mentioned earlier in the interview that, you know, some schools don’t have the budget to have you guys come in. Let me ask. So, the question is, is all of your resources, your financial resources, coming from the ability for schools, or the military, or whoever to pay for you to come in, or do you have other means of raising money?
Eileen Kahana: [00:32:10] Great question. So, because schools don’t have money is not the reason we don’t go, okay?
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:18] Okay.
Eileen Kahana: [00:32:18] We do have fundraisers. We do have people who understand this. We’ve had many donations. I’ll go into a school for free. I’m about making improv available to everyone. That’s usually what nonprofits want to do. I’m not about making money or getting the money. I’m about getting the message out. But we get a no from a school because of a time constraint. There is no time for this, or it’s not
important, or they don’t understand, or they’re cutting the arts, or all kinds of reasons. The money is the last answer because I don’t want your money. I don’t need the school’s money. Would it be nice? Would it be nice if they have it, and they gave it to us, and we can, you know, then go into another school that doesn’t have it? Yeah, it opens up opportunities for us to other schools.
Eileen Kahana: [00:33:26] You know, there are schools that have more money than others. There is an inequity in budgets across the system. And if a school says, “We can pay,” I’ll accept it. And with that, I’ll be able to go to a school that cannot pay. And I hope I answered your question. Yes, we do fundraising. Yes, we take donations. Yes, if you want implants at your school or at your professional development for teachers to learn how to get along with one another, to learn how to support one another, we will come and do a professional development workshop for you. We can come and do a team building corporate workshop for you if you’d like to. The goal is to get the message of improv out, because once you get the message of improv out, you have a better world.
Peter Margaritis: [00:34:34] Absolutely. And the reason why I asked the question the way I did, I believe my—every now and then, my accountant had jumped on top of my head, and I’m sitting there going, “Okay. You’ve got a great cause. I want you to be heard. But also, it takes financial resources to keep the organization moving forward, and running, and doing the good that it has.” And yes, you’ll go in and do free, but you still have to have some cash flow in order to-
Eileen Kahana: [00:35:05] Of course.
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:05] … sustain the business.
Eileen Kahana: [00:35:07] Correct,
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:08] And I’ve gone to the website. I’ve wanted to just, (1), the website is room2improv.com. And scroll down, read through. There’s great videos on there. There’s Eileen talking about a campaign. There’s the military. There’s a video of
Hope Manor talking to veterans. But if you keep going down there’s an area for giving. And it’s a Go Fund Me page that says donate. If you’re listening to this, I would love if you would just take a moment, and go to the website, and donate, 10 bucks, 50 bucks, 100 bucks. This is a cause that is making a huge difference in children and in the military. And let’s help Eileen reach this goal of bringing improv to as many people as possible. I just—I love this. You can probably tell by my voice. I’m very passionate about what you are doing, and I want you to succeed far beyond your wildest dreams. And whatever I can do to help you do that, you know how to find me, and the answer will be yes. And now I have to tell my wife, but that’s okay. But that’s okay. But you know, she understands my passion as well. And I understand her passions. I love what you do. I’m blessed that I got to meet you.
Eileen Kahana: [00:36:42] Thank you. And I feel the same.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:43] It was so much fun getting to know you and watching you on stage. And you know, I’m somewhat—I’m not—a complete novice, but I’m nowhere near some of the levels that folks were performing at that intensive weekend.
Eileen Kahana: [00:37:01] Right. I feel the same.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:04] But the cool thing about—this goes to improv, but the cool thing about it, none of them ever looked down at us and said, “What are you doing here?” Everybody was so supportive in so many different ways. It just, you know, you walk into a place, and there’s this huge fear that I don’t know anybody. Am I doing things wrong? What are people thinking? That never came across my mind at all because the environment was never set in that manner. It was set in such an inclusive way.
Eileen Kahana: [00:37:34] I agree. And I have to go back to my statement made earlier that everything is about the teacher. Everything. I mean, I walked in there, I signed up for the class because of Jay, and I knew that my improv skills would be honed and needed to be. You know, I started hearing myself say no a little bit too much. And when I walked in, and after 10 minutes, I realized, “Whoa, this is not for rookies. This is a
professional workshop.” And there is a level of comfort, whether it’s day one or your 20th year that—you’re right, everybody made everyone feel welcome. And Jay made everyone feel on the same level.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:38] Yeah. Yeah.
Eileen Kahana: [00:38:41] And he’s the best.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:44] Okay. We got this Jay Sukow love train right now. But yes, he is the best. And I enjoy working with them, actually. He’s helping me with some of the stuff in my business now. And we’re considering—well, we’ve come into agreement. We just need to move forward with a little bit more of co-authoring a book together, having improv with the aim or the audience being the C-suite. I hope that this time next year, we would be very close to having that book completed and out. And just the opportunity to work with him in that manner, I’m giddy would be an understatement. But he’s got a great message. He’s got a great way about him. And he’s—as Eddie said last night, “The man has really drank the Kool-Aid and lives the life of the improviser.”
Eileen Kahana: [00:39:39] Exactly. That’s exactly right. And it’s something I’d like to emulate and share with anybody I can bring improv to. It’s such a fulfilling positive lifestyle. It works.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:03] Absolutely, it does. And so, remember, the website is room2improv.com, Eileen Kahana. Ad you can reach her at, I believe it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Is that correct?
Eileen Kahana: [00:40:18] That’s correct.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:20] And Eileen, thank you so very much. I can’t wait for the next time our paths cross. It will probably be in an improv class or better yet, you’ll call me and say, “I need some help with something. I’m going into school in Chicago. Can you come up and help me?” And the answer is yes, and I still have to tell my wife.
Eileen Kahana: [00:40:37] It would be my pleasure. No, no. Yes, and it would be my pleasure.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:42] Cool. I look forward to it. And thank you so very much today.
Eileen Kahana: [00:40:44] Thank you, Peter.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:49] I hope you enjoyed Eileen’s story. And please remember to visit Room2Improv’s website to learn more. And if you feel compelled to donate, please do. Thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying this podcast, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today your best day.
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