Balancing Impulse & Smarts

“I was an actor, not an improviser, a classically trained traditional actor, who kept getting feedback in my conservatory acting programme with things like I was too smart to be an actor. What they meant by that was I was too afraid to fail.  I was trying to do it right and I was not trusting my impulses.  My improvisation teacher pulled me out of there, so I was an improviser on the stage for many many years with no intention of ever applying it.

“So the first thing I did with passion about it, and I loved it and I got good at improv.  The second thing I did is take some risks to try it out when I was absolutely unqualified. I had no business going into organizations and teaching anybody about anything, but I just tried it.  The first conference I ever presented at I presented on using story in training.  I had no idea that this was a field!  People are doing PhD’s on it, but I had no idea!

“So I showed up and said “I don’t really have any idea what I am talking about, but help me figure this out.”

“And then I said there are people out there who know stuff, so I went back to school and I got my Masters.  I sought content.  I got information from books, I got a Masters, I talked to people all over the place, I found mentors. I educated myself in what makes good training, what business want, what is my customer really looking for and then was really rigorous in how am I using this in a way that is of value, that offers what I say I am offering.

“So when I wrote my book, the impetus to write the book was partly “Here’s the value of what we are doing,” but the other part of it was in response to what I had started out doing, which was the shoddiness of “Oh I have this improv stuff, I’ll give it to you and you’ll figure out how to apply it.”   I wanted to say “Look, there is a rigour that you can apply here, and you need to know as much about training and controlsing and developing and leadership as you need to know about anything else.”

Kat Koppett, “Improv for the Business Stage” 10/30/13