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Forbes: What Seven Of The Best Business Books Of 2017 Taught Us This Year

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Forbes-logoThis year, our shelves were packed with books profiling the personal and enterprise effects of globalization in the new economy. Covering topics as wide as how to improve workplace resiliency through improv comedy to reimagining corporate hiring strategies to leverage the gig economy, seven of my favorites lent sharp new insight into the direction of the labor market and enterprise’s response to it.

Here are my seven favorite books this year and what you can learn from each:

2. “Yes, and …” can make your workplace more resilient.

Bob Kulhan, founder of Business Improv, is as much a master improviser as he is a skilled businessman and his book, Getting to “Yes And”: The Art of Business Improv, makes for a colorful and insightful read into the dynamics of improving workforce resiliency. Based on Kulhan’s decades of experience teaching the tenets improv to business leaders, the book explains how acceptance and adaptability — two of the main tenets of improv — are essential to ensuring smoothness of day-to-day functioning within an organization and its teams. Teaching momentary situational analysis, snap decision making and workplace camaraderie makes this book an excellent read for any manager looking to build a great team. Read More

I Took an Improv Training Course — and It Changed How I Brainstorm

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by STEPHEN J. BRONNER for Entrepreneur Magazine

Stop saying ‘Yes, but.’ Start getting to ‘Yes, and.’

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 1.42.18 PMI walked slowly across the room, stretched out my arms and said “hot frying pan” to a man I didn’t know. That man acted as if I’d passed him an imaginary skillet, pretended to feel its heat and passed the cookware to someone else.

What the hell have I gotten myself into? I thought.

When Bob Kulhan invited me to participate in a workshop by Business Improv, a training company he founded, I didn’t know what to think. Kulhan’s sessions aim to teach lay people improv acting techniques so they can apply them to all of life’s interactions. My main exposure to improvisational comedy was old snippets of Whose Line Is It Anyway? But hey, who’s not up for professional development, right? If I’m being honest, I also wondered whether the session would end as two hours of bad acting and awkward chuckles. Read More

The Best Way to Talk to Millennials, From a Millennial Communications Expert

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The now-largest generation is redefining the requirements for happiness on the job.
By Coeli Carr for Inc. Magazine

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 12.23.20 PMAs the owner of a shipping company in Puyallup, Washington, Pavel Vosk didn’t realize how little he understood his demographic until he had to hire them. Some of the applicants his age–he started the company when he was 20–who sought administrative and driver positions arrived with an unappealing vibe.

“Their attitude was one of boredom, arrogance, that they were above the job,” says Vosk. He learned to respond by focusing on something Millennials value: teamwork. To prod those who often showed up late and didn’t respect authority, Vosk explained that their tardiness genuinely inconvenienced the rest of the team.

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How to use improv to jumpstart your business

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How to use improv to jumpstart your business

Yahoo-Finance-new-logoYahoo Finance Video

By Bob Kulhan, the Founder, President, and CEO of Business Improv

There are plenty of companies that exemplify what happens when you fail to embrace improv —Blockbuster, Radio Shack and Kodak are examples of companies that did not embrace change, did not take advantage of unexpected opportunities and did not adapt to an evolving consumer landscape.

So how do you use improv effectively in business?

The skills that we rely on during improv — including centered thinking and split-second decision-making — also apply to many day-to-day challenges of the business world: running productive meetings, sparking exceptional brainstorming sessions, providing tough feedback, managing conflict, networking, creating entrepreneurial corporate cultures. In business, improvisation thrives at the pivotal intersection where planning and strategy meet execution.

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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

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. Read More

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