At ten, Jessie Shternshus fell in love with improv. After college, she turned it into a career. As the founder and owner of The IMPROV EFFECT, Jessie conducts workshops around the country to help individuals and teams think on their feet, communicate effectively, and work together to ramp up success.
So how beneficial is improv in life and business? I’ve always suspected theatre majors have a certain competitive edge. Jessie confirmed it. While I can’t even cry my way out of a speeding ticket, Jessie used to interview for fun. Working at a temp agency after USF and NYU, she landed jobs that she says she “wasn’t even qualified for”.
Turning Passion Into Profit
Jessie started her own business by offering improv classes to actors and non-actors. From the very beginning, she was interested in the application of improv more than improv itself. As each class concluded, she asked her students, “How does this apply to what we do every day?” As more and more students approached her to visit and teach at their workplaces, Jessie suspected improv could be a powerful business advantage. Turns out, she was right.
With improv, people are better able to:
- Understand and relate to different audiences
- Assess a moment and know what role to play
- Read people and determine what’s not being said
- Think fast, turning on the expert part of their brains
- Collaborate and get past the idea that failure is a bad thing
- Selling A Product No One Wants
In one of her exercises, Jessie asks people to develop an unusable product, and pitch it in front of the group. Free from “bad ideas”, people think more creatively and have an easier time collaborating. They push past complacency to question perceived solutions and truly begin to innovate.
Exploring Ideas & Mistakes
“Any idea or mistake is a gift…They all have something interesting in them if you’re only willing to explore them.”
Looking back, Jessie compares her approach to the agile process so prevalent in the creative shops she frequents. As she says, “I’ve been through a million iterations.” To reach her business model, she kept trying small things, tweaking them, retesting them, and soliciting feedback from her audience. Always reacting in the present, she’s learned a great deal about flexibility.
Adding Improv To Your Life
Lucky for us, we all can learn improv, and put it to good use in our own lives. Visit improveffect.com for more information, or say “hi” to Jessie in-person at ConvergeFL. Jessie will be in Jacksonville, Florida on September 11 – 13 for three days of web design and development goodness. Register today and we’ll see you there.