Keep it real, and have some depth

Have I got a real-deal for you...

I accidentally skipped ahead last time – even though my master-list of principles isn’t in any particular order.  Acting on impulse is an occupational hazard for an improvisor


To recap so far:

  1. Over-accept
  2. Make your partner look good
  3. Say “Yes, and…”


But this principle is something that’s often gets overlooked, and it’s something that’s getting more and more important, especially with so many ways for us to get bombarded by messages (personal and professional).

Improv Principle: Play it real – have more depth than an ashtray
Business Principle: You’re not a robot either – share a little of your non-business self and it will go a long way
Quote from a bigwig who gets it:

“If you’re looking to use a social network to build business relationships, there must be a blend of personal and professional. No one (NO ONE) wants to read about your job all day. They want to know you. They want the “behind the scenes” of your communication. They want the “liner notes.” If you have to talk official all day, then brand it and stick a logo on it, and people will or won’t talk to it.

The humans, however, want to talk to humans.


And, they want YOU to talk about other people and not just your job. They want you to talk about them. They want you to wish them well on their spelling test.
Chris Brogan – Bestselling Author of “Trust Agents”

You’ve definitely experienced this, or rather the lack of it, even if you didn’t know what it was.  Maybe you were at an improv show (or any comedy show).  The words the performers were saying were very clever, and in your mind you thought they were funny, but you weren’t laughing. Or maybe you were laughing in that polite way that says “my brain thinks you should be funny, but my gut isn’t feeling it”.

It’s not you, it’s them.  Laughter comes from a place of genuine surprise – if a performer is genuine and committed to playing a comically flawed human being, no matter how absurd, trying to accomplish something in their own unique way, your bullshit-detector \ incoming comedy radar gets turned off.  You won’t be on alert, so you’ll be open to that surprise that comedy (and real laughter) depends on.

On the flip side, if you subconsciously notice a performer “acting”, letting you know he \ she doesn’t take it seriously, and signaling that a joke is coming up, your bullshit meter lights up.  The more you’re clued-in to when a punch-line is coming, the less likely you are to laugh when it does.  Telegraphing the punch-line is the quickest way to kill laughs.

The same thing happens when you get a sales pitch, when someone starts marketing something to you, when someone engages you on Twitter or Facebook, or through their blog, or any social media.  There’s so much shouting going on out there, that your bullshit detector HAS to go up, you HAVE to filter out some of the noise.  And if it senses that someone isn’t being genuine, isn’t a real human being, and is just shouting sales pitches at you, you’ll tune them out.  Social media gives you more content in a day that your grandparents would have seen in a decade.  You’ll bullshit-detector is subconsciously protecting you.  You won’t consciously think “hey, there’s something very fake about that person Tweeting”, you’ll just feel it.

Tuning people out is easy, but how do you keep from being one of those people that triggers other people’s bullshit-detectors?

Be real.  Be vulnerable.  Be authentic.  Open yourself up and share some of the real you with people.  A hack is a comedian that uses cliché catch phrases or overused premises to chase laughs.  Hacks are afraid that their life and experience isn’t funny enough to share with an audience. Good comedians create unique material from their own unique experiences and points of view.  The best improvisors are also good actors – they use their own imagination and emotions to create a three dimensional, vulnerable, caring, feeling human being.

Do the same with your content, with your teammates, with your clients.  Share some of you personal self.  Don’t just “run the script”.  You don’t have to tell a new client your life story, but letting them know you’re a human being and not a sales-robot will go a long way towards getting and keeping a great client.

Just today, Keith Ferazzi, bestselling author of “Never Eat Alone” (and Chairman of the Relationships Master Academy) Tweeted this:

Are you the same you at work as you are with friends? Shouldn’t you be?

Think about how genuine you are with your boss, your coworkers, and your clients.  I bet you find some interesting correlations.