University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

More Improv Advice in Translation

More improv advice in translation

June 3, 2021 | By Stacey Mason

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I have found that most advice is worthy of thorough examination. Often advice pertaining to one discipline – with just a bit of translation – has meaning in other disciplines. This translation process allows for more perspective and greater insight.

As a case in point: the more I study improvisation, the more parallels I see to other areas of my life. And while I originally wrote about this practice in 2015, I’ve gone on to discover even more similarities in the subsequent years. So what follows is more improv advice in translation.

Improv advice:
Play the scene you’re in not the scene you want to be in.

Business advice:
Sometimes your agenda is just that – your agenda. And sometimes you have to let it go.


Improv advice:
The gears in your brain start turning when you’re looking for the perfect line. And because there is no perfect line, the gears just grind harder and harder.

Business advice:
Perfect is the enemy of good.


Improv advice:
Don’t take any shortcuts on energy or polish. You may have done the show a thousand times, but some people are seeing it for the first time.

Business advice:
It’s show time…every time.


Improv advice:
The audience is looking for a connection to you. Be weird, be zany, be uniquely you. Yet still have humanity for them to latch on to.

Business advice:
Being human is essential. Being uniquely human is a force multiplier.


Improv advice:
Think of every choice on stage as a conduit of connectivity – speaking, not speaking, walking, picking up something, looking at someone.

Business advice:
Every form of communication is a conduit of connectivity. Everything that you do or say (or don’t do and don’t say) sends a message.


Improv advice:
Words come from your head. Connectivity comes from your heart.

Business advice:
You need both your head and your heart to be an effective leader.


Improv advice:
Never let failure go to your heart.

Business advice:
Never let success go to you head.


Improv advice:
You don't have to spend every waking minute with your cast, but you should know what interests them artistically and who they are as people.

Business advice:
You likely won’t spend every waking minute with your peers, but you should know what motivates them professionally and who they are as people.


Improv advice:
Always thank the tech booth.

Business advice:
Always thank your people. Do it more often than you think is necessary and do it with gusto.


Improv advice:
If you have a choice between reacting at a 4 and reacting at a 10, react at a 10.

Business advice:
When it counts, show up and give it everything you’ve got.


Improv advice:
You don't need to give your character ten things right away. Give your character one important, memorable thing instead.

Business advice:
Not everything can be a priority. Pick one audacious goal and really nail it.


Improv advice:
Be in love instead of in like. Be furious instead of angry. Be married instead of just roommates. Have a belief instead of an opinion.

Business advice:
Have a passion for what you’re doing.


Improv advice:
There is room for your comedy.

Business advice:
There is room for your voice.


Improv advice:
Find the overlap between “audience favorites” and “untested forms”. Spend time in that overlap.

Life advice:
Find the overlap between “tried and true” and “embracing the crazy”.  Spend time in that overlap.


Improv advice:
The learning is in the mistakes.

Business advice:
The learning is in the mistakes.


Here’s the funny thing I’ve noticed: the more parallels I see to other areas of my life, the more I want to study improv. And I can’t want to see what the next many years teach me!

Ancora Imparo… (Still, I am learning)

Post Author:

Matt WallerFounder of The Improv Lab, Stacey Mason has immersed herself in the field of Applied Improvisation for the last decade after co-founding several comedy improv troupes and training with various actor-teams including Second City in Chicago. Her corporate background includes nearly 20 years at Walmart in Logistics, Global Supply Chain and Merchandising/Replenishment before shifting towards culture coaching, stewarding the Walton Institute, Walmart’s flagship culture program. She partners with Walton College Executive Education on innovation programs and other initiatives