In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

By now you’ve probably heard us sing the praises of improvisation and its benefits in communication, awareness and listening. If you haven’t, the premise is simple- we think of improv as the best way to practice accepting and appreciating change. 

But it goes much further than that. Improv has been used to teach individuals interpersonal skills in countless arenas- from helping immigrant children assimilate to social settings in the U.S. to comedy, it’s now used pervasively as a learning tool for business school students, C-suite executives, military, lawyers, doctors, coaches and beyond. 

Today, we’re speaking with one of the world’s authorities on improvising in daily life, Patricia Ryan Madson. She’s the author of IMPROV WISDOM: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up and a professor Emerita from Stanford University where she’s taught since 1977. She is a frequent speaker for business and educational groups and her corporate clients have included: IDEO, Google, Gap Inc.’s Executive Leadership Team, The Lucille and David Packard Foundation, the Banff Centre for Leadership, Sun Microsystems Japan Division, Apple Computers, Adobe Systems, and Price Waterhouse. 

Today, we get to learn from her: 

  • The essential “rules” and guiding principles of good improvisors
  • What do to with someone who doesn’t want to improvise or is “too cool for school”
  • The ramifications of NOT accepting and practicing improv in our daily lives
  • Why it’s easy to understand but very hard to practice consistently

Connect with Patricia:

Via her website:

Via her blog:

Via her email:

If you’re interested in trying improv yourself, come to one of our communication workshops. At The Apprenticeship, you’ll be exposed to all of the principles we discuss on today’s show and many more. Not only that, we’ll equip you with the skills you’ll need to tackle life and leadership’s messy moments and a chance to practice them and fail safely. 

Speaking of practicing safely, SAGA’s wireless BFR cuffs allow us to workout and rehab safely from anywhere in the world. Using the app which automatically detects your occlusion pressure and adjusts the cuffs accordingly, you’ll never have to second guess whether your set-up is correct. These are now a must in all of my travel bags. Use code BRETT20 for 20% off your next order.


Brett Bartholomew  0:03  

Today’s episode is brought to you by Momentous. Now I’m not gonna win any fans by saying this, but I’m not a huge coffee guy. It was only after about three years worth of travel to Australia that I started to go to the dark side a little bit if you want to call it that, because a friend talked me into trying a flat white. So that is one thing that I will drink. But by and large, I can’t do a lot of stimulants. I don’t like the taste of coffee. If I have too much caffeine, in some respects, I’ll start getting super anxious, I’ll start sweating more than I normally do. And if you already know me, you know I’m like the warmest human alive. So I need something else to keep me focused especially in the afternoons when I start to hit a circadian dip. And Momentous is Brain Drive has been huge on that for me. Now, this is NSF Certified for Sport, that means it meets a Olympic testing standards for safety, right, this isn’t some kind of crazy pre workout that your friend had in his gym locker. And whether you’re an executive, whether you are just a stay at home parent, whether you’re a coach, whether you’re an athlete, whether you’re anything under the sun, right, we can all benefit from a little boosts. So I encourage you check it out, go to Check out brain drive, and you can save 25% By using code Brett 25. So that’s brain drive and use code Brett 25 to save 25%.


Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me and now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Life is improv. I mean, think about it. You guys have no idea what I’m going to say next. I have no idea what you’re doing right now. And if we interacted, we’re going to constantly be wondering, okay, what’s the other person gonna say? How should I respond to it? You don’t know which of your flights are gonna get canceled on the upcoming holiday season? You don’t know a number of things. even if you have a staff meeting, you have no idea what’s gonna go on, you might have an idea, right? But every single day, we encounter seemingly random occurrences that we have to adapt to the best we can. And today’s guest is an expert in all things improv. Her name is Patricia Ryan Madson. And she literally is a world authority on improvising in everyday life. She’s also the author of improv wisdom, don’t prepare, just show up, which is an enchanting book that has been translated into nine languages, including audio and ebook format. And she is a professor emeritus from Stanford University, where she has taught since 1977. Specifically in their drama department. She served as the head of the undergraduate Acting Program and develop the improvisation program. In 1998. She was the winner of the Lloyd w dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding innovation and undergraduate education at Stanford. 


And how important is that, guys? I don’t know about you. But you know, so often, our undergraduate education has so many gaps in terms of application to the real world. So we have to take that and honor that for what it is because we need more people who are more adaptable. Now. She’s also a frequent speaker for business and educational groups. Her corporate clients have included IDEO Google gap inks, executive leadership team, the Lucile and David Packard Foundation, band of Center for Leadership education, Sun Microsystems and the like. 


Now, here’s something I’m going to challenge you guys with. We run improv workshops, and every now and then we will get somebody being like, Ah, this would never happen. Well, the reality of it is improv is about what is possible, not just plausible, and we always have to keep an open mind with these things. And if you don’t believe me, well, listen, there’s something that these organizations IDEO Google GAAP, they know that you don’t. So how much of this really comes down to our egos and us just not being comfortable with uncertainty? Well, we’re going to talk a little bit about that. So without further ado, Patricia Ryan Madson?


Everybody welcome back to another episode of The Art to coaching podcasts. I’m humbled today to be with Patricia Matson. Patricia. Welcome to the show.


Patricia Madson  5:05  

Thank you. Thank you, Brett.


Brett Bartholomew  5:07  

This is a little bit nerve wracking for me. Because our listeners know, we teach through our apprenticeship workshop. A lot of improv now, we don’t do it at your level, but we are certainly working at it and, to orient any of you that may be skipped through the bio, you know, we’re talking to really a world authority on improv her book and this is all linked. So I encourage you guys to go to the show notes. Check it out. She’s the author of improv wisdom. Don’t prepare, just show up. 


Patricia, I have to ask the obvious question, why the interest in improv? And why did you make this such a core focus of your life?


Patricia Madson  5:44  

Yeah, well, it was actually out of desperation, I was trying to solve a problem. I was hired by Stanford in 1977. To come in and, lead up the Acting Program in the drama department. And I had some experience and felt some confidence in dealing with actors in a normal way. But the Stanford students are so bright, and always wanted to know the right answer to things. And so if I asked them, I don’t know what what do you think? How would you feel in that situation, I got a sort of deer in the headlights look, they didn’t know. And so it became clear that to deal with Stanford students who are all in their heads, I had to find some way to loosen them up, get their humanity working and then right at that point, Keith Johnstone appeared in my life, kind of like a magical guru. He was, teaching along with my Tai Chi master al Fung and the two of them, he introduced the book impro. And all of a sudden, I had a set of tools that I could bring back to try to help actors who were stuck in their heads get into their bodies and feelings. So it started that way. And then it’s kind of been rolling along for 30 years since then, really.


Brett Bartholomew  7:08  

And I value talking about, you know, you’re hired in 1977, to head up the drama department. And, of course, I’m co hosting here with Ali Kirshner, my good friend and business partner. Now, one thing that Ali and I see a lot of the workshops that we teach is, people tend to think that improv is only for theater or comedy. No, of course that isn’t true, or is it? We don’t want to have confirmation bias here. But tell us talk a little bit about where you see the applications in everyday life. Through your experience. If you wouldn’t mind then I’ll let Ali jump in?


Patricia Madson  7:40  

Sure. No, it’s true. I think the most common misunderstanding is that it’s really about comedy or jazz or something like that. What has certainly happened and it’s mushroomed over the years because right now, it’s even a buzzword in businesses and corporations. And improv is a modus operandi. It’s a way of doing something so you can apply that way to anything. I know people who are using improv, to train Alzheimer’s caregivers, and to train first responders in crises, to train women’s beach volleyball teams, for example, at Stanford, I can tell that story too. I got invited by the coach Andrew to, come and do some improv games with a group of beach volleyball players. And it was really wonderful, because we can talk about the applications to coaching maybe Ali and I can get on that subject. But it’s not rocket science. It’s a group of principles. And that I think that’s the thing that I would love your listeners to understand that improv is a system, a way of working a little, even a life way that has a couple of really simple rules that if you follow them, and you can learn to trust yourself and do all kinds of things.


Ali Kershner  9:13  

Patricia, you know, as you’re saying that, first of all, hi, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you, but you know, you and I have talked previously I was at Stanford where I also dealt with the Stanford students and trying to get them out of their head, but from a different realm. And even myself, I was a student athlete at a place very similar to Stanford, and struggled with this same thing. I know that you consider yourself sort of a recovering perfectionist or something along those sorts, but maybe you could go into for our listeners, some of those ideas, those topics, those systems that you’re talking about that improv comprises.


Patricia Madson  9:54  

I think one of the first things has to do with attention, where we’re placed In our attention, and today, there are so many things calling out for it. Everything’s got a little red button that’s screaming, look at me, look at me, open me, let me have your attention. So improvisers, first of all, learn to pay attention to what’s actually happening right now. And that’s hard because most of us and why the subtitle of the book is don’t prepare, just show up, doesn’t mean don’t prepare, we can’t not prepare. Everything we do in life has some systems that we learn. But what we want to do when we improvise, is not live that preparation, but we want to just arrive where we are in this now, Zoom Room with two wonderful faces. And be here now. I mean, there’s a lot of a lot going on now in the name of mindfulness. And I think there are certainly corollaries between the notion of paying attention right now. So paying attention right now, and then accepting what you find saying yes to it, rather than rejecting or criticizing or finding faults. So you, I have four A’s pay attention, accept what you find, and then appreciate it, you’ve got to then find the good in whatever that is. And then you’ve got to act, you got to do your part or do something. So it’s really simple. But most of us are getting our own ways, I think, and we mess back and forth with the plan we have, and forget to just wake up and see where we are right now. Ah, and see what comes next.


Ali Kershner  11:53  

Can you maybe give us an example of what this would look like in everyday life? You know, something that maybe happened to you recently, or so we just have an innate understanding of what it means to be present and accept a gift or say yes to something, and how we can all use, these tools, you know, as soon as we get off and from listening to this podcast, 


Patricia Madson  12:14  

great. That is a wonderful question. I was just so yesterday I was in the Safeway buying groceries. And I have a practice. Now whenever I interact with someone in sales, or if I’m doing something, I try to, if they have a name tag on I notice their name. So here I am getting the groceries checked out. And I noticed that the checker, his name was Shawn. So I said, Hi, Shawn, how’s your day going? Looks like you’ve been standing for quite a while, haven’t you? And he kind of all of a sudden lit up and said, Yeah, you know, I’ve got this kind of heart condition and, and he began telling me about his life as he continued to check my groceries. And there, came between us a little moment of friendship, where out of nowhere, paying attention, kind of accepting, and noticing what was going on, commenting on it, created a moment of kind of richness certainly for me. And I think for him, too. And we often get so busy spinning things, or examples, like I was planning to make my husband a so and so sandwich and I open the refrigerator, and there’s no so and so there. So I pay attention to what’s going on, then I look around for what’s next. And I think that’s if we give up on the notion that there’s a right way to do everything. Part of I think the miracle of improvising is trusting your own trusting not just your yourself. I don’t It’s not me, I trust a sort of a greater situation, you can say trust reality that an answer will be there. That’s why a little game like opening a box and discovering that there’s something in the box. Ah, I didn’t know is socks. Interesting, okay. That I think we all fear when we are, if we have to improvise that there’ll be nothing there. That’s the huge, fear. There’s nothing in my box. But believe me there is in every circumstance and So reality is going to give us opportunities, if we notice, really take the time to notice who we’re around and what’s going on, and then act upon that moment.


Brett Bartholomew  14:53  

Yeah, it was some wonderful examples there and I appreciate the practicality Patricia to circle back to some things that you’ve said and some of the These are direct quotes. And I really value them. And I want to lay some context before the question here you had mentioned, even here, when we improvise, we are trying to make sense of the moment to take account of what’s going on right now, just as a brief aside, I find that really cathartic myself, because I’m being brought in in a couple of days to speak for an organization. And we always kind of do a call of figuring out how we can best serve them how the presentation should be shaped, and what have you. And the information in this case was pretty Spartan corporate gave me an example of what they want me to do, but they’re not my audience. They’re the contractor, you know, the folks I’m speaking to still need to, enjoy it. And when you know what, I don’t have direct access to those individuals to figure out what would make that information most relevant to them and their problems. Because you know, right, there’s, always perceptual gaps that we have. And so this is going to be a presentation that I told my team, hey, you know, a lot of this, I’m going to improvise because with lack of information, I need to be able to read the room. And that beats the heck out of, at least in my opinion, going in there with some kind of sterilized one size fits all message that is impersonal, you know, when you talk about making sense of the moment and not preparing? You know, is that in line with what you’re speaking to a little bit before I go on to the second part of that question?


Patricia Madson  16:19  

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, in the situation that you’re talking about, if you show up there and even ask the audience, what’s on your mind today it’s quite possible to elicit a real topic that can take you into what what you really want to talk about. And I’m really with you. Because I’m, I’m sad about how we often get stuck in a PowerPoint in a presentation and everybody is just looking at their watches, waiting to get out of there. So if you interact with the people that you’re with, you can have a real human moment that can make a difference, I think.


Brett Bartholomew  17:02  

Yeah. And it’s I love that you say you’re a recovering perfectionist, because that took me a while to get to that point, because we live in this society that you should come in prepared, you should show this, you should show that and it’s like, well, who says you’re not prepared? If you’re willing to meet a problem head on, you know, at the other side of it, if we come into prepared you risk being tone deaf, and this is something that really stuck with me, I put it on a sticky note next to my desk, he had said, you know, we understand improvisers understand that time is precious. They don’t wait for inspiration, they show up and begin something. And now all of a sudden, we’re in the trenches, our hands are dirty. And that makes the information itself more practical. So it’s funny out of this thing that much of society may not fully understand and could see as impractical at first, right? Improv. Oh, that’s what we see on Whose Line Is It Anyway. It’s actually the answer to creating things that are the most practical in your day to day life. Any thoughts on that?


Patricia Madson  17:57  

Absolutely. Because right now, we’re no one could have wildly predicted the pandemic and the improvisation that is all of our lives right now. But you might just made a point that I think is important. improvisers are ready fire aim. And there’s a way in which the action of firing and doing something start to you. And then you’re somewhere where you can develop that if we wait to find that perfect starting place in certainly in almost anything in life. We don’t have time for that we really don’t we have to go forward knowing, that where we step then gives us an idea of where we could go. And I think it’s discover, I think an improv class allows you to discover this when the stakes are low around making up some stories and trying games. But I think if we could try see more in our everyday lives if we could trust that it’s okay, that our the way we’re speaking isn’t perfectly organized. I think also, we are likely to be more credible, if we’re speaking from our natural ideas rather than from a perfectly prepared script.


Brett Bartholomew  19:26  

Yeah, you’re absolutely spot on with that. I’ve found that you know, the core of what we teach is communication. Yet one thing we tell people is our goal is not to create robots that don’t have any disfluencies you’ll hear me stutter or say yeah, like, you know, I make the same mistakes anybody does. But good communication is contextual, right? Like if we could watch two people speak with the utmost fluency and that could seem robotic and disingenuous. Or you myself an Ali could go to some place in downtown Boston and hear folks with thick accents talking at a very rapid pace of speech and use variations of slang and what have you, and maybe to somebody else that’s poor communication, but to them that’s very contextually appropriate behavior. And this is the core of the next question I have for you is, you know, with imperviousness being kind of this Latin word or root of improv and that literally meaning the unforseen and us trying to teach it to people that feel like there’s a right idea and a right moment, and then they get stuck. Do you think the issue and I know I’m asking you to pontificate? There’s never a one size fits all answer. Feel free to take this anywhere? Do you feel like the issue is people begin to just self monitor too much? Are we all so scared of not meeting pure objectivity based standards? Perfectionism judgment, what is it that makes it so scary for people to explore the adjacent possible or unforeseen?


Patricia Madson  20:53  

Sure we all want to be loved. We all want people to like us and care about us. We all fear being stupid, or in some way unaccepted. But it seems like the technology that we have now that allows us, for example, to text instead of have a conversation with someone is just reinforcing that I really fear for the youth of today about not being able to have conversations, not being able to trust that it’s fine to start anywhere and discover where you are with another person rather than knowing where it ought to be. And it’s fear. I think that and, and it’s natural humans care about what others think about them. And there’s, I think, the mistaken belief that until if I get it right, then they’ll like me, or then it’ll be okay. But I think you’re more likely to have them like you, if you’re just yourself with all of the warts and improper phrases or whatever. However, you might talk about that. Does that make sense?


Brett Bartholomew  22:03  

Absolutely, yeah. And, believe me, this is an open conversation. So if something doesn’t make sense, I’ll push back politely. And same thing, if we’re not clear on anything, our listeners very much value, you know, instead of something that is obsequious or everybody agreeing, you know, it’s great to kind of just have a conversation, be open about it. And so just the practicality and the thoroughness of your answer is super appreciated. Ali.


Ali Kershner  22:27  

Yeah. So Patricia, in your book, you have 13 Maxim’s that you talk about. And they’re sort of like, you know, concepts, rules, ideas, that you base, your philosophy on. And I’m curious if you can help me reconcile one of them, which is stay on course. Right. So we’re talking about the idea of just showing up not necessarily preparing, being willing to go wherever with the conversation with the activity, whatever you’re doing. So how does staying on course having an ultimate goal or having kind of guardrails in place? How does that How can you reconcile that with the ideas that we just talked about?


Patricia Madson  23:07  

Great question. Improvisation isn’t just anything. Every moment has some context, there’s always a point, there’s always something we’re doing. In the, analogy of making lunch for my husband, finding the ingredients, in a basketball game, we’re trying to make the most points by putting the ball through the hoop. However, on the road to doing that. There we find ourselves in moments where there isn’t a script or there isn’t a play that has been diagrammed. I’m all of a sudden here with the rebound. And there’s nobody around me. So that there is always some kind of point, or purpose. And, that. So if we imagine just doing anything for any kind of reason is what improv is about. I think that’s a mistake. We have to notice the facts, whatever they are, the facts might be that what we’re doing is making up a story in a Zoom Room for an improv show. There’s a I’m trying to create a story. So there’s a context and the staying on course, is a reminder that there are I like that frames there are walls in a sense of reality around us that we have to pay attention to. And to go back to the sports analogy again, it seems to me that one of the issues with teams, for example is that they spent so much of their life one becoming very fit and then learning a group of plays of ways that they need to perform together. And they start doing those, but almost instantly, that falls apart. And they’re in a new moment, that is an improvisation. So they’re called upon since they can’t complete that play, something new has happened. They’re called upon at that moment to pay attention to notice what is going on who is around. Now what at that point, they need to trust their own instincts, their own impulses, their own body knowledge of everything. They bring their whole life into play at the moment where the plan falls apart. And they’re improvising the play. And I think that’s, instead of at that moment where the plan falls apart, the play that we were just going to do doesn’t work because she slipped the ball. That’s to me the most wonderful moment to wake up and trust your years of being part of reality. And knowing that there’s an answer there, if you will, trust that and act on it. Does that make sense?


Ali Kershner  26:23  

I love it. Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you went there, because I was actually going to lead into a conversation that you have, I have had previous which was surrounding sport, and using improv in coaching. And sometimes, when there’s no constraint, what so ever actuation, it’s hard, because we don’t have any information to work off of. But when there is too much constraint, we are constrained in terms of where we can go with a situation. And so with my athletes, we had a set of constraints, which was weight room, and we had a task, which was to get stronger, to get something out of the workout. But how we got there, we were able to work within that and improvise and find new ways and adjust to the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. And so I’m wondering, if you can talk about how improv could be used in sport in an educational teaching environment.


Patricia Madson  27:21  

I think, if coaches and leaders sports allow free play, as well as kinds of prepared play, or create some kind of games and exercises that keep changing where attention is, when I went to do the workshop with the beach volleyball players at Stanford, the game we played, we stood in a circle. And we would send a word to another player. So I might say, brick, and throw it to you Ali. And if you got the word brick, you had to throw a word to someone else that started with the last letter. So we set up a framework where then you might say kite to Brett and he might say elephant back to me, and I’d say triangulate or something. And what was fun about that is that the improv game meant they couldn’t decide in advance what to do. They had to wait until they knew what that letter was. So it turns out to be a favorite game. And Andrew said that they’d like to play that in their warm ups. Because it was somehow a way to sort of stay awake to what’s needed. And then act in the moment. So it might be that coaches could figure out things that challenge the formulas in some way. But I love it that you’re being creative with that whole the world of fitness because it would seem that there are so many rules of how to do that. And, it’s so easy to let’s do 42 reps of this and then run across the gym. But if you can find ways to make that spontaneous in some way, or give them jobs or get them to make up exercises for the rest of the group to challenge the rest of the group that might be that sort of top down. You could they might have fun making up a strengthening exercise or game for their other teammates and watch them do it.


Ali Kershner  29:49  

Yeah, absolutely. We found that not only was I learning from them, they were learning from each other when we did this. And you know if again, the ultimate goal is learning. Who am I to say that my exact workout routine that I have planned is going to be the right way to do it, why not let them and their bodies dictate what feels good, what’s natural. And you know, when you said that game that you played with the Stanford volleyball team that led me to think of what we do at our apprenticeship. And I know, Brett, maybe I’ll pass this to Brett. So we can talk a little bit more about that. But we have we see that coaches and other leaders that come and play that very game really struggle to again, get out of their head. And I guess I’m curious, so I’ll let you answer and then I’ll pass it to Brett, I’m curious, why you think people who are educators and know that learning is important, and even might buy into autonomy and choice and the idea of play still struggle when they have to do it?


Patricia Madson  30:47  

I know. Yeah. Well, I think it goes back to the thing, especially educators don’t want to be seen as making a mistake, or stupid, or it’s this, it’s status and fear. And I think you’re right, I’ve often found that teachers have the hardest time being willing to try something at which they might I never even think of failing, but at which there might be some result that didn’t make them look really smart. We all really want to look smart. And I think if we could just give up on that, to let them and in fact, if the teacher models, making mistakes in public, that is so helpful. I think that’s how I’ve gotten by with a lot. Being a Stanford professor, who goes, and makes mistakes all over the place. Seems to be helpful to students.


Brett Bartholomew  31:54  

Yeah, I think, you know, staying on That discussion. There’s some interesting things here that, and there’s a lot of directions, I want to go with this. But when just to bridge off Ali’s question, if we’re using good improv, for part of my daughter, Patricia, I asked this very question, and I’d love to get your take on it. We asked a wide range of questions in semi structured interviews to over 20 professionals in a wide range of fields. And we had asked them, you know, everything from their views on improv, and did they think it would help them deal with uncertainty in the workplace, to you know, how many people in their field whatever that may be, deal with failure? And one question that I thought was very interesting is I asked them verbatim, how receptive Do you believe coaches are to the feedback or an evaluation from other coaches, specifically as it pertains to communication because as Ali alluded to, in our workshops, you know, people are going to be there with their peers, and one individual and I’m gonna refrain from names just anonymity said, not very receptive, if I’m honest, feedback in our field is often perceived as a threat or reprimand. And this is exactly what is interesting. He goes on to say that even if somebody gives you a tip, instead of looking at that as a learning moment, they think well, that’s it’s almost a costing them, you know, in our field, if you suggest a new drill or new exercise, not in the context of improv, right, for something like physical development, or sports performance, it’s, Hey, that’s helpful, you know, thank you that might help my athlete get around this with despite their knee pain. However, if you give them a new communication tip, or if you give them a suggestion of how to deal with some kind of conflict by creating a constraint or a creative opportunity, then it’s like, well, now you’re attacking me personally. Well, you know, one, you’re giving me something that can improve me tactically, if you give me an exercise, a drill or a piece of technology, that’s not quite so close to the ego, right? I’m going to take that and use it to make me better. But if you start telling me how I handled this situation, or how I should have been more receptive, or maybe how I should have built off a Yes, and that’s a personal thing, and I found that really interesting. Any thoughts on that? I want to leave that fairly open ended at first.


Patricia Madson  34:04  

No, I think you’re right, that it’s hard communication is closer than ourselves, so that if you give me suggestions about my manner of presentation, it can be seen as critical or threatening. So you have to, I think, find ways to truly Yes, and if you’re going to work to help someone. shift in some way, an improv classroom, I think, proper, most important thing is that it’s a safe place to do almost anything. And my job is the leader is to embrace whatever it is, and never correct. And never say no. But finding ways to always take whatever’s going on that behavior you want to change, embrace it, accept it, attend to it, accept it, appreciate it. There’s something there’s a kernel of good in that lousy thing that the person is doing. So can you find the kernel of good in that? And then help him? Maybe turn it around? 


Brett Bartholomew  35:27  

Yeah, well, it speaks to one of your core constructs, right? stay on course. And so if we’re giving, if somebody gives us a feedback, or you know, when I did take an improv comedy course, there was Site Coaching that took place, right. And there’s plenty of ways I wanted to respond to that side coaching, I have trouble kind of letting go a little bit. But then I realized, hey, what’s the goal here, right to keep the scene going to keep the ball in the air, whatever that looks like? Metaphorically, right? If we have a business deal going, let’s think of solutions. If we are coaching somebody, and there’s an issue, well, let’s keep going. Keep the ball and stay on course. And so this is where I’d like to play a little bit of improv with you. If that’s allowable. Is that okay? 


Patricia Madson  36:12  

Of course. Yeah


Brett Bartholomew  36:13  

So we’re gonna do a situation here where, you know, I’m trying to I maybe I’m not convinced that improv I’ve listened to this. I’ve done some research. And I’m still not convinced. And of course, we know that to a point. You know, there’s a limit to how much we should convince people that try to convince people that can’t be convinced. But what if I were to say to you, hey, Patricia, alright, so I get that improv is part of daily life, right? You and Brett and Ali are improvising right now. Nobody knows what’s going to be sad or asked. But we don’t seem to train for daily life. And that’s how we become more experienced, or that’s how we gain perspective. So then what is the value Patricia and Even training for improv? If improv is life, why train for this? Doesn’t it just handle itself?


Patricia Madson  36:57  

You’re absolutely right. I mean, training has its advantages. I would never try to kind of change your mind about that. What I’d suggest is what you’re doing now working? So is that working? And if it’s not, I don’t know. Try? See. I mean, there might be some tools and techniques that are used by professionals at Stanford University, and in the school of engineering that those tools could be helpful, but I don’t know you might be right. But is it working now? So I think that I’m a bad person to ask about this. Because I’ve never been good at marketing or trying to sell what I do. In fact, I’ve actually had clients that have come to me and that have asked me, Would you please give us a kind of an outline of what you’re going to do in the workshop, and on how we’re going to benefit from it. And we’d like to know all of that before we you know, sign on and go to the retreat. And I have to say, I’m really sorry, I’m delighted to take this job, but I’m going to be improvising. And so if I wrote out a list of what I’m going to do, I would not be true to this subject. So I’m really sorry, I will promise you is that after the workshop, I will send you a list of what we did.


Brett Bartholomew  38:39  

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Patricia Madson  39:45  

I’m delighted to take this job but I’m going to be improvising and so if I wrote out a list of what I’m going to do, I would not be true to this subject. So I’m really sorry I will promise you is that After the workshop, I will send you a list of what we did. And the games that we played. But I can’t do that. And so, you know, go get somebody who will?


Brett Bartholomew  40:12  

Well, this is what’s so wonderful about what you said there because you don’t sell what you do yet your client list is incredible IDEO Google gap, all these executive teams, right? I didn’t even name all of them. But when you talk about the list of what you do, you know, I’ve found that when I’m asked that question, and you and Ali already alluded to this so perfectly, and when you say, Well, is what you’re doing working? So for example, we play a game called Half Life, your message. And sometimes we just innocuously throw this into the introduction of the workshop, sometimes, you know, we had a business owner one time at one in Winnipeg, and we helped it was related to their marketing campaign, I’ll give some sporting context in a minute. But in this situation, we said, hey, you know, we’re gonna have everybody stand up, introduce themselves, you have one minute, and they know, this is fun, it’s not taken as kind of a directive, like you only have one minute, you know, we just say, get out what you feel is valuable in one moment, and one minute, and so somebody will stand up and say, Hi, my name is Paulina, and they’ll give some context. And I’ll say good and right. When people think we’re gonna go to the next person, I said, now you have to do that again, but 30 seconds, and then we whittle it down to 15. And you see where this is going. And the game is really about message prioritization. So when we had somebody reached out to us one time and said, hey, you know, I’m dealing with this athlete or this administrator, and I’m having trouble getting them to buy in, you know, I always ask, Well, tell me what you’re doing that is working or not working. And if we get any of that information back, I mean, it may not surprise you, once you ask some folks to do some reflection, they just go away, because they don’t want, you know, they want a quick answer. But then when we ask that a lot of them come back, and they’re like, Well, I gave research and they went into this lengthy explanation. And I said, Well, here’s the thing, you kind of want to get to the headline of what matters most to that person. And this is from what I always understood, the biggest core of improv is learning how to listen, learning how to listen. So you build off of that, what role do you think that listening by itself, just becoming a better listener would play in helping people then in turn, reframe their message and prioritize its importance?


Patricia Madson  42:15  

Absolutely, that is, listening is one of the aspects of attention. So I think a good improv class. A large percentage of the exercise is relate to listening and games that require that because you’re completely right, we’ve lost communication skills, and it’s the listening part of that, we’re all kind of thinking about what we’re going to say, when our turn comes rather than waiting to the end of the sentence. That’s why games that don’t let you speak until you get the last letter of what the person is talking to you says, and then you can say your thing is a good thing. Now listening is one of the skills that is being lost, and it’s very, very important. I agree with you, there was something I wanted to the other thing is, you know, you can help some of the people some of the time and all the people, some of the times, you can’t help all the people all the time, once I had a very prestigious client that you see, I think I get these clients because I’m a Stanford person, so they think I must know what I’m doing. So I didn’t have to make the workshop in detail for this group. But we went off to a retreat center and we started we got in a circle our throwing the sound balls, whoosh, boom, hop, bang, like that. And we’re having a grand time and a side coach can say, Okay, now pay more attention to receiving really listened to what your partner’s saying so that you can not only say the word, but say it in the manner that they said it. Okay. All right. So we stopped and the man that had hired me said, Patricia, excuse me for a moment. You know, weeks on all this good advice. Get on with the fun and games, okay? Because they wanted to play improv games so that they could one up each other and laugh and whatnot. They were not interested in the value of improv, better listening. So he’s the client, so we went on to the fun and games there just you picked your battles there, I think.


Brett Bartholomew  44:35  

No, I think that’s and if I remember correctly, because you have a wonderful post about this on your blog. That was to a group of middle managers at a famous tech company in Silicon Valley. Correct. 


Patricia Madson  44:45  

Beth rose. 


Brett Bartholomew  44:47  

And that’s the interesting thing, right, we bestow these titles or ideas on Oh, man, well, Silicon Valley has it figured out or you’ve even alluded to it in a very charming and self deprecating way. You’re a Stanford professor, you may you know, you have figured out. But the fact is a lot of us reject change. I mean, that’s really what improv seems to be about in my mind. Now, it’s many things. So I’m not trying to oversimplify your life’s work, but it’s learning how to take advantage of change. I mean, when something comes our way, you got to make the most of it, I think of a game that we had played at one point in time. And I may not get this out perfectly, because it’s a fairly involved game at this point. And feel free to give me criticisms on this, and then I’m gonna turn it back to Ali. So we’re standing in a circle, and we just wanted some associations, right? It was after lunch, wake people up, and I said, somebody choose a letter and the letter was m is in milk, or moo, the sound of a cow, I just wanna make sure I’m clear for anybody listening. And I said, Great. We’re going to come up with an object that starts with M and a vparticipant said, marker. And I said, phenomenal. Now what we’re going to do is we’re going to go around the room and Ali, how many how many people were 12? Are there 12 13?


Ali Kershner  45:58  

Yeah, about 12 to 15. 


Brett Bartholomew  45:59  

Okay, we try to limit it, Patricia, just because we want to be so immersive. We try to keep things small. So I said yes. So I have to use the letter M. But you have to go around and either speak to a characteristic of the marker, it could be a use a color. So for those of you listening, right, you could say maroon and that’s acceptable. And that’s the color of marker. Patricia, let’s play some improv. What’s something that starts with them that you could say, about a marker?


Patricia Madson  46:24  

A marker? Mind blowing? 


Brett Bartholomew  46:27  

Good? Yeah, it could be a mind blowing marker. Ali had a great one point, she referred to a use of the marker, which can be to modify, somebody said to mark right, we’re learning the obvious. And we got to an individual. And I think I might have mentioned this on the air before, but if not, good friend, right. And but it got to him, and he got really angry. And I said, Well, what’s going on? I’ll call him Bob, for the purpose of this. And he said, well, one, I don’t understand what the hell this game has to do with anything. And two, it seems to be a test of vocabulary. He goes, I don’t, you know, by the time it got to him, he just was struggling to come up. So you know, we kind of lost his cool for a moment. And he’d use that word choice as well, I think. And we had two Marines in the room. And I stopped for a moment and I asked the gentleman, I said, when you were training to become a Marine, did you ever do anything that didn’t directly look like combatives, or warfare or what you would consider to be the job of a Marine? And he said, Absolutely, you know, we disassembled toilets. And we had to do this and that, and these things taught us attention to detail. And so what I tried to do, and I hope I didn’t fail, because I look to you for instruction here, Patricia, is I tried to explain to the other gentleman, see, that’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to come up with not the answer. That’s easy. We can all go out there and think in black and white and be very lazy. But to think of alternatives, let’s say you couldn’t afford somebody speaker fee, or you couldn’t figure out how to get a leak to stop, you have to think of all kinds of odd, potentially weird solutions to meet that outcome. And so we’re trying to get them to understand that it’s not the thing, it’s what the exercise represented of exploring other plausible scenarios, or uses and staying on a common thread. Is that poor teaching? Is that not what a game like that would teach? Or how would you improve upon that?


Patricia Madson  48:16  

You get to decide, I think, what’s the best thing in that moment for that person, that there’s I don’t know if any way to kind of give guidelines about how to turn something around. And it makes sense that you’ll occasionally get a person who just freaks out and then blames the game or the class. I think the thing I would want to do instead of necessarily justifying why we were doing it is make him feel okay to not have done it. That’s fine. That’s okay. You don’t have to have a word and not make a deal of it. Sort of. Because my greater role is to make everybody safe there, rather than to justify what I’m doing. So it’s not always easy and especially if someone’s combative about the doing this for us. It’s so stupid. I’d say that’s okay. No, leave if you want to. Let’s that’s fine. Yeah, and this is tough. We’ve run out of words. Yeah. I have or something like that.


Brett Bartholomew  49:34  

That’s valuable. Yeah. Ali anything?


Ali Kershner  49:37  

Yeah. So for Trisha, what I was gonna say is, you know, I think it’s sometimes when something’s new like this, like playing games is new for a lot of people. I know like, in my life right now. I’m trying to learn how to play the guitar, which is super hard, and I’m not this very artsy I didn’t Okay, let me rephrase. I would never have considered myself artsy or creative before. I tried. This, but when you try something new, do you ever find yourself? Or do you have an experience with students who tried something new falling back into this idea of trying to control and I’m wondering if you’ve ever experienced that in your own life and trying something new and how you would work your way out of it


Patricia Madson  50:18  

here, that’s the most normal thing I can think of. And one of the things you do with a student that’s struggling in some way, is to say, that’s normal. Everybody struggles here, we all want to control or want to do it in a certain way. So you’re so far, what you’re doing is so understandable. I’ve done it that way, et cetera. And then you try to lead them to well, let’s see, one step at a time. I also want to say something about giving new improv students kind of things that make them uncomfortable, and just read a wonderful article. That’s, a person who was going to be leading an improv group for 300 people in a big auditorium, et cetera. And her idea was to have everybody stand up and have to dance, dance weird to do something, okay. And so the person who was counseling her about whether to use that game or not said, you know, you don’t have to pick something that makes people uncomfortable, to do something creative. They’re, likely to be other ways. So while just there, are a lot of games that were the improv games that really are more uncomfortable to others. And I think, and there are choices that we can make, not to do that kind of a thing. You can have an audience of 300, you can have them turn to the person next to you and have some kind of a listening game or conversation or making up a story together, which is different than standing up and having to do something really sort of physically stupid. Eventually, we should be able to do that too. But I think you pick your battles. And, always keeping in mind I sort of my rules is the student is right.


Ali Kershner  52:29  

So that’s, that leads me right into my next question, which was how do you decide which games to play? And what to prioritize in terms of your teaching? Do you just truly feed off the group? Or is it something that you prioritize ahead of time, and I just be interested in what your system or strategy is there?


Patricia Madson  52:49  

Well, I generally have a purpose for the session, like one of we want to get to know each other or learn each other’s names, or we want to do something that’s spontaneous and surprises us in some way that is improvising. So I’ve got some ideas. And I’ve got a group of games. I always, I show up with a what is this, this is a little pad of multicolored cards. And my lesson is always on one of these cards. So I write down two or three games that I think might be a weigh in, and there’s some that I like because, they’re less threatening than others. So I guess the big answer to the question is, I’ve sort of prepare from my I have a list now of for a 10 week class, maybe 150 200 games and exercises of all kinds and and I think I follow my own impulse I’m improvising today. In fact, I’ve said that I often I come into the room and I look at the people and I start to try to learn their names. That’s the first thing I always do. And so that I will also make mistakes when I try it again. That’s my purpose is also to be one of them, get a bunch of their names and just make us talking to each other before we try to create something together. And then, I don’t know I think I opened myself up to the muse or something. I really believe I leave my body when I teach and something I don’t know the spirit of improv kind of is that sounds kind of airy fairy comes through and it’s responding to what’s happening in the room. And that doesn’t always work. I’m I had a I was invited to go do. I’m some with some teenagers, these were 14 to 16 year olds. And I’m an old lady now and to get them to stand in a circle, and for open a gift, I had the bunch of the teenage boys and I said, there’s a package sitting on your lap right now. Look down and pick it up. Oh, let’s see what it is. Okay, let’s open the package and see what’s there. And so I go around, everybody, tell me what you got in your package. The boys have nothing in mind, I got nothing. I got absolutely nothing. So there was some way that I don’t know that you can teach improv to teenagers, especially teenage boys. They’re too worried about, you know, being cool. So you pick your battles?


Brett Bartholomew  55:48  

Yeah, I can imagine that I want to talk to you about a great post that you had called the tyranny of tables, that speaks environments. And just a brief aside, before we get to that, that’s something that I really challenge. Those of you listening, you know, when we’re talking about improv, and maybe this is insightful for you, Patricia, as we get to know each other a little bit, you know, my first take on this was really coming from a place when I was burnout. So when I just coached athletes, that was my entire job, it would start to seem like, every day became the same, of course, there were different challenges or what have you. But I’ve done this, you know, for about 15 years, right. And so, at a lot of the places that I had worked at, you had all kinds of equipment. Now, we also went to military bases that it was very spartan, and what have you. And I think when I first got that taste of that being shipped off to these military bases to do two or three week, kind of workshops, learning how to figure out oh, we don’t have this, let’s do that. It gave me my first taste. But then when I went back to my day to day job of running these larger groups, it wasn’t challenging enough. And so we would have interns saying, and sorry for the jargon, not that any of its beyond you. But somebody said, Hey, we’re teaching acceleration today, what do you want? Do you want med balls in the sleds and this and that, and I was just so burned out that I said, you know, what, man, pick one tool, pick any tool you want. And I will show you how to run it in an entire acceleration session with that tool alone. And everything we do will be able to be backed by science, because that’s very important in that aspect, right? Like, when you’re dealing with multimillion dollar athletes, we do have to back these things up. If you ever went to strength coach court, heaven forbid anybody got injured, you need to say, This is why we chose this, method. 


And so I started doing that throughout the week, because otherwise you start seeing folks spoon fed. And so what we would do is alter the environment. And so then if a coach said, Well, fine, I see you did these three things with that tool. But what if and I go, Well, why don’t you lay that out for me, put a colon where you want it or put this create a constraint in the environment. And when you know it, the environment starts to teach it. And the act itself becomes the progression, right. So this is what made your tyranny of tables blogs, so fascinating. And I’m gonna paraphrase just for the listeners, and I’m gonna let you take it over, you had mentioned and I’ll let you fill in some of these blanks that you were going to an event and you had sent your PowerPoint to the event organizer. And you arrived two hours early to spec out the location and an attempt to figure out the strategy for managing, you know, a workshop in a less than desirable space. You know, and you had this idea of you said, and I wonder if this is still your opinion, you said the optimal space for teaching improv is a semi empty room with a circle of chairs that can be moved in rearrange, it needs to be large enough to fill a large enough that the full group of folks participating can stand in a circle, or four and five circles and be able to see one another. This was not the case here. I’m gonna let you go from here. But I’d love to know more about how you utilize the environment to facilitate great conversation and improvisation.


Patricia Madson  58:45  

Well, the key thing is that you’ve got to have people who can connect to each other circles are ideal. And if it’s a large group, and if you can get a number of circles, but this the room that I was describing was a giant ballroom with something like 300 tables, each with 12 people. And there were maybe 70 people in the room, but they were spread out all over the place. And so I said, Oh, I’m so happy to see you all today, I plan to some of you move together. So I tried to get the group to come and even if they were sitting at the tables, but two or three people moved and the rest of them kind of looked at me and looked at their smartphones. No matter what I did,  it was doomed because I couldn’t create the proximity. I had asked the host can we move these tables back and so that we could have a space and they said no, no, the workshop that comes after needs it to be just like it is. So I was kind of stuck with this physical limitation and it’s I wrote about it because I wonder report some things. You know, sometimes even improvisers can’t, can’t fix. We really need to be able to get near each other. That’s why this the challenge of teaching, improv and zoom rooms is great. I’ve done it now I did a 10 week class for Stanford, and I’m learning lots of ways to try to connect but boy, there then ballrooms not the best place to teach an improv class, or any kind of anything that has a physical dimension. And improv is not just about ideas and words. It’s about humans getting close to each other, being able to touch each other.


Brett Bartholomew  1:00:49  

Yeah, no, I think that’s well said. And we had something we think about as well. Because while we try to limit our workshops to 15 people, there are times organizations will bring us in, and there may be 30, and 40. And we’re gonna make the most of that, you know, and then Ali, and I have to think about it. And so it might seem so silly to hear this. But her and I, you know, we’ve had tremendous experience running large groups of athletes, like at one point in time, I literally had to run 100 rugby players through a session and right, that’s its own form of chaos. But when you’re teaching improv, you know, having 40 Folks, if you really want to dial it in, and like you said, make that connection, intense,  that’s poor word choice. Make that deep connection with them so that they see, okay, here’s what I’m struggling with. Here are the constraints we have to deal within this improv game. Let’s, act these out. Now. Let’s reflect upon them. Let’s build, right you’re it’s co creation, improv is co creation. And there does get to be a point where, you know, there’s diminishing returns if the groups are just bigger and bigger and bigger, because then you’re also bringing in that, well, it’s easy for people to hide, when you’re already talking about not wanting to be judged. Now, now they hide. And I almost wonder, you know, sometimes, and this is me just talking out loud Ali, if it would be different if we made people apply to go to those workshops. Now, of course, the problem is, you’re gatekeeping a little bit. But you’re offering a constraint there, where there’s a little bit more of a commitment of saying, I’m willing to normalize failure, I’m willing to go into a group of my peers, and have conversations where I may not be the smartest one in the room, but dammit, I’m gonna learn how to read the room. And I’m gonna have a better handle on myself. I mean, any one of you thoughts on that?


Patricia Madson  1:02:35  

Well, I definitely think you’re right, that the hardest thing to do is, as a class, any class of improv class that people have to go to. That’s part of something that they have to show up. And I think you have to be very clever in a situation like that, to honor the fact that there are people that don’t want to be doing this at all, and find things that are that are easier, find things that are not going to be embarrassing, stuff like that. Find a way to get some wins. But whenever possible, I think your idea is people ought to volunteer to come to this. The idea of it being voluntary is pretty important. It’s not always possible.


Ali Kershner  1:03:26  

But what’s interesting about that is that we had somebody in our past come to an apprenticeship. And they probably didn’t want to be there. They were not made to go but they were highly suggested it was highly suggested that they attend and they were frustrated beyond all measure, I think this individual would tell you himself that he did not love the experience. But then Brett, you got a message not so long ago from the same individual saying that he finally understood it.


Brett Bartholomew  1:03:58  

Yeah, as a matter of fact, we got one today. And I think that this will go into something that I want to ask Patricia after this. I’m looking at my phone as I’m saying this because this individual said I want to tell you how thankful I am that I ended up taking the apprenticeship and embracing improv and he talks about a situation he had today, where he utilized some of the games and one of them Patricia, it’s one of my favorites. Ali, I don’t know how you feel about it. And we certainly didn’t invent it right? Nobody invented any of this stuff in improv is 531 Does that name ring a bell but I know people call it different though say 


so the idea is Patricia and going back to the coaching example that you and Ali so wonderfully utilize, is there’s three of us playing so it’s maybe we’ll just play it right now. One of us gets five words one gets three and one gets one. So when you guys were talking about the basketball coach or let’s say we’re having a basketball team that is not doing a great job communicating if somebody said I’m open pass the ball, right that’s five. Now depending on the role Patricia wanted to play Patricia, respond any way you want to. I’m open pass ball You have three words


Patricia Madson  1:05:00  

handed it here. Okay, Ali?


Ali Kershner  1:05:04  



Brett Bartholomew  1:05:05  

right? Oh, now in that case, we might have all been the same person. But let’s say. I’m athlete. Number one Patricia’s athlete. Number two and Ali. You’re the coach. That could have been well, let’s roleplay it. I’m open pass the ball. 


Patricia Madson  1:05:19  

I’m over over here. 


Ali Kershner  1:05:21  



Brett Bartholomew  1:05:22  

go right. And now we’d probably get a rap on the wrist because yes, and but the reality is, and this is what I love so much about what you said patrician, how it feeds into what Ali and I, we kind of have to break some of the rules of improv. Yeah, but you had this post on April 5 2020. And you’re sharing some of your artwork and you said Robert, point in an applied improv wizard has given us some wise tips for the improv stage. And I have modified these instructions, let go appreciate more use everything. But you also said within that, that you teach improvisation not as comedy, but as common sense. So even though we love to, we have to say yes, and , what have you Ali’s spot on in that you are going to have people in life that do reject your offer? You know, they say no, or I’m not doing that. And that’s where we have to balance you know, like you said,, it’s not comedy, it’s common sense, and common sense. Or sorry. And in the real world is common sense. You’re gonna have to deal with difficult people. So where do we need to sometimes be? This is a poor question. But even when you find yourself having to break the rules are struggling with some points of classic improv teaching, you know, or where do you still struggle with improv in general? Surely, even as a Stanford professor, that it’s part of your daily life? Where do you struggle most with it?


Patricia Madson  1:06:42  

Well, it’s just that first thing listening and paying attention. I have to constantly remind myself to be present and do that, because I’m normal. And that means that my mind goes off into my stuff. So that’ll always be a struggle. I think staying on course, it’s really easy to get distracted. So that when I say that improv ideas are easy to understand, but they’re not easy necessarily to practice for all the reasons that we’ve talked about the we want to be liked, or our egos are involved in this and I just, I think even if you’re using a little bit of improv, Lifeway or improv mindset, it can be a help. I don’t think there’s any perfect improviser that I know of. And I know a lot of good improvisers I’ve got a good friend now who is in Japan, who’s teaching English to Japanese students, and we’re collaborating, we’re gonna get together and have a couple of people join us in a Zoom Room and see what happens. And we’re going to improvise without any not improvise, to tell stories or to make scenes, but to find out what’s on each other’s mind and see if we can be resources for each other different ways that you can use the listening and being mindful.


My favorite Maxim, by the way, I’m often asked that question is wake up to the gifts. I think we there’s so much right now, at every moment in each of our lives that we’re receiving from others, that we miss, because we’re often looking at what’s not working or what was wrong, or that the negative mindset kind of jumps in. And we forget to notice how much we’re receiving from others that bagger and Safeway there was standing on his feet for eight hours so that I could get my groceries. And right now you’re taking your time, you could be out galley, doing all kinds of interesting things. But I’m receiving your attention and the wonderful and the technology that’s allowing us to talk to each other. So I think we need to keep remembering the gifts that are everywhere. I think it’s a metaphor for improv that everything is a kind of a gift. Robert Clinton calls it an offer, let go of outcomes notice more but use everything. Good advice.


Brett Bartholomew  1:09:32  

No, no question and I have one more question for you because we want to honor your time and it’s not miss upon us the gifts that you’ve given us on this you know, selfishly, There’s so much I want to ask you, but really, we’re just gonna worry they’re gonna bring one of our workshops to you, or we’re gonna get with somehow we’ve got to get this time. And if you’ll allow me to just get dramatic for a moment, but sometimes people need to hear these calls to action. What do you think? is at risk. If people do not embrace the idea, or at the very least the principles of improv we live in a time of rapid change. This whole light, this whole idea of where do you want to be in five years, I think, is a well intentioned question. But silly especially nowadays, but for the person that is still just like not open to letting go and listening and realizing that we all play roles daily. So role playing is not new. Improv is life.  you’ll deal with that every day?  what are the ramifications? If they don’t embrace it a little bit more? Do you think?


Patricia Madson  1:10:36  

Well, I think we miss being human. That would be my sort of wrapped up of that. And I think it’s not easy to be human, especially in this virtual world. But we need to remember, those simple things and if we don’t want the time to pass and Miss life, so improv just gives you permission to be normal to be yourself, try stuff, and pay more attention to other people than to yourself.


Brett Bartholomew  1:11:15  

Yep. I mean, well, well stated. We tell our coaches and listeners and managers all the time, you know, don’t sit here and tell your team that it’s okay to make mistakes or don’t watch them. I mean, I still remember the day it won’t get out of my head when a coach said, Hey, I love you. But I couldn’t come to one of those workshops. I can’t play make believe. And I go do you tell your athletes that when they go do walkthroughs? Do you tell a fighter that when they go shadowbox against an invisible opponent, do you go tell you know, like, wow, you don’t play make believe. 


You know, Patricia, I’m gonna give you and Ali the final word, but before I do, I just want to encourage everybody guys if you have not gone already to If you have not already bought Patricia’s book improv wisdom, and translated in nine languages, there’s an audio book there’s everything. I mean, Steven Pressfield calls it absolute required reading and it’s a goal of mine a life goal to actually meet Mr. Pressfield ease his work has impacted my life. So that is super high praise. 


Patricia Madson  1:12:12  

Thank you


Brett Bartholomew  1:12:12  

And Everybody needs to go to Without question, Ali, Patricia, I want to give you guys a final word before we sign off if there’s anything you’d like to add.


Ali Kershner  1:12:23  

I just want to say Patricia, thank you for permission to be weird, because I need more of that in my life. I am extremely unusual as a person and I would like to be more human. So Brett, you heard it from Patricia, that I have permission to be myself and be weird. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:12:40  

You need to be weirder in my opinion.


Patricia Madson  1:12:42  

Absolutely. And your weirdness is just perfect, just as it is. Be yourself. Everybody else is taken. So you’re already unique. So trust, yourself, and you’ll have more fun and more things will come to you and you’ll be more helpful to other people as you both are right now.


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:06  

We hope so. Well, we thank you again for coming on and folks, make sure that you go to the show notes and fill out the podcast reflections that are always so graciously done by Ali Kirshner on there so you don’t miss the most impactful lessons of this show. For Brett Bartholomew Patricia Madson and Ali Kirshner. We are art of coaching and we’ll talk to you next time

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