The Beta Blox startup incubator is a training ground for entrepreneurs as they unleash their new businesses to market.
Always on the look out for resources to make a difference to those in his incubator, Wes Bergmann, principle at Beta Blox, decided to try an emerging training in Kansas City that leverages skills developed in improv. During a several year period of focused professional development, Bergmann experienced a noticeable benefit from the many improv workshops he took.
He knew entrepreneurs could achieve more success with the improved “thinking on your feet” skills that he’d experienced (and seen others develop) in the improv training.
Aligning with Lean methodologies, a two session program was developed meant to leverage creativity, practice shifting directions quickly and responding appropriately without planning. In addition, the sessions would forward breaking down barriers and positively connecting with others.
His experience is that improv is positive training for the skill of being able to come up with more alternative answers.
Bergman has noticed more alternate answers causes more innovation and even higher IQs.
The application of principles from improv (Applied Improv) and creative development were the primary tools utilized to craft the sessions.
Every year there are four rounds of new business owners entering the incubator, and people typically don’t completely exit from Beta Blox upon completion of their initial term.
He knew that having people know, like and trust those in (and out) of the program would contribute to a business culture that promotes friendly collisions and collaborations.
The comments from participants about both sessions reflected the positive energy that was generated. (Note: the names are included if they were indicated.)
“It helped me get out of my comfort zone and gain confidence in a setting when you don’t know anyone very well.”
Ryan Henners RMS
“The additional explanation was super helpful, I enjoyed doing the directed story as it helped keep the momentum. The Yes But and Yes And were the most impactful for me personally – really made me think.”
Bryant Callahan, BlueHollar.com
“Great insights about the bad effects of negativity!!!
“It was fun! It brought me out of my comfort zone which is good since I’m sometimes very shy. : )
Courtney Ross Queen of Wands Cosmetics
“Great class! It made me learn what I’m good at and what I’m not!”
“What I learned: Freedom to explore and don’t be afraid to try new things. I am a reserved person so the sessions helped me to open up more and be myself.”
Wiesia Zakrzewska, Innovative immigration Solutions LLC
“I enjoyed when you went over why we were doing the activities and how to apply them. Meeting each other at the same level and laugh at each other was very valuable for the team.”
Quinten Sepe MPO Technology “P.S. Tell Tina Fey I say “HI”.
“Good and interesting session. Makes you realize how you might behave in specific situations.”
“I really appreciated the ideas you sparked about how to help people stay positive and not block or shut down ideation.”
Keith Carter Everyday Carry
“ I got how its good to get all ideas out there, as in brainstorming. Create all options, good or bad, before making a decision. Encourage each other, employees, vendors and customers with “Yes … and” statements. Encourage creativity in yourself an others!”
“I loved the Yes/No takeaways. It really relates to how I act with co-workers anyhow I can use no to get space and yes to generate ideas. I’ve done that before but wasn’t aware. Now I can use to my advantage. “ : )
Jason, Encore Up
“I did the Yes and exercise in college and didn’t get nearly as much out of it as I did through your program. I’d never thought so much about the impact of such a small word. Thanks.”
Wesley Pawian, Purveyors Market
“The difference it made to me was getting to know the BB team. The exercises helped to know that play is essential and can free ideas and open new conversations. Thank you.” Ralph Amerigo Labs
“This was a great way to interact and engage in a group setting which allowed people to get to know each other.”
“This helped push me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for teaching this class. I loved the story sessions.”
“Fun to do stuff as a group.”
“Favorite part: Being around everyone, facing them, integrating with them, breaking the ice.
First Session Feedback
“The experience was very fun, valuable. It definitely helps a person to embrace himself/herself and be open to anything that can happen. It stretched my comfort level. “
“ I had a pretty difficult day. The goofing around was great. Thank you for the laughs. It made me realize a “sad” attitude won’t help me. Always be smiling.”
“Very helpful exercises. Made me think and engage in ways I’m not used to.”
“I thought the activities helped me out of my comfort zone and helped me with different ways to meet and talk with people I don’t know.”
“It was really fun! It also helped me get over not talking (the fear). Just do it!”
“I felt more empowered to open up and see how other’s can influence my reactions.”
“Really enjoyed the class (session). I found it informative especially when introducing yourself as someone is introducing themselves and you are the same charter. It’s weird watching how another person views the same scenario and the spectrum of emotion, yet non-verbal response.”
“The exercises were great b/c they got me to interact with everyone in the room. That was wonderful.”
“The program was fun & encouraged interaction with strangers!”
“This was a good team building activity to get to know people, as I am new to the group.”
“Really enjoyed the “touch down dance, Honey badger, hourly version of rock , Paper Scissors. The introduction exercise taught me to be aware of how I introduce myself and to treat people equally. Do you know Tina Fey?”
A final note: the beautiful pictures were taken by the talented Bryant Callahan at BlueHollar.com