Boost Your AQ with Improv | Adaptability  Quotient

An Interview with Nancy Watt


Adaptability is the most important trait to have in Normal 2.0. How well can you accept reality as it is and grow from it? Nancy Watt believes that improv is a powerful tool for improving adaptability. Based in the science of positive psychology, improv can be used to help with knowledge retention, adaptability, and community. 

Improv not only improves individuals, it improves community. Practicing improv helps individuals become better listeners and get more comfortable leaving space for silence. These practices help people connect more widely and more deeply and find common ground more easily. Even if you think improv is a strange match for the workplace, its benefits are undeniable.

SEGMENT #1 – Nancy Watt

When Nancy Watt watches priests, rabbis, imams, and native elders do improv, she is struck by one thing: they always find their commonalities! After all, they are all people leading other people. She has found that improv is a wonderful avenue for building community, which is exactly what happens when putting together an improv ensemble.

From building a team to learning adaptability to practicing courage, there is much to be learned from improv. As a “pracademic” who studies humor and social sciences, Nancy believes improv is a great tool for learning about the workplace.

SEGMENT #2 – AHEAD OF THE CURVE with Joyce Gioia

Today on Ahead of the Curve, Joyce discusses why “access” is the new currency.


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[12:16] “Improv is not a thing, it is a way. It is a way of listening and interacting, co-creation and co-connection.” 

[12:38] “The number one reason miscommunication happens is that we don’t accept the reality of the other.” 

[16:02] “Listening is a sacrificial act.”

]17:03] “Silence shows up as another character.”

[26:42] “When we play, when we laugh, and especially when we are co-creating, we learn better.”

Podcast Notes

Defining Improv [12:10]

“Improv is not a thing. It is a way of listening and interacting, co-creation and co-connection.” [12:16]

The practice of improv is not just a thing to do. Rather, it is a way to build connections and foster creativity through listening and interacting. The fundamental rule of improv is “Yes, and…”. This is the practice of accepting an offer the way it is, and adding to it to get somewhere. 

This principle is one reason why improv is so helpful. To build a scene, you have to accept the reality that someone else has set forth. Too often, miscommunication happens because one person simply cannot do this. Accepting reality rather than fighting it is a strong communication skill.

Creating Connection Through Improv [17:00]

[17:03] “Silence shows up as another character.”

After being able to accept someone’s reality, connection continues to be built by a commitment to listen. Listening is a very intentional act that keeps us present in the moment. However, listening is not the only thing necessary for connection.

Silence is another powerful tool. It builds contemplation and allows space for connection to form. It makes the difference between responding and reacting by giving time for mindfulness and thoughtfulness.

Practicing Improv [23:24]

[26:42] “When we play, when we laugh, and especially when we are co-creating, we learn better.”

Traditional psychology takes a “What is wrong?” approach, always looking for flaws and failures, then trying to create cures. Positive psychology, on the other hand, seeks out what is right and tries to understand why. This field examines why organizations thrive and, pointedly, how we can suffer well. 

Discomfort is necessary, but when we are engaged in fun and play, we learn better and retain things longer. It more quickly becomes a part of us. This is a finding of positive psychology, and suggests that on top of every other benefit, improv can help employees learn more quickly.

Learning Adaptability from 2020 [30:15]

[30:30] “Courage never feels courageous. It is always an experience in vulnerability.”

Last year was an immensely challenging time, but there are always lessons to be learned. Nancy deeply experienced courage last year, and particularly the vulnerability that accompanies adaptability. When she lost 95% of her revenue stream in May 2020, it was a terribly trying time. 

However, she practiced adaptability and used that time to reboot and revamp her approach. She came out a little bruised, but stronger. This is the lesson she wants to hold on to from 2020: do things not in spite of the fact that they are uncomfortable, but precisely because they are uncomfortable. 

If you want to chat more about any part of this episode, shoot Nancy an Email. You can also connect with her through her website or LinkedIn.

Ahead of the Curve: Normal 2.0 [39:25]

Access is the new currency. When Joyce was staying at a particular hotel, the general manager told her that one problem the hotel is facing is that locals view the area exclusively as a weekend destination. Joyce thought that maybe access to celebrities would be enough to draw a midweek crowd, and she began to see a connection. People will pay for access, and they have paid for access for a long time. 

If consumers value access, all stakeholders are likely to value access. For instance, some employees value access to company leaders, which can be used as an effective incentive. Sponsors and corporate partners are also buying access to corporate buyers. Recently, the pandemic has opened up access to so many people, which has created a lot of value for many different groups.

To further dig in to some of her projections, Joyce will be appearing in the Ingomu #BeMoreDays event. This is an entire half-day event, free to register, and a wonderful opportunity to meet the latest GGG sponsor.


The Geeks, Geezers & Googlization TV Show is live every Wednesday at 1 PM ET on Facebook, YouTube, Talk 4 TV, and broadcast on W4CY Radio, part of Talk 4 Radio on the Talk 4 Media Network.  The podcast is also available on Talk 4 Podcasting.

Following the broadcast, the replay will be available at the same links for YouTube and Facebook, our podcast website Geeks Geezers Googlization, and on most podcasts including Apple Podcast, iHeart, Spotify, Amazon, Stitcher and more.