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January 31, 2013

BossypantsI downloaded the audio version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I figured I was going to hear her voice in my head while reading it anyway, why not actually hear her voice? It’s a breezy and entertaining autobiography. If you enjoy the TV show 30 Rock (which aired its last episode today) you’ll enjoy this book.

My happiest discovery in this book was the rules for doing Improv as a model for leading your life. I’ve heard this idea before, and the best MarComm folks I know do these things instinctively. It doesn’t hurt to have a handy reminder. You can find all sorts  “Improv” rules on the web, but Ms. Fey does a great job of boiling them down to just the following four which even you/I can remember:

  • Rule #1 – Always agree and say yes. When you’re improvising, this means you agree with whatever your partner has created. When I am in a meeting, my initial reaction to new ideas is to try and make them work. This leads nicely to rule #2…
  • Rule #2 – Don’t only to say yes, say yes, and. Agree silently if screaming “Yes!” isn’t appropriate at the moment. And then add something of your own: “Yes, we can do the product launch in New York – I think there’s a major tie-in with Fashion Week.”
  • Rule #3 – Make statements. In other words, be positive; don’t try to shoot down the idea. I’ve been in many meetings where folks seem to enjoy pointing out all the obstacles. As a colleague used to say, “Any jackass can kick down a barn.” But an Improviser looks for solutions: “A New York launch can be expensive – let’s look for some unconventional venues so we can make this work!”
  • Rule #4 – There are no mistakes, only opportunities. Often the funniest things happen in Improv due to misunderstanding and “happy accidents”. If – even after following rules #1-3 – your best laid plans go awry, deal with what you have. It’s not a mistake if you can create an opportunity. “After all that planning, the New York launch must be cancelled because of snow”… quick improvise!!!

For a much funnier version of these rules get yourself a copy of Bossypants and look for the chapter entitled “Tina Fey’s Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat* (*Improv will not reduce belly fat). Bossypants is an autobiographical comedy book written by Tina Fey, originally published April 5, 2011. The paperback edition was release earlier this month. The audio book is available on

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