Business Improv With Bob Kulhan

Business Improv With Bob Kulhan

When you think of improvisational theater (improv), there’s a pretty good chance that you imagine a troupe of performers riffing off each other and being spontaneous—and you wouldn’t be wrong. What if I told you that the skills critical to being a successful improv artist are also ones you might use to improve your business? If that got your attention, then you’ll love my brief chat with Bob Kulhan.

Bob Kulhan has over 24 years of stage experience and cut his teeth with Chicago’s famed Second City comedy club. He’s parlayed his extensive experience into a successful career as an author, professor, and founder of Business Improv, a 21-year-old consultancy that links improv to business through the behavioral sciences and real-world application.

Bob recently spent two days working with my Vistage groups—and what an experience! Among other key takeaways, Bob shared pro tips for how to:

  • Develop your leadership awareness and presence in a virtual environment
  • Overcome barriers to communication and collaboration (on-site or virtual) to build cohesion and chemistry in virtual teams
  • Promote an understanding of how energy + attitude + simple framing of language can influence others positively within virtual communication

After we wrapped up our final session, I sat down with Bob for a virtual chat that answered the one question on my mind. Take a moment to watch our discussion, and then, in true improv style, say “Yes, and…” check out what Business Improv can do for you and your team.


Chad Harvey (00:05): Hey everybody, Chad Harvey here with improv legend Bob Kulhan. Bob’s business is business improv, he brings decades of experience in a what I would call a non-traditional business setting, but he makes it very relevant to the business community and to organizations of all sizes. Last week we wrapped a fantastic session with both of my vestige groups with Bob on business improv, and Bob, what’s the one thing that you’d like everybody to know about technology and engaging through mediums like the video screen that we’re on right now. What’s the one thing you’d love people to know about that?

Bob Kulhan (00:41): That’s a great question. Chad, thanks for having me, I’m excited to chat with you and chat with everyone out there. The one thing I think that’s super important when it comes to engaging through technology is people, it’s all about people, it’s not about the technology. That technology is important because we need clear communication with each other, yet at the same time what we’re talking about is communicating with each other, and that’s going to increase engagement. So remembering that the focus is out on the other person or people with whom you’re engaging, and that’s where your attention should be, focusing on them, listening to understand them as opposed to listening to simply respond, and showing leading by example, that you’re focused, that you’re present, that you’re in the moment, and you’re here to work with, listen to, collaborate with and engage them is going to increase engagement on the other side.

Chad Harvey (01:32): Wow, fantastic. That is a pro tip right there, Bob. I really appreciate it.

Bob Kulhan (01:37): Absolutely. Like I said, I’m glad to be here.

Chad Harvey (01:41): And do you want to sing us out or do a little soft shoe or something?

Bob Kulhan (01:44): Everybody have a great dad, I have a great day, have a great day.

Chad Harvey (01:49): I Love it. Thanks Bob.

Bob Kulhan (01:51): Thank you.

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