Gillian Bellinger, How to Utilise Improv for Collaboration and Creativity – InnovaBuzz 386

Gillian Bellinger

Gillian Bellinger, Westside Corporate Creativity

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Gillian Bellinger, who has been a corporate improv trainer for 15 years. She helps companies provide support to their employees through interpersonal communication skills, public speaking, and leadership development. She has taught workshops for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Amgen, Kaiser Permenente, Westfield Corporate, Cartoon Network, TBS, Luther College, Mt. Aloysius College, Macy’s, State Farm, AT Kearney, National Business Travelers’ Association, Edmonds.com, and Gilda’s Club to name a few.

Gillian has presented as a speaker at National Association of Campus Activities and the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. She currently trains for five different companies Westside Corporate Creativity, Business Improvisations®, and Mind Gym, Hemsley Fraser, and H2F Bookings and is in the process of becoming a board certified Professional Certified Coach.

In our discussion, Gillian talked to me about:

  • Why we should create space to be open to possibilities which is critical to innovation
  • The power of self-reflection to adapt to and lead change
  • Lessons from Improv to business and life

Jay Sukow in episode 360 introduced us to Gillian.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Innovation lies in the idea of what is possible. It lies in the idea of saying "YES." @GillianBellz on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Gillian Bellinger of Westside Corporate Creativity

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Be open to possibilities. Innovation lies in the idea of what is possible. It lies in the idea of saying “YES.”
  • “YES is agreeing that an idea exists. “AND” is the bridge to how you make it possible.
  • Time doesn’t stop. Progression and change are inevitable. You can choose to be empowered about that or drag your heels and be pulled along the entire way without being part of the experience.
  • Improv is not just a performance. It is a philosophy. Improv allows entry into being a part of the collaboration with change.
  • Be mindful of the language you are using. Make sure that there are methods in place that encourage language that is based on innovation in your organisation.
  • Saying “BUT” is a subtle way of covertly and subversively invalidating someone. It is a subtle and powerful word that has a lot of impact.
  • Put every idea on the board regardless of whether or not it will work to your point and regardless of whether it is a long-term solution. The more ideas that you cultivate, the more probability you have of finding a real, true, and effective answer.
  • Create a space where people feel they have the right to fail and repetitively build those ground rules in the culture of the organisation. 
  • If people don’t feel safe, they are not going to give you their best ideas. You can never see the full potential of who a team member is unless there is space for that person to offer ideas without being attached to identity.
  • Create a space for things to be evolutionary. Answers are often evolving. Short-term and long-term answers can exist and they don’t have to be binary. It’s not that one is good and the other is bad for now. They can both be good in the current space that you are in. 
  • Change is inevitable. When you acknowledge that and incorporate it into your strategies, it empowers you more to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
  • Be conscious of setting aside time to reflect on what is serving you right now and what is coming to you as a problem. Create a divergent space for yourself to potentially acknowledge a problem and move into a place of possible solutions. Reflect, acknowledge, and reframe.
  • Mentorship and seeking coaching are super helpful. Having another human function as a creative sounding board can be incredibly powerful in recognising your resistance when it shows up.
  • Being an organisation is all about having a growth mindset. Organisations should invest in learning and development. They should invest in building an architecture for their team members to continue being in a space of learning and actively cultivating their leadership.
  • Read books by people who are exceptionally knowledgeable. Explore what changemakers are doing through videos and documentaries. 
  • Expand your network. What resonates for every individual is going to be different. The key is to be in action with it.
  • Resistance is based on the fear of the unknown, and one of the ways to deal with it is through play. Be willing to entertain the possibility. It could be anything you’ve never done before or doing something you used to do and coming back to it. Choosing to step into a place of doing is inherently innovative. It’s all about finding comfort in the discomfort.
  • Improvisation is a muscle that you get better at exercising. When you exercise that muscle, you become faster at accessing the part of yourself that allows you to recognise that you are safe within any moment. 
Change is inevitable. When you acknowledge that and incorporate it into your strategies, it empowers you more to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. @GillianBellz on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Gillian’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Incorporate “YES-AND.”
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Set aside time to be divergent. 
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – People. The currency of humans is incredibly powerful.
  4. Keep project/client on track – Language and accountability. Manage expectations from the beginning. Define what success looks like for you and work backwards. Always try to stay linguistically in a place of “YES-AND.” 
  5. Differentiate – Create a leadership narrative that uniquely defines who you are as a leader. 

To Be a Leader

Sit in a place of growth mindset. Take a look at what kind of mindset you are in and make some choices around what progress looks like for you. Think about how you can continue to be in a place of learning. 

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Gillian through her website

Suggested Guest

Gillian suggested we have a conversation with improvisor, David Escobedo. So David, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Gillian Bellinger.

Links

Books

Cool Things About Gillian

  • She’s known for her roles in Just Roll with It (2019), Basketball Wives LA (2011), and ctrl alt delete (2017). 
  • As a voice-over actress, she specializes in animation, character pieces, and kid and teen voices.
  • She has a BA in Communication Studies and Theater from Hamline University and conservatory certificates from The London Academy of Theatre and The National Theater Institute.
Put every idea on the board regardless of whether or not it will work to your point. The more ideas that you cultivate, the more probability you have of finding a real, true, and effective answer. @GillianBellz on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is a transformational marketing strategist, podcaster, speaker, the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches and consultants to enable you to build visibility, professional credibility and a deep connection with your ideal, dream clients, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. Jürgen's mantra is Let's Make Marketing Human again. He believes that marketing is the art and science of creating and sustaining exceptional, remarkable customer experiences and relationships. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Tales of Marketing Transformation Show and his personal Photography website.

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