Combine Your Passion & Your Work
In this, we're gonna talk about combining your passion and your work, because that's something that's very difficult for some people. So let me just take a poll really quickly. Do you feel like you are truly yourself at your current or past jobs? Or are there things that you just, and it's totally okay, I think we all do this kind of keep to yourself and don't bring to work. What do you say? What are you? Are you--
You're asking two questions at the same time.
Yeah, I know. I'm now hearing myself.
How do you expect us to answer?
Are you the kind of person that brings everything in?
Or do you leave some things at home?
Yes. To the first part or to the second part (laughs)?
You know what? (laughing) We're gonna just do it again.
Fix it and post it.
Get her out of here! (laughing) Anyway, moving right along. My next class is about how to not ask questions. I think, yeah, so we'll just move forward 'cause now I feel like that's the best route. (laughing)
he question is like--
There's not question.
The question was about who we are at work, right?
So who are we at work? And for me, it feels like it depends on when I think about being a teacher, the persona that I am when I'm, especially when I was teaching high school, the persona of who I was when I was teaching high school is probably very different even though I'm pretty relaxed as a person. But it's probably very different than like I am when we hang out, right? Because there's a certain air that I have to keep on. Even with the other teachers, there's personal things that I'm not talking about with my teacher friends. I'm talking about my friend friends. And there may be things that I'm passionate about or excited about that I just don't even bring in 'cause it doesn't come up if people aren't interested or there's no reason for it to come up sometimes. We're all about work.
Yeah, so in this exercise, we're gonna try to figure out a good way to put those things together. If you have a passion outside of work, and then something that you're working on, and I'm not gonna ask you any more questions by the way. (laughing) I'd like you to leave.
I just, just please. Go in the corner.
Go, please. There's cameras. Go back. (laughing) In this exercise, this exercise is actually in a way how Speechless as a show and as a company came to be because a very simple logo of a venn diagram came about when I was working as a writer of video game company and also doing comedy and acting stuff as I had been doing for a very long time. And I was in this world seeing a lot of PowerPoint presentations for the first time. And in this world I was doing what I've always done, teaching and performing. And I saw there was an intersection where those things could kind of combine and make something. And the first idea was the show. How do we people from the world of different types of jobs who have a natural habitat of presenting and put them into a show with comedians and improvisors and so and so forth. So I combined basically my job and my passion. And so that's what we're gonna have someone do. I would love a volunteer to come up and we're gonna time box this as well. So we'll use the timer in the back of the room. Another time, that was effective last time.
No, it was cool.
So who hasn't jumped up in a bit? Maybe someone down here. Maybe specifically one of you. (laughing)
All right. Give her a round of applause. (applause)
So the way this gonna work is that you're gonna talk for one minute or less. It doesn't have to be a minute, but we're gonna use that as the time box. So if I can get a minute on the clock, that would be fantastic. Thank you so much. So the first minute, you're just gonna tell us about either your job or a project you've worked on recently. I think you mentioned earlier that you're kind of in transition in different ways, but it can be something that you've already done. But just talk about that for a minute and tell us a little bit about what you've done.
Okay, as I said before, I moved here to start grad school, but I guess my job that I most previously had been doing I was a teacher, an English teacher. So I couldn't say, conjugate just now. I was teaching overseas. And I was pretty passionate about it mostly because I was able to travel overseas and the teaching was like funding that basically. But it became a really interesting when I really did connect with the students. I had both children and adults in three different cities, two different countries, and it was just fun to be first in Spain and to travel throughout Western Europe and then the second couple of years in Russia to travel throughout Eastern Europe while connecting with the people who live there and understanding more of the culture and the people and the lifestyle and the language and the food. (clock chimes)
There it is.
That's just enough time, thank you.
That was perfect.
So stay there, Sheewat. Thank you so much. So great. You shared about you job as an English teacher. And now I want you to for a minute or a little bit less, doesn't really matter, speak about something that you're passionate about. It can be a hobby. It could be something that you've always done. It could be you just picked up. But just something that isn't job related. Does that make sense?
Okay, so again, a minute on the clock.
All right. Well, piggybacking off of what I had just said. Traveling is a big passion in my life. So though I've moved here and will be here for at least a year and a half, even just a couple weeks ago, I was in Iceland for a week randomly, just because the tickets were 300 bucks. So I like to travel and then with that, like I said, I just jumped on a plane. I like improv as well and so I've met some great people since being here doing improv, which I show I'm here today. Thank you. And I'd like to just explore more of that because I think people would like to see me onstage. I don't know. (laughing) I just really enjoy it and I just want to continue to do it.
All right. Very good. Thank you for sharing. (applause) So Sheewat, one more iteration, and this time we're gonna combine them. So I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I wanna kind of reverse pitch back what I was hearing. So in the first talk, you were talking about being an English teacher overseas. And in the second one, you talked about traveling and improv. So you can I guess choose one of those. And the way that you would frame it is teaching English is like traveling or teaching English is like doing improv or whatever you think makes the most sense. And for a minute, you're just gonna talk, and we're not gonna try to get this perfect. Again, this is just like so many of our exercises. It's about kind of this on your feet first draft mentality. Let it out, and this is a great one. For the people watching at home, this is a great one to try on your own too. Just record yourself with your phone. Just listen back or find some sort of transcription software and don't worry so much about the perfect wording because these types of exercises are best done when you're speaking because that's what it is. It's public speaking. It's not public writing. I've never said that before. I don't know if I like it or not. But either way, you're gonna try to just combine these things. Just kind of like play the tennis match. Go back and forth. English teaching is like whatever one of the passions you choose because of this, because of this. And almost see like two visual columns, like the characteristics are on both sides. And just go back and forth. Some are gonna match up really well. Some are gonna surprise you. Some are gonna be obvious to everyone. Some are not gonna work at all. And it's all okay, because what we're right now trying to do is find that intersection of where do these two parts of you merge and that's really, again, just like the epitome exercise, a great distilled version of your personality and your originality. So which of the two passions do you want to talk about?
I was gonna just do them all.
Okay, so English teaching is like--
Both of them.
Travel and improv, okay. So a minute on the clock. Here we go.
Okay. So I would say teaching English is like improv. First of all, you're one, up onstage. People are looking at you looking for information maybe to enjoy themselves, maybe to learn more. Either way, you are portraying something, giving them some sort of background of sorts into you or whatever the history is that you're teaching about. Also, there are questions that come up. Just kind of like improv where they have suggestions. Your students ask many questions and you answer on the spot. And I think it's kind of similar to being in another country as well. You land in a country. You don't know the lay of the land. You don't know the people, the language. You're just kind of on the spot hoping to give the information as openly as freely as possible and that they understand you and you're able to understand them back, kind of a constant connection feedback, which is similar to teaching and also improv.
Very good. Take a seat. (applause) Thank you so much. So great. Let's talk about that for a second. And then I would like to hear. You don't have to come up and do what she just did but I would love to hear some of those combined vennspirations that you may have. So first, for a minute, she spoke about teaching English. And then in the second minute, she talked about traveling and then also improvisation. And then in that third minute, just now, she combined them. So what were some of the observations that you made during those iterations? What did you like about the third, the kind of like the final version? It was combining those things. Did you find that some of the connections she made made sense to you?
And what were some of the examples of those? Yes, Jerry.
It really stood out to me when Shaweet mentioned that teaching is like improv because you're onstage and you're vulnerable and you're sharing information. And then, your partner or your audience, when you ask for suggestions or when you interact with them, you don't know what you're gonna get. When that happens, you don't know what you're gonna get, you have to react in the moment and be genuine and authentic and answer that question or do something else in that moment. I just thought that was really cool. That stood out to me as very true. It rings true in my life.
Yeah, agreed. Yes, John.
I also liked it that you, actually, it seemed like you wanted her to have one passion. And you said, "No, I have two passions." And you went with it and you ended, I thought, smartly with the travel passion at the end, which maybe you're even more passionate about.
Yeah, I mean, there was. That was a great example. That was almost like a two for one, if you will. This exercise, in a lot of respects, is to show you that anything connects to anything, and you are all of these things all at the same time. And that proved it by you just kind of saying, "I'm gonna do two passions at once," because yeah, there are these universalities around all of these different things that we like doing. What were some of the other things that kind of came out? Were there any of the things that she said that didn't really go together for you or didn't make kind of like a strong connection in your mind? I don't really recall any, myself.
I thought you got more relaxed as you got into the passions.
How did it feel for you to do the three different compartmentalized versions?
I guess the first two were more like informational. And then the third one, it became informational with my thoughts and what I believe in. It was easier yet more difficult because I had to choose precise words. And I couldn't think of those precise words. It really portrayed what I meant in the moment, but it was still easier because it's what I want to do. Still can't do it.
I encourage everyone to practice this. The people that are here in the studio with us today, the people at home. This is a fantastic exercise if you one, have kind of an expertise or course of knowledge about something that goes over people's heads a lot of times and you really need to make it more universal for different types of audiences because if you can attach this thing that only you know how to talk about and know what it is, to something, everyone can relate to traveling and even if you don't do improv, which most of the people in this room are currently doing, but if you don't do improv, you have something like that, whether it's playing the piano, or whatever it may be. Something creative and artistic, I guess. So it makes it more palatable for your audience. And on the other side, 'cause it's a two way street, it makes speaking more fun for you because say this thing that you are the world's authority on is really complex and difficult for other people to digest, it might not be for you. You might be bored out of your mind talking about this thing all the time. We have many clients, and I'm sure you have situations like this as well, they're just the person at their job or at their company, or maybe in their industry, for this one particular matter. So they just jet set all over the world and just talk about it. They're on panels. They're giving keynotes. They're giving demos, whatever it may be. And the content doesn't change all that much. So even though they are so passionate about what they're talking about, the content doesn't change. So therefore, it gets a little rote, and we know how that goes as actors because you have to find the fun in doing the same script over and over. So it makes it more fun for you if you can say, "Well, I always have to talk about teaching English, "but I'd like to have travel next to it "on this little slot machine, "and now I'm gonna have improv." And now it's gonna be this thing that maybe you haven't even decided you want to try. Maybe later this year, you find another big passion. It will refresh and kind of recycle material. And it will always make it more fun for both sides, for you and the audience. So before we move on, really quickly, does anyone have one they would like to share? Not the whole story, but blank is like blank. What are some of the things that you do outside of work--
What could that be?
And work and let's hear them combined?
Could be cool.
Well, I'm gonna be combining that I'm a photographer and I work with people. And in portraiture photography, there is a lot of emphasis on how we portray people, what message you want to bring with the image.
Okay, can you just phrase it just photography is like.
Photography and another thing which my passion is communication, in particular the nonverbal communication. So I combine those two things in personal branding photography.
Really cool. Photography is like nonverbal communication.
Because photography is a means of nonverbal communication.
Yeah, that's cool.
Another example? You had one, Jerry or?
Oh, yeah. Problem solving in a room full of very smart people is like doing very focused improv facilitation. (laughing) So I don't know how to quite phrase it. But it's like having a detective's nose for, I might not understand the algorithm, but I know that this piece is important. And if we go down this rabbit hole, how do I yes and you and explore that idea? Improv happens at work all the time, for me. And I see it a lot.
Well, thank you for the endorsement.
It happens a lot at work, for me.
So my last point on this is that this is something that we tell people a lot of times when they get to that final step. They're going to do their talk. We say, "How are you gonna capture people's attention "at this conference and get people in the room? "Are you gonna call it this? "Are you gonna call it photography "is like nonverbal communication? "Or problem solving is like improv facilitation." Or whatever. That like, that simile makes it more universal and makes it stand out, and the people that we've had that do that, their attendance numbers go up from their previous talks because people go, "Oh, my gosh. "That is something I can really latch onto. "That other thing intimidates me even though "I'm here for my job, I'm scared to go in there. "I don't know anything about it." But that's why we go to talks and presentations, to learn something. But if you can make it a little bit more universal, more people will show up, and they'll probably get it a little bit easier too.
I think I want to amplify something you said about this being a workshop piece. So it is something that you can try to connect. Doing this kind of programming is like running a marathon. Oh, nope, that doesn't work. Let me try, let me explore it and see how I can connect it. That doesn't work. Oh, but this is like rock climbing. That works. A lot of this is just we're trying something for the first time so give yourself a chance to really play with it and try different ideas. And that's also a great way then to address different audiences. So knowing different places you go to or different kinds of audiences that you're talking to. Finding that connective tissue allows, for example, someone like me, we got to a lot of conferences to support people that we've coached. And they're often talking about things I do not understand.
Not a clue.
I don't understand a lot of the technology. I pretend I do and I nod supportively, but as soon as someone gets up and draws those lines for me and makes that connective tissue, I do understand enough about rock climbing. Or I do understand enough about gardening or cooking or like all those things. Suddenly, now, it's a human condition that I can relate to and understand and it helps me get a grasp of the more technical aspects of a talk, which I find really helpful.
Did you have a question, Jerry?
You have a question?
Yeah, I was gonna say would you say that sometimes different audiences respond stronger to different vennspirations? Because it depends on who you're speaking to. There's this guy Tom Chi, and he talks about conversational prototyping, and I remember a lot of standup comedians sometimes, if they're in a different part of the country or if they're sometimes, they'll almost A/B test their delivery. And they'll tweak things depending on where they are and maybe change their vennspirations. I just thought that might be something that you do.
Yeah, I think there's just speak on standup comedy, there's a lot of A/B testing, I think, with jokes having almost choose your own adventure. There's some jokes, and I think this goes for presentations too, 'cause I want it to be within the format we're talking about. We've mentioned stories before in our narrative class. Tomorrow, we'll talk more about that. But really, you're trying to test the waters and gage what the audience is onboard with. You're not trying to pander to them, but you're trying to see how do you connect with them. And comedians do that with particular types of material. And if something works in a particular way, it leads to x jokes. And if it doesn't work, they go in a completely different path. But I think you can do that with presentations too, with stories. And think of vennspiration as something that could be just the way you make a point. It could be one slide, one minute within a 20 minute talk. And we've also had clients that the whole talk was that. There was the whole 20, 30 minutes was just this one long thread because it made so much sense. It was the perfect way to do it. But the baby step to go first besides workshopping and prototyping in the room to find the one you like, it's just to say, "Okay, well, at this point, "we have to go into the granular detail "of something that no one really probably knows "besides me or it might bore them "if I go into all that detail." That's where I'm gonna emphasize the vennspiration, the intersection of this is like this. And you might find that over time, there's an accordion effect and it just kind of expands, because it's so, resonates so well with audiences that you can make the whole presentation just be that whole thing.
And some of those end up being really fun talks. We've had some really--
Yeah, they're incredible.
Fantastic, fun talks that become delightful for everyone and surprising. One of my favorites that comes to mind is someone who was giving a talk about financial numbers and it was a big end of the year, here are the things that we're gonna talk about and review. And she compared it to Mark Wahlberg's acting career. And she started (laughing) with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch up to the last movie that he'd done. And the whole audience still, years later, they remember that because it was such a bizarre connection. But it worked somehow. It was like, "When we started in January, "we were like Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. "We didn't really know what we were doing "and we were kind of young. "We thought we were cooler than we were, "but then we got into March, and then we were like." She went through this whole, incredible talk and when she brought it to me, I was like, "Really? Marky Mark? "That's what we're gonna do?" And by the end, it was delightful. And she felt really great about it and excited about it and excited to present and share. So that energy was contagious in the room. And every time a slide came up, everyone was excited to see how is she gonna make this work. And it was exciting.
I think that's a good point about the slide. This is the kind of thing that domino effects in Yesands, the slide design as well. 'Cause then you start going, "Oh, my gosh. "Now, all of the designs of the slides "are gonna go with this theme." We've seen it time and time again. We're like, "The person actually, "for the first time in their career, "seems to be pretty excited to make a presentation." Most of the time, people don't want to sit down and make the actual slides. But this actually makes you get excited 'cause the slides they're gonna domino effect and kind of dovetail onto something you already like.
It's so fun for everyone. It's fun for everyone then.