Matt Elwell is the new President and CEO of The ComedySportz Theatre, and he’s promised to take readers along for the ride throughout his first 50 days in office. As a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance and a Chicago improviser for over 10 years, Matt looks to bring laughter and learning to his new position.

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For those of you long-time fans, you may remember Steph, who used to be our Producer, then Creative Sales Director.  Steph was really good at identifying when we on staff were complaining about the complications surrounding what was essentially good news.

Case in point:  "Steph, you sold two touring company shows on the same night, and now we're going to be really strapped for players!"

Looking back, it's amazing how out of alignment we were.  But, we were still working from an old paradigm.  The truth is, having too many touring company shows is AWESOME.  It means we get to pay for the little things like rent and electricity.  And while we were wringing our hands she would say, "guy-eeeeez, this is a good problem to have."

Here's today's lesson, based on a couple times today where I let the impending workload distract me from our mission:  keep an eye on complaining.  Make sure you are being grateful for the "good problems" in your organization.

I think that when we get tense over problems in the organization, we cut ourselves off from the playfulness (or nimbleness or actualization or flow or whatever you want to call it) that would help us solve those problems.  It's like feeling too sick to go to the doctor.  Playfulness is the perscription!  (And metaphors need exclamation points!)
 
Hey, let's face it; nobody's giving away money.  We're all basically in the business of solving a problem for a customer that they don't care to solve themselves.  More problems often mean more opportunities to represent more value to your customers. 

I know my first 50 days ended with my previous entry, but I just had to include this one!  Stay loose!  I wish you lots of good problems to have!

Stay tuned!  I'll be doing a much less daily blog from now on.

If you're a Brit-geek, like me, you know about the old TV program with Patrick McGoohan called "The Prisoner."  You might remember that McGoohan plays "Number 6" and he is relentlessly bedeviled by "Number 2" who is constantly trying to extract "information."

Well, today, I was number 2.  (Yeah, yeah.  Get it out of your system.)

I attended an Arts and Business Council workshop on building an effective customer database.  All of us in the theater biz want information.  We want to know about you!  Who you are, what your buying trends are, how you see yourself, etc.

And, there are lots of softwares to help us.  This was a chance for me to learn if there might be something out there that would allow me to track our single ticket buyers better than we already are.  So I went.

Okay, to keep this entry from being totally worthless, let me throw in a quick lesson.  Here it is:  never ignore a possibility just because you don't know enough about it.  In 2 hours I was pretty clear on the software options for my business, and it wasn't that expensive.  Trainings are out there, and when all else fails:  wikipedia!

Anyway, if you are currently involved in your own arts organization and want to improve the business side of it, may I suggest...

THE ARTS & BUSINESS COUNCIL OF CHICAGO
http://www.artsbiz-chicago.org/

Today, we had another season meeting to finish off details in our Summer season.  This Summer is going to rock.  We've drawn on what we learned from our last two years in our new theater to rearrange what didn't work and open up space for new opportunities.

I don't want to say too much until our official announcement, but here's a big piece of news.  Thursday, June 3rd will kick off a new weekly schedule where we are running SIX NIGHTS A WEEK.

Of course, ComedySportz is still the flag ship, but we're going to have brand new shows throughout the week in around the ComedySportz schedule.  I'm really proud of how much talent is going to get to play here from the community.  Improvisers who play on the ComedySportz stage fall in love with the space instantly. 

(Yes, fanz, I said "stage" when the proper name for a ComedySportz stage is "field," but that's only when you're actually playing ComedySportz on it. ...you don't know me!)

 

Happy Sunday!  Today was my first Instructional Systems Design class.  10 members of our ensemble stepped up to learn how to design more effective training.

The objective of the course is to improve both our applied improvisation trainings (corporate trainings) and our direct improvisation trainings (how to be an improviser.)

The response from these 10 has already been really positive!  We're taking next week off for Easter, so they'll be reading the first section of my favorite introduction to training book:

TELLING AIN'T TRAINING

I can't help but think that giving of my time to this is going to get me huge returns.  The original goal was to empower other people to do the work that at the moment I was doing myself.  However, using your own special talents / skills to help other people in your organization grow beyond their current role creates change agents.  Not only are they qualified to do the things you teach them, but their gratitude at being given that opportunity releases a ton of positive energy. 

(I would say that that's "today's lesson," but let me give it a few weeks before I get all high and mighty about it.)

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