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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Today, I'm learning how to use my video camera to shoot our High School League event tomorrow.  Let this be a lesson to you, Prezzes.  If you're running a small organization, and you say, "let's do x," then it may actually ccome out as "I guess I'm going to do x."  Next time, I will say, "who can we get to do x for us?"  At which point, I'm sure someone will say, "well there's a couple people I can think of, but no one would do it as well as you, Matt."  Overwork, thy name is ego.


Today turned out to be all about training.  Sometimes days just start to aggregate a theme.  I say aggregate because the theme arises out of little pieces of the day that start to glom onto each other.  Then, the entire day starts traveling down that track.  You start getting great ideas about that area of the business and afterwards you say to yourself, "my whole day was about x.  Yay x!"

The big issue for me was inviting some of our trainers to participate in an Instructional Systems Design workshop that I'm doing internally.  Currently I oversee all of our ISD and we have several experienced trainers who would be able to function in this role if they had more ... well, training!  One of the books I'm reading says that leaders define themselves by the time they devote to developing their people. I'll let you know when the course is over if I ended up with a definition!

So, here's the other training things that were part of today's ... day.

A: High School League is having their big workshop this weekend, where representatives from all our high school league teams come together and work with our players on how to do this better!  Jamie Campbell, our Training Center Manager, is building a wonderful program.  (Are you wondering what happened to our last TCM, Trish Vignola?  Check out "ISPN" at Donny's Skybox!)

B: The new section of training center classes starts this weekend!  I believe we have more people this term than we've had in years.

C: My own course is set to fly on March 27th.  "Be your own coach."  I'm going to use the workshop to teach improvisers some self-evaluation and self-development strategies so they can continue to work on themselves outside of class.

So, confession time.  We have old computers.  Think "c:" prompt.  (Okay, not that old.)  So today, I was compiling IT needs.  The problem with IT is that you're always deciding when to upgrade and what to upgrade to.  (Think about all the people who jumped at Vista.)  Luckily, we're on Microsoft 2003, so I'm thinkiing about a jump in the next two years to new computers with Windows 7 and Microsoft 2010.  I really want to position us to better online collaboration and increase our options for remote options, since I often work remotely when I'm delivering workshops out of town.  (Sorry, no nugget of wisdom today.  Just what I'm up to.)

Last week, I mentioned that I wasn't very happy with how I led either my executive team meeting or rehearsal for our 50 improvisers.  After getting more input from people involved and listening to a lot of "Conversations with God, book 1" on my Ipod, I had another go.  It went great.

The critical difference for me was holding in my head that these are the funniest, most able performers of improvisational comedy in the world.  Sure, I had to tweak the language for the exec team, but the point is starting in a position of appreciation, and letting your feedback -- even your toughest feedback -- flow from a deep respect and admiration for the people you're talking to.  Now, this might be too touchy-feely for normal business.  However, I have to believe that even if you need to live this at a "10" in the performing arts, you at least need to live this at a "7" in the "real world."

This reminds me of something I heard Rabbi Shmuley Boteach say in an interview once.  (This is the guy who did "Shalom in the Home" on TLC.)  He's at:  (Easiest domain name to get ever.)

The interviewer asked Rabbi Shmuley to differentiate his approach from other TV self-help personalities.  He talked about how other people tell guests how bad they are for doing the wrong things they do.  Shmuley instead talks about how great the guests are and then says, "but here's this one thing in your life that is so inconsistent with your greatness."

That's always stuck with me.  When I remember it, I have meetings and rehearsals like I had today.  When I forget it, I have meetings and rehearsals like I had last week.  I guess I also need to "look for the good!"