Yes, And.


Saturday afternoon's rain found me title surfing on Netflix searching for the perfect movie in which to escape. Hmm...The Incredible Jessica James. Since I loved Jessica Williams on The Daily Show, I was in!

This Jessica, who is teaching playwriting to kids, invites her best friend, Tasha, to class. Tasha leads them in an improv game called “Yes, And.” Showing ‘em how it’s done, Tash and Jess’ scene grows outlandishly silly. Yet it is cohesive because they follow improvisational comedy’s number one rule: the performers must always accept each others' ideas, and build on them.

Having trained at Second City straight out of college, I got this hammered home by esteemed director, Michael Gellman, who’d bellow, “Are you trying to f#cking kill me?!!” upon every transgression of this rule. For reference, Gellman makes Dick Butkus look like a teddy bear.

Ok, so here’s a little test. Are you more likely to lean in and say “Yes, and...” when hearing new ideas? Or lean back and say “No, but...” Really think about yourself and try to answer honestly.

Entrepreneurship relies on wild ideas, dreaming big, thinking outside the euphemistic box, blowing up norms, taking huge risks and being relentlessly willing to fail - and in some cases have our loved ones think we’re insane bordering on masochistic.

Regardless of your above “yes" or "no" tendency, if you have any inklings or dreams of being an entrepreneur, I invite you to visit AE’s space. Ask one of our entrepreneurs to tell you about what they’re creating. Listen. Then build upon their ideas as if you’re really and truly a believer. Just go for it and see what happens. My guess is that something new will develop over the course of the conversation.

Einstein gave an address at Princeton Theological Seminary on May 19, 1939 which focused on the correlation between science and faith. I will leave you with his words which I believe to be gospel for creative ideation — scientific, artistic, entrepreneurial or otherwise - the definitive reason to say "yes, and"...

"One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations."


Julie Engels
Executive Director of AE