Two Words That Will Change the Way You Do Business

Everyone loves a good laugh. Humor is a joyful common ground that brings people together, personally and professionally. Businesses that incorporate humor and good nature into their products, services, and everyday culture give off a much more personal vibe, and consumers are attracted to that.


From the early days of Groucho Marx to the quirky sketches from Portlandia, improvisational comedy has been entertaining audiences for ages. While doing improv on stage is a great way to get a standing ovation at a theater, there are also a number of ways you can apply it at your workplace to improve your business.


Just remember these two words:

“Yes, and…”


The “Yes, and…” concept is a standard improvisational comedy rule, often described as the cornerstone of improv technique. According to this rule, improvisers are encouraged to agree with the ideas and direction of their stage partners during a scene and continue those ideas forward, rather than disagreeing and trying to take the scene in a different direction. Improv actors who use “Yes, and…” are much more easily able to keep a scene going, lead to more humorous actions or situations, and ultimately get a bigger laugh and a better reaction from the audience.


Here’s an example: this classic scene from Anchorman, a movie in which many of the lines were improvised.



Instead of each actor trying to establish the lead and take the scene in his own direction, they build the scene off of each other’s lines, continuing the idea and leading to the hilarious conclusion that Brick is probably wanted for murder.


This same idea can be applied to the business world. Not murder. The “Yes, and…” rule.




While brainstorm sessions can be productive when one person leads the discussion, you can implement “Yes, and…” to foster creativity, encourage additional ideas, and collaborate on new ways to operate.


Teamwork makes the dream work.

Running a business is a team effort, so it makes sense to use the brainpower of your entire team to achieve success. Give your co-workers and employees a chance to share their thoughts. Say yes, accept those thoughts, and run with them for a minute. Let the ideas flow freely and without judgment, and unless Kevin keeps suggesting “No Deodorant Wednesdays,” you’ll be surprised to see how far it’ll take you. This can also help boost morale in your workplace.



This happens more often than not, unfortunately: You hit a roadblock on a project. A co-worker wants to do things his way instead of your way.

The “Yes, and…” rule can help you reframe your perspective and view a seemingly negative situation as an opportunity. If your co-worker is insisting on moving forward with his ideas, give him a chance. Say yes, work with that direction, and build onto it with your ideas, instead of pulling away into a different direction. By changing your attitude toward the circumstances given to you, you can sidestep any resentment or negativity and turn the situation into a positive one. Also, if you’re willing to work with someone else’s ideas, it’s more likely that they’ll be willing to work with yours moving forward.



The future can be intimidating. Full of mystery and risk, the path that lies ahead is usually preceded by a number of difficult decisions. This can lead to a drastic increase in stress and anxiety. You can use the “Yes, and…” mentality to combat this stress and turn your future into something you eagerly anticipate.

Over the course of your career, your job (and your life) will throw some curveballs your way. The best way to stay alive at the plate is to figure out how to adapt to the unexpected circumstances that are placed in front of you. Practice the “Yes, and…” mindset: Say yes, accept the things that come to you, and roll with it. Your company wants to use different software than what you’re used to? Try it out, and see what you can do with it that you couldn’t do before – it might actually make your job easier. Your boss decides to replace “Casual Fridays” with “Hawaiian T-Shirt Fridays?” Aloha! Now you’ve got a great reason to grab some Hawaiian pizza for lunch.

By slighting shifting your attitude, you can greatly improve your level of satisfaction at your workplace, enhance your enjoyment of your personal life, and increase your chances of eating more pizza. And let’s face it, that’s the most important thing of all.


Have you tried using “Yes, and…” in your workplace? Did you find it helpful? Let us know what you think!

3 Ways to LifeHack Work Productivity

If you have a full-time job, you’re spending the majority of your time, effort, and brainpower at your place of employment. A grueling 40-50 hours of your week is spent slouching at your desk, pretending to look interested in meetings, or trying to get that damn printer to work. Yet even after all that time cranking away at the office, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish what you need to get done.

Here are a few ways to help you get the most out of the time you spend at your job.


One of the biggest pain points I deal with on a daily basis is email. I find myself getting sucked into it from time to time: back-and-forth correspondence with clients, sending and receiving files to and from my coworkers, and constantly refreshing my inbox to make sure I haven’t missed anything (that last one’s a tough habit to break).

SOLUTION: Google Documents

At Silverback Social, we relieve those pain points by using various software and applications, such as Basecamp, DropBox, and Google Documents. The most valuable, is Google Documents.

This free, web-based app is an incredible solution to the frustrations that come with email. Google Docs allow you to create text documents, spreadsheets, and slide show presentations, share them with whomever you’d like, and collaborate with others on the projects in real time. The documents are accessible from wherever you can get online, and any edits that are made happen instantaneously. No more sending drafts to a client via email, only to receive a different email from the client with edits to those drafts, after which you need to send another email with the revised, final version. With Google Docs, you can insert your drafts right into the document, and the client can see it from wherever they are and make the appropriate adjustments at their convenience. This eliminates the back-and-forth, and saves both you and the client a ton of time.

Google Docs are also useful for internal projects. My coworkers and I can collaborate on a task by having each person’s individual workload aggregated in a single document. So instead of each employee sending an email with his/her work to every other employee in an endless chain of CCing and forwarding, everyone’s work is collected in one place as each person is working on it.

Here’s the best part: Google Documents are free for anyone with a Gmail account to use. Give it a try for yourself here.

PAIN POINT: Unproductive meetings


This is a pretty common issue regardless of your industry. Nobody likes to be in a meeting where nothing gets done. Meetings that last for 45 minutes with 10 – 15 people included can seem like waste of time, and that’s because they are. This is where the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” comes to mind.

SOLUTION: 20-minute meetings (or less)

In most cases, meetings lose their productivity after the first 15 or 20 minutes. If you can’t cover everything you need to within that window, you’re probably wasting time. At Silverback Social, we make it a point to keep our meetings short and sweet: establish the topic, discuss that topic’s status, and establish next steps and responsibilities.

BONUS TIP: Don’t bring your computer or your phone to meetings. Your emails aren’t going anywhere; they’ll still still be at your desk waiting for you when your meeting ends. And the relentless barrage of notifications from Twitter and Candy Crush will just distract you from staying productive during the meeting. All you need is your pen, your paper, and your focus.

PAIN POINT: “Zombie Mode”


When you spend the majority of your day in front of your computer screen, it’s easy to get “wired in” and crank. Most of the time, this might make you feel like you’re being super productive: “I just RAGED on (insert task here) for like 3 hours straight, I’m a beast!” Depending on the task, this can be dangerous. While you’re chugging away on a single project for an extended period of time, your mind runs the risk of going into “zombie mode.” The project becomes a rote task, and your brain starts to give preference to speed of completion rather than quality of work. Creativity and innovation suffer as a result, and your finished product, while it might be completed a day or two earlier than expected, is not as high-quality as it should be.

SOLUTION: Teamwork

Don’t fall into the habit of taking on more responsibility than you can handle. Look to your coworkers for help. If you’re in a position to delegate certain tasks to other team members, let them share your workload. If you’re not in that position, take a minute to ask for a quick tip from a fellow employee. This is a great way to get a new perspective on the project at hand. That “brick wall” you keep running into (writer’s block, repetitive copy, lack of creative ideas, etc.) is much more easily sidestepped with a colleague’s fresh eyes and brain to help you.

BONUS TIP: Before you ask your boss or manager for feedback on something, rehearse the conversation in your head. Try to predict the advice he/she will give you, and incorporate that advice on your own, proactively. You’ll save yourself time, and you’ll appear much more competent in the eyes of your superiors.

Some of these tips may not apply directly to your particular job, but the three main themes can be helpful in any work environment: Collaborate, stay focused, and don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Keep these concepts in mind, and before long you’ll be looking forward to Mondays as much as you look forward to Fridays.

Thanks for reading! If you found these tips valuable, I’d love to hear your feedback. What did you think?