Twitter's CEO used to be a professional comedian -- here's how improv comedy helped him be a better leader

Years before he became Twitter’s chief executive, Dick Costolo was a professional comedian, performing improv comedy as part of the famous Second City comedy troupe, which boasts alums like Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert, and Tiny Fey. Costolo even worked with Steve Carell at Second City, briefly.

In a recent interview with New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo, Costolo mentioned how all of his comedy experience impacts his qualities as a CEO.

“One of the things that you’re always trying to make sure you really pay attention to in improv is being in the moment and listening,” he said. “When I was first learning the trade, one of the things that folks at Second City used to always say was ‘Be in this moment.’ That’s one of the things I tell my new managers. The notion of ‘Yes, and’ in improvisation is, I think, important in any sort of discussion.”

In improv, saying “yes, and” to your scene partners is taught as a valuable concept to help move scenes forward: You’re never supposed to object outright to any person’s idea on stage, because the scene won’t go anywhere if nothing happens.

By saying “yes” and then “and” to push those ideas forward, you’ll arrive at places that are totally unexpected; similarly, Costolo is saying he doesn’t shut himself off from any sort of discussion at Twitter, because nurturing ideas, even if they initially sound trivial, engenders positivity in the workplace and motivates his teams to think creatively.

Check out Costolo’s whole interview over at The New York Times.

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