Meet Andrew McMasters, a founder of Jet City Improv who now leads workshops that demonstrate how the art of improvising can help people in their careers.
Here, he answers questions about his work.
What do you do? I provide workshops for companies and individuals that use theatrical techniques to build communication skills. As an actor, my training is about communication: how we present ourselves, tell a story and motivate others to action. These same skills are essential for leaders and aren’t usually taught by educational programs. I create a working environment for participants to discover new paths of growth for themselves.
How did your career path get you to where you are now? I am a founder of Jet City Improv, a nonprofit theater I ran for 25 years. During that time, I started experimenting with how theatrical skills could build emotional connections (EQ) and develop effective teams. My experience as a professional actor, an arts administrator and a business owner helps me to build customized curriculum to serve my clients.
What’s a typical day like? Workshops are anywhere from a half day to a full day, or even multiple day sessions. The first 30–45 minutes is spent building group confidence to get over the fear of public performance. This lays a foundation for a dive into deeper learning. We begin with developing listening skills, then move on to cultivating interpersonal dynamics and leadership styles.
What’s the best part of the job? Watching people transform. I love teaching the skills of improv and seeing how people translate those ideas into their jobs and their lives. The main lesson I teach is to make your partner onstage — or in the office — look good. It’s about externally focusing to serve others. When people really understand how that concept can transform their work environment, it’s exhilarating!
What surprises people about what you do? Most people walk into workshops scared to be “put on the spot” or feeling that they will have to do something foolish. Once they realize the main lesson is about supporting each other to create collective success, they relax. I always hear participants say, “I’m surprised it was so much fun, and so relevant to my job!”