A Clear “No” Can Be More Graceful Than A Vague Or Noncommittal “Yes”


  • Sometimes the right (or at least initial) response to a request for action “now” is “No.” – It’s far easier to say “yes” later on…
  • On the other hand, maybe you don’t even have to choose between “Yes” and “No” particularly if you’re trying to initiate a conversation.

A recent post by Ken Robinson on FrontRowAgile reminded me how powerful “No” can be.

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Improv Agility: So Much More than “Yes, and”

Improv AgilityI had the opportunity to do a bit of improv recently with Robie Wood, his brother Jodie and a few other willing and brave participants. (And much to my surprise, in no way did any of us make complete arses of ourselves.)

The Brothers Wood have recently started offering “ImprovAgility” workshops in NYC, with the promise:

“Improv Agility workshops are focused on Agile mindset and behavior skill development using experiential training techniques from Improvisational Theater.”

They advised us that past participants have described their experiences as “skill-building, inspiring and a great deal of fun.”

And I must say, I agree 100%.

A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men - Roald Dahl Click To Tweet Continue reading…

Helping Melly Smile

A fun story, in three chapters.

Chapter 1: Meet Melly Shum

Melly Shum Hates Her Job

In 1990, Canadian born artist Ken Lum had an exhibition in Rotterdam, Netherlands at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.

To promote the exhibit, the museum worked with Lum to reproduce one of his artworks as an outdoor billboard.

The following text is adapted from a post made about the billboard by Het Kunstwerk (original publication date unknown.)

Although Ken Lum applied the codes of the advertising world to the billboard, it was immediately clear that it wasn’t just any ordinary billboard. After all, the sign wasn’t trying to sell anything. It was just a photo of the friendly, smiling Asian woman sitting at a desk in an office setting. As you can see above, the caption was ‘Melly Shum hates her job’, which occupied the other half of the billboard. That’s all there was.

Normally, a billboard would be singing the praises of a product or service that would give Melly Shum more pleasure in her job, or even a job she enjoyed more. However Lum’s billboard just made the announcement that she hates her job.

Was it true? The woman had a friendly look on her face, while the word ‘hate’, in red letters next to her, jumped off the billboard at the viewer. The photo and text did not tell the same story, so which of the two was true?

Ken Lum was not advertising anything, but his billboard did truly contain a ‘message’. He provided insight into the codes of advertising. By incorporating the stereotypical design of the advertisement, he showed how ingrained our visual habits are. We automatically made a connection between word and image, and took the direct language of the sign personally. We wondered if this woman’s name was really Melly Shum? Was Melly Shum a real person? (It turns out the answer to both questions is “yes”!) Continue reading…