They said to read it. You know who they are, the people that anything they say to read, when you finally get to it, you can’t stop telling your other friends, “OH MY GOD MAN WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ _________ YET?!?! IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”
A few years back when I would try to get this book it was paperback only and available for the low low price of $70.
Come on, seriously?
But then, the magic of Amazon. “A book from your wishlist is available.” Audible suddenly had it. The book is Impro by Keith Johnstone. One credit later and it was mine. Finally. Now to see what all that fuss was about.
As I learned in the intro, Johnstone was a Royal Theater guy in the 1950s and ‘60s in England. This is his book on what he thinks matters most in his profession. So what are a bunch of strategy, psych, and finance people doing pumping this book to me?
It turns out it’s as much a behavioral psychology field manual as it is a guide to improvisational exercises for actors. He maybe kind of knew that when he was writing it. Doesn’t matter. It’s utterly brilliant.
If you’re a creator, it will help you tap into your subconscious.
If you’re a strategizer, it will help you see 360 degrees around your questions.
If you don’t know what you are yet, it will help you take the next step.
This book was recommended to me as passionately as it was for a reason. It’s about improvising, but isn’t that every interaction in every profession in the world? I should have spent the money then. I’m only happy I added it to a list to be notified of it now.
If you’re trying to do something authentically, you’re really going to want to check out this book. There will be whole sections you won’t need, but there will also be plenty of absolute gems, neatly organized, often with exercises you can apply on your own.
ps. his discussion on status and the way people interact with each other (think: signaling + game theory) is possibly the most articulate I’ve ever heard/read. He defines status as not who you are, but what you do to other people, and then breaks down how people of various perceived status doing all sorts of things “works.” It is immediately eye-opening and useful, even if you’ve studied this type of thing in the past.
pss. this interview was also useful (yes, I found a podcast for you too!):