Select Your Location

Life Lessons Twitter’s CEO Learned @TheSecondCity

By Liz Kozak | Nov 6, 2013

Twitter is expected to officially go public later this week, and financial experts estimate that the value of me reading about the flatbread you ate for lunch and also checking out Kim Kardashian butt-selfies is about to be well over $13 billion.

Mmm, that feels about right.

True story: It turns out that when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in computer science, he took the only logical next step in his career…

He moved to Chicago to take classes at The Second City Training Center.

Here are two major life lessons he learned here, which he shared last spring during  a commencement speech at his alma mater.

1. Make Courageous Choices

“We had this director at Second City who was instructing a class I was in named Don DePollo. And there were four people up on stage; there were about 10 of us in the class. And these guys are improvising that they’re in a laundromat. The scene ends, and Don asks all of us in the room, ‘What do you see up there on that stage right now?’ And there was nothing up there, so we describe what we see up on the stage—it’s an empty stage.

And Don says, ‘So far today, you guys have improvised that you’re in an apartment, an apartment, a laundromat and an apartment. What are you afraid of?’

We all kind of looked at each other like, ‘We’re not… what do you mean, what are we afraid of?’ and he said, ‘You need to make more courageous choices. The reason this stage is completely empty and doesn’t have a set on it is so that you can go out there and be in the Keebler Elf factory or be on the space shuttle as an astronaut who’s never even tried to fly a plane before.’

Make bigger choices. Take courageous risks.”

2. Be in This Moment

“A few months later, I was studying at Second City with another legendary director there, Martin de Maat. And Steve Carell was out on stage. Steve and I were in the same group, and he was improvising something… and I was backstage, and I thought of this amazing line.

I thought, ‘I’ve got to go out there and get into this scene, and I’m going to get this line out.’ So I enter the stage, and I try to start moving the scene in the direction of what I wanted to say, and Martin stops the scene. Says ‘Stop, stop.’ And he says to the whole class—but really he’s talking to me—he says, ‘You can’t plan a script. The beauty of improvisation is you’re experiencing it in the moment. If you try to plan what the next line is supposed to be, you’re just going to be disappointed when the other people on stage with you don’t do or say what you want them to do. And you’ll stand there frozen. Be in this moment.’

And he stopped everyone in the room and said, ‘All of you, right now, be in this moment.’”

Maybe Improv Will Help You Become a CEO; Maybe It Won’t

“As you get ready to walk out under the bright lights of the improvisational stage of the rest of your life, I implore you to remember those two lessons I learned years ago. Be bold. Make courageous choices for yourself. Be in the Keebler Elf factory. What are you afraid of?

And, secondly, don’t always worry about what your next line is supposed to be, what you’re supposed to do next. There’s no script. Live your life. Be in this moment. Be in this moment. Now be in this moment.”


#Improv #LifeLessons #AmIRight

Hilarious Right? Follow the Second City For More