Getting to Yes, And

Francesca Gino: Why it Pays to Break the Rules


Francesca Gino

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You and your husband took an improv class and you discovered that some of the science around experiencing novelty together was good for you as individuals and as a couple?

“That's exactly right and what is interesting is that the research shows that not all of the effect of doing something novel and challenging together is good for the relationship that you have developed, but you as an individual in the relationship grow. So psychologists call it “self-expansion.: It is really to feel more confident in the fact that you're acquiring new skills and you're becoming better at something. So I would definitely not argue that we are now comedians or that we would be able to set up a scene and make you laugh, but we developed this ability of really laughing at ourselves. Whatever it is that was happening in the class, it was important to us as individuals in addition to us as a couple.”

You profile the Italian chef Massimo Botturo and find that one of the ways he extends is talent in an unusual way is how he doesn’t put himself above even the small tasks.

“One of the things that really struck me when I visited the restaurant was how Chef Bottura would really work in the trenches. So he is the type of person who shows up early in the morning and the first thing he usually does is takes the broom outside and clean the street. And then the action that you see in his staff is really powerful. They look at him and say, why is he doing that? And then the second question that comes up is why is it that I'm not doing that? And you feel almost inspired to pick up a broom and go outside and clean the streets outside of the restaurant. He is the person who jumps in the truck when the delivery arrives and helps unload the truck. It's almost as if that is no role or task that is something that he can't do.”

It’s almost as if chef Botturo is just another member of the ensemble and he’s content to improvise along with his whole staff.

“I agree, and as we said earlier, there are so many values and good lessons from Improv comedy that really apply to every aspect of our life. The principle of “yes, and:” that's just beautiful. What if we really were true to that principle? Every time we had a conversation with another person, every time we were in a business meeting and every time we were brainstorming about ideas. So I think there are all sorts of opportunities where the principles apply quite nicely and would be beneficial if brought into business more often.”

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