If you’ve talked to me in the past few years, you’ve heard how watching Inside The Actors Studio inspired me to learn how actors came to excel so much at skills leaders in other areas of life work hard to achieve but rarely do. On top of that, many great actors on the show dropped out, were kicked out, or otherwise didn’t finish much school. Meanwhile, graduates of Ivy League business schools who studied leadership at the pinnacle of our educational system didn’t measure up. The schools didn’t even teach whatever the actors learned.
My curiosity led me to discover about acting training, including its roots as far back as Constantin Stanislavsky, through the American Laboratory Theater, the Group Theater, the Actors Studio, and more.
Then I took Meisner Technique classes, experienced directly how actors trained, and saw the technique as valuable for teaching leadership, entrepreneurship, and other active, social, expressive, emotional, and performance-based fields. I also saw how related fields like learning to play instruments, to sing, to dance, to play sports, and so on used similar pedagogy. Only business training remained based in lecture and case study. Much of my technique of using experiential exercises involving people’s real lives and things that matter to them has roots in acting training.
So for the past few years I’ve worked on bringing this time-tested style of teaching to leadership and entrepreneurship.
Tonight I got my first chance to watch the live recording of Inside The Actors Studio, now in its twenty-first year. The guest, Sarah Silverman, was funny, engaging, open, and everything you’d want in a guest. As with most guests of the show, she dropped out of school and worked like crazy doing grunt work like selling tickets to comedy shows daily from 4pm to 2am before making it big. The first part of the interview was about two-and-a-half hours, going into depth about many parts of her life and work. After an intermission she fielded questions from James Lipton (the Bernard Pivot questions he always asks) and the audience of acting students.
It’s no surprise that many actors go into leadership positions—Presidents, Governors, Senators, etc—but few leaders end up acting. I tried contacting people with the show to talk about ideas I’ve had to expand beyond their show, but they were all working.
Anyway, here are posts I wrote on the show:
- Observations on leadership and success from Inside the Actors Studio
- More on leadership and success from Inside the Actors Studio: what anyone overcame, you can too
- Method acting, leadership, and improving your life, from James Lipton
- Leadership lessons from method acting
- George Clooney on being yourself in the face of adversity
and here are pictures from tonight: