Karen Hough: Corporate Training with an Improv Twist

We’ve all sat through that mind-numbing professional development seminar, the one where a presenter clicks through an uninspiring PowerPoint presentation while you daydream about being absolutely anywhere else. Karen Hough is on a mission to transform that experience, combining the principles of improvisation with neuroscience and psychology to bring fun and meaning to corporate training.

Hough is the founder and CEO of ImprovEdge, an award-winning business training company that is changing the way we learn, employing innovative strategies to help employees think on their feet, come up with side-door solutions and communicate in ways that bring people together. One of the top 1% of women-owned businesses in the US, ImprovEdge boasts a client list that includes NBC Universal, JP Morgan Chase and ESPN.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Hough enjoyed a successful career in acting. She trained at the legendary Second City in Chicago and went on to appear in 100-plus theatre, film and television productions. Hough is also a bestselling author and the recipient of the 2012 Silver Stevie International Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year.

Today Hough shares her experience with Second City, explaining how the improv abilities she practiced there led to the business she runs today. She offers her take on the current climate around sexual harassment in the workplace and discusses why it is time for women to initiate the conversation, even if it makes people uncomfortable. Hough speaks to the issue of inclusion, sharing the need for parity in the pool of candidates being considered for a position. Listen in for Hough’s insight around using improv to revolutionize corporate training and the need for skills like agility and creativity in our changing world.


Key Interview Takeaways

Improv skills are vital in our changing world. Hough contends that aptitudes for listening, creativity and agility that are honed through improvisation give workers an edge, especially in industries experiencing disruption.

Creating the best team possible means providing women with the full ability to engage. A push for equality in the workplace is not an issue of ‘men vs. women,’ it’s an issue of allowing every person their full input.

The institutions set up to keep women quiet are starting to tumble, thanks to the brave women who have come forward to tell their stories. Recent progress around preventing sexual harassment in business, entertainment and politics is only possible because of women who are willing to stand up and speak out.

Feminism is not about extremism, it’s about equality. Though the word ‘feminist’ seems to carry a negative connotation, the true definition indicates a belief that men and women should be paid the same, have the same right to an education, and be able to do the work they want.

Diversity is not just about hiring people who look different. True inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels wanted and valued.

Connect with Karen Hough


Books by Karen Hough

YES! Deck

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