Isolating the variables of genuine connection

(via Paul Spella for The Atlantic)

In 2015, one New York Times article took the dating world by storm. “The 36 Questions That Lead To Love” detailed 36, progressively intimate character and experience-based questions like “Would you like to be famous?” “When was the last time you cried?

The questions were based on a study called “The Experimental Generation of Personal Closeness,” which found that mutual vulnerability can foster intimacy — and maybe, just maybe, love. *Cue romantic accordion*

And so the gauntlet was thrown. Couples new and old took up the 36 Questions’ banner, attempting to spark love in wine bars the world over. Of…

Brainefits?? Ugh, never mind…

Last week, Psychology Today reported on a new study that points to improv as a potential therapeutic treatment for trauma survivors, along with numerous cognitive benefits, and we’ve been blasting “Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional at our desks ever since.

Building on the groundbreaking fMRI research of none other than Speechless advisor, UCSF neuroscientist Dr. Charles Limb, the study provides even more evidence that improv isn’t just “silly team building,” but that it “changes the brain in significant, measurable ways.”

What they did

Over 8 months, researchers mapped the brains of 32 teens aged 15–18, suffering from Complex Developmental Trauma before, during, and after…

(And why it’s bullsh*t)

March 24, 2021, marked Equal Pay Day — the day that symbolizes the additional time a woman has to work to earn the same salary as a man (AKA, 1 year + 2 months and 24 days). Now, this statistic is misleading for a number of reasons — you have to be employed to be counted (women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic), and Equal Pay Day for women of color (who take home just 60% of their white male counterparts) won’t happen for several months yet.

And this got us thinking about the stories we tell ourselves about…

Plus, one that works even better…

Zoom Escaper, by Sam Lavigne.

Artist and certifiable genius Sam Lavigne has created the best since the vaccine: Zoom Escaper. The free web app that lets you add fake audio effects to your Zoom call — giving you the perfect excuse to escape.

Barking dog? You got it. Construction? No problem. Crying baby or — even better — crying man? Dealer’s choice. And, for all of you living alone in an low-traffic area? The piéce de resistánce: choppy audio and echoes.

We don’t deserve him.

And listen, we don’t steal Sam’s thunder or anything, but we too, have a free tool that will get you…

Harvard studied a Vampire-themed “live-action role-playing” group for 2 years to understand how leaders can advance their improv thinking skills, faster.

The Harvard Business Review just released a new study on the virtues of improvisation in the workplace — and to do it, researchers had to get medieval.

Over two years, researchers gained access to three different live-action role-play groups (think: Westworld-meets-capture-the-flag). Why? Because, turns out that these live, cooperative games like Vampire: The Requiem are a pretty good simulation of the fast-paced politicking, strategizing, competition, collaboration, and hierarchies of the workplace.

And, aside from the hilarious mental image of business school grads going undercover as a vampire syndicate, they revealed some pretty cool stuff about how improv works at an…

ASMR libraries on Youtube, silent study halls on Clubhouse, and working zoom call with friends are some of the things people are using to keep on keepin’ on.

Will I ever be motivated to do work again? What is “time?” What is “management?” If you’re hitting a focus wall working from home lately, you probably know you’re not alone — but, let’s be honest, knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.

But you know what might? Changing up your environment. How do you do that in a pandemic? You get creative. Here are four things people at the end of their work-wits are using to hold themselves accountable/tethered to reality:

1. ASMR rooms on Youtube

The New York Times describes these ambiance videos as relaxing soundscapes paired with animated scenery to make viewers…

For centuries, the written world has ruled. Now, it’s losing its footing.

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: if one more white dude recommends the Joe Rogan podcast to us we’re gonna throw our phones out the window. But his and other podcasters’ popularity is symbolic of a tectonic shift in mass communication.

We’re at an inflection point — and pop culture, social media, and technology trends have finally compounded to create the perfect conditions for a public speaking comeback.

We’re writing (and reading) less than ever

There are the ways that are obvious: podcasts outnumber humans on the Earth; unscripted television has supplanted scripted (first via daytime TV, then with the Real World); writing on…

How to separate work from worth.

Work-life balance? Does resting your laptop on your stomach count?

It’s been so long since many of us have been in the office that the concept of “9-to-5” has lost all meaning. It’s easier and easier to justify long hours, and — without extracurriculars, events, birthdays, or hugs to give us meaning outside of work — it’s tougher than ever to separate our mood from our meetings.

But, psychologists say this puts us in a particularly precarious position: work life is a rollercoaster, professor of psychology Art Markman tells the New York Times. …

Yes, even for that coworker…

If you’ve been paying attention to the last 60+ stories we’ve written here, you’ve likely noticed a theme — namely, that our brains don’t set like concrete as we age, and it’s never too late to change your mind.

Well, this week, we’re talking about yet another mental muscle group that we’ve been taught to believe is set in stone, but is actually incredibly flexible: empathy.

We tend to think of empathy as an inherent quality — some (i.e. mother Theresa) are born with empathy to spare… others (i.e. every Jeremy Piven character), not so much. Sometimes it comes reflexively…

We all have unspoken “rules” we’ve internalized about the world and ourselves. What happens when we start to question them?

Before you read on, pause and ask yourself this question:

Do you have to pre-rinse dishes?

You know, the clean-before-the-clean, where you wash the plates before loading them in the dishwasher; the pre-rinse rinse.

There are only 2 kinds of responses to this question:

  1. Yes. Because we live in a society.
  2. No… That’s what a dishwasher is for! How is this even a question?

The answer is, of course, it depends on the dishwasher. But ask this same question in a room of adults, and it’ll split the room 50/50. …

Speechless Inc.

Speechless is an organization that uses Improv Thinking to help people be themselves and be heard. Visit for more info.

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