• Home
  • Aug 2018: Whit Shiller

Member Spotlight - August 2018: Whit Shiller

Each month, SEWI-ATD turns the spotlight on an active member who has been visible in the chapter by attending events and participating in other ATD functions. We are proud to acknowledge the important work of our members, provide additional career exposure within the Talent Development community, and help you to get to know a colleague just a little bit better! If you are interested in nominating another member for the spotlight, contact Lovina Akowuah at Lovina.Akowuah@gmail.com  or Meica Hatters at meicahatters@gmail.com

Whit Shiller
Title: The Head Stick

Company: Fish Sticks Comedy

This month, we are pleased to feature

Whit Shiller

Tell us a little about yourself.

I wasn’t a theater kid…I didn’t do any stage performance as a kid, other than a stirring performance as Kermit the Frog in whatever our 3rd grade spring production was. But humor was always part of my life – just not formally. My start in comedy began in earnest in 2001 when my wife gave me a workshop from ComedySportz for Christmas. I took the 101 workshop, then the 102, then the 103 – and eventually decided to pursue getting on the professional stage. Since that time I’ve done over 1,000 professional shows and for the past 7-8 years have expanded my work in improv to facilitating improv-based training and workshops.

Regarding Fish Sticks Comedy, which is where I do my performing and workshops, I was one of the folks who was there at the beginning. ComedySportz was a lot of fun and I liked the people I worked with there, but it was starting to feel like more of my “bowling night” and I figured I needed a more substantial reason to spend a Friday or Saturday night away from my wife and the then one, two, three and then four young children (they just kept coming and making life more nuts!). So by 2009, I was dedicating my improv work solely with Fish Sticks and developing our unique approach to improv. The past couple of years have seen big growth for us as we brought a Dallas-based improv team under our brand bringing us to nearly 20 comedians nationwide.

What are 3 traits that describe or define you?

  1. Drive/Intensity - I have a certain level of drive/intensity. As an ENTJ personality type, I’m always tinkering and looking for better ways to do things. And if a subject or goal captures my attention, I can be really focused on pursuing it. I try to do so collaboratively, which is something that improv has taught me, but I do like to see things get done.

  2. Listener - Most people would say I’m a pretty good listener. When I’m with someone I think people generally feel that I’m very present. I believe it is a way to value the people you are with and it’s also important in improv, to be present and in the moment.

  3. Intellectually Curious - It’s kind of a family value to be intellectually curious. Learning is enjoyable, and creating something new, novel and useful is thrilling.

What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

Stupid and evil are cousins…By that I mean, if people aren’t thoughtful about the consequences of their actions/statements/decisions, the negative impact on people (co-workers, customers, family, etc.) is essentially as bad as if that same person actually meant them harm. When working with someone, you may need to discern that he or she, based on their own personal limitations or blind-spots, isn’t realistically addressing problems, or is too focused on advancing their own interests, or is otherwise acting in a way that can be really toxic to interpersonal relationships.

Having a good solution doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have market success. There are problems that need to be solved that not everybody wants to solve or tackle. I think a lot of people don’t want to tackle the hard stuff. If they don’t, you can’t force them to do so and have a good result. As for those who are willing to tackle the hard stuff and be authentic and real in their relationships, these are the people where you have the best experiences in a work environment.

Be conscious and insistent about working with people that align with your values – both inside and outside of whatever organization you’re in. If you do that, you’ll have a greater foundation for trust and, assuming part of your values are to have the other person have a good experience working with you, that shared value will be a benefit to both you and the other person.

Tell us a little about your current professional role. (Job title, where you work, what you do, etc.)

Although it may seem it doesn’t match up with comedy, besides being the “Head Stick” at Fish Sticks Comedy, I am also a lawyer and do a fair amount of time speaking on legal, money and marriage topics that, to me, tie together. Everything I do, I do in a way where it’s about sharing authentic life. I try to bring people closer to each other and promote deeper and healthier relationships within their families, communities and organizations.

How did you first learn about SEWI-ATD?

Last spring, I was encouraged by some members to look into SEWI-ATD. I’m a fairly new member, but it is nice to have like-minded connections.

Would you rather be a tiny elephant or a giant hamster? Why?

Of course, the giant hamster. I cannot see one advantage to being a tiny elephant. Besides, at 6 feet 6 inches tall, I’m a big guy and am not sure I’d feel comfortable being a tiny anything.

What's a question I didn't ask that you wished I had?

Q: What is unique and different about the way we do improv?

A: Our model is what we’d call “other-centered” improv. We actually run our workshop curriculum, our show structure, our marketing efforts, and other business practices through the test of how it benefits the other – starting with our show or workshop hosts, our audiences or workshop participants, the other performers, and lastly ourselves. To do that requires an insistence of identifying and clarifying the other party’s goals and objectives, and only with that in hand to we develop our materials and the way we do the show with the shared end goal at the top of mind.

© sewi-atd
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software