297: RIP James Lipton, a huge influence and inspiration

March 3, 2020 by Joshua
in Art, Creativity, Education, Exercises, Leadership

James Lipton, who started and hosted the show Inside the Actors Studio, died yesterday.

Here are the notes I read from for this episode:

I could talk about how much I enjoyed the episodes, his humor, and a few things I learned from his guests that only his interviewing could have elicited but I will go deeper, to share how fundamental his work has been to mine.

Many times I’ve said that if my courses existed before I went to business school and someone were teaching them, I would have taken them instead of business school and gotten more of what I valued. He helped me create them.

Context: I had taken leadership classes but, despite high grades from top school, I didn’t know how to act.

Watched Inside the Actors Studio for entertainment.

Noticed great actors excelled at social and emotional skills, beyond what my professors could do.

Noticed they tended to have dropped out of school, been kicked out, or never enrolled.

How to resolve this conflict?

Also noticed names popping up a lot—Stella Adler, Lee Strassberg, Sanford Meisner, Group Theater, Harold Clurman, most of all Konstantine Stanislavsky.

Looked them up and learned of tradition often called Method Acting that grew in America from Russia.

Around recession because friend sold his business to take Meisner Technique classes.

Asked him all sorts of questions about it. He suggested taking it.

Realized actors didn’t stop education. They switched style of learning.

Experienced new levels of learning social and emotional skills, relevant to all relationships, not just acting.

Taking it changed how I learned ASEEP fields, combined with learning about John Dewey and project-based learning, which led to how I teach leadership. Led me to start founding a school for leadership.

NYU ended up hiring me to teach, which led to my books.

The structure of how I teach and coach leadership, initiative, entrepreneurship, sales, and social entrepreneurship is Meisner Technique. The exercises are similar, but drawn from their respective domains instead of acting.

Start with basics and build toward mastery with no big jumps.

Results include students consistently saying they didn’t know they could learn these things at all, let alone in a structured class.

All this comes from James Lipton making known the style of learning from Inside the Actors Studio.

I since realized the structure exists in teaching to play musical instruments, to sing, to dance, to play any sport, improv, the military hence basic training, and all ASEEP fields.

In a totally other direction, since I interview people on the podcast, I follow him a lot—supportive, not confrontational, getting to know the person, though I don’t do the quick end questions.

I went to see them record Inside the Actors Studio live twice. Sarah Silverman and Bryan Cranston. 5-hour events. I loved. I brought notes to leave to invite him to be a guest on the podcast. Spoke to several people. Actually, went to his office at Pace and spoke to people there, but nothing came of it.

Thank you, James Lipton for helping form two of the foundation stones everything I do rests on.

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