Innovating Through Artistry

An Entrepreneurial Act for a Theater Major

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on August 12, 2008 at 3:02 am

Written by Amanda Lanceter on behalf of Barnard Alumni news
For most people, theatre and business might not seem closely related. For Lindy Amos, a graduate in 1993 of Barnard College, New York City, NY, the two go hand in hand.

“Early on, I realized that for me being an artist also means being an entrepreneur and it means collaboration,” she says. Amos is a Director and Head Coach at TAI Resources, a creativity and leadership consulting firm which works with businesses and individuals on developing leadership and communication skills through theatre-based exercises. TAI addresses a range of issues, from organizational change to team building, through workshops, small group seminars, and one-on-one meetings. (TAI grew out of The Actors Institute, a professional development organization founded in 1977 for actors and other dramatic arts performers.)

“We take the principles of theatre and creativity and bring them to business, education, and nonprofit organizations,” Amos says. “And we work with people, helping them tap into their creativity in order to become more visionary thinkers and more effective leaders.” Amos knows that this method works, she says, based on the transformations in many of the people she’s worked with. Acting is not about pretending, it’s about being radically truthful when bring oneself to the art of story telling,” she says. “And telling stories in ones work and ones life is something that is universal, it goes beyond acting.

For Amos, the work has been a natural progression from her experience as an actor. Her first acting job was with a theatre company that brought interactive scenes on social issues to various places, from correctional facilities to schools. It was a transformative experience, she says, and one that demonstrated just how life-changing theatre can be. “My work is based in my own personal belief that everybody is creative, and when people have clearer access to their creativity and know how their creativity can serve them … they can expand a vision for themselves and their company.”

The theatre major credits Barnard for preparing her for a career at TAI. Besides her acting experiences and theatre performances in Minor Latham Playhouse, the College shaped her, creatively and professionally. “I think the most wonderful thing that Barnard gave me is permission. When I arrived at Barnard, I was really focused on being a good student. Barnard gave me permission to be a true student,” she says, enabling her to develop her own perspective on whatever courses she was taking. “It helped me bring muscle and rigor to any kind of brainstorming process.”

The experience of studying alongside students of various cultures from all over the world has also contributed to Amos’s efforts—one-third of her TAI clients are in Europe. The diversity at Barnard better prepared her for the work with these clients, who face various challenges in this time of globalization. For example, one executive Amos has coached, originally from Korea, heads a China-based business that is part of a German conglomerate. That type of equation can present many challenges with respect to work culture. This client, in particular, needed to make a big shift—she had focused on being demure and sweet in her business relationships. Realizing those qualities were more likely to hinder her, the client sought out Amos’s counsel in developing an attitude of authority that she did not possess. She also needed help in navigating various multiple cultural sensitivities within her company.

Amos worked with the client over a period of about four months—both individually and in a small group setting. Their work together culminated in an event in which the client was to make a presentation to a global group of 600 executives. “I saw her character come through,” Amos says. “She had found an authentic authoritative voice that was still feminine and yet strong, and she told a story that was beautifully crafted, and had elements to it that transcended cultural differences. And after the presentation, the CEO of the company commented to me that she is a next generation leader.”

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