We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Fey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from a small town of 800 in North Carolina, and I always worked. It started by working on the farm, then fast food and then numerous jobs throughout college. (My college friends used to say I had a Daytimer organizer before they were ‘the thing’ so I could keep my class, work and study schedules straight). Not coming from a place of privilege meant I had to work for everything and earn my opportunities. It also taught me to ask for the things I wanted. I talked my way into a job with NBC Sports while in college. I talked my way into getting an on campus interview with The Coca-Cola Company and that led to a 30 year career. People can always say no, but they can’t say yes unless you ask them.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
While I was working in corporate America, I had a friend that suggested I try Improv Comedy. She suggested it EVERY time I saw her. Every. Single. Time. I finally asked her, “if I try this, will you stop suggesting it?”. She said yes, I signed up for an afternoon class. That turned into a 3 month class. That turned into a 6 month class. That turned into an invitation for the ‘not ready for prime time players’ as I like to call it. You get the picture. She was right! I learned that what I was learning in improv not only helped me on stage, it helped me at home and at work. This realization changed the way I managed situations and gave me even more confidence that I could handle whatever was thrown at me. I translated this into my first TEDx talk, the Power of Yes, And. The response has been great and I now speak and facilitate what I learned to help others improve their skills and organizations improve their collaboration, creativity and engagement which leads to increased profitability. The difference between good and great can often be found in the daily communication interactions between teams and leaders. Getting everyone working together in the same direction can have a profound impact on results. I also tried my hand at Stand Up Comedy. This was much harder for me, and I learned a lot about the science of funny and writing jokes. Again, this step out of my comfort zone paid huge dividends. I would suggest to others to find something to challenge you and that ignites your creativity. Who knows where it may lead?
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Atlanta and showing people around. Let me group some of my favorites. Restaurants: A chili dog at The Varsity (a classic), dinner at Wisteria Restaurant, steak at Kevin Rathbun’s Steak, southern cooking at Mary Mac’s, any meal time at Folk Art, lunch at Home Grown. History/Museums: World of Coke (of course), The Georgia Aquarium, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the MLK Historic area, and any of the guided walking tours sponsored by the Atlanta Preservation Society. Take a walk on the belt line and explore the various neighborhoods. Make sure to grab a King of Pops along the way.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many shoutouts I can give. To Genevieve Bos, who suggested I become a professional speaker. To Kim Caston, the boss that gave me my first promotion at The Coca-Cola Company and lots of coaching and mentorship. To the 4-H Club, where I learned to organize my thoughts and give presentations from a very young age and early leadership opportunities. To Helen Sieglan with NBC Sports, who said yes to me after daily phone calls asking to work a game at UNC Chapel Hill. To my basketball and softball coaches through the years, who taught me sportsmanship and about winning/losing and learning. And to everyone who has ever invested their time, effort and energy into me. It mattered and is appreciated.