Remember the childhood game MadLibs? After coming up with random nouns, adjectives, verbs etc. you would make up a story that was possibly coherent or possibly ridiculous. Either way, that game always created a giggle.

I was reminded of MadLibs during my winter elective, Managerial Improvisation. This one-week intensive workshop mixes traditional improvisational exercises with case studies and discussions that touched on leadership skills, team building, conflict management, listening skills, and fostering creativity/creative cultures. My instructor, Bob Kulhan, is CEO of Business Improvisations and performs all over the world. The course is a unique offering at business schools, with Fuqua pioneering the way. Bob has been integral in the course’s development, and he’s an awesome person!

While I was very excited to take the class, I was also apprehensive. Would I really build the courage to get on stage and play improv games with my peers, in front of my peers? In the end, my expectations of the class and my personal abilities were far exceeded. At the end of the week, I was tired but totally energized. All parts of my mind were activated, and I honestly haven’t felt so comfortable in my skin in a long time. The links to unbounded creativity, innovation, and interpersonal responsibility in business and life came full circle for me. Bottom line – everyone should take this class! My 10-person team of first and second-years gelled really well, and the experience will last with me for a while. Not only did I meet new people (woo hoo New Year’s resolutions), but I took personal risks and grew a great deal.

In honor of my recent experience, and reminiscent of my childhood creativity – here’s what I’ve been up to since New Year’s Day, in a bit of a MadLib style:

Group of students on stageMy improv team called itself “Jump in the Meat Pool.” We certainly jumped into the deep end of the experience and mixed a lot of analogies along the way. My team was a collection of the some of the coolest people I’ve met at Fuqua and they made me work really hard.

Perforers on stageAt the end the course, a Jam Improv performance of all teams (open to the Duke community) was held in Geneen Auditorium. We had fun, but we also were treated to an improv performance by our instructors who are all professional performers (some with Second City in Chicago).

Inside Duke's Cameron Indoor StadiumJanuary wasn’t all about improv though, there was also a lot of random fun. I was able to squeeze in a home game against Virginia. As always, Cameron Stadium was packed and intense. It was a close game, but Duke beat out Virginia. Go Duke!!!

Deidre-Ann and 2 other students at volunteer eventFinally, in keeping with my resolution, I took part in a volunteer activity at Duke on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Room crowded with volunteers

In collaboration with the organization Stop Hunger Now and volunteers from Durham Rotary, North Carolina Central University, and Duke, we packaged more than one million meals for needy school children. Here’s a story about the event.

Volunteers in food packaging lineIt was a packed house of volunteers and a lot of fun! And a similar event will take place at Fuqua in February.