We had the good fortune of connecting with Betsaida LeBron and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Betsaida, what matters most to you?
I believe that all people need to be seen, valued and included. Over the years I came to realize that every person can teach me something if I’m willing to listen. That mindset has opened many doors for me and I have always felt it was important to keep the door open and invite others inside. I want people to know they matter. When someone is left out, skipped over, not looked to for input, they are marginalized and may feel unimportant and unworthy of sharing their perspective. The opposite of feeling left out is feeling empowered and I really want to make space for people and empower them. As a facilitator and improv teacher I teach organizations to build camaraderie, improve team dynamics, and strengthen culture. I see my role as creating a safe space for each person to show up, fully participate, and be part of the group.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I help people improve their emotional intelligence through improv games. My company is ImprovEQ, which is the combination of improv and EQ (emotional quotient), which is the measure of emotional intelligence. Companies and teams hire me to build camaraderie, transform team dynamics, and strengthen workplace culture. What sets me apart is how I use play to facilitate self-assessment and awareness. My training sessions can feel like an adult recess, but the play is thoughtfully constructed to teach and highlight how to develop our emotional intelligence. I’ve been teaching how improv principles apply off stage for over a decade. I took my first improv class in 2006 and have performed and taught improv to actors and non-actors since then. Improvisors create scenes for an audience on-the-spot with no plan and as a trainer it has always excited me to help people embrace this improv mindset and build the courage and self-confidence to jump into situations with no plan knowing they will be ok. For me, the ability to take risks without knowing the outcome has been an important part of learning and growing as a person, as an artist, and as a businesswoman. I credit the improv mindset for giving me the courage to start my own business as a freelance trainer. In the few years prior to me starting my own business, I repeatedly found myself in jobs that weren’t fulfilling and did not empower me to contribute in meaningful ways. I decided to take charge and find a way to combine my personal talents with something that has a tangible impact on people and the broader community; to spend my time doing something that I love, that fills me up, and provides meaning to me and others. It’s kind of funny that now I help others transform their teams and organizations into what I was ultimately looking for in my workplaces. There were days when I was unsure of how to turn my passion into a business. On paper it sounded a bit crazy. Improv is a theatrical art-form where the characters, scenes, and dialogue are made up on the spot without pre-planning. Good improvisation is achieved by being in the moment, conquering fears and self-doubt, and working collaboratively in an accepting and supportive team environment. I knew these skills were useful outside of a theater setting and pivotal in developing empathy, kindness, and self-awareness. I never lost sight of what filled me up as a person and just took opportunities as they came and got involved in or created activities that were interesting to me and things began to line up. Luckily others enjoyed what I was doing and started taking my improv workshops and sharing their experience with others and my business grew. I learned that it is normal to have doubt somedays, but even when things go less than perfectly, I always learn from it. Focusing on an improv mindset helps me push past the fear and find opportunities in places I might not typically notice; this mindset keeps me on my toes, discovering and nurturing new ideas and relationships each day. My biggest lesson is, much like improv, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you’ve got to be willing to jump in. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and my business wouldn’t be where it is at, had I not taken some risks along the way. ImprovEQ and the work that I do has a tangible and positive impact on my clients; I see it in the discoveries teams make together and I hear it in the follow-up conversations and repeat business. My underlying method revolves around three basic steps: pause, play, and perform. ImprovEQ training sessions give people permission to drop their defenses and build understanding, empathy, and kindness within themselves and their team. Those are all things the world needs more of right now.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve yet to visit Dallas. I have some connections in Dallas but have yet to visit the area in person.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been fortunate enough to have many people in my life that have supported and encouraged me. My mom was a my first mentor and she taught me to look for opportunities to help others and give back. My partner Tim is a constant pillar of support and encouragement, he’s my go to person when I need a boost!
Timothy S. Smith