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Why drama training can help in business too

My last post about why drama is beneficial prompted some parents to comment on the positive impact attending Perform classes has had on their children. While it's great to receive that feedback, it made me think more about how that positive impact affects us throughout our lives. And specifically how Michael Gove's plans to 'cleanse the curriculum' and offer less traditionally academic subjects to children will potentially harm UK plc. So I chatted to a few successful business people I know who have performing backgrounds and asked them if they thought this had helped them in their professional lives in any way.

Jim Lawless, author of Taming Tigers and CEO of the Velocity Corporation started off his working life as a City solicitor. But he felt that his communications skills were so inadequate that he took a one-year full-time drama course to improve his skills in this area. The result has been an international speaking and writing career and a successful business that he simply could not have built without understanding the finer points of communication - one to one, with a small group and with audiences of up to 3,000. To illustrate how subjects like maths are not always as important as the ability to communicate for success in business, Jim related to me the story of meeting a very wealthy man who explained that buying at 5 and selling at 10 gave him a 5% margin. Not quite GCSE maths, but this great communicator had nevertheless built up quite a network of satisfied and regular customers!

West End and Broadway leading lady Charley King, well known for playing roles such as Velma Kelly in Chicago and Ulla in The Producers, set up www.bluebellevents.com - an award winning wedding and event planning company in Los Angeles . For her, it is the discipline that she learnt from being a dancer that gave her the focus to build and grow her business to the successful enterprise it is today. Hannah Rouch, a drama-trained journalist who set up the hugely successful www.stylenest.co.uk a fashion and destination website for the modern women, feels that her drama background gave her the confidence to be able to speak and make business presentations. Even dealing with CEOs of large companies didn't faze her as she knows how to control her nerves and make a confident impression to hold her own in these meetings.

Supporting these conversations with Jim, Charley and Hannah is this article I read recently, written by a successful PR and Marketing businessman who has never taken a business or marketing course in his life. Instead, he attributes his success in business to the skills he learnt taking a theatre degree.

As Albert Einstein said, 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.' If in our schools we only hone in on academic intelligence, we risk demolishing esteem and confidence in less academic children. And these children could be the entrepreneurs of the future. So it's not just the arts that suffer, it's all jobs.

If you take away the ability for children to learn in different ways, then you take away their potential to achieve. And that's something that education shouldn't be doing. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. And if you're a Perform Alumni I'd really like to know if your experiences at Perform has helped you in your adult life in any way.



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