On Mondays, progressive leaders from all parts of the movement, from the blogosphere to the Hill, take a break out of their schedules to tell us what they’re watching, reading, and listening to. Suggestions or requests? Email AlyssaObserves (at) gmail (dot) com.
As AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, Liz Shuler’s the second-highest ranking person in the American labor movement — and she’s just 40. She helped lead the coalition that blocked an Enron-lead push to deregulate the electricity industry in 1997, trained election observers during the 2000 presidential election recount, and was elected secretary-treasurer in 2009. Last week, Shuler took lessons in assertiveness away from Tina Fey’s memoir Bossypants, saw analogies to state-level fights over collective bargaining in a performance of Wicked at the Kennedy Center, and considered the plight of freelance artists, most of whom don’t have benefits, as she met with members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Monday, July 18
I started my week by finding advice from a somewhat unlikely source: Tina Fey. Little did I know that when I was looking for some “escape” reading on my Monday flight to Albany, New York, I would end up finding some truly insightful guidance from a woman who made it in the cut-throat business of stand-up comedy.
I laughed all the way through the first chapter of Bossypants. And as I read through Ms. Fey’s early years, and how she got her start in Chicago with Second City, I stumbled upon what was a rather profound insight for me: The rules of improv can help you in life. She talks about the importance of “respecting what your partner has created, and to start from an open-minded place;” saying “yes, and…” so no one is afraid to contribute; and sharing in the responsibility to find solutions by “making statements instead of just asking questions,” especially for women.
Sticky situation in the workplace? Draw on the rules of improv to lighten the tension. Forget your membership card at the gym? Don’t hesitate at the front desk — make a proactive, and perhaps offbeat statement, and move on to the kickboxing! Co-worker making some risky suggestions for the annual conference? Say, “yes, and… let’s talk about how that will double attendance,” and stay in that open-minded place (at least until you get burned). Great perspective to start the week.