3 Business Lessons I learned from Community Theatre

  • Climb Every Mountain.

    Growing up in the theatre community meant I was dealt my share of disappointment at an early age. I didn’t always get the role I wanted and sometimes I wasn’t even cast in the show (the horror!). But there are lessons to be learned from disappointment like how to continually improve yourself and not to give up. The same is true in business. If you don’t get the client you’ve spent weeks pitching it doesn’t mean you’re not going to keep prospecting new business. Just like an audition that doesn’t go your way, take that experience and learn from it. How can you present yourself and your business better the next time? And just like an actor isn’t always the right fit for a role (too tall, too short, too young, too old), sometimes your business might not be the perfect fit for that prospect. While it might hurt at the time, you shouldn’t take it personally. Just keep working to find the right match.


  • Teamwork Makes A Dream Work.

    One of the coolest things about community theatre is the number of volunteers involved to make a production come to life. It’s not just the actors you see on stage, but also the people building sets, sewing costumes, changing scenery, moving props, taking tickets and more. In both theater and in business, it takes true teamwork to be successful. It’s easy to think you can do a project on your own, but the process is going to be a lot easier and the result will be better if you work with your colleagues. When we’re solving a problem in the theatre it takes many creative minds to come up with a solution (like how we’re going to make that car fly in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Well, you have creative people in your workplace too. Don’t forget to make your colleagues feel included and consider their perspectives – it will pay off in the long run.


  • Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.

    This was a vocal and body warm-up we would repeat to get us geared up for rehearsals. It might sound cheesy (because it is), but you would be surprised the number of times I have said this in my head or to a colleague. The power of a positive outlook is an amazing thing and I’ve found people respond so much better to an encouraging and optimistic attitude. Think about it, if you have a tough goal you need to meet, are you more motivated by words of encouragement or defeat? And who would you rather do business with, someone who is enthusiastic and loves what they do or someone just going through the motions? Passion and positivity breed positive results. Whether it’s on stage or in a conference room your confidence and attitude will make a difference.  



More about Nikki

Nikki Syverson is the Development Director for the Des Moines Community Playhouse. She has ten years of non-profit, fundraising and event planning experience including time with the Des Moines Wine Festival Foundation and the Des Moines Symphony. She has served on various boards and committees including Drake’s national alumni board, Drake’s Central Iowa alumni board (currently serving as president) and ChildServe’s Bubble Ball which she helped conceptualize in 2010. She grew up in Topeka, Kansas where she was active in the theatre community. She loves soaking up every bit of Des Moines arts and culture with her husband, Jay and their two children Quinn and Charlie.