Taylor Williams

Want your business to be more productive? Try improv.

Taylor Williams (BABA ’05) has long considered herself a business-minded individual, but with a creative spark.

“My dad was a small business owner, so I’ve had that background, but I am a very creative person,” she said. “I feel like I’ve always had both sides to me.”

Growing up in Gainesville, William’s didn’t have to go far to get a quality business education. She enrolled in the Warrington College of Business as an undergraduate student in 2001, while also playing volleyball for the University of Florida.

“As an athlete in the business school, I sometimes didn’t have the choice to go to class, and that really encouraged me to be a self-starter,” she said. “[Business school] also helped me get outside of my comfort zone, which is great for what I do now with improv.”

While improv didn’t become a part of Williams’ life until after she graduated from UF, it has become a main focus for her business now.

After moving to New York City to try her hand at acting and fulfilling her creative desires, she stumbled upon improv comedy.

“When I moved to New York, I ended up auditioning for television commercials,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I loved it. Then I got into improv, and it exposed me to a whole new world.”

Once Williams discovered improv and storytelling, she was hooked. Using her business skills from her time as a student at Warrington, knowledge of mental health counseling from her M.Ed./Ed.S. degree she earned at the UF College of Education, and creative talents, Williams created Guts & Glory GNV, a live storytelling organization.

“We take people’s true personal story, and we help polish [their stories] and then put them on stage,” she said. “A lot of what we do is for entertainment and helping adults be more playful, but I think it has a deeper layer. Storytelling helps bring a lot of personal healing to people and stories bind people together and build community.”

Guts & Glory GNV offers multiple opportunities for people to get involved and tell their story. In addition to its public performances, Guts & Glory GNV hosts public workshops every other month, works with employees at businesses to build teamwork and works with individuals in one-on-one settings to help build their communication skills. Williams has worked to build teamwork among employees at corporations like McKinsey & Company and Capital One, in addition to athletic teams at the University of Florida and North Carolina State University. Williams also hosts and emcees events, most recently the TEDXUF event, allowing her to not only pursue her passion for performance, but also lift other up and promote their work.

“Improv and storytelling have a way of really helping us connect with ourselves in a unique way,” she said. “We tend to overanalyze ourselves and be judgmental of ourselves and each other. Workshops help draw people out to listen and release their agendas and really listen to others in an authentic way.”

Williams is grateful for her business mind and the education she received at the University of Florida for helping hone her skills into a business with a mission she’s passionate about.

“A lot of people believe that creatives are not business people,” she said. “People assume that if you’re artistic, then you’re flighty, but I don’t think so. I have the opportunity to be a great businessperson and to be a great people-person as well.”

Learn more about Guts & Glory GNV, its workshops, private coaching for businesses and individuals, and public performances.