HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Tom Yorton

CEO of Second City Works, The B2B Arm of The Legendary Comedy Theatre, The Second City


  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Better Business Communication
  • Employee Engagement
  • Change Leadership & Agility
  • Failure


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Tom Yorton has been CEO of Second City Works, the b2b arm of The Second City, world renowned improvisational comedy theatre enterprise in Chicago, IL, since 2002.  Yorton has particular expertise at the intersection of marketing, communications, change + transformation management, social learning and entrepreneurship. His role at The Second City has been to evolve and grow the corporate division of The Second City into the largest and most diverse corporate comedy and improvisational training entity in the world, serving a broad range of Fortune 500 clients and nonprofit organizations - to make work better for everyone who works.

Second City Works now does over 400 engagements a year, half with Fortune 1000 companies. Yorton and his team are focused on refining The Second City’s unique capabilities---creating funny short form content, and using improv to develop vital skills in business people- to help companies communicate, collaborate and innovate better in a web first, social-everything world.

His book, “Yes, And,”(Harper Business), co-authored with Kelly Leonard, looks at Second City as the laboratory for innovation that produced both generations of celebrated comic artists and award winning content. It explores the dynamics of this revolution in which players mastered an ability to co-create in ensembles; using philosophies that embrace both a “yes, and” approach to the work as well as an unflinching embrace of failure; leadership, listening and a learned degree of the science of both comedy and play which have contributed to an overall expertise in the art of making something out of nothing. Yorton explains the revolution in how we learn, communicate, and work that is currently in motion. He unveils the new improviser’s toolkit required to thrive in a world increasingly shaped by the speed of information, social communication, the democratization of power and influence and resurgence in the importance of soft skills in the workforce.

Yorton’s background includes positions as a senior marketing executive at 3COM corporation and Sears, and as a vice president in the advertising firms Hal Riney & Partners and Ogilvy & Mather. He has experience in numerous industries, including high tech, Internet, retail, automotive, airline, fitness, restaurant, lodging, financial services, and healthcare categories. Yorton writes and speaks widely on his undying belief in the power of improvisation and humor to improve individual performance and to transform organizations.

Yorton’s speaking style “of the experiential keynote” is as revolutionary as the ideas he shares. Drawing from the improv notion that dialogues are better than monologues, Yorton’s talks blend presentation (done by him) with demonstration (typically done by Second City actors) and audience participation (where audiences actually do improv exercises) to create powerful, memorable experiences that energize audiences and give them tangible lessons to put to work in their lives.

Yorton has spoken to a variety of audiences, ranging from corporations to universities. His unique background and knowledge makes him a great fit for several markets, whether it be sales executives, marketing professionals, human resources, or people about to embark on their first career path. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.


Praise for Yes, And:

“I know one of these guys, so at least half of this book is pretty good. Yes, And is for anyone looking to be more creative in their work and in their life.”
– Stephen Colbert

“If one phrase can capture the essence of the creative mindset then ‘yes, and’ might just be it. If one book can inspire you to apply that creative mindset then Yes, And is most certainly that book.”
– Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and author of Change By Design

“Yes, And takes you behind the curtain of Second City to reveal deep insights and practical tips about how to lead a creative life. If you want to flourish in the new world of work, this book is an essential read.”
– Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human and Drive

“You’ll learn, you’ll laugh, and you’ll immediately test out the rich set of practical exercises at the office-and the dinner table.”
– Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

“Accepting and building on what others have initiated, Yes, And is the best teamwork advice for the stage or the boardroom.”
– Dick Costollo, CEO of Twitter