The Entrepreneur Of The Year Semifinalists Announced: Mary Jane Pories Selected

Recognized as one of the most prestigious business award programs in the country, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards celebrate the country’s most innovative business leaders. Nationally, over 1600 nominations were submitted for the 2013 Award.

Based on a balanced scorecard, awards are given to entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, risk and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

A pioneer in using Applied Improvisation to address issues relevant to the triple bottom line in corporate culture, Mary Jane is recognized by both peers and clients. When other small companies buckled under pressure by slashing prices, cheapening their product, or folding altogether, Fishladder Inc. not only maintained its excellent reputation, it also continued to broaden its customer base and services.

The value of Applied Improvisation is its power for deep-seated transformational change in both behavior and culture. Her approach is perfectly tailored to the unique needs in the “Conceptual Age” because of her education and experience in the visual arts, creative writing, and performance arts.

Starting a business without any formal business training, though daunting, did not deter her from realizing her dream. Her ability to improve business results without a business degree, along with her commitment to life-long learning has resulted in work with top-level executives in Fortune 500 multi-faceted billion dollar enterprises. Mary Jane is recognized for her work with: Technical/Regulatory Affairs, Quality Assurance, Research and Development, Manufacturing, Healthcare and Sales.

The Fishladder Inc. business model demonstrates distinctive approach to the service industry. By differentiating herself from other training companies and clearly identifying her niche within Applied Improvisation, Fishladder Inc. inhabits a strong and competitive position within the marketplace. The positioning is reflected in type of offerings, the experience itself, the pricing, and the philosophy.

Original, customized materials and products further define a means of differentiating Fishladder from competitors. Materials include original workbooks, follow up exercises, business processes, and a soon to be published book entitled, Yes, And!: Harnessing the Power of Improvisation to Transform Your Life and Work. The book, reflecting eight years of work, helps readers understand the power of these behaviors and provides 60+ skill-strengthening exercises.

In order to flourish and prosper, Mary Jane believes in a sustainable approach to business through attention to the triple bottom line. Specifically, this means:

  • Pricing that reflects value – it is in our best interest and the best interest of our customers that our services contribute to their bottom line. That means that we are careful to ensure the greatest possible return on their investment. If this is not happening we reassess and/or discontinue the relationship to ensure the integrity of our brand and the long-term success for them.
  • A stewardly approach to environmental resources – We take a multi-faced approach to this by purchasing locally whenever possible and are proud members of Local First. We pay carbon credits to offset our contribution to global warming. We reclaim, recycle and reuse whenever possible and encourage others to do the same at our workshops and events.
  • Investment in human capital for the long term – Fishladder takes a conscious approach to contributing to the overall health of our local and global community. Currently, Mary Jane serves on the boards of Heartside Ministries and her neighborhood association. She is also a board member of the Global Applied Improv Network and is initiating a Midwest Region Applied Improv Network She is active in the life of her inner city church. Mary Jane invests in the health of her area of expertise through membership of a variety of associations including National Speakers Association, Association of Training and Development, and the Community Sustainability Partnership. She mentors the next generation as an Adjunct Instructor at Kendall College of Art and Design and provides pro bono services to a variety of nonprofits.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kris DeVries at 616.458.2476 or email