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3 things Dollar Shave Club's CEO learned about success from studying improv

When creating a new business, it's common to draw on skills learned from past experiences. For Michael Dubin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club, that past experience came from studying improv comedy.

Dubin founded the subscription business from his apartment in 2012, selling razors online for $1 each after taking night classes in improvisation with the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv theatre and training center. In 2016, he sold the company to consumer goods giant Unilever for $1 billion.

At the Iconic Tour in Los Angeles, Dubin relays the three key strategies he learned about success from practicing improv comedy:

1. Think fast

Dubin says that he gravitated toward the rapid-fire mental process of improv, which is required to make a scene funny. This mental trick helped him in business because it forced him to think fast and on his feet.

"Your brain has to work really quickly to keep up with your scene partners as you develop information," says Dubin. In improv, much like in business, you have to "absorb quickly, think quickly and react quickly."

However, Dubin notes that you may not always want to react quickly in a business setting.

"There are times where you want to be very measured and take your time," he says.

2. Absorb information

Dubin says that outside of the comedic and quick-thinking aspect of improv, he also learned how to adequately synthesize information from different sources and fuse them together to "tell a story and develop a solution."

He adds that this is a necessary skill in his current position.

"That's what you're doing all day as a CEO," says Dubin. "You are ingesting bits and pieces of different information and synthesizing it into a strategy or an effort of some kind."

Michael Dubin, Dollar Shave Club CEO and founder.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Michael Dubin, Dollar Shave Club CEO and founder.

3.  Pivot quickly to new tasks

Dubin tells the panel that his improv training also helped him to "pivot quickly" when making decisions and finding answers to business problems.

This skill, combined with fast-thinking and synthesizing information, makes it easier to develop solutions, which Dubin says is the basis of every successful company.

"Be very clear about what the consumer problem is and then what your solution is," says Dubin. "I would start there."

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