Shopify Alum Launches Business Minutes After Being Laid Off

  • Clifford Myers created his comedy business within minutes of quitting Shopify.
  • Another Comedy Company uses improv games to help teams achieve their goals.
  • He said his time at Shopify taught him a lot about entrepreneurship.

After being laid off from Shopify in May, Clifford Myers wasted no time starting his own business. In fact, he said he started his own business, The Other Comedy Company, exactly one minute after receiving the news.

“When you’re working from home, you’re fired, you just see everything on your computer slowly shut down,” he told Insider. “But even though it was sad not having you say goodbye to the team, it was really empowering that I knew what I wanted to do right away.”

The Other Comedy Company facilitates comedy and improv workshops for businesses. Workshops are focused on specific group goals; for example, The Other Comedy Company might plan a workshop that emphasizes active learning and clear communication for a sales team focused on customer acquisition.

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Myers said he sees this as the way the tech world has used gaming to improve learning.

“We’re just doing it organically with improvement plays,” Myers said.

Myers has been a stand-up comedian for years. He joined Shopify’s support team in 2019 because he was looking for remote work that he could do while on the road. He held several different roles before ending up in a team creating workshops and training materials for employees working on the Shopify Fulfillment Network.

This work allowed him to combine his performance skills with his love of learning and education. He said his managers at Shopify encouraged him to use his unique comedic background to plan training sessions.

For the end of a 14-day support team program, he planned a graduation ceremony inspired by the closing credits of a movie, in which a block of text tells what happened to the main characters. They did the same for the people who attended the training program, but with a comedic twist.

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“We’ve been doing these really funny versions of who they’ve become in the future, using inside jokes, things that we’ve learned from the students throughout this experience,” he said.

“People learn better and retain more when they learn to laugh.”

Myers was told that his resignation was due to restructuring. Just two months later, Shopify laid off nearly 1,000 people across the company. According to a Crunchbase News analysis, the tech industry as a whole has seen significant layoffs so far in 2022 — in the U.S. alone, nearly 44,000 tech workers have been laid off this year.

When Myers was fired in May, he didn’t let himself feel defeated. He came up with the idea for The Other Comedy Company a few months ago, inspired in part by the work he’s done with and for entrepreneurs at Shopify.

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“I wanted to take what I learned from Shopify, what I learned about entrepreneurship, what I learned from entrepreneurs, and I wanted to apply it to an educational company, entirely through the lens of stand-up comedians. In my opinion, it’s the most emotionally intelligent kind of art,” he said.

Myers said The Other Comedy Company currently employs four workshop facilitators, all of whom come from stand-up comedy or improv backgrounds. It offers a variety of workshops designed for customer support, sales and C-suite teams, priced from $1,850 to $2,650 per two-hour session.

“People learn better and remember more when they learn to laugh,” she said. Many studies support this idea.

“I also think it increases employee retention when they have those experiences with the people they work with,” Myers added.

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