Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan, renowned facilitator, game maker, and general wizard.

“You don’t solve problems in life. You keep reconciling paradoxes.” –Thiagi

Every now and then—if you’re lucky—you get to spend time “under a mango tree” in the presence of a true master. For Monster Baby Episode #67, Lisa and Ted had such a treat: chatting with experiential learning guru Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagaragan.

Following few moments to settle in after a slight delay (2:54), Thiagi outlined his understanding of the three types of joy (4:54). Ted asked Thiagi about his keynote presentation on paradox (7:24) and Thiagi relayed his “Rorschach facilitation” style. The trio explored another—that between preparing and improvising—and Lisa discussed her understanding of a speaker’s “crisis of trust.” (18:23) Lisa asked how we can bring people to play if they don’t seem wired for it (22:39) and Thiagi led both through a somewhat playful exercise on death and dying (27:19). Another exercise illustrated the dynamics of addictive behavior (37:25) and the conversation closed with some thoughts on the intersection of absurdity and profundity (46:02).


Dr. Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan is the founder and Resident Mad Scientist at The Thiagi Group, an organization with the mission of helping people improve their performance effectively and enjoyably.

He has written a monthly GameLetter for 15 years; it currently appears as the GameBlog on this website.

As a global nomad, Thiagi has lived in three different countries and has conducted training workshops in 21 others. Earlier in his life, he has been a high-school science teacher, street corner magician, researcher, editor of a professional journal, keynote speaker, college professor, USAID project director, and writer.

If you’d like more information on Thiagi, his organization, or their work, please visit


If something in this episode brings you particular joy—or raises a question—feel free to write us, Ted and Lisa, at

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For more info or to order Ted’s Monster-Baby-inspired book, Playful Mindfulness, visit

San Francisco improvisors Ted DesMaisons and Lisa Rowland explore the beautiful, surprising and unruly intersections between mindfulness and improvisation as they seek to befriend that oft-hidden and sometimes scary part of all of us that can lead to a life well-lived.

The post Monster Baby #67 Under a Mango Tree: A Conversation with Thiagi appeared first on Anima Learning.