Say Yes To Yourself

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Listen Now: Say Yes to Yourself

Say yes, and your life will improve. If you have seen Yes Man with Jim Carrey, you might have garnered this lesson already. But that is only one lesson of dozens that Bob Kodzis drops in this episode. He’s a performer, instructor, facilitator and consultant, or truly – whatever he wants to be.

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Intro: In this episode, I speak with Bob Kodzis. Bob was my improv instructor at Sak Comedy Lab in Orlando Florida. I went to Sak’s free 2- hour improv class back in 2013 with my team, because I have long believed that improv has so many concepts, lessons, and rules that are really powerful in day-to-day life. In fact, if you to go, you can download “5 Improv Lessons to Be A Better You,” a free guide with tips you can apply today.

Now, it took me 4 years to get to the actual 8-week class, and I’m so glad that I did it. Bob is just a fountain of knowledge and inspiration, and we talk about everything from rollercoasters, to autistic children performing improv, to saying yes to yourself and more. Now, we recorded this episode in the sound booth, but it was pressed up against the wall of a sound studio, and so you will likely hear a drum beat at various points in the episode – Bob even stops mid-sentence to dance to it at one point. I hope it doesn’t detract too much, because Bob is filled with great stories and one-liners that you don’t want to miss.

Here is my interview with Bob Kodzis.


Laura: Alright, Bob. Thank you for being on the show.

Bob: Hey! I’m glad to be here.

Laura: Would you please introduce yourself to our listeners?

Bob: My name is Bob Kodzis. I am a small business owner. I’m a- improv teacher, improviser, host, Emcee, public speaker, artist, facilitator kind of guy.

Laura: Is that it?

Bob: Yeah. Pretty much.

Laura: That’s really all you do?

Bob: You know, actually, I, I leave it open-ended. The name of my company is Flight of Ideas, which, which is a great indication of what you get when you encounter me because I don’t like to focus on one thing too long. I can focus really well but I, I get really bored fast.

Laura: Uh huh.

Bob: So, I try to brachiate* from project to project, from idea to idea to keep me interested. And, in the process, my clients interested.

Laura: Absolutely. So you can kind of stay engaged in whatever you’re doing–

Bob: Yeah.

Laura: –on any day, every day.

Bob: Engagement is important to me. I, I think I’m at my best and I have the most fun when I’m actually really immersed and engaged in something.

Laura: Alright.

Bob: So I try to go from immersive experience to immersive experience. Uh, and I think it affects the quality of my life in a good way.

Laura: Oh, I’m sure. It must. So, tell me more about Flight of Ideas. Like, what would you say the problem is you solve with-

Bob: Oh. This is the beauty of Flight of Ideas. I solve every kind of problem with my clients. And it’s mostly me unleashing the genius of my clients to solve their own problems in most cases. I admit I’m a problem solver, I’m a creative guy. I can noodle any kind of topic that you want me to but, uh, I think it’s more satisfying for them and for me if I help them to find the solutions to their own problems. ‘Cause I don’t need to be a crutch for anybody. I would like to teach them to solve their own problems so that eventually they don’t need me to help them. Uh, so I work with all kinds of organizations, uh, from the smallest not-for-profit (literally, you know, five people working for an organization, a budget of 700 dollars) to, uh, NASA, to Disney World, to NASIL*, the large builder of Harry Potter–

Laura: Wow.

Bob: [00:01:59] –and Universal Studios. I get to work with really cool organizations. Very diverse. I mean, I work with the Federal Reserve Bank. They– the top internal auditing team of the Federal Reserve Bank. If you want to take conservative and make it more conservative.

Laura: Wow.

Bob: You know, and you contrast that with some of the wild, crazy, brilliant people that I work with in Orlando, it’s a, it’s a spectrum. But I love it. That’s what keeps me engaged and interested. I never know what’s gonna come around the corner.

Laura: Well that’s so awesome. Alright, so, what’s an example of– and I know you do lots of things. That’s part of what your point is.

Bob: Things. That’s–

Laura: Give me, so–

[Laughter 00:02:31]

Bob: We do things.

Laura: We do stuff.

Bob: If you need stuff done, we can do it for you.

Laura: Um, what, what’s an example of something that you would do where you, you come in and you’re working, whether it’s, you know, with NASA or a team of five people? What’s a, a story, example?

Bob: Okay. Uh, give you a kind of a range of the stuff that I do. I do, uh, lots of strategic planning work. So, groups want to come up with a plan in an 8-hour period, you know, 12 to 20 diverse minds who never agreed on anything beforehand want me to get them in a room and help them to come to consensus on where they want their organization to go. And that’s what I do. I establish agendas that really engage people, get people interested, allow them to use their best skills to solve the challenges at hand or to plan the future. So that’s one level of facilitation: planning. I do creative ideation planning where people are trying to come up with new and innovative products, processes, rebranding of their stuff. I can help them to come up with those solutions. So that’s another way that I work with groups. I’m also a keynote speaker and I don’t like to call myself a keynote speaker because the keynote is actually a byproduct of living an extraordinary life. I go out and I live.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: I play with cool people, I do cool stuff, I say yes to the universe, and then when I amass enough knowledge in a specific area, I put together a show or something to teach other people what I’ve learned. And it’s always an evolving something, but, um, it’s so fun to be able to take a body of what you’ve learned and then turn it out to the rest of the world. And I try to do it in a way that will make it interesting for them and fun for them and slide the lessons through their cores pretty effort– effortlessly. Effortlessly.

[Laughter 00:04:13]

Bob: I’d like to buy a vowel please. So, there. Hey. That’s– my word use and structures get screwed up sometimes.

Laura: How was– I mean, that’s so cool. And are you– so, you said something that I wanted to circle back on. The creative ideation thing.

Bob: Mm hmm.

Laura: Are you able to talk about that one example that we shared– you shared with me. We had lunch and you were talking about this rollercoaster idea. Like–

Bob: Oh, yeah. That was when we were working with–

Laura: ‘Cause that was like the craziest idea ever.

Bob: Yeah. I was working– this was actually before I launched my company. I was still working in the corporate world and it was the project that made me want to leave the corporate world and do my own thing. And it was for a group out of Amsterdam called Vekoma International, the largest rollercoaster manufacturer in the world. And my job was to help a group of their geniuses that they sent to me in Orlando come up with three new ideas for thrill rides for this company. Which, the concept was just awesome to begin with.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: To be able to design thrill rides. Um, I know it’s interesting because when I first got into the room, uh, we had three days to work it out and the first day was a complete failure. I mean, it was, it was a mess. And it was on me. I failed. I failed to unleash the group. I failed to get them really into what we were talking about in a way that allowed them to use their brilliance and, and solve problems. These people were coming into the room with patents. You know, one of the mad– maglev* patents that would allow the coaster to rotate at a faster rate than any other rollercoaster has. I mean, who *(inaud) people. So, the second day, what we did was a, a process that I called dissection. And that is we took the thriller ride and we dissected it into all its component pieces and we looked at each one of those pieces and we brainstormed, like, the intro. When people walk up, what music is playing? What story’s being told? What’s on the video screens? What’s it smell like? what are the colors in the environment? How is the queue laid out? What does the vehicle itself look like? What does the track look like? What’s the speed? What’s the sound they hear when they’re playing? All these elements we took and we laid out on the walls of this ballroom down by Disney and, and then we started putting those pieces together in really weird and innovative ways. And the ideas they came up with. there were two really amazing, notable ideas that I remember from that experience. One was, uh, was the medusa, which was this incredible rollercoaster they designed which was the head of the gorgon. If you know anything about Medusa in Greek mythology, she’s a gorgon who has serpents for hair. And every time you’d cut the serpents off, another one would grow in its place. And if you looked her in the face, you would turn to stone. Uh, and so, uh, they designed this rollercoaster where each of the snakes that were Medusa’s hair were rails that were carrying cars. so the riders are on these rails looking like they’re gonna ride right off the head of the snake off into infinity when it magically meets with another rail just in time and takes them to their destination. They’re going in and out of her mouth and around her head. It was just really cool. I don’t know that that one is actually in existence yet, but they bought it. They said, “Yes. We love this. We’re gonna do it.” Uh, there was another one that was the frog and fly which was two rollercoaster cars. One’s a really big one that’s the frog that holds like 50 people and one’s a tiny one that holds five or six people that’s the fly. And the people riding on this thing control the speed of it with toggle switches on there so you can actually, if everybody’s working together, get it to go faster. And the goal is for the people of the frog to catch the fly. And it’s designed so that if the frog catches up with the fly, the fly passes through the belly of the frog and the frog is now being chased by the fly. And if the frog catches the fly, they get a free ride around the course one extra time. That’s what they’re working for, the incentive.

Laura: [00:07:46] And they are, legit, are controlling it in this idea?

Bob: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And they’re also going under the surface of the ground, which, under the surface is all underwater scenes and above the surface it’s all lily pads and it looks like the cover of water. It was just, it was amazing.

Laura: [00:08:00] That’s so cool.

Bob: And we were so jazzed. Like, this was three days where we didn’t sleep a lot. We were running around the room like crazy people. Uh, with each new idea that came up people were building models, I was drawing pictures on the wall. It was just, it was full of good juice. and it made me wanna do more of that.

Laura: that’s awesome.

Bob: And so about a year after that experience, I freed myself from the corporate world and this is what I do now–

Laura: Wow.

Bob: –all the time. And those are, you know, those are rare, amazing projects to get because they tickle all of my funny bones.

Laura: Uh huh.

Bob: There’s a technical aspect. There’s a creative aspect. There’s an innovative aspect. There’s, um, a team aspect. It’s just, it’s a lot of stuff that I love to work with. It was like a perfect storm of projects.

Laura: That’s so cool. Thank you for sharing that again. That’s absolutely what I was thinking about. I remembered the Medusa one and I forgot about the, the frog and the fly.

Bob: They were funky.  That one was going to be going into production but, again, I don’t– the challenge with being a facilitator is you can’t really always keep track of the progress of all the things that you’ve touched.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: Nor do I really want to. I love the hit and run approach to projects where I can come in, give you my all, and then move on to something else.

Laura: Have an impact and then it’s theirs to carry, it’s theirs to own.

Bob: Yes.

Laura: Nice. Alright, so I, I mentioned that I wanna do Facebook Live while we’re doing the podcast.

Bob: Yes. Do it.

Laura: Brand new idea. So, I thought we could set that up.

Bob: Let’s make that happen.

Laura: Let’s make that happen.

Bob: Innovation happening right here in front of your ears, people.

Laura: I love, I really love doing things for the first time, actually. So–

Bob: Me too. It’s the beautiful, awkward, doofusness of it.

Laura: So, if we’re sideways, are we gonna be sideways?

Bob: We might be sideways.

Laura: Oh, yeah. It’s, yeah, well thank you. It’s telling me.

Bob: Hey, look at us! We’re all lit up!

Laura: We’re super lit up.

Bob: We’ve been drinking all afternoon.

Laura: I was telling people how the, um, sound booth is really really dark. But there are these lights and, you know, it makes a big difference.

Bob: Yeah. I feel like I’m being interrogated, but that’s okay.

[Laughter 00:09:55]

Bob: And then the solar eclipse came.

Laura: [[00:09:59] Exactly! Oh yeah. We could totally have gone with that. Um, so I’m Laura Gallaher.

Bob: I’m Bob Kodzis.

Laura: This is Bob Kodzis and we’re currently in a sound booth at the Melrose Center at the Orange County Library in downtown Orlando. And we’re recording, literally right now, we’re recording the podcast. Um, and you were asking, like, when would it come out. I don’t know. But I’m excited.

Bob: It will come out. That’s all I care.

Laura: It’s gonna come out.

Bob: At some point.

Laura: Yeah. . So, you and I actually did meet before I took your class–

Bob: Yeah, yeah we did.

Laura: –but I recently got to finish Bob’s, um, level one improv class at Sak Comedy Lab.

Bob: And she rocked out the showcase I must say. Which, that’s the, that’s the culmination of eight weeks of training. And after just eight weeks of studying this art form, this lady had the guts to get on stage in front of a big audience and do her thing which is, you were just saying I love doing new things–

Laura: I did! Yeah!

Bob: That’s pretty new though, right?

Laura: I love doing things for the first time.

Bob: That’s awesome.

Laura: Like, ooh, let me try this. So, thank you.

Bob: I’m glad to

Laura: Thank you for the feedback and the compliment and, um, actually I just saw, Bob, your class, your level one class from Tuesday night’s show. So, Andy is a friend of mine.

Bob: I got that impression when I saw what you posted about him.

Laura: Yes!

Bob: And he did great. Honestly, he, he,  a-also wins for being (this is Andy Chen, one of my students who–)

Laura: Hi, Andy! I’ll make sure you see this.

Bob: Andy! Um, I would consider him to be the one that made probably the greatest level of progress from the minute he stepped in the class to the minute he stepped on that stage. And that was all him opening himself up to the lessons and saying yes and going at it. He, he would go at it fearlessly and, ultimately, I think, uh, he really earned the respect and the affection of his fellow players.

Laura: That’s awesome.

Bob: And he did such a great job.

Laura: They were amazing!

Bob: They were so connected to each other and that’s–

Laura: Oh, man.

Bob: –I had students from other classes saying, “Did you hire professionals to come in and do that show?”

[Laughter 00:11:52]

Laura: Seriously.

Bob: I had one of my, one of my fellow performers at Sak say: “That was the best level one performance I think I’ve ever seen.”

Laura: It was so good.

Bob: [00:11:59] It was just like, and I was so proud of them. You never know what to expect because it is, it’s improv. You have all the quirks of creating, uh, creating in front of a live audience and that, that can always go wrong. In fact, it always does go wrong.

Laura: something always does.

Bob: But if you don’t treat it like it’s wrong, the audience doesn’t notice that it’s wrong.

Laura: Right.

Bob: And that is a big thing to – allowing your mistakes to be a part of the fabric that you’re weaving. You know?

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: We’re not gonna get out of mistakes. We’re humans. And if you’re creating art in front of people live, it’s got all that chance, that happenstance. So, I think it’s a good exercise.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: And, and I love seeing people go from being complete strangers to being totally connected on stage and rocking it out in front of an audience.

Laura: Oh yeah.

Bob: They don’t know how cool they are. You didn’t know how fun it was until you got on stage. I mean, you knew it was fun to play with your friends–

Laura: To play. Yeah.

Bob: –but then when you heard and audience respond to that–

Laura: Yes.

Bob: –it’s like it’s almost you feel like, “That was for me!” And for me, the most immediate response for me early on in my improv was, “Oh, crap. How do I do that again?”

Laura: Yes. I know.

Bob: You’d say, “I want it to keep happening but I also don’t want it to stop now.” It’s like, well, you gave us one good laugh.

Laura: Uh huh.

Bob: But you can’t do that ’cause you get in your head thinking about your process, uh, you’re not present with the people that you’re performing with or the people that you’re performing for and that’s–

Laura: So good.

Bob: –in improv, is the path to destruction.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: Death and destruction. So, uh, so yeah. I love teaching improv and I just–

Laura: And you’re so good at it.

Bob: Oh, thank you. That’s so, a very kind–

Laura: You’re such a good instructor.

Bob: I, uh, I teach level one exclusively now. Um, I mean, I could teach any level at, at Sak. If I said, “Oh, let me teach level two or four,” I’m sure that they would say, “Okay, sure. You can do that.” But I love getting people who don’t know anything about the art form, very little, who have the guts to make that leap in the first place. ‘Cause it takes guts to say, “Alright, you know something? I’m gonna take an improv class.”

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: [00:13:56] Some people don’t have the guts to step into an improv theater let alone step into a class.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: But once they get in there, if they’re willing to be open to it, um, at least in my classes, one of the things we work on the most early on is self-forgiveness. We’re gonna make mistakes–

Laura: Yes.

Bob: –you have to get over it and not make it like – The second mistake you’ll make is capitalizing on your mistake as a mistake. Uh, so, you know, forgive yourself and those – get used to your mistakes and really connect with each other. Really really listen.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: Listening is the most critical element of all of improv. I think it’s actually one of the most critical elements of all of life.

Laura: Of life. Alright, this is a perfect segue. I didn’t pay him to say that but that’s perfect because what I wanna say, um, we’re gonna keep the Facebook Live on the shorter side, um, and we’re gonna close this out. But I do, I would love for you to listen to the full show ’cause we’re, see we’re in the sound booth. There’s the microphone and stuff. I don’t know if you could see that. Maybe it was like really dark.

Bob: See my buddy, mic?

Laura: There’s a microphone.

Bob: It’s right next to my face right now.

[Laughter 00:14:55]

Laura: Yeah. So, listen to the show. . Um, and what I’m gonna ask you to elaborate on, Bob, is how so many of those lessons that you just spouted, all of that wisdom, is valuable not just in improv but like–

Bob: Yeah.

Laura: –in life. Relationships. Communication.

Bob: You better listen to this podcast ’cause this is gonna be important stuff.

Laura: Check it out. Listen to it. It’s gonna be awesome.

Bob: Rock out.

Laura: So, cool. Alright. Let’s say goodbye to Facebook Live. Bye! Alright.

Bob: Alright.

Laura: In the meantime, we are still recording here.

Bob: So, I love that. So, I am, I am the improv is life, life is improv guy at Sak. And when I say that, I have always seen the connection between improv from* principles of life to the extent that I’ve created two huge murals at Sak Comedy Lab focused specifically on that. That if you read them and you didn’t know that you were in an improv space, you would think these are just great rules for life.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: [00:15:51] Um, because a lot of successful improv is rooted in Buddhism. You know, it’s in finding that oneness with those around you and trying to make connections that are meaningful and, it’s, it’s got a really great, uh, connectivity for us in that so, so, uh, one mural that I drew downstairs is all from lessons from people who have been improvisers at Sak Comedy Lab throughout 35 years of our history. The second one, the name of it is actually Improv is Life, Life is Improv–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: –is from all of the greatest improvisers that I’ve ever encountered. Those that I know personally and some that I’ve never met before. And, uh, I mean just the incredible lessons that– example: in one of, one of the quotes from Doug Close in this mural upstairs is “There’s a light in you. Burn it out.” And his point with that is there’s no sense reserving your energy for some later time.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: You’ve got this light, it’s your own individual light. You need to let it shine now, as bright as you can until it’s burnt out. And if that happens tomorrow, guess what? You shined as bright as you could, as long as you could.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: You know? So, it’s like it applies to everything. Or “Nothing great ever comes from our comfort zone.”

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: Guess what? In improv, if you stay in your comfort zone you can’t do improv.

Laura: No.

Bob: Because there’s discomfort to be overcome in order to do what we do. But to say nothing great ever comes from your comfort zone says it’s worth the risk to step out of that in order to get what you’re going for.

Laura: Alright, so I wanna hear what is the first, what was your first experience with improv?

Bob: Ah.

Laura: Like, you’re so experienced now it’s hard to picture you being nervous or uncomfortable.

Bob: Oh, boy. Oh, yeah. No, no. And it’s all that– and still, you know, if I’m away from it long enough I get, I get that same beginners jitter kind of thing. And it’s just, again, it’s fear of failure that gives you that. Uh, but it’s not that I’m scared. It’s that I’m excited.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: [00:17:51] It’s that I’m excited to do well and looking forward to that. So, that’s a, a piece of it. So, early on, the first time I saw improv, uh, was the Mud Puppies. And they were at a hotel down either, I’m not sure if it was by the airport or by International Drive, one of the Mud Puppies was David Russell who is one of the founders of Sak and the chairman of the board at Sak right now. And his troop of friends, some of whom were the founders of Sak–

[Rattling 00:18:18]

Laura: We probably don’t need the light shining in our face anymore.

Bob: It’s (inaud) That’s good.

[Laughter 00:18:22]

Bob: So, um, and I loved what they did. It was messy. It was not, you know, stand up, I’m gonna say these pre-scripted words to you and you’re gonna love it and laugh. It was we’re gonna take the chance that your input can spark our fun and then we’re gonna see where that goes and you’re gonna see where it goes with us. And that concept of us being with them and helping them to create the art was like, “That’s cool.” Then, fast forward probably another five years, I’m in Leadership Orlando and, uh, Sak Comedy Lab comes in to do a “playing together” seminar and they had so much fun with these leaders and I had so much fun with them that I caught them in the parking lot on my way out of there and I pulled up and told them how cool they are and how fun they are. And of course they turned around and I went, “No, you are.”

[Laughter 00:19:08]

Bob: And, uh, and I said, “I’ve, I want to do what you guys do” and they’re like, “You come take a class.”

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: “You would love this. It’s fantastic. You’ll love it.” And so I said, “Alright. I’m gonna do this.” Three years later…

Laura: Really?

Bob: Yeah.

[Laughter 00:19:22]

Bob: I was still in the corporate world at that time and when I was free of the corporate world I was more free with my time and what I could do and more free with my interpretation of what I was able to do.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: Uh, from within the confines of the corporate world, very often the box that we occupy in the organizational chart is a little prison cell that we can’t think outside of and that we feel constrained to just to do the things that are sort of within that box, forgetting that we’re whole human beings and that we have a lot of skills outside of the realm of that box that we can apply. And, uh, I’ll tell you a story about that later, about the Cirque du Soleil start in Orlando because it, to me, inspires me about how you apply human potential to your organization design.

Laura: [00:20:05] Okay. Ooh…

Bob: That’s really, that’s very cool. I figured that would turn you on.

[Laughter 00:20:08]

Laura: Getting excited about that one.

Bob: “I got a PhD in this stuff, right?” That is beautiful. So, so, and when I finally did take a class, the classes themselves, I was so jazzed to, to take those classes. I mean, each class I was looking forward to it because I got a chance to perform in front of a group of relative strangers who became, who are now very close friends of mine–

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: Those who have stayed with us. And, and then, in those days, back in, I guess it was right around 2000 when I first took my first classes at Sak, um, there was no showcase for level one.

Laura: Aw.

Bob: You had to wait to get to level four–

Laura: Oh jeez.

Bob: –to have a showcase and your showcase for level four was your audition for Lab Rats.

Laura: Whoa. Wow.

Bob: And about–

Laura: No pressure.

Bob: –and about three people from each class got into Lab Rats–

Laura: Wow.

Bob: –out of like 15 people.

Laura: Okay. Competitive.

Bob: So, there was some heartbreak going on. It was because one of the things with, with Sak Comedy Lab in particular is they wanna make sure, before they put you on their stage, you have a certain level of professionalism. That you can pull it off consistently.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: So, the first time I actually got on stage to perform was my level four class. Uh, I loved it. It was like, I was walking on air for days after that and I was invited into Lab Rats the next day.

Laura: That’s so cool.

Bob: And that was just… ah.

Laura: Well, congrats.

Bob: Yeah.

Laura: I’m glad it happened to you.

[Laughter 00:21:25]

Bob: And from there I got, when I was a Lab Rat I was, I think I was the only Lab Rat, I think I may still be the only Lab Rat that went straight on ensemble hosting.

Laura: Oh wow.

Bob: Because I, in my professional world, I was that anyways. So, when they saw – when I hosted some little thing for us, they were like, “Hmm.” And my friend, my mentor, my amazing teacher Jay Hopkins said, ” I think you should be hosting for us.” And he went to the rest of the ensemble and said, “I think Bob should be hosting for us. And by the way, let us never forget the power we have when we’ve arrived someplace to help lift other people into that space–”

Laura: [00:22:02] Absolutely.

Bob: And it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing that I don’t think we do generously enough. I was really indebted to Jay when he was confident enough in my skills to say, “You can do this” and then confident enough to say to other people, “He can do this. Let him do this” and allowed me to do so. And I’ve tried to carry that forward in what I do because I think it’s a, it’s amazing to recognize fresh talent on the verge of being something really special and, uh, and that was my opportunity to do that. And I don’t get scared before I get on stage because I’m hungry for it.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: I, I love an audience. I love what they do for me. I can’t get anywhere else what I get from an audience. And it’s, I feel bad for my wife sometimes because there are sometimes I, I’ll come back from a great show or a great talk, uh, and I’m all jazzed and juiced but I’m in my own little space there. My own private Idaho.

[Laughter 00:22:55]

Bob: Um, but it is, it’s a magical, amazing thing. But I do always feel a great desire to give the audience what they’re hoping for.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: And the only trepidation I have is the possibility that they’ll walk away disappointed. And this is what– I’m sure audiences have walked away disappointed. I’m sure there’ve been times when I know they’ve walked away disappointed and others when I thought they were satisfied and they weren’t–

[Laughter 00:23:20]

Bob: –but, you know, that goes for most of the women that I’ve had relationships with in my life, so that’s okay.

[Laughter 00:23:26]

Bob: I’m kidding.

Laura: I know you are.

Bob: I’ve only really had one.

Laura: I know you and your wife have been together for… how long?

Bob: How long? Longer than you’ve been alive I believe.

Laura: Really? Well let’s see.

Bob: We won’t expose that. 37 years we’ve been together.

Laura: Oh okay. I’m 35 years old. So you were–

Bob: Boom!

Laura: –you were accurate, sir.

Bob: Yeah, so I was two years into the relationship when you wandered onto the planet.

Laura: Alright.

Bob: And I’ve been married to Patty for 33 years.

Laura: Congrats on that. I love that.

Bob: [00:23:50] Honestly, I’d also like to advocate finding somebody that you can connect with on the deepest level because it’s very liberating. I am a fearless human being, socially, because I literally have nothing to lose. I can lose everything else and I have Patty and that is a very empowering mechanism because when you know that you can’t lose everything, you’ll try anything.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: And, uh, and I’ve had a life of that. Of just trying stuff and most of it works really well for me. Some of it works really horribly for me. My best stories come from those experiences.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: So, again, you really get a great experience, or you get a great story to share with other people.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: If you have the guts. You know, ’cause you’re talking about your failures and your foibles. But I’m a bag of those.

Laura: Well, let me jump back a subject for a second ’cause I think you know this or you know this to a certain degree but I, I actually found love in your improv class.

Bob: I love that. That, that delights me.

[Laughter 00:24:43]

Bob: And you know something? It’s not that uncommon.

Laura: Really? I’m curious about that.

Bob: Um, well here’s what I believe. I believe one of the first things that we do that you experienced in my class, uh, was the dropping of, of barriers.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: Okay. So, you become open to other people in a different way.

Laura: Absolutely.

Bob: You can see them

Laura: Yes.

Bob: And when you see them, you get a chance to decide whether you like that or you don’t. And in improv we ask you to set aside that judgment for the power of performance. But because there are relationships that are, um, around the edges of that, um, it, it becomes, uh, more profound more quickly. And people go deeper, faster. And, and it becomes something that– you go in with fewer illusions I think. Because one of the things that improv does is it makes you vulnerable. It makes you disarmed in a way that, um, that you get to see who someone really is.

Laura: Mm hmm .

Bob: Normally you would have to wait for something horrible to happen in a relationship or to your partner in a relationship to see what they’re like at their most vulnerable. Improv offers you an opportunity to be vulnerable without any genuine risk, other than social risk.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: That you risk looking stupid.

Laura: [00:26:00] Yep.

Bob: But guess what?

Laura: Oh, we all look stupid. I know I did at various times.

Bob: I, I was just telling a group I was working with earlier today that when one person is doing something idiotic, they’re a fool. But when a whole group of people is doing something idiotic, they’re improv.

Laura: Yeah.

[Laughter 00:26:16]

Bob: You know, and we, and being that, being willing to be vulnerable with each other, that’s the start of a friendship.

Laura: Oh, so much.

Bob: And by the way, after 37 years in an amazing relationship with my best friend, I can tell you that when all else is gone, the friendship is what holds everything together in a relationship. It’s just that companionship. You don’t have to have sex to have an incredible relationship.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: Uh, I prefer it–

[Laughter 00:26:43]

Bob: –but you know–

Laura: I’m a fan as well.

Bob: –as I think so many of us are, right? But I do think, um, what– the core of it isn’t that. That you go through an evolution in every relationship that starts with this white-hot flame, uh, and burning off and tapers to a lovely ember. Not as hot, dangerous, or exciting as a white-hot flame but lovely and it’s got a history to it and a warmth to it and guess what? If you stoke it a little bit you can get that flame back.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: It just takes some active action.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: You know? So there. That’s my philosophy on relationships.

Laura: I like that.

Bob: How do you like that?

Laura: I do. I love that. Alright. There’s a couple things that I would love to hear from you. One would be, can you tell me about a specific example or story from your life where you noticed you were taking a principle or practice from improv and applying it in your life outside of improv, whether it’s, like, self-forgiveness or being present, listening… Like, what’s one of the earliest things or one of the most powerful examples of bringing that into your life?

Bob: There are so many of them.

Laura: What’s your favorite?

Bob: [00:27:49] Because, because I live it. I’m trying to think of one that could be, that could be striking, uh, for you. Because, ah, “Yes and” is the basic principle of improv. It says whatever your fellow player offers you’re going to receive that and say yes to it. This is something that has changed how I do everything. How I facilitate. Um, there was a times when, as a facilitator, when somebody would do something outrageous or disruptive that I would manage that dynamic in a way that would squelch it. Um, I don’t do that anymore. I, when I hear what they say, my first thought is yes to that and how can I take that and make that work in the greater good of what we’re trying to accomplish. And the result of that is when you say yes to people, even when they’re trying to be disruptive, it’s like a Judo move. It’s like you’re using their own energy to accomplish your goals–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: –and I’ve seen it turn around so many people who you might’ve thought were having conflict when I was managing that dynamic, but they felt empowered by it because I said yes to it. Um, I apply “Yes and” to opportunities in my life. And when I say that, I mean if you say, “Hey, Bob. Let’s go bungee jumping,” I say yes. Right? I mean I say yes in my head. Now, I don’t say yes outside my life to everything but I say yes to everything inside my head which results in me trying so many more things than I would ever try. And that breadth of experience gives me courage to know that I can survive and thrive in many different environments, in many different situations. And it makes me stronger. And the stronger I get, the more I say yes and it’s this spiral upward toward, you know, I don’t know toward what – but I don’t think the destination is the issue. I think one of the things the improv has taught me is that this journey is it.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: It’s what we get.

Laura: This is it.

Bob: You know, if you’re, if you’re waiting for, you know, the gold pot at the end of the rainbow, you missed the rainbow.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: And you could’ve been enjoying that rainbow the whole time. And guess what? If you’re enjoying the rainbow the whole time and you get to the end of it and there’s no gold, no worries. ‘Cause you enjoyed the whole trip.

Laura: [00:30:02] Exactly.

Bob: You know, I’m not about waiting for happiness.

Laura: Oh, no.

Bob: I told my wife early on when we were married, I am not living for tomorrow. I am living for today.

Laura: Did you see what I posted on Facebook yesterday?

Bob: I didn’t.

Laura: I said, I love it ’cause I love what you just said– I said, “Happiness is a choice that I make daily, over and over.”

Bob: I do it hourly.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: It’s true!

Laura: Over and over. Yeah.

Bob: It is.

Laura: Multiple times a day I choose to be happy and then the moments that I’m not happy, I realize that I’m choosing that and then I realize I can choose to be happy. But I do it. I will not be happy when “x” happens or when so and so does that. No. I choose it.

Bob: Mm hmm. You’re right.

Laura: Wow.

Bob: And guess what? There is– I prefer someone who’s actively unhappy to somebody who’s passively unhappy. That is, I prefer someone who says, “I’m choosing to be unhappy now” rather than someone who’s not making a choice and blaming the rest of the world for the attitude that results. And I believe very strongly that happiness is a choice. That does not mean tragedies don’t befall us. It doesn’t mean difficulties don’t come. They come all over the place. I have had my shares of adversity in my life. The question is: How are you going to respond to that? And I choose to respond with the greatest happiness I can muster. And I also forgive myself when I am unable to muster it.

Laura: Me too.

Bob: And I also try to, when I can, remove myself from people so that they don’t have to share my unhappiness. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t accept the help of friends or reach out to a friend that I love and trust. It just means that, um, sometimes I just let, need to let my unhappiness take its course and then move on to a happier time. I am one of the happiest people you’ve ever met. I’ll tell you straight up.

Laura: That’s true.

Bob: I don’t, I don’t know a lot of people who are happier than me. It’s not a competition. I actually had someone say–

[Laughter 00:31:48]

Bob: –“I think I’m happier than you are. In fact, I bet I’m happier than you are.” They said this and I said, “Um, you know, that’s okay. I could be happy with that.” And she said, “You win.”

[Laughter 00:31:59]

Laura: [00:32:00] Well, they say comparison is the thief of happiness.

Bob: Ah.

Laura: So–

Bob: Someone just taught me that.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: That is, that is interesting. And, and I believe that that is so. I, I was told, actually by Wolfgang Puck, that, that desire for the second bite takes away our joy in the first bite.

Laura: Oh.

Bob: So, if you can’t stay in the moment and enjoy that first bite for all that it’s worth without thinking, “I can only be happy if I get another one of those,” you’re limiting your own happiness. And that, to me, is very much in line with what you just said. You know, stealing happiness. And if you let someone steal your happiness, this is not a carjacking at gunpoint. This is you handing it off, you know, ’cause you have the power to keep it no matter what. It’s like your attitude. You let someone else choose your attitude, shame on you.

Laura: Yeah. That’s you giving your power away.

Bob: Exactly. Glass is half full. Glass is half empty. You got a glass, dude. You know? And you can refill it. That’s the beauty of the glass.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: You don’t have to sit there and take what’s there.

Laura: Right.

Bob: So, when I look at my glass and it looks less than half full, put some water in it. Vodka in it. I’ll put whatever I want to drink in it.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: And, uh, and bump it up. And it’s not, it’s not as easy as I’m making it sound. It takes work.

Laura: It does. I do think that humans have far more choice and control in our own lives than most of us realize and recognize. And it’s so empowering to realize, “Oh. I, I actually can control this. I can make a choice here.”

Bob: Yes.

Laura: It’s everything.

Bob: I agree. It’s exhausting to make all those choices though.

Laura: It can be.

Bob: We desire autopilot very much. And that’s– autopilot, by the way is the enemy of improv. It’s the antithesis of improv. ‘Cause if you’re on autopilot, you’re not truly present. And if you’re not truly present you can’t see all that’s available to you. I’ve had so many people that’ve complained to me about how they lack the resources or they lack something to get them where they want to go. And my greatest advice to them is look again.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: [00:33:56] Because if you’re really paying attention, if you’re really in that moment, you’re gonna notice that you actually have everything that you need to do what you need to do to get to that next level. It may not take you to the end destination, but guess what? We’re not focusing on that. You’ve got 50 hurdles to jump over. You squat down and you look at that first one and you get over that one. And as soon as you do, you look at that second hurdle. It doesn’t mean you can’t stand up and notice all that you have to go through. But I know a number of people who get psyched out by that too. So, you know, hunch down. Get in that ready position and look at that first hurdle and get over it and don’t let it psych you out. So there. You have everything you need. That’s the basic message that I would give you. And that, my friend and guru and mentor David Razowsky is a big proponent of. In improv, he says we’re all the Santas of NowTown. That and, if you break that down, sounds like *(inaud)–

Laura: Okay.

Bob: Santa is one who comes and brings gifts. And NowTown is this present moment. So we’re saying we all have the power to bring and share our gifts in this present moment. That there’s not one of us that doesn’t have gifts to share as long as they’re here and now. So, you know, cool little things–

Laura: I like that.

Bob: *(inaud) that close to life, right?

Laura: Yes.

Bob: Because if you consider yourself one who’s giving gifts in the moment, it feels pretty cool. It makes you feel pretty happy about the role you play.

Laura: Absolutely.

Bob: So there.

Laura: Alright. Alright good. Alright. Here’s my next question.

Bob: I want more questions.

Laura: So, I would love to hear to talk about how you use improv games, exercises, activities with teams and what the impact is then on the team and their trust and their communication and all that. What’s one of your favorites?

Bob: Yeah. Well, let me give you an oddball example. Well, let me give you some generalities first. I have used the skills of improv to help, um, Federal Reserve Bank. To help Disney imagineers. To help, um, Wal-Mart auditors. To help so many different kinds of teams. Uh, and it made me realize that there’s power in these skills. And the powers are these. They have the power to help us to feel better about ourselves to the extent that we can speak more freely and confidently in public. They have the power to connect us with other human beings on a deep and meaningful level that allows us to really see each other, know each other, and do stuff together. Get over all the pretenses and pull that stuff out. And it has the power to allow us to be comfortable with our mistakes and to forgive ourselves and to then do the good work of taking those mistakes and using them the way we were meant to use them. I don’t believe that things happen the way they should happen. I believe they happen the way they do happen. And if we live in a world of “should” you, you’ve got a time delay in your life because you’re constantly stunned by the fact that it didn’t go the way it was supposed to.

Laura: [00:36:47] So, one of the things I love to say when I hear people say “should,” especially a lot, is don’t should all over yourself.

Bob: Right? Right?

[Laughter 00:36:54]

Bob: I will not be should upon. And, and you know something? This is the truth.

Laura: I love it.

Bob: ‘Cause expectations are sometimes the enemy.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: And I think we, we all need to have some expectations, but they need to be soft expectations. They need to be flex– they need to be flexpectations, right?

Laura: Ooh. Oh.

Bob: I know it’s gross. I made it up.

Laura: No, I like that.

Bob: But, the point is this is, they have to be so flexible that we don’t notice when they have to change. You know? There’s, uh, the US Navy SEALS have this beautiful three-word mantra of how they do everything that they do. And this goes to improv as well. First is focus, okay? When they get in the stuff, they have to focus. They need to know what’s important. They need to know what’s not important. They need to know what’s going to kill them, what’s not going to kill them. So, focus is extremely important. Second step is to commit. Full tilt, boogie, go ahead, juggernaut, running at that wall like you’re gonna run through it. Nothing can stop you. The third step is adapt which says they know, going into it, even when they focus and commit, we’re gonna have to change. And if you go in there knowing you have to change, the change doesn’t shock you as much.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: [0037:56] So, so, and a lot of this, you know, the improv training through teams is teaching them to deal with change as it comes at you, one, two, three. It’s teaching you how to, how to work with people on a more profound and meaningful level. It’s teaching you to not take yourself so seriously–

Laura: Right.

Bob: –and to forgive yourself and to communicate with great clarity and simplicity so that we can be understood. And all these things, those are the underpinnings of great teams all over the place. Take that now to the next level because I’m an ever-curious person and I say yes. And so I was asked if I would be willing to facilitate and teach improv skills to a group of boys with autism. They were, most of them were relatively high-functioning, uh, kids on the spectrum and the goal was to spend eight weeks with them, two hours a week, and then put them on stage in front of a relatively friendly audience but still a full audience at Sak Comedy Lab. And it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life because I watched these kids unleashed. Unleashed. And the challenge here is with autistic kids one of the modes of managing their behavior is to leash them. To restrain them. to show them what’s wrong and what’s right. To say “no” when things are wrong and to stop them. And when I first started teaching them it was really rough on me because I wasn’t allowing myself to do what I do and I had my, uh, teachers in the room telling the , “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” And they were getting all in their heads and it wasn’t working. So, when I came in the next day I asked the teachers to go into the next room. There was a window, they could see what was going on. If you see something dangerous happening, you come on in and stop it. But otherwise, if no life or limb is at risk, let me manage the dynamic. And when they left, what they didn’t hear me tell the boys was, “When those teachers are out of the room, there are no rules in this room. However, if you wanna play with me and have fun, you’re gonna have to pay attention a little bit. You’re gonna have to stay in this area and not hurt each other and not damage anything in the room. That’s the only rule.” And they were like, “That’s the only rule?”

Laura: [00:39:59] Mm hmm.

Bob: All of a sudden, they started playing. And unleashing themselves and each other and in the end they put on a kick ass show. I mean, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. They were just, they were so good and committed and into it. And they embraced the principle so beautifully and afterward you could see the difference in the way they interacted with each other. You know?

[Laughter 00:40:21]

Bob: I’m getting a little {starts dancing}

Laura: Oh, me too. We’ve got some– we’re in the sound booth of the library and, uh, we’re next to another audio booth of some kind.

Bob: Yeah.

Laura: There’s a drum set in there.

Bob: But we all need a beat sometimes.

Laura: You know? So…

Bob: We don’t even know we need it.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: You know?

Laura: We’ve just got some music coming in through the walls.

Bob: Right on. So, so I did that group and I really loved that. I also took these skills and applied them to seniors with memory disorders–

Laura: Mm. Oh, wow.

Bob: –the Brain Fitness Club at Winter Park. And again, messy start for me because I’m learning in all instances, but I had to alter the way I did things because memory is an important part of improv. And if you have memory challenges, you have to find a way to overcome that. So, I was doing my lessons with a whiteboard and markers. So that when they would start to forget I could just point to the lesson and they’d get it. Let me tell you something. These people range in age from like 60s to late 90s. And they were funny. Fun people. And, at one point, uh, an older man by the name of Howard, uh, he was like 93 years old, came up to me after class, uh, and he had tears in his eyes and he said, “You don’t know what you did for me. You changed the quality of my life.” And I said, “How is that, Walter?” And he said, “When I first met you I was having a miserable life because I couldn’t forgive myself for not remembering things. I could not remember and I’d get so angry at myself. I can’t remember! I can’t remember! And you told us all, ‘It’s okay when you can’t do something. You gotta forgive yourself. That it’s okay. And if you forgive yourself, other people will forgive you.’ And you know something? They do! In fact, they were forgiving me before and I was the only one that wasn’t. And so, thank you for that.” And I have to tell you, that made me cry, like, just to know that you could have that kind of impact. And I say “I.” It was really, it was really these skills, this amazing set of knowledge and approach to life. I’m just amazed at how it unleashes people in every corner.

Laura: [00:42:17] Love it. So, what would you say a team could do without the help of me or you or, or anybody else that does improv or even org development, team stuff? What’s an ex– an activity or an exercise that they could do that could start to open up their minds to even one of these principles?

Bob: Well, I’d have to start at the beginning and talking about yes. And, and that is to, to actively start a culture of yes. Uh, and, and that is to question each other and challenge each other. Hold each other accountable to make yes the immediate response. ‘Cause it’s not the natural habit. We’re inclined, especially when we’re at work, to judge and evaluate before we say yes. Because nobody wants to make a mistake. So, saying yes to things, and I say, say it inside your head if you want to feel safer, not saying it out loud. But it’s really fun to just say yes immediately. You shock people when they offer outrageous things and you say, “Yes. how do we do that?”

[Laughter 00:43:18]

Bob: Okay–

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: –that’s different than saying, “Well, let’s consider these things” or “I’m concerned about that.” No. Yes is the way. Yes is the start. And yes is the finish. The question is how do you, how do you change that habit where you’re working? And I think you start by introducing it. Get together in a room with your team and say, “I’d like to introduce this concept of having a culture of yes.” It doesn’t mean that everything is carte blanche but it means that we’re gonna look at every opportunity with an eye for why we should say yes to it, not why we should say no to it. And what you’ll find is, you’re not gonna say yes to everything, but you’re going to find pieces of things that you will say yes to that you would not have said yes to ’cause you would’ve shut the whole thing out by saying no to the first initial idea. Hey, let’s bring clowns into churches. Yes. Okay, that sounds like a weird, weird concept, right?

Laura: [00:44:09] Mm hmm.

Bob: But what are we talking about? We’re talking about bringing humor, color, and energy into churches. Okay? By saying yes to the idea, you’re not actually gonna to bring a clown into church, you’re gonna take the essence of what a clown can bring to life, and bring it into that church. Again, if I say bring a clown into church, people will go, “Nooo.” But what you’ve done is you’ve shut off everything that has to do with a clown and church by saying no to those two concepts. And so I’m just suggesting your possibilities. And I am a creative man in a creative world. I work with creative geniuses so I’m looking for the elixir that’s going to get the great ideas. And yes is the path to those. It’s also the path to better relationships. It’s also the path to happiness with yourself. When you say yes to yourself when you make a mistake, how about that? I just screwed up big time. How do you say yes to yourself after that? You forgive yourself.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: And then you say, “Yes. That’s what I did. And now what am I gonna do in the future that will either not allow that to happen or allow that to happen way cooler?”

Laura: So, in an improv context, what happens if a performer does not forgive him or herself for a mistake that they’ve made?

Bob: They get all in their heads.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: And here’s the deal. With improv, it’s a performance which means you turn your energy outward toward an audience. When you’re in your head, you’re turning your energy inward and it’s very uncomfortable to watch people who are in their heads. T.J. and Dave, two of my favorite improvisers in the universe– uh, if you get a chance and you like improv, look up T.J. and Dave. It’s TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi. They are phenomenal.

Laura: I’m gonna have to get you to spell those for me.

[Laughter 00:45:45]

Bob: I’m not sure that I can. I had enough difficulty just pronouncing them. Um, and I’m forgetting the point I was making with them.

Laura: Oh–

Bob: Even talking about it–

Laura: Getting in their heads. So, improv as performance…

Bob: [00:45:56] They say that, uh, that energy is beautiful. Effort is ugly. And so that turning the energy outward and just throwing that energy out there is a beautiful thing. But the minute we start to really make effort look like we’re trying so hard, people don’t want to watch that.

Laura: No.

Bob: And if you see the way that they play, you’ll see that it looks effortless and it’s full of energy. And, uh, just really amazing. So, so I would say, um, yeah, you end up getting in your head, you end up judging yourself, you end up creating problems for your fellow players because you’re not present for them as well. And guess what? This is, this is not just improv. This is your workspace. Because when you are all full of judging yourself in the workplace and you’re not present for your fellow workers–

Laura: Nope.

Bob: –and then they see you down on yourself. Guess what? You’re also teaching them how to treat you.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: When you start judging yourself, you teach everyone else that this is a person who likes to be judged. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it to themselves. ‘Cause why would we do something to ourselves that we don’t like? I, I– by the way, I think it’s choice. I think if you choose to do things to yourself that cause you pain and harm, you have that right and it’s your power but I think it takes an equal amount of effort to do things that help you and I would rather see people do that because it gets them closer to where they want to be.

Laura: Mm hmm. So I think this idea of self-judgment comes up a lot with the people that I work with and so often the story in their heads (and this was the story in my head, too, when I was younger): If I don’t judge myself, if I am not hard on myself, then I will not learn, I will not get better, I will not improve.

Bob: Right.

Laura: And then I realized, somewhere along the line, that me judging myself is like the metaphor in my head is I’m trying to climb a ladder and a different version of me is ahead of me on the ladder, kicking me in the face. That’s not gonna make it easier for me learn and grow.

Bob: I like that metaphor.

Laura: So, letting go of the idea that I require self-judgment in order to learn and grow and recognize that actually self-forgiveness and self-compassion in no way makes me complacent.

Bob: No. I agree.

Laura: [00:48:00] It’s actually just me, like, underneath the ladder, pushing up on my butt, like, “I got you girl. Like, go, go. You’re good.” And so, I think it is absolutely a choice. I agree with you. And not everybody is making that choice consciously.

Bob: Right.

Laura: Or they’re, they’re making that choice with a different set of beliefs than what I believe to be true in my experience.

Bob: I agree. This, you know, there’s– we’re toting too much baggage. I think the same is true for people carrying around a lot of emotional baggage. They’re thinking, “If I carry around this negative experience I had, I’m gonna inoculate myself from having to experience it again. I’m so afraid of forgetting and letting it happen again” and what we forget is that it’s already inside you. That you don’t want to have to lament it. You don’t have to beat yourself up about it. I equate it to hugging a porcupine. They’re hugging a porcupine and they’re going, “Why does this hurt so much?” And it’s like, “Well, let go of it.”

[Laughter 00:48:48]

Bob: If you let go of it, it will hurt less. If you keep squeezing it against your chest, you’re gonna be impaled. And it’s sad to see how masochistic people are unconsciously by holding onto the poisons of the past. And I feel like, um, we all need a good high colonic. Look that one up for us*.

[Laughter 00:49:07]

Laura: That’s a great metaphor. Great visual. Thank you.

Bob: Yay. So that’s it. And again, all this stuff applies to everything. Let me, let me tell you this story, ’cause I think you’ll appreciate it. Um, the story is about, uh, talents and how you employ talent. And I have this amazing friend, Marilyn, who’s an incredible physical therapist. And she was in town when Cirque du Soleil first came into town, Le Nuba. And I may have actually told you this story before. Forgive me if I did. I’m telling everybody else now.

Laura: They can hear it.

Bob: And as it, as it were, he asked her to come there to help limber people up before their performance, before auditions, and if there were any auditions to help to intervene and help them to be okay. And so she said, “Bob, I was there for three days of the most incredible human performances you’ve ever seen.” These people coming in and Guy Laliberte, the guy who created and continues to run Cirque du Soleil would say to him when they got in front of his table, “Show me what you’ve got.” And then they would do these incredible things and no matter how incredible it was, he would say immediately afterwards, “No, no, no. Really. Show me what you got.” And they would deliver higher–

Laura: [00:50:14] Whoa!

Bob: –every time. They would do better, more incredible stuff. She said, “Bob, after three days of all this incredible stuff, I lean over to Guy and I say, ‘Can I please see the show that you’re auditioning these people for? And he said no.” And she said, “Is it confidential?” He said, “No. It doesn’t exist. I find the talent first. I create the show around them.”

Laura: Ooh.

Bob: Now, imagine, if you would, in corporate America, abolishing your stupid little work chart, box upon box, little pyramid. I mean, we haven’t even gotten out of the Inca period with our organizational design and you demolish that and you do an inventory of the real talents of the people who are working for you. Right? Then you create new lines based on those talents. You’d be unleashing their genius, you’d be making them happier, and you’d be showing your customers the best that you have to offer with no constraints.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: And to me that example was just like, “Agh. We should all design our organizations that way.” But we don’t. Because it takes great courage and empowerment and belief in people to be able to give them what they need to make that happen.

Laura: I was just talking about that concept yesterday with one of my clients. We were talking about the leader’s role as a coach for their people and, you know, where is it really worth investing the time and energy in coaching and I have this little Venn diagram of the employee loves doing it, they’re great at it (or they could be), right? The potential’s there. And you know that the organization or the clients value it. That it brings value to people. So, where those three things intersect, that is that incredible sweet spot. And I said, in some cases that might look like something that you don’t see in your organization today. That does not mean that they can’t do it. I want you to stay open to the idea that maybe you can find a way to harness their passion and their talent to bring value to the company in a way that you hadn’t thought about before.

Bob: [00:52:07] It’s the perpetual motion machine.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: It’s the one that you don’t have to infuse energy into every time because it’s already built into the mix.

Laura: Yes. It’s intrinsic. It’s inherent.

Bob: I believe it. I think it’s an awesome model. I love that. And here’s the thing. We’re looking for intersections. We’re looking for, uh, intersections between what we love and what we have to do. In fact, that’s the basis of my whole business. Out of the many things that I can do, I am a Gallup-trained marketing researcher. I can talk about the bipolar variant multiple scedasticity in populations — I may have just made that up but the point is–

[Laughter 00:52:42]

Bob: –there was a day–

Laura: They won’t know.

Bob: –when I knew all of these words, right? And I was really intensely into that. And that’s still among my skill sets but I don’t want to do that as much. And there are people who come and ask me to do that and, because I don’t want to do that, I politely decline and find them someone else who can do that because my path is I’m gonna chase the things I love–

Laura: Yes.

Bob: –and because I’m more successful with things I love–

Laura: Yes.

Bob: –and people love the stuff I do when I love it.

Laura: Yes. Oh, this year has been such a great, um, a great place in my journey to that note. Like, I made some really conscious choices about things with my business that I don’t want to do anymore. And it’s not ’cause they don’t add value. It’s not ’cause I wasn’t good at it or at least okay at it. It was like, I don’t love doing it. I want to spend, and I’ve gotten to spend, about 90 percent of my time this year doing work that I love to do–

Bob: Yeah.

Laura: –that I’m really good at and that people really value. And I feel like I’m working less hard than ever before.

Bob: Yeah. That’s it.

Laura: And like bringing them most value than ever before and the business is doing better than ever before and I’m like, “This feels amazing.”

Bob: Yeah–

Laura: It’s so great.

Bob: I feel guilty. I feel almost like I’m gonna get caught doing what I’m doing. Like you can’t be having that much fun and–

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: –doing that much good work and impressing people that much. Well, guess what? You can. It takes a little time to get the mix up–

Laura: [00:54:02] Yup.

Bob: –but work your mix.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: You know, keep working relentlessly toward the things that you love to do most–

Laura: yeah.

Bob: –’cause that’s where we belong. That’s where we operate best. There’s a reason you love to do it most.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: And I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know that when you actually do it, it feels right.

Laura: It does.

Bob: And it feels effortless.

Laura: And it can shift. It can shift.

Bob: It will shift.

Laura: It will shift. And I’m already, I mean, my company’s almost five years old and I’ve already made so many changes and shifts in what I do and how much I spend my time doing different things. It looks different all the time and it’s just naturally morphing and evolving and I follow my own energy and I, it’s just–

Bob: As you should.

Laura: –it’s so fun.

Bob: As you should.

Laura: I love it.

Bob: So that’s a sign that your business is going exactly where you need it to go.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: Now, I’m a business of two people, um, myself and my wife. And when I say that, um, she’s a part-timer in my group. She adds value to what we do but the company’s largely me.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: And I literally, consciously limit my own success. I, I will not overwork myself.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Bob: I will not over obligate myself because my time to me is the most valuable thing I have.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: And how much I can do with that. So I, so I protect that. I keep that kind of sacred to me. And I make no apologies to my clients or anyone else about that. You know?

Laura: Good.

Bob: I was offering you a drink if you wanted something.

Laura: Oh, thank you.

Bob: You can take it from that side if you want it–

Laura: Oh, I’m actually good.

[Laughter 00:55:29]

Laura: No, I, I really value that and appreciate that. That’s a lesson that I’ve learned many, many times. I remember the moment when I was telling my ex (we were together at the time) but I was telling him, “I know I’m being a workaholic right now. I know I’m working like crazy. But it’s just gonna be like that until…” And then I had this moment of like, wait a minute, there is no until.

Bob: That’s beautiful. Epiphany.

Laura: ‘Cause I was like, honestly, when? Like I’m starting my own company. I’m like when? When am I ever gonna be like, “Okay…” And it was really this moment of like, “Oh, man. No, I’ve gotta make this change. I have to change. I have to choose that I’m gonna own my time – now. I need to make the choice or I wanna make the choice and maybe I didn’t at that time.” Now I do genuinely wanna make the choice to make time for myself and the people in my life that I really care about. There is no, “Oh, that’ll happen when…” It’ll happen when I do it. When I choose it. And so, it’s a lesson that I, I remember that moment where I just didn’t have an answer to that. And I realized, “Oh, shoot.”

Bob: [00:56:35] I love it. Are you familiar with Shawn Achor at all?

Laura: No.

Bob: He’s done a beautiful Ted Talk that I would recommend to anybody. He talks about happiness. He talks about the flawed formula for happiness. The flawed formula, the one that so many people follow is that if I work hard, I’ll be successful and if I’m successful, I’ll be happy.

Laura: Terrible.

Bob: Okay? And he posits, and I believe that it’s the truth, that if I’m happy, I’ll work hard and I’ll be successful. And the beauty is, that whole journey, you were happy the whole time.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: You didn’t have to wait ’til the end for the prize.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: The prize was from beginning to end. You know? So I feel like that’s kind of what you were talking about and saying. Look, I have the power to choose now. And we all do, whether you’re in the corporate world or not. I worked in the corporate world for 14 years. And much to the surprise, even to the people that I worked with, I never worked more than 40 hours a week. I made choices. I knew it was a contract with my boss for 40 hours. Now that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t, you know, work out extra stuff that absolutely had to happen. I’m just saying, the regular work week for me was 40 hours or less. I got all my work done and I enjoyed a very full life outside of that. And if you love the work that you do, if you love it so much you wanna kiss it with an open mouth, then spend as much time as you want doing that. It’s your choice.

Laura: Uh huh.

Bob: [00:57:59] If you don’t love what you do, draw a line. Separate out your happy life from your must life. And, and because you’re gonna need the energy from that happy life to get through your must life. Uh, so I’m suggesting a little duality there. But in the process, go find something you do love to do–

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: –so you don’t have to have that duality.

Laura: And there’s no time like the present. Now is all we have. Literally all we have. Yesterday’s gone. Tomorrow’s not yet a thing. Now is it.

Bob: Do what you can with what you got, where you are. And this is it.

Laura: This is it.

Bob: You know? So, good.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: I like this.

Laura: So don’t wait. For whatever.

Bob: No. Don’t wait. No. Especially for the important stuff.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: If you have something to say, say it now.

Laura: Yep.

Bob: Be kind. Be nice. Brutal honesty is for jerks but tell people the truth in a way that will help them to be the best– bleh bleh bleh.

[Laughter 00:58:52]

Bob: Do what you can to help people be their–

Laura: I need a little dinger bell to like trigger you into gibberish and then ding back to English.

Bob: Dinger. Which is also the name of our managing director at Sak.

Laura: Oh, how about that.

Bob: Chris Dinger.

Laura: Chris Dinger.

Bob: An amazing guy and an incredible improviser. My point was just to help people be their best selves.

Laura: Yeah.

Bob: ‘Cause that’s, to me, is that’s what feels best. I get most jazzed, I mean you saw my class graduate on Monday night, level one. I saw them as their best improv selves that night and I went home walking on a cloud. It was just, it’s a magical thing. And I would suggest that the cure for depression is actually helping other people. I’m not talking clinical depression where you need medication. That happens. Chemical imbalance. But for those of us who are just feeling down and low and kind of like not leaving the house, that’s the opposite of what you should do. You need to engage. Help other people. Do something altruistic that won’t necessarily benefit you and yet wait. Because it will.

Laura: It will. Oh, I love that. This has been so great, Bob.

Bob: Fun. We’re fast, right?

Laura: I know. It goes so quickly.

Bob: It’s a beautiful thing.

Laura: sometimes I feel like I could do like three or four hours of conversation. Turn it into five shows.

Bob: [01:00:002] Do what you can. Three days later. I was clean shaven when I came in.

Laura: Thank you so much.

[Laughter 01:00:06]

Bob: So, thank you for having me. This is really fun. You ask questions, uh, in a way that I know that you genuinely want to know the answers to that and that makes it a whole different experience answering the questions.

Laura: Thank you.

Bob: So, thanks.

Laura: I appreciate that.

Bob: You’re great.

Laura: You are too.

Bob: Hug moment.

Laura: Alright. Thanks, Bob.

Bob: Bye, y’all.

Outro: Like I said, head to to download the free guide: 5 Improv Lessons to be a Better You and start to bring some of these practices into your life today. Also, I highly recommend Sak Comedy Lab – both their shows and their classes. Check them out at That’s all for now – take care of yourself and we’ll talk again soon!







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