Archive for December, 2012

Everyone’s An Expert

Posted in Creativity, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on December 28, 2012 by RobALott

I happen to be quite familiar with the layout of Disney theme parks. I do spend a lot of time there. A number of years ago, I was taking a friend through Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World on their very first visit. 

(This is my favorite. I love giving people new experiences and getting to see things that are old to me as new through their eyes.)

I was busy taking my friend around to see as much as we could see in our short time there.

Shows, parades, rides, more shows, a ride, then some shows. He was getting quite the tour, I must say. As far as I could tell he was enjoying it, and was appropriately pleased and complimentary at all the right times and places.

As we walked and talked I pointed out all the hidden details and the created-history of the park. I was hurrying him along from the camp themed area, over a bridge, and into the African section of the park. It was then that I realized, I was alone and having a walk-and-talk all by myself. I looked behind me and there he was, stopped.

“Hey, man. We gotta keep going. There’s still lots to do.”

He didn’t move. He just said, “This is perfect. This right here. This. This is perfect.” He didn’t have words.

“What? The day? Today? Well, thanks.”

As though he couldn’t hear me, and with tears in his eyes, “This is perfect.”

I later found out that he grew up in a place just like this. His parents were missionaries in Africa, in a village much like the one the Disney Imagineers had created.

“Aside from the smell, thank goodness, they got this perfect.”

I smiled and began to see the area new through his eyes.

“And my guess is, if they got this perfect, they probably put some thought into everything else you’ve shown me today.”

I know as artists we tend to get frustrated with all the so-called experts that can’t wait to give their expert reasoning on why something works or doesn’t work and here’s how to fix it. Or, here’s what’s wrong, and I have no suggestions on how to fix it, nor do I care. Just wanted you to know that I noticed it as being wrong.

Yes, we love these experts. If you are one of these experts, I know I speak for the entire artist’s community when I say, thank you. Thank you, oh so much. You are very helpful.

(Let’s go back and try that last line with a little more sarcasm.)

But, there are those rare occasions when a real deal expert comes along and truly notices. They notice the work you put in. They notice your attention to their detail. And they smile with approval.

But here’s the twist. And this is where the work comes in.

You don’t have to perform for very long before you begin to gather a crowd. And that crowd will begin to grow bigger and bigger. And before long, you’ll have individuals in your audience who are experts in every aspect of your performance.

Most won’t notice or care. But some will think, 

 “This. This part right here. This is perfect.”

 If you take notice and aim for excellence in every aspect of your performance, while it might go unnoticed to the masses, it won’t go unnoticed to the one who’s looking for it.

And for the person who’s looking for it, if you get their thing right, if you eliminate their distraction, not only will you have their attention, but they will be more likely to believe that you probably got the rest of it right too.

Have You Bought What You Are Selling?

Posted in Creativity, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin' on December 20, 2012 by RobALott

Have we, as artists, bought what we are selling?

Do we know what else is out there?  Are we paying attention?  And then, actually, really, truly buying?

A friend of mine just got back from seeing a bunch of Broadway shows.  He raved about each of them.

Shortly after he got back, I had the opportunity to see him in a role I had seen him perform a number of times before.  But this time was different.  His performance was stronger, more engaged, and held more impact.

He saw what else was out there.  He saw what we can do.  And it made him better.  He had the opportunity to buy for himself what he would eventually get to sell.

When someone argues that they don’t have time to see another’s work, or they don’t have the money, or the worst one of all, they don’t want their work to be tainted by someone else’s vision.  Not only do I not buy it, but I just can’t get behind it.

Seeing what else is out there makes us stronger.  It makes us better.  It inspires and motivates us.  It gives us a mark to aim for…

…or to aim against.

Can you compete?  Do you need to up your game?  Or, should you raise your ticket price?

I believe every time you experience someone else’s work, you’ll be better equipped to answer these questions.

Just Start

Posted in Creativity, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on December 14, 2012 by RobALott

“Just start.  That’s all you have to worry about…starting.  Get away from your computer, grab a note pad and a pencil, and just go write.  Anything you want.  Just play.  Doodle.  Whatever.  Okay?” -Jeff, [Title of Show]

More and more I’ve been feeling the strain of guilt for not starting.  It’s an integrity issue, really.  I get an idea.  I have a thought.  And that’s that.  That’s where it stays.  That’s where it lives, and eventually, where it dies.  A perfectly good idea.  A perfectly good thought.  Unrealized.  Unsaid.  Unshared.  Unshipped.  Ball dropped.  So as I said, it’s an integrity thing for me.

I heard this question asked recently,

“Whose idea was it to build a place where parents and kids could have fun together?”  As the answer was blurted out by a well trained audience (“Walt Disney!”), it suddenly struck me…

We don’t know.

Of course, we know who acted on the idea.  But we don’t know who had the idea first.

“My great uncle invented the clipboard.  Well, not really.  But he did always complain about not having a portable writing surface.” -Jeremy, Sports Night

How many ideas have come and gone with no action?  How many insights have gone unshared for whatever reason?

Again, we don’t know.

So here’s the thing…

Just start.

That’s all we have to worry about.

Starting.

(I know…I know…but start anyway.)