Archive for the Rob Recommends Category

Empty Shelf Challenge: 2017

Posted in Rob Recommends on January 8, 2018 by RobALott

I once heard that if you read for just twenty minutes a day, at the end of a year you will have read twenty 200-page books.

This, coupled with Jon Acuff’s Empty Shelf Challenge in which he challenges us to clear a shelf on our bookcases and fill it with finished books throughout the year.

My goal: Re-fill the shelf.

My plan: Read for twenty minutes a day.

Here is my virtual re-filled shelf from 2017.


Who’s The Leader Of The Club by Jim Korkis

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All by Richard Betts

Procrastinate On Purpose by Rory Vaden

Jim Henson The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

Blue Man World

You Can Do This by Tricia Lott Williford


In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett


How’s Your Soul? by Judah Smith


Who’s Afraid of Song of the South? by Jim Korkis


One Question by Ken Coleman


On Writing Well by William Zinsser


The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson


The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni


Disney U by Doug Lipp


In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson


Improvisation for the Theatre by Viola Spolin


Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

The Road Back to You by Ian Cron

Finish by Jon Acuff

Audition by Michael Shurtleff

The Tony Award by Isabelle Stephens

Acting in Television Commercials by Squire Fridell

Learning Leadership by Kouzes and Posner

The Small Theatre Handbook by Joann Green


Characteristics of an Effective Vision

Posted in A Note to Directors, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Rob Recommends, Thoughts on Leadership on March 1, 2017 by RobALott

Characteristics of an Effective Vision

• Imaginable: Conveys a picture of what the future will look like

• Desirable: Appeals to the long-term interests of employees, customers, stockholders, and others who have a stake in the enterprise

• Feasible: Comprises realistic, attainable goals

• Focused: Is clear enough to provide guidance in decision making

• Flexible: Is general enough to allow individual initiative and alternative responses in light of changing conditions

• Communicable: Is easy to communicate; can be successfully explained within five minutes

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

The Books I Choose

Posted in Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Rob Recommends on April 11, 2016 by RobALott

The books I choose to read, more often than not, are totally a right time and right place endeavor. 

I’ve picked up books that had been highly recommended by readers I trust, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t resonate with me. 

I’m sure it was a good book. 
Unfortunately, it was just the wrong time for me. Or maybe I was in the wrong place in my life to appreciate it. 

Back on the shelf it goes. We’ll try again another day. 

I’ve given glowing recommendations of books to those I just knew would love them. Sadly, their reading of my recommendation fell flat. 

The book I was certain to be a hit fell at just the wrong time and the wrong place for them in their life. 

But then…

There are those glorious times when the stars align and all is right in my world, I am in the right place at the right time with my most recent book of choice. 

Too bad it doesn’t last long, as I can’t seem to put these books down and I’m finished with them far too quickly. 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is exactly what I’ve needed in this exact time, in this very place in my life. 

It just might be the right time and right place for you as well. Highly recommend.

Rob’s Recommended Reading List of 2015

Posted in Rob Recommends on December 28, 2015 by RobALott

Here are a few books I’ve read this year that have stuck with me, had an impact, and changed the way I think. 

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. I worked through this with one of my teams in the early part of 2015. It took some time, but it layed the ground work for great communication and team work for years to come. 

Let’s Pretend We’re Normal by Tricia Lott Williford. It’s really good. Even if the author wasn’t my sister, I’d still say this was a damn good book. Bonus: Don’t miss her first one, And Life Comes Back
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. So, confession, I finished this book in 2015, but I’m not sure when I started it! It takes a while to work though, to truly do the exercises and answer the questions, but so worth it. This one goes in the category of books I’ll forever be reading. 
Do Over by Jon Acuff. If this don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet. As kids, when we didn’t like how something went, we had no problem calling for a “do over”. When did we lose that right? Encouraging, challenging, motivating, and funny. 
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The brilliant science and stories behind why we continue to do what we do.
Stay Alive All Your Life by Norman Vincent Peale. Another classic text with timeless principles on how to do and be better. 
The Real-Life MBA by Jack and Suzy Welch. For those of us creative types who sometimes need to deal with the business and numbers types, this is a great how-to text that’ll help you hold your own at the big kids’ table. 

 One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. I’ve been doing the one word challenge for the last few years. The challenge: Narrow your focus for the year down to one word. If you’ve never done it, I can’t urge you enough to give it a try! This book (which I read in less than an hour) will walk you through finding your word and how to live it out. 

Those are mine. 

What did you read this year that stuck?

Rob Recommends: Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Posted in A Note to Directors, Creativity, Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes, Rob Recommends, Thoughts on Leadership on November 19, 2014 by RobALott

Pixar has had an unprecedented string of hit movies emerge from their studios. This book is their not-so-secret play book.


So much on the ground, in the field, nuts and bolts experience is shared in these pages.

President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, Ed Catmull, explains how Pixar took a note from Japanese production by instituting a principle that “No one needs to ask permission to take responsibility.” Thus, anyone at any level could halt production if they saw a problem.

The classic improvisational rule of “Yes, and…” is taken to a new level with the introduction of a much more accessible idea of “Yes, if…”

Catmull further explains how to fight off confirmation bias and truly get the best and most accurate information.

The principle of “hurry up and fail” reveals itself as truly the best way to take action within creativity.

Change, uncertainty, and instability will always accompany creativity. These things are not only inevitable, but are completely necessary to the process. Catmull explains how Pixar not only doesn’t eliminate them, but rather leans into them as a value to their creative process.

I believe this book became an instant classic on the subject of creativity and leadership. I’ll continue to refer back to it for years to come.

Rob Recommends: Now, Discover Your Strengths

Posted in Rob Recommends on November 12, 2014 by RobALott

In 2001 a Marcus Buckingham & Dr. Donald Clifton launched a book that intended to start a revolution, “The Strengths Revolution”.  I was introduced to this book and its ideas in 2007 and it truly changed my life.  Now, I’m passing it on to you.


We are excellent at talking about our weaknesses.  Every year we have our year-end-review where we spend five minutes talking about the things we did well this year, and then we finish by spending fifty-five minutes talking about our “areas of opportunity”.  What if that was reversed?  What if we spent the majority of our time working in, and developing our strengths?  And what if we could find a way to hand off our weaknesses to those that could own them as strengths?

This book gave me the tools to do just that!

Now, Discover Your Strengths

Introducing “Rob Recommends”

Posted in Rob Recommends on November 12, 2014 by RobALott

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is famous for saying, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Well, I’ve met a lot of people, and I’ve read a lot of books, and I’ve learned this to be absolutely true.

Not much of what I say is original to me. All that I say and do is a reflection of the people I have met and the books I have read. And I’d like to begin sharing those resources with you as generously as they have been shared with me.

Please trust that I get no kick-backs from any of these links, but that this is rather and quite simply an ongoing collection of a few of my favorite things.