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



Posted in Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on December 26, 2017 by RobALott

“You know, she opened the show.”

“He was on the national tour.”

“He’s done four Broadway shows.”

“You know who she sang back-up for, right?”

We want so badly to establish performance credibility.

Here’s the thing, though:

Most people didn’t read your bio. Most people didn’t go to your website. And most people don’t have your mother sitting behind them before the show starts, talking just loud enough.

Most people only have this show—this performance—this one opportunity to see what you’ve got to give.

Your past experience loses steam more and more everyday. Don’t be too reliant on your past experience to launch you forward.

Be better today than you were yesterday. (And prepare to be better tomorrow than you are today.)

You Have to Get the Joke

Posted in Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Nuts & Bolts Stuff on December 18, 2017 by RobALott

The story goes…

The final call-back to work on a Mel Brooks project is to tell Mr. Brooks a joke.

Well, seeing as how Mel Brooks has already heard every joke there is, most of which he probably wrote himself, chances are good he’s not going to laugh. But, chances are also good you’ve already got the gig and he’s just making absolutely sure you know how to deliver a punchline, and that you’re not going to stumble over the set-up.

You don’t need to be funny to tell a joke. But you do need to get the joke in order to be able to tell it, and you do need to be funny to get a laugh.


Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on December 11, 2017 by RobALott

“You might play the role, but the character doesn’t belong to you.”

To whom, then, does it belong?

If you aren’t able to give an actor ownership, then who do you suppose will take responsibility for the performance?

A Word of Caution: Be careful removing ownership of a character from the one closest to it. This is a recipe for dull, heartless, and uninspired performances.

Guide, direct, and influence for what should be most valued in a performance, of course.

But ownership has got to belong to the actor closest to the material, the character, and the performance.

We Are All Experts

Posted in Creativity, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on December 4, 2017 by RobALott

Vic Firth came up with the idea of making a better drumstick while playing timpani for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The sticks he could buy commercially didn’t measure up to the job, so he began making and selling drumsticks from his basement at home. Then one day he dropped a bunch of sticks on the floor and heard all the different pitches. That’s when he began to match up sticks by moisture content, weight, density, and pitch so they were identical pairs. The result became his product’s tagline: “the perfect pair.“ Today, Vic Firth’s factory turns out more than 85,000 drumsticks a day and has a 62% share in the drumstick market.*

We are all experts at something. And we all have ideas as to how to make that thing better.

So, you’re the expert. You’re the most qualified. Pick yourself, and go do it. Make it better. Make the product better. Make the industry better. Raise the bar.

*ReWork by Jason Fried

If You Are a Creative

Posted in A Note to Directors, Creativity, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on November 27, 2017 by RobALott

If you are a creative who also shows up on time…

If you are a creative who also delivers the project ahead of schedule…

If you are a creative who arrives prepared…

You will get hired more, work more, and be pursued more.

Let’s stop blaming our irresponsibility on our creativity.

Productive Interruptions

Posted in A Note to Directors, Creativity, Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on November 20, 2017 by RobALott

Prone to distraction?

Prone to procrastination?

Me too.

Try this:

(It’s been working well for me.)