MF 145 : Mastering the Craft of Creativity to Move Forward, with Bob Stromberg
Updated: Jun 17
Bob Stromberg is a comedian, speaker, storyteller and host of the wide-eyed creative podcast. Today, Bob will share how to craft your creativity using his system of G.I.T. (grab-interrogate-transform) so you can move forward.
Successes at a glance:
Comedian, speaker, storyteller, playwright, and podcaster.
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Featured in The London Times and The Chicago Sun Times.
The word that Bob uses to describe his story is “surprise.” Bob has been doing “what he’s been doing” for 40 years, starting after college. From an early age, Bob had a desire to perform and write. He knew that the year after college was the best time to experiment with his career and so, he decided to give himself a 3-year window to see if he could make a go of it. To his surprise, the 3-year “trial period,” became a 40-year+ vocation and calling. So what does Bob do? His repertoire and toolkit includes standup comedy, storytelling, public speaking, presentations, and writing. While Bob’s core mission, telling and teaching others the art of story, hasn’t changed, the way he markets himself has. When he started, Bob’s biggest advertisement was a business card and trifold brochure. As times changed, Bob evolved his marketing to include the latest in technology in media, including books, CDs and DVDs. Today, he hosts a podcast and has created an online course thru which he can reach his ideal customers all over the world.
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
Bob has been thru 3-4 setbacks throughout his career. One he shares happened 25 years ago. Bob had been doing solo work and was burning out. He was no longer finding joy or fun in what he was doing, being on the road and hustling 24-7. As Bob put it, he was getting “tired of me.”
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Just as Bob had enough of himself, an opportunity arose to try something new. While sitting at breakfast with his friends, also working in comedy, one of them tossed out the idea of writing a play. Keep in mind, none of them had ever written a play before. Bob was skeptical. Given how busy they all were, he wasn’t sure they could pull it off unless there was a motivator, a good reason to do it. The motivator was one of Bob’s friends getting the play booked 30 days out! The friends wrote the play and it opened, on time, to an audience of 600-700 people. Keep in mind, they had never written a play before. But you wouldn’t have known that by the critical and audience response it received. Eventually, it caught the attention of a director who wanted Bob and his co-writers to develop it into a full two-act play. The following year, the play had a 6-week run in Minneapolis. That led to another 6-week run in San Diego and the momentum continued to grow to 76 cities, including the West End of London and Dublin, Ireland. The play, ‘Triple Espresso: A Highly Caffeinated Comedy’ ended up running for 13 years in Minneapolis and 11 years in San Diego! During this time, Bob got his second wind and continued his solo work, while the play continued to grow and captivate audiences. Bob was also encouraged by a director to write a solo show and out of that conversation came ‘That Wonder Boy,’ which in 2015 won three awards (best one-man show, best director, and audience favorite) at the United Solo Festival in New York City. These experiences helped Bob crystalize his big why – unleashing the creativity in others. Two words that Bob shares on creativity and how it works: “gift” and “craft.” Specifically, the revelation that we have something innate inside of us that longs to experience and generate creativity – that’s the gift. However, as we get older, that gift is programmed out of us in school and society. To get back to it, creativity has to be nurtured – that’s where the craft comes in. A truly momentous pivot that helped Bob discover a new avenue for his talents but also helped him realign, re-evaluate, and reset his mind so he could move forward.
Fundamentals of creativity (G.I.T.):
Grab: whatever grabs you emotionally.
Interrogate: look at the why.
Transform: the idea into a tangible piece of art.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Bob to move forward:
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: a biography of Steve Martin’s stand-up years. Bob recommends it as the primer for any creative.
Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
The notes app on the iPhone: take it out of your mind and put in a note to clear up creative space.
Siri reminder: great for creating reminders on the go.
Practice: make one thing better each day – Bob learned this while fixing his house.
How Bob recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Sleep: Bob hits roadblocks when exhausted so getting a full night of sleep is important.
Nutrition: eat well to stay healthy in your body and mind.
G.I.T.: practice it and you’ll always have a plate of ideas that you want to pursue and you won’t hit those walls as often.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
Bob would go back to 1977 and tell his past self: “do not worry and don’t project into the future.” Neither does you any good and neither is reality. Just keep working and do the best you can and the rest will work itself out.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“Breathe, relax, enjoy, listen, and wonder.”
Connect with Bob:
For Moving Forward listeners – great resources for our listeners