Creator of Brave Bots, Joy Bots, and Love Bots & co-founder of On Your Feet Improv For Business – Episode 37 of The Changed Podcast features the creative, generous and playful Gary Hirsch!
Gary Hirsch is a visual artist, a facilitator & consultant, and an improviser. In this episode, we talked about how he came to co-found On Your Feet Improvisation for Business, spread joy through BotJoy, along with his feelings, stories, and thoughts about what it means to face and embrace change.
Gary is also my friend, and colleague through the work we do together at On Your Feet. A work relationship that was born, built, and continues to evolve in a completely improvisational way, something for which I am grateful. Perhaps that’s the kind of magic that happens when you’re open to the possibilities at the moment… or perhaps the simple magic of doing work that is centered on bringing joy to people.
Gary isn’t the first play/joy-centered guest I’ve had on the show. You may recall conversations with Gary Ware, Jeff Harry, Shannon Stott, Marsha Shandur, and many more. That is because JOY is at the center of so much of my own time, energy, interest, and effort.
Our conversation ran through several twists and turns from the hustle language of LinkedIn and classic anti-motivational posters like this one to the roots of bringing more joy to people through the amazing power of an imaginary giant robot, now embodied in tiny bots that you can carry with you physically.
Gary also shared his own sense of AA (Anticipation Anxiety) when it comes to change which lives in contrast to how he might handle an actually massive shift once it has occurred.
He also told us the story of the cup of coffee which changed Gary’s entire trajectory, featuring the inspiring Robert Poynton. Prior to meeting Robert, Gary had a successful T-shirt booth in the Portland Saturday Market where he sold t-shirts that featured his original art. Now, more than 20 years later, On Your Feet has served some of the biggest companies in the world by bringing less fear and more joy to their important work.
Instead of my usual closing thoughts for this episode, Gary and I ended the episode together with a game/tool that you can take and use called Color/Advance. We demonstrated how to use the game for sharing stories. For “color” on other ways to use the game, check out the OYF Distributed Work Tool Kit.
Takeaways from this conversation
- Give away amazing ideas. The way Gary encourages to “steal this idea” of making Joybots, can be an amazingly fulfilling choice and make room for more great ideas.
- Anticipating change can be much scarier than the actual change itself, much like making a decision can be more exhausting than simply executing the choice on the other side.
- I’ve been attributing storytelling as a way of examining meaning to Gary because he is who I learned the idea from. He learned the idea from Kat Koppet… which if you know her makes perfect sense! She also has an excellent podcast called Dare to Be Human and it is worth checking out.
- Make the call. Be present, pay attention… and when it’s time to make the call. DO IT. So many times we come up with excuses for why we should not make the call, but if you never make the call, you never get to see what happens! Or maybe it’s “make the coffee!” Coffee dates also seemed to be a running theme.
- Say yes and see what shows up. This is a concept directly from the improv world. Saying yes to an offer and allowing yourself to be surprised by the result can be an excellent gift to give yourself.
- Do not be afraid of accepting the offer beyond your imagination, even if you cannot possibly fathom what the opportunity is that is unfolding in front of you.
- Gary’s book recommendations were A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving and The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch