Find Business Solutions by Tapping Employees' Creative Energy

Posted by Beth Domann and Loriann Dunn on Mar 24, 2022 1:00:00 PM

In this episode, Steve and Rich are entertained by two ladies from Springfield Little Theatre, Beth Domann and Lorianne Dunn, as they discuss tapping the creative energy you already have in the business for solutions to problems, how hiring the right people means you've already done 90% of the work, and by all means "Have Fun!"

Podcast - Beth Domann & Lorianne Dunn


Episode guests: Beth Domann and Loriann Dunn

Springfield Little Theatre

(This episode was recorded in March of 2022.)


Key Episode Take-Aways: 

1. Advice on hiring. (click to jump to this topic below)  Well, you hire the right people, you've done 90% of the work.

2. Why you should lose the losers. (click to jump to this topic below)  And the fact of the matter is have fun. I mean, really, truly, if it's not fun, and you're, why are you doing it?

3. Tapping the creative energy you already have in the business for solutions to problems. (click to jump to this topic below)  And I think people are beginning to find their passions and just say, this is what I want to do.


Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.

Announcer 0:01

Welcome to the "Change the Game" podcast. We share stories of open book management and highlight capitalism at its best.

Thank you for tuning into this episode of the "Change the Game" podcast with special guests Beth Domon and lorianne Dunn. In this episode, Steve and Rich are entertained by these ladies of theater as they discuss tapping the creative energy you already have in the business for solutions to problems. How hiring the right people mean, you've already done 90% of the work. And by all means, have fun. Here's your hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.


Steve Baker 1:19

Welcome to the "Change the Game" podcast where we are Changing the Game doing business differently and highlighting stories of capitalism at its best. I'm Steve Baker, and with me is Rich Armstrong, our coach and co-author of our new book get in the game how to create rapid financial results and lasting cultural change. Hello, Rich.


Rich Armstrong 1:41

Hey, Steve, how are you?


Steve Baker 1:43

I'm great man. You know, I think anybody that knows Rich Armstrong knows your guilty pleasure is music and you're a hell of a guitar player. I even tip you every time I go to see your band plush. I think I'm the only person, but you know, there's nothing weird about that. I always have taken pride in being an artist and a creative, you know, and we meet creatives that have ended up in business all the time. I mean every day. And one of our partners Alan Vallejo, an economist from ITR economics told me after the conference last year, often they will look people look for people with musical backgrounds, because the pattern recognition and mathematical nature of music. Now, I feel like I before SRC, I was always running from the numbers. Now you're smarter than me. So were you ever one of those guys who was like you'd rather just play guitar and rather not balance the checkbook? Or what are you about?


Rich Armstrong 2:47

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I was that guy, for sure. For sure. I don't know if they ever ran from the numbers. Because I always enjoy the numbers. And I think that's pretty common for a lot of musicians. But I definitely didn't have any real interests in business when I first started with SRC. But SRC hooked me pretty quickly. You know, everybody seemed really genuine in terms of their excitement and teaching us the business, which I thought was really, really strange coming into the business. But I could tell that everybody wanted us to really understand how the business worked. You know, how we competed in the marketplace? And I don't know what it was just looking back. I think if I look back at that time, I think it was that there was certainly a creative outlet in business, right, that I didn't realize was there. And so when you really understand the business, and definitely I think anybody can tell you a lot of our entrepreneurs and a lot of clients we work with you have to be very creative to be successful in business. So I think that has always been the hook. But what about you? I mean, your passion is art. I mean, why are you teaching business?


Steve Baker 3:55

I think that's an excellent question for us to ask our guests today. Folks, we have really got a treat for you. We have two very special guests. If you've read Jack's Stacks latest book, Change the Game, saving the American Dream by closing the gap between the haves and have nots, you will have read about Springfield Little Theater. It's here in Springfield, Missouri and how the hell did that end up in a business book anyway? First, we've got Loriann Dunn, who has been the Education Director for 17 years. Her recent straight stage credits include direction and choreography for productions ranging from the Disney properties to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar and the Wizard of Oz. It's a lot of stuff. And I think that that's covering all the religions. So from Disney all the way through, so she's classically trained as a dancer nationally recognized as a choreographer and of course been named one of the Springfield's topmost 20 influential women, we also have Beth Domann, the executive director for Springfield Little Theater. She's an actress and a stand-up comic since 78. I really feel badly about that number. But that's okay. You started when you were one


Beths credits, you've got to go online and look at these credits because they're way too long to list individually here. But let's start by saying, you know, we'll put that theaters link into the show notes. But here's a sampling. She's directed for Jim Stafford and Yakov Smirnoff. She's performed in all kinds of productions through the years for the theater and as emceed some of the most Cornerstone events in our community as well as opening for Dennis Miller appearing in Academy Award nominated Winter's Bone yes. She did. I actually have saved that in my list of clips, and chapter seven of Jack's new books. So What haven't you done? Lori and Beth, welcome to the podcast.


Lorianne Dunn 5:58

Thank you


Beth Domann 5:59

thank you


Steve Baker 5:59

Yeah. For sure. Now, for listeners who are not from Springfield, Missouri, could you give us a little bit of history on the Springfield Little Theater, as if I didn't already cover enough just tell us more?


Beth Domann 6:13

Well, Springfield Little Theater started in 1934. And it was a group of people that went to Central High School, which at the time was called Senior High School. And they wanted to continue to do theater. And so they started Troupe. We started the same years, the symphony started on so and so throughout the years, they performed in all sorts of different venues. And in 1970, they really started looking for a home. And they looked at the fox, they looked at the Gilroy eyes. And they finally decided on the landers Theater, which was built as a legitimate theater. And it was on the opium circuit and all that kind of stuff. And at that point, it had been a B movie house, it was kind of in disrepair. And they bought it for $100,000. Back in 1970. Which, by the way, is what it cost to build it in 1909. And right, Virgil Anderson and Larry Oh, God, love, they're the ones who secured the loan. I know, can you imagine them like, um, kind of like the beginning of SRC, right. And, um, and that's what happened. And from then on, it's just little bit by little bit, we kind of fix things as we can. And this last year, we actually did a huge, we tuckpointing the entire building, we didn't just do pieces and parts, dug out the front made it so that they didn't leak in the basement, and I really lost an opportunity because we could have been in the pit and then like the Bellagio thing before. I don't think of that delay. We're filling it up. I'm like, wait, we need houses. But so we've Yeah, we've done a lot. And that's kind of the beginning. And it's just grown from a few people to hundreds, actually.


Rich Armstrong 8:06

Yeah, it's definitely a gem for the Ozarks for sure. But what you guys do more than just performances? What are all the you know, can you give us an understanding of all the programs that you do at the theater?


Lorianne Dunn 8:17

Yeah, so the Springfield little theater, in addition to producing seven mainstage musicals and play a year. We also host the landers, theater, Springfield Ballet, the Nutcracker and their spring concert. We're excited to have the daredevils in this spring, returning to really their home base.


Beth Domann 8:37

Yeah, from 50 years ago. This is where they started. 


Steve Baker 8:37

I've got my tickets.


Beth Domann 8:37

Right? It's gonna be amazing.


Lorianne Dunn 8:41

I oversee the students in your school, the performing arts for Springfield, little theaters. So we have an education facility that hosts a variety of programs, for ages four all the way through adults. So we offer community classes in Acting theater, dance, voice tap jazz ballet, hip hop, we offer education theories of production that offer training opportunities for both youth and adults to be involved in sales production opportunities. At the jutti, which is what we call our education facility. We have now two additional performance spaces. So we have a 50-seat studio theater, and we also have a 170-seat auditorium where we can provide a laboratory for up-and-coming theater artists for up-and-coming directors. We posted this spring Vegas sketch show improv one acts, plays and musicals. We just had a progressive bluegrass ensemble from Kentucky come called the fireside collective adult event which was Valentines of array. We host birthday parties for kids. So really any kind of theatrical experience, you name it, and it happens here in 2d we want to be a space where we're art thrives and welcomes all to create. We also have been in for two years now a partnership with Springfield Public Schools, where we host one of their choice programs. So there are 50 Lucky students who get to attend the Academy of Fine and Performing Art. And they approach their academics through an art integrated lens. And, of course, you have lots of fun performing and learning theatrical concepts as well. But it really helps to increase their understanding of their academics by pairing off the fine Performing Arts, which is wonderful. And then in addition, we have fop Academy, which our middle school and high school students, we have already identified that they want a career in the performing arts, or they come here to the duty to have a flexible academic situation that support their conservatory style Fine Arts in the building off of hosted film Lab, which is wonderful. So we have our own green screen and our own setup where we can make our own commercials, we can have a place to do our own social media marketing, and also provide opportunities for sponsors to come and get their message about their business to the community that we can offer as well.


Beth Domann 11:18

And then we've also, we've got a partnership with Nathan P Murphy's, which just celebrated their 40th year downtown. So when Dr. Bob and Wanda, and we get out and we do more of what when we were reaching a point in the building, we had to perform outside of our space. And so we took cabaret to Nathan B. Murphy. And it was very in your face. It was very, it was Yeah, yeah, it was a lot of fun. So that's where the adults can go escape to. As we do shows down there. We done Broadway, we just brought shout back. We'll get ready to do a couple more visits and plays down there. And so we love our partnership with them too. So lots going on.


Rich Armstrong 12:06

Yeah, that's a lot for you.


Steve Baker 12:06

Yeah. What have you done lately? That’s a lot.


Rich Armstrong 8:37

Sounds like they're only missing a 90s rock tribute concert. It's only they missed.


Steve Baker 12:20

The daredevils.


Beth Domann 12:22

Yeah, we can do it. Yeah,


Rich Armstrong 12:26

sure, you can fit it in you sure you can fit it in.


Beth Domann 12:30

Maybe on a Monday night?


Steve Baker 12:31

Well. That is awesome.


Lorianne Dunn 12:37

It really is to entertain, educate, and involve. And so we do right. If we want to involve you as an artist, we want to blow into that we want to provide that support and enrich lives.


Steve Baker 12:54

Well, I like that. Educate, involve entertain, that sounds like job.


Lorianne Dunn 13:00

Is that is right there.


Steve Baker 13:03

I'm pretty sure. So we'll have to figure out that partnership. Well, listen, nobody on this listening to this podcast, can hear Jack stack speak without mentioning Springfield, little theater and the experience that that he can in, in his new book. And so I know that he's been a longtime supporter. I think his wife Betsy has been on the board for many years. There's a lot of support there. But it goes beyond just being board members or donors or supporters. For those of those folks who are listening, who have not read that story, I wonder if you would mind telling the story of how you guys first kind of began this Great Game journey with the Springfield Little Theater?


Beth Domann 13:49

Well, we were having an I was at this board meeting, I don't know because I don't remember being invited to a lot of them. But I happen to be in a board meeting. And it was on the I'll never forget it was on the third floor. Betsy was on the board. And this is when the form of when Alan Bryce was our executive director. And Jack was sitting there in a chair kind of watch watching and listening. And you know, you can tell Jack was like, not dig and be in there. But he was there because at the end, so he's watching and then he's listening to them talk about oh, they did this show, and everybody was so happy and so much fun and totally didn't make budget and it was gonna be Christmas. And we were really in dire straits. And that's just the honest to God truth. We were we were in dire straits and Jack spoke up and was like, so you don't have any money to pay people. But everybody had a great time of the show. You see the problem here? And everybody kind of did that blink. And that was really the beginning of changing everything. And so Alan ended up going bye. Chris Volkmar and I took over and I told Chris about Jack's book and I said, you should read this. And she's like, I quit. And then Jack offered for us to get into the Great Game. And we're like kids in a candy store. Of course, we're sitting on the front row, you know, our hands rising all the time. And we were, you know, coveting our pins, you know, and finally, we kind of got cut off, but they wanted other people to speak. So that was the way it began. And Jack really challenged us. And so that's what we did. I mean, we had no money. We took, we took everything that we needed to do, we took our desk calendars apart, and we wrote big signs, we take them up on the wall. And it was Thinkorswim. Time. And so that's what we did. And we came up with a plan, and how we were going to attack it and how we were going to do it. Because the name of the game for us is butts in seats. You do show number


Steve Baker 15:56

That was your first critical number, wasn't it?


Beth Domann 15:58

Oh, yeah, that was, you know, and the secret is, do shows people want to see not what actors want to do, necessarily, but what people want to see, did you marry both of them? That's fantastic. Yeah, so that was what we did. And we just started doing that. And then the real game changer was when we did beauty and the beast, which youth choreographed and directed, and we were able to borrow $20,000. Jack had, they had gathered people together, and they, they funded this grant program, the United Way. And so we borrowed $20,000 to build these costumes, because we knew that was going to be the next big thing. Spend $20,000, on the costumes, we had two years to pay that back. And we made in the first six months, we made $60,000 on the costumes and paid that money back. So then we started diversifying and started building all our shows that we knew would be big shows, so that we can send them out in rental. And that's a how to another stream of income that we developed over the years.


Steve Baker 17:13

So for clarity, for our audience. Just wanted to make sure that we hear this right. So you instead of just building costumes, and sets, and all of the props and things you need to put on a show you built them to use and to rent after you're done with them. Yes, absolutely. Which is pretty amazing. I mean, it's not typically what we would think of right, it would be you know, here's our production. And now you're thinking, here's our production and its ongoing revenue stream. That's pretty amazing.


Beth Domann 17:45

Right. And with Beauty and the Beast with the set, we collaborated with a theater in Arkansas, so we could split the cost up and then we and Chuck built it. And then we went down, picked it up. And we used it. Recently, our set of Kinky Boots. It was going to Jeff City, but it's in Kentucky right now. I think that in costumes, and now and then it goes up to Jeff city. So yeah, it really breeds partnership with other theaters and collaboration, which that’s always a good thing.


Steve Baker 18:21

Yeah, it's a win win.


Rich Armstrong 18:22

Let's definitely create a call out. Your creative minds can be used in business. Right. And you guys figured that out. That's cool story. Well, let me take you back. I know no one wants to go here. But the last couple of years have been tough on all of us. Right? And I'm just curious about a not for profit in Springfield, little theater being an entertainment center, how have you adjusted to all of this and worked through these challenging times?


Lorianne Dunn 18:55

It has definitely been a challenging time. And you know, because we have fully subscribed to theater show business. It was rough. It was really hard because your entire metric gets turned on its head. Of course, the entertainment industry everywhere. Mostly press pause on what they were doing. And we are really proud of ourselves and just pure grit and determination and stubbornness, if you will fit much sooner than most entertainment venues did across the country. So when everything shut down in March of 2020. We came back in July, and we just turned our season on our head. And yes, so those first, you know, few weeks, we were reworking replanning coming up with a different pivot every single day as everyone else was, as there's so many,


Beth Domann 19:56

sometimes three times a day yeah. same track


Lorianne Dunn 20:00

with a two-person show came in with a four person show and an eight-person show, which is very different for us. We really were extremely blessed. Of course, we were eligible for some of the funding program. So that was a huge relief for our organization. But we were also extremely blessed, for the support of the community. So that we have a community that we found out is very loyal to Springfield little theatre and wanted to support it through a time where we were unable to produce in the same way that we've become accustomed to producing. And now, audiences are starting to come back, and the shows are looking more normal, and things are returning to normalcy. And of course, his staff, you know, we can't get too comfortable with where we then make it on our own.


Beth Domann 21:00

Well, you know, honestly, as, as horrible as it was in so many aspects, I think in other aspects, it really was a good thing as far as making everybody stop and go, okay, and really challenging everybody to go, how can we still continue to do this in a safe way, so that everybody safe, and yet can still be entertained in live theater, because you can only watch so much Netflix. So that was what we really had to do. And, you know, complacency is death. So I don't want to do it again. But it's not a horrible thing that had happened. It's it really made everybody look at everything and go okay, and worse. It's still changing. volunteerism is different now even for actors and that kind of stuff. So that's, it's interesting. And it's fun, and it sure is challenging. So that's, that's never a bad thing.


Lorianne Dunn 22:00

It creates an opportunity for assessment, and what's really important, it was what rises to the top. And even though everything can come back, now we've made decisions, to not bring everything back now. So with the like, for example, with the duty, being younger, have only been around for the past two or three years, we had really been in, just get in there and just, you know, doo doo doo doo doo at all. Yes, yes, yes, yes. And so we really evaluated, and I pulled back on our offerings, for example, that we can really put all the energy into ensuring the highest quality delivery, and some of that sorting and selecting, I believe has become a result of COVID. And an opportunity to take that breath into look at all of those days. Now, education remained consistent during COVID. So kids were participating in classes and workshop, and we were able to structure safe ways and effective ways to do that. It required that we increase our staff. So we did actually have some increased costs, of course, because of the additional cleaning the additional bodies that were necessary to make those dedicated groups smaller and do that delivery in entirely different way. What what was hampered was the ability to produce in a small venue here at the school, but the actual classes in the workshops, those things held strong. And that actually was part of help, what helped us to sustain and during those COVID months, in addition to that outpouring of community support,


Steve Baker 23:44

mentioned something that I think is important. I'd like to understand it more but definitely for our audience, you mean you've got something that most people listening don't have, which is a really big volunteer organization. A lot of your what makes Springfield Little Theater up is volunteers. So Great Game of business is all about the people in the business. How do you involve them in the Great Game, the volunteers?


Beth Domann 24:10

Well, so how we do that is all the people that work backstage, and that Usher. So at the end of the year, we have a big award ceremony called the Franny's. And so if you work if you do if you Usher for all show, you get special Usher badges. The people backstage get the theater hat, and they have every show you do get a little pin to put on your hat. I mean these things; they will go the carpet to get these things. I don't know how they wear the hats, and it's just full of like little. I don't know, maybe it's some kind of you know, maybe it feels good, I don't know, but people are happier discovered. And it's funny how people love that we just have a big celebration at the end of the year. We also try to make it as fun as possible by doing things throughout the year, maybe people feel special and have fun.


Lorianne Dunn 25:07

That transparency trickles down. So if you say it all starts at the top, and you're communicating that with your staff and with your team, and then your team is communicating that with a volunteer, so even people that are in volunteer positions that are creating properties, they know, you know that if they can, they can keep those costs down and do that, you know, the most conservatively as possible. And, unfortunately, they're really creative and have a lot of fun with and that's part of the challenge. As part of the fun, too, you're always striving for Broadway quality production by community theater budget. And everybody really gets into that and understands it, and also revelation and education, we really have that thing, transparency, and we were always ready to teach the kids about how the business operations work. And then of all nonprofit organizations operate with a board and the board are in effect volunteer for the organization, we are extremely lucky to have an incredible board, greatly experienced board to, again, especially during the last couple of years, have really made smart decisions and very smarter heads adopt them and, and, you know, communicating the win, even during COVID. That's important too, because when create confident portions that even though clearly our revenue numbers weren't in any way, shape, or form. There had to be other things that were celebrated along the way.


Beth Domann 26:44

And also it you know, the I think one of the hardest things is because we really are, you know, you're always working three shows ahead. And all of a sudden, we weren't. Or, I mean, we were a week and a half away from opening Matilda when we got shut down. And, you know, so now you have a cast, what's 60-62? So I don't know, 60 something? And we thought, okay, well, we'll shut down for a week, come back in again. And then Alright, well, we'll see you next week, you know, and then it's like, well, next month, and finally realize, okay, well, that's probably not going to happen. And it made everybody really look at things. And, you know, the word of the year was pivot, I think everybody learned how to be flexible. And you just had to go with the flow. And that was, that was an okay thing to, to really have to go okay. Let's rethink it. Unless you can't, you couldn't get stuck in the mud.


Lorianne Dunn 27:46

Our volunteers are proud of Springfield Little theater. And they recognize that the strength of Springfield little theatre as a business is what ensures the strength of Springfield little theater as their recreational home as artistic. So I think they very much understand that, and they understand how that might set us apart from other community theater organization. So they're proud to be a part of it, and they're on board with giving that energy and doing whatever it takes to help ensure that sustainability


Beth Domann 28:22

Because if you don't have business, you don't have a show.


Steve Baker 28:26



Beth Domann 28:26

I mean, it really is. It's that simple. And I know a lot of time artists get you know, we get pigeonholed to just be in lakes and stuff, which not to say that that's not true at times. But it really is important to be fiscally responsible. I mean, extremely important. You know, Chuck Rogers, who is our set designer and checks been with the theater for 35 years. If you handed Chuck a million dollars and said go crazy, he would bring back most of it. I mean, he would make if we went crazy $1,000 would be insane for him that would just be like whoop! you know, I bought wood for the year and that was another thing is this the supplies that you know, they tripled our supplies? That was so then he did get really creative, and you know, Chuck, I've seen a lot of board and go I use this 17 years ago. a board for 17 years and Chuck does I mean we finally got them to buy new screws because that was getting ridiculous. Like they're you know we can we afford this but yeah, it's an interesting time.


Rich Armstrong 29:46

That's perfect. It's perfect. So what's next? What's next for you guys? Let's go to the future. What's the future look like?


Lorianne Dunn 29:54

Um, well, the future is also the near term. So what I'm working on Here at the duty is our accessibility project. So we are working on installing an elevator that will go from basement to attic. And what that will do was ensure that any child who wants to participate, absolutely have the opportunity to access every single video and space here at the school. It also increases the utilization of our building, by making sure that we're able to utilize the attic for both storage and additional administrative space. We are building our team, we're adding to our staff, which is really quite wonderful to be even able to have that conversation at this point, that we're talking about growth, we're talking about adding to our staff, at a time when the arts institutions across the nation just aren't or haven't recovered or haven't even return. We're financially very strong as an organization right now, our balance sheet is good, are really drilled here for that. And it helps us have discussions about what is next. And so what's next for me is I want to make sure that we can continue to serve the community and meet the needs of the community and educate the kids in our community. So want to spend beyond the fifth-grade partnership with Springfield Public Schools and help provide that expertise and support in any of our facilities necessary to be able to ensure a Step-Up Program for kiddos. So talking to administration about pursuing Middle School, we've been contracted to do the dance offering for the middle school Fine Arts Academy through Springfield Public Schools explore program, continuing to build our theme school, and bring in industry professionals, guest artists so that we have a working relationship with Broadway professionals, people that are current in the industry, to have a more frequent touch with our kids. We have an annual partnership right now, Broadway professionals aspire to have that be something ongoing, where once a month, they would have a touch with Broadway professionals continue to increase the quality of our production and continue to ensure they're taking these historic facilities that really are treasures for our communities. So now being the caretaker of books, Landestheater, as mentioned, was built in 1990. And what was been split up in schools from 1908. A partnership with maybe Murphy's the jazz and blues club that just celebrated their 40-year anniversary, it really is a part of who we are, Legacy believes everything, just ensuring that legacy. So providing the very best experiences and entertainment, education, involvement,


Beth Domann 32:55

Right, have a strong foundation so that it's going to be here in another 100 years, which that was the big thing about getting the theater tech pointed and all the water being taken care of so that we didn't have little rivers in the basement, and that kind of so that's important also to expand our rental programs. You know, my goal is I want everybody in this town to know about Springfield Little theater. And it blows me away when people are like, I've lived here my whole life, and I've never been here. What? So yeah, that is my goal is to get every person in Springfield into theater wants because we really are able to see professional quality style shows, community theater prices.


Lorianne Dunn 33:43

In here, the artistic landscape of our region. So through the training opportunities that we provide in the experiences, their artistic communities that are popping up, you know, within 60-mile radius, and even statewide as people, we sprinkle a little theater they go on and they build something of their own and other communities that may not already have those opportunities. So continue to position ourselves as one of if not the leading community.


Steve Baker 34:17

It has to be very fulfilling for you as part of the mission to educate and entertain and engage people. You're also spreading the word, the good word, so to speak, by influencing people like that. So you've got so much going on. I mean, if I had to say Laurianne had a middle name, it would be she's got the perfect job. Because you know what's going on and there's a lot going on. So if I had to ask you a challenging question, and say, is it possible for you to think of what what's that one most impactful thing that the Springfield Little Theatre team has done to impact your growth and sustainability? What would that thing be?


Lorianne Dunn 35:00

I'd have to say education. Absolutely education, because it broadens the net. So you're ensuring your future. You're training the artists, the educators and employers employees to come, we are still grateful to Jack Stack and so that with Jack and Kylie stack. Also, we've had the opportunity to learn from them and to work with them. When someone like Jack Stack says he's proud of you, and he believes in what you're doing. And we feel a responsibility to that. Proud of that, just to feel a responsibility to that. And you realize that you also have the power to impact people in a similar way. So when we see an artist, when they I see that anymore, we see future educators and say, you are a teacher at heart. Those words matter, the ability to empower,


Beth Domann 36:02

And to give them the opportunity to experience that. You know, I started out as education director in 1996. And Lorianne came on to you came into theater at what 2000 full time. Yeah, but she came into my office one day, and I said, so what is it that you want to do? And she said, well, I want your job. But you know, if there's something I learned, you know, and when you make them, listen to me, if you cast the show, right, you've done 90% of the work. Well, you hire the right people, you've done 90% of the work. And so, you know, we had built it, and Lorianne just to get to the whole next level, we had the foundation, and then she built the skyscraper on top of it. And these are the these are the kids and the people that you really want. In the business world. You These are the people you want to hire. Because they can come out and they can talk to people and not freak out. They don't just have to text they can, they can be creative, they know how to work hard, because if you've ever danced in one of her shows, you know what I'm talking about. And I think that that's probably one of the most important things is not everybody's gonna be an actor. Not everybody's gonna want to stay in the business. Right. But they have a lot to say, and they're able to, and they're freaking smart, too. So, yeah, I think that probably it’s to build that legacy.


Rich Armstrong 37:35

Yeah, that's fantastic. So what advice would you give other not for profits, that may be struggling to stay afloat or trying to find some way to be sustainable, we use some of that advice.


Lorianne Dunn 37:52

Well, make yourself necessary. Make yourself necessary, be the first device to second as never forget what you love. If you have a passion for something, and that passion is, is bound to be contagious in some way. Don't give up, keep working on it, Jack principle is you gotta wanna, if it's really true, you know, and we tell actors all the time, and so much of it doesn't have to do with talent, or natural ability, there many talented people, perseverance, perseverance, willingness to be told no, and get up and do it again. You either win, or you learn.


Beth Domann 38:35

You know, I gotta, like when people to know, you know, cuz that's, like, Well, I'm just full of spit and vinegar. So I'm gonna do it. Because you said I couldn't. And


Lorianne Dunn 38:43

it has to be okay to be vulnerable to its vulnerable to ask for help. It's vulnerable as a leader not to have all the answers, but you must be without it done.


Beth Domann 38:54

And it's okay, you're gonna fail. And you are, at some point, you are going to fail, something's not going to work and not to freak out, and the fork in your head, just keep going. And go well, now I know what didn't work, and also, to look at different ways to do things. Because it's gonna change.


Lorianne Dunn 39:14

Become self-sufficient. Have a contingency plan. Do not rely on anything for granted. Don't expect one year to replicate another year. Make sure you have this contingency.


Beth Domann 39:31

Yeah, cuz you never know when weather is gonna hit and you have to cancel a show.


Lorianne Dunn 39:37

Be willing to adapt to different needs of your staff or different needs of your community. Make sure that you believe in what you're doing versus not excited about what you're doing. Why would you expect anybody else to do right?


Steve Baker 39:54

That's exactly.


Lorianne Dunn 39:55

Never apologize for where you are when you there. And if there's something Need to change, do something about it. But look for partners to help you do that. You can't do that on all on them.


Beth Domann 40:07

And the fact of the matter is have fun. I mean, really, truly, if it's not fun, and you're, why are you doing it? I never understood that. You know, if you just have you going every day and just go home and do something else, go and grow flowers. It's okay. No harm, no foul. Go. You know, if you want to be an accountant, be an accountant. That's cool. We need them. Do what do what drives you? And what is your passion? Whatever that is. That's a win. That's a win. It's that's, you have won in living your life. That's beautiful.


Rich Armstrong 40:45

It's good.


Steve Baker 40:45

I love it.


Rich Armstrong 40:45

Find a way to have fund you're fun. All right.


Beth Domann 40:54

Have fun.


Steve Baker 40:56

That's awesome.


Beth Domann 40:57

It's the world. The world could be chekov you know, and everybody wanted to be Peter Pan, and you're gonna get a little bit of bug, but you just gotta roll with it.


Steve Baker 41:06

Yeah, exactly. Then why is a lot of my life like Dilbert. That's another podcast. So let's take it outside of the not-for-profit world. I think a lot of this advice is absolutely transferable to the for-profit world. But what advice would you give entrepreneurs outside of the creative world, or the nonprofit space about tapping the passion and energy they have in their own organization?


Beth Domann 41:35

You know, what I think that's something COVID has kind of done on its own is that people when they, they couldn't go to work, they couldn't do that. They started thinking, what else could I do? And I'm kind of digging being at home. I think, you know, what else can I do to create that? And I think people are beginning to find their passions and just say, this is what I want to do. And I want to be nothing wrong. Yeah, you can't get mad at somebody because they figured because they cracked the nut, you know that they were I can buy this widget for 10 cents, and I'm gonna sell it for $1. You can't? How do you get mad at somebody? Because they did that. That's fantastic.


Steve Baker 42:18

If I widget, I assume that the 10 times markup, you're talking about crack cocaine.


Lorianne Dunn 42:24

Principle, the parallel I mean Okay. When you're teaching acting basic, you start with the three tools of the act or body face and voice. It can't get any simpler than that. And you know it. 


Beth Domann 42:37

And what do you want? And that isn't every scene you want something? What do you want? And if you ask somebody, when you ask them a question, it's like, well give me $1 And leave Oh, no. Well, then, how are you going to get that dollar? It's just tactics. How do you do? It's just it's selling objective.


Lorianne Dunn 42:54

What do you want? What do you want? Right? And then the second principle in improv is yes and. So you want to go to the park with me? Yes, I would love to go to the park. With you. I'm wanting to try that gliding board. So don't say no, don't block your blessings. As I say, be willing to explore it. There. There are no dumb ideas. There are no dumb answers. So be willing to try that. You know, in dance, the only numbers I really needed to know were 5, 6, 7, 8. But I have a passion for the numbers. I have found safety in numbers takes away a lot of anxiety takes the emotion out of decision making. Because the numbers don't lie.


Beth Domann 43:39

They don't lie. Oh, they don't lie.


Lorianne Dunn 43:41

Makes difficult conversations. Again, less emotional.


Beth Domann 43:47

You know when I was in high school, and I was taking algebra, which I really didn't care about. And my Algebra teacher said, well, Beth, do you think that people are going to just pay you to be funny? Yeah, I think so. And I clubbing out of math in college, which I you know, I guess the saints are on my side that day. But I actually am good at math. And I love the numbers. I think it's fascinating to see how it all plays out. And I and I love to win. I love to beat the numbers. And it's exciting. It's exciting, and it's fun and to figure out, okay, well, if we're not gonna make it this way, how are we going to make it how can we get there? And you have to reroute and figure it out. And that's a that's a challenge artistically. It's a challenge for your team. It's a challenge for everybody involved in it.


Lorianne Dunn 44:42

But the discipline to the discipline. So if you see parallel with the ballet dancer, you know, they go back to the ballet bar daily. And the most advanced dancers go back to valley bar every single day. They're constantly training.


Beth Domann 44:58

I know I am Every day.


Lorianne Dunn 45:00

So for us, you know, going back to those rules of the game, it's very easy once you have achieved a certain level of growth, to kind of slack that, you know, to today, well, okay, we're not, we're not gonna do the huddles, we're not going to gonna do that as consistently as we did before, because everything's going great. But I just say, go back to the bar, review, review the rules of the game, get everybody invested, and discipline to do that.


Beth Domann 45:33

Well, and Lorianne is really good at that. But she did the belly and that marking every day, I couldn't get my leg up that high, but you really are, you're really good at that. You're very good at that. And because it's really easy when you're when you do seven shows how many times a year, and you've got two, three people working on stage and you've got you’ve got a two-week turnaround. And they're trying to build, it's easy to get complacent. And to be like, well, I'll just catch you later. Because there's everybody's so busy, and then their own little orbit. And you really do have to take the time to go okay, now wait a minute, to find out what people need, is there something I can go and do and get that in the end to have each other's back. So that's, that's really important.


Lorianne Dunn 46:17

Beginning of every rehearsal process, you invest, and building the ensemble, the same as building a team really to, and it's that crucial to do that. And we're really good at doing volunteers are really good at doing what to do. And sometimes we neglect to be as good as doing it with other staff. Right. And it's absolutely necessary, absolutely critical. So that's important, too. And then I think, I think, share your story. I listened to a couple of podcasts before today and I so enjoyed hearing the stories that people have to tell and you know whether it's plumbing or reading an author, I mean, there's so many things that parallel and so many things to learn from others in your journey.


Rich Armstrong 47:13

Wow, you get a ton of nuggets. Did you capture all that Steve? For the show? Yeah,


Steve Baker 47:18

I got it all.


Beth Domann 47:20

It's hard to shut us up.


Steve Baker 47:24

You're not paid to shut up.


Beth Domann 47:29

I know I'm like don't put a microphone in my hand unless you want 30 minutes of stand up. Just know it's gonna happen. Just not.


Steve Baker 47:36



Rich Armstrong 47:37

Well, then you're gonna love our last question, because we always kind of end the podcast by asking you guys, what question Have we missed? What should we be asking you?


Beth Domann 47:47

Can anybody be in theater? Yeah. Everybody's an actor. You just don't know it? You know, everybody. Your kids, if they're asking you, okay, they want something and you go, no, no, they're gonna try a different tactic. Everybody's everybody acts. Everybody can come down to the theater, you can volunteer, you can usher to a show for free. work backstage, come in Audition, take some classes. It really, it's really a lot of fun. And you get to work with people that you never would have thought you'd get to work with. From 80 years old to four years old, you're going to work with a bunch of different people, and you get to meet. I mean, some of my best friends still are people. I did theater with munchkin. And it's fun. And it should be. That's what I have today. Everybody. Everybody can come play.


Rich Armstrong 48:37



Steve Baker 48:39

All right. Wow, you Rich's right, you guys have given me so many nuggets, I have a bit of Writer's cramp. As I'm trying to capture as much as I can. So one of the things that we do ladies is we try to grasp the essence of what we talked about and then plug it into show notes so that people can take away those, those great nuggets, I'm going to give it a shot. Now remember, this is my interpretation of what I heard. So you have to straighten me out if I got something wrong, or if I missed the, the true nugget. So first of all, I love the mission of educate, engage, entertain, that is what everybody listening needs to do with their team as well. It should be their mission every single day with their employees, with their customers, all the stakeholders if we were all that educated, engaged and entertained, I think we'd have a better world. So Springfield Little Theater learned early on that the in this story anyway, that the mission requires revenue, butts in seats were the first critical number, and Beauty and the Beast allowed you guys to figure out how to build costumes and sets to use then rent and create a self-sustaining revenue stream. You should use or tap the creative energy that you have in the organization, kind of tapping the wisdom The crowd, it's already there, you got to figure out how to tap it to deal with problems that you have. As you conduct business. Volunteers at Springfield, Little Theater are recognized and rewarded, which is one of our key tenants for Great Game of Business is recognition and rewards. You do that, even though they're not on the payroll, which I think is really cool. Transparency and communication are vital for engagement of staff and volunteers. Let's see, if you don't have business, you don't have a show. Also another little one there. Education has been the most impactful thing for the theater is growth and sustainability. hire the right people, and you've done 90% of the work. That is, the line of the day. It's all about talent, right and putting the right people together. If you have a passion, it's contagious, don't get persevere. You win or learn; you're going to fail. So look at the bright side, look for things you can do. Be vulnerable, ask for help. Let's see. Have fun. Have fun. That is ridiculous. You're heretics. You can't have fun the business What the hell do what drives you? I think that's pretty awesome. COVID taught us that we're capable of a lot more than we previously thought. Right? I totally butchered that. But that's pretty cool. Because I think we can all say, even you know, there's a whole lot of middle-aged white people that have learned to use Zoom. Because of COVID. Before then, it was now you kids use that stuff. I don't know what you're doing. That's how it sounds to me. Don't say no, don't block your business. Or I'm sorry. Don't say no. Don't block your blessings. The numbers don't lie. They take the emotion out of decisioning. Beth, I just love that you shared you love to win. Don't we all love to win. Nobody likes to lose, but I liked what you just stated it. It was like, we probably should all probably wake up with that. You know, I'd love to win. Let's go find a win. Discipline.


Beth Domann 52:08

Everybody can win. It can always be win. And it should be.


Steve Baker 52:13

It should be true. Yep. Just a couple more discipline is crucial to any success. Whether it's dance or business, go back to the bar. Keep up the discipline. I think that's a really big one. And it totally is great game as well. Invest in building the ensemble, the team. I think it goes back to the if you've hired the right people, you've done 90% of the work. And then to wrap up, everybody's an actor, get out their volunteer takes class, and everybody should remember that. It's fun. And it should be that's what I took out today's conversation. Close. Yeah.


Beth Domann 52:55

Well, it's a different, it's a different place. And technology is fabulous. And cell phones are great when they work. But it's also making everybody very isolated too. And that's something that getting out of volunteering and being a part we are social beings. And it's really important that we don't lose that and allow it just everybody, you know, play a game and do and never communicate and talk because you have to in the world in business, you have to communicate.


Steve Baker 53:32

Amen. So good. Well, it's been great to have you guys both Beth Laurie and Springfield Little Theatre. Thank you so much.


Lorianne Dunn 53:42

Wonderful to be here. Thank you, and I appreciate it.


Rich Armstrong 53:45

Yes, thank you guys.


Steve Baker 53:48

Well, let's keep the conversation going. Folks. Send us your questions, your stories, your best practices, your ideas, your challenges, and of course, your victories because that is capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time.


Announcer 54:02

The "Change The Game" podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit


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Topics: Financial Forecasting, Planning, Contingency Planning, Finance, Strategy, business planning, cashflow, Strategic Planning, Market Analysis, Economics

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Hosted by Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker the Change the Game podcast highlights true life stories of organizations influencing positive change by doing business differently. They’re teaching people how business works and closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. It’s capitalism at its best. Inside each episode, you’ll discover stories of entrepreneurs who are Changing the Game.

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