Success Stories By Dick Kazan - Valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable
lessons on how to succeed in business and in life.
The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on July 18, 2006

Are you afraid to express your creative side?

Do you think people will make fun of you if you do?

Each of us is creative in our own way and that creativity can make us happy and may make us more popular if we’re not too inhibited to risk showing our creative side to others.

Famed puppeteer Lettie Schubert fell in love with puppetry when she was a little girl and by junior high school, she was putting on puppet shows. This gave her such joy she pursued it as a career and met puppet master Ralph Chesse, who helped to develop her skills.

In the 1950’s, she and Chesse did puppet and marionette characters together on what became a popular San Francisco children’s TV show called “Brother Buzz,” with Lettie as “Miss Busy Bee,” the best known of her characters.

Aside from “Brother Buzz,” she did a variety of little puppet characters on other TV shows. But it’s hard to consistently find work in the entertainment industry.

And when Lettie couldn’t get work, it was disappointing and at times hurtful but instead of getting down on herself and letting it defeat her, she developed her opportunities by directing Oakland’s Vagabond Puppet Theater and doing puppet shows in schools and parks.

During the 1960’s, these shows expanded to San Francisco, Los Angeles and then nationwide. Her troupe included Frank Oz, later the voice of Miss Piggy and Cookie Monster for Jim Henson’s Muppets and Jerry Juhl, later the head writer for the Muppets.

Lettie also did her shows in department store windows, libraries and at fairs and did them in the window of a shop called Happy Things. They became so popular at Happy Things that double parked tourist busses and crowds blocking the sidewalk sometimes brought traffic to a halt.

At Happy Things, she met and fell in love with her future husband Gage and the couple took over the shop. Later, they owned Schubert’s Toy Square, also in downtown San Francisco.

In 1968, the Schuberts moved to Mill Valley to raise their family and for the next 30 years, Lettie got actively involved with the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival and she kept mentoring puppeteers.

As their son and daughter grew older, Lettie traveled widely. She became a member of the British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild and she held leadership positions in various puppet organizations.

Lettie was a puppeteer for the rest of her life, passing away recently at 77. Aside from her family, she left a legacy of many well-mentored puppeteers and a legion of people she had entertained.

If you feel too inhibited to show your creative side, may I suggest something to you. When you are in a toy store and see a display of puppets, put one on your hand. Get the feel of it as you move your fingers around causing the puppet to move.

Then give it a voice, even if you just say, “Hello” to yourself. Within you, there is a creative streak wanting to come out and playing with a puppet could be the start of something interesting.

Anne and I have three boys: Kyle, Kevin and Clayton and when the older two were little, I began doing puppet shows for them. In their bedroom, before they went to sleep, I would put a puppet on my hand and magically, it took on a voice and a personality.

At first, the puppet would tickle their little tummies and ask about their day. But with time, entire story lines developed and eventually the puppet shows entertained all three children.

One day when our family was staying in a motel in Carmel (CA), Anne and I left Kyle who was 9 and Kevin who was 6 in the room as we walked down the block with 2 year old Clayton. Our room was on the first floor with a window facing the sidewalk.

When we turned to walk back, we saw that several people had gathered on the sidewalk outside our room and they were smiling and laughing. As we walked up in back of them, we watched Kyle and Kevin putting on a puppet show, complete with voices and an improvised story line.

We enjoyed their show as well and 30 years later, I beam with pride in telling you this story. Each of our sons and their wives now have a little boy and it is my wish that one day, they will entertain their children with puppets as I had the privilege of doing for them.

Success Tip of the Week: You are creative. It could be as a painter, a writer, a musician, software developer, or in how you do an interior design or prepare a fine meal. Whatever it is, show us. We understand your fears and we respect the courage it took for you to come forth. And how else can you develop your creativity.

In the next KazanToday: Can one person doing simple things, uplift the lives of many others? The answer is yes and I’ll tell you the story of a woman who did and how you could too.

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Many of these short stories are about people from all walks of life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve remarkable results. These stories contain practical advice and a recipe for success for each of these renowned individuals. Some of their stories may help you to avoid some of the costly and time consuming mistakes that many of us make in life and at work. Learn from some of history's greatest winners on how to become a winner yourself, no matter what the obstacle, and no matter how daunting the task before you may seem. Good luck!