Open Forum in The Villages, Florida

From Far Rockaway to Sales Stardom: Mike Roth's Journey of Resilience and Improv

March 22, 2024 Mike Roth & Wayne Richards Season 5 Episode 12
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
From Far Rockaway to Sales Stardom: Mike Roth's Journey of Resilience and Improv
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
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They say the best tales come from the heart, and mine is no exception. Settle in as I, Mike Roth, trade the interviewer's mic for the hot seat, with Wayne Richard leading the charge. From my humble beginnings in Far Rockaway to the vibrant pulse of Miami, I unravel the threads of my family tapestry, complete with the legacy of my father's leather business. Memories of high school band days and backstage drama antics stitch together the rich fabric that formed the backdrop to my career pivot, from engineering to the dynamic dance of sales.

Strap in for a thrill ride through the highs and lows of my sales saga at Telex. It's a chapter rife with legal battles, vast territories, and the glitzy grind of client schmoozing—a nod to a relative's tenure at the helm of Hewlett Packard. You'll discover how a twist of fate with a Wats box at NYU not only saved our payroll but also served up a masterclass in resilience. Navigating through the early days of my engineering aspirations to the cutthroat sales floor, I share the valuable detours that rerouted my professional destiny.

When the curtain rises on The Villages chapter, laughter and loss dance a delicate duet. Acting and improv taught me life's script is often improvised, a lesson I carry into the sales strategies that once seemed as improbable as a multiplying machine gone rogue. Meanwhile, my podcasting odyssey in Cincinnati spotlights the unscripted symphony of local business leaders' stories, continuing to echo success. So, join me for an episode that harmonizes the unexpected melodies of life, where every note promises to entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

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Open Forum in The Villages, Florida is Produced & Directed by Mike Roth
A new episode will be released most Fridays at 9 AM
Direct all questions and comments to mike@rothvoice.com

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Emily:

Welcome to the Open Forum in the Villages Florida podcast. In this show we talk to leaders in the community, leaders of clubs and interesting folks who live here in the villages to give perspectives of what is happening here in the Villages Florida. I hope to add a new episode most Fridays at 9am. We are a listener supported podcast. There will be shoutouts for supporters in episodes. As a supporter you will get a direct email link to Mike. In season 5 we are making significant improvements and changes on an ongoing basis.

Mike Roth:

Now you can help me afford to keep making this podcast by becoming a supporter. First, a quick note about the podcast. It's available because I absolutely love doing it, despite the fact that it cost me probably more time than I can afford. Now I can't buy back my time, but there is one thing that you can do that would be really helpful, and that is help me to afford making this podcast. You can do that by going to the website openforuminthevillages. com and clicking on the supporter box. You are making a small donation of $3 to $10 a month and you can cancel at any time. Probably a small donation of $3 will still make a difference and I'd really appreciate it If you can't afford to do that.

Mike Roth:

I completely understand it's economically tough times for a lot of people, but there is something that you can do for free that can really help. If you want to. You can rate the podcast. You can give it 5 stars or maybe even give it a review on whatever podcast application you are using. That will make a huge difference because we will be discovered by more people. If you are able to do that, we would massively appreciate it and it would help keep this podcast going in 2024.

Emily:

If you have a book that you would like to turn into an audiobook, let us know via email to mike at rothvoice. com. Hope you enjoy today's show.

Mike Roth:

This is Mike Roth on open forum in The Villages, Florida. I'm here today with Wayne Richard. Thanks for joining me, Wayne. Thank you. We are going to do a little backwards interview show where Wayne is going to interview me.

Wayne Richards:

We are going to turn the tables, so let's, what do you say? We begin at the very start at the very start. First the earth cooled then, the dinosaurs came right then, fred Flintstone came, fred Flintstone came, and then you were born, right you were born where?

Mike Roth:

In Brooklyn, New York in.

Wayne Richards:

Brooklyn, New York.

Mike Roth:

Do it, do it, do it, do it. You know, really.

Wayne Richards:

What was your note? Don't give your address. What was it like growing up in Brooklyn?

Mike Roth:

Well, actually we start. My earliest memories are probably when I was three or four years old, living in Far Rockaway, new York, on a street called Gibson Street.

Wayne Richards:

My mom bought me a was that right next to vodka?

Mike Roth:

I don't know.

Wayne Richards:

Okay.

Mike Roth:

That was a long time ago. Anyway, my birthday was coming up probably my three or fourth birthday, I don't remember which one and she bought me a Hop along Cassidy. Black outfit, black shirt. Black pants black boots black hat and a cap pistol. That was the theme of the party.

Wayne Richards:

So you were going gangster even back then.

Mike Roth:

Oh yeah, cowboy, cowboy, not gang oh cowboy.

Wayne Richards:

okay, well, it's Brooklyn, you know, I get it.

Mike Roth:

No, that was Long Island. Brooklyn is on Long Island and Farakoy is part of Queens.

Wayne Richards:

Okay.

Mike Roth:

Okay, yeah. And then we moved to Miami, where I went to kindergarten and Now, why does one move to Miami?

Mike Roth:

I don't know. My parents moved to Miami so I went with them. And what did your parents do? What was? Oh, that's a good question. My dad was a designer of leather goods, primarily ladies handbags, pocket books and purses and he worked with his brother. They had a business Max Roth Inc. Sounds official to me. Oh yeah, it was in the Soho district of Manhattan, and many times, as I was growing up on a Saturday morning, dad would take me and my brother. I don't know if my brother came with me, I can't remember. I don't think so. He was three years younger, so we went to the factory in Soho.

Wayne Richards:

Okay, now what about their brothers and sisters? Do you have any?

Mike Roth:

Yeah, I have one full brother, okay, and I have a half sister and a half brother.

Wayne Richards:

And what was it like growing up with them? Did you get along? Oh yeah, we got along. There wasn't any tension or knife fights or anything like that.

Mike Roth:

Oh no, no, knife fights Okay that's good.

Wayne Richards:

That's good. Might have been pillow fights, pillow fights. Okay. What about your education?

Mike Roth:

That's a good question. I went to high school in Brooklyn, New York, at Samuel J Tilden. I played in the band. From the time I was in junior high school I played trombone.

Wayne Richards:

That's a hard instrument to play.

Mike Roth:

Oh yeah, you have to learn the positions. There were seven positions.

Wayne Richards:

Seven positions.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, otherwise you'd be out of tune and then you had to tune the thing with the tuning coil at the back. I guess what's a coil to coil? I don't remember.

Wayne Richards:

Yeah, I had a lot of problems with the piano. When I started piano, I was blowing into it, so I don't think that's the way it's supposed to work.

Mike Roth:

Unless it was a player piano or you were acting as the bellows.

Wayne Richards:

No, I never had a player piano. I was the only player on the piano.

Mike Roth:

Okay, my grandmother had a player piano and as much as the grandkids tried, we couldn't get it to play.

Wayne Richards:

Now let me ask you this when did you start beginning to develop your dulcet?

Mike Roth:

deep tones, Probably someplace in high school. When given a choice in high school of either taking a speaking part in a play because I was in the drama club and they put on plays or running the spotlights in lighting board, I chose the lighting board in spotlights.

Emily:

Really.

Mike Roth:

Absolutely. I didn't like being a downstage center and talking to the audience.

Wayne Richards:

And that's really interesting in light of what you do now, which we'll get to in a little bit Right, but I saw it out ahead, stage fright. Now, what about radio? Did you ever gravitate towards radio? Yes, yes. How did that happen?

Mike Roth:

When I was in college I applied to the city college of New York radio station to be on the radio as a DJ or whatever announcer and they rejected my application. They said I didn't speak right. I couldn't say the word cigarettes correctly.

Wayne Richards:

Well, you just said it.

Mike Roth:

I did, but that's after $4,000 worth of speech training.

Wayne Richards:

So you learned, after a great investment, how to enunciate.

Mike Roth:

How to enunciate and say words in a neutral American speech pattern, which is something one has to practice.

Wayne Richards:

So in other words, you don't say things like y'all.

Mike Roth:

It depends on where you are. I had the great I'm gonna call it a gift of being able to mimic speech patterns that I hear enough. So if you all wanna hear Southern accent, I can suddenly switch into a Southern accent, because I spent a lot of time in the South as I was working. They were about four years where I lived on.

Wayne Richards:

Yeah, but the funny thing is I can do this. I've never been to India.

Mike Roth:

Never been to.

Wayne Richards:

India Never been to India.

Mike Roth:

Oh, I don't say I can do that.

Wayne Richards:

I do it all the time. I see all kinds of computers in here. Could I fix one of them for you please? Anyway.

Mike Roth:

Sure, I'll find the one that doesn't work. So I got nothing to lose.

Wayne Richards:

Did any of your theatrical endeavors way back then involve improv?

Mike Roth:

Well. I don't think so, I don't know. In the 60s there was much improv going around. Elaine May and Mike Niggles were the people that you listen to on records and LPs and they were the first improv artists that I'm aware of. I ran through a lot of jobs. It was very successful in the Fortune 1000, selling computers and phone systems.

Wayne Richards:

So you got involved with all of that as the electronic computer revolution began.

Mike Roth:

Right right, I was an electrical engineering student in City College for two years and after two years decided that electrical engineering wasn't for me and I switched into the business school and graduated with a management and marketing degree and then went on to some graduate school there at the Baruch College. But they, you know, the only course that I ever dropped in college was a computer course. I guess it was in four, ten, four, trend programming, and the first thing you had to learn is how to operate an IBM 029 key punch.

Mike Roth:

And so I go to the first class and this is big machine that's punching holes in cards and you type and strange stuff, and I had no understanding of how it worked and so I said before I failed the course, I'm gonna drop it. And that's what I did, and so out of college I worked for Mayor Lindsey for about two years, learned to hate politicians in general and that was probably a great moment for you.

Wayne Richards:

Yes to learn to stay away from that.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, as a young, young man, what drove me crazy about the politicians was every place that I went, because I was working in Lindsey's office, in mayor Costello's or deputy mayor Costello's office Everybody was stage makeup all the time.

Wayne Richards:

Including Abbott and Costello. Yeah, well, after that's a totally different thing, right?

Warren:

right. Who's on first? What's on?

Mike Roth:

second, you know, Lindsey was a strange guy when I was in college. After I got out of college Working for Lindsey, somehow I wound up with a radio show on I think it was Thursday nights on WNYC and I would interview Mayor Lindsey and the peace to grow of Me deciding I got to get out of a job that's related to politics.

Wayne Richards:

That's delicious if it's prepared right by the way. Peace to grow.

Mike Roth:

Okay, I've never had it. It's wonderful, anyway. So Lindsey and I finishes this radio show at about 9 30 on a Thursday night. It's a cold winter night. We walk out of the station I'm wearing a coat and then Lindsey's put, pulls his hat down over his forehead and turns up the collar of his Winter coat you know long winter coat and we're walking towards the subway and I said mayor Lindsey, why did you turn up your collar and pull down your head? It's not that cold. And he says, mike, I don't want anyone to recognize me Now someplace. If I looked around in the attic here I might even have a nine minute tape of one of those shows that I did with Mayor Lindsey. But after I left the political job I went to work for the boroughs corporation selling adding machines and calculators door-to-door in Manhattan, and they had a manual crank backup just in case the electricity went out.

Wayne Richards:

Really. Yeah, so people would have a desperate in case the power goes out and they have the need to count. They have, they have that backup.

Mike Roth:

They had that crank backup. Yes and every once in a while I would get funny with them and I bring a Small Chinese abacus along with me and say in the event that you can't pull the crank, here's a little abacus you do with your finger.

Wayne Richards:

Boy, that's a desperation, I'll tell you it's all a lot of machines.

Mike Roth:

So I got promoted into their computer division sold small accounting computers, what I would call the first desktop computer, their series L 2000s, and it was very successful. But I was. I was working five days a week trying to sell and install these computers, and another day to learn more, and I just Just couldn't finish working at night, going to school at night. So I stopped the master's degree and Then I got offered a job working for a company called Telex. No, it was action communications and no, I got to think about that, it was Telex first.

Wayne Richards:

Telex, okay now while he tries to figure out who he is and what he did in the past. Maybe we should take a break and get that spot in for dr Craig Curtis absolutely.

Mike Roth:

So, Dr Curtis, what do you think the future looks like? Alzheimer's treatment here in America?

Dr. Craig Curtis:

I think the future looks very good. I think that these blood tests are going to make a Significant difference in our ability to detect someone who's developing Alzheimer's disease Before symptoms, a person who develops memory loss due to Alzheimer's disease. We know that that disease actually started Approximately two decades or 20 years prior. We know that amyloid starts building up for approximately 20 years 15 to 20 years which then initiates other brain cells or bring dot to die off, essentially, which leads to Alzheimer's disease. So we're trying to remove that amyloid prior to that so we can prevent Alzheimer's disease, and we're also attempting to want somebody already has the cognitive changes or memory symptoms. We're trying to figure out if we, if we're reducing that amyloid, really slows the disease. We now have, of course, the world's first medicine on the market that is slowing Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloid From the brain and we're looking at newer, more advanced forms of those medications that remove the amyloid Much more quickly in a matter of months.

Warren:

So that's very exciting with over 20 years of experience studying brain health, dr Curtis's goal is to educate the villages community on how to live a longer, healthier life. To learn more, visit his website Craig Curtis MD. Calm, or call 352 500 5252 to attend a free seminar.

Wayne Richards:

Okay so have you figured out who you are now?

Mike Roth:

Yes, yes, I am good, I'm a Genghis Khan.

Wayne Richards:

Another great Chinese restaurant. Ladies and gentlemen, West.

Mike Roth:

Genghis Khan is going to be opening his first restaurant here in the villages in about six months. But At LX I learned that I could work five days a week and make twice as much money than I did at boroughs. I really like that. I took a territory which was only Long Island where I lived. It was great. We went to a great meeting in California and that was when IBM and tell X got involved and I enter a trust lawsuit. The president of tell X settled the suit and, all of a sudden, of the hundred and twenty sales people that they had, they were down to 20.

Mike Roth:

And I was one of the 20 and so.

Mike Roth:

I had a territory that went from Boston down to Washington DC West to Pittsburgh, and all of a sudden I had the beginnings of living on an airplane. I remember the first day on that job. I go into the VP's office I had a skin graft on my thumb because a car fell on me and he looks at me and says Mike, I need to give you three things. He gives me Cats, our $400 bills. That's cash, it's spending money, say good. Then he gives me an air travel card. They said that was good. And then he gives me a diners club card. He puts about dying this club card down on the test guy took it and he says I said what do I do it? He said well, mike, you never eat alone. You don't eat lunch alone. You don't eat dinner alone. Take prospects and clients out to lunch and dinner all the time.

Wayne Richards:

Mm-hmm.

Mike Roth:

I expect to see a lot of expenses from you.

Wayne Richards:

See, I'll reveal something here, just because it it fits into the pattern of what you are suggesting, is my brother-in-law that one time was the North American CEO for Hewlett Packard, really. So he went through the same thing. He had to basically entertain people, make them feel good and make them feel comfortable so that deals could be done right.

Mike Roth:

People had to feel comfortable with you and the company that you represented. I guess the thing that got me out of Telex, compared computer products, was there were too many 4am Telephone calls. Okay, I remember selling AVIS when they had the Wizard of AVIS and there's a whole lot of stories I could tell about that. But the one that Got me out of that business with Telex was a Call the four o'clock in the morning from the IT director of a saying hey, mike, your service engineer is asleep in the computer room on the floor behind the disc drive. And I said well, I guess I'll be right over and somebody's getting sleep at four in the morning.

Mike Roth:

So four in the morning I go over and kick Julio on the side, take him into the cafeteria coffee or mop and get that thing working. But I said you know that that was too much. And One of the guys who trained me at Telex took a job working for a company called action telecommunications Telecommunications or action communications and they sold something called the Watts box, the what, the Watts box, the what W-8s the Watts. Yeah, that's it. Who's on first?

Mike Roth:

who's that first, yeah, and they were competing with AT&T and they found a way to Dramatically reduce the cost of the number of Watts lines that a company needed. And so I go in there and Really didn't know very much about it I was a computer guy, not a telecommunications guy and so I'm making a prospecting call on NYU and all of a sudden I get the Company, the president of NYU, on the phone. He says yeah, come on down and talk to me about that. We have too many Watts lines here.

Mike Roth:

And so I said to my boss John, I Don't know what I'm doing, john. He says well, I'm pretty new here too. Why don't you take Jerry along with you? He's the next telephone company engineer. So I took Jerry along, we went down to NYU and I came back with a million dollar order. Wow, all of a sudden I was a miracle man there. I said what do I do with it? To the check, the down payment. And my boss says oh, come, go out to JFK, put it on an airplane to Tulsa because we needed to make payroll. And Then we went on.

Wayne Richards:

Let me ask you this did you enjoy all of this?

Mike Roth:

I was fun, it was fun.

Wayne Richards:

Okay. Was it something that you ever expected to do? Absolutely not Okay. What did you expect to do? What was your big dream as you were growing up?

Mike Roth:

I was gonna be a very successful engineer, Okay and train, or I mean electrical engineer. Okay okay. I loved working with that stuff and I still fool around with. I still kept soldering ions in the closet, so I wanted to be a conductor.

Wayne Richards:

Okay you want the only thing I can subway there in Chicago. Yeah, I can't even conduct electricity but anything. So that was your private dream that was a private dream, right. And why didn't you go for it? What held you back? I'm fascinated by this subject because so many people think well, if I have only done this, or I have only done that.

Mike Roth:

I had to. I had too many problems going through electrical engineering school.

Mike Roth:

I think I was too young when I started and they assumed that you could learn calculus and physics at the same time, as Well as overloading me with English and social studies. I mean, I remember staying up all night trying to read a book by those posse because there was gonna be a quiz on it the next day. And, yes, I passed the quiz. But the physics and Calculus lessons took a lot to be desired and in those days you had something called mechanical drawing, where you had to see things in 3d on a piece of paper. I found that exceptionally difficult. Okay, so I'm going into the.

Wayne Richards:

I don't even like to wear the glasses when they go into the theater.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, yeah. So I'm in the second year of engineering school and I'm failing. My physics course Didn't look very bright, so I asked a couple of my fraternity brothers to Toot at me so I could pass the final exam, and so they did. Some of the problems they tutored me on were on the final exam Miraculously, and so I got an A on the final exam. Okay, and I'm looking at my Posting of my the grades out in front of the professor's office and the professor walks out inside and he sees me, says mr Roth, come inside. And he said I'm gonna make a recommendation to you.

Mike Roth:

I have no idea how you got an A on the final exam because you weren't performing like that the entire Quarter. And how did you? It was pop luck, okay. And he says to me I recommend that you Find another major, not electrical engineering. And so that's how I wound up. It was very shattering. I I actually did a little bit of counseling between over that summer school at period of time and Determined that I should be in. I did occupational testing and they said it should either be a funeral director or Something in business. So I went into business. I went into the business school where I discovered that I Could work part-time to make a few extra shekels and Get a's on every course in the business school, because it wasn't anything like the engineering school. My mind worked that way. Yeah, okay. And then I Was very successful in sales. I was successful at telex. I was successful at action communications.

Wayne Richards:

Okay, so after all of that success and traveling down a road filled with computers and wires and plugs and Lights flashing and all of these things, you eventually reach a place called the villages.

Mike Roth:

Yes, when did you move here? I got to the villages in 2017.

Wayne Richards:

And how did you find out about it and why did you come?

Mike Roth:

I was in Cincinnati. I was running a successful Sandler Training , primarily a sales training company. We did management training, customer service training. By the way, that wasn't Adlib or improvisation, I don't know what was yeah so you know, I had 30 or 40 years of improv in in sales.

Wayne Richards:

You know where you go learning the dance. Now, that was the birth, that's the, that's the, that is the eggshell. Right, there was the.

Mike Roth:

It was the practical example. Okay, one of the things I learned to do to train people was to break things up into chunks. The smaller the chunks the better, because people wouldn't remember. And we did entertainment. Okay, that means I Would tell jokes. Okay, that meant that I would do magic tricks to bring out points, and I became very good at it and One say what did you?

Wayne Richards:

do you pull a sales slip out of your head, or what?

Mike Roth:

No. I mean, it was just a little entertaining things, you know, pouring water into a cup, mm-hmm, and holding the cup over students head and saying, if I pass the pencil through the cup, what's going to happen? And they would cringe.

Mike Roth:

Mm-hmm and then I would pass the pencil through one side of the cup. I said you have nothing to worry about because this is a self-sealing cup, it's a real system. And they felt a little bit and I said what's gonna happen? I push through the second side of the cup and then they cringe it again and they said, oh, that's gonna be bad. I said, okay, and what's gonna happen? Glass. When I pulled the pencil out of the cup and and they said, was gonna get wet, I said nope, self-sealing cup, not a problem. And then no water came out. And then I Took the top of the cup, turned it over on the guy's head and no water came out. Okay, and what I said next in the sales training stuck in people's heads now, when did you graduate to the next trick?

Wayne Richards:

Which was taking a box and having a person lay down on the box, close the box and then poke them with pencils. No, no, on each side of the no no, no, okay, that's an interesting Magical trick.

Mike Roth:

Yes, when I was back at action, one of the guys working with me was an amateur magician and he said come to my magic show and I'll need an assistant. You have the youngly, a lovely young lady, and I took K to the magic show and I told my buddy hey, it's, she's gonna be the blonde sitting next to me. And so he picked her out of the audience, brings her up on stage. And he had one of those boxes where you saw someone in half.

Mike Roth:

So she was actually sort of half on stage and put back together. But so that's an aside. When you discovered the villages, did you? Well? Let me tell you how I discovered the villages, because I was in since wait a minute, I was just gonna ask you.

Wayne Richards:

okay, how did you discover The Villages?

Mike Roth:

Well, I was a member of the Rotary Club for 20 years in Cincinnati and some a lady that ran a traveling agent travel agency named Pat, who was a client, retired, sold her business and moved to the villages. I thought I'd never see her again. She comes back and sits down it anyway. So Pat tells me about the villages and how they have town squares at three town squares movie theaters, happy hour and then live bands in each one of the squares all night. Now, get her and they shouldn't tell me about that and she made it sound so great I said okay, I don't believe it, I've never heard of it. So I went home, looked it up and, sure enough, there was a place called the villages and I told my wife about it and she said oh, I have a cousin who lives there. I Said, oh well, sometime we'll go visit her.

Mike Roth:

So, as fate would have it, the next year I went to her Sandler for their winter conference. They had four conferences. Year ran the conference in Orlando, and so we go to the. I took my wife, we go to the conference in Orlando, and I Think that year was the year that my mom, my wife's mom, died. And so the second day of the conference says I'm leaving. She left and I left a day later, but the next year at the Sandler conference in Orlando. She says I want to visit my cousin in the villages, and so we came up here, the villages and we we visited for a few days. They took us on a gasoline powered golf cart ride from Spanish Springs to the new town square at Brownwood.

Wayne Richards:

It's like an international flight, isn't it?

Mike Roth:

yeah, 45 minutes smelling guests, the two cylinder, these gasoline fuel.

Wayne Richards:

Yeah, but you got two movies on a meal.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, we didn't do. That didn't happen. So we took the ride and I became convinced that I will never own a gasoline powered golf cart, but I did become convinced that there might be something to this village's place. So the next year, uh Christmas, we did a uh lifestyle trip, familiarization trip, we did a second one, and Did you ride the bus? We never rode the trolley, no, no.

Wayne Richards:

Everybody should do that one time. I want to drive one of those you have to have a cdl.

Mike Roth:

Looking for drivers way.

Wayne Richards:

Yeah, but I don't want to do it for a living. I just want to drive it one time for the experience. I drove a bus in the navies. Oh, so you have a cdl. I used to okay, well, uh it's expired a long time ago.

Mike Roth:

Yes, we have. We have a really good improv skit. I don't know if you've seen it called the village's trolley.

Wayne Richards:

Wow, there's a segue if I ever heard one. Ladies and gentlemen, we get into the world of Mike Roth and Improvisation. And how did that happen?

Mike Roth:

Well, David Sandler, uh, whose pictures on the wall behind you, that's 1992 or 93, with me, and uh, David kept saying "sales is a Broadway play performed by a psychiatrist, and what I want you to do is take acting courses and improv courses Okay, and occasionally brought people into our training sessions who were professional actors or improvers, but I was too busy running the business and training people to take the courses. But when I got here I joined like seven acting and improv acting and one six acting courses and one improv course.

Mike Roth:

I took dean and a partridge in a pay-tree right anyway In the acting courses. I Deserve it decided that although I was on stage and one of Dean's little shows, I hated it.

Mike Roth:

I hated memorizing lines and worked too hard. I remembered at boroughs they gave us a script to memorize. To sell this J800 multiplying machine, okay, and every time you hit the X key that meant you never knew what the number was that was going to come up. You know one, two, three times four, five, six is fifty six, oh, eighty eight. When you hit that X key on the J800, made in France with plastic gears, it was never going to hit fifty six, oh, eighty eight. We had a quota to sell these things, so I was trying to sell them like everyone else. It was a hitting machine and a subtracting machine. Forget about the multiplier.

Mike Roth:

And then in graduate school I was taking a course in statistics and I learned that you needed to have a seed number for random calculations and that actuaries would open up a book of random numbers and randomly pick one out. And so, just as a lark, one day I had one of these heavy French machines under my arm. I walked into an actuarial's office and I said I want to speak to the head actuary. I've got a random number generator to show them. And I put this machine down on his desk and I said this is an adding machine, subtracting machine and the random number generator. He said I don't believe it. I said, okay, look, you hit one, two, three and then you hit the random number key, which is an X, and four, five, six and you hit equal. He did it about 10 times and never came up to fifty six. Oh, eighty eight. Never came up to the same number twice. He's laughing. He says I'll try it, okay.

Wayne Richards:

You see, ladies and gentlemen, this is the perfect example of getting your actuary together. Once you have your actuary together, life is a lot easier. So I think I'm channeling Steve Allen for some reason I don't know what it is.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, Steve is here. I wish he'd get on a different channel. All right, go ahead, okay. So a week later I go back to pick the machine up because no one really kept the machine as a multiplying machine. And he says to me Mike, I want four more of these. So I wrote up an order for five machines. Turned in the order and you know they paid me my commission on that.

Mike Roth:

About a month later I get a call from the guy that I sold the machines to. I'm a skid shitless. He wants to return them because I was already paid by commission. I said, mike, those machines are working great. They create seed numbers for me. They save me a lot of time. I don't have to pick up heavy books. I said, okay. He says I've just referred you to three of my actuary friends in town. They each want about a dozen machines. So I went out to see these guys and I both sold three dozen machines. I was feeling like a king turned in. The orders went home.

Mike Roth:

The next day at 8am I come in and the branch manager is sitting on my desk holding the orders in his hand. He said, mike, what the heck is this? And I said well, you know, I sold some of those J800s. He said, mike, you sold more at J800s in one day than the branch did in the last six months. I said yes, sir, that was my job. And he said how'd you do it? They're going to return them. I said no, no, I sold them as random number generators. He listened to me like I'm crazy and he held my commission back for six months to find out whether the machines would get return.

Wayne Richards:

If you want a real random number generator. Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas does a great job. Machines are very loose Right now. Let's get away from the business and get into the business of improv. The business is what most people embrace you for.

Mike Roth:

OK, so here in The Vlilages, you know so I joined the only improv club and a fellow named Brian was running it and he was doing primarily improv games and exercises and there was a small group, maybe 20, 25 people that came every week. I enjoyed it. I think it was every other week that that thing was running. And about six months into it Brian says to me Mike, I took a job in Boston for 200 grand a year. I'm leaving the villages closing the improv club unless you take it over.

Warren:

And I said I was enjoying it. I didn't want to take it over.

Mike Roth:

I said give me a day or two, I'll let me talk to a couple of my acting friends. So I wound up talking to Greg Goldin. You know him and I said, Greg, can you help me run this improv club? I had no idea what to do. I've never been an improver as a stage performer. I improv'd in sales. But he says sure.

Mike Roth:

So we took it over and we did a couple of things. We quickly determined that we had enough talent to perhaps perform some shows with a little bit more training. We doubled the number of sessions per month from two to four and we had about 140 people on the roster and only 20 were showing up. That was very difficult to manage. So we decided to put dues on of $10 a year to get rid of anyone who wasn't serious. And at work we went down to a nice manager with 20 or 25 people. We worked towards creating our first show. I think the first show we did was for the Mercedes-Benz Club, a club that I had founded, and I think you were in that one. You wrote a. I might have been. Yeah, no, you definitely were.

Wayne Richards:

I don't remember half the shows I've been in. You know, I came here to the village just thinking. Now I got a chance to sit back, listen to some great musicians I've never heard before, maybe see some plays. We do a couple of plays, then what happens? I wind up in a band, I wind up doing a play. I went to all these things and it just happened. You can't help it, because this is such a vibrant area of filled with talent. I think that's why one of the reasons that people are interested in improv, they connect it not only because of the hard work, fine work that you do, keeping it together and promoting it and all that, but they also connect it with TV shows like Whose Line Is it Anyway, right?

Mike Roth:

And that was some of the inspiration of the conversion of the club. We went to a three-minute short-form improv and that was perfect. Okay, and that very first show we did for the Mercedes Club, you created a. I asked you for a single song parody for Slow Drivers and you came up with like a five-song melody which was fantastic.

Wayne Richards:

Yeah, and I was. I don't know why that happened, it just came out of me and people ask me about it all the time. They also ask me to do a couple of other stories with other shows. It's nice when you can actually make a little mark and people remember you and all that, and you're certainly making memories for people with this improv show. Yeah, because now, if people are interested in it, how can they keep up to date on what's happening with the improv?

Mike Roth:

Okay. The other thing is to send an email to Mike at thevillagesimprov. com. Mike at thevillagesimprov. com, when I get on that email, say you want to be added to our email list. We have about 4,000 people 4,000 to 5,000 people on our email list and we announce our shows. The other way is to, on a regular basis, go out to the website Thevillagesimprov. com. If you went out there today, you will find that we have a show at the Joke Joint coming up on March 15th.

Wayne Richards:

Which is in Summerfield, .

Mike Roth:

That's a unrestricted language show.

Wayne Richards:

It's an unrestricted area too. It's beautiful. They got restaurants, they got you know, so you won't, you can make a night of it. You go out there and you have dinner and then you go see this.

Mike Roth:

Well, they serve you dinner they serve, yeah. They serve? The owner is a half Cuban, I think, half Puerto Rican, and they serve a Cuban meal. Okay yeah, pull pork, pull chicken.

Wayne Richards:

The cover show and pulled names out of a hat.

Mike Roth:

Okay, well, the show's got a cover charge of 20 bucks for dinner. For the show cover dinner.

Wayne Richards:

It's a lot of entertainment for 20 bucks.

Emily:

Two drinks yeah.

Mike Roth:

Two alcoholic drinks with dinner. It's 25. And I think the unlimited All you Can Drink ticket is 30 bucks, so it's a wonderful bargain.

Wayne Richards:

Yeah.

Mike Roth:

It only seats 80 people and you have to call them directly for a reservation. It's 352-871-352-871. No-transcript.

Wayne Richards:

Oh nine, oh nine now that brings us to the final question of this interview the final Jeopardy question. I'm sure you like the phone a friend.

Mike Roth:

Let's see. No, I mean, would you just maybe I'll be a friend?

Wayne Richards:

Yeah, sure, I don't care, I got time. Knowing that you have spent your life Climbing the mountains of technology, mm-hmm, and finally winding up in the valley of improv. Do you think that Artificial intelligence could do a good improv show and if so, what would it sound like?

Mike Roth:

hmm, you know that's an interesting question. If you would have asked me that question two years ago and you said artificial intelligence, I said I would have said no way, I don't use it that would have brought you back to politics, but that's something different right, right, and today, for this podcast, I use a lot of AI.

Mike Roth:

All of my announcers are AI voices. It's easier to work with them than telling me what to say. The Show transcript is created by AI. The show description is created by AI. The AI creates five Show titles and I get to pick the one that I like the best or best description of the show, and then the AI takes the show and divides it into chapters so that the Listener can jump to a particular point, and then the, a different AI takes the show and turns it into a YouTube video. So there's a lot of AI in it. Now I Did ask AI To write an improv show it did yes about six, six months ago, and what I came back with?

Wayne Richards:

gonna contact the authorities. Shouldn't be playing around with that stuff, yep.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, the improv. So it gave me eight or nine scenes, okay, four of them, scenes which were a Either not accomplishable by our team or be Beyond the scope of time that we wanted to do. We wanted to keep the scenes the average scene, down to three to four minutes and we don't do long form here. If you want to see long form, go to the Sarasota improv festival second weekend of July, fantastic live theaters simultaneously for three nights for seventy nine dollars. Can't beat it.

Wayne Richards:

But if you want real long form, go see the opera aida, but bring the sandwich, go ahead.

Mike Roth:

I thought that was scripted.

Wayne Richards:

It's five and a half hours long. Yeah, I don't care if it has a script or not.

Mike Roth:

Yeah well, you did a long form improv with Dean Corbett, and the only thing that made that show really great Was it you as the detective.

Wayne Richards:

Oh yeah, the singing detective, I but it, but it it floored the audience when you did it, because no one expected a singing detective. I didn't expect it either but it made the show.

Mike Roth:

It made the show.

Wayne Richards:

I got the phone call one day. You are now a singing detective. Okay fine, we'll look it out.

Mike Roth:

So we never took. We took the three or four scenes that the AI suggested which were Doable, and we did end to the show. We added them to our rehearsals to find out if they played, and some of them played and some of them didn't. But that's, that's the story. We we probably have Two to the 300 different scenes that we've done over the past four years. For the past two and a half years we have a playbook on the club member website where people can go back and learn about those things.

Wayne Richards:

So, as you can see or you can hear folks that we have gone with the life of Mike Roth all the way from EIAO to AI In a proxy musical guy come up with that yeah that's right. That's right, and so, first of all, I want to thank our listeners for listening and thank you for allowing me to probe into your, into your life, with pencils or anything else good you know.

Mike Roth:

This is a great example. I'm teaching the course in podcasting 101, Okay, and I've given people a homework assignment to create a podcast of their life. Yeah and Now I have something to play back next Wednesday for them.

Wayne Richards:

Well that's. That's great. I'm glad to be a part of the Scholastic stuff. I wish that you you had been around when I did my podcast back in Chicago. It was an irreverent Look at the music industry and I had friends of mine and these were the heavy hitters in Chicago.

Wayne Richards:

These were people that had names and they and I looked up to them and idolized them and I put them on this show and they don't know what's coming at them and it was so much fun and and some of them got it immediately it took a while for some of them to process what was going on, but I like to have fun. You have a conversation with somebody. I Think it should be interesting. I think that the Should be conversational. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, I love you. Know, because I've learned more about you in the past. What has it been?

Wayne Richards:

30 40 minutes 30, 40 minutes Listening here, if there's there anything else you you'd like to reflect on in your life that you haven't brought up.

Mike Roth:

Well, I did a podcast myself and Cincinnati, between 2014 and 17, and Before that I had done radio commercials. Originally I Did one or two with the announcer from the studio, from the radio station, and I said I could do better than he can hmm, there you go and I would go into the studio and record five spots, okay, and then I would watch this engineer named Rob, who I'm still in touch with and that be I used to be in that band years ago, rob.

Mike Roth:

No, the five spots, five spots, okay, they were great, and I Was advertising on this guy's show, Gordon Liddy.

Wayne Richards:

Oh, that is Gordon Liddy. Yeah, yeah, I want. I'm staring at it and staring at him, trying to figure out two things who is that gentleman and why is the frame crooked? You live on a hill or something, or what.

Mike Roth:

Well, you know he was a crooked guy, you know he, but he was criminally insane. Oh, but he had a listenership and my commercials were very successful, but they were expensive. So what I decided to do was try this podcast, and I interviewed company owners in Cincinnati that I thought had companies that I would like to do business with as a sales training company, and Damn it if in the first three months it wasn't cash profitable.

Mike Roth:

I know, and I stopped doing the radio and instead put some of the radio commercials into the podcast and I asked tough questions of owners and managers and that that podcast got about 90,000 listens. It still gets five or ten listens a week. I can't believe it, but I haven't done anything to it since 2017, when I sold my business.

Wayne Richards:

Well, folks, this is your interviewer, your temporary interviewer, Wayne Richards. I'm going to turn back the listenership to captain Roth and he will be set sailing for future podcasts Right here on the.

Mike Roth:

What is network is this but this is on Buzzsprout, or the open forum in the villages, florida Network.

Wayne Richards:

Sounds good to me, thank, you. Wayne.

Emily:

Thank you. Remember our next episode will be released next Friday at 9 am. Should you want to become a major supporter of the show or have questions, please contact us at mic at Roth voice. com m. This is a shout out for supporters Tweet Coleman, ed Williams and major supporter Dr Craig Curtis at K2 in the villages. We will be hearing more from Dr Curtis with short Alzheimer's tips each week. If you know someone who should be on the show, contact us at mic at Roth voice comm. We thank everyone for listening to the show. The content of the show is copyrighted by Roth voice 2024. All rights reserved.

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