CSW 179: How Gary Ware Uses Play to Create MagicGary Ware is the Founder of Breakthrough Play, a company that helps teams be more creative, confident, and collaborative using play. To do this, Gary incorporates techniques that professional improvisers use to create amazing experiences without a script.

Gary has been in the marketing and advertising industry for over a decade and first got into improvisation as a way to better his public speaking. Gary quickly found that improv and play could be a solution to various business challenges, so he started doing workshops for his team and other people in his network.

I met Gary when we both attended the Applied Improvisation Network World Conference last summer, in Irvine, California. He was not only a fellow play evangelist, but he was incredibly generous. I felt like I’d met the little brother I’d always wanted.

Of course I had to have him on the podcast!

Have a listen to our conversation, and let me know what resonates most with you about Gary’s story. How will you integrate play more into your life?

In this episode we talked about:

  • Gary’s background & where he first became interested in the realm of play
  • How his view of play shifted after he graduated college
  • How the principles of improv allowed him to reconnect with his desire for play
  • His experience at his first improv class
  • The way that bringing in improv games to his team at work impacted their performance
  • Where he first learned that he could make a career out of using improv as a tool to help companies
  • Gary’s first applied improv gig
  • The objections that Gary came across when first offering his services & how he overcame those objections
  • His playful rebellion
  • Play +, Gary’s methodology of adding play to any situation to create magic
  • The 8 different play personalities by Stuart Brown
  • The importance of starting your day with play
  • Gary & Melissa’s something cool

Mentioned In This Episode:

Applied Improvisation Network World Conference

Marsha Shandur


Episode 157: Gary Hirsch Wants You to Steal His Idea

World Domination Summit

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown

Gary’s Something Cool: Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty


Melissa’s Something Cool: Weekend Read

Connect with Gary Ware:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube


“Once I graduated, then that belief, that methodology that I followed with my dad of ‘you can play when the work is done’ didn’t work because, as we all know, as professionals, whether we run our own business or work for a company, there’s more work than can get done.” – Gary Ware

“It wasn’t until I found improv until I realized ‘oh my god, it’s play again!’”- Gary Ware

“When someone that you trust gives you a piece of advice, even if it terrifies you, sometimes you just gotta do it.” – Gary Ware

“For two hours, I didn’t think about my to-do list, I didn’t think about anything. I was completely present and we were playing.” – Gary Ware

“It [improv] helps you become a better leader.” – Melissa Dinwiddie

“Improv is just one form of play.” – Gary Ware

“Most adults hate playing and their impression of playing is that it’s frivolous, it’s stuff that kids do, it’s a waste of time.” – Gary Ware

“There is science that backs up that play is just as important as breathing.” – Gary Ware

“If only we could get our world leaders to play together.” – Melissa Dinwiddie

“If you add play to any sort of situation magic happens.” – Gary Ware

“In the business world, when you add play to brainstorming that’s when innovation happens.” – Gary Ware

“Boring is zero arousal. You are not compelled to do anything.” – Gary Ware

“We are wired to play.” – Gary Ware



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