Break a Rule was founded by Rick Lewis Professional Misbehaver – an entertainer, speaker, and author. Thirty-five years of interacting with thousands of people from diverse backgrounds and industries led Rick to discover the hidden cultural threads that define the way people pursue fulfillment and success in their lives.
Rick shares these ideas through a presentation called 7 Rules You Were Born to Break, which uses comedy and theater to playfully expose where organizations and individuals get stuck when pursuing a vision. His performances and his book by the same name skillfully reveal the unspoken cultural rules that block personal and professional growth and demonstrate a joyful and profitable alternative.
Rick Lewis seems to have been born to seek the limelight and to make others laugh. He has been performing professionally since the age of eight when he first appeared in television commercials and a professional dinner theater production of the musical stage play, Mame, at the Center Stage Playhouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Alongside his pursuit of professional acting for stage, Rick developed a passion for circus skills, training extensively on his own to become proficient in juggling, acrobatics, unicycling, magic, and mime. His spending money in high school came entirely from performing at children’s birthday parties, association, community, and company events in his home town of Little Rock, Arkansas. He was also hired to entertain at the birthday party of Chelsea Clinton at the Governor’s mansion, when Bill Clinton was still the Governor of Arkansas.
Hooked by these early experiences in front of audiences Rick continued to work professionally as an actor, dancer, acrobat, and musical theater performer until he was in his early twenties. He then attended Webster University’s renowned theater arts program. He left Webster to join the cast of a Broadway touring production of the hit musical Barnum, with which he traveled internationally for a nine-month period, playing in over 70 cities.
Rick’s experience with Barnum fueled his own desire to create a hybrid form of entertainment using circus skills and theater and led him to build a new solo physical comedy act, incorporating not only his skills in theater and circus arts, but also his background in dance and athletics. To test and refine his craft Rick turned to street performing throughout North America, learning to engage and captivate audiences directly without the benefit of staging and production support. The challenge of his years on the street provided an extraordinary degree of experience in both the craft of entertainment, comedy, and audience satisfaction as well as with human and crowd psychology. His years on the job as a street performer became the equivalent of a large scale sociology study as Rick interacted directly with hundreds of thousands of individuals during this time. Rick still refers to himself as an accidental sociologist.
In the early 1990’s Rick was “discovered” on the street by an executive of GE and invited to perform at an international conference which created spin-off opportunities for corporate performing work. While these contracts paid the bills and the opportunities flowed easily without the need for marketing or advertising to fill Rick’s calendar, Rick continued to street perform out of a love for the venue and the depth of the human work involved.
This passion for understanding the human experience along with the efforts of his own self-development led Rick to begin training as a personal development coach under the guidance of his own mentor in the personal development field. Over a 5 year period, simultaneous to his corporate performances, Rick turned his attention to leading personal development trainings through an established training company. Here Rick worked directly with individuals and companies to support effective personal and organizational development.
Finally in 2008 this broad range of training and experiences came together when Rick committed to developing what he now considers his life’s work, to blend the best of theater, storytelling, and entertainment with the most effective strategies for growth that exist.
Plans for the gradual creation of a new presentation form hit a major roadblock, however, in 2009 when that year’s severe economic downturn had devastating effects on the national meeting industry. Countless meetings were cancelled or postponed, including a large portion of Rick’s own scheduled entertainment work. With bills to pay and no work on the calendar Rick confided to his wife his fears about the viability of his livelihood and considered aloud the option of turning to web development and design as a profession. He had developed some rudimentary skills in this while learning to build and manage his own website.
Rick’s wife Clelia was several months pregnant at the time with what would be Rick’s third child. While Rick’s trepidation about reliable income was shared, she forbade Rick’s abandonment of his passion and his calling for the alternative of a more “secure” profession. She encouraged him to take advantage of the downtime to fully commit to and develop his new material. With the enormous benefit of Clelia’s support, and with nothing but time on his hands, Rick took the opportunity to engage in an intense period of writing and reflection to define what would be his new presentation form.
Over a one year period Rick wrote for many hours each day, recording the amazing stories and incidents of his performing and life experience and searching for a through line and a compelling language that would communicate the core truths of excellence, success, and growth he had encountered. After months of looking for the right approach and generating a list of over 300 potential titles for his collection of writings, Rick stumbled upon the precise language needed to communicate his profession. He had become a Professional Misbehaver, intentionally breaking hidden cultural rules to create both laughter as well as awareness in others of the limitations and often silliness of the social rules we live by. A title for Rick’s new book effortlessly followed, “7 Rules You Were Born to Break: How Intelligent Misbehavior Can Help You and Your Organization Thrive.”
Rick describes this personal work and the demanding effort to clearly and deeply define his own unique contribution and function in the world as one of the most important and pivotal phases of his life. With no guarantees that this new approach would be accepted or marketable to the meeting industry Rick sent his book to an editor to prepare to publish the book. By this time Rick’s savings and the financial buffer he had used to support his family through the downturn was gone. There was nothing left and the birth of their child was a month away.
Rick began to communicate his new offering as a speaker as well as an entertainer to customers and clients, old and new, and work quickly began to materialize. It was clear the new approach was resonating. The following year would produce nearly double the income Rick had ever earned in a single year despite a still sluggish economy. Using his own principles and rule breaking model, Rick business continues to grow exponentially as a result. His own experience with pursuing and following a vision – the trials, tribulations and challenges inherent in true growth – all inform the core passion he has to support others to make the leap from surviving to thriving.
Today Rick offers a fully developed, though continuously evolving program, that uses comedy and theater to help educate, motivate, and inspire individuals and groups to achieve greater clarity, professionalism, and satisfaction in their business and personal lives. Rick’s trademarked concept of “Intelligent Misbehavior” is now the core focus of his corporate meeting presentations and trainings.
Rick has authored a total of four books on personal growth and owns and manages Break a Rule, the vision of which is to fill the world with people who love what they do. He currently lives in Vancouver, BC with his wife and three children, traveling extensively throughout North America giving presentations and trainings for corporate events and conferences.
He has performed various versions of his routines at over 2,500 events and gatherings over a period of 30 years.