“I have seen many successful people fail after they start fearing they might lose what they have built.” Guy Laliberte, founder and creator of Cirque du Soleil
Over 30 years ago, Guy Laliberte and a handful of street performers surprised and delighted the people of Baie-Saint-Paul, a charming village east of Quebec City. Today, Guy Laliberte’s enterprise, Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical producer in the world with more than 4,000 employees from over 40 countries and an estimated annual revenue exceeding $810 million dollars.
While remarkably well-run, the heart and soul of this company lies in its performers with their amazing ability to draw the audience in and captivate over and over again. Traits that make them successful—adaptable, courageous, flexible, tenacious and charismatic—are the same traits needed to be successful in business. Take their stand cues as tips for professional success.
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Check out some of the job requirements for being a part of Cirque du Soleil along with how some of the performers fulfill them. You’ll see these traits are just as relevant in the business world as they are in the entertainment industry.
Ability to adapt to change and to unexpected situations
“Because I’m no longer in ‘competition mode’ I get to explore different ways of expressing myself in the water.”––Miho Kono, Japan
What happens when a member of your synchronized swim troupe forgets her move? What do you do? How do you recover? You improvise. You make it look like it was choreographed and totally planned. That’s what Miho Kono from Japan does. While being an Olympic Medal winner (several times) certainly helps, it’s her ability to think on her feet (submerged or otherwise) that makes her a headliner.
Willingness to think and work creatively and outside of one’s comfort zone
“Consider taking some acting and dance classes on the side, because it will help your performance within the sport as well as in a future career.”––Kristin Allen, United States
Kristin Allen, 2009 Olympic Gold Medal winner and acrobatic gymnast for Cirque du Soleil, supplements her raw talent with other training. This not only enhances her current performance, it opens the door for new opportunities.
Take this calculated risk-taking into the business world and sign up for some classes and get some training that isn’t so directly related to your job. Learning new skills and trying new things will bring a whole new dimension to your performance in the business world.
Have an open mind and be looking for a new experience in terms of work environment & approach
“I have another kind of freedom to express myself artistically when I sing my own songs in my own context. On the other hand, influences from other artistic views than my own broadens me as an artist.”––Zara Tellander, Sweden
Zara Tellander, singer and musical performer for Cirque du Soleil, knows creating in a vacuum limits her growth. With a Master’s in music studies from Gothenburg Music University in Sweden, Zara Tellander knows her stuff, however, she also knows her education is ongoing and she still has a lot to learn. Looking to other artists for inspiration and education has made her one of Cirque’s top female performers.
Adopt her mindset in your business. Step outside of the box and see what other businesses are doing. See what’s working and not working for your competitors. Even knowing what not to do can help you identify new and better approaches for your business.
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Ability to perform the same show 8 to 10 times a week AND make it new every time
“Nearly all of my performing career I have had a busy schedule: 2 shows a day, 6 or 7 days a week, and that really helped me transition to a Cirque career.”––Anthony Gatto, United States
Anthony Gatto holds 11 juggling World Records. That doesn’t just happen. Anthony knows that practice makes perfect. His ability to view what some would deem a gruelling schedule as an opportunity to perfect his craft has served him well.
In the business world, when faced with that “ground hog day” feeling, take advice from this performer and see it as a way to make you improve even more. You could call it a positive attitude or you could call it positive latitude, either way you’ll feel good about accomplishing more.
Strong stage presence, excellent interpretation skills and ability to move the audience
“When I became an actor in Cirque, I found my background had not prepared me for the bold and very open performance required. Now I find my perspective has widened, my mind is more open and my skills have improved.”––Zengjiao-Jian, China
Let’s face it, whether you’re delivering a sales pitch or closing a deal, you’re performing. Being able to tap into your inner performer and captivate an audience is key in running a business.
With over 20 years of professional martial arts training and winner of China’s Sixth National Wushu Championship, Zengjiao-Jian is technically perfect. However, it was his ability to recognize he needed to work on his stage presence that made his great skills even greater. The ability to recognize holes in one’s skill set and then address them is key to perfecting your performance whether it’s on the stage or in the boardroom.
Adaptable. Courageous. Flexible. Tenacious. Charismatic. This is what it takes to succeed as an international sensation. Just think what adopting a few of these traits could do for you? Let the business begin.