When Cirque du Soleil offered me a contract 17 years ago, my wife said, “This will open doors we don’t even know exist.” She was right. The cache of that gig helped me get started in the strange new world of consulting, where being introduced as a “Cirque du Soleil star” works much better than “here’s some clown.”
But being introduced this way bothered me.
Most of the skills I use as a consultant predate my time with Cirque du Soleil; they mainly come from my time performing in smaller shows and teaching clowning in public schools. I felt I was hiding my real sources and “fronting” with a famous brand name.
A month ago, I was teaching “Applied Clowning” (using clown skills in business and personal life), when I found myself explaining that being introduced as a “Cirque du Soleil star” answers a lot of questions for the listeners. After these four words, new clients can stop wondering if I know how to work in a large organization, or if I have credibility as a performer, or if I can fit in with an international team. They also start making connections from having seen a CdS show or doing gymnastics as a kid or being a drama nerd.
From the listeners’ point of view, “Cirque du Soleil star” makes it easier to trust me, to connect with me, which is huge in consulting (and most other parts of life).
In the interviews I’m doing for my new book, which are mainly with people I’ve known well for decades, I have heard a lot of surprising and wonderful credentials that, for whatever reasons, my friends haven’t shared before. I wish they had.
Take a moment to think through your life. Are there credentials that you don’t usually share? If so, consider what questions these credentials might answer for someone else, what joy they might find in connecting with you a little more.
If you are looking for entertainment, San Francisco will have at least three wonderful circus shows running through the holidays:
- “Dear San Francisco” at Club Fugazi
- “Reindeer Games” the first show of my colleague Felicity Hesed’s new company People’s Circus Theater
- “Kaleidoscope” Circus Bella’s new show, under the big top