Some business lessons from Cirque du Soleil

I recently went to see DRALION by Cirque du Soleil — presented by T-Systems. It was one of the most visually stimulating things that I have witnessed in recent years. In fact it was an all-round sensory experience not to be missed.

That’s not why I’m writing this blog post. Sitting there listening to and watching the show, I was taken by how perfect of an experience the show was and started to wonder what startups could learn from it.

Here are a few things I noticed:

Work with only the best

Every single person that formed part of the crew (performers, backstage staff, lighting, sound, band, etc) was absolutely brilliant at what they did. No exceptions. I can just imagine the show’s director striving for perfection with every single part of the show. Don’t settle for anyone who is not the best.

Do one thing and do it well

This is not new but is absolutely imperative. No one in the show that I could see did more than one job. You do it for maybe ten minutes in the entire show, but for those ten minutes you are the centre of attention and the best at what you do. You don’t then pick up a skipping rope or a clown nose and do a jig. You juggle. Do one thing and do it well.

Every detail matters

Cirque has mastered the art of distraction. When they want you to look left a light flickers and you look left. Occasionally that’s when I’ll choose to look right and see what’s going on. In many shows the crew is resting. In Cirque the crew is hustling. The performers are still going at it (in the dark) and playing their part. No detail is left unattended to. The costumes are immaculate, the music fantastic, lighting sets the mood and smoke appears when it needs to. Everything is in its place.

Work harder than anyone else

Everyone thinks they work hard, but the people who really do know that they work harder than anyone else. Watching this show, I got the feeling that no one works as hard as them. Why did I get that feeling? Because at no point was there a noticeable mistake and at no point did anyone take a rest even if they weren’t the centre act. The performers knew what needed to be done, and had practised it a million times before and keep pushing each other to be better and work harder. The support staff meanwhile are hustling to get the next act set up and the next act is already deep in. No detail goes unattended.

Have fun

I have forgotten and remembered this particular lesson more times than I care to remember. Having fun is so important to ongoing success. The entire crew look like they have a ton of fun doing what they do. It’s a good thing too, because if you have to work as hard for as long and notice every detail as much as they do, you best love what you do and have fun with it.

This article by Nicholas Haralambous originally appeared on

Image credit: Dralion Wallpaper via Cirque du Soleil



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up