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Proactivity

Everybody looks out for #1.  It’s not selfish.  It’s natural, and there’s nothing wrong with it— it’s our default setting.  I believe that people are well intentioned in their desire to help one another, but life gets in the way– their life.  Sure, I said I’d recommend someone I just worked with, and I really would like to, but when I get home I’ve got family commitments, plans with friends, and business issues to address… not to mention 97 new emails and 4 new voicemails.  My default setting kicks back in, and I just never get around to making that call for a friend.

The solution? Be proactive! Take the initiative.  In this case– follow up!

When you’re on the fence about whether or not to be proactive and send that reminder email, drop by an office to introduce yourself, or bring up a necessary but maybe awkward issue, always choose YES.  Make it your policy.

Will there be times when being proactive will cause you rejection?  Absolutely.  You may come off as being “too much,” too forward, too aggressive.

Are you going to allow a concern over how you might be perceived by a few to hold you back?  Even if you’re met with resistance, on some level you will be regarded with respect for your willingness to ask for what you want, to put yourself out there, and to face potential rejection.

Some may disagree, but I believe that you have to risk occasionally irritating others by being too proactive.  The cost of choosing NO, quietly moving along, and always playing it safe is just too high.

TAKEAWAY—When you’re debating whether or not to be proactive in a situation that may take you out of your comfort zone, force yourself always to say YES. Be proactive.  Proactivity initiates forward momentum which leads to performance.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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Plan

Being self-employed grants you tremendous freedom.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone for a 4-hour bike ride on a weekday morning. I’m taking a couple weeks off later this year to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with some friends.  I can work whenever I want– IF I plan accordingly.

Outsiders looking in rarely see the other side– with freedom comes tremendous responsibility.   Nobody is paying me, and at the end of the day nobody is looking out for me except me.  I need to plan my life, and in that sense, I am always working.  Whereas others leave their jobs and are done, I eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff. Even if I’m watching a game, I’m usually on my laptop at the same time.   In terms of number of hours, I work longer than most of my peers.  The catch, of course, is that I rarely view what I’m doing as “work,” so for me it’s a net win.

In addition to planning your present life’s work, you also need to plan for a bigger operation than you currently have. It’s part of the old “act as if” personal development mentality.  When you “act as if” something already is a certain way, you carry yourself  with a confidence that tends to create a self-fulfilling situation.  When you build a system that can handle a dramatically increased workload, you are prepared.  You are ready and can outsource all of the logistics which are not part of your core competency when you need to.  You can outsource everything that doesn’t make you YOU.

Planning is a continual practice of looking backward and forward.  The often-overlooked part of planning is reflection.  Some people are so stuck in their ways that they never actually stop to see if what they’re doing is working.   You should be constantly tweaking your plans, updating your system, looking back on what has worked and what has not in order to build an even more successful future.

TAKEAWAY—Plan, reflect, and develop your system for success on a regular basis.  The more efficient your system, the better you are.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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Power Team

If you think about the number of people you come in contact with throughout a day, it’s mind-blowing… especially if you’re out doing your thing, traveling. The more you work, the more people in your field you connect with, and it grows exponentially. The trick is getting those people “to stick.”

Imagine if every one of those people you come in contact with in your life is marketing for you… FOR FREE! The woman next to you on the airplane who asks what you do for a living, the family who you met on a cruise last year, etc. I’m not suggesting that they’re going to be making calls on your behalf, but rather engaging in a more subtle form of marketing. Think of someone you regard highly on a personal and professional level. When a topic arises related to that person, you jump right in and speak well of him or her. “Oh you know so-and-so, isn’t she a great girl? So talented too. If you haven’t seen her…” Imagine if everyone were talking about YOU.

With the internet and social media, the opportunities to spread that good word are limitless—status updates, embedding youtube clips on your blog, retweets, etc.

I have a friend who is always negative. I’ll casually mention that I met a nice person after my show and he instantly wants to know what that guy can DO for me. I don’t know and I don’t care. I naturally enjoy connecting with new people. This “one-for-one” thinking is selfish and obsolete.

Business is about relationships, and relationships take time to build, and a certain amount of good fortune with timing. Who knows what could happen down the line? But really… who cares? Connect with them in this moment.

TAKEAWAY—Become a connector. Don’t worry about one-for-one relationship payoffs.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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Personal Brand

Your personal brand is an outer manifestation of your inner philosophy. It’s how the world identifies and categorizes you from the actions you take.

Personal brand is about trust. Think of why you choose a brand name product over a “no name. “ When you buy the brand, you are buying into that product as something that has been tested and is reliable.

Are you on time? Do you carry yourself well? Are you articulate? Do you smile? Are you a good listener? Do you make eye contact? Do you follow through on what you say you’re going to do? As an entertainer, I always think of this– When the lights go down, do you deliver, whether you’ve had a bad day, you feel sick, you’re nervous, etc? Do you deliver? All of these things create your personal brand.

Today your personal brand and professional brand are inextricably linked. Social media and the internet have blurred the line between who you are at home and who you are at work. No more double lives. Everything is out in the open now.

With more outsourcing happening all the time, your humanity is the difference. It’s what makes you YOU, and ideally it’s what makes you indispensable.

TAKEAWAY—The more you can put into your job, the more humanized it becomes and the more irreplaceable you become. Work on minimizing the difference between your personal and professional brand.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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Philosophy

Your philosophy is your set of values that underlies everything you do. You may think “a life philosophy” is some grandiose notion that doesn’t apply to you– you don’t have one, and you don’t need one. You DO have a philosophy, whether you know it or not. Your work ethic, your goals, your direction—all of these contribute to who you are and your philosophy. If you don’t think about any of these ideas and you don’t want to, that’s a philosophy too.

There will be times when your philosophy is challenged. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to take a shortcut by acting less than moral. Perhaps it’s stabbing someone in the back who helped you get to where you are.

Make your philosophy “your policy.” For some reason, people don’t mess with policy. Think about stores: “No returns—that’s the policy.” When your philosophy becomes your policy that means you abide by it all the time, no matter what. It’s not even up for debate, which makes temptation less likely to creep in.

TAKEAWAY– Develop your philosophy and stick to it. It will be tested when you are not expecting it. Write it out and make it your policy. 100% is easier to maintain than 99%.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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Passion

It all starts with passion. Passion is the fuel that drives any endeavor.

Are you passionate? Notice I didn’t ask, “What’s your passion?” I believe that’s the wrong question. That elicits a response like—‘I don’t have any weird talent like juggling. I can’t sing, I don’t play sports– I don’t have any passions.”

This is backwards. I believe it’s the rare case when someone drifts through life, suddenly finds something that moves them, and then instantly transforms into a different kind of person – one who cares, who has an intense drive and a desire to make things happen. Can this life-transformation occur? Sure. But generally speaking, that’s a remarkably one-sided view. More often, passionate people wake up every day with an intense desire to become more than they were the day before – mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. They connect with projects they believe in, and channel their passion through that endeavor. The energy flows in both directions.

In his bestseller book “Linchpin,” (92) Seth Godin writes “Passion isn’t project-specific. It’s people-specific. Some people are hooked on passion, deriving their sense of self from the act of being passionate. Perhaps your challenge isn’t finding a better project… Perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen.”

As a kid, I went from one hobby to the next – completely engrossing myself in whatever it was at the time. My parents talked of “Jeff’s obsessions.”  I collected rocks, I collected stamps… looking back at the other options, I think I actually became the least nerdy kid possible by choosing juggling. WOW.

My passion has changed over the years. At first it was hardcore, technical juggling. I wanted to juggle more stuff than the other guy, and win more medals at the world juggling competitions (yes there are world juggling competitions!).

Then my passion became entertaining. I quickly learned that the audience didn’t care about juggling – they wanted to laugh, to connect—they wanted to be entertained. I loved the feeling of making an audience laugh together – what a rush! My quest became to craft interactive juggling routines in a way that built a strong rapport with my audience.

Today, my passion is connecting with people – on stage and off.  I’ve learned that what really thrills me is bringing people together – whether it’s laughing together with a huge crowd for 45 minutes on stage at a corporate event, talking to one person after a show for 5 minutes, or building my non-profit – Win-Win Entertainment – to match willing performers with charity events in need.

The point is that I am not hooked on juggling. I am hooked on passion.

TAKEAWAY– Don’t complain that you don’t have anything to be passionate about. Work on becoming a passionate person, and you will have plenty to be passionate about.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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What do you think of when you hear the word “juggler?” Clowns? The circus? A birthday party? You probably don’t think of sailing on the Queen Mary II, bungee jumping in New Zealand, sky diving in Australia, getting inside The White House, The Kennedy Center, The Ronald Reagan Building, visiting The Taj Mahal, Europe, and Malaysia.

Juggling has given me all these experiences—either directly or indirectly. How is this possible? I discovered my core competency, I packaged my services, and I positioned them in a way that was attractive to the marketplace. Remember– I juggle plungers.

After analyzing the branding of my juggling, I came up with 7 pillars– 7“Ps” of Success – that I believe can help anyone create the career, and lifestyle, of their dreams: Passion, Philosophy, Personal Brand, Power Team, Plan, Proactivity and Performance.

Please note:

This is not a linear, systematic road map of bullet points (#1 create a website, #2 send a newsletter, etc) but rather a discussion of interconnected ideas. I don’t think it is possible to create a step-by-step handbook for taking a hobby and branding it. Branding Your Passion is an art, and therefore needs to happen organically. I believe when you understand the larger concepts at play, the daily to-do lists will take care of themselves.

When I talk about “Branding Your Passion,” I’m speaking not only about being an entrepreneur, but also being an “intra-preneur.” You can just as easily “Brand Your Passion” in your role within your company, within your school as a student, or within your family.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.

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Four years after my college graduation, I returned to my Georgetown University Homecoming to find that most of my friends were seemingly unsatisfied in their professional lives.  How could it be that so many intelligent and motivated young professionals were finding fulfillment elusive in “the real world?”  Keep in mind– we’re talking about graduates of the top business and law schools around the country.

Surprisingly, my career as a performer was all the buzz. “You’re so LUCKY to be able to do what you love for a living.”

I juggle plungers.  And I’m the lucky one.

Further conversation revealed that although everyone agreed it was theoretically possible to create an enterprise based on passion, to most the undertaking seemed unrealistic and impractical.  How are you going to pay the bills?  How do you meet the right people to help you?  What if you don’t have some weird talent like juggling?

Clearly there existed a gap between understanding the importance of a career based on passion, and understanding how to brand, market, and monetize that passion.

In 2010, the professional paradigm for most people bears little resemblance to the experience of previous generations. Platforms of business have changed.  Traditional industries have soured.  A typical employee may look more like an independent contractor, and the social media revolution has completely changed the way we communicate.   In this extreme climate of change, there lives unparalleled access and opportunity.

Realistically, if one sat down to choose a career based solely on personal and financial fulfillment, we can all agree that juggling probably would not make the top-ten list.  Yet I have been able to brand my passion for juggling in a way that affords me a lifestyle that is very comfortable and deeply gratifying… not to mention ridiculously fun.

This excerpt was adapted from the book Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion of which Jeff is a co-author.  Jeff Civillico is a Las-Vegas based headline entertainer who blends his perfected art of juggling with friendly audience interaction and insane amounts of energy.  With his “Comedy in Action” show, he has performed everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to The White House.  He is a favorite onboard Disney Cruise Line, and his credits on the Las Vegas Strip include V: The Ultimate Variety Show, Nathan Burton, and The Improv at Harrah’s.

In addition to his comedy show, Jeff also delivers a powerful keynote that illustrates the keys to “Branding Your Passion” to create the career, and lifestyle, of your dreams.  A 2005 honors graduate of Georgetown University, Jeff currently serves as President of the Georgetown Alumni Club of Las Vegas.  He is the Founder and President of Win-Win Entertainment, a non-profit that pairs performers willing to donate their time and talent with charities in need of entertainment.