How My Life as a Dancing Bear Inspired a Career Book

by : judyweigle

It was a story that needed to be told. I'm talking about my life with the circus as an example for a business advice book. I worked for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus as marketing director, tour booking agent, and dancing bear, traveling 10 months a year throughout the eastern half of the United States, for six years. Of all the challenges in all the jobs in my career-including interviews with lions, tigers, and bears-writing my first book was one of the toughest.

The decision to write a business advice book came about 15 years after I left the circus. I was living in Southern California and earning a living as a part of the special events industry-I produced entertainment for corporate events. My Los Angeles-based company, Corporate Concerts, Inc., was profitable and well known in the industry. And as a business physically located in Hollywood, I had numerous celebrities as my clients. Ah, the stories I can tell of the behind the scenes shenanigans that happen in the entertainment business.

As so often happens, when things seem to be rolling along smoothly, you hit an unexpected bump in the road. My bump jarred me into a new career. The Internet threatened to make my entertainment company for corporate events irrelevant. The aspect of my business that set me apart from my competition became the albatross around the neck of my success. Booking sophisticated club bands was my hallmark; it was the club bands that got websites, rose as independent entities, and promoted themselves to corporate buyers, my clients, through new technology.

I enjoyed working on the party side of special events and didn't want to change industries if I didn't have to. So I considered the aspects of working with entertainers that could still be profitable for me in events. But nothing seemed to make money sense. After careful review of my skills and talents, relevant to the corporate meetings and events industry, I decided to be a corporate speaker within the educational side of events. Every convention is comprised of meetings by day and parties by night.

Every speaker needs a tangible credential. The best credential is a book. If the book gets wide media attention, the speaker fee goes up incrementally. I'm a good journalistic writer, but writing a book is a whole different ballgame. It's the world series of writing. Writing a print-on-demand book, the newest trend in the publishing industry, is extra hard because the writer doesn't have the editorial support system that a traditional publisher offers. I chose the print-on-demand vehicle because I wanted to control that the book would actually be published.

The title came from people I met on the road with the circus. In every city I promoted, with every person to whom I introduced myself as a representative of the circus, the response was always the same: "My office is a 3-ring circus every day."

The subtitle, "Must I Take Orders from Clowns?", came to me because I'm a justice seeker. As a justice seeker I have certain beliefs in the integrity of the employer/employee relationships. One of the fundamental aspects of this relationship is that is has to be equally balanced. No party can have more power than the other. Employees exchange time, knowledge, and effort for money from employers. Both parties owe each other respect.

Funniest thing about the circus business is that it is organized, efficient, comprised of very committed people, and operates within a system of teamwork. It's not the haphazard metaphor we attribute to circus life. The experiences I had as an employee of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus transformed me into the successful businessperson I am today. I wanted to share those business philosophies and techniques with ladies and gentlemen, and working professionals of all ages.