I am back from Montreal and what was one of the most memorable work conferences I have yet to experience in my 9 1/2 years with Starwood. While there were many things that made it memorable, there is one big one that stands out: the day and night at Cirque du Soleil. Our loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, is a partner of Cirque (brilliant global brand + brilliant global brand = incredible collaboration) and therefore, our amazing leaders organized a creative team building day and evening reception at the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil.
Having seen my first Cirque show, Dralion, with my cousin Erin about 10 years ago, I was instantly wow’d, blown away and absolutely inspired by the performance. The shows explode with creativity and risk-taking. They are fun, scary and hilarious. Colorful, energetic and emotional. I fell in love. And since my first show, I have seen dozens more. Mystere, O, Ovo, Michael Jackson. The Beatles Love (in fact, I saw it for the third time in Las Vegas just a couple of months ago). The list goes on. The shows are truly all remarkable and memorable experiences.
All this said, when I found out we were getting an experience at their headquarters in Montreal I was beyond excited. And this experience was truly one that money can’t buy. I heard that Cirque rarely does this and only with preferred partners.
We first received a great presentation from Mario D’Amico, Cirque’s CMO. He was great and one of the many key messages I took from him was the culture they create at Cirque around failing. In order to succeed and in order to take risks, there has to be failure. Failure is fully accepted. Love it.
We were given a complete tour of the building and were able to see their production rooms, how the fabrics were made, how they measure their performers for their costumes and facial gear. I learned that MAC cosmetics is the official makeup line of Cirque and that the makeup artists actually teach the performers to put on their own makeup. They show them 2-3 times how to do it and then the performers are on their own!
And then for about 3 hours, our teams got to actually train as if they were part of a Cirque show. Everything from the trapeze to learning how to be a clown, we were immersed in the Cirque culture. One of my favorite things I did was learn the Michael Jackson Thriller dance from the choreographer of the Michael Jackson shows. Yeah, she was an incredible dancer! No, I wasn’t.
And the rest of the evening was a mini Cirque show with food, wine and sharing stories from our day together.