What is busking? It is being a traveling street performer. What former Canadian street performer turned his passion for the art into a billion dollar empire? That would be Guy Laliberté, the creator and CEO of Cirque du Soleil.
As a young boy in Canada Guy’s passion for circus began when his mother took him to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. He performed throughout his school years, and then after dropping out of college he continued his street performances. After his day job co-workers went on strike he decided to fully dedicate his time to circus art. So, in the early 80’s with the help of some of his performance colleagues, and a government grant, he founded what would become Cirque du Soleil.
After the first year, Guy’s creation was not a financial success. So, he went to Hawaii to perform while his partner worked on a better business plan. By 1984, with the help of another government grant, the Cirque du Soleil that we know today was established. Guy has been sure to be a part of every single Cirque show, and today Cirque du Soleil can be seen around the world.
With the enormous success of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté has been able to pursue some of his other passions, namely gambling. Guy is now a professional poker player, with some impressive wins. He has also announced that in 2012 he will be sponsoring his own $1 million dollar buy in poker tournament in which some of the proceeds will help one of his other passions, the One Drop Foundation. This is an organization to help conquer poverty and insure that everyone in need has access to fresh water.
Guy Laliberté went from being a struggling street performer, walking on stilts and swallowing fire, to one of the wealthiest men in the world. His shows have brought joy to over 90 million people throughout the world. His philanthropic projects will give aide to countless people in need. Today, Guy Laliberté has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion! Bravo!