The founder of Cirque du Soleil, Québec’s first internationally renowned circus, Guy Laliberté was an accordionist, stilt-walker, and fire-eater before he became a world famous entrepreneur. Guy was born on September 2, 1959. While his father worked as a Public Relation Executive at the Alcan Aluminum Corporation, Guy’s mother was a nurse. Laliberté decided to pursue a career in performing arts at an early age of 16. He took great interest in producing and organizing events at school. When his parents took him to watch the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Laliberté was left highly impressed and inspired. His interest led him to read P. T. Barnum’s biography. He joined a folk music group known as the La Grande Gueule after graduation. Guy Laliberté played the harmonica and accordion. Travelling around Europe with acrobats, jugglers and fire breathers taught Laliberté a lot including fire breathing. He mostly travelled as a busker and folk musician and made his way back to Canada in 1979.
Upon returning to Canada, Laliberté attempted to work at a hydroelectric dam on a full time position but soon after he began work, the company’s employees went on strike. He then founded his own company with the help of Gilles Ste-Croix. Laliberté’s company employs nearly 4000 workers from over 40 countries to generate revenue of more than US$810 million annually. 95% of the total shares of the troupe are owned by Guy Laliberté. Cirque du Soleil has five permanent shows in Las Vegas. Moving to Las Vegas was a smart move for Laliberté in terms of monetary benefits. Forbes magazine ranked Laliberté 654th on the list of world’s richest men after revealing his current monetary value of $1.5 Billion. Laliberté has also been recognized with honors and awards for brilliance in music.
In addition to the success of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté has also gained immense triumph in the poker circuit. This began with the Super Satellite No-Limit Hold’em event of the World Poker Tour (WPT) World Championship/WPT Event Season 5 held on April 20, 2007. This event added a further $25,700 to his bankroll. Next in line was the WPT No-Limit Hold’em Championship event of the same tournament held on April 27. Laliberté came fourth in this event and won an enormous amount of $696,220 as prize money. He competed with 639 players.
Guy Laliberté launched One Drop Foundation on October 29, 2007 to fight poverty and facilitate the poor by providing everyone access to water. Motivated by the creative experiences and the international program for street children of Cirque du Soleil, the One Drop Foundation uses folklore, dance, music, popular theatre, circus arts and visual arts to encourage and support education, public awareness and community involvement of water issues.
Laliberté is a bold visionary who recognizes and cultivates the talents of street performers. He has big dreams and has worked hard to bring those dreams to reality never stopping to dream and dare to do more.