Chris Ruggiero has spent the past 6 years traveling the world entertaining audiences with his One Man Variety Show. His new book JUST GO encourages readers to create a life that most people only dream of. His message is simple: Stop thinking about it. Just go!
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Chris had a DISASTER on stage, and another near-disaster every time he stepped on. Listen to how he deals with the IMPOSTER SYNDROME…
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Your future can change in an instant IF you are putting yourself in situations where effort can meet opportunity. Fire Nation, IGNITE!
Small Business Resource
- Boomerang: Adds scheduled sending and the easiest, most integrated email reminders to Gmail, helping you reach Inbox Zero.
Best Business Book
- Just Go by Chris Ruggiero
Chris Ruggiero: I am ready, let’s do it.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Chris has spent the last six years traveling the world, entertaining audiences with his one-man variety show. His new book, Just Go, encourages readers to create a life that most people only dream of. His message is simple: stop thinking about it, just go. Chris, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse at your personal life.
Chris Ruggiero: Yeah, that’s a good intro. So my world really revolves around my live, one-man theater show. And that is always a good conversation starter because people have no idea what that is. So my background is in juggling and circus type skills, all kinds of crazy, wacky things.
So I created this one-man show where I’m basically the ringmaster, the host, the MC, and all of the acts throughout the show where I get on a unicycle, I balance on crazy things, I interact with the audience. And most things revolve around juggling and balancing on wacky things. So that’s kind of the show part of things.
And the book came into play here in the past year because travelling around – so, I don’t do the show in one specific theater. It’s a touring show so it’s typically one night and then I keep moving. And I meet all these people consistently and almost everyone that I talk to has these ideas and/or thoughts of something that they want to start and they always come up with excuses as to what’s something that’s holding them back.
So I kind of created this little bit of a guide that it came down to if you don’t read the book, read the title and you pretty much will get the message. Just go. Just do it happened to be already taken.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, that was Nike. That’s right.
Chris Ruggiero: I missed that one by about 20 or 30 years, I think.
John Lee Dumas: Interesting. And my kind of calm response to people when they just list off their litany of excuses is I just say, “We all make choices. We all make choices.” But you know what? I like yours a little better. Just go. So I might have to adopt that one and always give you credit, of course, Chris. Now I do have to say this. I just got back from a cruise ship. It was a great cruise in Bermuda. There was a great performer, the Thrillusionist, David Da Vinci. I was really impressed with him and his wife. They were incredibly on the cruise ship. Which just makes me think have you ever worked on a cruise ship?
Chris Ruggiero: I actually have not. I have a lot of friends who work on ships and I never got into that market. There’s been very close calls of producers and things pitching me and it never quite – I thought a few times it was gonna happen.
John Lee Dumas: Could you do it? I mean, could you picture yourself on a cruise ship for that significant amount of time?
Chris Ruggiero: Yeah, I think it would be fun. So, some of the entertainers go on for a week, just for that cruise. And some go one for nine months. I don’t know, I could do maybe somewhere in between. I don’t know, the nine months seems crazy to just live there but I think once you get in the groove, as with a lot of things – like the same thing as before. You come up with “How am I gonna function with this?” Or “How am I gonna do this?” But once you get in the groove the thoughts and insecurities that you had going into it typically go away as soon as you start doing anything.
John Lee Dumas: Now from your Skype photo which, of course, we always choose good Skype photos so I don’t know if this is the case, but you look like a pretty thin guy. Could you deal with putting on 50 pounds because that would be the case if you were on a cruise ship for nine months, I guarantee it.
Chris Ruggiero: I don’t know. I tend to eat pretty much whatever I want and I’m just waiting for the day to catch up. People said it would happen by now but I keep making it work.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. Good stuff. Well, that nine months on a cruise ship might be when it actually starts happening. Who knows? Let’s do this because I’m curious. Because if you went to a networking party and someone walked up to you and said, “Chris, what exactly do you do?” How do you respond to that in just ten seconds?
Chris Ruggiero: What I try to say is that I do a live theater show. I’m a live theater performer. And that pretty much is the first. If I try to go any bit longer than that, it starts to turn into me rambling kind of like I probably did at the beginning when I did my intro. People are like, get with it.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, and I’ll cut you off when you keep rambling. Don’t worry about it, it’ll happen. Let’s talk about revenue, though. How exactly do you bring dollars in the door? I mean, obviously you’re interested in opening up more revenue streams, hence the book, so what are the ways you currently make money?
Chris Ruggiero: So almost very close to 100 percent of my income comes from live show performances. And the book is kind of starting to do a little bit of stuff with the book but it still remains pretty much I use the live show to fund the other things that I’m doing.
And I recently also started a t-shirt and clothing lifestyle brand, this is adding into a whole other thing, called Between Dreams. And that’s kind of piggybacking on the live show as well where I sell some t-shirts after shows. And kind of working on doing some stuff like that. So that’s kind of creeping in to bring a couple bucks in every month as well.
John Lee Dumas: Well, I will say, on that cruise, I was actually chosen to go on stage in front of close to 1,000 people. I mean, it was a huge audience. Because the Thrillusionist wanted to do a trick and he said, “Who has a $100.00 bill?” And, of course, I raised my hand. And he was just like, write your initials with this big, black magic marker on this bill to make sure you can mark it as yours.
And I’m like, no worries, I’m sure this is invisible ink or something. Like, it will disappear after a couple of days because obviously I don’t want to deface this $100.00 bill. Well, now it’s been days. It’s been almost a week and I still have my big JLD in block letters on this $100.00 bill so I’m like, how can I go to a dark bar and just hand them this bill so they don’t notice. And the other one, by the way, the first three numbers of my social security is on there too. Is this $200.00 down the drain?
Anyways, I thought that was kind of funny but let’s talk about your journey, Chris. As an entrepreneur, as a stage performer, now as an author. You’ve had a lot of ups and downs but what was your worst entrepreneurial moment to date?
Chris Ruggiero: I don’t know if I want to call it – it might not fit perfectly into the entrepreneurial tag but there’s been overall – it’s interesting. And I think this is an interesting thing that most people don’t realize that there is a terrible moment every time before I walk out on stage. Just within my mind and it takes over in my body of this nervous.
And I’ve talked to so many performers that go through the same thing. They get out on stage and they’re this larger than life thing but backstage you see people – at shows, when I’m doing bigger shows with other performers –
John Lee Dumas: Just sobbing.
Chris Ruggiero: Yeah, there’s people pacing back and forth. Or they’re looking through their notebook, making sure they deliver that first line of what they want to do.
John Lee Dumas: Give me one. Give me one of the worst. Have you ever had just a disastrous moment on stage or no?
Chris Ruggiero: I had one right when I first started.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, take us there. Just right to that moment.
Chris Ruggiero: I was on a unicycle and it was a small community show. Looking back, it was a joke of a show. A terrible show. And maybe I was just trying to entertain myself and I was on the big unicycle. I’m on a six, seven foot unicycle. And I’m riding and there’s not even a stage. It’s just a floor and then people are – imagine a gymnasium floor. And I’m just on the floor. But they had carpeting where the people were sitting in the seats. And I’m up on the unicycle. I’m just bored with the show, the crowd is whatever. They’re probably bored as well because they’re seeing me bored.
So I decide to take a ride on the unicycle out into the crowd and do a lap through the aisle and come back through. And I don’t know how many people who are listening have ever ridden a unicycle. Probably not very many. But there is something very weird when you change the floor material on a unicycle because you only have such a small point of contact between you and what you’re riding on. So that’s everything. That one square inch is everything. So you go from a smooth surface onto a carpet, it changes your whole world.
So I think people can probably see where I’m going with this. I’m riding out, I catch the carpet which is much more grippy on the tire and try to do a little turn and the unicycle grabs onto the carpet and it stays and I go. I just wish it was on videotape because I just remember literally flying through the air and looking down and so thankful that luckily there weren’t that many people there. Because I went right up and landed on a folding metal chair. And I was just so happy there wasn’t a four-year-old kid sitting in that chair because I came up from six or seven feet in the air, an adult person landing on this thing.
It was the ending of my show. It was the big finale. I was joking and all of this stuff and I just dumped it and flew onto this chair. And then you just had to play it cool. You’re like, I’m good. I’m good. And then ran up, got back up on the unicycle, started juggling, and then I was like goodbye. Kind of make it seem like that was all supposed to happen. But that was crazy. It’s like I’m so glad that happened in a show like that because I’m so conscious of it now when I’m doing more legitimate shows. There’s carpet out there? I’m not riding out there.
John Lee Dumas: If that had happened today, that would have been shown on Meerkat, on Periscope. You would have seen it live. It would have been up on YouTube and Instagram and Facebook video in a second. It’s just crazy to think how much the world has changed. You can’t hide anything from anywhere. And it probably would have propelled you to be massively successful. You would have been on the Jay Leno show the next day or Jimmy Fallon. It would have been phenomenal.
But I want to go back, Chris, to your backstage terror. And just to kind of say, me, as a speaker, I speak in front of over 1,000 people audiences quite often around the world. I know my talk. I know my speech. I know the material because I’m an authority figure in this area. But I still, I have so much doubt, so much fear before I get on stage every single time. And when I open my mouth and say the first words, boom, I’m into my flow and I love it.
But it’s that behind the stage, that imposter syndrome. That fear, that doubt. Who am I to give this presentation? And, for you, who am I to perform in front of these people? That never goes away, Fire Nation. It just doesn’t because it’s part of being a human being. So just realize, Chris, myself, you. You’re always gonna have that so realize it’s part of living life and being a human, that innate imposter syndrome.
And, Chris, I want to shift now to another period in your life, this one being an epiphany. An “aha” moment. I mean, you kind of touched upon one where when you’re having those conversations with people and they just give this litany of excuses about why they can’t do x, y, or z. So maybe that’s the story you’re gonna tell. But choose one “aha” moment that Fire Nation’s gonna resonate with and take us to that moment in time just like you did with the unicycle on the carpet and tell us that story.
Chris Ruggiero: There was a moment that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do performing and do my own thing as a real career, as a legitimate career. And actually, right when I first got out of college I was substitute teaching at middle schools and high schools. And if you want to have motivation to do your own thing, become a substitute teacher because it’s potentially one of the most miserable things that you could ever do besides putting yourself in physical –
John Lee Dumas: I would luckily do that during my college breaks so I realized that right away. Like, phew, I need to get my act together here in college. So continue.
Chris Ruggiero: Every day you wake up wondering if they’re gonna call you in or the night before. And there was one phone call that came in one night. It was late at night so I assume it’s the school calling but it turned out to be the Armed Forces entertainment recruiter. And he was looking for a last-minute act to jump on a tour to an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia.
And he tells me some of the ideas of what this tour is gonna be. He said, “You’re gonna go out. There’s gonna be another standup comedian. And there’s gonna be six NFL cheerleaders from a variety of the teams.” This was over the Super Bowl so it was bringing some Super Bowl home feel to troops who were based on this thing.
And me expecting a phone call from the school asking if I could come in to substitute teach the next day and it turning into that, what I just described. We’re gonna fly you over to the middle of the Indian Ocean for two weeks and you’re gonna be on tour performing with another performer and six NFL cheerleaders. I was like, wow! Did that go 180 degrees from what I thought was just gonna happen? My life is very different than it was a minute ago.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, one thing that I really get out of this is that you’re only one phone call away. You’re only one email away. You’re only one Tweet away from realizing your dream if you’re putting yourself out there. Chris was putting himself out there. He was in the position to potentially realize his dream. It might not have happened. That might have been the school calling. But guess what? It wasn’t.
So are you putting yourself out there? That’s my question to you. Are you getting in front of the right people as much as you can so that dream that you have can be realized? Getting that opportunity. Luck is when effort meets opportunity. And, yes, Chris got a little lucky but he’s putting out the effort and he got the opportunity. So, Chris, what’s your takeaway for Fire Nation?
Chris Ruggiero: Everything that you just said is amazing. And be ready to pick up the phone, literally and figuratively, when those opportunities are there. Those opportunities are coming way more than I think a lot of people realize. And we leave a lot of stuff on the table. When that comes, pick up the phone; say yes to a lot of things.
John Lee Dumas: Well, don’t just say yes. Just go.
Chris Ruggiero: Just go.
John Lee Dumas: So, Chris, what’s your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Chris Ruggiero: Distractions. Because I host my own podcast, too, and I’ll be looking up new microphones or something. Or a new camera. And I’m not going to buy the new camera or something but I can waste half of a day looking up YouTube videos of this footage because I just get sucked into it. It’s that dream, thinking about things. You think, I can do this or I can have this and I can have this. And then you don’t realize, or I don’t realize, that I have everything pretty much that I need. I don’t need a better camera or something for travel videos or something like that.
So, yeah, the weakness is that I get distracted really easily. And I think people might be able to hear that. Again, going back into my ramblings. I bounce on to different ideas.
But I’ll spin that and say that sometimes that really, really helps me. That I get distracted because I learn how to do all these crazy things. Like, I edit my own podcast. And I did all the layout and formatting of my book and self-published everything myself. Because I was interested in it and I got distracted one day and found out that it wasn’t really that hard to write and edit and layout your own book.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Chris, speaking of rambling, let’s just talk about the distractions. The weapons of mass distraction, baby, they’re everywhere. Now what’s your biggest strength? And don’t ramble.
Chris Ruggiero: I’ll say the biggest strength is that I’m interested in a lot of things. And that can go back and forth. That can become the weakness but I’m interested in doing – if something interests me, I’ll jump in and learn how to do it.
John Lee Dumas: Now, Chris, you have a lot of things that you’re excited about right now. But what is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Chris Ruggiero: I think this will keep the conversation going. Fired up that for the first time ever, we can do whatever we want. I wanted to write a book. I had a blank page and in six months I had a finished book in my hand.
John Lee Dumas: You’re a published author.
Chris Ruggiero: Yes. And I didn’t know how to do anything. I didn’t know how to layout a book. I’d never done it. Or figure out all this stuff. So, literally one Google search will open up a world. Like you said, like one email away or one blog post away or one Tweet away. Take that further. One Google search away and your world opens up into unlimited possibilities.
John Lee Dumas: I remember waking up Saturday morning a couple of years ago and saying, “I’m going to write and publish a book this weekend.” Now, I wasn’t going the physical publishing route that you did, which definitely takes longer, but by Sunday night, I had a book that was live in Amazon on podcasting.
And since that day two years ago, it’s been the No. 1 rated book on podcasting in Amazon. So, Fire Nation, it’s just go. Just go. Now, Fire Nation, don’t go anywhere because we’re about to enter the lightning round. But before we do, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors. Chris, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Chris Ruggiero: Let’s do it.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Chris Ruggiero: I think myself. Same as backstage. Like you said, those thoughts. It’s typically myself that’s holding me back.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Chris Ruggiero: It takes the same amount of effort to talk yourself into it as it does to talk yourself out of it.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Chris Ruggiero: Trying new things.
John Lee Dumas: Do you have an internet resource, like Evernote, that you can share with our listeners?
Chris Ruggiero: I think Boomerang is cool on Gmail to delay emails. I use Hello Sign for contracts. And, in general, just Adobe. The creative cloud of Adobe and all the programs that are there.
John Lee Dumas: SO amazing, that creative cloud. And Boomerang is something I use every hour of every working day, for sure. It’s incredible. Now, if you could recommend just one book for our listeners, Chris, to join Just Go on our bookshelves, what would it be and why?
Chris Ruggiero: A book that I keep coming back to, probably for several years now, I always crack it open, is a book that’s called How to be Like Walt by Pat Williams. And it’s crazy, in-depth biography about Walt Disney. And it feels like sometimes you’re living his life by the minute as you’re reading it. And seeing his struggles and his triumphs and everything through it. It’s an incredible book.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, I know you love audio so I teamed up with Audiobooks and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audiobook for free at eofirebook.com. And, Chris, this is the last question of the lightning round but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Chris Ruggiero: I would do, I think, what I initially did when I was first starting out. I would figure out a way that I could videotape what I do. Buy a couple hundred dollar camera. Buy a phone. And videotape and make a promo video and get that out there. I kind of have a little bit of an advantage that I can go on the street and entertain people and make enough money to probably live for the day.
But in addition to that, just create something. Whatever it is that I do. I do juggling. Other people do other things. You can create this video or something to show people what you do and get out there and get it in front of people who are going to hire you.
John Lee Dumas: Chris, let’s end Today On Fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Chris Ruggiero: I’m setting up a page on my site, chrisruggiero.com/fire, and there’ll be some bonuses on there for you guys to grab. And you can kind of connect throughout that entire site there. You can see all the stuff that I’m up to.
John Lee Dumas: And a parting piece of guidance.
Chris Ruggiero: Let’s say just go.
John Lee Dumas: Just go. And, Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you’ve been hanging out with CR and JLD today. So keep up the heat. Then head over to eofire.com, type “Chris” in the search bar, his show notes page will pop right up with everything that we’ve been talking about today, the books, the resources. You name it, it’s there.
And, of course, chrisruggiero.com/fire has got some goodies waiting for you. And, Chris, thanks, brother, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you. And we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Chris Ruggiero: All right. Thank you.
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