Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeff Civillico, Virtual Emcee, Live Emcee, and Corporate Entertainer, located in Las Vegas, NV, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I’m in the business of creating unique, impactful, and memorable experiences and events. Through my services as a professional entertainer, master of ceremonies (emcee for short), and keynote speaker, I use my talents on stage to captivate an audience and generate meaningful conversations.
My customers range from people who see me perform in Las Vegas as a headliner to attendees of corporate and association events who interact with me as an entertainer, moderator, or speaker. My distinctive brand of clean comedy allows my customer base to fully run the gamut from large-scale international associations to local businesses and organizations.
Tell us about yourself
Put simply, I am my business — and being on stage is all I’ve ever known! At one point, “the stage” used to be my childhood kitchen, where I’d perform juggling tricks for my grandmother. The kitchen quickly evolved into actual stages in school auditoriums and local businesses and eventually became the bright lights of a real venue on the Las Vegas Strip.
I’ve always been an entertainer at the core, and the drive to uplift and inspire my audience (even when it was just grandma!) has been my north star throughout my entire business. I’m motivated by the direct impact of my line of work, whether that be an instant smile or a positive shift in energy. So, the goal of my business has remained steadfast from day one: Make people happier!
Whether it’s the people who buy tickets to one of my shows or those who attend the portion of an event I’m involved in, their happiness is what motivates me each and every day. The mission to uplift and delight has trickled into my philanthropic efforts, Win-Win Entertainment, where I have the direct impact of providing smiles to children who truly need them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was achieving my childhood dream of becoming a headliner on the Las Vegas Strip with Caesars Entertainment. I had the honor of producing and starring in my own Las Vegas show, “Jeff Civillico: Comedy in Action,” six nights per week across the iconic hotel and casino properties, including The LINQ, The Flamingo, and The Paris.
“Comedy in Action” ran for ten years and, fortunately, remains highly acclaimed to this day. Through hard work and grit, I’ve been able to maintain a presence on the Strip — in fact, I’d argue that the show laid the foundation for every part of my business that came after. My keynote speaking and emcee skills were certainly honed by my time spent with “Comedy in Action.”
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Entertainers have a saying that goes something like, “You’re only as good as your last show.” One of the most difficult aspects of being a business owner, particularly when you are the product, is separating yourself as a singular entity away from your last show or event. It can be hard to determine your worth or value as a person away from the services you provide as a performer.
My business is intimately connected to who I am as a person. The stories I tell my audience are the same stories I’ve lived through. The messages I deliver to attendees are the same messages I live by. As a recovering perfectionist turned business owner, I’ve had to actively combat the high-highs and low-lows that can accompany tying your personal value to your last performance.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be willing to play the long game and work harder (and smarter) than your competition. This is your path to focus on; you’ll have to love it so much that the passion consumes you. Let it! Allow yourself to think about, read about, and discuss with others the elements of your business that excite you. Be so passionate that others just can’t help but root for you.
- Operate with a sense of urgency, but never be reckless with your time. All too often, I see my peers get so hung up on irrelevant details that they stall action in other, more important areas of their business. I always preach an action-first mentality, but I also practice a few time management strategies, like timing myself as I undertake daily tasks, to ensure that I can ideate, execute, and operate in a productive manner.
- Be kind to everyone, always. While this might seem like an obvious tip, you’d be amazed at how often I receive props and testimonials from my clients simply for being a nice person. Whether it’s the employee who valeted your car or the receptionist at the front desk, know that all people will remember how you made them feel, not what was on your pitch deck. Integrate kindness into all areas of your operations for a successful business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Owning and operating your own business provides a ton of differentiators, but the two most impactful are the ability to control your time and your platform. How will you choose to use yours? I chose to create Win-Win Entertainment, a 501c3 national nonprofit that brings smiles to children in hospitals by arranging in-person and virtual visits from entertainers and celebrities.
With the massive amount of travel and isolation that can come with being a business owner, Win-Win provides an unrivaled sense of fulfillment and enables me to connect with my entertainment community. I know that if I worked for someone else, I wouldn’t have the time nor the mental space to bring this vision to life. Recognize the time and platform you receive from owning your own business, and use it to make your corner of the world a brighter, better place.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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