Reach for and achieve your full potential

A TEDx Talk With No Words…

What does it feel like when dreams come true? Is it as good as you’d hoped, better or can it be a let down?

This past June 22, 2018, I got to accomplish one of my dreams. I was very fortunate to present at a TEDx event. It happened in Calgary at the 9th annual TEDxYYC.

But I didn’t use a single word.

Instead of speaking, I was performing as a member of the Calgary based circus troupe, “Le Cirque de la Nuit.” I have been performing with this troupe since 2014, shortly after I moved to Calgary from Toronto.

The sequence of events that led to us being on this big stage had a great deal to do with a random conversation with a stranger. That conversation happened years ago…


On an evening when I really didn’t feel like doing anything, my good fried and room-mate, Rob Gregory suggested that we go out for a beer but I resisted. Although going out for a beer, or several beers was a regular occurrence at that time of my life, I am particularly grateful for his successful persuasion on that particular evening. 

I couldn’t have known while still in our apartment – and still in a bad mood – that I was about to meet someone who would positively change the course of my life. 

Once Rob finally got me out of the flat, we went to our local pub which is somewhat of a Calgary landmark as it’s been around forever. It’s a place called, “Bottlescrew Bills” or “Buzzards”. We lived across the street and were regulars. 

On this 2013 evening our waitress that evening was Ashley. She gave us great service and was friendly enough to chat a little while we sipped our pints. Somewhere in the conversation it came up that she performed with hoops and I mentioned that I perform with glow-in-the-dark juggling balls. 

Mecanique Cirque de la Nuit Tony Esteves

Tony Esteves in character at Arniko

At that moment she told me that I had to audition for this cool circus in town and she kindly gave me the details about it. It was, “Le Cirque de la Nuit”. I did audition, and they booked me to perform at their next big show. The show was called, “Arniko” and took place on February 22nd, 2014. 

I loved this experience. It was amazing to me how much time and effort went into transforming the (at the time) Vinyl Nightclub into a circus themed space. Rob and I volunteered to help set up a bit before the doors opened. We were helping hang motorized rotating black and white umbrellas from the ceiling??!!

Even with some past acting experience from my time in Toronto, this day was the longest that I’d ever spent getting makeup done by professional makeup artists. It was so cool and this makeup took about 2 hours. And that night I did what I do. I performed, I danced, I juggled and I put on a character. And I had some fun.

This was the first of many Cirque shows that I’ve now had the privilege to have been a part of, but this recent one was extra special…

I volunteer on the TEDxYYC committee and have also pitched my idea there twice. My idea is called the Talk2MorePeople Project. The idea to share is that talking to people who you don’t know can bring amazing life-changing people, opportunities and experiences into your life. In 2016 and 2017 I intentionally met at least one stranger a day for a year to prove this and both years the talk was considered, however turned down. Of course both times I was disappointed, but we often don’t know what Life has in store for us. 

It came up at a committee meeting around the time that we were deciding upon the theme for the 2018 conference. The theme was decided to be, “The Adjacent Possible”. and when brainstorming for ideas on how to bring something new I mentioned, “Hey, I can bring in a bunch of circus performers if you like”, and that sparked something. 

Not long after it was my pleasure to introduce the committee co-chair, Kurt Archer to the Cirque co-founder, Jai Benteau for them do discuss possibilities.

And after some back and forth, it was decided that Cirque would in fact deliver a presentation at TEDxYYC in 2018. And they kindly asked me to be a part of that performance.

What an honour!

So even though my talk was turned down – although I am still very open to get this talk onto a TED stage one day – I still got the amazing opportunity to stand on that red dot and share an idea. The only catch? I could not use any words! 

There were 9 of us in the piece that was custom created for TEDxYYC and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with what we delivered.

I’ve been pursuing a career as a professional speaker with some success now for over 5 years.  But at the core of who I really am, as a playful, joyful soul – much more than a speaker, I am a performer. So it turns out that Life knew better than I did what was best for me.

The 12 minute “talk” that we gave is called, “The Creative Process” and is intended to illustrate what it’s like to have and develop an idea. My character as the artist was creating something in a painting which was represented by the performing artists (ideas) on the stage.

You just never know when a disappointment might turn around and smack you in the face with something even better or more appropriate than what you were striving for in the first place. So the next time you get turned down, allow some patience and space for something wonderful and unexpected to unfold.

Even though it was years ago that I met Ashley for the first time, it led to this very special moment and performance for me. It also helped create this opportunity for the other performers.

Consider how chance, random conversations might gift you with positive life experiences down the road…

TEDxYYC Cirque de la Nuit Tony Esteves

Tony Esteves is a workshop facilitator, MC and a circus performer who is passionate about connecting people to people. His unique international experiences and aptitude for meeting strangers provide the foundation for 

He is the creator of the Talk2MorePeople Project which was a challenge to meet one new stranger a day for a full year. This purpose of this initiative was to encourage people to get off their technology and back into face-to-face conversations. 

Having lived, worked or traveled to 40 countries, Tony has delivered sessions across North America, Europe and in South Africa. Tony speaks Russian, Japanese and Portuguese and is passionate about being in the mountains. 

He is a contributing author to the book, Big Ideas For The Big Stage – A grassroots guide that provides information, advice and insider tips to becoming a better speaker and presenter.

Audiences from Tony’s presentations leave entertained, educated and empowered. 


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