Paul Binder

Paul Binder

Speaker: Paul Binder

Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Big Apple Circus


  • Lessons from The Ringmaster
  • The Entrepreneurial Journey…Following Your Passion
  • The Man on the Back of the Man on the Wire and Other Adventures
  • For Profit, Not-for-Profit: Same or Different?
  • Doing Good Feels Great: Social Responsibility and Business

Paul Binder is a charismatic showman and entrepreneur whose passions came together to create the magical experience that is the circus. What do the roots of ritual and theater have to do with well-run organizations? Binder offers lessons from a nearly 40-year career under the big top that apply to any enterprise.

For more than three decades, Paul Binder has been the driving force behind the Big Apple Circus—the ringmaster and ringleader of a city without a zip code. This world-renown organization—a collection of talent, carpenters, electricians, concessionaires, musicians, ushers, cooks, teachers and even clergy from more than fourteen countries—is an extraordinary example of excellence under extreme conditions. Coordinating the artistry and the behind-the-scenes effort requires a supreme team juggling act: near-impossible logistics, grueling hours, the search for new talent, the creative collaboration and executing details that insure the safety of the performers and audience. In his speeches, Binder captivates audiences with colorful stories that inspire people to think about their own organizations in exciting new ways. Besides doing well, Binder’s organization is committed to doing good outside the circus tent where performers are full-time, resident entertainers and teachers at hospitals, schools and nursing homes at each city they visit. His career commitment to social responsibility led ABC News to name Binder their “Person of the Week” in November 2008. In 2010, PBS will air Circus, a television series that follows life inside and outside the tent of the Big Apple Circus for an entire season.

Lessons from The Ringmaster

This speech is a unique look at leadership, motivation, and the importance of communications in every profession.

As the Founder, Artistic Director and Ringmaster of the renowned Big Apple Circus, Paul will provide his understanding of how to build high performing teams while successfully managing an extremely diverse group of talented individuals whose jobs require flawless execution absolutely every day.  He uses his colorful and engaging circus stories as a way to demonstrate the lessons he learned along the way towards building a world-class organization.

The Entrepreneurial Journey…Following Your Passion

Learn how this street juggler transformed his passion to create one of America’s most successful one-ring touring circus delivering more than 350 annual performances. After performing for European audiences, Paul Binder returned to the United States with the dream of creating an American circus with the same dedication to theatrical excellence and artistic intimacy that he had experienced in Europe. He focused on including education and community service to launch and build the Big Apple Circus. Binder will share with audiences how to align what you do with your passion, so you don’t see your job as work.

The Man on the Back of the Man on the Wire and Other Adventures (Entertainment, After dinner Speech)

With the story-telling flare you would expect from a ringmaster, Paul Binder shares the fantastic, bizarre and amazing tales that come from being a circus performer for more than 30 years. From the story of walking in on the man planning his high-wire walk between the twin towers to tales you will have to take Binder’s word on to believe, audiences will be engaged and entertained.

For Profit, Not-for-Profit: Same or Different? (Corporate Social Responsibility, Philanthropy)

With more than 350 annual performances and 5,000 donors contributing to the not- for-profit circus’s community programs and artistic excellence, the Big Apple Circus demonstrates how to build and grow an organization that does well and does good at the same time. Over the past 30 years the Big Apple Circus has steadily grown: in the number of venues played, the performances presented, in audience attendance and in community programs offered. Understand how Paul Binder built the Big Apple Circus using fund-raising, local and corporate donors and learn how to take that back into your own organization.

Doing Good Feels Great: Social Responsibility and Business (Corporate Social Responsibility)

For 30 years the Big Apple Circus, America’s original one-ring circus, has been delighting audiences of all ages under its Big Top by presenting the finest in live family entertainment featuring world-class circus artistry. The Big Apple Circus is a not-for-profit performing arts and outreach institution committed to invigorating the communities we serve with the joy and wonder of classical circus. In addition to the 350 annual performances, the Big Apple Circus provides a variety of programs to include sending clowns into hospitals to visit with children as well as creating a circus based on the senses for sight and hearing impaired. Paul Binder will share with audiences how doing well and doing good will work for you. His commitment led ABC News to name Binder “Person of the Week”


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