Jeff was in Munich working with the leadership team of a 125-year-old German company. It was Day Two of the session and all 15 executives were walking around the room wearing grotesque masks and embodying archetypical characters first seen in the marketplaces of 16th century Venice. Jeff hadn’t planned this - but this leadership team was stuck. The masks in his luggage were destined to be used during his next session, in Paris, with the cast of a Cirque du Soleil show. The group trusted Jeff, having worked with him often, but the masks were a real stretch for them. They needed something radically different to move forward. His wild idea, using Venetian character masks, did the trick.
Jeff combines his business and artistic background to help leaders master verbal and nonverbal communication skills. He is an executive speaker coach, executive coach and keynote speaker. As an executive speaker coach, he designs and delivers experiential programs in leadership communication, storytelling and the use of ‘play’ in business leadership. He is frequently sought as an executive speaker coach for keynotes, book tours and other high-stakes presentations. As an executive coach, he works with individuals to help them clarify their vision and message to inspire their teams, increasing their performance. He has led sessions with large organizations around the world including: Intel, Cisco Systems, Deloitte, Lyft, Singapore Exchange, Spottswoode Winery, Medtronic, Swiss Re, while also coaching and teaching people in the performing arts.
Jeff has taught in business schools and universities around the world, including University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, IMD (Lausanne), INSEAD (Singapore), NYU, Dartmouth, San Francisco State, and the University of Nebraska as well as theater schools from American Conservatory Theater to Dell’Arte International and the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
Jeff Raz creates environments, inviting people to take risks, to fail powerfully and grow. He encourages business leaders to use their full range of expression while gaining the sensory acuity necessary to ‘read’ others by bringing his experience teaching actors and circus performers, to his work.
Jeff allows leaders to bond and inspire peers, partners, and the people they lead by helping leaders find their authentic voice and gain skills to adapt it. Jeff’s teaching mixes joy with rigor and art with science, to align people’s bodies, hearts, and minds with powerful ideas.
Jeff has a long career in the world of circus and theater as a performer, director, writer, producer and teacher. Early in his career, he founded a ‘new vaudeville’ company and created an international festival. Since then, he has toured with Cirque du Soleil, taught professional clowns at Ringling’s Clown College as well at his own school The Clown Conservatory, and has helped run the major American circus - Circus Flora. In addition, Jeff has written 15 plays, directed many more, and taught theater around the world. Throughout his career, Jeff has helped people at the top of their field rise to an elite level of performance, and translated that work from theater and circus to global leaders and teams in business.
Jeff has performed internationally since 1976, including starring roles with Cirque du Soleil and on Broadway. He is the founder of The Clown Conservatory, with students currently performing in circuses and theaters around the world. Jeff continues to work in theaters and circuses and is currently the Artistic Director of the Medical Clown Project in San Francisco, the Bay Area Casting Director for Cirque du Soleil, and as an in-demand actor, writer and director.
Jeff trained with Chinese acrobatic master Lu Yi and, in his prime, he could ride a bicycle with 10 other acrobats piled on or balance two aerialists hanging off a 15’ metal pole held up on his right shoulder. He has also performed a juggling act to one of Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites over 1000 times.
Jeff’s parents, who were civil rights activists, brought their children to Quaker meetings where they often heard the phrase, “There is that of god in everyone.” This simple idea, that everyone has the potential to be extraordinary and do extraordinary good, is the idea that Jeff shares and uses in his work, everyday.