Likening life and career to a self-directed and authored script, motivational consultant, author and entertainer, Curtis Zimmerman kicked off the 2011 AICPA Practitioners Symposium and Tech + Conference telling the more than 1,100 attendees that part of their life and career script should be “failing successfully” as they are the star in their own life show.

“For 25 years I made a living as a juggler, fire eater and mime and also headlined Carnival Cruise Lines, but I’ve spent the last 11 years designing the next hour of yours,” said Zimmerman, whose opening keynote was themed “Living Life at the Performance Level.”

“But you don’t care about my resume,” he said. “It’s not only a resume, it’s a “real-sume” and often it’s very different from our resume. I grew up in LA but was on welfare and food stamps. We had alcohol and suicide issues. I had dyslexia. That’s a real-sume. But it was my show and not a dress rehearsal. I decided which way the script was going.”

The animated Zimmerman put the audience through Simon Says, juggling drills, a fire eating demonstration, as well as a series of finger and hand dexterity tests—including the often difficult simultaneous hand square and circle motions.

“If you break it down, it becomes easy,” he said. “If you’re not willing to drop the ball, you will never learn how to juggle. I call it failing successfully. Trust yourself and get your business going. Passion supersedes natural ability every single time. People are passionate about goals and dreams, not limitations a ninth grade teacher once set for you. I have dropped the ball thousands and thousands of times. Get away from ‘no’ and get to ‘yes.’”

Zimmerman asked the audience what behaviors they are modeling in their business. “You don’t say one thing and then do another,” he noted. “Pick four or five solid things you will take away from this conference and apply. You all are writing this masterpiece called your life. When was the last time you sat quietly by yourself and thought about the script of your life? You are the star of the show called ‘your life.’ This is not a dress rehearsal.”

Themed the “New Frontier,” this marked the second year of the American Institute of CPAs’ merged practitioners and technology conferences. Next year, the Prac/Tech symposium will co-locate with the annual confab of the Association of Accounting Marketing, which the institute believes will balloon the aggregate attendance by roughly 500.

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