Friday, January 20, 2012

How Dan Cirucci crossed a bridge

When Dan Cirucci of Cherry Hill, N.J., emailed me about his “bridge” to a new career, I was intrigued. When he told me that he'd had 750,000 page views on his blog in 3 years and he hadn’t missed a single day, I was smitten.
This man I had to meet.
Dan suggested lunch at Ponzio’s on Route 70, the “power place” as he calls it, and arrived about 10 minutes after he’d blogged  a video showing Mike Huckabee saying nice things about Romney.
 “I promised myself that by the time I was 60,  I’d  leave my job," said Cirucci, as he ordered the BLT he’d been thinking about all morning.
He turned 60 in 2006.  By then he’d been working with hard-driving Philadelphia lawyers under "very high pressure" for 28 years as the Philadelphia Bar Association’s head of public affairs/communications.
“The kids were through college and gainfully employed and my financial advisers said, ‘You can do this.”
 “I felt like a trapeze artist. I was letting go of the swing, but I needed something to jump onto on the other side.”
It was a circus act he’d been rehearsing for some time. In the late 1990s, he’d started teaching a communications classes at night at Temple and Rowan universities -- instant love.

After his first class, his wife asked him how it went. “I said, ‘Scary, but exhilarating.’  I felt like I’d been sprung from something.”
Teaching was energizing. 

Sitting over his sandwich, Dan’s eyes welled with tears. He was thinking about his own mentor --Donald Bagin, a professor at Rowan --and how shortly before his death in 2008, Dan had leaned over and thanked him.
“He said, you keep doing what you’re doing for other young people,” Dan recalled.
Cirucci now teaches four classes at Penn State Abington and is obsessed with his controversial blog.
“I don’t call myself retired. I’m not sure anyone should be retired in the sense of going to sit under a tree.”
People say, ‘What are you doing now?’ and I say, 'Where do you want me to start?'  I’m earning a fraction of what I used to earn, but it’s okay and it’s fun.”
People, he said, are stuck in their careers.
 “You can think that where you are is all there is and it’s the saddest thing. That’s a tiny, tiny world. Everybody should break out of their world now and then.  They stay for the ego. They’re afraid that if they don’t have the title, the business card, no one will pay attention to them.”
They’re saying you’re defined by your job. We;’re not. Each one of us is bigger than our jobs.”

Dan Cirucci on his blog:
He admits he’s a Leo. “I’m not going to lie to you. I love the spotlight. The worst thing you can do is ignore us.”
 He bathes in the attention that his blog gives him. Plus one of the joys of leaving a job is the chance to have a voice.
“At the bar [Philadelphia Bar Assoc.],  I couldn’t speak out on my own, but I have opinions on everything.  
Among his most controversial blogs—that he doesn’t like tattoos; that he doesn’t like the Jersey Shore.
He’s among a group of people that Gov. Christie sends videos to first,  he says, to break on their blogs.
And then there was the time he was on Rush Limbaugh
Now that will drive traffic.


Kwan M said...

I am one of the fortunate beneficiaries of Mr. Cirucci's unretirement. The things he has taught me both inside and outside the class laid the foundation for a successful PR career. He was as excited about my interest in PR as I was about having him as my mentor to show me the ropes. I will benefit from his knowledge, passion, and inspiration for many years to come. I am driven to work harder and rise higher as a tribute and token of my appreciation to Mr. Cirucci. Thanks for the great post!


Wendy Lee said...

Thanks for this post. I really like the trapeze image... it captures the feeling of taking a risk that you really need to take.