Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Voice

In branding, there is the important concept of talking in ONE VOICE. Just go to Disneyland for example and see everything and everyone expressing the Disney brand with one voice. Their brand is brought to life with crystal clear alignment. While I don't know Disney's official brand strategies, it is clear that their voice encompasses such words as welcoming, courteous and magical.

The Y is another major brand. Their voice consists of five key words: welcoming, nurturing, hopeful, genuine and determined.

So, when thinking about your personal brand as a magician, try speaking in one voice. Identify some key words that best align to your personal brand, and jot them down. Everything from your movements, words, gestures, attitude, collateral material, website and more should all point to the same target and embody your brand. If they don't, imagine the confusion you'd be conveying.

Monday, September 13, 2010

S.M.I.L.E.

When you're concentrating hard on something, do you usually smile? Most likely not. Just look at Auguste Rodin's The Thinker. It's simply not a natural gesture to smile when in pensive thought.

So, while it may seem like an obvious point, it's important to remember to smile when presenting your magic. I've caught myself violating this rule, as I'm sure we all have. It's usually due to concentrating on executing a sleight or thinking about the next move. Being aware of this, and throwing on a happy face will not only diminish the perception that anything sneaky is going on, it will naturally raise your likability factor and open up an extra degree of connection with your audience.

A smile is one of five key presentational tips that I believe are important when performing. Here are all five, easily framed in an easy-to-remember acronym, S.M.I.L.E.

  • S. Smile.
  • M. Meaning - Don't just recite your lines; stand behind every word.
  • I. "EYE" contact. Please don't stare at your cards the whole tim. Lock eyes with everyone in your audience and you'll "touch" them.
  • L. - Listen. Listen to both verbal and non-verbal gestures...and look for opportunities to respond and interact.
  • E. - Express YOU. Don't let your props upstage you. Create opportunities to be YOU and express the wonderful, unique qualities only you have.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some One Degree highlights

One Degree is packed with usable and powerful card magic. More than 20 effects in all, here are a few highlights:

INTRO-VERTED
If you're familiar with Intro-verted from its original appearance in MAGIC magazine, don't overlook some new features: 1) There's a simpler set-up procedure; and 2) Joshua Jay adds an fantastic optional color-changing kicker (see page 23).

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING
This effect exemplifies the whole "one degree" philosophy. The addition of an odd-backed card to my previous effect Optical Opener (Second Storm) results in an massively stronger experience.

OVERTURNED STANYON
I can do this in front of the mirror all day. Show three cards as four with a natural in-the-hands stud turnover sequence.

HOMAGE TO HOMING
With a nod to John Carey, Lance Pierce and of course Francis Carlyle, this is a perfect anytime, anywhere card-to-pocket routine. Three luscious phases with an amazing ending. Tip: Study the Asher Twist at www.leeasher.com

QUANTUM KINGS
This is a great way to open up a set. It maximizes the staging and psychology in my effect Color Blind (Brainstorm) to add a card to anywhere surprise!

BIDDLELESS
This natural and deceptive sequence is an efficient alternative to the Biddle Steal. And as with many tricks in One Degree, it's completely impromptu and completely in the hands.

BEHIND THE BACK TRIUMPH
Give your participant the freedom to mix cards up and down behind their back. Yet when the deck is spread, the cards are all facing the same way except for the card they named early on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More about ONE DEGREE

My new book ONE DEGREE is finally out. While it's a book for magicians, I believe it goes far beyond explaining "tricks" - and covers a practical philosophy that has overarching benefits.

ONE DEGREE as a book and an approach is all about making small, intentional improvements that can turn a good trick into a GREAT trick! It can be something as simple as pausing before the final reveal, replacing a sleight with a subtlety (or vice versa), and more. I see many beginners completely changing effects or trying the latest and greatest stuff in order to heighten their newness factor. I say, instead of making massive changes to try to achieve massive results...make strategic and careful improvements to achieve the same.

I view it in three parts: IMPACT, CONNECTION, and BEING ON TARGET

1) IMPACT
Build upon an established foundation to increase the impact inordinately. Think about Olympic sprint runners; as they approach the finish line, even the smallest change can make the difference between a Gold and a Bronze. Or as the cover of the book depicts, just one degree above 211°F takes it to the every powerful boiling point. I give practical examples of this philosophy in the form of effects and essays throughout the book.

2) CONNECTION
We've all heard of "six degrees of separation.” Magic gives us the unique opportunity to turn this into ONE DEGREE of CONNECTION...even with a complete stranger. So, how do we maximize these connections? Just being aware of it and intentional in our actions is a great step. Borrowing from my experience in branding, it's important to speak in ONE "VOICE"...not just your spoken voice, but every other way you express yourself. This is how the best brands are built. I have an essay on branding in the book with suggestions to help you hone in your own brand as a magician (complete with my personal notes relative to MY brand).

3) BEING ON TARGET
Imagine yourself aiming an arrow at a target. A shift as little as ONE degree could make the difference between hitting your target...and not. So, in targetting our respective goals, viewing things through a one degree lens is so important.

An important note here is that one degree changes have to be a change for the BETTER. If you have a solid routine, and you make make a small change in the wrong direction, the effect does not just become a little worse...the results could be catastrophic. This is why it is vitally important to be wholly aware of who you are as a magician, what promise you make through your magic (brand), how you want the audience to FEEL...then making careful adjustments that are aligned with this.

You’ll soon recognize one degree changes everywhere...even beyond your magic. You'll become more aware why some magic just works, and some doesn't...or why some commercials grab you and inspire ACTION, while others don't...or why you're loyal to one brand over another. Here’s a quick non-magic example. I took my 2-year old daughter to Disneyland and we ordered pancakes. Out comes a "Mickey Mouse" shaped pancake. Wow! Here eyes grew wide and her smile lasted throughout the day. For Disney, it required very little effort or cost on their part to bring out a Mickey pancake (one degree improvement)...but the results were EXTRAORDINARY. Let's face it, it's just pancake batter...but the one degree change was completely aligned with the Disney brand promise to bring joy...and it worked in a BIG way.

THE BOOK
In addition to more than 20 tricks and moves in ONE DEGREE, I have practical tips throughout the book that cover all of the above.

Some of my one-degree magic examples:
  • Adding wine glasses to a classic Ace Assembly
  • Adding an odd-backed card to Optical Opener, and crafting a presentation that connects
  • Making Palm Reader and Jack Carpenter's "Mysterious" completely in-the-hands
  • Taking Triumph out of YOUR hands, and having your participant unmix the deck behind their back
  • and so many more!

It's my hope that ONE DEGREE will help you for beyond the tricks I share. The goal is to inspire you to identify small but important shifts that will lead to a WOW factor in your own magic. Needless to say, your one degree shifts will be different than mine since they must be wholly aligned with our respective brands.

For more information, visit www.vanishingincmagic.com and www.johnGmagic.com


NEW "ONE DEGREE" PROMOTIONAL VIDEO


video

Monday, August 9, 2010

NOW APPEARING

August 9-15
Magic Cafe
Featured Guest
(For Magicians)

August 14, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Performing at Pop the Cork Wine Bar
O.C. DECADENCE event
Tickets and info at: http://www.ocweekly.com/microsites/decadence/

Mid-August
Featured guest Magic Newswire podcast
www.linkingpage.com

Tuesday, September 7
Lecture at International Brotherhood of Magicians
Jeff McBride Ring - Lake Elsinore, CA

September 10 & 11
Performing at The Magic Castle
Hat & Hare Pub with featured performer Matt Vizio

October 1-2
Carolina Close-Up Convention

Featured Lecturer/Performer
www.magicbyenigma.com/trics/

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ONE DEGREE is Here!

My new hardcover book, ONE DEGREE, is now available...on the same day I turn 42. What a great gift it is for me to share this with the magic community. I think you'll agree this is a simply gorgeous book. The Vanishing Inc. team did a superb job with the layout and design. More than two years in the making, One Degree contains more than 20 card routines (mostly new), a some "best of" items. I'm honored to have a wonderful Foreword by John Bannon and Introduction by Jack Carpenter. With 40,000 words, 240 photos, and five essays, this is more than just a book of tricks. It will get you thinking more about WHY you do magic and what guides your decisions.

You can order through Vanishing Inc. or directly through me here. With every order, I'm including a FREE clear sleeve for the effect Lost & Found (it makes a perfect bookmark too), and I'll personally sign the book to you!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Performance Tips

I fellow magician was asked to show some magic to the incoming President of the Board of Trustees at his organization. In anticipation for this meeting, he struggled with a few things: he gets nervous and visibly shakes; and he did not know exactly what to show this gentleman at the time of their future meeting.

Man, with all this build up to the big meeting/performance with the Board President, I can see how the nerves can set in. Knowing he gets the shakes, then anticipating this moment where all eyes will be on him can seem scary. The scariest part, in my opinion, is the contrived setting...as in, "I'd like to introduce you both; now show us some magic!"

I suggested a few things that I really think would help. Don't look at this as a "performance." Look at as an introduction and conversation. Ask more about him when you meet. To make things less contrived, have a deck of cards handy on a nearby table...as if it's just laying around. Look for a natural transition in the conversation...and continue conversing. Ask an open question (one that cannot be answered with just a yes or no). This keeps the focus shared, and not all lasers on your hands. Don't look at it as instantly switching into performance mode. Pick up the cards and try to make a reference to something he said earlier. In the end, the "effect" is not about Aces or your hands, it's about HIM. This alone helps alleviate the shakes. Take the opportunity to prepare an effect that utilizes his name in some way, but be sure to present it in an "off the cuff" fashion.

A business mentor of mine once said: "Acknowledge and embrace your butterflies. Just get them to fly in formation."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Two New Tricks

Isn't the digital age great? I've introduced a new two-trick download available exclusively at Vanishing Inc.

1. Homage to Homing - An amazing three-phase Card-to-Pocket routine

2.
Extra-verted - A powerful and elegant royal flush production

Best thing is that BOTH are available for $10. Plus, you get the instant gratification of purchasing, downloading and watching instantly from your computer. Watch the clips and learn more at www.vanishingincmagic.com

In the meantime, Josh Jay, Andi Gladwin and I are hard at work at finalizing my upcoming hardbound book, One Degree. With 150 pages, 235 photos, 20 professional card routines, 5 essays, a foreword by John Bannon, and an intro by Jack Carpenter, this will be a major offering to the magic community. Can't wait to see what you think. No release date yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Share Your Craft

Last week marked the second time this month I volunteered at a local after-school program to share some magic. Not only did I get to practice my chops in front of a cynical group of 25 high school students, I taught a few basic sleights, got them excited about the craft—and did something good.

Sharing your craft, whatever it may be, is a great way to not only give, but a great way to get something back. It refuels the heart and senses.

Look for opportunities around you to share your craft, and create a rich, fulfilling experience for yourself and others.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Looking Forward

Yesterday, a friend mentioned he needs a vacation...just something to look forward to. Sure, we all need something to look forward to; it keeps us moving with optimism. It got me thinking about the things I have to look forward to. Here are some:

- Dinner this week to celebrate my four-year wedding anniversary.
- My new book (ONE DEGREE), which will be out in a few months.
- I'm meeting John Bannon at the Magic Castle next week.
- Raising support for a new YMCA facility.
- A family vacation.

The things we want/need to look forward to never just happen by chance; we must cause them to happen. It requires action. If you think about it, having something to look forward to involves first "looking forward."

As you look ahead, what can you do to create opportunities to look forward to. Maybe start by c
alling a friend. Accepting a new challenge. Thanking a mentor in your life. Asking a question of someone you respect. Scheduling an overnight getaway. And so on. Actions like these help plant the seeds for opportunities that will naturally grow into important events in our lives...and give us things to look forward to with excitement and anticipation.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Truly Impromptu

I was invited to attend a very "high-end" fundraiser the other night. The mansion was filled with affluent, well-dressed guests. While I was not actually hired to perform magic, I was asked by my fellow guest to come prepared in case the opportunity presented itself to show a trick or two. The idea was that magic might break the ice, spark conversation, and ultimately open the door for support of the non-profit organization I work for during the day. I knew that for this to be pulled off naturally, the magic would have to come across as impromptu.

I'm not talking the type of impromptu that doesn't require preparation or rehearsal on my part; I'm talking coming across as impromptu through the eyes of the audience. There is a distinct different between simply pulling a poker chip from your pocket (just plain weird if you want to come across as natural and impromptu) and making the chip appear out of thin air as a relevant topic arises.

It was a great evening. I showed a lot of magic to a lot of people and made a lot of meaningful connections...all without overtly introducing anything that would be considered a magic prop. I began every set with empty hands. I waited for a topic relating to my opening effect to naturally come up (Vegas, traveling, money, etc.) or for my colleague to spark this along, then went into a a naturally evolving set:

  1. With bare hands, I produced a Vegas poker chip from the Mirage casino. Just like a mirage, the chip disappeared, reappeared and multiplied.
  2. The chip changed into a deck of cards, which led naturally into some card magic. The opening effect (Truth In Advertising) is based on my day job in marketing/advertising.
  3. Depending on the topic of conversation, I performed any of the following card effects: Palm Reader, Lost & Found, Triumph, Homage to Homing.
  4. After the final effect, I made the deck vanish.
  5. I finished by passing out my business card. I had mine encircled with a few rubberbands, which provided a natural segue to perform one more but with the rubberbands....and move into talking business.

So, when reading magic books about so-called impromptu magic, look beyond just the lack of preparation required from your end; look at it through the eyes of your audience to ensure it comes across as being natural, off the cuff and meaningful to them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What an honor

In March 2009, I made my debut in MAGIC magazine with my effect "Intro-Verted." It was published in Joshua Jay's "Talk About Tricks," column.

Exactly one year later, I'm proud to say that "Intro-Verted" was selected as one of the top ten tricks of the year from Josh's column. What a nice surprise to open the current issue of MAGIC to see this.

Speaking of which, this effect will be among the more than 20 card effects slated for my upcoming book, One Degree. The book is in the final stages of editing before it hits layout and production.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken or the Egg?

“What came first—your repertoire or your personal style?” Did you know your personal style from the beginning and only select effects that fit? Or did you start by building your repertoire based on a more ambiguous ‘what feels right,’ which resulted in a list of favorite effects that, over time, defined your style. 

Either way, I believe the important thing is to be authentic (when our inner self matches what people see). To help deepen your authenticity, follow your gut. Continue doing what feels right. Perform effects that you love, and that can be executed with passion and ease. In the end, that's your personal style in action. That's your personal brand. Now, be sure to make future choices consistent with your brand. And certainly, go market the hell out of your brand.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Surpassing Expectations

Surpassing Expectations. Two simple words—with many powerful layers. It's a goal I continually aspire to, both in my magic and in other areas of my life. The phrase is more than just a devotional "feel good" slogan. First, it involves making the effort to understand what the expectations are in the first place—what is it that you want, and what is it that your audience hopes for? This is your target! Now, what can you do to surpass what is expected? Peel back another layer, and the phrase means respecting your audience's intelligence. They know that some sort of method is at work, so weaving their "gears at work" into your presentation is a great way to connect with them—and move beyond logic toward something much more extraordinary.