I have always liked magic. As an entrepreneur I think there are some things we can learn from magicians. Here are eight of them.
- Practice makes perfect
- It´s not about knowing but about flowing.
- There is more than meets the eye.
- More than one way.
- It’s not impossible just highly improbable
- The world is your playground
Practice makes perfect
I once read the saying: “beginners practice until they can do it right once, professionals practice until they can’t do it wrong anymore’. This is particularly true for the magician. Although in many professions it’s okay to make a mistake once in a while (given you make it right at the end ) the magician has little (to none) room for error. When the magician slips one move the whole trick can fall apart. If that happens for the magician there is little use to ´just do it again´.
Strife to do your ´tricks´ as perfect as the magician.
It´s not about knowing but about flowing.
Part of the magicians job is to cheat us. We know they WILL cheat us because they tell us they are going to. And part of us want to figure out how they do it. Because we like to ´know´. Part of us want them do succeed. Because we like to ´be amazed´. And sometimes we are even more amazed when we know. Famous for telling ´how it´s done´ is the duo Penn and Teller. In one of their performances they give the cups and balls, one of the oldest trick, their own spin. They call it the American cups and balls, because they use disposable plastic cups and ball made of tin foil. After they perform it once they go on and break a few rules of magic. Among them: 1. Never tell how you do it. 2. Never do the same trick twice. 3. Never use transparent cups. Even when we know what they are doing and see more than we should I still think that the way they do it is so smooth it only amazes me more.
Don’t be afraid to share your secrets. Just be this great that others still think you are amazing.
There is more than meets the eye.
When we look at the magician we know it’s not real. Something happens beyond what we can see. Sleight of hand, misdirection, mirrors and many more. No matter how difficult the secret move or complicated the preparation is, the magician makes sure you cannot see it’s there. In many cases when you would see the trick from his perspective it can be very very simple. Someone who used this example is Vinh Giang, a magician and public speaker. In one of his keynotes where he speaks about Influence, Believe and Perpective. In two examples he demonstrates that sometimes perspective is everything. A change of perspective may be the only thing that’s needed to see thinks clear. He suggest to cooperate with people from different background. Those people will provide you with insights that you could never come up with by yourself.
Broaden your perspective by cooperating with people who are different then you.
More than one way.
The ending of the trick as we see it is called the effect. The magician finding your card, a woman appearing out of and empty box or the magician floating in the area. How it’s done we call the method. And there are sometimes many (combinations of) methods to get to the same effect. Magicians like to fool each other. In order to do it they either have to come up with a new effect or a very different method. An example of the latter is Kostya Kimlat on the show ‘Fool Us’ where magicians get a change to try to fool Penn and Teller. When he starts the trick Penn and Teller think it’s a piece of cake figuring this one out. Especially because they did the effect 2 months earlier on a television show. However, Kostya takes a very different method and fools Penn and Teller.
When you can find a way to impress your pears by the way you do your job. You know you are do a good job.
It’s not impossible just highly improbable
In the previous paragraph we talked about finding new ways. This paragraph takes it a step farther. Magicians not only find new ways. They invent illusions that no one has ever seen before and do things that seem to be impossible. Sometimes magicians work for a decades on a new effect. Something that seems impossible. But when they get it all the time and effort was more than worth it.
Don’t be too easily convinced it cannot be done. Find a way.
The world is your playground
I have a six year old daughter. Sometimes I bring her to school and I enjoy how the children can play with just ‘nothing’. They take what’s available and invent the games as they go. For them everything is inspiring and how they use the world that comes to them and build it in a whole new world. This principle I also see when I look at the magician. At the one hand the magician gives us back our childlike wonder. At the other hand the magician lets himself be inspired by the new possibilities that are offered. With all the modern inventions, like smartphones and augmented reality, a whole new set of possibilities is made available to play with.
Playing is not a way to stay little. Playing is a way to grow up. Never stop playing. Always keep growing.
My personal mantra is ‘Play your part. Make life an Art’. When the magician performs a trick he could just go through the necessary motions. But what it really makes a magician great is rap the motions into a beautiful story. Either verbal or visual. In this way the audience is taken on a journey. In my own business, construction, there are a lot of people who do the same motions. In my company we like to believe that the secret of selling is not about being the better company. It´s nog even about selling the better product. It´s about selling the customer a better version of himself. When the magician tells the story right he is no trickster who plays his audience for a fool. He is the one who inspires his audience and makes them feel good.
You sell it, by how you tell it. Take your audience on a journey. Don’t just kick them to the finish.
The last and perhaps most important thing we can learn from the magician is the way he puts the different elements (method, music, monologue) into an integrated an beautiful compositions. All the elements must support each other or the are distracting (in the wrong way). Speed is also a thing. When it’s too slow, the audience will be bored. When it’s too fast the audience will not be able to follow. What the entrepreneur can learn from this is how to value and use his own tools in a right and integrated way. In the notion that all is connected and all should have the same incentive. To find the right rhythm you have to be willing to feel the audience and act accordingly.
Dance with the client. First learn your own paces until you don’t have to think about them anymore. Then step on stage and give a hell of a performance.