I posted an article on LinkedIn a few months back that got quite a bit of attention, and thought I’d share it here as well.
As a magician and mentalist specializing in the corporate market, I’m often asked by hotel staff and attendees if this is “my real job.” It just isn’t something people are used to seeing in a live environment. Even when we watch acts on America’s Got Talent, they normally have a storyline that involves some other source of income. In my case, I decided to make a career out of being a mentalist shortly after graduating from college.
For anybody who doesn’t know what a mentalist is, think of an illusionist who specializes in mind-reading entertainment. We do the same things that you might see a TV “psychic” do, except we present it as entertainment rather than purporting to be the real thing.
So back to being 21 and deciding to go into this full-time. My mentor, a magician named Jason Randal, posed a leading question — “Kevin, what do you think your real job is?” And given Jason’s resume, I tend to take his thoughts fairly seriously. Over his lifelong career as a magician and mentalist, he has also earned a PhD in social psychology, a seventh-degree black belt in karate, won multiple awards for different musical instruments, and is one of the top flight instructors in the world for both airplanes and helicopters. Not to mention moonlighting as faculty at both MIT and Harvard Business School.
So back to “Kevin, what do you think your real job is?” I replied that it was to do impossible mind reading demonstrations. But he made me drill deeper. Maybe it was to fool people? Maybe it was to help guests network during cocktails? After throwing out a few guesses, he finally gave me the answer, or at least his take on the correct answer. My job as an entertainer is to change the way that people feel. And he told me that I should approach all events with that intent and purpose. Because most mentalists, and most magicians, simply go out with the intent to fool. And that’s only half the battle. In reality, mind reading demonstrations are only my vehicle, or mode of action, to a much more important goal. Thinking that way produces a scalability and a unique value for clients.
When I show up to an event, I’m there for a greater purpose than simply fooling the guests. I’m there as an ambassador of goodwill, and everything from my arrival time to my communication leading to the event should reflect that. Given two performers of equal skill and expertise, who will do the better job? The act who shows up simply to fool the guests, or the act who shows up to create an experience that will leave them somehow changed for the better?
So what’s YOUR real job? Leave a comment below and please share!