Friday, December 04, 2009

Did you hear? We moved URLs!

I don't really maintain this blog any more. I visit every six months or so just to remind you that we have a new location. Visit:

for all the updated info that you've been missing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Forget Success - Embrace FAILURE!

The video below just might be the most inspiring, fear-inducing, and truthful five minutes you'll experience this year. It's not me. I get scared just watching the video. That's one of the things I love most about it.

Since I was a young pre-teen I've trained in the martial arts and for as long as I can remember I've always been the first to volunteer when it came time to spar, fight, or be the guy that the instructor uses to demonstrate a new technique.

When a visiting black belt comes to the school where I train Jiu-jitsu I'm always willing to roll with him no matter his size or experience. One day someone in class asked me "Aren't you scared?"


"Do you really think you can take that guy?" he then asked.

"I hope not" I replied, "because every time I lose I learn at least two things. I not only learn a new technique that can be used to win, but I learn about a weakness in my own defense".

Too often we strive so hard for success that we develop a fear and loathing of failure, when in fact, failure is one of the most important secrets to success!

For the past three months I've been studying a video of Danny MacAskill that many of you might have seen already on YouTube. If not, here's a link to this incredible video.

When we watch sporting events and we see the thrill of victory.

But we almost never get to see all the pain, and sweat, and frustration, and perserverence and failure that it takes to get to game day. We never get to see it because it is tedious, and scary, and intimidating, and emotionally draining. We never get to see it because it is very time consuming and boring and repetitive. And because victory often starts at 5 AM when many of us are still asleep.

Watch this video and bookmark it. Study the first 1:20 because you get a glimpse of what Danny puts in to become the talent than he has. You still can't see all the broken bones, all the stitches, all the scraped knees and elbows. You only get to see a few of the bicycles he's destroyed in his quest for excellence.

Pause the video at 3:05 and notice the path that he's worn up the side of the tree. How many times do you think you have to attempt something to wear down a groove in the side of an oak tree?

We'll probably never know. All we know is the amazing things he does in the 22 seconds immediately after.

I don't aspire to become a great bicyclist, or even a world-class martial artist. But in the things that are important to me I have allowed myself permission to fail. I have allowed myself permission to get out, scrape my knees, and fall down in front of people I care about. For the things that are important to me I have given myself permission to expose myself to ridicule. I have accepted that failure is almost surely part of the path, but it is not, and WILL NOT be my final destination.

What are you going to do today that scares you? Whatever it is, I give you permission to fail while trying as long as you promise to try again after you fall.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Business of Magic 6

As many of you know, for more than six years now I've been writing a monthly column in "The Linking Ring" (the world's largest, most widely distributed trade journal for professional magicians).

Distribution of the magazine is limited to the membership roles of the somewhat exclusive and secretive society, The International Brotherhood of Magicians. For those of you who are not members but would like to hear the business advice I've been providing the world's top performers and entertainers I've recorded the various articles over the years and released them as audio products.

The most recent edition (Year Six) is now available as an instant, digital MP3 download. I work purposely to keep the total time of the recording under 80 minuts so that if you want, you can burn the recording to CD, if you prefer that format. Here's the button to buy the MP3 if you want.

Year 6, instant MP3 download with no shipping - $12

Years 1-6 (8 HOURS!) instant MP3 download, no shipping - $59

Alternatively, you can visit my website and click the link to products. There you'll find most of my 20+ books, all my CD programs (including Business of Magic years 1-5 AND the entire set of years 1-6 as a "Boxed Set" discount in both downloadable format as well as CD that we can ship to you).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

We've Moved!!

This blog has been relocatd to:

Thursday, February 05, 2009

These four trends WILL affect your livelihood…

There are several trends that you might or might not have noticed that are changing the economic landscape right now. These trends WILL impact your livelihood. For those who see them and understand them and know how to use them to their advantage, the impact will be profitable. For those who are caught unaware, the impact could be disastrous.

I’m going to openly share my personal and professional strategy for dealing with these trends, but first I think it is important to expose the changes that are already affecting your business.

1) The first of the trends is the pervasive encroachment of technology into every aspect of our lives. Things that used to be too ridiculous a concept to even include in a science fiction story are now mainstream toys. Think about the computing power in a typical smart phone compared to what NASA used to get men to the moon.

2) The second trend is a shift away from owning “things” and toward “experiences”. Kids today think of CDs as antiquated and bulky. You don’t want the LP, cassette, or CD, you want the MUSIC. The CD was just the best tool (at one time) to deliver that music and now it is no longer the best tool. CDs can get lost, stolen, or scratched. But the music in a digital format can remain viable forever and transfered to whatever medium is the choice of the time. This trend goes far beyond music into other forms of entertainment and information distribution as we shall see.

3) The third trend is that of the Green Movement: regardless of your beliefs about the cause or even the existence of global warming, it is lunacy to ignore the rising trend toward having a lessening impact on the environment. There is a LOT of potential here for you to capitalize on this trend and I’ll share some ideas with you.

4) The fourth and last trend I’m going to discuss today is the ever-present concerns about the current economic situation. Again, regardless of your personal experience or your belief about what the future holds, you simply cannot ignore the concerns of most of America during this time, and the economic situation ranks #1 in the minds of most Americans right now.

Real quick, I want to share with you a strategy that I’m implementing that I think will take these four factors and use them to my advantage and by extension, you will also benefit.

I’m currently in the process of converting all my information products into digital format so that CDs have become MP3s, my books have become e-books, and DVDs are becoming .MOV files. This not only embraces the technology as it exists today, it also reduces waste, eliminates the carbon footprint involved in delivering physical products in trucks burning fossil fuels, and because there is no shipping costs, those savings are passed on to the consumer in a lower overall product price.

But there is this invisible hurdle to overcome: For those of us born before 1984 (the year 1984, not the book 1984) we still have an emotional attachment to holding physical product. I remember how much I resisted direct deposit checks because I wanted to touch the paper to know it was real. I want to HOLD the CDs to know I have purchased something even though the plastic and paper is NOT what I am really buying.

So, here’s what I am doing...I’ve created a package of some of my e-books, and some of my MP3s, bundled them together and am “selling” them at a total cost of ZERO dollars. It’s like a chance to practice the new economy from beginning to end, with absolutely no risk at all as there is nothing to pay for.

What you do is go to and you will see the “Add to Cart” button. Click that and you will see that it is a zero dollar item. You will also see all the files I’ve included in that bundle. Some of you may already have some of this stuff but no one has all of it.

You’ll “check out” but it won’t ask you for a method of payment. Instead you will be asked for an e-mail address where you want the link sent. This should probably be the same e-mail address you use to get my monthly newsletter, but you can use whatever you want.

Within a few seconds you will have the link in your e-mail account to download all the files. See what you think of digital products. You can burn the MP3s to CD if you really want the plastic. And you can print out the PDFs if you really want the paper. But I think you’ll like the direction these trends are taking my business.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing more about each of these trends and how you can take strategic advantage of each of them in your own business.

But right now, visit and feel free to tell a friend about the site as well. My goal is to open people up to this technology and open them up to what I offer as well and I think this little “sample pack” is a good way to start.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Quick Simple Question...

The other day I went into a fast food restaurant that will remain nameless just because some people will probably take this article the wrong way and I don’t want a good business to suffer because of it.

I ordered a simple combo-meal that included a drink and fries. The clerk, who happened to be a manager named Julienne asked me “Medium or Large?” It was such a quick and innocent sounding question that I almost answered before thinking.

“No, a small will be fine, thank you”. She completed my order and as she handed me my receipt and tray of food I asked her a question that she clearly didn’t feel comfortable answering.

I asked her how many of the people accepted one of her two options and went with either medium or large. She said she didn’t know. I pushed until she admitted that it was at least 85-90%.

This simple upsell adds either 59 or 99 cents to each meal ordered. As each combo normally runs about $5-6 that’s a 10-20% markup on EACH meal sold. The best part is that it costs the restaurant almost NOTHING to fulfill delivery. A slightly larger soda costs them a penny or two in syrup and fractions of a cent for a larger cup. The difference between a small and medium sized fries is non-existent. Only the cardboard box changes size. Basically the same amount of product fits in each size box. The large holds a little more than the small but even then, you’re talking about potatoes: just about the cheapest food product on the planet.

So for virtually no cost at all they are able to increase their revenue by 10-20% just by asking one single, very simple and almost automatic question. The secret is to ask the question systematically, to EVERYONE who orders a combo meal and to ask it EVERY single time.

I’m still trying to work out exactly how this principle can be applied in my business. There is something about the assumptive quality of the question and something also about the two-options format. But basically it is a simple question.

Do you do birthday parties? Are you willing to do Goodie bags? (I do the former, but not the latter). Maybe you could add a simple question like “Do you want us to handle the goodie bags for everyone or are you going to put all those together yourself?”

Not as clean as “Medium or Large?” but it gets that conversation started. I’ll bet that’s got to be worth a few thousand dollars a year for the right performers.

Or, if you do awards banquets you might ask “Do you want to include enough magic tricks for every seat at each table or just one trick per table and let everyone kind of share it?” Most event planners might not have even thought about the idea of including magic tricks for the guests, and when they find out that you can provide quality, PRE-SELECTED tricks for less than $2 per person you might just be able to bump up your revenue for the night by a pretty significant amount.

I welcome your thoughts on this. Remember, I'm not just talking about ways to increase revenue. There are countless thousands of ways to do that. I'm talking about doing it with a question. A single, very simple, question that is asked near the end of each transaction.

What is YOUR question for 2009?


Thursday, January 08, 2009

That time of year (Not Goal Setting!)

All the marketing experts right now are writing about how you should be setting goals this week. So there is no need for me to beat you over the head with it. Instead I'm going to give you something they aren't: real-world, valuable, solid, easy-to-implement advice that you probably haven't heard before.

How novel.

Every January I try to go through my various web pages and update the copyright notice to reflect the new year. This does four things:

1) It automatically extends my copyright on the material on my web site for an additional year. This is important, but it is really the least important reason for doing this as by the time the copyright expires on the material that is posted on my web site it will probably be of little real value to my surviving heirs anyway. The more important reasons follow...

2) It lets viewers know they are seeing an up-to-date web site. Personally, when I see a website that proudly boasts that it was "recently" updated and the date mentioned is 3 years old, I really wonder why they mention it at all!

Seriously, if you aren't going to regularly go in and change the copy on your web site, that's fine. Just don't be silly enough to put a DATE on the web site letting everyone KNOW! People appreciate up-to-date information when browsing the web. You don't want to publicize if your information hasn't been updated in years.

I renew the copyright date on my website, even if the copy doesn't change as it lets the reader's know that I am still actively involved in running the business and that I am attentive to details.

3) The third reason is that when you go in and look at each individual page as you adjust the copyright date it sort of forces you to actually read the copy that you've posted. You'd be surprised what things you will find when you read your own web site. From information that is no longer accurate, to misspelled words, to references that date the site even more than an old copyright notice.

As an example, there was a competitor of mine who also performed motivational school assembly programs in Texas. Her programs claimed to address specific issues covered in the state mandated test in Texas, however, she was calling the test by a name that hadn't been used in Texas for almost FIVE YEARS!! I had to wonder how many opportunities she lost simply because her web site was promoting her ability to help students pass a test that had been phased out half a decade previously.

These are the silly sorts of mistakes that can cost you more than not having a web site at all!

So go in and read your own web site. Each page, one-by-one. Update the copyright years if you have them, make sure that all the other references are up to date, and keep an eye out for other opportunities to polish up your site going into this new year.

4) And for the last, but possibly the most important reason to update your web site copyright dates: search engines (e.g. Google and Yahoo) love current information. They can tell when the web page was last updated and that weighs heavily in your search engine rankings. They can't tell how much information on your site has changed (maybe it was nothing more than "2008" becoming "2009") but they weigh current information far more heavily than information that hasn't been updated in a year or more.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Subtle Differences

So what's the difference between hosting after school magic workshops and performing some other type of ancillary program like reading reward programs, summer library shows, or science night programs?

The answer lies in how the ancillary programs integrate into your primary business model. What is your CORE business? What is the REASON your business exists from the perspective of your customer. Clearly, the business exists to make a profit for YOU, but in order to do that you have to serve CUSTOMERS. What is your supreme service?

For me, and the people who've made lots of money doing what I teach, the latter examples in paragraph one integrate perfectly with our supreme service while the idea of an after school magic workshop becomes something of a distraction from our primary purpose.

Does that mean that it isn't valuable to the client? No.

Does it mean that after school magic workshops would not be profitable? That is NOT what it means.

Then WHAT is the difference?!

To understand you need to understand what I consider my primary purpose is; what my core business is based upon. If you understand this, then the difference is crystal.

Let me go make sure the guys in this room get it. I'll post again tomorrow.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Path Less Chosen

I'm just finishing breakfast and about to kick off the fourth annual, and FINAL incarnation of the Business Building Workshop for Magicians and School Show Performers.

I've been having a lot of fun with it over the years but felt the need to end this chapter, but I am going out with a bang.

I am revealing everything that has helped me and others create rather phenomenal growth in the niche market we've chosen. Some stuff will probably look familiar but most is quite contrary to traditional thought.

For example: Last night we talked about the idea of hosting after school magic workshops. In such a setting you work after school hours, teaching magic to school age children. A great way to create spin off business both in the schools and for birthday parties, right?

Well, not according to what we'll be covering over the next few days. Instead, we'll be working on running DEEP with a client, rather than broadly covering all their various needs. Not a right and wrong thing so much as it is a choice about efficiency.

Gotta go! Time to stop typing and start talking!

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Conference Starts in a few hours

Actually, the conference started this evening with an informal get-together in the hotel lobby. Not everyone showed up, but for those who did, we had a pretty good little brainstorm going. One of the things we brought up was the idea (not new or original) of after school magic workshops. Over the next few days we are going to try to develop something around this idea that I hope will help ALL of us grow our businesses, even if we choose not to actually teach magic workshops after school.

But it is very late and I have to get up early tomorrow and work out before I begin lecturing. I'm not sharing this post with the entire list, but if you are on an RSS feed or drop in to the site from time to time, you'll want to check back frequently over the next week as I will be posting at least once a day until the conference ends.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gift: Seth Godin Audio Book

My last post about achieving goals created a little controversy, in part because I stood to make some money. So to make ammends to anyone who was upset I am giving a gift to everyone.

Okay, actually I'm not the one giving it. Seth Godin is. And the real truth is that it's not even my idea. This gift was first given to me by a friend of mine from South Africa named Marcel Oudejans who is one of the savviest guys I've met in a long time.

He told me about the free download on his blog. So, to return the favor to him for sharing with me this resource, I'm going to have you get the link from HIS blog, not mine. Of course, he doesn't profit from this either, but hopefully you'll like the stuff he writes and start following his blogs as well as mine.

Either way, enjoy the Seth Godin book. I know you'll enjoy the price ($0)

Just for the record, you will have to follow a link from Marcel's blog to get to the free download and you'll need to download some free software from Audiobook in order to process the download. It is all very intuitive and easy and will take less than 4 minutes.

It's worth it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm sorry I started this controversy...

There was a little bit of controversy generated ten days ago when I recommended a product for which I get an affiliate referral fee. It was suggested that my recomendation might have been influenced by the few dollars I might make in affiliate fees.

I wrote a response to the idea and you can read it as well as all the other controversial comments that flew back and forth on my business building blog. Just scroll down to the previous entry, read it and then click where it tells you the number of comments. You're welcome to add your own, positive or negative, if you want.

But my wife suggested that rather than TELL people about how effective the program is, why don't I SHOW them something irrefutable.

Warning: if you touch this link you will see pictures of me with no shirt so at your own risk!

See for yourself:

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