The M-word

Post topics about the business side of magic.

Postby NCMarsh » 03/05/07 10:23 PM

I'm getting bigger into networking and as part of that i'm working on my 30 second "personal commercial" (variously called the "elevator" or "cocktail" pitch in different books)...and I'm going back and forth about using the word "magician"...

the cons:

1. it sounds like "musician"
2. I can't control the connotations people have about it

the pros:

1. It is different, and I think it grabs people's attention (either in the sense of "you really do that for a living?" or in "wow, that's cool")
2. All of the euphemisms i've heard for it ('material fictionist,' 'infotainer' etc., etc.) sound contrived and pretentious when used in actual conversation...

It's a question we all deal with in one way or another...what are your thoughts?

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Postby John LeBlanc » 03/05/07 10:37 PM

It's hard to top the word "magician" in an elevator pitch. The word is a powerful mental "shortcut" for an amazing set of experiences many people have in their heads already.

Try this on for size: "I'm a...different magician.". It lets you use a powerful word while nulling one of the biggest complaints about magicians. It leads the recipient to the next logical step: "What do you mean, 'different'?" To which you answer, "You know, I'm glad you asked me that..."

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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 03/06/07 04:19 AM

John, that reminds me of Derren Brown's approach which he described in Absolute Magic. This is what he'd say when approaching a group of people at the restaurant where he worked:

"Good evening, welcome to Byzantium. If you don't know me, my name's Derren Brown, and I'm ... a kind of magician. Hello there (shaking hands, getting a few names) ... May I join you for a couple of minutes? ... Thank you."

He goes on to explain more about it, but it essentially comes down to what you said -- evoking a powerful image while immediately setting yourself apart from the "common" magician.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 06:53 AM

How about

"I'm a magician, but not one of those [censored] annoying ones with playing card ties, flashing pins and those little sponge rabbits. Honestly. I'm not."

;)
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 07:58 AM

*sigh*
It's a sad day indeed when the word "Magician" is seen as something bad to associate yourself with.

I had a discussion about this the other day at dinner with some friends. I showed them a card I had just gotten by some guy who called himself some ridiculous thing like "Paranormal Exhibitionist."
After a brief chat we pretty much decided that it would be refreshing if someone just damn well called themselves a magician.
The only title I can think of that is, in my opinion, better than magician belonged to Reveen "The Impossibilist."

Gord

P.S. I can't believe "Impossibilist" is in my spell check.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 03/06/07 08:53 AM

Gord Gardiner wrote:
P.S. I can't believe "Impossibilist" is in my spell check.
Sort of lends a little credibility to the "anti-magician" sentiment, doesn't it?

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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 08:56 AM

Not really, "Magician" is in my spell check also.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 10:02 AM

Hello, I'm Bill Palmer. I'm a magician and a banjo player, so I can annoy the Hell out of you several different ways.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 03/06/07 10:12 AM

Bill,
I'm just glad you're not a wizard.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 02:16 PM

"Hi, I'm Randy Gastreich. I'm a magician and I also play bag-pipes. I can annoy the hell out of you and then, if you wish, I can play the bag-pipes. :D
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 02:47 PM

"Visual Mesmerist......."
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Postby John LeBlanc » 03/06/07 04:19 PM

For some reason or another, this thread brings to mind Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I:

Dole Office Clerk: Occupation?

Comicus: Stand-up philosopher.

Dole Office Clerk: What?

Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and meaningful comprehension.

Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a *[censored]* artist!

Comicus: Hmmmmmm...
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 04:53 PM

John

No truer words have ever been said.

Now my question is. Did you know that off the top of your head or did you have to watch the movie again?

Gord
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Postby John LeBlanc » 03/06/07 05:10 PM

Don't be silly, Gord. I have the three greatest movies of all time -- History of the World Part I, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Jerk -- seared, SEARED into my memory.

There's no way...no-o-o-o-o way, you came from my loins.
-- Buford T. Justice, Smokey and the Bandit
(Dick, this one's is for you):
"The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!"
-- Navin R. Johnson, The Jerk
I'd better stop now; this could go on for hours.

John
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Postby Guest » 03/06/07 10:49 PM

"I was born a poor black child" :D
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Postby Guest » 03/07/07 08:42 AM

the cons:
2. I can't control the connotations people have about it
But you can potentially change their perception.

1. Be a genuine human being. Not some creepy jerk trying to "pitch" something.

2. Don't suck!

Really. People don't have a BAD perception of magicians. They have a GOOD perception of what a BAD magician is! And that is what they carry around with them. Somebody, somewhere HURT them and their idea of a magician was shattered. So much so that they are unwilling to forgive!

You may be the first GOOD magician they see! Love them gently and you will be rewarded. :)
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 03/07/07 11:50 AM

I very frequently have the problem of people hearing "musician" for "magician" - and then when they understand "magician" they think I might mean something Wiccan, and I have to say "rabbit out of a hat magician."

I've never pulled a rabbit out of a hat in my life, but that's the shorthand I always use. Nothing more suitable has occurred to me. I don't want to say that I'm an "is this your card?" magician.

Maybe the solution is to shift the focus off of what you ARE and on to what you OFFER. Instead of saying "I'm a magician," you could say that you have "a unique program of magic and illusion," or something along those lines.

And my dear Mr. Murphy! Forgiveness is an automatic, effortless, spontaneous reaction to honest remorse! In the absence of sincere apology - it ain't gonna happen!
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/07/07 12:37 PM

P.T.,

A good "elevator pitch" (I don't like the term) does not come off as "some creepy jerk trying to "pitch" something."

The idea is that you are prepared to quickly and effectively communicate what you do, and do it in a way that engages and interests the listener.

A great "personal commercial" (that's a term I like a little better) evocatively highlights the benefits of what you do without making someone feel like they're being "pitched"

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Postby Guest » 03/07/07 01:37 PM

NCM-

I am fully aware of what the idea is. My apologies.

I was NOT suggesting that YOU sounded like a creep or the idea was creepy. I was going along with your idea that people have a negative perception of magicians and I think that part of the reason for the negative perception is that some guys DO come off as creeps when they are pitching their act.

All I can do is be positive and put my best foot forward.

I am a magician.

Say it loud and say it proud.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 03/07/07 01:51 PM

Nathan Coe Marsh wrote:
A great "personal commercial" (that's a term I like a little better) evocatively highlights the benefits of what you do without making someone feel like they're being "pitched"
Nathan, after you think about it, I'll bet you'll find some humor in the irony in comparing your original question and what you wrote above. :)

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Postby Guest » 03/07/07 05:50 PM

A person's preception of a "magician" is nearly irrelevant. Your job is to sell yourself as a human being. If you approach a group or an individual with confidence, if you are clean, neatly dressed, and well-mannered, if you are not emotionally needy and using magic as a theraputic modality for whatever your real or preceived shortcomings of personality are, then you'll be fine. If your attitude is to provide entertainment and diversion for them, fulfilling their needs, you'll be fine.

If you look like you slept in your clothes, reek of tobacco, are rude or unnecessarily aggressive, if you're there to show them how clever you are, you'll fail, regardless of the quality of your sleight of hand.

It really is that simple.
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/07/07 06:24 PM

John,

you're dead on about the irony...though i'm not sure how I feel about that word ;)

David,

I think that the preconceptions do not matter when you are performing. The product is in front of them, they judge on that.

Likewise, agree that your own earned confidence is the most important factor in every situtation.

That said, what I have in mind are social and professional situations -- situations in which you have no intention of performing, or, at least, no intention of performing without being asked -- in which it is in your interest to quickly mold the listener's perception of what you do.

On a cold call. At a trade association or chamber of commerce mixer. While sitting in a bar.

What I try to do is to shape their judgement of the quality and value of what I do before saying the word "magic." I'm interested in other people's approach.

This is the long version that I've been working on recently (i.e. this version isn't right for every situation, but every situation uses some element that is in this version):

Q: What do you do?

A: Think about an event where everything went smoothly...but the night felt ordinary and predictable...like there was something missing...

I help companies like the Hard Rock Casino, Yellow Book, Champs Sports, and USAA add a "wow" to their events.

During the cocktail hour, I use magic to break the ice, give guests something interesting to talk about, and fill the room with energy. After dinner, my interactive show ends the night with a bang."

The debate in my head, which led me to post the original question, was whether or not to say "I am a magician. I help companies like..."

or "I help companies like..." (as above)

reading John's thoughts about the power of the word magician...i'm going back towards that version...thanks for your thoughts

Best,

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Postby Guest » 03/13/07 07:50 AM

Nathan,

I hear you on the Freudian slip of saying "musician". I perform both magic and music for a living, and lately, have mistakenly introduced myself as a MU-gician ! It makes me feel like an idiot, so I try to quickly correct myself. Most folks have a good laugh, and it actually seems to be a good icebreaker, so I may keep doing it....

Mark Pettey
Naples, FL
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Postby Guest » 03/13/07 10:11 AM

Trumpetman
Actually, calling yourself a mu-gician sounds like a great hook. If you could learn to play an instrument while performing you may be onto something.
Of course, you may have to learn how to perform one handed. And I hear those piano's can be terribly hard to move around, but you'll figure something out.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 03/13/07 08:16 PM

I'm actually proud to tell people what I do for a living. "What do you do?""I'm a magician."
It's the coolest job in the world, for crying out loud!
In my experience, people are immediately interested in my job and I've never felt anything ressembling condescendence (is that a word?(english:second language :rolleyes: ))when I've mentionned it in the past.

I think when people see what we actually do ("real magic"), they forget all their previous misconceptions about magic.

Seb
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Postby Ian Kendall » 03/14/07 03:33 AM

And then you have my wife, who, on our first date ten years ago, asked me what I did for a living. When I told her I was a magician she said,

'What the hell kind of a job is that?'

It was uphill from there...

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Postby Guest » 03/14/07 05:19 AM

I can relate Ian. When I was eighteen, I was working semi-professionally as a magician. I got married and became a father ( sorta in that order) and my wife's fundamentalist conservative family never understood that what I did was a respectable living. (well ... not that it was).

So I went back to school and got an engineering degree. Worked for a living for nine years and was miserable. Marriage collapsed, I became a single parent and went back to performing eventually. Remarried; second wife's family never knew exactly WHAT it was I did for a living but they considered it unseemly. That marriage petered out and I still performed for a living. Remarried a couple of years ago and this wife's family thinks it's cool that I'm a professional entertainer, they're really very interested in it. I suspect this marriage may last. After all, spouses are a dime a dozen, but a good trick may cost a few hundred dollars ...

John R
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 09:34 AM

Which reminds me of the old joke...

Q- What can an extra large pepperoni pizza do that a magician/musician can't?

A- Feed a family of four! :)
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Postby Guest » 03/17/07 07:17 AM

For many years I worked as a professional "carded" musician. Especially through college, older people poked fun at me by misquoting and saying "magician?". Since I never perform music anymore, guess what?

Yep!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
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Postby Guest » 03/21/07 10:03 AM

I have found that adding an appropriate adjective before the word "magician" helps to avoid the confusion with "musician".

99% of the time I get a very favorable reaction when I introduce myself as a magician. Most people want to see a trick. If the trick is good, they ask for more!
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Postby Guest » 03/21/07 10:47 AM

Not only does adding an adjective help eliminate confusion with musician, it can go a long way toward doing two things:
1) Activating people's pre-existing idea of magician; while at the same time
2) putting a different perspective on it, increasing interest while deemphasizing any negative connotation they may have.

Pick a good adjective.
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Postby Guest » 03/21/07 04:27 PM

One word?

"Ugh, a magician."

I guess that would be truth in advertising. ;)
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Postby Guest » 04/05/07 07:05 PM

Hi, I'm Pepka and if Bill and Randy didn't annoy the hell out of you with magic and banjo and bagpipes, how about a card trick and a trombone solo?

For a few years, I really hated the word magician, I put Sleight of hand artist on my card. People thought I drew hands. It now reads sleight of hand magician. I also think entertainer would work in place of magician.

Bill and Randy, we need to get together at a convention and jam.
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Postby Guest » 04/08/07 06:39 AM

True, the term "magician" has a variety of meanings. The lowest is probably associated with hack attention seekers who only believe they are magicians. The highest level to me means "magical entertainer".

As a charter member of the Wizards of the Ozarks when Branson was just a spot on the road, I can recall the problems of being called a "wizard" too! To the ignorant (North and South) it meant officer in the Klan.

I wonder if there is a term delusionist? Today there are also a lot of those!

Bob Sanders
The Amazed Wiz
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Postby Guest » 04/14/07 06:35 AM

I always used the line "I'm a professional magician" 9 out of ten times the reply comes back, "professional magician?" That opens to door and puts you in control for whatever follows.
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Postby Guest » 05/17/07 03:47 PM

I'm forty-seven. My parents and siblings still think this "thing" I'm doing with the Walt Disney Company is just a phase I'm going through. Go figure.

Thank you Genii for providing a place where I can also confess I'm a fiddler. I feel better now.

Best,

Mick Ayres
Cranial Hoodwinker
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Postby Guest » 05/25/07 07:32 AM

Mick,

Wait until you are 62 and your 86 year-old dad still wants to know if you ever found a job! LOL

It can really be hard living down to the expectations of others.

Bob
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