The Right Way to do Wrong

A question I get asked a lot on podcasts & interviews isn’t really a question, it’s more of a statement.

“I bet you can manipulate people, huh?”

Well, yeah. That’s what I get paid to do, and it’s why I started [     ] Like A Mind Reader in the first place; teach others the tricks of influence & psychological direction.

Historical Precedence

In 1906 Harry Houdini (the most famous magician of all time) wrote a book called “The Right Way to Do Wrong.” In the preface he says this:

The object of this book is twofold: First, to safeguard the public against the practices of the criminal classes by exposing their various tricks and explaining the adroit methods by which they seek to defraud. “Knowledge is power” is an old saying. I might paraphrase it in this case by saying knowledge is safety. I wish to put the public on its guard, so that honest folks may be able to detect and protect themselves from the dishonest, who labor under the false impression that it is easier to live dishonestly than to thrive by honest means.

The part that really grabs my attention is “Knowledge is safety.”

The psychological techniques & tools I cover in my consulting, coaching, & personal work are exactly the same used by big corporations, advertising, and the unscrupulous.

Just like any tool, it can be used for good or evil, and it’s up to the person using them to never use them for nefarious means.

But only through education & knowledge of the techniques can one protect themselves from it. We’re influenced and manipulated every day by those who would strive to relieve you of the burden of your hard-won money.


I’ll wrap up my thoughts with the words of Houdini:

The work of collecting and arranging this material and writing the different chapters has occupied many a leisure hour. My only wish is that “The Right Way to Do Wrong” may amuse and entertain my readers and place the unwary on their guard. If my humble efforts in collecting and writing these facts shall accomplish this purpose, I shall be amply repaid, and feel that my labor has not been in vain. ~Harry Houdini, Handcuff King and Jail Breaker


“The Right Way To Do Wrong” is now available as a PDF + Audiobook bundle! Read & listen to it wherever you go.

Insights from a Pickpocket

Daniel Martin is a magician and a dear friend of mine. We’re both left handed, devastatingly good looking, and in the business of lying to people.

He can do lots of things I can’t do.

He can steal watches.

If you ever have the pleasure of experiencing him steal your watch first-hand, it’s deeply disturbing. You think you’d feel it, but you absolutely don’t. (And that’s the secret to a lot of why your life sucks. We’ll get back to that.)

Dan understands how attention works, and uses that knowledge for evil to his advantage.

Step 1

First, he gets you completely focused on something that doesn’t have anything to do with your watch.

We’ll call that “Trick A.”

Step 2

Once you’re completely absorbed with Trick A (the distraction) he’s free to take your watch: “Trick Holy Crap.” Your mind simply can’t keep track of what’s going on, so you never notice it’s not on your wrist any more.

The technique of actually removing the watch makes use of a hiccup in our sense of touch called proprioceptive habituation. That’s a fancy term for the fact that people will quickly adapt to a stimulus that’s always present.

You can see an example of this in the movie “Blues Brothers” where John Belushi’s character asks, “How often does the train go by?”

Dan Aykroyd’s character says, “So often you won’t even notice it.”

This is why you don’t feel your watch all the time when you’re wearing it. If you were constantly aware of it, you’d be so distracted you couldn’t walk down the street.

It’s the same reason you aren’t always thinking about your shoes, your belt, or your nose. (But you are now, aren’t you? Feels weird, right?)

Step 3

So there’s a lot going on.

You’re already habituated to the pressure of your watch on your wrist. Then you’re focused on Trick A which allows Dan to grab your wrist tightly, and you quickly get used to that pressure. This enables him to do the more gentle work of unclasping your watch band.

Since your arm got used to the firm pressure from Dan’s hand, when he releases it, your mind can’t distinguish the fact that your watch is no longer there.

Add in some extra time between when he takes it and when he shows you it’s gone, and VOILA! It’s frickin’ magic!

Why Your Life Sucks

You probably already figured out what all this has to do with why your life sucks, but I’m going to spell it out because it took me forever to realize it for myself (and I’m super smart).

You’ve gotten used to how much your life sucks. You constantly distract yourself from how much it sucks with stuff you think you like so you won’t have to think about what’s actually going on.

You’ve told yourself, “I’m happy. I’m ok with how much my life sucks. This is just the way life is.”


Dan & I can lie to you (and you never notice) because you’re busy lying to yourself.

You need to get fed up. You have to do things differently.

Otherwise nothing will change, and after your life slips away you’ll realize you’ve lost a lot more than your watch.

You’ve lost your passion. Your drive.

Your life.

See It In Action

Don’t think anyone could steal a watch from you? See Dan do it in real time. There are no camera tricks. No fancy edits to hide what’s going on. You’ll get to see the real work on what it takes to take something valuable from someone you love.

Use this knowledge  to take advantage of everyone you know  for good.

Like what you see? Want more? Go check Dan out at his site, and say hello!