In Pursuit of Magic

Would You Know It When You Find It?

For me, there is very little difference between magic and art. To me, the ultimate act of magic is to create something from nothing: It’s like when the stage magician pulls the rabbit from the hat. ~Alan Moore

The rabbit was in the hat the whole time.

Not so magical, now, huh?

There’s a weird thing that happens when someone learns a magic trick, and it happens in an instant. This precise moment can teach us a lot about our businesses, relationships, and life in general.

The Situation

Imagine you’re at a magic show and something happens that really, truly, affects you. It turns your whole world upside down, and you can’t seem to let it go.

You know there’s a trick to it, but you can’t possibly imagine how that could be.

You leave the show, and you’re still thinking of it for days afterward. It’s like a fishhook in your mind that keeps digging in deeper and deeper.

Eventually you decide you’ve had enough, and you’re going to find out how it works even if it kills you.

You drive to one of the few remaining magic shops, and tell your story to the guy behind the counter.

“Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about,” he says. “You probably don’t actually want to know how it works. It’s kind of advanced, but if you really want it, I’m not going to say no. It’s in this 5 page pamphlet and it explains everything. That’ll be $200.”

The Decision

It’s a lot of money for a single trick, but considering how big an impact it had on you, $200 is actually kinda cheap to finally know.

“Now, once a secret’s told, the secret is sold. There’s no returning the secret, so there’s no returning your money. Got it?”

You nod and swipe your card. He hands you the pamphlet.

30 seconds later you look up from the pages and say, “It’s just mirrors?”

“It’s just mirrors.”

And then it happens. This peculiar moment. Something snaps:

“That’ll never fool anybody!”

Before you dismiss this scenario as being too far fetched, let me tell you from personal experience, it happened all. the. time.

I worked at a magic shop in Universal Studios for a little over a year. This was before Harry Potter world was built, and we enjoyed a monopoly on the magic business at the park for a glorious year and a half.

People would see a magic trick demonstrated, have their mind blown, buy the trick, and come back later saying this would never fool anybody.

All the time.

They’re fooled so badly that they’re willing to spend good money to learn how it works, so they can do it themselves, and immediately discount the method.

What In The World Is Going On?!

Methods are too simple.

I think it really boils down to that.

When we look at people our industry who have achieved so much, we feel compelled to figure out what it is that they’re doing different. We give everything to know what they know. We go to seminars. We attend workshops. We go on retreats.

And they share their secrets.

Except; there are no secrets. They’re guarding empty vaults.

We keep thinking there has to be something else because the answers are too simple. But, that’s what makes them a genius solution. The answers are so painfully obvious, people ignore them.

When you truly wrap you mind around this little truth, it’ll blow your world apart. It’s often the simplest methods that get the most results. Stop trying to make things too complicated!

In the world of magic it’s almost always string, mirrors, or sleight of hand.

In the world of business it’s almost always great customer service, providing value, and follow-up.

Stop chasing secrets and start practicing your basics, and you’ll be light years ahead of everyone who is chasing the next big secret.

Let them believe in fairytales while you work your magic.

Effect First Thinking

When a magician is creating something new, there are 2 parts of the equation.

  1. The Effect: What do I want the audience to experience?
  2. The Method: How am I going to make that happen?

In a good show, the magician puts most of his time into answering the first question as clearly as possible, and then devoting excessive amounts of time & effort to figuring out the second question.

He allows the effect to dictate his choices.

When it’s a decision between two options:

  1. The easy way that diminishes the effect, or
  2. The difficult way that enhances the effect

The good magician will choose the second option every time.

It’s not unusual for a magician to spend a couple years working on a method if it’s the difference between an ok trick and a perfect trick.


Sometimes, however, a method can be so ingenious, novel, or fun that a magician tries to come up with a trick that would justify using that method. This, however, rarely creates something truly spectacular.

To use a common saying, “This is the tail wagging the dog.”

Your Business

Many people who aren’t where they want to be suffer from “Method First Thinking.” They allow where they are to dictate where they want to go.

So often when I ask clients what they want, they can’t tell me. If you don’t know where you want to go (the what), focusing on the how isn’t going to do you any good.

Get absolutely clear on what you want in your life, and then figure out how to make that happen. Not the other way around.

Focus on the effect, first & the method becomes secondary.