Make It Better

You know how sometimes you read a comment online that really drives you insane?

There are two options when that happens. Either stop reading the comments or write a blog post. So, here we are…

In response to a call for political action an anonymous person commented that they had “better things to do”.

Fine. I get that marches and protests may not be for everyone. There are plenty of other ways to take action. But it was their reasoning that really bugged  me.

They wrote: “The world was messed up before we got here and it’ll be messed up when we’re gone.”

Seriously?

If nothing truly matters then why do anything at all? Why create? Why work? Why help others? Why fight for equality? Why pursue your passion?

The world can seem cruel sometimes - especially lately - but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to use our individual strengths to make it better. Even if we only turn the dial a couple clicks we’ll still be making a difference.

Sometimes I struggle with the purpose of my career. It can seem trivial or absurd to stand onstage and do “mind tricks” for a living. Plus, my discipline isn’t exactly revered by the public like music or theater.

When I start to wonder about the point of it all, I’m reminded that people come to my show for many reasons. They aren’t there to see me - they’re there for a fun night out, a first date, a work event, or something else. Last night, a lady’s family had bought the tickets to celebrate her birthday.

Whatever the occasion, it’s up to me to make it special. When you think about it - that’s a tall order. A roomful of strangers are relying on me to give them a memorable experience. No pressure, right?

So it’s not about my skills as a mind reader, it’s not about showing off or being the star. It’s about making each and every person in your vicinity feel special, no matter what you do. It’s communal. It’s inclusive.

For 46 people last night I gave them a chance to forget about how “messed up” the world is. I gave them laughter and wonder and a chance to escape whatever is affecting them in their everyday lives. For 75 minutes, I made their world just a little bit better.

Last week it was 250 people on the west coast, the week before it was 500 on the east coast. It doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to use what I’m good at to brighten someone else’s day. Making a small difference is better than making no difference at all.

So yeah, the world is messed up, but it doesn’t have to be. Use what you do best to be more inclusive of others and shine light in the darkness around you. And don’t read the comments….it’s not worth it.

What Really Matters

The tour is halfway over!

I just returned from the San Diego Fringe Festival, where I performed five shows in ten days at the Geoffrey Off Broadway Theater.

I’ve been working on a new show this summer and it’s still very much a work-in-progress. I try out new ideas during each show, listen carefully to the audience, take notes, and repeat the process for the next show. I made so many changes during my run in San Diego that I ended up performing five different shows during the festival.

Fortunately, I think the show is really starting to come together as I received great press, amazing audience reactions, and even won the award for “Outstanding Magic or Mentalism Performance” for the second year in a row!

My dream is to do a mind reading show that is not about mind reading. I just feel like I have so much to say as an artist that I really don’t want my discipline to keep me from expressing those ideas. The story I’m trying to tell excites me far more than the techniques I’m employing to tell it. 

However, pairing mind reading with my personal narrative is a grueling task that progresses at a snail’s pace. The only way to achieve my goal is to get onstage night after night, embracing the failures and celebrating the successes.

Since I’ve been working out a new show, I’ve been relatively quiet about where I’m performing and when. It’s not that I don’t want people to see it - it’s just that I’m focusing more on the show itself and less on the promotion.

During last year’s tour I had a social media plan in place and worked tirelessly to promote each show every chance I could. But this year, I’ve been trying something different.

A few months ago I deleted Facebook from my phone. I stopped logging on every five minutes and started working more on creative projects. It’s made me far happier.

Any article that promises tips on how to promote a show will always list social media near the top. They stress that you need a Facebook event, frequent updates, ads, Instagram posts, and more. And for years, I believed it.

I was convinced that the only way to pack the house was to post consistently and keep my fans updated with my whereabouts. But it turns out, that’s not the case at all.

I haven’t been posting about the tour at all this year. I didn’t make an event page, I’ve limited how many reviews I share, and I haven’t sent out a single message asking people to attend.

And guess what?

I’ve been performing in larger venues and my audiences have been even bigger than last year. I’ve been getting better feedback than ever before and I’ve been far happier.

Whatever new technology comes our way; whatever new-fangled advice gets tossed around by some current guru - it doesn’t matter. Heed the advice or ignore it. Use social media or don’t. Post every day, or rarely. Tell everyone, or tell no one. It doesn’t matter at all.

What really matters is that you do good work. Have a good show or a good product. Work hard and let your work speak for itself. Do what you do so well that people will talk about it for you. And when word gets out and people come flocking to see you, be better than they could have ever imagined.

That’s why I’ve spent every last second working on the show this summer. Nothing matters except the story I’m trying to tell. It's been a slow process, but it's finally starting to get there.

You don’t need to be what anyone else tells you to be. You don’t have to work how someone else tells you to work. You just need to be you, silently working to be as good as you can be. The rest will come - I promise.


You can still catch me at Kansas City Fringe and Edmonton Fringe this summer! Tour dates here.

It's Not About You

Here’s a confession:

I started performing for selfish reasons. It was all about me.

I wanted to show off, I wanted to be the center of attention, and I wanted people to like me.

In the beginning performing is addictive. It’s a rush. You shake with nervous anticipation and hit the stage full of adrenaline. Applause from a good show will carry you to the next show; when you can finally get in front of an audience and feel that rush all over again.

But being a show off can only get you so far. When I started performing full-time I quickly realized that I needed to approach things differently.

For me to have a sustainable career I realized that I needed to make what I do about other people. It couldn’t be self-serving or narcissistic. I didn’t want to be the center of attention any more - I wanted to be the link between people and an unforgettable experience.

When I started making my work about other people everything changed for the better. People were more into what I do because it was about them. I still received applause and still got a rush, but now it was because I was cheering someone up or encouraging others. The amount of positive feedback I received for my performances increased exponentially. When you don't expect anything in return it's amazing how much you'll receive.

I hear other artists talk excitedly about the thrill of being onstage or how much they get out of their performances and I sit aghast, wondering if they even realize how much they’re missing the mark. 

It’s not about you. It simply can’t be. 

No matter what you do - onstage or off - it should be at the service of other people. Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard time being satisfied in your chosen profession.

Use what you do to make people happy, help improve their existence, inspire, and motivate. Share your wisdom but don’t be preachy. Encourage others but don’t act like you know everything. When everything you do originates from a place of helping other people you can’t go wrong. You'll be making the world a better place, even if it's just in your own little corner.

There's a wonderful Chinese proverb that goes "If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody."

The best things in my life have come from helping other people without asking for anything in return. It’s made a world of difference for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you.