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  July 26, 2013
Do You Believe in Magic?...



For many years, OptiFuse participated in certain local and national trade shows several times each year. The fundamental key to a successful trade show is your ability to have potential customers stop and look at the products that you are exhibiting.

Sounds simple enough...

However, as easy as that objective might seem, most trade show attendees typically walk at a brisk pace up and down the aisles, quickly scanning each booth, rarely stopping their forward momentum.

Every once in a while, some trinket catches their eyes and they are drawn to a display case to ask a question or two of the exhibitor.

If a crowd has formed at a particular booth, for whatever reason, the attendee all of a sudden might become curious as to what the commotion is all about and will take a moment to investigate.

Therefore the successful trade show exhibitor will attempt to try and draw a crowd to their booth.

This can be done by employing sexy girls to greet potential customers, displaying races cars, hiring celebrities to sign autographs, offering free refreshments or promotional giveaways, holding raffles and/or contests to win prizes.

One of the best methods of creating crowds at a trade show booth is employ a magician to perform for an audience.

Most people are drawn to magic like mosquitoes are drawn to a light and a large crowd is typically amassed at the exhibitors’ booth.

Magic, performed well, causes our minds to start working as we stretch the limits of our imagination and task our brains to discover the secret to the "trick" being performed.

Magic typically is devised of two elements: Misdirection (distraction) and Illusion.

Misdirection occurs when the audience’s attention is focused on one thing in order to distract attention from another thing occurring away from the action simultaneously. It is the primary job of the magician to manage the audience’s attention, directing it to one action while another is taking place.

There are two distinct ways a magician accomplishes misdirection...

The first method is to momentarily cause the eyes of the audience to look away for a  moment while he performs some other action.

In the classic cups and balls trick, all eyes are focused on what is under each cup as the magician quickly turns the cup over to reveal the contents. No one is watching the magician’s other hand as he secretly loads the other cups with additional balls both big and small.

Master magicians Penn and Teller do a fantastic job showing us the mechanics of the cup and balls trick.

The second method of misdirection occurs when extraneous information is added to the trick that has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the actual trick.

This is the approach that many of my engineering, math and physics professors took when devising their diabolical exams.

Their exam problems might include several pieces of additional information... information that had no bearing whatsoever on the problems soluton.

As a simple example... in physics... momentum is described simply as:

Momentum = Mass x Velocity

Therefore, in order to determine the momentum of an object, one is required to know only two things... the mass of the object and the velocity that the object is traveling at... that’s it!

However on a physics exam, the teacher may give the student the following information: the acceleration of gravity, the friction coefficient of the surfaces, the ambient temperature, the physical size and/or shape of the object... (as well of course as the mass and velocity)...

This additional information only causes confusion and misdirection for the student who believes that the additional information, provided by the teacher, somehow is paramount to creating a solution to the problem.

We even refer to these types of problems as "trick" questions.

Misdirection is only one element of magic.

The second element is illusion.

Illusion is the act of making the audience believe that they see something (or don’t see something) that is or isn’t there.

Illusionist magical tricks are categorized as the following:

Production - causing something to appear from nothing - a rabbit out of a hat for instance

Vanish - making something disappear - such as a stage assistant or a coin

Transformation - turns one thing into another - a rabbit into a bird

Restoration - destroys an object only to restore it back to its original form - sawing a person in half and then putting them back together

Teleportation - moving an object from one place to another

Escape - escaping from some kind of restraints - such as handcuffs or straightjackets

Levitation - defying the laws of gravity - such as a floating body

Penetration - making solid objects pass through another solid object - such as the magic rings trick

Prediction - predicting a future choice of a spectator - such as a choice of a certain card

Unlike misdirection, each of these feats of magic is performed with the aid of specially made props and devices rather than by causing distraction or adding extraneous information.

As in all magic, the secrets of each trick are guarded closely by the magicians performing them.

The key to understanding magic is having the knowledge that it is indeed an illusion or a slight of hand.  Magic is a trick that is in no way reality. Its only purpose is to deceive the audience into believing that the magician has some great power or skill.

And once you understand how the trick is done... it is no longer "magical".

I often find that certain individuals and/or companies have the innate ability to perform what would be considered as magic.

They can be truly experts in both types of magic... that is misdirection and illusion.

How often have we found ourselves in a debate about some topic only to have the topic misdirected to another unrelated subject completely?

We are in a discussion with our boss about a certain problem in customer service... but we suddenly find the topic hijacked to those "morons in the shipping department".  We leave the discussion with nothing resolved or accomplished.   

Our attentions were misdirected while something else was happening away from the action.

The second type of person we’ll encounter is the illusionist...

This is the type of person where important documents suddenly disappear only later to reappear at another time when it’s convenient for them...

The type of person who makes you believe you see something when in fact nothing is there...

It’s nothing more than a trick... an illusion...

The interesting point is that once we know the secrets to the trick, it’s no longer magical but rather just entertaining to watch the magician ply his craft...

Maybe I’m just being cynical this week as I’ve been conducting new hire interviews all week... one of the greatest magical props ever invented is the resume... misdirection and illusion abound...

Once you know the secret of the tricks... the fun is in watching the magician at work.

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse, where we don’t need smoke and mirrors to provide our customers with outstanding products and service...


Jim Kalb

Email - jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com

Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse

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