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"Ten Actionable Principles of Successful Business and Killer Magic" by Mitch Praver

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Intersection #2 of 10: To build effective collaboration and teamwork.

Jul 5, 2023 | 0 comments

Intersection #2 of 10 – To build effective collaboration and teamwork.

How many people do you rely on to give you ongoing unvarnished feedback, constructive criticism and creative input on a regular, ongoing basis? How many people and, specifically, how many magic consultants did it take to create popular one-man magic shows?

Magic Collaboration and Teamwork
Judging from only the people listed in my personal off-Broadway Playbills, I counted as many as 20-30+ for a one-person show such as Derren Brown: Secret, Joshua Jay’s Six Impossible Things, The Enigmatist, In and Of Itself, and Asi Wind’s Inner Circle.

At a 1994 performance, off-Broadway, of “Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants”, although RIcky was the obvious star and driving force of the show, the second most crucial person was someone never seen, always behind the curtain or in the shadows: coin magic legend David Roth, who served as Ricky’s backstage assistant. David apparently was always moving, always doing, always helping, always organizing the magic so that Ricky could pull off miracles and easily transition between effects.

In theater, there needs to be effective collaboration between the:
1. stage crew (to set up and operate props, manage curtains and backdrops, and ensure smooth transitions);

2. lighting designers (to create the appropriate mood, atmosphere and visual impact to highlight key moments and create a visual experience);

3. sound engineers (to coordinate music cues and/or sound effects to enhance the overall impact);

4. set designers (to develop the visual aesthetics and ensure that the stage design allows for smooth transitions), and the
director (to refine the performance, provide feedback and guidance and ensure the effects align with the overall artistic vision of the show).

On TV, magicians need to collaborate with the director and the camera people to enhance the impact of the effects, capture the right moments at the right time from the optimal angles, perspectives and camera movements. Working together can enhance the production value, quality and effectiveness of the television performance and create compelling visual storytelling to captivate the TV audience. For magic on TV on P&T’s Fool Us, David Carbonaro’s Carbonaro Effect, a David Blaine or David Copperfield special, or AGT, the number of collaborators could easily double that of an off-Broadway show.

Business Collaboration and Teamwork
In successful business, there is also the need to build an environment of effective collaboration and teamwork to achieve intended goals. A culture of effective collaboration allows employees with different teams/skill sets to apply diversity of thought and expertise, and break down company silos to achieve:

a) more creative and effective solutions to challenges and opportunities,
b) increased employee engagement and satisfaction,
c) stronger relationships with customers and business partners, and
d) encourage flexible thinking and the ability to quickly respond to unexpected changes and challenges.

Collaboration with Audience Spectators
In magic, there needs to be effective collaboration and teamwork with your helpers/spectators and with the audience in general. This collaboration can significantly enhance the performance and the experience for the spectators, allowing the magician to deliver a more captivating and memorable performance. Magicians can better guide participants through the performance, ensuring that the interactions are correct and occur at the right time – and increase the odds that participants will radiate a feeling of astonishment that will, in turn, affect the general audience reaction. This collaboration results in a sense of participation and engagement, establishing a rapport and connection with the audience.

In my professional business experience:

  1. At AOL, as head of Web Personals, I experienced my first matrixed work environment, where employees collaborated across cross-functional teams and projects simultaneously. This culture of collaboration a) brought together people with varied expertise; b) improved the improvement and innovation of the company’s products; c) facilitated the exchange of ideas, knowledge and best practices; d) provided a better understanding of potential challenges and opportunities; e) offered flexibility and adaptability to unexpected changes and challenges, and f) fostered greater professional development, growth and satisfaction.
  2. While at National Geographic, as head of digital products and services division, I was more impressed with the organization’s external collaboration with its renowned scientists, explorers, photographers and researchers to produce its rich exploration, storytelling and photography from across the globe. This enhanced National Geographic’s global brand and commitment to science exploration, conservation and environmental stewardship supported by content showing the beauty and fragility of the world.

Developing the concept of The CEO Magician required collaboration with scriptwriters who understood what I was trying to accomplish, other performers, and consultation with my business mentors. Sometimes it takes a village. So, magicians, if you haven’t already done so, please feel encouraged to work collaboratively with others inside and outside Ring 50, people you like and trust to give you unvarnished constructive feedback and creative ideas to evolve and improve your routines, presentations and techniques. Tapping into a diverse set of collaborators could be the most important decision you make today to help your magic.



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