The Audio Tracks are also available in the Studio. CLICK HERE

About the Author
Barry Mitchell is the Entertaining Encourager – that’s a humorist using illusions, storytelling, and audience interaction to deliver encouragement and education. He has performed regularly with country music stars. He was the featured comedian at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction. He was Nabisco’s Oreo magician for the Southeast. He has performed in countless theaters and comedy shows.  He lectures regularly on marketing and showmanship to professional family entertainers. He invents and markets original magic effects and stories sold around the world.  He has performed and lectured at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and the Magic Circle in London. His career has taken him around the world.

©2014 Barry Mitchell Products

 About this print version of Target W.O.W.
As you read this script you’ll discover material that is NOT part of the CD recording. Consider it bonus stories and ideas. The bonus content will be in RED. BLUE content is ideas and thoughts I don’t want to miss. In other words, the gems of the book. The purchase version of the book is color coded. The Studio version shows ALL content of the script, both audio and print versions without color codes.

 1. Introduction

The WOW of My Work
Welcome to Target W.O.W. Before we begin I have to say thank you God for the joy of daily discoveries of new ideas, new methods, new stories, new gimmicks, new passions, and a renewed desire to get up tomorrow and do it all again. I hope you’re just as excited about the discovery of new as I am. With that said, there’s nothing new here. How’s that for getting the ball rolling? I just told you your purchase has no new ideas and I meant it. However, it just might have ideas and explanations you haven’t heard before.

For example, my rule for a long life is, deep breathing, organic vegetables, and loose underwear. Have you heard that one before? If not it’s completely new to you and might even be slightly funny. If you have heard it then you’re concerned that everything on the CD is just old jokes. Let me ease your concerns. There are several new jokes that aren’t funny either.

If you’re listening to this CD, and obviously you are, I encourage you to take a look at the full PDF script on this CD as well. All the content in RED is material I just couldn’t fit on the recording. It will inspire you as well. Anything in BLUE is content I don’t want you to miss.

So let’s get started.

2. Motivational Speakers & You
All motivational speakers teach the same principles of success, achievement, and customer satisfaction. They just use different acronyms and so called “secrets.” The reason different variations of the same message inspire different people is the same reason some like chocolate, some like vanilla, and some will only eat Ben and Jerry’s. But they are all ice cream. Unless you’re the Ben and Jerry’s customer and you might say it’s pleasure by the pint.

Speaker’s messages make personal connections. It’s a taste bud match. I call it Target W.O.W. Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles call it Raving Fans. Darby Checketts calls it Customer Astonishment. But my personal favorite motivator is Zig Ziglar. He said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Entire books could be written on that one quote and that basically sums up Mr. Ziglar’s life. One day, I hope it will sum up mine too.

Stumbling Into Success (This is a RED section that wasn’t on the audio recording)
You can’t stumble into success if you aren’t moving forward.

I’m not a good follower. Not sure why but I’ve always wanted to lead more than follow. Maybe it’s that only child, Type A personality thing. But when someone tells me I can’t do something, all I want to do is prove them wrong.

It’s not my habit to immediately follow the “system” that someone else created. In many cases they have already done all the research necessary and their system works. However, I still have a desire to prove them wrong. It’s not one of my better qualities.

In business there are lots of really smart people who create really smart systems leading to really wonderful success. I really like the word really. Could you tell? I always enjoy stumbling around to create my own success or failure. Frankly I don’t mind a little failure now and then because I enjoy the creativity of stumbling. Once again, this is not one of my better qualities.

My good friend Tim Sonefelt is a great leader in his work but he’s also a great follower. Being a follower is a good thing. It’s working smart instead of working so hard. Tim is a smart worker and follows the systems of others with great success. So when Tim offers advice on how to do something I usually want to come up with a different way. Once again, this is not one of my better qualities.

Facebook Group Good and Bad
Tim told me he read a book about Facebook and the best way to market your business was with a PAGE. I had a PAGE but no one was visiting. I couldn’t understand why that was better. In my opinion, a group would keep people coming back. Since I wanted to create customer loyalty and personal relationships it seemed that notifications were a no-brainer decision.

A notification would create the possibility of interaction between my business, which is ME, and group members. I’ve LIKED several pages but rarely, if ever, have I returned to them. I realize there are ways to boost the readership of a PAGE but for a small, personal relationship business like mine I just didn’t see the benefit.

A PAGE is a necessity as well but if I only have time to manage one of the two properly then I wanted a group. Tim explained that his book suggested a GROUP wasn’t the best choice and I was wrong. Tim enjoys pointing out when I’m wrong since he’s smarter than me. I saw the notifications as customer interaction. The book deemed it as harassment. And there’s a good point to that logic if your company is a large corporation.

It wasn’t long until my GROUP had more activity and was driving more income than Tim’s PAGE. That’s when Tim formed a GROUP. Score one for the dumb guy.

The Advantage of Thinking Different
The advantage of thinking different is that if you’re wrong you can always go back and do what the present wisdom suggests. But if you’re right you might change the way people do things. I know this because I’ve been wrong before, more than once.

Having a GROUP certainly doesn’t create a successful business. It must be a group that actually offers something the potential customers want or need. In the beginning, I was offering specials and advance notifications about new releases. Although this is an important service it doesn’t really give my customers and potential customers what they want. And giving others what they want is the core of the Target W.O.W. system.

That’s when I decided to take something I wanted to sell and give it away for free. It was a hard decision because this is, after all, how I make a living. I was gambling that people would like my business because of the free VIP videos and therefore buy from me. When I set a goal to offer two free monthly video links of trick ideas and DIY projects I was really committed. I made a commitment to myself to create two new ideas a month in addition to all my other projects. Most importantly the ideas needed to be good. Thankfully it paid off and my customer base became more and more loyal. You might say they are now Raving Fans.

Here’s a post from my group from Aaron Sherman that I believe says it all.
“I am very grateful to Tommy Johns for helping me design my promotional summer reading program materials completely on my own which led to a record 36 (so far) gigs for me, set up workshops, and just get better at what I always do. All on my own. In all seriousness, what makes people like Barry Mitchell, Steve Wronker, Dorian LaChance, and Tommy so special is they share ideas, which inspire personal creativity. I have yet to meet any of them, but value what each of my “friends” has contributed to my life.”
Aaron Sherman

What makes people willing to share? I believe people are basically good and we all desire the appreciation and approval of others. When they have a welcoming place to share freely without threat of being publicly abused they tend to share more. This has been the true success of the fan group. I monitor the nastiness.

I could have never predicted what it would grow into. But I’m a creative stumbler and I enjoy falling.

“I say no idea is worthwhile if it doesn’t start with ‘Wow!’”
Robert Schuller

  1. Saturn
    In 2009 a different kind of car company was put to rest.  It was a sad day for students of W.O.W.
    In 1982, General Motors took a risk to create the Saturn car line.

According to, “Saturn was created by a GM engineer who wanted to focus on people and technology with cars.  The outcome was a company that focused on customers and maintained a one of a kind relationship with the United Auto Workers Union. With that combination, Saturn Automobiles are some of the best selling cars in the country. They have a reputation that has contributed to them maintaining their success since they first began production in the mid-80’s.”

In my humble opinion, the Saturn car company was one of the greatest examples of W.O.W. customer reactions.  However, a variety of reasons led to its demise.  Most of those reasons can be traced directly to moving the focus of the company away from what the loyal customers wanted.  A business can grow or fail based on the focus. 

My experience with Saturn is the entire reason for my simple Target W.O.W. principles.  My wife and I were looking for a good used car after her Nissan finally died.  As we were driving around different car lots, we decided to check out the Saturn. Neither of us really knew anything about them.  Naturally we took a test drive of a new one to get the feel for it.  I sat in the back seat asking questions while my wife did the driving.  I was shocked when the salesman, Bob, told us the price and that Saturn had a “no haggle” policy.  You either pay the price or not.  I had never bought a car without driving off feeling that I probably made a bad deal. Immediately I was feeling more comfortable with the salesman.

It didn’t take long for us to feel so comfortable with the company and their customer service actions that we bought a new Saturn instead of any good used car.  All I could think was “Wow, what an experience!”

As I sat there filling out the paperwork and talking with Bob, I noticed all the pictures of people with their new Saturns.  I noticed an area of the dealer room floor designated for car purchases.  The new car was cleaned and positioned on the showroom floor.  Our picture was taken and my wife literally drove her car off the showroom floor. All I could think was “Wow, what an experience!”

As I drove home in my car following my wife in her new shiny prize, I was still thinking “Wow, what an experience!”  I used the word WOW to form an acronym for What Others Want.  Saturn had given us everything we wanted in a car buying experience.  No other automobile experience before or since has even come close to what they did. The first thing I wanted to do when I got home was write a letter to Bob and give him my new W.O.W. award of service. In the letter I would explain how wonderful the experience was and what it meant to me to know that a car company such as Saturn actually existed.

The experience inspired me to consider my own business and if I was really trying to target a W.O.W. experience for my customers.  I created a simple logo with a target in the center.  I created a new customer review form to send to customers after a show for feedback.  But most importantly I started to ask myself if I was really trying to discover what my show customers really wanted in entertainment. 

This new focus on targeting W.O.W. eventually helped me discover my Entertaining Encourager persona. When I had this clearer vision of who I was and what I wanted to accomplish for my customers I was able to determine if my offering really matched up with the entertainment buyers needs and wants.  Naturally it did with some and didn’t with others.  But that is the benefit of knowing who you are.  You can focus your efforts on the customers whose needs you can meet exceptionally.

My experience with Saturn is the entire reason for my simple Target W.O.W. principles.

The question I ask of you and myself; “Will we be like Saturn and lose focus on what our customer wants or will we focus on Target W.O.W.?”

Long Row to Hoe
I grew up on a farm where we raised tobacco. When I wasn’t working for my dad for no pay I was working for our neighbor.  He paid well and his wife supplied huge hamburgers for lunch.  Part of the process of raising tobacco is to manually hoe each row and remove small sprouts called “suckers.  It is a hot and long job.

As our crew unloaded from the truck I began to smile because it was going to be an easy day.  There were only eight rows and four workers.  We would have this knocked out before lunch.

As we began to work I started to brag about how easy this job would be since we only had two rows each.  Teenagers tend to speak without thinking.  Duh!  One of the seasoned farm hands said, “Boy you better look again.  You got a long row to hoe.”  As I stared down the row I realized he was right.  At first glance, the job seemed easy.  But now I literally couldn’t see an end to the rows.

The rows followed the fence in a straight line beyond what the eye could see.  We took a break for lunch and I did make it home before dark.

Knowing what others want may seem obvious at first glance but for me it’s been a long row to hoe.  Admittedly, there was satisfaction and bragging rights that came with the completion of the tobacco rows.  The same is true of each discovery of my customer’s desires.  However, I hope to shorten your rows.  I have a short list that generally applies to most of us.  However, there is a catch.  Knowing what your customer wants is easier to determine than knowing who you are and what you can give.

Five Minutes
I can share everything you need to know from this recording in five minutes with one acronym and three words.  But that’s not what you really want.  You didn’t buy this for five minutes of cliff notes.

You want information you can apply to your business TODAY.  You want to be inspired.  You want to laugh.  You want to feel the way I did when I bought that new Saturn.  You want to feel special because you’re one of a small group on the planet listening to this information.  You’re also one of an even smaller group of listeners who will apply W.O.W. to your life.  You, my friend, are special.  But you already knew that.  So here’s something you may not have considered.  Your customers want to feel special too.

Near the beginning of the live KIDabra presentation of this information I asked a rhetorical question.  What do we want from KIDabra?

As a magician, I want to see a new trick or toy. That’s always number one.
I want to tell others about a recent success I had on stage.
I want to show off a recent purchase.
I want to show you a picture of my family so you can agree how great they are.
Is there anywhere else in the world I can get all that other than KIDabra?  Yes, it’s called Facebook.  The difference is . . . at KIDabra I have to wear clothes. 

  1. What Can We Learn From Social Media?
    You may not be interested in how wonderful my dinner plate looks or how beautiful my flower garden may be. However, we all have a need to show off our joys and accomplishments.  For many of us Facebook has become that place to show off and draw comfort.  Facebook fills some of our basic needs.  It does so for our customers as well. 

What if you had access to how your customers think?  You could know their specific interests, their joys and fears, and their priorities in life.  Would that information help you determine the type of program to offer them?  Would it give you more data to give them what they want? Of course it would.  Facebook should be renamed as Exposed Secrets Book.  If you have the time to search and look you’ll be amazed what you can learn on Facebook.  Of course time is the enemy of us all but it’s certainly a great way to research your clients.

If you’re working on a new summer reading program and you need to know how librarians are thinking, go to the library’s Facebook page and look.  Active libraries will most likely have an active page.  You’ll also see information of whom the library used in previous years.

It’s important to look for ways to make your programs different from your competition.  DO NOT COPY them.  You’re better than that and if you’re the second guy to perform at a library you’ll look like a copycat and they will look like a star.  Which one of you will create the bigger wow, you or the star?  Be different.

  1. What Do I Want?

Before we can determine what our customers and audiences want we need to know what we want.  It may seem selfish to start with you and I but it’s the only way we can know for sure that we can deliver W.O.W.  Here’s what I personally want.

The three things I want from every show are:

  1. Make the house payment.
  2. Make the audience laugh.
  3. Make it home.

Two of those are selfish.  One is about the audience and their happiness. Notice my goal is to be funny.  This list of three was written in a way to be funny. Your specific list won’t be the same as mine.  However, knowing what you want will help you determine the skills you need to employ to give W.O.W. 

Every aspect of my customer relationships employs humor.  My Facebook posts are funny.  Well, I hope they are.  My website is funny.  When I talk on the phone with a client I’m cheerful and funny.  I need them to like me.  I need them to laugh and feel like I’m their crazy uncle who always did something stupid at the family reunions.  Even my phone number ends with 5666.  I chose that number.  5666 spells LOON.  So I’m funny and I’m not the Anti-Christ.  I tell them so over the phone.  They laugh.

It’s important to me that the audience gets more out of the show than entertainment.  I want to encourage them as well.  As much as possible, I want them to feel appreciation, approval, and acceptance and maybe just a little astonishment.  The astonishment part should be easy to deliver since it’s a magic show.  That is, if it’s a good magic show.  The other three require thought and planning.

I was on the phone with a potential client employing the principle of being fun.  She was quite concerned that the people above her would not approve the money for the show.  It was a government show so she had reason to be concerned.  I gave her a confidence building session over the phone and some ideas of how to pitch my show to those making the money decisions.  In a follow up email to her I wrote:

“Remember when you go up against the “giant” committee come armed with:

  1. Something funny (Get them to watch some of my videos first and watch the video testimonials)
  2. Tell them who you want. That would be me.
  3. Why you want me. (References and the ability to deliver the fun in a way everyone can understand.  Video testimonials should help with that.)
  4. Why the kids are worth bringing in the best.
  5. What it will cost. (His fee is $__ plus travel from TN of $__ plus a night in a hotel.  However, he has already said that his wife has friends in the area so he will drop the hotel charge.  And since he knows the budget is tight he will drop the travel fee.  So he will come for the flat $__.

Good luck.  Let me know what they say.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you.  Have a great week.”

My goal was to equip her with as many negotiation tools as possible as well as give her the confidence to go for it. But all this was done with humor, which is what she is wanting from me.

A few weeks later she called to report that her husband, an army guy, suggested she NOT tell them the price. He said it would only cause them to debate it more.  Apparently they didn’t ask the price and simply gave her approval.  She said she would put in a request for my full fee and all expenses.  She explained that those in charge at the local level wouldn’t know how much I was paid and those writing the check would cut it for whatever amount was approved. I was blown away.  As a good conservative, I recognized this was an example of why our government is in debt.  As a good debtor to my mortgage, I happily accepted the check. 

  1. What Do We All Want?

In general we all need and want the same things.

I call it AAA+RR.
Relationships and

I believe these are our basic set of needs. Although this is true for all of us; our actions to get what we want will vary.  I’ll share mine to give a reference point.

I want to be accepted among my peers that I’m worthy of whatever praise I’m given.  Therefore I work hard to be the best I can at my passions. My need for acceptance drives me to work harder.

I want people to approve of my work and praise my efforts. I set extremely high standards for myself.  My basic standard is to always give people more than expected, to exceed expectations. I also strive to respect the work of others and praise their efforts.  I do that IF their work is good in my eyes.  If I don’t like the work of others I try to keep my mouth shut and pray they don’t ask my opinions.

I’m a simple and egotistical guy just like everyone else. I want people to appreciate me for who I am and what I do to help others.  So I strive to appreciate others and maintain an attitude of gratitude.

Bolding A Name
I’ve discovered that giving others what they want begins with an attitude of gratitude and a desire to encourage others.  I enjoy looking for little ways to do that.  I don’t just enjoy it, I know every detail adds up to a WOW.

In the books I’ve written, I always bolded the names. This little detail makes a person feel good when they see their name in my books.

When I’m working a magic convention or show I try to mention names.  The mere mention of someone present increases the value both to the audience and to the person.  People feel good when their name is mentioned.  There will always be people at the event who have no idea of whom you speak.  When you mention a name, people begin to ask, “Who is this guy?  He must be important.”  That’s the power of bolding a name.

This is a tool often used by motivational speakers.  It’s both a way of relating with the audience and giving encouragement at the same time. 

I want relationships with people who inspire me as well as those I can inspire.  The fulfillment of my personal needs is directly related to the needs I help fulfill in others.  That’s the simple secret of WOW.  Give enough other people what they want and you will get what you want.  And it might just sound a little like Zig Ziglar.

I also want respect.  In one of my puppet scripts with Sam the Turtle, I explain my views of respect. 
Keep in mind I have a puppeteer.  I’m not a vent.  So don’t let the fact that my lips are moving take your attention away form the script.

Switchblade Sam
Sam, what’s that on your shell?

That’s my bling. 


Hey, don’t touch this.  I’m scary.

Sam, I don’t you’re that scary.

Yes, I am.  I’m very scary.

What is with you?

I’m no longer Sam the turtle.

You’re not?

I’m now Switchblade Sam, Gangster Turtle.

That doesn’t sound very nice.

That’s right.  You heard of being bad to the bone?


I’m bad to the shell.

Sam, did you join a gang?

It’s really more of a herd.

A herd of turtles.  (laughing) 

Hey, that’s not funny.

Well yes it is.

No it’s not.  Remember, I’m scary.

A head of turtles, do you stop traffic?

No, they usually just run over us.


They just call us speed bumps.  The gangster that used to be called 50 Cent is now two quarters. It’s not easy getting respect when you’re a turtle.

So is that why you joined a herd, to get respect?


Did it work?

(Sigh) No.  It turns out that people don’t respect you when they’re scared of you.

So what are you going to do now?

Grow horns.

What did you say?

I said grow horns.

What does growing horns have to do with respect?

Well, a friend of mine said if you want to be respected you have to be respect-a-bull.



I think he meant respectable.

What’s the difference?

You don’t need the horns.

Whew.  That’s good. I was afraid I would get stuck in my shell.

Sam, I have found if you want respect you get it when you give it away.

You’re nuts.  That makes no sense at all

Let me explain it like this.  There are lots of ways I can respect you.  I can respect who you are and not try to force you to change.

That’s good. I don’t take well to that.

I can respect the things you have and not use them without your permission.

That’s good.  I don’t like it when people break my toys.

And I can respect your wishes and not try to get you to do something you don’t want to do

So if I do all that will I get respect?

I have found when I treat others the way I want to be treated I’m giving respect.  When I give it I usually get it in return.

So I don’t need bling and a gangster nickname?

No.  And you don’t need to run with a dangerous herd.

Not a lot of running going on.  And the most dangerous thing we did was scratch our shells on a big rock.

Ouch.  How do you fix that?

Turtle wax.

Say goodbye Sam.

Goodbye Sam.

That’s the way Sam teaches respect. 

We all want respect so give a little away and see what happens.
As if by magic the more I seek to share my gifts with others the more my personal needs are fulfilled.

  1. Your Client’s Need for Respect

Forming relationships with your client requires more listening than talking.  On rare occasions I meet someone who is all business.  They show you the stage, tell you when to start, and show you the door. When I meet someone like this I wonder if they have any friends at all.  The best possible WOW for these clients is to give them a great show, get your check and say thank you as you leave.

It is more common for the client to talk about their boss or the company that holds them back.  Many people I meet claim to have an idiot for a boss.  I’m self-employed so I understand.  My boss is an idiot too.

People want respect and if they feel they aren’t getting it from the boss there’s a good chance they will tell you.  That has been my experience.  I try to keep them talking.  I ask questions and show an interest in their work.  I compliment their surroundings.  My goal is to pull as much information out of them as possible. 

When someone listens to you it gives you the impression you are appreciated and respected.  It’s helpful to have a genuine interest in others.  But if not, shut up, listen, and fake it. 

Bryant H. McGill said;One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.

  1. What Does My Client Want and How Can I Provide It?

Obviously they want a GOOD show. It’s a plus if it’s a GREAT show but most people are satisfied with good.  In some cases they may have no reference point for the difference, which might be to our advantage.  But that’s no reason for us to do a few tricks from the drawer and call it a show.

Clients will usually choose a good show over a great show when you offer them three price choices.  If you offer your “Forgettable” show for $100 and your “Memorable” show for $500 and your “Unforgettable” show for $1000 most buyers will go for the $500 one. 

They know they can’t afford the $1000 but they also know they don’t want to go cheap on their event and disappoint people. Remember we all make our decisions in order to get approval, acceptance, and appreciation.  The buyer’s logic is that the “Memorable” show will fill their needs.

A Great Show is something we all should be working on and there’s lots of information and props in the marketplace to help.  But even a great show won’t get you booked repeatedly if you don’t seek to fill some of the client’s emotional needs.  More about that when we talk about the “Nice Guy Factor.” 

  1. M.O.M.

As if by magic, the word WOW upside down is MOM.  Who would of thunk it?  If WOW is What Others Want then MOM is Make Outstanding Memories. Specifically Make YOURSELF Memorable.

How do you WOW your clients and your audiences?  My answer is, “Be different.”  If the thing you do is good then be great at it.  If the thing you do is bad, you’ll find out, you’ll change and you’ll try again. So there’s no reason to be the same as everyone else. 

I need to say that our goal should be to find out if our performances are bad. Some people are bad all their life and never find out.  Since you’re listening to this CD I’m certain you’re not one of those people.  But just in case, ask a true friend to watch your show and be honest with you.  Ask them to take notes and be honest with you.  Be willing to take the constructive criticism and don’t be critical of your friend.  Without honest friends we can never improve. Did you notice how often I used the word, “honest?”  Honesty is the key to improvement.

For some this is a more difficult task than for others.  Remember, we all want approval.  But if our desire for approval is stronger than our desire to actually improve then we seldom have true friends.

Another way to lose a friend is to offer your honest opinions before they ask.

When I present workshops to magicians I often talk about the power of true friends as well as the importance of listening to those friends and improving our work.  I think honest friends and a brainstorm team can move us all from good to great if we listen.

There is a quote attributed to Walt Disney, and the Disney organization certainly lives up to it in their actions

“What ever you do, do it well.  Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again.  They will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”

In other words . . . Make yourself memorable.

Although we are discussing WOW in terms of our show business, I strive to make outstanding memories on a daily basis with those around me.

I have simple habits for doing this.  I always tell performers to do an open mouth smile in pictures.  An open mouth smile gives a bigger and more enthusiastic energy to those memories on film and jpeg eternity.

I live in the resort town of Pigeon Forge, TN the home of Dolly Parton. I performed at the Dixie Stampede dinner attraction for four years, which is a production of Dolly.  The Dollywood theme park is about five miles from my home and I have a Season Pass.  When posing for the Season Pass ID, I made a big enthusiastic, aka memorable, pose. The lady at the counter quickly mentioned how fun my picture was.  Make Outstanding Memories.

When we went through the line to check in another lady commented on my picture.  These are small details but they form a habit of always making outstanding memories.   You might say we’re making enthusiasm contagious.

Signing My Books
I’ve written several books during my career and I have a habit of making people feel special.  When I’m asked to sign a book in person I date the signature.  I always explain that I only date a signature if I actually meet the person.  If you see my signature otherwise it means I didn’t physically meet them. 

I’m not famous and unless I do something stupid on YouTube I never will be. Stilly my little habit makes the person feel just a little more special because they met the author.  I wish I knew where I got the idea to do this to give that person credit.  But it might just be this was my idea.  Either way it adds to making outstanding memories.

Happy Birthday
I asked my wife how to spell “procrastination” and she asked why. I explained that I was wishing someone Happy Birthday on Facebook.  Naturally this caught her attention.  I explained that I never simply post “Happy Birthday” or “Best Wishes” or anything like someone else would.  It takes 30 seconds more to think of a creative greeting.  I wrote, “Happy Procrastination Day. Put off your birthday until tomorrow and you can celebrate every day.” 

I believe when people read their Facebook birthday messages they scroll down to see you sent one but they only stop on ones that are different and stand out.  My objective is to always Make Outstanding Memories.

“In all areas of your life, look for the multiplier opportunities where you can go a little further, push yourself a little harder, last a little longer, prepare a little better, and deliver a little bit more.”
Darren Hardy

The Compound Effect

  1. Examine and Eliminate

Over the years I’ve noticed some differences between a hobbyist and a professional magician.

Hobbyist enjoy the art and love watching magic.  They enjoy effects they can do and collecting magic. They enjoy showing and sharing their magic collection with others.  They focus on the love of the art.  A professional should focus on the entertainment of the audience.  There’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist.  Every professional began as a hobbyist.

I’ve always said that I became a professional magician at age 16 because that’s when I received my first paycheck for a magic show. Just because a paycheck makes you a professional it doesn’t make you audience focused.  It took me years to recognize the importance of pleasing the audience.

Not all pros recognize the importance of being audience-focused more than self-focused.  We all have problems with this because we love magic so much.  Remember that an audience will still enjoy a good magician if they’ve never seen a great one.

Here are some thoughts about improving what we do.  I say “we” because I strive to examine and eliminate in my work on a regular basis.

Examine our Costume
Because I have a product line and several YouTube demo videos, there are a lot of people seeing my costume choices.  When I discovered a racing shirt with a great yellow and black design I changed my image.  It wasn’t long until magicians starting asking where I found the shirts. (If you would like to know the source it’s

At first I didn’t want to share and I tried to explain that I wanted to keep those as my costume image.  In truth, it wasn’t a custom design so I can’t stop people from copying my choices.  In time, more and more people asked or just found the source and changed their image without consulting me at all.  It took longer for me recognize that I didn’t have a patent on this look so there was no need to stress out.  In this case, it really was flattering.  So I looked again for something to make me different. 

Take an honest and detailed look at what your client sees and compare it with other pros in your field of expertise.  DO NOT COPY THEM. Use the comparison as inspiration to find a balance between your personality and character and the images of those in your field.

Is your costume up to date with the fashion of the day as well as age appropriate?

Does your look compliment your body type.  Has your best friend ever said, “Fred, you look fat in that spandex?”

Examine Your Business Image and Marketing
Is your logo black and white with clip art from the 50’s? It’s a whole new world and printing is more affordable than ever before.  There’s no reason to not hire a professional designer to update your business image and print your materials professionally.  If your business card is printed on your home computer on perforated card stock, you may be getting fewer and less paying shows because of it.

How does your website look?  I’m not asking if you have a degree in building websites and took a course in marketing with Google.  Although I know it would help me, I don’t have that either.  I’m suggesting we should do some research looking at other sites offering a similar service.  Does your site grab the eye more or less than they do?  What can you learn to improve your site and marketing?  Remember, DO NOT COPY someone else.  Use their ideas to inspire you to have better ones. 

I must say DO NOT COPYbecause it is becoming somewhat common for performers to copy another performer’s website copy word for word only changing the names.  I can’t imagine the nerve and lack or morals it must take to do that, but it happens.

Here’s a priceless bit of information for you.  Go to and sign up to review the websites of others.  Each time you review a site someone will review your site.  It’s FREE!  You won’t be reviewed by other performers.  You’ll be reviewed by “real people” as we like to say.  They will give you honest feedback about making your site more attractive to your target audience.  I learned a great deal when building my product site.

Examine Your Props
Do your props look like they came from a Chinese garage sale? Do you have any idea what those symbols on the side mean?  Are your props so dated that you’re still doing the color changing records?  Are you detecting a pattern here?

I have no idea about the character of your show.  If you play the part of a Chinese magician then you are good to go.  But that character is very rare today.  Enough said.

Eliminate Excuses
One of the easiest things I do is make excuses for why something doesn’t work or why I didn’t get a job done.  I’m the master of creativity when it comes to excuse making. I’ve also noticed that many of us make excuses about scripting and practicing our shows.  The most noticeable difference between an amateur and a professional is a script.  It’s easy to make an excuse saying, “I’m good at ad-lib.”  I can promise most of us are not as good as we think we are.  Even those who appear to be great are simply drawing from a brain full of lines they have used in the past.  They simply present them in an off the cuff manner. So a professional ad-libber is simply a prepared performer.  If you want to WOW your audience use a script and know it.

  1. Sales is Theater

We are constantly selling our show. If you think of sales as theater we are always on stage.

Dolphin Marketing

Tim Sonefelt and I did seven years of Creativity At Sea cruises to teach and inspire creativity.  On some of the cruises we offered marketing meals.  These were short meetings over lunch with a single cruiser to discuss their marketing and goals.  These were quite popular and we divided the staff so we could offer as many meetings as possible with cruisers.  One meeting was held after Tim and I took a group to the Dolphin experience.  We were dragged around the ocean by dolphins. It’s much more fun than it sounds. It was an incredible experience.

Before we started the meeting, our cruiser voiced his disappointment that he didn’t go with us.  He said, “When I saw the picture of Barry riding the dolphin and the look on his face I knew I missed something memorable.”  I said, “That’s marketing.”  

I explained that the dolphin experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  However, it wasn’t as good as my expression lead you to believe.  I knew there were cameras everywhere and the business would be selling us video and still shots after the fun.  When the dolphin took off dragging me through the water my expression was over the top. I went on to explain that my experience will last a lifetime in my memory but an incredible photo will last for years to market our cruise. 

By exposing this secret of marketing to him I expected he would recognize the theater of sales.  However, I was shocked to see the disappointment on his face.  He felt he had been fooled.  There is a fine line between theater and deception and in his mind I crossed it.

But for those not in our marketing meeting they saw the joy and wanted a piece of it.  That’s marketing for a WOW.

  1. Planning for a WOW

Wow doesn’t just happen it is planned. The Shakers are dead!  Well almost. They don’t believe in sex.  An entire group of people had a plan.  It wasn’t a good plan.  But it was a plan.

The more you understand people’s needs and desires, the better your plan will be.

“Today, just a few Shakers still live in a single village in Maine. To all appearances these are the last Shakers. But the living Shakers faithfully assert that their religion will never die. Mother Ann predicted that Shakerism would dwindle to as few members as a child could count on one hand, and then overcome all nations. “This is God’s work,” says Sister Mildred Barker, “and what could bring that to an end? Nothing that we humans, that mortals do.”
Taken from  by Ken Burns

I don’t want to take away for the beliefs of the Shakers but I respectively submit it might not have been the best plan.

I have a simple 10-point plan.

  1. Plan to send a reminder of the show a few days before
  2. Plan to dress well or be in costume
  3. Plan to arrive on time
  4. Plan to be nice
  5. Plan to make friends with the client
  6. Plan to be energetic and funny
  7. Plan to perform a great show
  8. Plan to remain friendly after the show
  9. Plan to ask for a video quote and referral
  10. Plan to send a thank you note

All these points could be covered more extensively but for the purposes of this project I think only one needs additional explanation and that is, plan to be nice.

  1. Wow in My Product Business
    I have two goals with my product business.Always be different and always be the best in the world. If it’s always different it’s easier to be best in the world.  I think of it like this;

I don’t want to change the world but I would like to modify a small landmass.

It doesn’t take a lot to make someone feel special.  Small details like adding a few pieces of candy to a mail order makes your business stand out.  But I don’t use the standard peppermints.  I need something different.  Peppermints, cinnamon drops, and root beer barrels. 

The average age of my customer is 35-55 and these are candies they remember from childhood.  A peppermint is common and it doesn’t stand out in my opinion.  It doesn’t make a memory.

I also understand the power of free.  I’ve been blessed to have Jay Rumplelive in my town and be able to shoot video for me.  Since constant video productions would be very expensive, Jay and I came to a deal where he is on salary every month to do what I need.  It helps him and it helps me.  Win/win.  My customers get two free trick ideas or DIY prop projects through the closed Facebook group.  We call them VIP Video.  These video links on YouTube are private so only those with the link from the Facebook group can see them.  This allows the group members to get a reward for being part of the group.  Therefore, people visit the group more often and are more willing to post and contribute to the brainstorming. 

The group is ALL ABOUT creative ideas and helping others.  If someone becomes negative on the group or says something offensive I send them a message and then delete their post.  There’s no place for bashing ideas when brainstorming.

But what does this group do for my business?  It reinforces my “creativity” niche and builds upon the “nice guy factor” of my business persona.  People want to buy from a nice guy.

My belief is simple, give away almost everything in your store and your customers will love you so much they will help you rebuild the store better than before.

In Customers for LifeCarl Sewell and Paul B. Brown write:

 “If you’re good to your customers, they’ll keep coming back because they like you.

If they like you, they’ll spend more money.

If they spend more money, you want to treat them better.

And if you treat them better, they’ll keep coming back and the circle starts again.”

Free Popcorn
Several years ago a magic mail order business was advertising a bag of Newman’s Own Free Popcorn with each order.  The pitch was that the buyer’s magic order was helping the world since proceeds from Newman’s Own brands benefited worthy causes.  A very clever gimmick but who really cares?  Am I really going to buy a new card trick to get a bag of popcorn so I can help starving children?  No, I’m not. I’ll buy the trick because I want it. Although the popcorn idea is clever, it’s just a gimmick.

In our shows we use gimmicks too.  Will a new shiny trick get these people to love me?  Probably not.  But a new trick isn’t really what people want.  They just want to have fun.

  1. Nice Guy Factor

I always preach the same message to magicians about how they treat the audience in general and helpers specifically. There are a few performers who have developed a character that allows them to say and do things to the audience I would never be able to get away with, nor would I want to. 

Steve Bargatze is the first to come to mind.  He establishes his character immediately through his stage persona and scripting.  You know in seconds that he won’t be winning any Dale Carnegieawards.  I recently spoke with him about his character on stage and he said that he’s only seen a couple guys that can pull off an abrasive and somewhat abusive style.  But Steve does it well and it’s FUNNY.

As a magician, when I see his act and hear the audience laugh I wonder if I could get away with some of that.  The answer is “No!”  It’s not me and I would come across as a phony while he is funny.

It’s rare to see a magician get away with being abrasive with an audience.  And for a children’s entertainer I wouldn’t recommend us trying.

So what’s left?  I suggest we treat our audience like friends.  Make your helpers the stars of the show.  Go out of your way to provide the best, funniest, most magical, friendliest, audience interactive show you can do.  But that’s everything most children’s entertainers do anyway.

Where’s My Check?
I was talking with my client before a show and she shared about another performer that I know personally.  He and I both did a show for the same client a few weeks earlier.  I know that his show is top notch and funny. I was surprised that she wasn’t happy with him.  She said, “When he walked in the door he said, ‘Where’s my check?’”  She went on to explain that he really didn’t even say hello. She said, “He just wanted his check and to go on first because he had to leave for another show.”  I didn’t see his performance because I was working with a different group of kids.

I asked if the show was good.  She said, “Yes it was great and the kids loved him.”  I asked if she would use him again and she said, “Never!”  Since she was sharing honestly with me I decided to ask, “If he had been a nicer person when he met you but his show was just ok would you hire him back?”  She said, “Yes.”

Our conversation reminded me of a powerful principle about giving people what they want.  People want to feel like they are working with a nice person.  In the case of this buyer the “nice guy factor” was more important than the show.  Although most people don’t think about it, I think the “nice guy factor” is more important with buyers than we realize.

Doc Lowry
I grew up in a small town with two doctors. You could see Dr. Henshaw or Doc Lowry. Doc Lowry fit the stereotype of an old country doctor in every way.  When he retired he bought a Ramada Inn.  The story goes that the Ramada Inn franchise company had sent out marketing people to visit the hotels and look for inspiration for a new marketing campaign. As Doc Lowry was giving the visitors a tour he said, “We’re just nice people helping nice people.”  Guess what the Ramada Inn slogan was that year.

  1. Who Takes the Blame for Failure to WOW?

The simple answer is YOU.  Several years ago I booked a vacation Bible school show in a church near Denver, CO.  I flew in and set the show in a huge church.  The church paid my fee, airfare and a night in the hotel and shuttled me to the airport.  It was a great deal of expense for one show.  It just happened to be my first show of the summer.  It was also one of my first performances with my new puppet and I was very uncomfortable with him.  During the performance, the heavens opened up and the rain was so heavy that the room rumbled.  I’m not even sure if the audience could hear me over the rain.  My puppet performance was beginner level at best and I swayed back and forth from nervousness.  The crowd was about 100 people at most.  On the way back to the airport I asked the couple driving what they thought of the show. Their answer was, “It was different.” That’s the same as saying “You suck.”

I destroyed any chance of myself or another magician being booked for that church again.  Doing the math means they spent a great deal of money per child for my show.  The factor of the rain was out of my control but none of that mattered because all they will remember is that the magician didn’t deliver a WOW.  I got the blame but what did I learn?  I learned to practice more to make my first show as good as possible.  I learned to look for ways to overcome circumstances like rain that might destroy the mood of the room.  Maybe I could stop the show and interject an impromptu rain dance with a couple kids. I could take the negative of the rain and turn it into a positive as well as an unforgettable moment in my show. A rain dance in the middle of my show would have been the talk of the show.  If I had been more prepared and comfortable with my material I could have been more creative on the spot. 

I better overwhelm them with kindness before and after the show so they like me even if we do have show issues.

  1. Walking On Water = WOW

To get a WOW from the audience we don’t need to Walk On Water.  We only need to provide What Others Want and Make Outstanding Memories.  That’s only slightly easier than walking on water.

I believe I’ve given you some thoughts and content to chew on. I hope I’ve inspired you to dig deeper into what you and others want in life and think about it in your daily decisions.

Maya Angelou said,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I first heard that quote in the late 90’s and it helped to change the way I thought about my programs.  I quickly learned that adding emotion to a program would not only help the audience remember me but it will also create a WOW moment in my show. I’ll share my banana story in the next track.

Here’s what I hope you’ll remember from this program.

  1. To give a WOW you must know and deliver What Others Want.
  2. Developing a habit of making yourself memorable will add to your potential for WOW.
  3. People love to work with a nice person so be one.
  4. Sales is theater so always be on stage.
  5. If none of these things work, get a better show.

The Banana Story
The pre-sliced banana effect is one of those old tricks found in children’s magic books that few magicians use on stage.  Brian South, of Teach By Magic, asked me to write a story that employed a simple trick and a memorable story that would inspire teachers.  This is the story I wrote.  I use it to close many of my shows.

Grandpa took a thread and gently tied it around my finger. He said, “Let this string be a reminder for you to get me a ripe bunch of bananas when Grandma takes you to the market tomorrow.”  I heard what he said, but when tomorrow came the string was gone along with any memory of our talk.

The Story
Grandpa took a thread and gently tied it around my finger.  He said, “Let this string be a reminder for you to get me a ripe bunch of bananas when Grandma takes you to the market tomorrow.” I heard what he said, but when tomorrow came the string was gone along with any memory of our talk.

Grandpa was a little disappointed that his string trick didn’t improve my memory.  (Pick up banana) The next week before the market run Grandpa handed me a banana and said, “Do you know why I like bananas so much?”  I said, “No sir.”  He said, “Because ever so often you’ll find a magic banana.  I said, “A magic banana!”  He said, “Ever so often you’ll find a banana that has been sliced inside the peel.  If it’s sliced one time we’ll have a good day.  If it’s sliced two times, we will have a good week.  But if it’s sliced more than two times, we will have a good year.” 

He went on to say, “I’m feeling like this might be a magic banana, why don’t you peel it.”

(hold banana with stem up) As I started to peel the banana he said,“Nope! Don’t peel it from that end. That’s the way humans do it. Peel it from the other end (Turn banana over) that’s the way the monkeys do it.”As I peeled the banana I saw one slice then two then three.  The banana was sliced into several pieces.  It was the best year Grandpa and I ever had.  As we ate the banana he said, “Would you remind Grandma to get me some bananas?”  I did.

I share that with you because I believe magic creates memories. We made some memories today.  We smiled and laughed.  I believe the next time you see a banana, you’ll smile.

Thank you for listening to this CD. However, please don’t stop here. There is a great deal of additional content on the PDF book on this disk.  Be sure to scroll down to the last pages and read WOW stories from contributors to my Facebook group.  If these stories don’t bring a tear to your eye then nothing will.

My name is Barry Mitchell.  Thank you.

Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.
David Rockefeller

WOW Stories from the Fans & Friends of Barry Mitchell Products Facebook Group

Tommy Johns shared a story on our Facebook group and it led me to ask for other contributions of WOW experiences.

I made a lunchroom lady cry today.
Whenever I go to do a school show and I end up in the cafetorium or the gym for the show, I make it a point to thank the cafeteria manager or the coach for allowing us to “invade” their classroom for the day (or the morning/afternoon). It builds good will and I think it’s just polite since they are inconvenienced by your visit (a nice way to say you should do the same!).

Coaches always mumble, “no problem” and keep going and the cafeteria manager always says, “This is not a classroom, but thanks.” I always respond that it IS a classroom where kids learn about balanced meals, nutrition, healthy choices, etc. I point to the posters and the bulletin boards and that’s usually all there is to it.

Today, when I told the cafeteria manager thanks, she replied, “I have worked in the cafeteria for 30 years and been the manager for 14, and nobody has EVER recognized me as a teacher. Thank you.” A little tear formed in the corner of her eye, and she gave me a big hug.

I am welcome back there anytime!

Barry Mitchell
I was doing my Super U Show in a school in Alabama. Each helper in the show received a Super U ink pen, which has a moveable measuring stick. The catch phrase was, “You Measure Up.” That night I did a church show and someone came up after the show to tell me that one of the children that helped in the show was touched in a way I could have never known by receiving a pen. He had just lost everything in a home fire and that pen became a prize possession for him. That’s Magic! I have many other stories but that’s always been my favorite. We have an incredible power of blessing others in what we do. What’s your favorite story?

Greg Phillips
I was doing a Christmas program for a special needs center. I was using my Large Rabbit Puppet to do a trick. The Rabbit “Harvey” asked a little boy to come up and assist. The little boy shyly came up and grabbed hold of the puppet as tightly as he could. I would ask the boy to follow directions but soon learned he was only “talking/listening to Harvey. By the end of the routine the little boy was laughing and having a great time and interacting all over the place. I noticed that the staff including nurses and doctors had moved in closely and were watching intently. Many were crying. I admit the routine was funny but… At the end of the trick the little boy gave BOTH Harvey and I a hug before he sat down. At the end of the show I found out the little boy had not spoken or interacted with anyone for the 18 months he had been there because of some horrible treatment by his mother’s boyfriend. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I realize that this is a major motivating for much of the ministry I do today. Oh, Lord please use to me to just make the difference in the life of one! (Although I like making the difference in lots too!)

Dan Freed
I did a birthday show at a pre-school, about 50 kids. There was a 4-year girl there that I knew because my wife is friends with her mom. Her dad was a cop (the most popular and well-known, well liked officer in the city). He was recently shot & killed in the line of duty by a mentally ill woman. She told her mom after the show she wanted to be a magician. I love making kids happy.

Tim Hannig
Did a family night show at a school and did a funny routine with a dad on stage. He was cracking up.
Principal later told me the man’s wife had recently died and that was one of the first times he’d been out with their kids… let alone laughed with them.
How many times do we not hear these stories?

Danny Baker
I did a birthday party show for a nine-year old girl who laughed and enjoyed it very much… After the show, her mom pulled out an old scrap book and showed me pictures of her ninth birthday party and I was amazed to find out I had performed for her party! She told me when her daughter said she wanted a magician for her party she searched and found out I was still in the area and she wanted her daughter to have the same fun magical experience that she had 29 years ago. Wow do I feel old… We both laughed and cried…

N Jay Jaybo Holtz
I was doing my 8-ball magic juggling routine before a show for this little girl, who was jumping for joy. The mother told me the trick was silly and her daughter hasn’t laughed so hard since her dad passed away. The mom gave me a very big hug, thought she was gonna break me. LOL Forgot to say, she was a very big lady. OY!!

Lee Andrews
Three years ago I had the absolute worst experience with politics in the clown world that I shouldn’t have had to deal with, plus my mother had just passed away a week before I graduated high school. This all (most of it) sort of happened all on the same day. That day I came home looked my wife in the eyes and told her “that’s it I quit!” I gave everything I had away just about. Later that week my family and I were sitting down eating dinner and were watching news on the television. The lead in story was “6 year old saves 9 family members from house fire.” I was interested so we watched all of the news just to see that story. When the news story came up the reporter asked the 6 year old to tell her how he learned the method he used to save his family. The little boy quickly replied, “We had a clown do a safety program in our school! His name was Lew-E and he was awesome and taught all of us how to rescue our families and get them out of a burning house!” My family and I were stunned and it of course hit me like a ton of bricks. It was that moment that I learned that I do what I do for the children NOT other performers! It was a huge needed blessing for both of us!

Trent Tinney
I was presenting my Bully Prevention show this school year. A young man came early to set up chairs for the teachers and parents.  He also helped me move my road cases in and was just a really nice young man. I noticed he was hanging on every word and really enjoying the show. After the show was over and the students were leaving the gymnasium, I waived at him to come to the stage. I told him thanks for your help setting up and setting up the chairs and moving my equipment then I gave him one of my DVDs and a magic trick I give out at birthday parties. He looked confused and walked about halfway across the gym then came back. He asked me why I gave this to him. I told him I appreciated his help and that I thought he was a very polite young man. He smiled from ear to ear then left.

A lady I thought was a teacher (turned out to be his grandmother) who had come to the show came up to me a few minutes later and thanked me and thanked me. I also told her she should be proud he was such a polite and helpful young man. What she told me next brought a tear to my eye, she went on to tell me about how he had been bullied at his last school and that it was so bad that his parents had moved him to this school. One of the reasons being this school had a strong emphasis on leadership, character education, and anti-bullying. She choked me up when she told me that she did not think anyone had ever been that kind to her grandson while he was at school (I thought it was such a small thing, and I really hope not).

I learn in lots of different ways that’s for sure, that day I learned that when we are trusted to present such serious topics to young people we have no idea the positive influence it can have on some children, and getting to the next presentation and heading home for the day while important are far from what we do that matters most.

Thanks for reading, this really touched me and made me think differently about my school presentations.

Tom Sikorski
I was doing a character show in the late ’80s in an elementary school and selected a boy to play the part of the “nerd” who would become the super hero. He seemed a little slow, but followed along fine. He was thrilled to take the giant reward poster back to his seat that I would be autographing following the show. The Principal came up to me afterward and said that of all the kids in the school who needed to be a hero in front of the rest of the school – he was the one. Evidently he was mentally challenged and was used to being ridiculed by the other kids.

Kornpop Klown
My magic moment, (I like to call them God Winks) came in China. I was performing in a village that was hit by an earthquake, and I called a young girl up to help me with a magic trick. She was smiling from ear to ear and so excited to be my helper. They told me after the show that she had pulled all of her friend’s bodies out of their classroom after the earthquake. She was the only one that survived in her classroom, and that was the first time she had smiled in over a month since the earthquake happened. I still remember her smiling face.

Phil Ackerly
My thread routine really moved the staff person at the JCC last month. She wrote me a FB message and asked if she could have a copy of my script. She said the story really touched her and reminded her of her grandmother. After some thought, I sent her a framed signed copy of the story. She put it up in her office.

Jamie Doyle
While in Africa, I was in the market where vendors were hoping the American (that’s me) would buy their stuff. One chap followed me around showing me every item and quoting me his “best price”. I was becoming a little frustrated and wanted this guy to just let me shop by myself. Finally, he placed a wooden egg into my hand that had intricate carvings all over it. He said in broken English with a thick Kenyan accent, “For you… this is the best quality… my best price for you is 1,000 shillings.” I held up the egg inspecting it. I did a false transfer to my other hand and exclaimed, “Oh, no, no, no, you need to charge at least 10,000 shillings for this egg – this is one of those invisible eggs!” I opened my hand pretending to cup the egg. The man stood there stunned. “If you just rub the invisible egg like this, it comes back.” I made the egg appear in my hand again. Pretty soon, I was doing a mini-slight of hand act for about 100 Kenyan vendors once the man exclaimed that every one needed to see the “Magic Man”. (BTW 1,000 Kenya shillings is about $11.00 US).

Gene Cordova
A few years back I was performing at Sunriver, a ski resort in Central Oregon, for the Christmas season. One night I picked a volunteer, a boy about 7 or 8 years old, to come up on stage with me. After a few moments I realized he was probably autistic or at least on the spectrum. He was very excited and a real sweetheart. I had to re-focus him a few times but all in all he did a wonderful job. After the show his mother came up to meet me. She had brought him to the show by herself and she had to go to the bathroom. She told him, “You stay right here and don’t you move!” When she came back into the show room he was on stage with me. She said she almost had a heart attack. With tears streaming down her face she told me how he’d never been chosen for things like that and how for just a few minutes she got to watch him be a normal kid … laughing, joking and loving being the center of attention. She thanked me for allowing him to stay up on stage with me. It was totally my blessing and pleasure. I’ll never forget him and I hope he never forgets me.

Harlin Rhoades
I was at a nursing home doing a show and afterwards an elderly man came up to me said: “Wait here!” then off he went. I continued packing and he comes back with a cotton string and said:  “Watch”. He looped the string around his neck and performed the string thru neck trick. Then he said: “Bye” with a huge smile and off he went. The activity director came to me with tears and said that was the first time in over ten years that he had spoke to anyone let alone show them anything. The power of magic creates itself we are just God’s tool.

Allen Hanuska
I once was Booked for a Birthday Party for an 8 yr old Autistic Boy. Knowing that Autistic people tend to be “more visual” I opted for doing my Comedy Magic Show. One of my Routines plays big on the Magician in Distress. The child was called up to assist. He was to place a white and a black silk into the Drawer Box, and it was supposed to turn into a Rabbit. Instead it is a Skunk Spring Puppet. I vanish it, and then on another Table, the kids see the tail wiggling from the top of the box. The boy started laughing, and said it was funny. The parents went crazy! Unknown to me, that was the first time he had ever spoke! This is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Kevin Clouse
Did a school program on MS as a clown, I came out from a side room in a wheel chair. A young man with several physical limitations had his teacher help him write a paragraph explaining how he had been afraid of clowns until he saw this one in a wheel chair like him. He is a dear friend now that I go out of my way to say “hi” to and make him feel loved.

Irwin Royer
I was at a school for special needs children and adults. They live there all the time as well. A boy about 9 get’s onstage and I go into doing 20th Century Silks. The kid is laughing and saying funny magic words I told him to say. After the show his house parent came over with tears in her eyes. She said: “Mr. Royer, his mother dropped him off and left him as a ward of the State. The day they dropped him off he stopped talking and now we can’t keep him quiet.”

Allen Hanuska
Gene Cordova,
I have a Story that somewhat “mirrors” yours.
I do the Washington County Fair in Hurricane, Utah and am happy to say that I will be Performing for the 5th year in a row, this August!
Last year there was a young man (mid 30’s) who was very energetic, and who would raise his hand with every question I asked.
He was Autistic.
I called him up to do my version of Dan Harlan’s “Instant Magician” Trick.
He came up with all the excitement and enthusiasm he had.
It would be likened to me being called up on Stage with David Copperfield.
He Performed like a Pro, and got a Standing Ovation when he was done.
He gave me a big hug and thanked me, before returning to his seat.
After the Show, his parents thanked me, and then told me that was the first time anyone had ever called him up, and that I had created a memory for him.
The truth is, he blessed me, by allowing me to have this memory.
I posted a question on Facebook asking why other Magicians do not call up people like this young man, and was told that “They are afraid of them messing up the Trick.”
I don’t know about others here, but I have a ton of “Fool Proof Tricks” in my arsenal, and any of them would play great in this situation.
Why rob yourself of the blessing, and creating a lifelong memory for the person, and yourself?

Greg Phillips
I specifically look for special needs folks. I can only pray that they do mess up what I had planned! Cause then God steps in! Always better that way!

Doug Anderson
I was informed before my show yesterday there was a mildly autistic child in the audience. In my preshow banter I let the kids know that if I pick them for a volunteer and they realized once they got up on stage they didn’t want to help it was perfectly fine to sit back down and I would pick someone else. The autistic child raised his hand to be a volunteer. I picked him for the bicycle wheel teaching the gyroscope effect. He did GREAT and the client was very happy. These moments are precious and really make a difference in the life of a child, especially ‘special’ needs. Check first, use them if you can.


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