The MAGIC Formula – Dealing with a Competitive Analyst

The MAGIC formula:


I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.

At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!

I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.

“It’s up your sleeve!”

Moving on around the table. We have met Tarquin the Silverback. I will leave his slightly entitled daughter Taramasalata for the time being. Next to her is Clint. Clint is a competitive analyst. He’s the one who wants to point out how all my tricks are done.

“It’s up your sleeve. I saw you holding it in your hand. You’re wearing a false arm…”

Clint has the potential to derail my whole act, to divert the attention of the entire table. He is pushing my buttons, as did Tarquin, but in a slightly different way.

However, I must resist the urge to compete. Under the intensely irritating exterior, I know that in his heart of hearts, Clint means well. He is just one of that minority of people who view magic as a puzzle for them to solve. I reckon about 5% of people are like this – that’s not a scientific number, just a gut feeling from my years of experience. He feels his duty is to work out the trick and to do everyone a great service by telling everybody how it works, to give them the solution for which they must have surely been longing.

I have to say people like Clint usually get the answer wrong because they lack the experience or knowledge to know what is actually going on. But this doesn’t stop them from being certain and wanting to share their “wisdom”.

Resist the Competition

My temptation is to compete, to prove my superior knowledge. However, as with Tarquin the Silverback, I have to rein that in. I have to remind myself that I’m there to entertain.
How can I Move, Attune, Give, Inspire and Connect with Clint?

What typically works is to get alongside, be conspiratorial, have a quiet word in his ear: “I see you think like a magician. Can I discuss your theories with you later? It would be better if you didn’t share them with the table, just so it doesn’t spoil the show for the others.”

Non-Transferable Skills

Clint is probably an acknowledged expert in his own field, very good at what he does. Emotionally, he feels he can transfer his competence to areas outside of his speciality. Maybe this works sometimes. At other times, as in watching magic, it doesn’t. But it doesn’t stop him from trying.

Maybe you have somebody on your team a bit like Clint?

I was part of a team like that once; we had a bookkeeper, she would go into massive detail about financial issues that she perceived as problems to be solved. She would state her theories as if they were the only obvious solution. This would wind up the big-picture CEO no-end. However, post-meeting, he would calm down and then get alongside her privately to try to understand her points. Maybe he would then set up special smaller sub-meetings to explore her issues and further discuss them in detail.

Watch and Learn

I watched and learned from my team leader. I realised that the way to deal promptly and effectively with competitive analysts is to:

– listen,
– acknowledge,
– appreciate, and then
– channel.

Listen to them. Acknowledge their questions and concerns. Appreciate their insight and expertise and thank them for bringing up the issue. Then channel them effectively, so they don’t divert the rest of the team.

If you can work with this team member effectively, they will be a tremendous asset. If you try to confront them head-on in a team meeting, they will just annoy and divert you and the whole team.

How will you harness the power of your competitive analyst team member?

Help Please!

I would like to interview even more team leaders to gain insight into the challenges they face. This is so that I can design an effective resource for use by team leaders in many different situations. I am talking to leaders of both permanent and temporary teams.

The research involves a 15 minute Zoom call. Thank you to those who have already done it – much appreciated!

Please pass this on to any team leaders that you know.

If you are a team leader and would like to help, please book in here:

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