Thought for Food, pt 1

Choices, choices…

“Eat food, not too much, mainly plants.” Michael Pollan

I love that quote.

You’re a Star by What You Eat

Entertainers need to stay healthy. If you are ill you can’t work and therefore you don’t get paid. And you need to look healthy to maintain the oh-so-important showbiz image. Otherwise, you won’t get the repeat bookings. 

Diet is a major factor. It is very easy to eat badly as an entertainer, especially if you are on the road.

Junk Fuel

In my twenties I spent most weekends driving around doing kids parties. I still do. But, back then I used to fuel these weekends on pasties, mars bars, caffeine energy drinks and protein shakes. I know other entertainers who choose fried chicken, burgers and pizzas. It is always the burger, pasty and chicken outlets that have the biggest queues at motorway services.

I used to be able to eat anything. I couldn’t get fat. I was blessed with a rapid metabolism that meant that I could burn off anything. People warned me that this would change when I hit 30 years old, that my metabolism would suddenly slow down and that I would start having to watch what I ate. However, I cruised through 30 and nothing happened. I thought, “Hey , I’m different, normal rules do not apply!” And then it hit me at 33. Oh well, I got three years grace!

Salad Days

Since then I have managed, more or less, to stay healthy and not to put on loads of weight. I have done this by training myself to choose good food, to like good food and to cook good food.

On the road, I have switched to healthy salads from M&S or Waitrose, black coffee, apples and fizzy water. I feel better and fuller as a result. 

It is worth knowing a bit about nutrition and reading labels on the packets. I try to limit my saturated fats. Protein kills hunger faster than carbohydrates. For my staple meals on the road I tend to choose salads with rice or potatoes, normally with fish or a small amount of feta cheese. I avoid pastry and pasta. 

Change your snacking habits. Get rid of mediocre biscuits. Only eat decent biscuits and only eat them on special occasions, like when a friend comes round to tea. Eat a piece of fruit or some nuts instead of a chocolate bar.

The Best Possible Taste

As well as training yourself to choose good food you can also train yourself to like good food. I know beer is not generally regarded as a health drink, but I remember that when I started as a student I didn’t like the taste. Now I love it. At some point in my undergraduate career I decided to learn to like beer. When I was a child I didn’t like cucumber, now I love it. At one point in my teenage years I decided to learn to like cucumber. I did the same with black olives.

I has a fascinating conversation with a magician who was struggling with his weight. I asked what he tended to eat and then I suggested he try eating more salads. “Oh, I don’t like cold food,” was his response, and there was the problem. But the tragedy is that it is entirely possible to train ourselves to like new tastes. Our likes and dislikes are not set in stone. This should be liberating if only we choose to embrace it and train ourselves to like new things. 

Just like a magician trains themselves to do a new move, you can train yourself to eat healthily.

Starting transforming yourself into a new you today!

The Zero Hero Secret

Feels so good…

Desk Jockey

There is an old saying, “A tidy desk leads to a tidy mind.” These days, paperless communication means more chance of a tidy physical desk., However, our principal desks are now virtual, our email inboxes and task lists. 

Over the last couple of years, I have found the secret of how to keep a tidy virtual desk. 

The Magic Advantage

This is essential for running an effective magic business, I need to see enquiries as soon as they arrive so that I can get back to potential bookers before my competitors. I need to maintain efficient communication with those who go on to book – I can’t afford for their messages to get lost in a myriad of junk mail. I need to make sure certain tasks are completed each week: charging my portable PA system, putting the bins out, refilling my paraffin bottle for my fire-eating act. The normal sort of stuff.

Inbox Zero

I discovered inbox zero about two years ago and I love it.

 It requires a bit of time and effort when you first do it, but then it saves you loads of time and stress later. The basic idea is that you end each day with no emails or tasks in your inbox.

Initially it requires that you declare an email amnesty and archive all but your most recent 200 emails. 

Then you go through them and “triage” them in much the same way that David Arnold advocates in “Getting Things Done”.

For each email, ask yourself:

  • Can I do this immediately, ie, in the next two minutes? If so, do it now.
  • Is this for someone else? if so, forward or delegate it.
  • Is it junk or not relevant to me? If so, bin it.
  • Do I want to keep it just in case I need it? If so, shove it and all such messages into one archive folder. Don’t have a complicated folder system because you will spend too much time worrying about where to file things. Just put them all in one folder and let your email program’s search function find it if you need it again.
  • And, finally, it may be something that you need to do but not right now. Maybe it is not urgent or maybe it require more time and thought. In which case, schedule it for a later time. How do you do this with an email? Well, I use an email program with a “snooze” function. It pops the message back into your inbox at the time you have specified. I use Spark, which I love. I know that Gmail also has a snooze function and there are probably now many others.

Once you have done this the first time you can just carry on doing it every day.

This approach is very satisfying. It means that you never feel overwhelmed by your inbox and it allows much greater focus on the messages that are important.

You can apply a very similar approach to your task list. A task management app is very useful for this. I use Nozbe, but, again, there are loads out there. Find one that suits you.

Revision Timetable

When I was doing exams at school and university I would often spend more time designing and refining my revision timetable than actually revising. I worried about that at the time, but now I have come to realise that it was not all bad. 

In order to design the timetable I had to have a clear idea of the subjects that needed to be revised, and in dividing them up into revise-able chunks I got a clear sense of the structure and framework of the subject. In doing this I was subconsciously making connections between different areas and this, actually, formed part of the revision and preparation for the exam. 

Clarity Victory

It is very similar when we organise our task lists and email inboxes. We are working out what is and isn’t important, what does and doesn’t need to be done and in what order. That leads to greater clarity and therefore to greater effectiveness.

Become a zero hero!

Freedom Through Organisation

Are all your ducks in a row?

A Place for Everything…

When I do a show I need to know exactly where every prop is. I perform out of a suitcase for family shows and everything is arranged so that I can pick out the right trick whenever I need it. At the end of the show, and even as I perform in some cases, everything goes back in exactly the same place, ready for next time.

Similarly, when we magicians are performing close-up magic we talk about “pocket management”. We need to know exactly where in our costume to find our pack of cards, our coins and our lemon(!). There are other props that I am not allowed to tell you about. I probably told you too much by revealing the lemon…

The back of my car has a precise arrangement. I can instantly see if I have forgotten to pack something and I can always go straight to the things I need when I arrive at a show. If I need something different for a special show I can go to my prop store in my garage and, again, I know exactly where to find everything. Minimum stress, maximum efficiency.

Mama Used to Say

I applied this approach to my magic way before I applied it to the rest of my life. I wish I hadn’t waited so long, life is so much better now! There is an old, almost clichéd saying: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” It is so old and hackneyed, the sort of thing that your parents and teachers told you, that my natural instinct was to rebel against it, to feel like it would somehow shackle me and stifle my freedom and creativity.

The Keys to Freedom

However, I have found that the exact opposite is true. Becoming more organised leads to much more creativity and freedom. It frees up headspace previously occupied by stress and it frees up time previously occupied by searching for stuff. “Where are my keys?!” is no longer a problem. They are either by my bed or in my right trouser pocket 🙂

This approach can be applied throughout your work and home life. At home in the kitchen, your clothes storage, your garage. At work in your office, your car, your briefcase. Anywhere that you have to use and store stuff.

How to Get There?

Of course, you have to reach the organised point to start with.

This is the approach that I took with my office: Because I am freelance,  my week never has a set pattern, but I have a default timetable if I do not have any other bookings on a particular day. On those days I determined to spend 5-10 minutes, no more, on organising my office storage and shelves. 

In three months I had done it and felt great. I had also found stuff I forgot I had – books and props. I chucked some stuff away. Other stuff I wasn’t sure about. I decided to keep that stuff, I was now conscious that I had it and was confident that my subconscious would decide over the next few days/ weeks whether I really needed it. 

Get your ducks in a row. Then quack on.

You Need to Move It Move It

Book Your Exercise

Why not walk instead?

Too many magicians neglect exercise.

This particularly applies to close-up magicians who don’t have to leap about in their act or lug heavy equipment around. However, they are missing out, and so are their audiences.

The general  benefits of exercise are many and well known. However, for the entertainer there are additional benefits. 

Driving Force

Performing regularly requires stamina, particularly as you get older. Not only does giving your all to the audience take a lot of energy, but being a magician requires a lot of travelling, which is tiring. Especially if you are driving. I regularly drive 300-500 miles a week between gigs. I need to exercise to give me the stamina to do this.

As with magic, as with life. This applies to most people in the world of work, especially those who work alone, travel a lot and or have to stand up in front of people and present.

Bend Me, Shake Me

The right kind of exercise will not only improve your stamina, it will also build your strength and flexibility. This will enable you to avoid injury while performing, but it will also allow you to perform a greater range of tricks and effects. Depending on the type of exercise you choose, you may also learn valuable transferrable skills, eg, balance, co-ordination, timing, leadership and teamwork.

You Need to Get Out More

You will be more successful as an entertainer if you can present a showbiz image to your clients. Looking healthy really helps with this. If you exercise regularly outdoors, not only will it help to keep your weight down, you will also develop healthy complexion rather than looking pale and pasty.

Exercising outdoors is also great for your mental health. Most magicians spend a lot of time alone and performing solo. For some this is fine, but others find it a struggle and, if something difficult happens in life, the loneliness can compound it and lead to real mental health struggles. It is not a cure-all, but one of the tried and tested methods for helping to maintain and improve mental health is to do regular outdoor exercise.

The fresh air and sunlight help to lift spirits generally, seeing the outside world and nature can help to put things into perspective.

Gym Jamming or Solitary ‘Appiness

Whatever kind of exercise you choose, it needs to be sustainable. You have to be able to keep at it. I hate gyms but my wife loves hers and goes along to classes a couple of times a week. She is an extrovert and loves the interaction with other people. I am an introvert and prefer to exercise on my own. I have found my own mix and I encourage you to find yours. 

My favourite discovery of the last year is the Seven Minute Workout, a phone app. A friendly and encouraging, yet authoritarian, voice (weirdly, the same voiceover artist as the one in the lift at our local train station!) talks you through 12 different exercises. You do 30 seconds of each one with a 10 second rest in between each one. It’s high intensity training (HIT) packaged in a very easy to use format. I love it because it fits beautifully into my morning routine. I can put the coffee in the cafétiere, go and do my exercises and when I come back my coffee is ready. 

I also walk the dog for 45 minutes each day and go kayaking once or twice a week (depending on the temperature outside!). That mix works for me and I have developed the routines and habits to make it sustainable. It is important that you find your own mix that enables you to stay fit and healthy without it being onerous.

For the sake or yourself and your audience, “Don’t Stop Moving…”

Cannibals and Thieves

“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief…”

Bono makes good point in the U2 song “The Fly.” There is very little, if any, completely original art in the world. Most is a new combination of existing ideas. And that is fine, it is good, it is why art can help us to see old things in new ways.

However, that doesn’t let us off the originality hook.

Find the new stuff in your head…

Video Kills the Magical Star

A problem has crept into the magic world in the last couple of decades. In the past, the main way of learning  magic tricks was from books. You had to prop a book open and try to follow the instructions and diagrams, It wasn’t easy but it meant that you really thought about the mechanics of the trick and then you came up with your own way of presenting it.

However, now the most common way is from video. It is much easier to access the content and easier to learn the mechanics. However, the problem is that you also tend to pick up the mannerisms, patter and quirks of the person doing the teaching. As a result, too many magicians end up performing a particular trick in exactly the same way, becoming clones of the magician in the instructional video. They become another generic magician, they don’t stand out from the crowd. Too often we hear,
“Oh yeah, so and so had a magician at their wedding, they did that trick with the (whatever).” 
“What was the magician’s name?” 
“Oh, I can’t remember…”

It is much better to watch the video to learn the technique and then, as soon as you have worked out the mechanics, to put the video away and never look at it again. Then you can practice the trick and work out how to make it fit your style, your personality, how it will fit into your existing show or routine. 

It is even better to take a principle or technique that you have learned and change the props or effect so that you come up with something that is entirely your own. It will then be fresher, suit you more and be more likely to stick in people’s minds.

Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow

The best magicians are always the ones who don’t just watch magic and don’t just read magic books. Instead, they feed on a wide diet of different art forms. They read other genres and subjects. This leads to cross-fertilisation of ideas and produces much more originality. 

Out Standing in Your Field

As with everything, what is true in magic is true for life and work in general.

If you produce original material, or original takes on existing ideas, then you will stand out from the crowd, If you are a speaker or writer, use only your own stories and illustrations, then you can be confident that no-one else will be using them, There is nothing worse than two speakers at the same event telling the same story.

Similarly, if you use photos in your blog, take your own photos or get someone to take them for you. If you write a book or give a presentation that uses illustrations, draw  or get an artist to draw original illustrations. That way you will know that no-one else has them. You will stand out, you will be different.

Limited to Unlimited

True originality probably never happens. Everyone is inspired by something or someone. But we can all give our unique perspective on things and we can all combine different influences and ideas in our own special way.

There are only a limited number of plots for novels. In the same way there are only a limited number of effects in magic:

Production
Vanishing
Transformation
Restoration
Teleportation
Levitation
Penetration
Prediction

These limited options are combined with myriad other ideas, characters and settings to produce infinite possibilities.

Don’t Keep it to Yourself

If you don’t produce original material then you are depriving the world of your own unique contribution. No-one else in the world has ever had, or will ever have, exactly the same life experience as you. As a result no-one else will see the world quite like you do. Your perspective will be extremely valuable to someone out there. Go for it. If you do it enough then it will be found by those who need and appreciate it.

There is only one you, don’t keep yourself from the world.

No Show Without Business

A couple of years ago, a friend and colleague at The Magic Circle articulated something I had already realised. Show business is 50% show and 50% business. You need both. If you don’t have any business sense then, sooner or later, you won’t have a show.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to performers. It applies to anyone who doesn’t think of themselves as a business person.

Without business, there is no show…

One day Rodney, We probably won’t be millionaires…

This is an unwelcome realisation for many creative types. The idea of business is somewhat grubby and and they long for the days of yore when an artist could get themselves a patron and just concentrate on following their muse. However, for most of us, that is just a pipe dream.

Business is essentially about people and money. It doesn’t need to be that scary. You need to get good at dealing with people and get good at dealing with money.

Let’s face it, most of us are not going to achieve mega-riches doing what we do, but we can avoid penury, financial stress and debt-misery. It is quite possible to build a comfortable life as a creative as long as you have your business eyes open.

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Firstly, get real. Be completely honest with yourself. You need a completely accurate picture of your current financial position, however scary. If you don’t know how to put together a simple spreadsheet, for goodness sake learn right away. There is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost from denial. 

Where the Dickens are you?

Once you know where you are, what you have, what you are currently bringing in, you can start to see what needs to change. Is your income exceeding your outgoings? 
As Dickens had Mr Micawber say: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” 

Heed the Profit

Are people buying what you are selling? There is a continuum between the esoteric art that artists want to produce and commercial art that will sell. Once you are famous you can produce pretty much anything you want and you will probably sell enough of it to live. Until that time you need to produce stuff that people will buy. When I was at mime and physical theatre school some of my colleagues were into performing weird avant-garde theatre at the weekends. I was using the same techniques to do kids’ parties. I made consistent money to support my course, they were reliant on the latest Arts Council grant.

Have a Cunning Plan

Dream big, but plan conservatively. It is so tempting to forecast your income using a best-case scenario. Don’t. Plan for a low level of income and then you can only be pleasantly surprised if you do better one month.

Save for taxes. When you get paid, stick 20% in a separate dedicated bank account for tax. Don’t touch it until tax time. It’s not not your money anyway. I recommend the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz – it is really helpful.

Delegation, that’s what you need

Granted, there are definitely dull and difficult bits to business. Work out what you can and cannot do yourself. Pay someone else to do the bits you can’t do or can’t stand. This might include accounts, bookkeeping, web design, graphics and more. It is always cheaper to pay an expert than to try to teach yourself and muddle through something with less than 100% effectiveness. I have learned that the hard way.

Remember, there is no business like show business, but there is no show without business.

The Same But Different

Always scaffolding somewhere…

The Spires Have Different Dreams Every Day

I am tremendously lucky to be living once again, at least for the moment, in central Oxford. This is by virtue of my wife’s job as Chaplain to Christ Church, one of the colleges of Oxford University.

Oxford is a magical and inspiring city. The very buildings feed me with a sense of wonder. There is a timeless quality to them, they feel like they have been and that they will be there forever.

However, there is always some scaffolding up somewhere. One or other of the colleges will be doing some modernisation or refurbishment of some kind. Beneath the apparently ancient exteriors thrums a modern and constantly changing institution. 

All Change

It is not just the buildings that are in a constant state of flux. The people change fast too. The average length of stay in Oxford is only a few years. Significant years for most, but not many in number. People arrive, study, research, teach and then move on, leaving a little of their unique insight and influence behind.

Yet there are enduring aspects to the University. The traditions, the core values, the overall character of the place change very slowly indeed, if at all. 

The Show Must Go On, But Slightly Changed…

As an entertainer, my family magic and circus show hasn’t changed radically in 25 years and yet it is now completely different to when I started. It evolves, it gets renewed.

The underlying structure remains the same. My character is still an amplified version of myself. My costume has only changed once in all that time. And, yet, I learn from every show. Sometimes I will drop an improvised line in and it gets a big laugh. From then onwards it becomes part of the show. Sometimes I realise that something could work better if I timed it slightly differently. A couple of times a year I will come across a new trick or routine that could fit my style and I try it out for a bit.

The show evolves yet the core values and overall character of the show remains unchanged. These were instilled years ago through my upbringing, my faith and my performance training. Everything subsequently builds on those foundations.

Bound to Get Better

Having firmly established foundations imposes boundaries on you. This is a good thing. I have heard it said many times that boundaries lead to much greater creativity. Ask anyone who is part of an improv group.

Have you established your core values, your traditions, your ground rules for life and work? If not, then I encourage you to do so. 

Then you will have a firm foundation on which to perform your unique miracles to the world.

Facing in Different Directions?

Facing Different Directions?

If you are setting out on a course different to anything anyone in your family has ever done then it is understandable that they might be fearful – we are all naturally wary of what we do not know. 

Especially if you are running away to join the circus, or even just become a magician. Your family will have no idea how you can make it work.

But it can be very unsettling to feel out of alignment, your family and friends not supporting what you want to do, not sharing your vision.

Wisdom or Fear

It may be that they are older and wiser and have some wisdom that it would be good for you to listen to. They are probably genuinely concerned that you will not earn enough money to support yourself both now and in the future.

Or it may be that they are fearful and worried about their own reputation. 

Or it may be a combination of both – human beings are complex!

Go to the Bank

The way that you interact with them will depend on the quality of your relationship with them. This will be different for everyone and will depend on the history of your relationship. I love Stephen Covey’s concept of “emotional bank accounts”, outlined in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

The idea is that, with everyone you know, you have unconsciously opened an emotional bank account. Whenever you do something positive for them, spend time with them, smile at them, you are making a deposit into the account. Every time you offend them, need a favour or are just grumpy you are making a withdrawal. Covey encourages us to maintain  positive emotional bank balances. 

If you have a healthy balance in your account then you are going to be able to have a much more meaningful, honest and understanding conversation with a family member or friend than if you are overdrawn. It is never too late to start making deposits into the account!

Find the Other Crazies

In addition, it would be good to find a community of people – maybe a club or society, physical or online – with people who have made it work in your chosen field. Those who are a bit further down the road than you who can advise you of possible pitfalls and give you good advice. They can give you the benefit of their experience.

You can also use them as examples to your fearful family to reassure them that there is a way to make your idea work and that you are not blindly following a crazy vision, you have experienced people to guide you and you are going in with your eyes open.

Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground

I realise that sometimes you have to follow your vision, come what may, or it will feel like you are killing your soul. But it has to be practical, workable and sustainable. Often, those closest to us will be worrying because they don’t think we will be able to survive. And that is a valid concern. 

You will have to sell your vision to different people again and again throughout your journey. So beginning with your nearest and dearest isn’t a bad place to start. Having to prepare a case for them will force you to think through all the practical and financial issues, to come up with at least a rudimentary business plan. This may not sound very romantic but it can only be good for you in the long run. Or even in the short run.

New Tricks

Stay curious

Successful magicians are always seeking out new tricks or researching old tricks. Most will not be performed, but something will be learned from all of them. How did they do that? Is that the best method? Would an effect like that suit me? If not, could I use the idea in a different way?

Stuff in leads to stuff out

If you are always learning you are constantly broadening your mind and skill-base. You get better at talking and better at doing. You build up a resource bank of ideas, invaluable when called upon to improvise. New creativity opens up new possibilities.

The more and better stuff you feed into yourself, the more and better stuff you will get out of yourself: words, music, comedy, physical co-ordination and more.

Come on, keep up

The world is constantly changing. If you don’t keep learning you risk getting left behind. Leadership styles now are very different to those of a couple of decades ago. How many times have you seen an older leader upsetting and struggling to manage a younger team, mainly because the assumptions about their relationship are different? 

How do you keep learning? You could go back to college or university, or do another kind of formal training course. That is quite a heavy commitment in terms of time and money. However, there are now more options than ever for continuing education using ad-hoc methods throughout daily life.

Reading is feeding

A key element is reading. It has been said many times, but bears repeating, “Readers lead and leaders read.” It is all too easy to give up reading because you don’t think you have time. Actually, that is a false economy. You don’t really have time not to read. You will soon start to stagnate and your ability to produce and create will diminish. Stuff in leads to stuff out. 

I try to maintain a mixed reading diet. First thing, I will scan the headlines on my phone. I will read a magic magazine if I am on the train. During my morning tea break, an autobiography sitting on my bed (I work from home!). In my afternoon tea break, a business book on the sofa downstairs. In the middle of my weekly kayaking trip, history on my phone. And in bed, a novel on my tablet, propped up on my nightstand so that it will switch off automatically if I go to sleep! 

Your car is your college 

I am also a huge fan of podcasts. Several hundred miles driving per week between magic bookings means a lot of podcast time! Again, a varied diet of comedy, history, economics, personal finance, leadership, spirituality, public speaking advice and interviews with performers. Many magicians use driving time for listening to audiobooks with a similar aim. I listen while driving, but you can also listen to educational audio content while cooking, running or walking.

‘Appy and I know it

Online and app-based learning is great. I have a Duolingo habit – 5 minutes of French each day. Two years ago I learned touch-typing through a free web course. The resources out there seem endless. Work out what you need and then knit it into your routine for a bit.

Mixing in Societies

Lastly, I have always loved joining clubs and societies. Maybe it is my natural introversion, but I like having my social life a little bit structured. This has been true since I was a child. At school at one point I was going to 12 extra-curricular clubs or lessons each week! I am not quite that extreme now, but I am currently a member and regular attendee of The Magic Circle, Toastmasters and the Professional Speaking Association. I learn a tremendous amount from these meetings, both from the formal lectures and training and from the informal interactions between members, the sharing of expertise and ideas. 

Education is the magic ingredient to keep you sharp. Whether it is by formal or informal means, never stop learning new tricks.

Stay curious! 

Who’s Looking at You, Kid?

Who’s watching?

There is a paradox in performing magic as a solo gigging performer. It is all about you as an individual but it is also all about the audience. You have to present what only you can present, tricks that you have selected to suit your style in your own inimitable way, not copying anyone else. You have to be you and entirely you, not a facsimile of another performer. However, you also have to completely aware of those to whom you are performing and you have to tailor your material and presentation to suit them.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I do not wear the same costume or use the same patter when I am performing a nursery school show that I do when I am strolling round a corporate drinks reception. Strangely enough, some of the magical effects will be the same, but they will be performed in very different ways. And yet, though the situations and performances are very different, I am still unmistakably me in both of them. It is all about me and yet it is all about the audience.

I have had great debates about this with professional speaking colleagues. I would argue that the audience are the most important people in the room and my colleague would say that the speaker is the most important. I have come to realise that we are both right. You have to be authentically yourself but you have to prepare and present with the audience in mind at all times.

As with magic and speaking, as with life and work in general.

No kicks from slick tricks

Who are you doing it for? Just as a magician works out which audiences could suit his or her style, you need to work out who you are going to target with whatever it is that you do. I realised a few years back that I am no longer (if I ever was!) able to compete in the expensive-suit-slick-smart-young-corporate-close-up magician market. For a while that bothered me as I had, in my head, been holding that up as the holy grail of magic work, the type of job to which I should aspire.

But then I realised a few things. I don’t really enjoy that kind of work anyway, on the occasions that I have done it. Also, I love doing the multi-generational-significant-birthday-and-wedding-anniversary type family events, I love doing open air shows at community events and I love doing kids parties. And I am really good at all of those things, if the repeat bookings are anything to go by. So why was I aiming at the wrong type of customer all those years? Since I realised all this I have been much happier and less stressed. 

Find your audience

Think about your own life. Are you aiming for the right kind of customer, the ones that you can serve better than anyone else? They will be out there, and they may well not be the same customers as the ideal customers for your friends and colleagues. And that is OK.

Build up a picture in your mind of your ideal customer. Write down their characteristics. As with my magic business, you may have more than one type if you have offer different products. That is OK, create a profile for each one. This has been called creating an “avatar”. Whenever you are designing something for your business, be it website copy, graphics, publicity material, a speech, do it all with the appropriate avatar in mind and imagine that you are designing it just for them.