The MAGIC Formula – Dealing with a Competitive Analyst

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

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:

https://www.work-life-magic.com/magic-for-teams-research/

The MAGIC Formula – Dealing with a Silverback

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting


Teams and Tables

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.

Gorilla Warfare

In my experience,  there will almost always be a silver Silverback male on a table of guests at a wedding.

A community of gorillas generally has a dominant male known as the “silverback” – they are older with silver-grey hair on their back. Big and tough, they want to maintain their leadership position. Humans are not that different. I’m sure we have all come across silverback males in our teams.

As I approach a wedding table, this individual will typically be holding forth, trying to maintain dominance of the whole group, making sure everyone knows they are in charge. When I turn up as a magician, it is a critical moment. Mr Silverback – let’s call him Tarquin – can make or break the success of my performance.

Stop, Think

The most important thing is for me to stop and think, “How can I be MAGIC in this situation?” Not magic in terms of what tricks I can do, but how can I Move, Attune, Give, Inspire and Connect? MAGIC.

I have to admit that public-school-educated silverback males tend to push all my buttons in a bad way. I have a state-school-educated chip on my shoulder, a knee-jerk reaction to pushy posh people that I have to get past. It only lasts an instant and then my rational brain takes over. Please understand, I know lots of posh people and I love them! Most of them are not at all pushy.

I have to prevent myself from acting on my momentary instinct. I have to pause. I have to resist the urge to compete. Taking on Tarquin Silverback will never go well. The rest of the spectators will just end up watching the fight, and no one wants to see that, especially when it’s supposed to be entertainment.

I have to resist the urge to defend myself, to use my magic and position as a weapon. It is all too tempting for us magicians to try and get one up on our spectators, to show how clever we are with ingenious tricks and clever put-downs. That never goes go well.

Alignment Assignment

What works much better is to work out what is motivating the silverback. They want to look good, how can I make them look better? How can I make them feel secure and not threatened?

If they have a guest, and they almost always will, they want to make them look great. So the most strategic move is to get their companion involved in a magic routine in such a way that makes the guest look fantastic. This way, you immediately recruit the silverback as an ally rather than a competitor because they now share a common aim. I am indebted to magician Dominic Reyes for this insight.

Work With the People in Front of You

As I have said before, you have to work with the table that you have, not the table you wish you had. Like it or not the silverback is a powerful force and it’s much better to work with him than against him.

I have to remember my bigger aim – to provide an entertaining time for the whole table so that they give me a big round of applause and cheer at the end,  which leaves them feeling happy and satisfied and makes me look great to the rest of the room.

I have recently been doing interviews with team leaders, a theme that came up, again and again, was the challenge of getting and maintaining alignment, where all team members pull together towards the same goal. The challenge of working with the team you have, not the team you wish you had.

How can you be MAGIC?

What is your aim?

Do you have a Silverback who wants to take things in a different direction? Can you find a way of working with them, instead of against them? There will be a temptation to rely on your own position and the rules of the team. But if you go down that route, you may end up having a fight and squaring off against each other. Much better to try and find a common cause, a way to get them working alongside you instead of against you.

Move, Attune, Give, Inspire, Connect.

Stop, think…

How can you be MAGIC in this situation?


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:
https://www.work-life-magic.com/magic-for-teams-research/

The MAGIC Formula – Teams & Tables

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Turns at Tables

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.

A Typical Table

Let’s take a typical wedding table. This is not an actual table that I have entertained, but the characters are based on many people that I have met. The only thing they have in common is that they have been invited to the wedding because they know, work with, or are related to one or both of the happy couple.

There is a silverback male. Let’s call him Tarquin. He is holding forth, showing off to his slightly entitled daughter Taramasalata. Next to them is Clint, a competitive analyst, wanting to point out how all my tricks are done. He’s the uncle of the over-enthusiastic 10-year-old Matilda, who is dying to show me a card trick of her own.

On Matilda’s right is her joker dad Jake,  then her bored teenage brother Ben, who is glued to his phone and would rather be anywhere else in the world. Finally, we have Claire, Matilda and Ben’s timid mother, who doesn’t really like magic and has to endure sitting next to the silverback Tarquin.

The Challenge

When I arrive at the table, I have only a short time to connect with the whole table, work out the personality types present, and try and get them all working as a single audience. I need, if possible, to get them aligned, to pull together as one.

Also, I want to change their emotional state, get them to feel differently, have a good time, and feel more positive about being on the table together. My aim is to Move them, Attune to them, Give to them, Inspire them and Connect with them. That is the real MAGIC that will be going on.

Button Pushing

Some of the personality types are pushing my buttons. Inside, I want to compete with them, to win. I have to reign that in. I need to remind myself that I am there to entertain and serve. So I have to repress my competitive instincts.

Teams and Tables

It’s not uncommon to get a similar mix of people on a team that you might be leading. You may not get them all at once, but, for example, I am sure you can recognise the person who thinks they should be leading instead of you, or the person who wants to go into intricate detail about something in particular, or the one who just wants to make jokes all the time. You get the idea.

Over the next few weeks, I will go through these different characters and ponder how a magician deals with them and how that might provide insights for team leaders attempting to deal with similar personalities and situations.

A team is like a wedding table, and a wedding table is like a team. The only real difference is the timescale and depth of interaction. A magician has to do it in about 10 minutes and only scratches the surface. You will probably have several months, but will have the opportunity to go deeper.

Time to unleash your inner magician?

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:

The MAGIC Formula – Inspiring Yourself – Variety

The MAGIC Formula - Variety

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 


The Real Variety Show

Variety is the spice of life. 

I certainly find that to be true. I get bored so quickly. I find it hard to sit and do the same thing for more than an hour. I can think back to only a few occasions in my life when I became totally absorbed in something and sat doing the same thing for hours on end. Typically it was a web design project. But it rarely happens these days. 

If you’re anything like me, you could benefit from intentionally using variety to aid your productivity and creativity.

How about exploring

  • different solutions to problems, 
  • different tools for creating and communicating, and
  • different formats for learning?

Many Possibilities

When you see a fantastic magic performance, you see an effect. If the magician is any good, you do not see the method, the secret goings-on behind the illusion. When a magician designs a trick, they will often start with the end effect in mind. Then they will consider several different possible methods for making it happen. 

Last week I built a standing desk. I researched a variety of different possible solutions. And in the end, I designed my own. 

Most problems have multiple possible solutions. Think of a tricky situation that you have right now. On a big piece of paper, brainstorm all the different ways that it might be resolved. Include the ridiculous ones as well. Then leave it overnight and come back to it.

You will probably be able to add some more ideas the next day. Chances are, either you will have decided on a different solution, or you will be clearer on your reasons for the answer you had initially.

Finding What is Write for Me

I find it very hard to sit simply in front of my computer and write. But I want to write, I need to write, and some people seem to like my writing(!) So, I have developed my own method for producing these blogs, filled with variety.

Admittedly, the lockdown has limited our options. We now have kids at home, so there are fewer rooms available, but I usually try to go somewhere other than my office to do my first brainstorm of an idea. It will be with pen and ink, a spider diagram. The next day, I will busk my article using dictation. I use otter.ai , and I simply talk from my spider diagram into my phone. This produces a text file for me, which I can download from a web browser on my laptop.

The next day I will edit this into some to tidy up the structure. On the final day, I will create the graphic and run the whole thing through Grammarly before posting. 

Flipping Brilliant

One of my favourite office tools is my flip chart. I have found it invaluable for just getting my thoughts on paper and developing them. It is excellent for preparing for talks, presentations and phone calls. I also use it to have “meetings with myself”. My wife came into my office the other day and saw my flip chart, all squiggly lines, circles and multicoloured pens and said, “You are such a visual learner.” Very true.

Up, Down or Sideways?

How about varying your posture and position? I now do some of my work standing up and some sitting down.

Similarly, when it comes to communicating ideas on video calls. You can just sit in front of your Zoom, or you could mix it up. When you have something to share you can talk to the camera, you could speak to a different camera, maybe on your phone? You could be standing up or sitting down; you could use slides, video or props. You get the idea. How can you make it more interesting for both you and those you are calling?

What Could You Know?

If we want to keep moving forwards and not get left behind, we have to keep learning. I favour a variety of learning formats, a mixed diet – recorded courses, live courses, reading, audiobooks, podcasts, hobbies. There are many different ways to learn. I am learning Spanish from an audiobook while shaving.

What could you learn, and where could you fit it into your life? 

Could some variety spice up your life and work?


Get a MAGIC Boost!

Book 60 minutes one-to-one with John to apply the MAGIC formula just where you need it right now.

Possibilities include:

– Finding your motivation
– Getting organised and focussed
– Preparing for a tough conversation
– Getting ready to lead a team meeting
– Preparing for a speech or presentation

and more!

https://www.work-life-magic.com/get-a-magic-boost/

The MAGIC Formula – Inspiring Yourself – Art Checkup

Inspiring Yourself - The Arts

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

It applies to:

Yourself
Your clients
Your team
Your prospects 

Art to Heart

Happy New Year!

I spent most of the Christmas and New Year break in a mixture of sleeping, eating and consuming stories of one sort or another. Lots of reading, watching films and online theatre

I find the arts invaluable during life in general, but they have been especially so over the last months during  COVID restrictions. Why are they so important? They can be seen as ephemeral, but I have come to appreciate that the apparently frivolous is actually essential.

The arts feed our mind, and they nourish our soul. And when our mind and soul are satisfied, that fuels everything else. It was not for nothing that Vera Lynn went out to entertain the troops.

How should we engage in the arts?

  • We can consume,
  • we can create, and
  • we can support artists.

Feed Your Mind

Consuming art inspires us, whether it be theatre, film, music, reading fiction or nonfiction, watching comedy or looking at paintings. We get inspired and refreshed.  We get moved, we get challenged and, as a result, we grow. Stuff in equals stuff out.

Leaders need to be great storytellers. We can only become better storytellers when we engage with many stories.

Make to Make a Difference

We can create art. You don’t have to be good, but I would encourage you to do it anyway, whether by dancing, drawing, painting, making music or writing. What we create may or may not be for the consumption of others. Most of it will probably never see the light of day. Don’t worry, create anyway. It’s good for our mental health, it’s relaxing, it gives us an outlet.

If you’re religious, you can think of it as a type of prayer. I certainly do.

Keep Your Arts Pumping

And please, please, please at this time, support artists in any way that you can. The industry, particularly for live performers, is in a dire situation. Take any opportunity you can to watch online performances and pay for them. We need the arts, and we don’t want to lose them.

I will repeat it: the apparently frivolous is essential.


Get a MAGIC Boost!

Book 60 minutes one-to-one with John to apply the MAGIC formula just where you need it right now.

Possibilities include:

– Finding your motivation
– Getting organised and focussed
– Preparing for a tough conversation
– Getting ready to lead a team meeting
– Preparing for a speech or presentation

and more!

https://www.work-life-magic.com/get-a-magic-boost/