corporate magician, corproate entertainment, corporate mind reader, corporate mentalist, corporate event entertainment, conference entertainment, corporate magician, interactive corporate entertainment

Branding Magic: A Case Study

Recently, I was approached by a division of Thomson Reuters that was launching their new brand at a financial services conference in San Francisco.

 
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The newly named division, Refinitiv, sponsored the evening’s networking reception and they asked me to help with two things:

First, it was long, two day conference and they wanted to provide the cocktails, entertainment, and fun for the evening.

And second, they wanted to ensure attendees were aware of the transformation, why they changed, and what their new capabilities were.

After gathering information via phone conversations, emails, and their marketing materials for the event, I set upon connecting the dots.

Combining the powerful visual metaphor inherent in magic with some of the big ideas Refinitiv wanted to get across — transformation, re-branding/re-birth — is the most creative part of this process and I love it!

And here is the result that evening…

San Francisco Magician Dennis Kyriakos

See those faces? That’s genuine wonder, excitement, and surprise attendees are experiencing and in that moment they are incredibly receptive to Refinitiv’s message.

Are you planning to sponsor a cocktail reception, hospitality suite, or kick-off meeting? Launching a new product or making an announcement? Perhaps you want to create an experience that will effortlessly open the minds and hearts of your audience to your specific message or brand?

Well then, let’s talk.

PS - And if you’re curious to see a “down-and-dirty” rehearsal of the piece I came up with for Refinitiv, let me know.

The Magic of Center

When I lived in New York, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the best magicians and variety artists on the planet. I was privileged to introduce many of them, watch their acts repeatedly and spend time with them backstage. I took in a lot of information during that time. It doesn’t mean I “learned” anything at that point. I was just taking in the information — the learning comes later.

There was a moment at Monday Night Magic which I clearly remember. I was hosting the show and the theater had just got their liquor license, so they could serve alcohol in the lobby before the show and patrons could bring their drinks into the theater.

We were about halfway through the first half of the show and I was speaking the audience when suddenly, out of the darkness, a man said something to me. The house was full that night and with the bright lights on stage you can only see the first couple of rows. I couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from but my head turned in his direction, near the back of the house just off center.

I didn’t say anything at that point, I just stopped mid sentence and let him finish what he had to say. When he was done, I continued. A moment later, it happened again. It naturally stopped me again for a moment. This time I could feel the audience get a bit tense and my mind started to churn:

“Are they expecting me to say something back?”

“How do I respond here?”

“Why the hell are they serving alcohol at the show?”

I took a breath, settled into my body and continued. There was one more comment from him and what sounded like another voice as well. But this time they were both a bit softer. It didn’t seem to be directed towards the stage. Then, nothing. It stopped and life continued.

It wasn’t a conscious decision for on my part to respond this way. I never thought in advance “if there’s a heckler tonight I’m going to…” This was a spontaneous response to the situation and it felt completely natural for me.

It had been something I struggled with for some time because I would see other performers tear the heads off of hecklers at the show. I considered — and still do consider — some of these performers to be my mentors and I was there to learn from them so what they were doing was right. Right?

Well, maybe.

Maybe it was right for them based on their experience and worldview but it didn’t feel right for me.

With 20+ years of aikido training, I don’t know why the answer didn’t come sooner. But like I said earlier, while you’re in the moment of the lesson you’re simply taking in the information. The embodiment of the learning doesn’t come until later.

As I see it, there are really only two options available to deal with a heckler: either you let them be part of your show or you don’t.

How would I handle this situation? What’s my response?

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Control your emotions. Control your response.

One of the things that dawned on me while practicing aikido is that I can’t control anyone. It’s impossible. No matter how well you apply a technique, you can’t control anyone. The only thing you have control over is yourself. Period.

What you can do is set up the situation so they have no other choice but to realize the mistake they made and give them the opportunity to back off.

It’s simple, really. But not easy.

If I were to engage with the heckler during my show, it would have been an invitation to him to be part of my show. I’m literally opening the door.

Would you invite a stranger into your home to run amok? Of course not. You don’t know this person or their intentions.

So, I don’t invite the heckler in. They may knock on the door with their first heckle. But I’m not answering. They may even obnoxiously ring my doorbell countless times. I’m not answering.

This is my home and I’m in control. You are not welcome here.

Doing Nothing is Doing Something

They just started serving alcohol so my assumption is the heckler had something to drink. He decides to interject something or interrupt my speech with something he thinks might be funny or obnoxious or whatever. The reality is, I don’t know what he was thinking and it doesn’t matter.

He calls out a couple of times. Why? Because he wants a reaction from me. The reaction he wants and expects is that I fight back. I prop up his attack by pushing back with a “heckler stopper.” If that’s the response from me, now there is conflict.

Instead, I do nothing. I simply let him say what he has to say — allowing him to express himself — and move on. I remain centered and in control of myself. This makes it clear to him and everyone else watching that I cannot be upset and that I am in control.

Eventually, the person he was with whispers something in his ear and he’s quiet of the rest of the show. That person could have been his spouse or partner. What did that person say? I don’t know and I don’t care. Perhaps it was that things won’t be so pleasant back home if you continue down this path. Regardless, he received the message.

____

In the ensuing chaos that is intermission at Monday Night Magic, I was chatting with a couple of friends who were also on the show that night. Rocco, one of my favorite performers at the show, came over.

Motioning in my direction, he said the the producer, “Michael, that guy right there is a class act.”

2018: In Technicolor

Happy New Year!

2018 was a great year for us here. Have a look at some of our favorite highlights IN TECHNICOLOR!

Saving The Day

It was the morning of December 13th. I was in the midst of the holiday season with numerous events each week and I receive an inquiry for an event THAT EVENING.

A few moments later I’m speaking with the client who informs me that due to a scheduling conflict, they lost their casino vendor and they’re stressed with no entertainment.

“Can you be in San Ramon tonight to perform a show for 250 guests at an awards dinner?”

Here are the results.

Corporate Magician
Corporate Magician
Corporate Magician

Magical Emcee at Awards Luncheon

One of my favorite events this holiday season was an awards luncheon for a local construction firm. I had met the CEO at another event, we hit it off and kept in touch.

In our discussions leading up the the event, I was told that due to the size of their operation and numerous simultaneous job sites, they may not all know each other. This would be the only opportunity to have everyone in one together in one room to celebrate achievement.

My job then, was not only to break-the-ice but create rapport and connections between people who have never met.

Clearly, it would begin during the cocktail reception where I can get to know them a bit and help break the ice with close-up magic.

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After lunch, I would be officially introduced as host of the company’s awards ceremony. I went on to introduce some of the company officers who presented a total of six awards to employees.

But there had to be more magic. We needed to bring more rapport and levity to the event.

Awards were presented to reflect each of their company values, which included Excellence, Commitment, Positivity, Ownership, Improvement, and Teamwork.

So, I created three customized piece of magic specifically for this event that I peppered throughout the ceremony and we had a blast.

A few words from the Founder and CEO about the experience….

Trade Shows!

I can officially announce that my magic has taken me around the world.

In July 2018, my friends at Magnet Productions sent me Shanghai to build crowds for their client at Mobile World Congress, one of the world’s largest consumer trade shows in the world.

Did I mention it was in Shanghai and only 5% of attendees spoke English? And yet, look at those crowds!

San Francisco Trade Show Magician

San Francisco Trade Show Magician

Other trade shows this year included MS Ignite and Cisco Live in Orlando, Blackhat and VM World in Las Vegas, and RSA, in San Francisco.

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MS Ignite Dennis Kyriakos Trade Show Magician.jpg
Trade Show Magician
Trade Show Magician

Stanford Graduation

I received an email from someone in England who’s son was graduating from Stanford and celebrating his birthday. She couldn’t be at his graduation party and she was inquiring about being a surprise guest for evening. She also asked if I could come up with a special surprise for him.

Here’s a customized ending for one of my favorite pieces of card magic.

Wait for it.

60th Birthday in Santa Cruz

In July, I was invited to entertain at a 60th birthday event in a cozy bungalow-style home in Santa Cruz.

The evening with began in the backyard patio as I mingled with about 50 guests and entertained with close-up magic. We then sat down for dinner catered by a local taco truck. Everything was homemade and just delicious.

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While we ate, the backyard patio was transformed into a cozy theater and once guests finished their meal, they returned for my after-dinner mind reading show as the sun set. It was the perfect evening for mystery and wonder under the stars.

San Francisco Magician

UCSF Fundraiser with Daughters of Penelope

On May 5th, I participated in a fundraiser gala benefiting the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, hosted by the Daughters of Penelope at Ascension Greek Orthodox Church —which is just steps away from my home.

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The evening offered delicious appetizers — us Greeks know how to cook! — a silent auction, and a no-host bar.

After cocktails, guests settled into their seats for my full 90-minute theatrical mind reading show, where I debuted brand new performance material.

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We raised over $7,000 that evening with 100% of the proceeds going directly to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

If you’re planning a fundraiser for your favorite charity, I encourage you to be in touch. We can make it a truly magical event!

Thank you

Thanks to everyone who invited me to be part of their festivities. I would not be here without you and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my passion.

And thank you for reading. Have a happy and healthy 2019.

Ricky Jay

“You wouldn’t want to live in a world where you couldn’t be conned. Because it would mean you’re living in a world where you never trusted anyone or anything.”
— Ricky Jay

Sadly, I never got to meet or see Ricky Jay perform in person. You’re lucky if you ever did because I can only imagine what it would be like.

Mr. Jay’s obituary in the New York Times can be found here.

MS Ignite 2018

We’re just back from Orlando, where we stopped traffic at the Lenovo booth at MS Ignite.

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We presented over 40 shows over the course of four days, performing content-laden visual magic and introduced speakers from Lenovo and their partners. And we filled the booth with attendees for every single show.

Lenovo’s goal was to book 42 meetings with their executives. During the presentations we notified attends this was available and when all was said and done, they booked over 90 meetings. Needless to say they are very happy with the results.

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Thanks again to our friends at Magnet Productions.

VM World 2018

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Building awareness and shining a light on Check Point Software at VM World 2018 in Las Vegas last week. Many thanks to Magnet Productions.

 

She Got It

A few months ago, I presented an evening of mind reading at a venue in San Francisco. We had about 150 people in the audience. A very sophisticated and savvy group. 

Over the past year, I have been working on a new closing piece for the show. It's rarely seen anymore because it's challenging to perform well. I've only performed it a handful of times over the course of the year, mainly because I don't always have the right audience and venue. 

But this audience in this venue was perfect.

I think a lot about the shows I perform. I think about structure and theme and plot and character. Then I work things out to try to convey these thoughts. I tend to err on the subtle side, but I think about it and try to convey.

Anyway, I started thinking about this show, considering things about it a couple of weeks leading up to it. So I had invested time and energy into it. Then the big night is here. I arrive early. Set up the stage, check my mic. The audience arrives and I'm introduce and we're off. 

An hour into the show and things are going well. It feels good. I think they're getting it. Then the moment arrives to introduce the finale of the performance. The piece I'm most nervous about and have been thinking about for over a year. 

This piece involves everyone in the audience. At least those who want to participate. Before the show begins, they each write something specific on a piece of paper, fold it up and drop it in a bowl on stage. My job is to reveal those secret thoughts without reading them. Everyone one is invested in this piece, not just me. See? Challenging.

So, we dive in. I begin with the first revelation when I hear it. "Is that...the fire alarm?" I think to myself. "Nah. Can't be."

A beat goes by and the stage manager comes to the foot of the stage and asks everyone to make their way to the exits.

Dammit.

We make our way outside and wait for the fire department to give the all clear. It takes about 30 minutes. I make friends with some of the audience members and we have pleasant conversation. I'm not sure who is more disappointed. I think it's me.

A couple of weeks later I'm back in the venue -- I have a weekly residency there performing casual close-up magic. And one of the audience members who was at the show, is back to catch some magic. She asks me a bit about the final piece of the show and I walk her through what was supposed to happen. She says that based on what had they had seen leading up to the finale, that was the only inevitable place the show could have gone.

Wow. She got it.

Ideal Private Venue

This past weekend, I was invited to be a "surprise guest" at someone's 40th birthday party. The venue was a lovely, modern home in the Potrero Hill section of San Francisco, owned by a friend of the guest-of-honor.

San Francisco Magician

I arrived well after the party began and mingled with guests on the roof deck. Then we moved to the second floor living room to read some minds

San Francisco Mind Reader Dennis Kyriakos

San Francisco Mind Reader Dennis Kyriakos

One of the most comfortable homes and gracious host and hostess. The perfect mix for a perfect evening entertainment.