Storytelling is an important part of everything you do.
Whether you’re trying to sell something, speaking, or building relationships, you can’t ignore the power of story.
It’s what causes us to have an emotional connection to something.
Magic is an art form that uses storytelling.
It’s not just about magic tricks.
It’s about what you feel while you’re watching the trick.
It’s about what the magician is telling you that changes your memory of the event.
And it’s about how you take what you’re seeing and relate it to your story.
How can you use the power of magic in your own life?
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I’ve combined lessons about capturing your audience from some of the greatest magicians alive: Penn Jillette, Oz Perlman, Julius Dien, Derren Brown, and Lior Suchard.
Derren Brown uses magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship to create series and specials on stage and television. He’s won two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment and has also written books for magicians as well as the general public.
Lior Suchard is considered to be the world’s greatest mentalist. His mind-blowing performances of thought influence, miraculous prediction and startling mind reading have made him the most sought after mentalist on the planet. He entertains audiences all over the world, which have brought him a list of fans stretching from A-list Hollywood celebrities to heads of state and notorious businessmen.
Born and raised in London, Julius Dein has fast become one of the world’s most recognized social media stars. Mixing together mind-blowing magic with hilarious comedy and travel culture, Julius Dein has over 20 million followers across the internet.
Oz Pearlman is a world-class entertainer and one of the busiest mentalists in the country. You might recognize him from America’s Got Talent where he placed third out of thousands of acts. Oz has also appeared on a variety of both national and international networks, a few of which include NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The TODAY Show & ABC World News and been profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, to name but a few. When he isn’t blowing the minds of audiences around the world, Oz is an avid marathon and ultra-marathon runner.
Penn Jillette is a magician, actor, musician, inventor, television personality, and best-selling author best known for his work with fellow magician Teller as half of the team Penn & Teller. The duo has been featured in numerous stage and television shows such as Penn & Teller: Fool Us, and Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, and are currently headlining in Las Vegas at The Rio. He has published eight books, including the New York Times Bestseller, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales.
All of these amazing magicians use the same tools to draw in their audience and capture their imaginations.
It’s more than impressive tricks, flashing lights, or fancy outfits.
So get ready to learn how to harness the power of storytelling on Episode 815.
Lewis: This is episode number 815 on the power of storytelling. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes a former athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today, now let the class begin.
Khalil Gibran said “The appearance of things change according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”
Today we’ve got a powerful episode it’s from some of my favorite people that I’ve ever interviewed and it’s the people that make us inspired, make us wonder, make us believe in something greater than ourselves.
I’ve had some incredible magicians and illusionist on the show over the years and they are always the most fascinating people for me because I want to understand what’s inside their mind. How do they captivate an audience? How do they [?] the entire room their attention on one thing and make them see something else? How do they get people believe in something that actually didn’t happen but create such an amazing experience at the same time.
We’ve got Derren Brown one of my all-time favorites he’s a hypnotist, an illusionist and [?] who began his career in U.K and he has done some incredible Netflix specials that just literally blow my mind. He’s got best-selling books, unbelievable TV shows and live performance as well.
We’ve got Lior Suchard, when I saw him performed live years ago, I’m always able to figure out what someone acts and what are some of the things that people do on stage I couldn’t figure out how he did any of it. He continue to blow my mind in this segment here.
Julius Dein who is one of the hottest up and coming street magicians and illusionist who has blown up on social media. He’s one of the most recognize social media stars for his mind blowing magic and hilarious comedy with travel culture.
We’ve got Oz Pearlman world class [?] and one of the busiest mentalist in the country whose clients huge politicians, professional athletes and A-list celebrities. He’s on the media and the press, I see him constantly on the today show and GMA and on late night with Jimmy Fallon. He’s done some incredible things.
We’ve got Penn Jillette who is the world renowned magician duo Penn and Teller. He’s been over 40 years with Penn and Teller and he’s redefine the genre in magic and inventing their own very distinct nation comedy. The longest running act in Vegas as well.
In this interview and series we talked about the power of storytelling and people’s desire to be fooled. Why do we want to be fooled and tricked? How wonder is individual but universal. We talked about quick tips on maximizing your social media impact and your audience impact. How giving away some secrets captivates your audience but not all of them. The importance of putting yourself in the audience shoes first.
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Without further ado let’s dive into this episode with the magician masters.
Derren: I toured for like 20 years in the U.K and I do a brand new show every two years. In that whole experienced nothing was as interesting as doing this every night, because basically you’ve got 2 components idea of [?]. I was learning from the faith healers and using their techniques. One is adrenaline so you create with your own background.
Lewis: You’re feeling like.
Derren: So if you get adrenaline going it’s a painkiller it’s the first thing. If you got some back pain.
Lewis: You are slouched in the
Derren: Adrenaline kills it that’s the first part of it.
Derren: The second part of it is the stories we tell ourselves which is recurring theme my interest in life and how we get restricted by that and what I didn’t expect was, I thought people [?] but within a week I’m doing a show. I remember a woman coming up she’s maybe in her 40’s she’d been paralyzed on one side of her body since being a kid and for the first time she’s able to move.
Lewis: No way.
Derren: This is how you can. So that psychological component, so basically it’s like the part of our, I got maybe 2 or 3,000 people in the audience and 300.
Lewis: Most people aren’t feeling it or maybe pain or whatever.
Derren: The fact that if you x-ray this woman it’s telling you nothing has change, but her somehow in the story she was telling herself about this condition maybe a bit of adrenaline at the start and then the kind of the challenge of like ‘if you couldn’t move something before try it now and notice something different and come up and tell me.’ She’s not just feeling a difference she’s actually moving it and night after night these things happen.
Derren: People then say like a year later this is a permanent thing.
Derren: They’ll go back and which is where those healers starts to get nasty.
Derren: You didn’t have enough faith and so on and so on. So, that’s where it gets nasty so I am being open and say ‘look you are going to get back.’
Lewis: Some people works for.
Derren: It continue to work.
Lewis: Here’s the thing my girlfriend Jen she’s a doctor and she works on people who are in chronic pain. She get them on her table and literally have them start changing the story around, it’s an emotional thing that they are holding on to tight. When you get people to relaxed they can usually move better and the pain goes away. So, the way that you’re doing it [?].
Derren: There was a visualization but it wasn’t really relax because you can’t stand on stage and have people relax for 20 minutes, it was crazy and I started to think maybe I could present this as a thing because you get pack out stadium if you said this is a secular healing.
Lewis: What you’re doing cooler is you start to guess where people pain is and by looking at them you’re left knee and they’re like ‘what?’
Derren: Amusing what the healers.
Lewis: What are those?
Derren: I never say exactly how I am doing it because people then how I did it. I did it in one of the stage show I had people up on stage but I’m debunking it as I am doing it.
Derren: And I say like ‘your grandmother’s name is Alice.’
Lewis: How do you know the name?
Derren: That’s my secret. So, I’m debunking it as I am doing it, I am telling them correct information but at the same time I am saying I am lying to you. So, after the show there was a girl on stage door who said to me “Could you put me in touch with my grandmother?” and it was such an interesting moment like the capacity that kind of [?] that hold those twin ideas and you had that completely conflicting. So, a capacity to essentially kind of fool ourselves I think is so.
Lewis: To want to believe this person can or that this person connecting through something somehow.
Derren: And I think there’s a lot of that you got to get through before you reach the possibility of anyone doing it for real.
Lewis: What do you think is your greatest superpower?
Derren: If I have a tool kit like a magician has a deck of cards I think my tool kit is people story that they tell themselves.
Lewis: An example or?
Derren: Even just like a magic trick you are, when you watch a card trick and you go have me pick a card and then you put the card back in the deck and it disappear and it was my pocket. That is a story you are telling yourself and you’re going from point A to point B to point C. What the magician is doing is encouraging you to edit the story in such way, normally [?] in front of you but you don’t pay attention because it doesn’t seem important. I used to do this kind of magic and like a thing I always say is [?], but there’s a point halfway through the trick where they can shuffle them I would normally say at that point “Shuffle the cards again but this time do it under the table.” So they follow that instruction but it sounds like they’ve shuffled the cards before to them.
Lews: That was hard again.
Derren: Later when they are reconstructing the trick in their head let alone when they’re telling someone else about the trick. So, you just working the story and so what I do this sort of magic really like [?].
Derren: Largely its people’s all game perception.
Lior: If you think about it again go back to magic, a magician can do 4 things: He can make something appear from nowhere or disappear or transpose or levitate.
Lewis: In lots of different ways.
Lior: Exactly. Now, what I do same 4 pillars I can read something, I can influence something or guess more like a reading, I can predict something or I can make things move like telekinesis. On that you [?] story, different story. Thinking positive is a fact people need to think more positive but every person takes it how they see it and how they look at it and in the end it’s all about lesson and getting yourself into the right position.
Lior: But same thing here. When I see people wondering and here’s an interesting thing that nobody talked about it ‘what is the sense of wonder?’
Lewis: They’re curious.
Lior: Laughter is universal, sadness is the opposite. Wonder is very individual.
Lior: Once I had a show and nobody clap their hands in the end and then I was.
Lior: So, I had to reprogram the show to get applause. So it’s very interesting when you think about it and what [?] see the audience becoming children again.
Lewis: Do you feel like you had a good childhood?
Lior: The children there’s an amazing from them movie ‘the prestige.’ You see magician taking a little bird and it disappears and the audience go ‘my God’ and the bird would appear in another place. The magician had like a mechanic or something that kills the first bird.
Lewis: Oh no.
Lior: But children has a sense of wonder. When we grow up we start to lose this, you go into the box and you have your work and you know everything in the news and we start to lose this amazing feeling.
Lewis: Of wonder?
Lior: I am here to get back. And you know I don’t want to name drop but you know some of the people that I know doesn’t matter who you are.
Lewis: How old are your kids?
Lior: 4 and 2.
Lewis: And do you perform mentalism on them?
Lior: It’s hard because mentalism is very sometimes not visual, sometimes it’s very intellectual.
Lewis: Something you think about later.
Lior: When I do a big show even if it’s for 3,000 people the stage and the screen, the production would be modest because it’s not gonna be explosion and stuff like that.
Lewis: How important is storytelling in mentalism?
Lior: That’s everything.
Lewis: How did you learn how to tell better stories?
Lior: I didn’t. It started infotainment which is creating this stuff. So, I know how to guess with a dice but what if it isn’t a dice? What if it was different messages of a company and you look at something [?]. I find myself talking about the messages, conveying the messages but in a way that people remembers it.
Lior: So, I took 10 people on stage I told them to, one of the act ‘hold your hand above your watch count to 3 and I stopped all their watches.’
Lewis: You didn’t touch the watches?
Lior: The audience goes wild. One lady from those 10 people said ‘my watch is still working.’ I started to act like ‘What’s going on?’ That was like a moment because and then I talked about all the brands.
Lior: I could not stop this watch and the message was ‘I can’t do it’ and it was a metaphor. Of course by the way I could stop any of the watches I just made it look like. So, then I found myself flying for a fortune 500 companies.
Lior: For Google we did something ‘who is faster in searching?’ So I create this, I think this works on a principle that if I ask you what where you wearing 3 weeks ago on Monday, nobody knows.
Lewis: Nobody knows.
Lior: If I ask you what you did on the day of September 11 when the plane hits, you’d remember what exactly you did.
Lewis: We do fail videos as well
Julius: That was initially that was a couple of [?] I didn’t get it right. It was on my [?] video that went insane on 135 million views on Facebook.
Julius: What it was these 3 Asian ladies sitting by like a coliseum. I went over to them and pluck a sponge ball from behind their ear and I was expecting you know applause to some type of reaction and they just stared at me. I put that videos instant videos like crazy high energy magic.
Julius: The most tags and shares seem to from this clip.
Julius: Yeah. I have this slow mo and the sad music. What I would say when you are looking on your newsfeed things are going viral [?], whether its inspirational talks to cancer research donations to puppies.
Lewis: Political stuff and everything.
Julius: So people that say ‘you’re a magician.’ It’s not even true because most magicians don’t go even viral, I think I am really the only far magician I got a few friends that are doing social media really well. So, I wouldn’t say ‘you’re a magician that makes much difference.’
Lewis: Because magicians can’t get any of this.
Julius: There are a few great guys don’t get me wrong, but what I would say is there is a formula to go viral and particularly on Facebook. The formula is to remember, okay on Facebook people are scrolling on YouTube it’s a different story. YouTube is a long form content it is a fan based, Facebook is about viral. So, you got to remember YouTube and Facebook are very different.
Julius: So on Facebook people are scrolling to catch their attention, so forget about long introduction the first 3 seconds are crucial. In my position I released a video called ‘[?]’ it’s about 3 million views in 3 hours and the first 3 seconds of that video something really interesting is happening.
Lewis: First 3 seconds, so you got that formula down.
Julius: To put that in your position you were gonna do an inspirational talk on how to build a business, for me if I was in your position which is what Gary [?] has done, some of his videos is about 20 or 30 million views on Facebook. He starts with something interesting he asks you a question so it might be the first 3 seconds ‘so, what do you want in life?’
Julius: Or it could be like ‘when you die what are you gonna regret?’ Just something that brings people in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a question but if people are gonna find this interesting. I’ve seen the difference between putting a boring instruction and an interesting instruction can lead to the difference of millions of views.
Julius: You’re gonna have way less people to share that video it’s gonna go way less viral. So forget this long introduction this is not a YouTube video. You’re talking to people when they don’t know who you are, especially when they get reshared on some random person’s timeline in the Philippines.
Julius: 2nd thing make sure that the content you are making is people want to tag their friends. So, if you’re doing something inspirational you want to create the type of content that people want to tag their friends. So, whether it is funny or emotion thing or cute it’s very important that people want to tag their friends because that is what Facebook is all about.
Lewis: Right. Is there another element?
Julius: I think clickbait thumbnail.
Lewis: Separate image.
Julius: I subtitle everything, on Facebook 70% of people or sometimes [?]. So, I subtitle everything manually and I know Facebook have like an auto-subtitle but I don’t even bother I subtitle to make it automatically clear. You want to make your contents crystal clear.
Lewis: There’s no confusion.
Lewis: What’s the duration/length that you found is the best length to share?
Julius: I’d say between 1 and 2 minutes. So if you can make a 2 or 3 minute video that is viral that’s a great video then so be it. But there’s not many second video right now, on algorithm Facebook are pushing long content.
Lewis: So a minute to 2 minutes and if you can stand to 3 or 4 and still keep in interesting and subtitles crystal clear.
Julius: I try to keep my videos 2 or 3 minutes.
Lewis: What about the end of the video?
Julius: It’s nice to have a twist so if you look at the most viral videos on the planet with the viners or my video. So, the video that got 130 million views from May there was a funny twist in the end which is where I steal a guy’s girlfriend with a magic trick. The final trick was I make a lollipop appear from fire and then she give me a kiss on the cheek, and the final clip is her walking with me and her husband running. That video has over a million shares and right now it’s probably getting 50 to 100 shares this very second.
Oz: We reverse engineer so my word reverse engineer I could barely screw a light bulb, but the way that I dissect my routines is I first think of the effect. So, I think what do I want you to think happened? Here’s what I think would be really cool to me if I could tell you to be anyone, but I’m influencing where you are going with that person before you even know it.
Lewis: Don’t make it [?] it will be too obvious.
Oz: Exactly. It’s the same way with a salesperson. If you walk into a place and you know what it might not be right for you, I think your business is better elsewhere. There’s so many little facades.
Oz: Pickup art. So a lot of those guys started as magician and a lot of what they talk about is very applicable to what I do literally but not for picking up you know like girls or anything. It’s knowing how people think in their decision making, knowing how social dynamic works. I work on that all the time.
Oz: My show is knowing how I influence somebody when I [?], when somebody is with their peers, colleagues or boss all of those play in when I do a show.
Lewis: So when you see someone when you go into a room or a restaurant do you think like what the trick is or what’s the thing I want to do?
Oz: Jason Bourne my favorite scene ever is when they bring him to a restaurant and he tells you everything right now. If I walk into most rooms like I show less for 85 people.
Lewis: So you’ve met every person?
Oz: Even if I don’t meet them they have name tags I’m gonna know everything about them, I know who’s superior to who and I’ve got that social dynamics on this. Everything like that is father for the show.
Oz: So when you hear about cold reading and stuff a lot of psychics and mediums do I’m not here to tell you what’s real and not real I just know that so much of what I see a lot of psychics do I can do exactly the same.
Oz: I can do it based here now.
Lewis: Being aware of.
Oz: I know that they want to hear certain things so I’m gonna bring them in that direction. Let’s say I knew exactly what you were gonna think about your brother who’s world known jazz. What I do is mention my siblings and go into and then have a [?] to think that. I know that information. Everything I’ve done is craft a scenario that’s gonna set in motion with you asking me question that I know the answer to. So, if I do that more than once you would instantly catch on. In my show I teach you one slightly do the same thing in a totally different way.
So, if I did a show and you didn’t understand any of it you would get very bored and get exasperate with me, the whole show I teach you little things takeaways and that’s where you have fun.
Lewis: You’re not trying to like hide the magic of it?
Oz: I will show people how to detect lies in the show. I’m not teaching you to be a mentalist but I am giving away a little bit of the craft while I go because that’s what hooks you in. Every phase gets a little more impressive.
Lewis: Does mentalism have to do more with emotional intelligence or observing people’s behavior?
Oz: So it has to do with both in the same way with hypnotist. So in most scenarios I’m trying to get to the root of ‘will this person to work with or not?’ And when I am doing a big show I can quickly avoid people that I think are not going to be fun. To answer the question I think that it’s more about observing people than the intelligence because certain people I just can’t read well.
Lewis: So what’s the perfect person to work with?
Oz: It runs the [?] of the extreme. So the people that are most believing and into it are the most fun and also the one that are the most [?] skeptical.
Lewis: They’re like none.
Oz: I seek them out in the show. I have a funny bits that literally finding that person that’s gonna say ‘there’s no way we’re gonna know this.’ That’s the best moment ever when you get that right that’s when you get the explosive reaction on stage, on TV. It’s very difficult to fake surprise and being blown away. People can notice when it is off you know.
Lewis: Of course.
Oz: They can.
Lewis: Is there ever a routine?
Oz: I don’t mind trick at the end of the day I am tricking you. My goal isn’t the trick. If you figure out how I did some other time it’s more impressive than actually not knowing. So, it’s some of the things that are so impressive once you figure it out because they seem so ballsy.
Oz: What if that go wrong in front of 1,000 people.
Penn: I’ve been working with Teller without a break and that’s important, without even a break like 10 days for 44 years.
Lewis: 44 years?!
Yeah, and we are the longest running headliners in the history of Las Vegas. We’ve been in Vegas now for 24 or 25, but it’s been 44 years.
Penn: I started working with Teller actually a little before I turn 20 and it’s all I’ve ever done and my children have said to me ‘if you weren’t doing a magic show with Teller what would you be doing?’ I said ‘I would be in prison.’
Lewis: This kept you focus.
Penn: There’s nothing else I can do, I have no other skills at all. I believe Tommy Smothers when the Smothers brothers retired said “It’s now Penn and Teller who’ve been working the longest’ and that’s the way it will be for a while. The idea of a partnership started having words like co-dependents as [?], partnerships can be very powerful and the co-dependents becomes very interesting because there’s stuff that I might have ended up being good at that I have no skills at all, because Teller is so good at them. When we started if one of us was a little better at something they just do it. So, there’s all these time that I don’t know how to do that because Teller is good at it.
Penn: We didn’t start out that way you develop that. When you’re in your early 20’s you’re learning what you’re gonna do and they put you on the track where you are not you know and see that in sports.
Penn: Teller is probably the best alive now among the best that’s ever live at being able to see the stage from the audience point of view and forget what he knows. It is a skill that is always important in art.
Lewis: When you’re doing a performance.
Penn: You have to have a theory in mind and talking to somebody you have to able to in order to say a sentence you have to able to imagine what it’s like hearing that. If I was doing this interview with someone with English as their 2nd language we change the entirety of it.
Penn: In magic you’ve got a whole different thing because you know things that they will never know, but if they did know it would change their experience. So, Teller is able to say ‘no one is gonna see your left hand in that pocket right there and Teller is able to do that shift.
Lewis: There you have it my friends I hope you enjoyed this episode and the link to this episode is lewishowes.com/815.
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Khalil Gibran said “The appearance of things change according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”
You have the power to create magic in every moment of your life. You have the emotion and imagination to connect an idea and bring it to life. You’re the alchemist of your world, you can turn an idea and bring it to reality.
I love you all so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.