Every year in February I make a pilgrimage to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool – home of the world's largest convention for magicians. It's been a number of years since I performed magic professionally – it's purely a hobby for me now, with the occassional close-up performance for charity. But I still visit Blackpool every year to look out for interesting new lecturers and performers and learn new tricks & techniques. But mainly I go to see old friends.
Someone I've shared more than a few pints with over the last few years is Leon Andersen. Leon is a Limerick based magician who recently set up Ireland's first School of Magic. The school helps kids build confidence, self-esteem and motivation by learning how to perform magic.
To help gain publicity and endorsements for this new venture, Leon has been speaking to some of magic's leading lights. From old masters like Eugene Burger to the new wave magic of Dan & Dave Buck. And there's a lot salespeople can learn from the way he has been going about this.
Leon's approach is simple: he offers to help. He spots what the person is most likely to need, and offers to help them with it.
For example, he met one famous magician who had spent a hard day working in the convention dealer's hall. Rather than doing the same as hundreds of other fledgling magicians – asking for a trick demonstration or an autograph. Leon asked if he could get the performer a bottle of water. When the hubbub had quietened down they got talking and Leon was able to mention his school.
Another example: he bumped into a legendary American performer early in the convention. The performer looked busy, so Leon simply said how much he enjoyed his work, and that he'd love to share a drink with him sometime. Of course, he asked if there was anything he could do to help him while he was over in the UK. Later on during the convention the performer spotted Leon and asked him to join his group of friends for a drink. It wasn't long before Leon was able to talk to them about his magic school project.
A final example: Leon spotted a well known magician struggling to carry his materials up to a lecture he was about to give. The other convention attendees were barging past trying to get good seats for the lecture. But Leon stopped and asked the lecturer if he needed any help, and carried his boxes up for him into the lecture hall. After the lecture, the magician gratefully gave Leon one of his books as a gift, and engaged with him in a discussion about the magic school.
Now nothing here is revolutionary or innovative. But the fact is, it works. Only Leon really knows whether he's being helpful in order to get what he wants – or whether he's being helpful because he feels it's the right thing to do – and getting what he wants is a nice side effect (knowing him a little, I feel it's the latter). But either way, the impact is the same. By thinking of others first and helping them, eventually we get what we want.