In June 1967, the groundbreaking Monterey International Pop Music Festival literally destroyed traditional notions of major event programming when The Who, after playing “My Generation,” demolished their equipment, followed by Jimi Hendrix, who torched his guitar before smashing it to pieces.

In the decades since, California has disrupted another arena innovation. From San Diego’s flourishing start-up scene to Silicon Valley, home to game-changers like Apple, Facebook and Google and seat of global venture capitalism, the state continues to deconstruct and reinvent the corporate landscape. Employed throughout this entrepreneurial ecosystem are Gen Yers – the 20 to 35-year-olds who are also altering the agenda for meetings and events.

Joseph Adams, 26, is the archetypal Gen Y go-getter. Originally from Ohio, the self-described Bay Area “marketing hacker” (his adaptation of “growth hacker”; a person skilled at using technology and analytics to test the market-worthiness of new ideas and products) reveals how the Gen Y ecosystem works. Read the rest of this entry »

Some call it the greatest scam in history.  Have you ever gone to a Psychic or had your palm read?  Throughout history, throughout the world, they defy explanation. They are psychic readings.  Everyone has either had one or knows someone who has. People find these readings astonishing, and with good reason, since they are often intriguing and incredible.

Here’s how it usually goes down.  You go to see a psychic – someone to whom you are a complete stranger. The psychic, usually female, describes your personality with pin-point accuracy. She identifies events in your past and present. Her reading may include the names of people you know, and specific facts about your personal life, career, and plans for the future. She refers to your innermost thoughts and problems, and provides wisdom and guidance which seems to make sense. She may also offer glimpses into the future which have an uncanny way of coming true.

I last went to a Psychic in March of 2005.  She said my Mom had a lot of expectations, which isn’t really true. She also said that I wasn’t specific enough about my goals, or finishing things which may be true. She said there would be an issue with my right knee.  Instead it was with my left bicep.  She also said Vegas would be a hit for me, and cruise ships wouldn’t be.  The opposite is true.  She said, I’d be doing magic well into my 60’s, which is kind of obvious, isn’t it?  Also she mentioned I’d be buying and selling real estate and through a tall guy with red hair, I meet a guy who golfs, who has a great idea and will mentor me financially.  I’m still waiting for that to happen!  Basically it didn’t work for me, nor did the 6 times before that I tried it. Read the rest of this entry »

Technology can mean the difference between a business that just survives and one that truly thrives.  With this fun new economy we’ve all become a part of a significantly reduced workforce, so a number of companies are turning to technology-based solutions to manage and execute corporate events.  However, finding the right solution isn’t as easy as it sounds.  A variety of apps and online tools are available free of cost.  Select the perfect event planning software for your organization to enjoy the event that you have the responsibility to put on.

Take a look around you.  The trends of today seem to validate the designs, styles and colors from past years.  It’s almost a confirmation of how much we love the beauty of event planning and the process of identifying all that inspires our romantic and creative style.  While trends in color, fashion, fabrics and themes continue to reinvent themselves, there is one trend that continues to evolve and seldom repeats.  Technology.

Business operations evolve with new technology, opportunities and lessons learned. With the explosion of mobile apps we can set up and run a web video conference, and manage our clients, projects and payroll.  Our businesses need to keep up with technology or be left behind. A business today is expected to be on LinkedIn, have Facebook fans, broadcast a YouTube channel, provide a useful app, and have an active Instagram or Twitter account that updates, entertains and informs followers multiple times a day.  Additionally, a business needs to stay informed as much as it informs others so it has to Digg for information and hope to StumbleUpon something interesting enough to tell followers on Reddit while creating buzz and likes for its brand. Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes when I perform my shows, I encounter a disturbing element in my audience that has become a personal pet peeve of mine.  I mean it really gets to me.  Coughers.  The people who, at moments of silence in my show, cough incessantly.  I wonder, are they all sick?  It happens at corporate shows, cruise ships and even at loud trade shows.  I’m going to drop my guard in this blog and be very vulnerable with you.  Is that okay?  This is not a soap box for me to stand on and preach, but rather to admit some weaknesses and relate.  I may be over analyzing here, but it has caused me to examine the importance of knowing my audience. As no two audiences are the same, it is almost impossible for an actor or a magician to access the peculiar nature of the people in those seats, until he has been in front of them for at least a few minutes.

Nevertheless, there are signposts which must be realized.  Children, for example are more “knowing” than most adults, except for the very little ones. They have unadulterated minds and look for simple explanations, which are generally the right ones.  This was really brought home to me a few years ago, I performed the same tricks on consecutive evenings in front of a scientific society and for the juniors of a church.  The members of the former were easy prey.  I would listen to them after the show and it was fascinating to hear.  They attributed my effects to psychology, mirrors, reflected light and all sorts of apparatus.  However at the church the youngsters were alarmingly to the point.  I mean they would shout out such things as, ‘Turn your hand over’ and ‘what about the bit of thread’ and ‘let’s see the other side of the lid’.  As much as this disturbed me on an ego level, how right they were!  Hence the need with children to be unsuspicious and absolutely resolute in every move you make.  On no account – whether acting, playing or doing a trick – should there be any playing down to children.  Treat them as adults.  I think they can appreciate a Shakespearian play, if it is well acted and presented; and similarly they will not be inattentive or ‘see through a trick’ if it is done with the right amount of finesse. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you plan events for the corporate world like product launches, conferences, seminars, etc? If so, look into these seven practices of successful event planners. You can easily dismiss these points as trivial or as something that doesn’t apply to you, as I did at one time. Slowly however, I learned to apply them as I saw I events become unraveled right before my very eyes, because I chose to ignore these simple guidelines.  This has been learned the hard way, and although they’re pretty basic, most event planners agree this is the main stuff you need to be aware of for successful event planning.

  1. Be certain that information flows freely across your teamLook, event planning is rarely done in isolation. In most cases you’ll have a team of individuals who you’ve delegated various responsibilities to.  It can be very easy to generate assumptions that everyone knows what the focus of the event is, and exactly how what they’re doing fits in with what everyone else is doing. But both assumptions may be totally incorrect.

At the start of your event planning effort, take time to share your event’s objective along with your “Plan B” policy with every single one on your staff. Make sure you huddle in with all of them to explain this.  Have regular meetings to assess the progress on an ongoing basis to ensure that everyone is cognizant of all aspects of the event. Read the rest of this entry »

There is one area we still have not talked about in my blogs. Spiritualism. Although many of you Alexandrites may not choose to work presentations of this type into your shows, the subject has recently gained much interest lately. Priests of ancient times made deception a science and an art so as to convince their followers that there was life after death. They preyed on the superstitious fears of the masses with cleverly concealed apparatus in their temples to make it seem that the spirits spoke to them. In certain parts of Greece you may even still find speaking tubes, trap doors, secret passageways, syphons, trick altars, etc., by means of which they controlled the speaking idols, fire-spitting, water-projecting, and food-eating gods. These excite the admiration of the modern magician and almost cause him to turn green with envy, so clever and such good magic are these contraptions.

From the time when the Faux sisters startled the world with their spirit rappings in 1848, rogues posing as spirit mediums have mulcted millions of dollars annually from the simple minded and even from the intelligent but credulous, by using magic to prey on the most solemn and sacred emotion of the human heart, the longing to hear from a loved one beyond the grave.  Until about 1908, physical phenomena were the rage among spiritualists. In practically every large city there were hundreds of materializing, trumpet, slate writing, table tilting and rap producing mediums. Most of them prided themselves on working under “strict scientific test conditions,” being tied with ropes, handcuffed, placed in sacks, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

If you have an event planning guide you give to clients, there should be a substantial section covering audio/video equipment for your client.  Whether it’s yours rented to them or from an outside source you will need to inform your client why equipment is necessary, what to get, and where. Perhaps you have been the planner at an event and had the spine chilling moment when you realized that equipment was needed that simply wasn’t there.  The audience can’t see what the presenter is holding in his hand, or worse, they can’t hear him. The amount of technical equipment required for an event will depend on the sort of people attending and the size of the event. An event production company will be able to assist you in all of this. A good place to start is usually to consider what media to utilize to depict your messages. Here are a couple ideas to get you going.

Ask these questions to your speakers/presenters: What visual media can be seen in their presentations? PowerPoint slides, video, DVD? What kind of screen needs to be used? A simple screen, a projector and lap top, or even a harder stage-set with lighting and graphics? Many of those may depend on the size of your audience. Usually the larger the guest list, the more equipment you will want. Are we dealing with front, back, or fly projection?  Is a Public Performance License needed for videos, DVD’s, or music you wish to play? Read the rest of this entry »

Recently I’ve watched some performance mentalists and although I don’t perform this type of entertainment, I have some “Thoughts On Thought Reading or Mentalism”; that is the art of presenting seemingly paranormal effects in an entertaining manner. Its essence lies in the performer’s ability to successfully suspend the disbelief of his audience. Fortunately, there is already substantial belief among the public in psychic and other paranormal phenomena, but it is a large mistake to assume that simple public acceptance of the possibility of E.S.P. is sufficient to carry a successful performance of mentalism. Such a view has been the cause of many a bad act. And, believe me, there are plenty of bad mentalism acts around today.

So what is it that makes a mentalism act good? There are many factors, of course, but the main thing is that the performance must be entertaining. Anyone who thinks otherwise and has the nerve to perform a standup act in a theatrical selling is a fool-and probably an egotistical fool to boot. If a performer really thinks that the mechanical performance of technically flawless mental effects will cause an audience to sit in awe of his “powers” and bring him success, he is sadly mistaken.  Now, obviously, entertainment value alone does not make a mental act. But it is very difficult to be entertaining if the audience doesn’t like you and whatever it is that you’re doing. So we arrive at a very simple rule-to succeed you have got to do everything in your power to be likeable. So many mentalists that I’ve seen try to affect a threatening, superman-type image. That sort of thing may intrigue people for a while, but in the long run it puts them off-they may like to go to freak shows on occasion, but they go there to gawk, not to interact. And if a mentalist cannot get people to interact- i.e., to volunteer, to participate he doesn’t have an act. Read the rest of this entry »

Over the past year, I have covered the top event blunders that can make an event go awry.  This week we come to number 25. Mediocre entertainment is worse than bad entertainment.  At least with bad entertainment guests will have something to talk about.  Seriously, you want stellar entertainment.  Nothing but a home run will do. The truth about most events is that a year from now most people won’t remember the decorations, the food or the venue.  All of this will disappear like a phantom just weeks after the event.  The entertainment, however, will make or break just about any event.

If you bore your guests with a monotone speaker or make them sit through a bad comedian the potential of a successful event is lost. Instead, it becomes one more long, drawn out, and hard-to-sit-through ordeal. In contrast, an excellent entertainer or speaker who can engage your guests, make them laugh, and create a fun atmosphere will be remembered for years to come. Read the rest of this entry »

There are so many events that I go to where it feels like there are more speakers than guests! People don’t really want to sit and listen to five or more speakers. If you overload your event like this you’re bound to leave your guests bored at best and irritated at worst.

If you’re not careful, booking something like this can become a scheduling nightmare for you. But you can avoid all this by simply determining how much time is available for presentations. Does the event take place over several days, or is it a morning session? Even if it’s a five day trade-show, you must determine how much actual presentation time there is.  Keep in mind that people also need time to eat, network, roam and smoke.  If you’re planning a one day event, the general rule is three speakers. Read the rest of this entry »

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