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Business Events are different than regular events.  If you are in charge of planning one and are feeling overwhelmed by details like venue, catering, housing and transportation, and you are stressed out with where to begin; this week’s blog will help you plan an event that is outside the scope of a simple business lunch or afternoon office gathering. Planning events that include coordination of outside vendors, including food, location, entertainment and transportation require careful planning and ongoing management from the event’s conception to paying of the last invoice. The task can be complex and time consuming for everyone involved if proper planning is not initiated.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed.  The very first thing that you need to remember is not to get overwhelmed with the details. If the affair in question seems to be getting larger and larger and more complicated in scope than originally intended, slow down and back up.

Think back to the original scope of the business event planning and try to get back to basics. It can be a challenging task to plan a business function, but with an initial detailed task list, it can make keeping on track much easier in the sort and the long run.

The first thing you have to determine is what budget has been allocated for the event.  Once you know that determine the scope to be included in the meeting. Third, determine what personnel will be assigned to facilitate this event’s success. As everyone already knows, there is a big difference between planning an office gathering and planning a large conference with participants coming from all over the world. Don’t let yourself get trapped in a situation where you can’t succeed.

Each business event is unique, but there are many tasks that an experienced event planner already has on his or her check list of things to do. We all know that the bigger the event is, the more complex the meeting, and the more components there are that need to be finalized. In addition, some of these tasks will be dependent on others. For example, negotiating hotel room rates depends on venue selection. You certainly would not book rooms in Chicago for a great rate if the event location changes later to St. Louis. You should always strive to book hotel rooms close to your meeting’s location so venue selection becomes critical.

You should immediately develop a team and assign planning tasks to the members, making them responsible for event planning, management and execution of the project? In order to make an event successful, assigned personnel with proper project management and a carefully developed timeline is a must. One question to ask:  Do the event team members have adequate time to accomplish their usual company tasks in addition to the event tasks?

Business event planning can be difficult if care isn’t initially taken.  There are five major pitfalls to avoid during your business event planning task. You will not only need to be concerned with all of the major details about your upcoming corporate or business affair, but be sure and take detailed notes on any problems that you run across so that you’ll be able to deal with them more effectively in planning your next business meeting.

You will need to have your priorities documented on paper, items such as the overall theme of the corporate or business function, decorations, food, catering (type of menu, as well as costs per person involved), various supplies, and of course, the overall budget that you have to work with.

Depending on the scope of your business event planning and the affair itself, you may need an assistant to aid you.  Don’t be shy about delegating less important tasks to an assistant or even multiple assistants for more mundane tasks that you need not be bothered with, such as general “fetching”, picking up supplies, tables, chairs, decorations and etc… at the various suppliers. This will leave the most important details of the gathering to you, as it should be.

Screen Your Caterer.  The next pitfall in setting up a successful function is the food. More than likely, your business event planning will make use of a catering company. If this step of your event isn’t executed properly, you could have a disaster on your hands. Unfortunately, you are depending upon an outside company for this task. But you can easily screen the catering company that you have chosen.

Do this by asking for at least three references from clients that have had similar sized functions to yours, not only ask for references, but contact the references. Ask about timeliness of the caterer, were they on schedule?, were they professional?, did they provide the required amount of food for the affair?, was the food of high quality and taste? Did they come in on budget?

Insist on signed contracts.  Be sure and get a signed contract whenever you are contracting out services to outside companies. This will ensure that you will be able to create a budget and not go over that budget. When you have a contract, there are usually no surprises. That’s what contracts are for. Be sure and set the dates and times when the services will be needed with a firm price for services rendered.

Be certain to set up an operating budget in advance of even beginning your business event planning. Generally speaking, you will have some idea what your company has allocated for this function. Maybe even an exact figure, if they’ve allocated $7,000 for your company event, start budgeting for a $6,000 function. Trust me when I tell you, it will always cost more than you think. This way, you are giving yourself a bit of a buffer. Planning for the $6,000 event, more than likely, you will easily meet the desired goal of $7,000 or less.

Don’t relax too soon. Many times business event planning you will schedule and plan the affair months in advance and think that everything is under control. Taking it easy up until the day or so before the event. Invariably, one of your outside contractors will not be able to deliver and you’ll be left scrambling to replace them hours before the event. Be sure an make contact with all of your vendors at least a week before your big get together and make sure everybody is on the same page.  Business Event Planning Doesn’t Have To Be Hard.  Keep these five possible pitfalls in mind when business event planning and things will go much smoother than you could imagine.

The procurement of a professional event planning company can be indispensable.  Such an organization can provide years of expertise and leadership on producing successful events. In addition, they have expert event planners that bring specific ideas, “how to” lists, project management skills, even the tools and controls to make certain that things take place correctly. Often their outside knowledge can save the company money through use of their connections, negotiation skills for room rates, transportation and catering. Their experience frees you from the drudgery of organizing the event and best of all they report directly to you. After all, they are the ones putting their reputations on the line which is completely dependent on the success of your event!  Their reviews, future promotions and business depend on it.

The responsibility of event planning for your company’s function can be as simple as ordering lunch or as complex as creating a convention with an international guest list. Each event depends on having the right resources dedicated to it, as well as, the proper management and supervision of the project to ensure everything goes as planned. As the scope of the event becomes more involved, the event components may change from your company’s internal resources to hiring an outside, expert conference and meeting management firm. Consider the complexity of your upcoming event and plan accordingly.

This week I want to touch on temper.  Not yours necessarily, but more that of the people that will hire you.  Now, I don’t want you to become temperamental.  That’s different.  Much of your success as a magician will depend on your understanding of other people. You have to sell yourself and your wares, and you cannot do it successfully unless you know people. There are magicians who have beautiful shows and do not know how to sell themselves.  Before you can present your performance, you’ll have to sell it!  That’s as true for me as it is for you.  You may have to see a number of individuals to get an engagement — it may be a booking agent, a manager, a high school superintendent, a minister, or a doctor. You must gain the confidence of the people you see and make them feel that you are a master, a new attraction, better than anyone else they have seen.

The important thing for you to do here is create the right impression and get people to like you. Too many sales have been spoiled, not because of the goods, but because the buyer took a personal dislike to the salesman. The great basis of successful salesmanship is in understanding the likes and dislikes of those with whom you are dealing. When you understand these things, you can paint just the kind of a picture for the buyer which will give such a strong promise of satisfying his wants that your sale is assured.

Everyone has something to sell. Everybody is a salesperson, in some sense of the word, whether he or she is marketing commodities, skilled service, or ideas; whether he or she is selling his or her personality to a sweetheart, family, friends, or business associates. And just as everyone is interested in selling something, so everyone is equally interested in buying what he or she needs. And when a person is buying, he or she is attracted most strongly to those things which he or she likes and which he or she believes will meet his or her needs.  Likes and dislikes can be accounted for, definitely and scientifically. They are part of each individual character and are openly displayed in their body language and manner.  Here they can be read, not by guesswork, but with scientific accuracy. The unsuccessful salesperson does not know these things and so he fails.  There’s a great book you should read on this.  Even though it was written about a hundred years ago, it still applies today. It’s Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins

As an Alexandrite, I want your success to be assured so I am going to give you some insight into analyzing people.  These are the same techniques I use when I meet people whom I want to hire me for a show.  I am going to give you a quick and dependable working knowledge of people so that you will know what picture to paint, what buttons to push, and what packages to offer in order to attract favorable attention with different people, arouse interest, awaken desire, inspire confidence, and effect the sale of yourself and your magic.  As many of you know I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan, and many of these techniques can be found in one of my favorite audio programs called Mastering Influence.

Generally speaking, there are three big classifications of people. Each class is as different as night and day in its likes and dislikes. People in each class may differ somewhat from each other, but in their basic desires they are similar. Behind these three divisions of people is a scientific reason, the result of heredity and environment.  There are three things necessary for the construction of man or woman, without which he or she  could not exist. They are Vitality, Will, and Mentality. They are sometimes called the Triangle of Life. Each has a definite purpose and each plays its own part in man’s life, and the loss of any one would cause disease, death, and dissolution.

We speak of Vitality, Will, and Mentality as the Three Temperaments. A knowledge of these Temperaments, their location and development, their relative proportion to each other form the basis in analyzing peoples’ characteristics. These show the foundation on which man’s tendencies are built.  Each individual possesses all three of the temperaments, but there is a difference in proportion and relative development of each one. For rapid analysis, the predominating temperament is determined — that is, the one which has the greatest development — and is used as a basis.  Let’s discuss the three temperaments separately so that you will understand them individually.

The Vital temperament controls the vital organs, the blood supply, and nutrition. The vital processes of life depend on it — warmth of the body, digestion, assimilation, absorption, and secretion. It gives people hunger and makes them distinguish the requirements of their body through their senses of feeling, smelling, tasting, seeing, and hearing. It is essential to reproduction and growth. Herein lies the great chemical laboratory of the body. It also gives the power of relaxation and sleep, creating in person the desire to seek comfort and to accumulate plenty of material things. Vitality is magnetic. It makes people sociable, agreeable, and lovable. In combination with the other temperaments, it fires them to action.  Quantity of development is typical of this temperament.

The Will temperament controls the muscles, ligaments, bones, and glands. Upon this Temperament depend the power of contraction and tension and the density of the body structure –the hardness and compactness of the muscles, ligaments, and bones. It holds the minute structures together and blends them into one, giving the body power to stand erect, power of mobility, equilibrium, and resistance. It has the power of locomotion, protection, and defense. It has a cooling power and acts as a balance to the warmth of the Vital temperament. It gives repelling power and makes a person reserved, conservative, skeptical, and cautious. The Will temperament, because of its tension and concentration powers, builds structures that are muscular, ligament us, or bony. Solid development is typical here.

The Mental temperament controls the nervous system and brain. It is the result of experience of mind and body, and it is the basis of the power of comprehension. It arranges, harmonizes, and refines the influences of structure and chemistry of the body. It enables every cell in the body to work in an intelligent manner, peculiar to itself. It enables the brain to grow brain cells — the liver, kidneys, stomach, and heart cells to carry on their respective work and duties. Wisdom, knowledge, consciousness, recognition, and interpretation are dependent on this temperament.  The Mental temperament builds a face triangular in shape, due to lessened development in the Vital and Will areas.  Quality of development is typical of this Temperament.

So from a study of these three temperaments, we can readily see a great difference in people. Some have great vitality –blood-making and relaxing power — but have poor resistance and are not keen in creative mentality. Others have powerful strength, love to work hard, have solid bones and muscles — but have poor assimilative powers, are over-tensed, and have but moderate mentality. Others may be mentally bright, quick to think for themselves and invent improvements — but have poor vitality and resistance to support their mentality.

No temperament is strong in and of itself.  It must be supported by the other two.  What good is a keen mind without blood to feed it and muscle and bone power to support it? What good is force without intelligence and creative energy behind it? And what good is the finest building material without something to build it into and without intelligence to direct the building? A perfect development of all three temperaments makes a balanced person, and that’s what progressive people of today are striving to make of themselves. The average person, however, is unbalanced temperamentally. That gives rise to the somewhat intolerant likes and dislikes which we find in people. Each sees through his own individuality. The vital temperament sees through the eyes of vitality; the will temperament sees through will; and the mental temperament sees through mentality.

Therefore, when you sell your show to vitality, will, or mentality, you must talk the language which each will understand. When you have finished this discussion, you will have an understanding of the way in which to appeal to each class.  I hope you will make a real study of the fire started in this blog.  Use this material in understanding yourself and other people better so you can arrive at the success for which you are working.

Do you want to be famous?  Whether you do or not, there is an often forgotten side effect of being high profile and successful.  Of course, there are degrees of fame, or perhaps more accurately different types of fame.  You could, for example, be famous locally, within your own town.  Maybe you have performed your own shows there, appeared in the local newspapers, switched the Christmas lights on in your town, and so on.  That kind of fame is great, and will probably give you a real boost, but don’t let it go to your head!  Some of this was covered in my blog, Don’t Let Success Go To Your Head.

You can also be famous nationally, and internationally.  Some countries have nationally known magicians who are a household name within the country, but who are relatively unknown outside the country.  Magicians who are known internationally are very few, you can probably count them on the fingers of one hand in fact, and usually the reason for their widespread fame is because of many high profile TV appearances, large scale tours, or years spent in Las Vegas where tourists from all parts of the globe abound.  Another type of fame is what some magicians call “magic magazine heroes.”  These are individuals who have a degree of experience in magic, perhaps with a specialty act, and who are regularly featured in magic magazines, but who are unknown outside the field of magic.

These guys are regular speakers at magic conventions and derive most of their income selling videos, lecture notes, and so on to other magicians. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just a different type of fame.  The only time this type of fame becomes a problem is when magazine heroes think they are famous outside of magic. Sometimes this happens, and it becomes a bit silly as they think they demand to be treated like superstars! Read the rest of this entry »

letter-1442872_640In 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.

“We are a meritocracy of highly social, mobile, networked multitaskers, passionately engaged in creating and evolving our environment,” says Adams, presently “hacking” alternative asset strategies for an investment firm while also consulting on multiple fronts.  “Our mode is challenging the status quo to achieve different or enhanced outcomes. That’s how we live, work and play-and want to experience meetings and events.” Read the rest of this entry »

magic-2034146_640It’s so encouraging to see many of you Alexandrites taking an active interest in magic!  Even for you hobbyists with a growing interest in magic, you’re starting to venture past the gates of the magic I offer at http://www.alexandergrait.com/store and starting to buy magic props and accessories online.  Unfortunately, a few of you have gotten “burned” by unscrupulous magic websites promising “pie in the sky” magic effects.  This is an unfortunate part of today’s cyber world.  It’s the wild west all over again.  As any magician who’s been in the business awhile can tell you, magic effects, above any other product sold online, have often been hyped up beyond all recognition.  The only product that might be hyped more today are the fun world of “diet pills.”  It’s sad for part of my brotherhood of magicians because competing dealers continually try to offer something better than their last effect or better than a competing dealer.  It’s a neverending quest to offer the most amazing magic effect.   I covered some of this in my blog YouTube Magic, but thought it might be prudent to offer some further guidance here since so many of you are buying magic online.  Of course you can always email me privately at Alexander@alexandermagic.com for a list of recommended online dealers.

Okay, onward!  The first thing I want to say is, “beware of the description.”  Marketing-speak, no matter what the industry, is often very different than reality.  How many times has your vacation hotel turned out to be very different from the pictures in the brochure, or how many times have you seen an advertisement for some mouthwatering microwave meal only to buy it and conclude that you must’ve eaten the cardboard packaging by mistake?  Magic marketing is no different than any other form of marketing that you come across every day in terms of exaggerated and misleading claims.  Frequently such terms as “reputation-maker” or “show-stopper” are applied to magic effects in dealer catalogs.  Some of these descriptions, like skin care products, are written by copywriters and not magicians. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve got a very important observation to share with you. Did you see the James Bond movie Goldfinger?  Ian Flemming, the author, wrote an earlier book titled Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which is a complete departure from the Bond series.  Anyway, Goldfinger, the book, is populated with several really top level experts in espionage.  They’re all interested in the ultimate stake which happens to be robbing Fort Knox.  Now all of these men have I.Q.’s reaching to the stars. They compete to be selected for Goldfinger’s team that will accomplish this. One of the men in the book is especially adept at getting selected for these teams and has been on several of them.

Yes, he is brilliant and highly skilled at his craft which happens to be espionage. But, so are the other men competing against him to be on the team. Why does he get chosen so often over the others? Simply, because he is obsessed with his work. Here’s a quote from the book:

“Sometimes it’s difficult to tell who is the more brilliant but I, Goldfinger look for something more important gentlemen….I look for who is the most driven!” Read the rest of this entry »

WarrenWarren and Annabelle’s is a magic night club in LaHaina, HI where we were lucky to be the guests of magician and friend Warren Gibson.

An adventure starts with a mysterious key and a riddle to get through a secret passageway. Once you find a solution you are allowed to pass through to a beautiful parlor. Now it’s time to sit down, relax and have a drink or a meal before showtime. Couple of words about the parlor itself: if you‘ve ever been to Magic Island in Houston, TX – the interior and the atmosphere is very close to it. It even reminded me of Magic Castle a little in theme.
The food and drinks are very tasty whether you bought a dinner package or purchased it a la carte. And you have more than enough time to enjoy both. At the very entrance you are given 2 playing cards that you’ll be able to exchange for drinks later on. Warren seems to think about every aspect of the evening: while you are enjoying your dinner or just chilling in the parlor, a ghost comes to visit you and performs any song your heart desires on the piano.  Then you are accompanied to the theatre. It’s a small room with approximately 70 seats. So every seat has a good view. There are also 8 HOT seats upfront for the people who are brave enough to be a part of the show, which is a lot of fun. If you are asked to be one of the 8 lucky ones – don’t back up. I promise you will have a great time.

The show itself is unlike a regular magic show. From the time you enter the theater until you leave there are lots of little surprises. We truly enjoyed it. The sleight-of-hand left us shaking our heads, especially the linking of three borrowed finger rings!  The added treat of side stitching humor left us breathless. Truly worth the money.  Unfortunately, no children are allowed to the club. Though material and jokes are age-appropriate, cocktails make it impossible for anyone under 21 to enjoy this wonderful show.   At the end of the show Warren is outside the theater to thank each guest for coming, which was very classy.  Warren is warm and engaging, bursting with southern charm.

No wonder this outing is so highly recommended by Maui locals.  One of the best shows that we’ve ever been to, and we’ve seen all the magic shows.  Warren & Annabelle’s books up 2-3 weeks in advance so the reservations are a must.  It’s just such a different type of magic/comedy combination than you’d see anywhere else.   Aloha Y’all!

You can also see my review of Warren & Annabelle’s on Trip Advisor.

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You can’t really see the glacial ice I’m standing on, but this little helicopter me to the top of Meade Glacier in Skagway Alaska today!  I enjoyed the spectacular views on the helicopter ride.  I was lucky to have a very clear day today.  No one seemed to be impressed with my card tricks up here.  They were too busy taking in this untouched wonderland!  Glacier exploring is tricky.  You take a big stick and walk carefully, so as not to break the ice and fall in!  Sounds like a Teddy Roosevelt quote!  This was my second time riding in a chopper.  My ride was smooth and breathtaking. Pilot was great about answering questions, and pointing things out to us. You start to realize how small you are while you’re way up here.  and it made me appreciate the mountains even more. Smooth landings, great tour of the glacier. Helpful and informative people at Temsco Helicopters.   Overall a very magical day!

Guitar World

I’ve gotten dozens of emails about this month’s issue of Guitar World.  “Didn’t know you played guitar”  “Why did you change your name”  and my favorite, “You should mix your magic with your guitars”  Yes folks all of that magic has finally paid off and I’ve magically taught myself to riff like Steve Vai, Jimi Hendrix and Randy Rhodes. . . . . I wish

This isn’t me on the cover.  It’s Steve Vai.  But I’ll tell you what.  I was at a news stand in Seattle just peering at the collage of magazines, sipping a mocha frappe when all of the sudden I saw it.  Bam.  I thought they had super-imposed my face over Steve Vai’s body.  Then I looked inside and the pictures are even closer.  Same nose, same mouth, same eyes, same hair!  They say everyone has a twin.  I just found mine.   Scary!

In Alaska and Canada Through September!

I’m having a great time touring Alaska! It’s over 100 degrees in my home town of Las Vegas, so this 50 degree cold is just fine with me. I’m featuring a new illusion in this show which I call Mirror Melt. It’s part of the appeal to the ticket buyers here. Most of these cruisers come back to Alaska every year and see my show. It’s important to show them something new and different that’s not just another box. At the same time they’re not going to sit there and watch 45 minutes of untested material. I think it’s important to “play the hits.” Also on the bill will be Cutting a Girl In Half, Neon Levitation, Spiker, Metmorphosis and a surprise ending that’s gonna knock your socks off. My manager was was throwing ideas around for the tour, and he suggested a surprise ending that I really liked. I think it’s important to give the show an extra kick toward the end. So I’ve strung together enough hits to fill a set, but weaved some very magical surprises too. People ask me if I ever get sick of presenting Grand Illusion Magic. Well, it never gets tedious in front of an audience, that’s for sure. When the crowd goes berserk after five seconds, you realize you’re sharing an experience with 1,000 people and it drives the performance. Magic is something that people can’t help but respond too. I may be biased, but, music, comedy and musicals don’t ever cross into the impossible. Only magic does that, and it’s literally eye-opening. Amazement is really wired into people’s DNA but most don’t realize it. I’m happy to wake them up and remind them of that fact.

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