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Atlanta Magician – Mentalist – Speaker Joe M. Turner | News and Comments from the Chief Impossibility Officer

Posts Tagged ‘mentalist’

Magic and Government Spending: Waste or Real ROI?

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on May 4, 2012

In recent weeks the news has been full of stories focusing on spending issues as they relate to conferences and meetings, specifically in the government sector. Articles about lavish spending on the 2010 GSA Western Regions Conference, which included a presentation by a mentalist, continued for weeks. Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) pulled an advertisement they had placed seeking a magician and motivational speaker for an upcoming meeting. That decision, as presented in much of the media, happened “in the wake of the GSA scandal.” The story was originally broken by Government Executive Media Group, who contacted me today for comment. (UPDATED – Here’s the link: Magic acts at conferences can add substance, professionals say.)

Corporate speaker, consultant, and entertainer Joe M. Turner

Corporate speaker, consultant, and entertainer Joe M. Turner uses magic and mentalism as a communication tool to deliver real value at conferences and meetings in the public and private sectors.

People who know me and my personal political inclinations know very well that I am no fan or defender of wasteful government spending. In fact, I am strongly in favor of multiple large cuts in federal (and state and local) government spending and applaud the watchdog instinct that leads to questions in stories like these.

Sometimes, though, it is so easy to go for either the joke or the jugular that some relevant details are lost or ignored. Reporters, commentators and their readers may reach hasty conclusions about the value of presenters based on preconceptions about labels used in describing them. Certainly labels like “magician” or “mindreader” are more likely to attract jokes than labels like “football player” or “rock star.” These kinds of situations would probably have never made the news if the people involved were Tim Tebow, Bono, or perhaps some famous magician like Penn Jillette or David Copperfield… even if those people had less relevant content to share than the people who were actually booked or considered.

In the light of recent events, then, I’d like to offer both some cautions and some encouragements for my friends, clients, and readers as they process news stories such as these.

As I indicated above, don’t let preconceived ideas about a single label serve as your entire definition or concept of what a presenter offers to his or her audience. The word “magician” doesn’t mean the same thing to all people; for many, it carries connotations of bunny rabbits, balloon animals, top hats and capes. For others, it sounds like smoke and mirrors and vanishing girls and windblown hair. It has the feel of a children’s party or a Las Vegas show. Those images are obviously effective in creating a perception of wastefulness or irrelevance to a conference or meeting, but they are far removed from the experiences delivered by a variety of speakers and entertainers like me in corporate settings every day.

Remember that just because a presenter falls into one category doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t simultaneously belong in another category. The brand of “mentalist” or “magician” may simply be the garnish on an individual who has real experience and expertise to share. Admittedly, that isn’t true for every performer. Yes, there are some entertainers who, in an attempt to make a buck, contrive ways to add some buzzwords to their show and turn a “show” into a “presentation.” That isn’t true in every case, though. There are people with legitimate education, credible business experience, and hard-earned management battle scars who also have the benefit of being entertaining, talented people with unique ways of presenting their content. Want to talk about waste? It would be a horrible waste to deprive people of the legitimate benefit of these people’s insights because an easy label is used to imply that they are trivial.

What is more wasteful than a conference that everyone attends but nobody remembers? Return on investment is zero if people are too bored to attend to the information being presented. What adds more value: a fully factual presentation presented to an empty room, or an entertaining and factual presentation presented to a room of engaged attendees?

Speaker and entertainer Joe M. Turner was interviewed for a story in Government Executive magazine.

“Magic acts at conferences can add substance, professionals say” – top story on GovExec.com

People cannot act on or benefit from information they do not remember, and people do not remember information as well when it is presented in ways that are not engaging. In my presentations on memory improvement, I mention that we forget a lot of information that we encounter simply because it failed to break through the background noise. Magic and mentalism, as I have long contended, are ideal formats for communicating important messages because the experiences are by definition out of the ordinary. Human beings are wired to remember things that are different, things that are unusual, and things that interrupt our normal patterns. Reading minds and defying physics are not normal experiences, and when real information is tied to those experiences, that information is retained far longer than information buried in the middle of a 100-slide PowerPoint deck.

Effective presentations often include an element of fun. Think back to the most boring teachers or professors you ever had. Now think back to the best ones. How quickly we forget.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you go out and book any magician or mentalist who also claims to be a sales trainer, leadership guru, or teambuilding expert. I wrote in my previous article (Credibility Counts) that anyone can claim anything. It is certainly wise stewardship to examine résumés, check references, and consider what individuals really have to offer. What critics may call “gimmicks” are not a substitute for real content; at the same time, they are not to be dismissed out of hand. Having a unique and entertaining presentation is a proven path to increased retention. When wielded by people with legitimate content and relevant experience, tools such as magic, mentalism, and a host of other skills are not wasteful expenditures, but in fact good ways to incent attendance, boost engagement, and increase retention.

Joe M. Turner is a professional speaker and corporate entertainer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a former manager in the change management practice at Accenture and a former Vice President of Associate Development at Bank of America. He has performed at meetings, conferences, and entertainment venues from Hollywood to London. Joe leverages the theatrical impact of magic and mentalism in his keynote presentations as a tool to engage attention and communicate messages on positive response to change, memory improvement, and creating amazing experiences with your brand. Visit him online at www.turnermagic.com and follow him on Twitter @turnermagic.

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What is Mentalism?

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on February 23, 2012

My clients know that I perform a variety of illusions in different genres, depending on the specific needs and character of their event. Many of them have encountered the term “mentalism” in conversations with me, or they’ve heard it from others, or they’ve seen the popular show The Mentalist on CBS. Many people still approach me with the question: just what is mentalism, anyway?

Theatrical poster for a mind-reading performance, 1900

Theatrical poster for a mind-reading performance, 1900 (via Wikipedia)

Mentalism, simply put, is the branch of illusion arts that deals with psychological experiences more than visual ones, though there is sometimes some overlap. Mentalists present their audiences with experiences that seem like mind-reading, mental influence, predictions of future events, and occasionally the ability to move or affect physical objects with the power of the mind.

Modern mentalism has roots in ancient times, where soothsayers and mediums performed acts that would be related to some kinds of mentalism today. In the 1800s, psychic entertainers became popular and some of the feats they performed would still be part of any mentalism performance today.

Some mentalists strongly resist any comparison to magicians, preferring to think of the art as an entirely separate one with no pretended “supernatural” elements. Given that some mentalists have overtly made claims of “supernatural gifts” as the source of their abilities, that distinction holds little sway. Another common approach to performing mentalism today is to offer it in the context of using highly developed observational skills and an ability to read body language as the theatrical premise for the performance. This premise is, however, sometimes largely an illusion in its own right. It is generally a contrivance intended to persuade audiences that what they are experiencing is less a theatrical experience and more an actual ability to perceive people’s specific thoughts. While this claim is not supernatural in nature, in my view it is only slightly less dishonest.

My personal approach to mentalism is to recognize it for what it really is: a truly mystifying branch of the illusion arts focused on experiences of the mind. Just as a skilled sleight-of-hand artist can make a coin appear to melt into nothingness, a skilled mentalist can seem to make a thought appear in your mind. The first illusion is visual; the second is psychological. They rely on some techniques that are similar, and some which are different. Likewise, the performer who makes a tiger appear on a stage relies on some techniques that are similar, and some which are different. All of the experiences are illusions to an audience.

It can be fun to leave the line between reality and performance a little blurry for an audience. When that blurred line becomes a means by which someone attempts to sell products or services through the perception that the theatrical premise represents legitimate expertise on the part of the performer, then another line is also being blurred: the line between honest performer and scam artist.

Interestingly, when the television show The Mentalist premiered, the Atlanta CBS affiliate contacted me about coming on the news for a feature on “Atlanta’s Real Life Mentalist.” In that segment they profiled me and my work as a speaker and mentalist. The interview itself is linked just below the image. Enjoy!

Atlanta's Real-Life Mentalist | Joe M. Turner

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Media Hit: Top Business Consultant to Speak at Chamber Banquet

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on January 30, 2012

Here’s a nice media hit from a couple of weeks ago; it was promoting my appearance at the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce that happened last weekend. Somehow I missed it when it came out, but here it is.

Thank you, Dyersburg, for a great evening! I am looking forward to visiting again and seeing the results of the great opportunities you have on the horizon for your city, county, and region.

From Dyersburg State Gazette

Top business consultant to speak at Chamber banquet

Joe M. Turner | Speaker - Entertainer - Consultant

Joe M. Turner


Sunday, January 15, 2012
Special to the State Gazette

Sometimes achieving success in challenging circumstances doesn’t just seem difficult – it can seem downright impossible. Remember, though: things aren’t always what they seem! On Saturday, Jan. 28, “Chief Impossibility Officer” Joe M. Turner brings a special presentation designed to inspire us to rethink the impossible in the coming year.

Turner was a manager in the global change management consulting practice at Accenture, and later a vice president of associate development in the Business Practices Integration division of Bank of America. Those years of experience in training, business communication, human performance development and change management initiatives at numerous Fortune 100 clients give Turner credibility and insight into the challenges that individuals, teams, and organizations face as they encounter changing environments.

Full article: http://www.stategazette.com/story/1804733.html

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Atlanta Speaker, Mentalist, Magician Turner to Perform at London Palladium

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on September 13, 2011

London Palladium

Atlanta speaker, mentalist, and magician Joe M. Turner performs at the London Palladium on September 19. (Photo courtesy Ilona Richards)

Atlanta speaker, mentalist and magician Joe M. Turner will perform at the London Palladium in September at a show benefiting several UK children’s medical charities. He is the sole American close-up performer on the bill.

Atlanta-based speaker and corporate entertainer Joe M. Turner has been tapped to perform at a landmark event at the historic Palladium Theatre in London on September 19. Illusionists from around the world, including Las Vegas headliners Mac King and Jeff Hobson, will present an evening of stage magic and close-up sleight-of-hand as part of “Palladium Magic,” a gala benefit show supporting several UK children’s medical charities. Turner, a two-time Greater Atlanta Magician of the Year, is the only American slated to be part of the close-up magic performances.

“It is an honor to have Joe as part of our event,” says producer Paul Stone, president of MagiCares, the charity behind the show. “His talents are well-known in America and we are proud indeed that he agreed to share them with us. Great magicians such as Harry Houdini, Chung Ling Soo, and Paul Daniels have performed in this historic theatre, as have most of the greatest singers, actors, and variety stars over the last hundred years. Joe will become part of a great show business tradition when he takes his bow on the Palladium stage.”

Turner’s skills as a mentalist and sleight-of-hand expert have put him in high demand as an entertainer and speaker. His visual and psychological illusions have been featured on Good Morning America, Nightline, CNN HLN, and numerous other television programs at home and abroad. He has performed multiple times at the Hollywood Magic Castle, the Tropicana Atlantic City, off-Broadway at Monday Night Magic in New York, and at hundreds of corporate and private events in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Turner performed at the 2010 national convention of the Society of American Magicians and serves on the Executive Committee of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the industry’s largest organization. He is a member of the London Magic Circle, which awarded him an advanced performance degree last year.

As a speaker, Joe frequently delivers motivational keynotes on subjects of creativity, leadership, and “doing the impossible” by leveraging one’s unique combination of talents and life experiences. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and was featured in their national magazine earlier this year. After the show, Turner will travel north to perform and lecture at another conference in Southport before returning home.

Find out more about Joe M. Turner’s unreal entertainment and keynotes at http://www.turnermagic.com and http://www.turnertalks.com.

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Atlanta Speaker Joe M. Turner featured in NSA SPEAKER Magazine

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on May 11, 2011

The National Speakers Association publishes a monthly magazine, SPEAKER, that focuses on the ins and outs of the professional speaking industry. I contributed an article to the current (May 2011) issue describing an episode that took place at a corporate event a few years ago. The article appears in the “Turning Points” section (on page 34 in this issue).

NSA Speaker May 2011

Cover of May 2011 NSA SPEAKER Magazine

You can read the full article by clicking on the cover image at right.  In summary, though, the thrust of my anecdote and article is twofold:

  1. Great speakers and performers can create moments that are both unforeseeable and unforgettable by exploring unexpected detours in some presentations, so long as…
  2. The speaker/performer has well-developed presentation skills, a knack for keeping cool under fire, and a deep knowledge of “outs” sufficient to bring practically any challenging situation to a successful conclusion.

In the article, I briefly mention the concept of “outs” as it exists in the performance of theatrical magic and mentalism.  An “out” in a magical context is an answer to the question “How am I going to get out of this?”  The performer asks “what if?” and supposes a variety of challenges or changes that could affect the outcome of a routine, then devises responses to each of those situations that will still allow for a successful and entertaining conclusion to the presentation.

This is not a new concept, of course. Contingency planning has existed since the first time a human being had to solve the same problem twice. Every day, millions of executives, managers, team leaders, and individuals ask themselves the same kinds of “what if” questions as they plan their own projects. What if these key personnel are unavailable? What if those shipments are delayed? What if we don’t get approval for that part of the project?

An interesting paradigm shift happens, though, when you expand the thought process beyond reactive “contingency planning” to proactive “risk management.” In this context, certain risks are considered acceptable based on the knowledge and skill of the decision-maker. Investors and portfolio managers are well acquainted with the idea that some risks are easily worth taking because the potential benefits are large and the downsides can be minimized when approached with expert-level skill. The idea, of course, is to tilt the risk versus reward equation in your favor by using deep skills to devise the outs that minimize the downsides of risk.

Mastering the concept of “outs” gives leaders, managers, and even speakers and performers the freedom to explore alternate paths with a vastly reduced risk of failure. That freedom, in turn, sparks creativity — by exploring alternate paths, you may find successful approaches that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Sometimes, as in the article, those paths may lead to serendipitous finales that cannot be repeated. Often, though, those paths can lead to observations, offhand comments, and new insights that can add texture and value to the presentation, and which can be permanently incorporated into the script. Anyone can be spontaneous, but the person who has done some advanced planning can be spontaneous with a higher degree of success, and can leverage that success repeatedly in the future.

Mandi Stanley's No Panic Plan for Presenters

Mandi Stanley's excellent book, "The No-Panic Plan for Presenters," will help you make more effective live presentations.

By the way, if it weren’t for Mandi Stanley then I wouldn’t have appeared in the magazine at all. Mandi is a good friend and an excellent speaker and trainer with a mountain of achievements to her credit.  Her new book, The No-Panic Plan for Presenters, included my story and she recommended it for inclusion in the magazine.  Thanks, Mandi!

If you find yourself in front of a group of people who expect you to make a coherent, understandable presentation – whether daily, frequently or just occasionally – then you owe it to yourself and your audience to get a copy of Mandi’s book.  Besides being an informative and helpful work, it’s also a fun read.  Reap the insights and benefits of lessons learned by Mandi and many other speakers who have been down these paths before.  Let me know what you think about the article and the book by leaving a comment here.

Thanks again for your support and readership!

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Atlanta Magician and Mentalist Joe M. Turner on Atlanta Live | April 2010

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on June 4, 2010

Atlanta corporate magician and keynote speaker Joe M. Turner appeared on WATC-57’s Atlanta Live on April 9, 2010. This is the second segment of the appearance and includes two routines performed on a stage in the studio: some classic rope magic, plus a baseball-themed cup and ball routine interacting with host Tonya Lee.

Corporate magician, mentalist and keynote speaker Joe M. Turner is your event’s “Chief Impossibility Officer.” Follow him online!

Facebook: http://facebook.com/turnermagic
Twitter: http://twitter.com/turnermagic
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/joemturner

(c) 2010 WATC-57 and TurnerMagic.com – Unreal Entertainment and Keynotes
Shared with permission.

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An amazing December awaits this Atlanta magician and mentalist!

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on November 30, 2009

Chateau Elan at Christmas

Chateau Elan sparkles at Christmastime after "The Lighting of the Chateau" event each November.

My 8th annual appearance at the “Lighting of the Chateau” event at Chateau Elan marks the beginning of the holiday season. (See another press release about the event here.) This week kicks it off and it appears to go right through until December 20th this year… three weeks of stacked-up performances at venues ranging from rural Alabama to the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas!

Despite a challenging 2009, this December looks to be a record-breaker. I am depending on you, loyal readers and clients, to help carry the momentum into 2010!

I’m already booking events into the summer of next year. Let’s talk about your 2010 trade shows, conferences, and conventions soon, while there is still some flexibility on dates.

Your friendly neighborhood Atlanta magician wishes you all the joy, blessings, and magic of the holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

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Fourth quarter already?

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on October 29, 2009

I got back from performing trade show magic in Cleveland and looked at the calendar – the fourth quarter of 2009 kind of snuck up on me. I just finished jobs for NCR (now based near Atlanta) and Subnet Solutions (based in Calgary, Alberta), and other engagements are stacking up in December.

The schedule from now until New Year’s Eve is filling fast, but there are a couple of spots left. If your organization is planning a year-end event where I might be a corporate entertainment resource… call immediately (404 644 6791) to check your date. If I’m already booked, remember that my company also functions as an agency for other talented performers and speakers in various regions of the country. Let’s talk about what we can do for you and your event. (Here’s a fun option: Melody Knighton as Lucy or Dolly!)

Are you following me on the various social networking sites? If not, please do:
Connect: Atlanta Magician Joe M. Turner on Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

I had a day off yesterday – a welcome breather in a week filled with 9 bookings! I took the opportunity to see two other performers “do their thing.” India-based mentalist Pradip Almadi spoke at a conference where I also performed. He’s in the country for a convention next week and happened to have an engagement in Atlanta. I also went over to Kennesaw State University last night to see Brian Brushwood, the ever-popular, freaky-fun magician to the college market.

Some upcoming performances:

TTU Judgment Day October 29Judgment Day, Tennessee Temple University, Chattanooga, TN. I’m part of a multi-day festival that is billed as a “Halloween alternative with an inspiring message.” Looking forward to being back in Chattanooga!
FBC Prattville November 1FBC Prattville, Prattville, AL – Sunday evening I’ll be doing a magic and mentalism show focusing on cult awareness and basic apologetics.
Marietta Business Association logo November 4Marietta Business Association Expo, Cobb Civic Center, 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM. I’ll be entertaining throughout the event as well as doing some MC work.
172nd Airlift Wing November 7172nd Airlift Wing, Jackson, MS – A repeat engagement for Family Day for the Mississippi Air National Guard!

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