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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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Three Recommendations from Kettering Sales and Marketing Group

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on March 14, 2012

Keynote Speaker | Motivational Speaker Joe M. Turner - Mentalist, Magician
Yesterday I spoke to the Sales and Marketing SIG (special interest group) of the Kettering Executive Network.

My topic was Five Kinds of Amazing, which is the working title of the book I’m working on now. You’ll be seeing excerpts from the book on this blog over the rest of the year, so stay tuned!

Here’s some feedback from three people who saw yesterday’s presentation.


Kelly Bevan’s Testimonial


Joan Boneburg’s Testimonial


David Jensen’s Testimonial

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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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Turner Magic and Keynotes Receives Best of Atlanta 2011 Award

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on January 25, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Turner Magic and Keynotes Receives 2011 Best of Atlanta Award

Best of Atlanta 2011

Turner Magic & Keynotes Received the 2011 Best of Atlanta Award from USCA

NEW YORK, NY, October 21, 2011 — Turner Magic & Keynotes has been selected for the 2011 Best of Atlanta Award in the Party Planning & Event Consultants category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2011 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a New York City based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

CONTACT:
U.S. Commerce Association
Email: PublicRelations@uscaaward.com
URL: http://www.uscaaward.com

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Evaluating the Quality of Unique Services

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on December 14, 2011

One built-in characteristic of delivering a unique service is that most people have never experienced what you do. Unlike more familiar services – lawn care, office cleaning, computer repair, legal representation, etc. – most people haven’t got a meaningful point of reference from which to evaluate the services of a mentalist, magician, or a professional keynote speaker. This often puts them at a disadvantage when trying to select an appropriate, high-quality provider.

More Data Points Needed

Most people don't have enough "data points" to evaluate providers of unique services in relation to others in their industries.

Consider magic and mentalism. Most people have never experienced a live performance in these unusual theatrical genres. Among those who have, most have only seen it within the context of a children’s party or a Las Vegas show – rarely anything in between. If a person sees one performer one time, that single experience often colors their opinion of the entire art form, for better or for worse.

Most people have plenty of experience listening to, say, bands or singers. Music surrounds us in our everyday experience. If someone hires a singer and they give a bad performance, the next time the question comes up then most people will say, “That singer was bad – let’s get a different singer.” This is because they have enough experiences with music to know that the one experience they had was of poor quality, but that better experiences are certainly out there to be had.

That’s not the case with mentalism or magic. In those cases, people who have a bad experience often conclude not that the performer was merely sub-par, but that the entire art form is largely of similarly poor quality. Because most people don’t have everyday experiences with these arts, many clients react not with “I didn’t care for that performer,” but rather with “I don’t like magic – let’s do something else.”

Likewise, most people probably will not see more than a dozen professional speakers in a lifetime. Meeting planners and convention committees deal with professional speakers and entertainers regularly, but most people have never had to consider what might make one a better fit than another for a given audience.

Because there are so few points of reference, it can be difficult to establish a scale for evaluating quality. Here are six tips you may find useful.

  1. Ask for specifics about experience. People who claim they are perfect for “all occasions” probably aren’t. Your budget will bring a better return when you discuss the specific event with the provider, ask about their specific experience in that environment, and follow-up on the references they give. When the performer or speaker takes a bow, how will you feel if they thank you by name for hiring them?

  2. Consider awards and credits with a grain of salt. The words “award winning” are suspect. If an award intrigues you then ask about it, but so many awards are available and offered to performers in so many circumstances that it’s almost impossible to find a performer who can’t claim to be “award winning” in some way.

  3. Check for online reviews. Do a Google search on the person’s name and look for reviews. Look beyond performers’ web sites themselves; check their LinkedIn and Google profiles. Check other sites like Kudzu, Meetup, and Yelp. Fifteen minutes of internet research can save your event as well as your reputation.

  4. Analyze the promo video. Do they provide footage of performances in front of a variety of audiences in a range of venues, or is their entire promo kit built around a studio shoot and a set of photos from one event? Check their YouTube videos, but consider whether it was shot at home, in a studio, or in front of real clients.

  5. Don’t fall in love with a low quote. The performance you’ll get from the undercutters is only going to result in a poor experience for your audience and a blot on your reputation. I’ve written before about the high price of cheap entertainment, and it’s worth remembering that even when budgets are tight, quality counts above all. It’s better to stretch on the entertainment budget than to have beautiful lighting and decorations around a performer or speaker you wish your audience would someday forget.

  6. Be honest and ask for a referral. When you find the speaker or performer who’s right for your group, work with them about what you really can and cannot afford. Most of us are willing to make mutual concessions in the course of good faith negotiations. If the numbers just won’t work, ask that person for recommendations of other quality performers who might meet your budget constraints; then trust their advice. Remember – the experienced performer knows how their unique service has fit into a variety of events and venues, and they also know the quality of other artists and speakers in the marketplace.

I have always found that it only enhanced my own reputation and client relationships to help clients find suitable alternatives when I’m out of range or unavailable. I hope these tips help you navigate the sometimes-confusing process of evaluating unique services.

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Credibility Counts – Interview on Georgia Business Directory Network

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on November 14, 2011

Credibility

Anyone can claim anything. How are you evaluating the credibility of those who offer to provide services to your organization?

A few months ago, speaker and consultant Diane Bogino asked me to appear on her video magazine, Business Notes, on Georgia Business Directory Network TV. That interview appears at the end of this article.

Diane’s company, Performance Strategies, helps other companies align job descriptions so that they really are achieving their strategic objectives. She also helps consultants as they work with their own clients, providing them with a range of diagnostic assessments and expertise in analyzing an interpreting the results. Her business experiences both in corporate human resources and in small business give her a rich spectrum of real-world experiences to call upon when providing her services.

One of the things we talked about was the importance of credibility in speakers and yes, even in entertainers. Whether proposing a keynote address, an after-dinner show, or any other kind of appearance, I’m only too well aware of one unmistakable fact: Anyone can claim anything.

I regularly get calls from clients who either minimized potential concerns about credibility or ignored them altogether when selecting an entertainer for their organization. Basing their decision solely on a web site, a studio photograph, or worst of all, a low price, they engaged a speaker or performer who promised an experience that they simply weren’t prepared to deliver.

  • Success speakers whose only notable success is to book themselves as a “success speaker.”
  • Team-building leaders or experts who have never built a real business team.
  • Small-business coaches who have never built a real operating business.
  • “Life coaches” whose own lives are in questionable shape.
  • Entertainers who misrepresent their credits, awards, or endorsements.

I’ve written before about the high price of cheap entertainment. There is also a high price to be paid for ignoring the need for involving a credible entertainment professional.

I was recently made aware of a business event that featured a show by another performer. Promotion was hot and heavy and set exceptionally high expectations for the event. These were claims that simply couldn’t be backed up by a performer of such limited experience. When the reviews came in the attendees took both the performer and the organizer to the proverbial woodshed. That organizer’s credibility has suffered a major blow in public perception because he let his event hinge on the skill of a performer who wasn’t really equipped to deliver.

Incredible performers create incredible experiences – and that is true in both the good and bad senses of the word!

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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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“One Enchanted Evening” in Vicksburg Sept 8

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on August 18, 2011

Mississippi Native Turner Brings Magic, Music From Atlanta to Vicksburg

Joe M. Turner's "One Enchanted Evening"

Atlanta speaker and entertainer Joe M. Turner performs in Vicksburg on September 8

NOTE: Listen to a radio interview about this upcoming appearance!
Interview by Annette Kirklin on The Directors Report, WVBG Radio, Vicksburg, MS (8/17/2011)


Atlanta speaker and entertainer Joe M. Turner will perform “One Enchanted Evening” at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center on Thursday, September 8. Turner, a Brandon native, will present a unique show of sleight-of-hand illusions and music performances.

The Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation takes immense pride in welcoming acclaimed international speaker, corporate entertainer, and Brandon, Mississippi native Joe M. Turner back to his home state for a one-night-only, one-of-a-kind theatrical performance on Thursday, September 8th at 7:00pm in the SCH Auditorium.

Turner will present a multi-faceted evening of variety entertainment including unreal sleight-of-hand mysteries, uncanny psychological illusions, and unforgettable piano and vocal classics, all woven together into what some consider “a 21st-century one-man vaudeville.” Don’t miss this unique entertainment event! This limited engagement will sell out, so don’t miss out!

Tickets are $25 for SCHF Members, $30 for Non-Members and $225 for a Corporate/Private Table. Ticket price includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, punch, a cash bar, and an unforgettable evening of magic, mentalism, and music! Tickets are on sale now at the SCHF Business Office, Paper Plus or charge by phone at (601) 631-2997. You can get tickets and directions online at http://www.southernculture.org

Joe M. Turner combines seven years of corporate experience in training design and development, business communication, human performance development and change management initiatives at Fortune 100 clients with extensive theatre experience and magical talents to create customized magical presentations for his clients.

Joe is a member of the National Speakers Association, the Academy of Magical Arts at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, The Magic Circle in London (A.I.M.C. with silver star), and the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. He is also a popular speaker, onscreen and onstage talent, a professional pianist, an accomplished vocalist, composer and playwright. Visit his website at http://www.turnermagic.com

Space is limited and an advanced ticket purchase is suggested. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the SCHF office at 601-631-2997 or email info@southernculture.org

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Based in Atlanta, Georgia, professional speaker, mentalist, and corporate magician Joe M. Turner delivers unreal entertainment and keynotes for corporate meetings, events, trade shows, conferences and private events worldwide.

Category Entertainment, Event, Arts

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Recent Interviews and News Stories

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on August 12, 2011

Interview on Get Connected TV:

GET CONNECTED Interviews – Joe M. Turner from Brent Brooks on Vimeo.


Interview on the Dottie Coffman Show, WIMO Radio (7/28/2011)



Two news stories in the Patch (include video)

‘Chief Impossibility Officer’ Coming to Powder Springs

Georgia’s own CIO will be in Powder Springs on Tuesday.

No, Joe M. Turner isn’t a chief investment officer—he’s the Chief Impossibility Officer.

A speaker, mentalist and “sleight-of-hand expert,” Turner owns his own business, Turner Magic Entertainment. He’ll be talking at the Powder Springs Business Association’s monthly luncheon mainly about successful ways to market small businesses.

Marketing, Magic Meet at Ford Center

When thinking of someone who can deliver speeches on marketing, Joe M. Turner admits that magicians don’t typically pop up in people’s minds.

But Turner, a speaker, entertainer and owner of Turner Magic Entertainment, is invited by organizations from all over to speak on the topic. Turner spoke for the third time at a Powder Springs Business Association monthly luncheon on Tuesday.

Using entertainment as an attention grabber, Turner applies modern marketing and small business strategies to his craft.


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