A career-changing moment or experience
This Magic Moment
I like to integrate magic perfor- mances into my presentations to illustrate specific points. For change management and lead- ership, I perform a famous card trick called “Any Card at Any
Number,” which is considered the “holy
grail” of card magic. Here’s how it works:
A spectator names a random card and
a random number, and that card is then
located at that position in the deck. It
illustrates how leaders can work behind
the scenes to align different forces and
circumstances in their organizations to
achieve a goal.
Without divulging any secrets, there
are many methods to achieve this effect.
The experienced performer often selects
the method based on the environment,
two of clubs. There it was.”
audience and circumstances. That fact is
also part of my message.
Recently, a spectator was more interested in proving he could prevent me
from achieving the desired outcome
than in grasping the point I was trying to
illustrate. Whatever his motivation, he
interrupted the presentation and insisted
on inspecting the cards, shuffling them
and holding them so I couldn’t do any
sleight of hand with the deck.
I decided to let him have his way,
because I have enough skill to accomplish
what I need to do in a variety of ways. By
giving him a little rope, I thought I could
diffuse his mild belligerence and still make
He shuffled the cards, cut them,
reshuffled them and held them tightly in
his hands. He announced that he wanted
the two of clubs to appear at position 26
and that he was going to deal the cards
himself. I told him to deal 25 cards and
set the 26th card aside without turning it
over. He complied.
With all attention now
focused on that card, I
took the rest of the
deck and pre-
pared for my
sion. As I spoke
to the audi-
ence about the
that had been
the two of
I double-checked—the two of clubs was
not in the pack.
I slowly realized what happened and
had a glorious moment of understanding,
which I had to conceal from the audience
members. They were about to see magic
that I had not planned, nor could I ever
repeat for them. It was an unexpected
bonus for them, but it was even more
unexpected for me.
I recounted everything to help the
spectators cement their memories of
what had happened, ensuring that they
would be perfect witnesses to the strictly
imposed conditions. I snapped my fingers
over the card and asked the man to show
the audience the two of clubs.
There it was.
After a moment of stunned silence followed by a couple of shocked expletives,
he said, “OK, that was good. I have no
idea how you did it.” Then, he joined in
the audience’s applause.
For magicians, an “out” is an alternate
conclusion: a back-pocket way to achieve
a successful outcome even if it is a different than the one intended when the trick
began. “Outs” are answers to all of the
“what ifs” you can conceive, and going
beyond your presentation skills to achieve
the desired outcome. For me, this particular “out” was truly a work of magic.
Professional magician, speaker
and emcee. Joe M. Turner is a
corporate entertainment spe-
cialist, based in Atlanta, Ga.
He creates customized magic
presentations for promotional, motivational
and entertainment events in the United States
and Canada. Visit www.TurnerMagic.com and