Positively Magical

Season 2,
Episode 203
(39 mins)
Positively Magical
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Positively Magical

[00:00:07.410] – Rob Brodnick

Welcome to the Positive Turbulence podcast stories from the periphery. Here we journey to the edge to talk to turbulators about their experiences creating positive change. Hi, I’m Rob Brodnick, your co-host. What would you say if I told you I was going to bring a magician to your next corporate training session? You’d probably turn up your nose a bit. I mean, magicians are for kids, right? But that’s pretty much what we did for the October 2019 AMI meeting in Chicago. We had a whole meeting themed around making the impossible possible and invite a group of Magicians called Magic on Purpose to host the meeting.

[00:00:42.780] – Karyn Zuidinga

Hi, I’m Karen Zuidinga. Your co-host. And what an amazing meeting that was Rob. I’ll admit to you now that I was a little skeptical before the meeting. But by the end, my perspective was certainly changed. I walked away from that meeting with a much better appreciation for how my perception stands in my way, for what I need to make appear, disappear, and restore, as well as for the magic that happens around us everyday. Talk about positive turbulence! We have Andrew Bennett and Dan Trommater of Magic on Purpose joining us today. Magic on Purpose is a collective of magicians who all use magic as a learning tool to shift perspectives. Andrew is the founder of Magic on Purpose, and Dan is one of the eight members who was also in Chicago. Coming up, transformation stories, perspective shifts and a little bit of magic.

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[00:02:01.250] – Karyn Zuidinga

Welcome, Dan. Welcome, Andrew. I’ve been so excited about talking to you two. The idea of showing the parallel between magic and innovation and magic and change feels unique and innovative to me. I’d like to get a sort of a sense of the way in. I can imagine that some people you talk to think this is crazy or they feel like they don’t want to be tricked. There’s a resistance. Maybe. Can you talk to me about, first of all, what the heck is Magic on Purpose? Why would a bunch of magicians get together to talk about doing good in the world? Aren’t you a bunch of charlatans anyway? There’s a big question. We’ll to start from there and see where we go.

[00:02:37.680] – Andrew Bennett

Actually, there’s about three questions… 

[00:02:40.640] – Karyn Zuidinga

I’ve learned from Rob.

[00:02:41.610] – Rob Brodnick

At least! That’s the first 30 minutes or more. I always ask these like six part questions… 

[00:02:51.020] – Andrew Bennett

That ought to give us something to work with. I think maybe the first question is what is Magic on Purpose? I think that’ll be a nice prelude to how does this all work. Over the years. I’ve met magicians who have used magic for purposes beyond entertainment and use magic to communicate messages and open up people’s minds. Magic is so powerful because it offers everything from really powerful metaphors all the way through to the symbolism of magic, and the business of magic, and of which innovation is a part of that. So magic is this really rich source, and it’s so unique that I’m surprised at how many people haven’t experienced magic live and in person. I’ve done some polls and I’ve found that about 50 percent of the population has never seen a live magical performance. Just the experience of magic live and in person kind of throws people a little off balance. At least it gets their attention. Over the years, I have met magicians that are using magic for different purposes. When I met, I think, number eight a couple years ago, I said, well, it might be time to bring this group of people together. We seem to be comrades in arms. And there’s not a lot of people who are using magic to communicate messages. We came together and we formed this group called Magic on Purpose. There are eight of us and we meet twice a month and we talk about how we use magic as a catalyst for enriching people’s lives and organizational performance. And we support each other. We help each other develop new material. Think through things. We’ve become like a family. We love each other and are very supportive. We’ve been doing this for two years. It’s just a real bright light in our lives. And we got the chance to work together as a group for the first time with the Association for Managers of Innovation in October in Chicago. That was our first time being together physically in the same space. So that was a wonderful opportunity for us. And we know for sure that it was a wonderful experience for the AMI members. That was just a great experience all around. So that’s kind of what Magic on Purpose is.

[00:05:30.290] – Karyn Zuidinga

Can I jump in and ask Dan to just give me a for instance. What are you doing and how are you using magic to get a message across to change people’s opinions?

[00:05:39.830] – Dan Trommater

I think it’s pretty simple, really. Magic is such a powerful tool to communicate an idea. All of my work and each of us in magic on purpose has their own focus of how we use magic and for what purpose. For me, empathy is at the core of all of my work. One of the pieces of magic that I employ to illustrate the importance of empathy is a simple rope trick. It’s a cut and restored rope. I take a piece of rope, cut it in half, put it back together. I do that four times. It’s a standard piece of magic that’s been done for hundreds of years. The way that I’m using it on purpose is that I invite one person up on stage with me to experience that magic right up close. Because of the way that I’ve orchestrated the mechanics of the trick, the person on stage, because of their physical perspective, they’re unable to see how I do the trick. That’s the norm, right? Normally audiences can see how the trick works, but in this context, I’ve orchestrated the mechanics of it such that the rest of the audience, because of their perspective out in front of the stage, they can actually see all of the workings of the trick itself. So then they’re in this strange position where they’re behind the curtain. They’re, behind the velvet rope. They’re seeing how the trick is done. And yet at the same time, they’re watching one of their counterparts, one of their fellow audience members, be absolutely fooled by this trick. The strength of that really is that it becomes obvious to them that, oh, reality is subjective, my truth isn’t necessarily everybody’s truth. What’s obvious to me might not be obvious to somebody else. And in this case, it’s a physical difference. My physical perspective changes and therefore my reality is different. But that’s the trick. That’s the sort of the presentation. And then after the execution of the trick itself, then we debrief. It’s in that debrief after the rope trick that we talk about the implications of that and how that can be implied. Because in this case, it was a physical perspective that shifted reality. But that same shift in reality can come through different sorts of perspectives, cultural perspectives, age. Somebody who experiences the world as an 80 year old is going to have a very different perception of reality than an eight year old. And then in my case, I ask a lot of questions. What is it in your world that you’re struggling with in terms of communication or change or innovation that’s because of a perspective shift between you and your audience.

[00:08:12.480] – Rob Brodnick

You know Dan, hearing you talk about this. It reminds me of the three stages of adult learning. So you’ve got theory, practice and reflection. Which is basically an idea is presented, you interact with it either through doing something or speaking to someone about it or watching the results of it. And then you step back and reflect on what happened. As something new enters your mind. You develop a way to learn about that. And it was just striking to me, hearing you describe how you’re using Magic on Purpose to create either individual or organizational impact. It just connects to a theory that I use often.

[00:08:46.610] – Dan Trommater

I think that probably comes from well, for me, a lot of experience just doing this, but also the fact that I’m a former educator. I taught photography for about five years before ever getting into magic. I think each of us in the group take our own baggage and histories and apply that.

[00:09:04.280] – Andrew Bennett

One of our members, Anthony, who the two of you saw in Chicago has had quite a story in his life about challenges with mental health. He uses magic to teach young people well, not just even young people. I mean, that tends to be his audience, middle school, up through college. He uses magic to teach people about mental health and suicide prevention and preventing self-harm. He performs the classic straight jacket escape. And he’s got a beautiful way of doing it that connects with young people. I’ve been in the audience when he’s done this for young people. And Anthony is younger. That helps to make that connection. But he’s also very transparent about his own challenges and then the metaphor of being trapped in a straitjacket. And he also has chains around him. And then he talks about how you can learn ways to be released from those constraints. You know, he kind of shrugs off the chains and then he does the dramatic escape from the straight jacket. And it’s just a very visceral, dramatic way of experiencing that freedom. You know, freeing myself from limitations. There’s another example of how people are using magic for this deeper purpose.

[00:10:26.780] – Rob Brodnick

I remember that activity. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. It was hugely impactful. As you were describing that I was thinking there’s an emotional component. We had a magic morning, and I think we had six different presentations. Every one was emotional and a different kind of way. Now, is that emotional content intentional in your design or is that something that just comes through? What happens?

[00:10:50.150] – Andrew Bennett

I think it’s the way people respond to magic with Anthony’s straight jacket. It’s a visceral experience. When you experience the moment of magic, that moment of wow, there’s that moment. There is some kind of, in that wow moment, there is everything from joy to awe. All these emotions that you experience when you experience something that’s out of the, not just even out of the norm, but and not to be melodramatic, but miraculous in some sense.

[00:11:20.730] – Rob Brodnick

It’s full body!

[00:11:22.160] – Dan Trommater

Yeah. Magic is… it’s impossible. That’s what magic is. It’s impossible. You see something that’s impossible that you know is impossible. It’s going to have an effect. It’s going to stop you in your tracks if it’s done well. We don’t get that a lot as intelligent adults. We don’t get a moment of wonder where we see something that we know can’t be done. Talk about turbulence. That’s going to shift your thinking hard.

[00:11:48.010] – Rob Brodnick

Goose bumps, shivers down the spine. The whole thing happens. Congnitive dissoence were parts don’t fit together. And all of a sudden, you know, you are in this new reality together. 

[00:11:58.230] – Karyn Zuidinga

Talk to me about the skeptic who came across. I’m certain that every single time either one of you present, there’s at least one person in the audience sitting, their arms are folded,  maybe their posture is a little back. They’re like, you are so not hoing to fool me. Do you often get them to come across the bridge with you and to experience that moment of wonder? And for that skeptic who started further away than maybe the person who is eagerly anticipating the wonder, is that impact even bigger?

[00:12:27.400] – Dan Trommater

Yes. Yes. On all of that. Yes. I encounter those people all the time. I would say less so now that I’m doing this kind of work. Keynotes and workshops where it’s not about the magic. The magic is there as a tool. It’s not the end in itself. But even at that, yes, there will be people who are skeptical. Not necessarily so much about, “you’re not going to fool me,” but more really “you hired a magician to come in to our executive retreat. Really?”

[00:12:58.110] – Karyn Zuidinga

Am I 8?

[00:12:58.990] – Dan Trommater

Exactly. Exactly. And that speaks back to Andrew’s comment about most people haven’t seen close-up magic, live magic, in person. And so they assume that… 

[00:13:08.850] – Andrew Bennett

Sophisticated magic. 

[00:13:10.990] – Dan Trommater

Exactly. Sophisticated. Thank you. Most people haven’t seen sophisticated magic. And so therefore, they default to the only place they probably have seen magic. Which is at their kid’s birthday party. When they come in with that sort of attitude, and the skepticism– and whether it’s you’re not going to fool me or this isn’t for me, this has no value– I know that we all deal with in our own way. Personally, I deal with it in very consciously and deliberately setting up an environment where it’s not a contest. I’m not here to fool you. It’s not me against you. I’m here to offer something to you that I think will help you be better by taking down that sort of adversarial approach that many people come into magic with. I think that starts to bridge that gap a little bit. And again, I’m I’m not. None of us are presenting… when we’re doing this kind of work none of us are presenting the magic as entertainment. Yes, it’s entertaining, but it’s not about entertainment. It’s there to serve the greater purpose of communication and shifting the thinking. And because of that. People tend to come along.

[00:14:14.690] – Andrew Bennett

Dan, I’m curious, when you talk about that environment, setting up that environment, how do you do that to create the space for people who are skeptical to feel… I guess I want to say, how do you, I guess, diffuse that or, you know, in creating the space?

[00:14:34.450] – Dan Trommater

It’s through a number of ways. One, I assume that everybody else in the room is smarter than I am. And I know that when I’m presenting, I’m presenting to a room of smart people who are experts in their field. And it’s a field that I don’t know anything about. I’m always the weird outside guy who’s at this event. Right? Ninety percent of the presenters at any event that I’m in, whether it’s a meeting or a conference, they’re from that industry. They’re experts in that field. I’m the outside… to use the phrase, I’m the positive turbulence. Whether they’re knowledgeable of that phrase or not. That’s that’s what all of us are. 

[00:15:12.040] – Rob Brodnick

The turbulator. 

[00:15:15.070] – Dan Trommater

Yes, we’re turbulators. Anybody using magic on purpose is turbulators. We’re from the outside. Our value is in bringing fresh new ideas and new ways of seeing things. One, I assume that everybody smarter than me and that I have as much to learn from them as they do for me. So that’s a big step. You know, I think that people, audiences, groups are gonna be far more resistant to a presenter if that presenter feels like they’re the expert and that they are coming in with the only right answer. I don’t take myself too seriously. I tend to be pretty vulnerable onstage. I tell people right off the bat, I’ve got some ideas for you. I’ve got some tools and techniques, some experiences that could be valuable for you. But I don’t have the answers. I need your help both as a group and as individuals to take whatever you can from these ideas that I’m sharing with you and pull out the little nuggets and apply them into your world. And I’ll ask you questions that will help you do that. But you’re going to do the heavy lifting in this time together.

[00:16:13.210] – Karyn Zuidinga

It seems to me that even outside of that world of being a presenter or even doing magic on purpose or not, it seems to me that those lessons of leave your ego at the door. The willingness to be wrong, that attitude. Look, I’m no smarter than anybody else here. I don’t know more than anybody else here. It feels like those kind of ideas can be applied regardless of whether there’s magic or not, in the room. Whether or not you’re trying to. Would you agree? 

[00:16:39.990] – Andrew Bennett

As you described that, Karyn, I thought where you were going was those are good practices for innovation. 

[00:16:46.250] – Karyn Zuidinga

Yes, Yes. 

[00:16:48.330] – Andrew BennettNot to be the smartest person. 

[00:16:53.020] – Karyn Zuidinga

Absolutely.

[00:16:53.830] – Dan Trommater

I think they’re generally just good ideas for dealing with other humans.

[00:16:59.770] – Rob Brodnick

I think it’s like a universal construct you’re tapping into something that’s more than the expertise around either this specific thing or an organizational dynamic. You’re affecting something that’s human across across everyone’s experience. And that drawing those two things together is magical in a sense.

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[00:17:43.500] – Rob Brodnick

I get the immediacy of the impact. The wow factor, and the way you can use your craft to set the stage for bigger things to come. I have a question for either or both of you or really anyone in your circle. What are some of the long term impacts on individuals or organizations that you’ve observed by intentionally doing some of the work you do? I’ve heard a couple of stories from you, Andrew, about your three aspects and how some organizations that you’ve worked with years ago continue to use that framework. I’d like to hear a little bit or share with our listeners some of the long-tail impacts of the work you’ve done.

[00:18:19.740] – Andrew Bennett

The thing that you’re talking about, Rob, is probably about, maybe, six years ago now. I worked with McDonald’s, with the information technology department of McDonald’s. The CIO, Chief Information Officer was having a three day leadership conference in San Antonio. He and I had met at a charity for Ronald McDonald House and we were getting to know each other. And I had told him about my background. And my background is I was in the corporate world for 10 years,  I worked for Ross Perot. I’ve done long-term consulting projects, using magic in long-term projects. And I was sharing that with him. And he said, well, you know, I’m having this gathering of my leaders, the top 70 leaders from around the world. It would be really great if you could share what you’ve learned over the years and just kick off each morning. We’ll give you 45 minutes each morning for you to set the tone and frame the day. So I started reflecting. Oh, yeah, gosh, I’ve been at this for a while. What have I learned about organizations and individuals that have transformed themselves? So I thought about my own process where I’ve been through several major transformations in my own life, where I’ve written dramatically different chapters in my life. I started thinking about what was I doing, what were all these clients doing that made it work. I suddenly realized that there were three things that they all did that made it really powerful. And then I started to think about them in relation to magic. So what emerged from it became the structure for those three days with McDonald’s. So the first day was about Appear. All of these clients, all of these individuals got really clear on what they wanted to appear in their life, that defining what they wanted to appear was based on something fairly deep. In other words, it wasn’t just we want to increase our market share by 10 percent. It was the purpose of our organization is to make the world a better place by doing such and such. So it was this deeper way of looking at the purpose of your life and defining what you wanted to make appear based on that deeper meaning. The second thing that people did to transform their lives or their organizations is they they decided what needed to Disappear. What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to say no to? What do we need to stop tolerating for individuals when they go through this process? It’s a lot of times it’s what kind of thinking needs to disappear, negative thinking. And then the third day the third element was Restore. What needs to be restored. A lot of times in organizations, it’s relationships between departments. A classic is the conflict between marketing and operations, where sales and marketing is making promises and operations aren’t delivering. And so there’s this conflict between departments. What needs to be restored? We started off each day with that structure at McDonald’s: Appear, Disappear, and Restore. At the end of the three days as they were debriefing the meeting somebody suggested that that would be a great lens to look through every year when they set their strategic goals for the year. The person said, you know, we always talk about the Appear stuff. We always set our goals. But it tends to be just making the list longer. We’ve already got a ton of work to do and then we set goals and it adds more work. We just don’t have the bandwidth for it and we’re not doing things as well as we should and we’re not following through. And, you know, there’s all these limitations. The Dissappear part is almost as important as the Appear part. What we need to get clear about what we’re creating. So they decided to adopt that. The CIO said when we set our strategic goals every year, we’re going to use this lens of Appear, Disappear and Restore.

[00:22:17.510] – Karyn Zuidinga

I’m continually struck when I have these kind of conversations as we have in the podcast and with people like you, Andrew, and you, Dan, that the thing that is consistently missing from many organizations is a connection to how people are feeling.

[00:22:35.340] – Andrew Bennett

That’s one of the major reasons why I went in this direction with my work and not even talking about mixing magic with purpose and message. But my experience in the corporate world for those first ten years, I worked for Ross Perot during that time and during the time he left the company, things really changed when he left. It was quite an amazing culture when he was there. And when he left, things really changed. It’s kind of the downfall of having a charismatic leader, right? Is that it doesn’t get enculturated. And that was an important learning for me. You know, as I worked with clients to create great cultures, let’s not make this dependent on a leader or leadership in general, but let’s let everyone take ownership of this and get passionate about it. Ross was there. He’s gone. And then things dramatically changed. And I saw people very unhappy. And I was working with clients in other companies where people were very unhappy. And because of the dramas that I’ve had in my life, I kind of had an accelerated path towards really being concerned about our purpose on the planet. And so when I saw people who, just to your point, Karyn, were expected to check their humanity at the door. It was heartbreaking. And I wanted I mean, I felt like I’m going to be on a crusade to change this. I want to change this. We are human beings and we can be fulfilled and joyful and and that can happen in the workplace.

[00:24:06.530] – Karyn Zuidinga

It seems to me that there’s a lot of people out there who do not believe that’s possible, that joy and fulfillment and balance and humanity just don’t exist when you work.

[00:24:18.920] – Andrew Bennett

 The way our brains function, it’s not even well-informed to have this belief that we’re just logical creatures, because that’s not the way our brain works. We, you know, we’ve got three layers of brain. The the top brain is the logical brain, the neocortex. Our brains tend to respond to life, not from the neocortex. To expect that… well, that’s where we all are when we walk in the company’s doors, that suddenly we are operating from our neocortex. We’re really missing the opportunity to meet people where they are as human beings and work from the standpoint of our real humanity that experiences fear and sadness. And all of that To create an environment in an organization where you can transcend that. And, you know, a workplace can be this kind of microcosm of a world that we would like to live in. Where we are living from our higher selves. One way that you do that is you acknowledge that there’s fear in the workplace. You name that elephant in the room so that we can talk about the reality of the way human beings experience, and live, life.

[00:25:32.000] – Rob Brodnick

I think that’s an industrial age holdover. You know, in my experience over the years with organizational change, if you don’t open up all three layers, as you describe it, the layers of the brain or the layers of the human experience, you’re not only going to have partial change. You’re going to have a shift in that cognitive logical realm. You may not pull people along with you and they’ll leave. They’ll go somewhere else where they’re having a more whole experience. Hey, let me ask all of us, the two of our guests, Karyn, for you and I’d like to comment on as well. Stan’s book Positive Turbulence really talked about bringing chaos, complexity, uncertainty, these unusual things into our regular worlds and just changing it around, disrupting it, disabling it re enabling it, just putting things in the mix. It’s sort of the opposite of the machine. Let’s make machine not run right for a while and see what happens. Or let’s see if we can make it run better in different kinds of ways. But the intention always was for positive change. And sometimes what happens in short-term fix maybe, well, we just took a step back. Yeah but now we can take 10 steps forward. In a nutshell, positive turbulence is the way to shift things for the better in the long run, but doing it through the use of novelty, surprise, ideas from the periphery, just different ways of doing things. So there’s the construct set up; Magic on Purpose as positive turbulence. I’d like to hear from both you a little bit about how you’re creating turbulence in the world and some of the good effects that it’s had.

[00:27:03.390] – Dan Trommater

While empathy is at the core of all of my work. Really, one of my underlying goals is to help people uncover their assumptions, magic and optical illusions. And the stories that I tell are all great tools for helping people not only uncover their assumptions, but first just realize that they’re making them. We all in Magic on Purpose have that in common; that everybody assumes that what we’re doing is impossible. And then here comes this guy. And he just did what we not only assume is impossible, we know it’s impossible! Just by seeing, even if it’s not in the context of the kind of work that we do, even if you just go and see a magic show, and you see somebody do something that you know is impossible. Doesn’t that make you want to question what else you believe is impossible? And think well, maybe, maybe not. I try to make this one of my big takeaways: possibility is an attitude. If you believe something is impossible, then of course it’s impossible. Y,ou’re not even gonna try. If something if you can’t do it, if you know you can’t do it, why waste the effort, why even try? 

[00:28:08.710] – Rob Brodnick

You’ve given up at that point. 

[00:28:10.230] – Dan Trommater

Exactly. The word impossible is defeat. The moment you see somebody do something that you know is impossible. Then you’re forced to start questioning your assumptions. That’s turbulence.

[00:28:21.010] – Andrew Bennett

What magic does and I think the ways that the magic on purpose group uses our magic is to shake people awake. It’s not always necessarily new information, but it’s a reminder to people of good practices that we stop using, or we forget, or we lose sight of, or we get wrapped up in the drama of day to day. I talk about abracadabra. People don’t know that abracadabra means “what I speak is what I create.” It’s an Aramaic word. So reminding people about the power of words. It kind of shakes people. Like everybody knows this, right? We know that the way we talk to our children, the way we talk to our co-workers, our partners, the way we talk to ourselves for, crying out loud. We know that words have profound power. Words create worlds. When I let everyone know what abracadabra means, it’s turbulence. But it’s not necessarily shaking things up to create something brand new. It’s shaking things up to remind people of. You know, I think I’m safe in saying that, right Dan? I think all of us in the group want to shake people up to remind them of what’s powerful.

[00:29:45.400] – Dan Trommater

Yes, what’s powerful and what’s possible. Following on what you’ve said, this idea of the assumptions. I don’t think any of us are are coming out in front of a group of people and saying assumptions are bad. We need assumptions. It’s not a question of. You need to innovate, because that’s what you need to do, because you got to throw out the baby with the bathwater. You just. But it’s important to recognize those assumptions. Don’t toss your assumptions, but test them. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. But it would do to kick the tires now and then. Make sure those old ideas are still performing. Andrew again, on something else you said made me think of the idea of words creating reality. I hear a lot of people say things like, Oh, well, we we can’t do that. Well, not with that attitude. You can’t? Well, of course you can’t. If you’re telling yourself you can’t, then of course you can’t.

[00:30:40.930] – Karyn Zuidinga

When Rob starts talking about positive turbulence and chaos and complexity, it seems to me a lot of what you guys are doing is instead of working with people in this linear hierarchical way, you’re really actually more understanding that the space that they’re in is really more like an ecosystem. You’re pulling on certain things and showing them certain things and allowing them to examine assumptions. Oh, wait a minute, this hierarchy that I thought was really a hierarchy isn’t. It’s actually a flow of information. Or this thing that I only thought could possibly be delivered in one way. Actually, no, it could be another way, this changing perspectives moment is really important for organizations. Andrew, you talked a little bit about that ongoing change. But the worry that I have is you come in, you change perspective. It’s kind of like seeing the chiropractor or the physio or they fix you up. You feel good for a day, two days, three days, with any luck? A couple of weeks. But you slide back. How do you keep that change going? How do you keep that changed perspective going? How do you integrate that difference in thinking from that amazing magical moment with you to Monday morning and oh, my God, here I am again.

[00:31:55.600] – Andrew Bennett

When we do a presentation and you come in and you’re speaking for an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes, an hour and a half. It’s a lot to expect that there’s going to be a big change. I don’t think it’s unusual for people to be inspired in that moment because it sounds really great. I’m excited. I love those stories. Great ideas. And then they go back to work. And it’s just the demands of every day. So it goes away. I don’t think that’s unusual, but I do think there are things you can do to sustain what’s covered in it. So the first thing is what in your culture might contradict what I’m going to talk about with your people? So one of the things I talk about is self-awareness, and the need for self-awareness. And if you’ve got a culture where people are afraid to express themselves, this idea of self-awareness isn’t going to go very far. And I don’t want to talk to people in an organization about something that — I don’t want to throw seeds on concrete. I want to make sure that there’s fertile soil. And my experience, the you know, the things I’ve learned the hard way are that when the culture isn’t supportive of a concept, it can actually be counter productive because it just frustrates people and even angers people that, you know, let’s pardon the expression, but that’s bullshit. That will never work here. I talk to my clients about what are the cultural dynamics that will either support or get in the way of the things I’m going to share. Because if you know, if you’re bringing me in, you’re paying me money. You’re paying a bigger part of your expenses are in the time that people are going to spend there. We want to make sure that this is a great experience for everyone and that it makes a difference. What are the cultural pieces? And then the second part is what can you do after the event to sustain this? So, what are the ongoing messages? The most important thing I talk to clients about is what kind of changes in their behavior as leaders needs to take place. So if I’m preaching all these different practices to their people and the leaders aren’t doing it, I’ll put that in a positive frame. When the leaders do it, everybody knows that that’s what you do. And so if the leaders don’t do it, it won’t change. And if they do, it will

[00:34:32.080] – Rob Brodnick

This is deep work in consciousness, both individual and organizational. And, you know, we can give people a glimpse of a higher vibration for a short period of time. But then their their environment, their their ecosystem, Karyn, pulls them right back to the vibrational level that’s safe and OK for everybody. How do you get that shift to where you’re sort of elevating the whole and keeping it there? It’s a difficult thing. It’s a fine art. I think about Kurt Lewin’s theory of change. These three stages where first you unfreeze, and then you do the change itself, and then you do the refreezing. And the real work isn’t in the change. That’s the easy part. The hard work is in how you unfreeze these old ways and old patterns. And then how do you refreeze people at this higher level of vibration, in this higher consciousness? I think what Magic on Purpose does works in those two difficult things. It’s in the unfreezing. And Dan, you talk about that wonderfully challenged the assumptions. What holds us in place and then the refreezing and chilling. Yeah, it’s OK to be out there in this different place and it actually can work. So I don’t know. Just a little commentary.

[00:35:43.960] – Karyn Zuidinga

That’s wonderful commentary, though, way to sum it up.

[00:35:47.120] – Andrew Bennett

It makes you think about this idea of Magic on Purpose. If you’re going through a process in an organization where something does need to be unfreezed, my goodness, Dan is a great person to bring in to kind of start… you know, if you’re having an event to kick off this change process, let’s bring in Dan Trommator, because he’s going to in a fun way, because Dan’s very fun and very funny, he’s going to open us up. Thinking about Magic on Purpose as a tool that you can use.

[00:36:26.670] – Dan Trommater

I think what you get at there, Andrew, is that we can help get the ball rolling. It’s not really our role to roll the ball down the hill. If there’s gonna be a change, if there’s gonna be an innovation, that’s a big process. And we’re there for an hour, even a full day. Come on. There’s limits to what we can do. We can do a lot, but that’s not really our role. Our role is to shake things up, get that ball rolling, and then try hopefully to empower people with some tools that will stick. They can use to roll that ball.

[00:36:57.060] – Karyn Zuidinga

Thank you both so very much.

[00:37:00.000] – Rob Brodnick

This was fun. 

[00:37:01.500] – Andrew Bennett

I knew it would be fun.

[00:37:02.960] – Dan Trommater

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

[00:37:06.010] – Andrew Bennett

I knew it would be fun because you guys are fun. 

[00:37:12.420] – Karyn Zuidinga

Before we thank our episode and contributing sponsors, I want to encourage you our lovely listeners to stay tuned for this episode’s positive turbulence moment coming up in about 10 seconds. First up, a big thank you to AMI, who have nurtured us in developing this podcast, is the source of so many of our guests, and of course, the founder, Stan Gryskiewicz, is also the author of the original book, and dare I say, The Houdini of Positive Turbulence.

[00:37:36.480] – Sponsor Message

One way to reconnect the emotional side of your innovation program is to speak to Fabienne Jacquette, founder of Innnoneve. She is vivacious, energetic, and will unleash your feminine skills to disrupt innovation. Find out more at innoveve.com. And thank you to Mack Avenue Music, our contributing sponsor for providing our podcast sound track, Late Night Sunrise. 

[00:37:57.000] – Karyn Zuidinga

And here’s our positive turbulence moment where Dan shows us a magic incantation that will surely put a smile on your face.

[00:38:03.930] – Dan Trommater

 
’T WAS brillig, and the slithy toves 
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; 
All mimsy were the borogoves, 
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Yeah?

[00:38:10.590] – Karyn Zuidinga

If you want to share a positive turbulence moment or otherwise, comment on what you’re hearing, please drop us a line at podcast@positiveturbulence.com  We welcome your thoughts. Be sure to tune in next episode when we’ll be talking to Darryl Condon, managing partner at HMCA  n Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada. We will learn how a small firm is having a mighty impact and changing conversations around city spaces, binners and decolonization. You can also head over to positiveturbulence.com to find out more about us, get a transcript of this episode, links to the good work that Magic on Purpose is doing, learn about our wonderful sponsors, positive turbulence, our guests, or check out our very cool and very diverse reading, watching and listening to list. Until next time, keep the turbulence positive!

Making big changes needs a significant shift in thinking. The bigger the difference desired, the more significant the change in thinking needed.

Andrew Bennett (Founder) and Dan Trommater, two magicians from Magic on Purpose, specialize in creating that shift. Magic on Purpose is a collective (an illusion?) of eight magicians who each use magic — not to entertain, although they are all highly entertaining — to enrich people’s lives in some way. 

We spoke with Andrew and Dan to find out more about how they help organizations, leaders, and innovators manage change. What we found was that by assisting people in seeing things differently, organize priorities in a new way, they can do profound work in a very entertaining way. 


Key Takeaways 

  1. Impossibility is an attitude. If you believe you can’t do it, the likelihood of success radically diminishes.
  2. Words have extraordinary power. How you speak to yourself, your team, your partner will change outcomes.
  3. Strategic planning can be enhanced if you take the time to consider what you need to make Appear, Disappear, and Restore. 
  4. Change happens for us all at three levels: the logical, the emotional, and the instinctual level. Yet, most leaders focus their entire attention on the logical level. Leading and managing change in this way does not support good outcomes for you, your team, or your projects.
  5. Creating a peer group like Magic on Purpose can help propel each member to more success.


On Shifting Perspectives

Dan, whose theme is empathy in the workplace, uses a simple “cut and restore” rope trick to help change thinking. The unique way he presents that trick is to have one member of the audience join him onstage. That person cannot see how Dan does the trick and, as dan put’s it, gets to experience wonder up close. The rest of the audience can see what Dan is doing; they are behind the curtain. In the debrief after the performance part of the show, Dan talks to the group about perspective. The question he asks is, what other ways is your perspective affecting your perception?

As adults, we don’t often get to experience wonder and awe. Magic opens that door by creating moments when what seems to be impossible is suddenly possible. 


On Parking the Ego

For Andrew and Dan and the rest of Magic on Purpose, a big part of what they are doing is creating positive turbulence, is being turbulators in different settings. For that to be successful, they are mindful of creating experiences to open thinking, bring fresh perspectives, and new ways of seeing things. They are both conscientious about holding that space and not getting into an ‘I’m the expert’ mindset. 


On Appear, Disappear and Restore

Andrew bases his work on three principles in magic: Appear, Disappear, and Restore. He works with organizations on a deep level to consider these three ideas. “Appear” is what the organization needs to start doing. He finds that it is often related to purpose or mission. “Disappear” is what the organization needs to stop doing. Disappear is often associated with negative thinking. “Restore” is what needs to be healed. Restore is often associated with relationships between departments.


On Emotional Health and Freezing and Unfreezing

One of the things that started Andrew down this path to good emotional health in organizations was his experience in the corporate world. After seeing the effect on morale, productivity, and innovation, in organizations with poor psychological health, he made it his mission to work to help organizations change that. 

The work that Magic on Purpose does is to help unfreeze old patterns and to find new ways to freeze new, healthy ones. 

Sponsors of this episode, THANK YOU!

Without our season, episode and segment sponsors, this podcast would not be possible. Many, many thanks to you all!