Blog with Paul Gertner

Using Magic in your Real Job

Yes!  You LOVE Magic…

But is Making the Decision to become a
Professional Magician the right choice for YOU?

Arthur Benjamin, Ph.D

We all know of magicians who have decided to turn professional that have become successful… some more than others.  But can you name some magicians who have become MORE successful by choosing NOT to turn professional.  Is it possible to use Magic in your Real Job to make you stand out in your chosen career?

I talk about this a lot in my lecture to young magicians so I’ll go first.  Three names I always talk about are Gene Anderson, Art Benjamin, and Tim Moore.

Gene Anderson was a Ph.D. Chemist for Dow Chemical, but he used his presentation skills within the company to become the go-to person for any public speaking situations that came up for the company.  He was a was in demand within the company not only because he was an excellent chemist but because he could entertain and speak to an audience… not a talent many of the other chemists had.  Gene used Magic to make himself unique within his industry, and was very, very successful.

Arthur Benjamin is a Ph.D. Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College.  I met him when he was just a high school student taking courses at CMU in Pittsburgh.  Art is an amazing entertainer, but he is also off the charts brilliant.  He is a mental calculating math wizard.  Now he has the best of both worlds, performing when he chooses, doing TED talks that have millions of views and teaching mathematics, which is first love.

Tim Moore is a dentist from Ohio.  Many years ago he and Lance Burton were working theme parks and Tim was trying to decide if he wanted to be a magician or a dentist.  Lance chose magic (Excellent choice for Lance) Tim chose becoming a dentist in Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics (Excellent Choice for Tim).  Tim went on to build one of the most successful Pediatric dental practices in the country which brands itself around his love of Magic, and how he creates a Magic Smile for the kids.  Doing magic tricks for the kids to calm them down before the dental work begins is pure brilliance!

Why is this important?

Because young magicians who LOVE magic need to understand that there are other ways besides becoming a professional magician to use your love of magic.

They need to take some time and explore those options, which just might give them the best of both worlds, a steady paycheck, benefits and a 401K plan as well as a performing outlet.

Personally I’m very happy that I chose to do magic professionally.  It’s worked out well for me.  But I often wonder what would have happened if all the people that saw me so obsessed with magic when I was 16 years old had commented on my fast hands had told me: “With hands like that you could be a magician or a brain surgeon.”  I wonder if I might have considered that other opportunity… because while being a professional magician is a lot of fun… being a world-class brain surgeon who is really good at sleight-of-hand magic would have been pretty cool too!

Can you name a magician who is more successful because they chose to NOT turn Pro and how they use Magic in their real job to make themselves unique?
That magician might even be YOU!  Love to hear from you.



Paul Gertner is nationally recognized speaker and corporate magician, whose honors include multiple Tonight Show appearances, performing at a presidential inauguration, and winning three international competitions. He can be hired as a trade show magician or keynote presenter. For more information, visit


Posted in Magicians Only on June 17, 2015 by Paul Gertner.

10 Responses to Using Magic in your Real Job

  1. Dr Harry Prayogo: June 18, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Dear Paul,
    Your inspiration is worked me ! I love magic since I was 12 and my Idol is John Calvert and Fred Kaps , because that time ,John Calvert performed in Jakarta Fair (exhibition/bazar) for one month and the last show televised.
    I live 500 Km from John’s performed,so as 13 years old boy I could not see his fantastic Show and very lucky I could see his TV Show and till now still remember his great showmanship.
    Also Fred Kaps was performed in 5 stars Hotel in Jakarta…and again I could not see his fantastic show….BUT…very lucky….I still alive till this You Tube Era…and I am very2 happy to see his show 40- YEARS ago.
    And magic is my hobby till now as Doctor own Clinical lab in my city (same city as when I was child)
    When I was medical student in Jakarta…….I met many foreign magicians and they teach their magic.
    And fantastic…after 40 years…I will meet my brother in magic from Turkey/Sabu in Septembar !
    Magic is very great art to make friendshjip…and last year my son…visited Turkey and stay with my brother in magic…like his son!
    And since my only child 5 years old…he already interested Magic…and now he learned magic in TOKYO with Mr Nagisa….and when he studied in USA he learn MAGIC from Dale Salwak /Chavez School of Magic.
    I also use magic profesionally when I was medical student and doctor….and very good tool to make NETWORK in Business.
    My son is Stem Cells Scientist…and I still insist him become GREAT MAGICIAN…because magic could make you become GREAT person (creative/discipline/communicative/friemdship /professional in details any work you have/always try to find answer/sytimatically thinking…all the criteria to become GREAT person) .
    I have dream also to send my son to all GREAT MAGICIANS to learn their art of magic and your NAME is one of my choice,hopefully you could teach him.

    I am not regret to spend all my money for magic…because art of magic could make a person become HUMAN/have humanity…and HAPPY life if you love magic…like me.I give name to my SON : Silvan…because I like Silvan’s show very much (see in video).Hopefully in future, Silvan/Real Silvan could teach him his magic.
    His name is: Silvan Prayogo. His web :
    Hofefully in future he could become one of great ,magician and offcourse automatoically become GREAT PERSON.
    THanks a lot Paul for your article…….make me review my 50 years life with art of magic.

    NB: promise me to become another great magic teacher for my son.

    Magically yours,

    Dr Harry Prayogo /Indonesia

  2. Paul Gertner: June 18, 2015 at 3:24 am

    Harry, I love to hear about Doctors who use magic… probably because I secretly wish I took that path… or at least tried to discover if I had the brains or ability to do it. Your post is lovely because it shows the Universal Nature of magic. It is and always will be a universal language. You can go anywhere and do a trick and the reaction is the same… astonishment. I am leaving soon for a two month performing tour of China and I’m looking forward to the reaction of the audience even though I don’t speak the language. I wish your on son great success. As a stem cell scientist he is seeing real magic everyday… I envy him. Hopefully we can meet some day. thanks for your very interesting letter. I think people will like to see it. Paul

  3. Michael Vile: June 18, 2015 at 2:50 am

    ive been many other careers…military- Infantry, Military police, i have used magic in the field. Primarily for purposes of hearts and minds i suppose…entertaining fellow soldiers, applying principals to real world mission, only one thing that stands out was a village that would throw rocks at our convoys every morning…as we passed..i performed some manipulation with 5.56 rounds, cigarettes, and ultimately made a rock vanish…Wild-land fire fighting, no principals were applied really was a lot of fun entertaining, eating fire using fuel for chainsaws. I decided I was a better magician than anything else really.

  4. Paul Gertner: June 18, 2015 at 3:15 am

    Michael, Manipulation with 5.56 rounds sounds like the beginning of a act. Very interesting. I can only imagine how a little magic to catch the hearts and minds… and the attention of those watching would really have value. I’ve always would have love to do those USO tours but I was never a stage type magician good and that was needed for those big groups. thanks for the post.

  5. Geoff Desi: June 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I remember you lecturing on this subject briefly when I saw you at Denny and Lee’s Magic Studio in Baltimore. I was intrigued because I would love to do magic full time but realistically I can’t leave a job that gives my family health and dental benefits for a chance at becoming a professional magician. It would be irresponsible of me. I’ve settled with the fact that I’m ok with doing magic locally and knowing that I won’t be the next Lance Burton headlining at a casino in Vegas. I’m a retail store manager that loves magic and tries to use it everyday in the work place. This boosts employee morale, employee productivity (“if you guys get your work done by 5 I will show you a new magic trick.”), increases the chance of customers coming back to buy so they can see “that magic guy”, turns an average work day into something exciting, plus it gives me the chance to work on my craft and play around with certain acts and I’m getting feedback from the people that will see my acts. Often when I practice I only have other magicians to critique my act which is good in perfecting my routine but once that routine is developed I stop showing other magicians (partly because I’ve had magicians steal my act). Doing magic at work gives me the layman’s point of view and whether or not I have a good act to show hundreds of people.
    Great article!
    -“that magic guy”

  6. Paul Gertner: June 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Geoff, Thanks for the great post. There are literally thousands of magicians in your exact situation and that was the reason for my initial post. If you can creatively use the magic in a business situation it can be very, very powerful. Of course the challenge is to find the right balance. Too much and your boss starts saying “Let’s put the tricks away, and focus on your job.” But used to grab the attention of a group or to reinforce a point or message, or used in a sales situation… most regular employees would kill to be able to have that skill in their back pocket and use it at the right moment. I have one friend that worked for Pitney Bowes and he created… because of his magic and presentation skills and very basic magic, a totally new position for himself as a trainer of postal regulations, but he make it fun with his magic as part of the program. Lot’s of opportunities by using it in this way. thanks for the post. Paul

  7. Dave Elliott: June 19, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    This was a great article. About 15 to 20 years ago I had to make a decision. To become a full time magician or stay in the Air Conditioning Industry as a mechanical engineer. I stayed in the Air Conditioning Industry and eventually got into sales….a 100% commission sales position. It was the best decision I made in regards to career. I use magic nearly every day with customers. On of my best customers told me I have to show him a magic trick every time I make a sales call. Magic does so much in this industry. It helps when I give a presentation to engineers. It helps break down barriers when making a sales call. I use magic to get past the “gate keeper” many times. There have been times that customers ask and pay for me to perform at their Christmas Party…and that means even more “face time” in front of a customer. When I first started in sales, my boss said that the “Office doesn’t buy anything and People want to buy from their friends. So go out and make some friends.” Magic helps you develop those relationships and sales is all about the relationship in our industry.

    When I was in my 20’s, I dreamed of being the next big magician…maybe my own TV special…or what about my own Vegas Show. Looking back….I am right where I need to be. I love what I do…No…I Really love what I do. I love Magic and I get to incorporate that into my day to day life. And at 45 years old, I have achieved both accolades in my magic (close up winner at TAOM 2003) and I have had some successes in my chosen career of Engineering Sales. I strive to be the best I can at both.

    Paul, I appreciate you writing this blog post. When I was younger I needed to hear this. By Providence, I went down the right road for me. But I believe many young magicians need to understand that magic has many different roads that offer success without being the next David Blaine.

  8. Paul Gertner: June 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Dave, Thanks so much for you post and comments on this Blog. When I asked the question about magicians who were successful because they decided not to turn pro, a lot of people named different celebrities… but your post was what I was hoping for. I think its important to point out that within the magic community there are many people who in a very low key way incorporate their love of magic into their life and career and reap the benefits. No, we don’t see you on the cover of MAGIC or Genii, and your name may not be known in the magic community as much as the full time performers but many like you have found a way to utilize magic (and the associated skills it teaches like speaking in front of a group) and it is making them unique within their own field. I realized this when I started to go to magic conventions and to my surprise as a teenage… most of the attendees had other jobs, and many of them were really good magicians, like Charlie Reynolds, Pete Biro, Bob Elliott, Bob Haines, Herb Zarrow, & Howie Schwartzman. All of them were able to have great careers and still hit the magic conventions and enjoy magic and performing… and do it on their own terms. There is a value in that. I love the story of how you remembered my trick Unshuffled on TV. Funny… Curt Miller just sent me a very similar story of how that trick caught his attention on TV and drew him back into performing as a magician many years ago too. I’d love to grab lunch sometime when I’m in your area. I hope to be doing some more lectures in the next few years so I’ll be sure to touch base when I’m in town. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with the people that read my Blog. Paul

  9. Eric P Meredith: March 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Another great post Paul. Thanks. Just a few quick points…

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve wondered about how my world might have been different had I stayed with magic as a full-time life; although I have been able to find great opportunities to use magic as a vehicle to communicate important messages.

    For instance (you’ll love this [he said hopefully]). I use a variation of Unshuffled to demonstrate how Enterprise IT Architecture reduces “Complexity” while creating order out of chaos.

    The list of examples could stretch for 30+ years as I never stopped ‘working out’ or playing with new ideas that can facilitate my role as a communicator.

    Thanks for adding some validation for a decades-old decision I occasionally re-ponder.

  10. Paul Gertner: March 10, 2017 at 3:07 am

    Eric, I remember when you were making that decision. Of course lots of things factor into it. I’ve always wondered if people said I had good hands could I have done something else with that skill. Not sure I would have had the brain power to be a surgeon but when I’m practicing some difficult sleight I wonder if I could be using the similar skill sets to be doing something more worthwhile like cutting a group of cancer cells etc. I love that you use Unshuffled in a Complexity demo. Great. We are enjoying Boston and the grandkids that are close by… still miss the Burg… but get back for the holidays. take care,Paul

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