I usually tend to read airplane magazines. You know, those free ones in the back seat pockets. I think it’s a mixture of the the sudoku, travel pictures and random articles that attract me to them. I read a quote in one of those magazines a couple of years ago that changed the way I view show business. It’s from illustrious magician and performer, Penn Jillette. His words struck me so strongly that I ripped the page out and keep it folded in my desk to reference from time to time:
“Don’t fall into the trap of making yourself the audience to your own life, getting consumed by creating an illusion of success. Instead be the magician who focuses on the nuts and bolts and does all the work to pull off the trick.“
I am human, and I sometimes get distracted with the glamour and excitement of the entrepreneur-entertainer lifestyle. I bought a PO Box when I moved to a new city, because I thought it was necessary for client mail. Waste of money. I paid to join magic and non-magic associations with which I do nothing. Wastes of money. And I convince myself on occasion that another useless product will help to improve my “brand.” Waste of money.
Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe that the business side of show business is extremely important. I know that a firm and present brand is also one of the many keys to success in this world. But Jillette’s words help guide me to not lose sight of the artistic side of my life. Because at the end of the day, I am a magician. No matter how slick my brand, website or marketing package, I’ll only ever be as good as my show. I want to be that magician Jillette talks about, in every sense of the word, focusing on the nuts and bolts of my trade to pull off one incredible show.
So Penn Jillette, if you ever read this post, thank you for publishing that short bit in a random airline magazine. I sure appreciate it.