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Creative Coach
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Of late there seems to be a lot of "Systems" on the market for children's performers. A lot of my consulting clients have bought several of these "Systems" only to be sadly disappointed. Sometimes the people creating these programs are marginal performers themselves. They prey on magicians looking for the "quick buck". Sadly several entertainers don't even take the time to change the show title, so it at least appears different from the other 40 entertainers in their area using it.

Look at who's selling the product. How long have they been in business? How much "business" do they really do? In the magic "systems" business the adage "those that can't do, teach!" is really true. I recently ran into a person selling a "Get rich in daycare market system". On further investigation I found he'd only been a marginal entertainer for three months in his area.

I performed in the daycare arena for over a decade and made six figures in it. Would I sell a "System"? NO WAY! First success depends on YOU. You have unique skills that are you. Your success in the entertainment business depends on your talents, sales skills and business skills. There is no magic wand, pill, or secret course.

The only course I've ever read that I recommend to consulting clients is Jim Snack's. It is not a show-in-a-box. It is a course on how to work many markets. It talks about what "skill sets" certain markets take. It is one very successful performer's take on certain markets. It isn't a "show-in-a-box" or "Buy-the-performing-rights-for-your-area-now!" type program. (And no, I'm not an affiliate of Jim's. I just respect his ideas as a fellow full-timer.)

How do you find out if the person is worth buying info off of? CHECK THEM OUT!

Have they written any articles in national publications: Linking Ring, Funny Paper, (The Former) Laughmakers, MUM, Magic Magazine?

Have they lectured at any "real" conventions?

Have you checked them out with the locals? (Wish someone had asked me about a certain magician, I could have saved them a bundle!)

Are their posts on the various bulletin boards insightful or a pitch? (For XXX dollars I'll let you see behind the secret veil...)

Look for reviews of their products on both bulletin boards and respected trade publications.

Beware of affiliate endorsements! They're getting a cut to lead the lambs to slaughter!

I hope this helps!
dearwiseone
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Portland, OR
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Creative Coach,

Thanks for the reminder! Just like any market in the world, there is some valuable information out there, but there are also scams and wastes of money. There are some systems that really will share with you techniques and ideas for making money, but like you say, there are others who don't know what their talking about, and are doing it anyway.

Thanks.
rossmacrae
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Arlington, Virginia
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WARNING: CRANKY POST - THE OP DOESN'T DESERVE MY ATTITUDE BUT...

>How do you find out if the person is worth buying info off of? CHECK THEM OUT!

Yes, indeed, those are all excellent telltales, hard to argue with, especially at the price of some of these "systems" ... "caveat emptor" at all times (gotta watch your own interest, beause nobody else is going to watch it for you) ... BUT there are exceptions.

(Yes, this is self-serving I admit.)

I have had excellent feedback from the "BIRTHDAY PARTY BUSINESS" DVD I have already published (two more titles in the works), and I fall way short of a number of your criteria:

>Have they written any articles in national publications: Linking Ring, Funny Paper, (The Former) Laughmakers, MUM, Magic Magazine?

No, but I have to focus on the work that pays, and writing for the mags is work that (a) doesn't pay, and (b) gives away too much valuable material. I've developed my lessons from 25+ years experience, and their best advertisement is a little "sample" people can judge from, but give away too many samples and you have little left to sell.

>Have they lectured at any "real" conventions?

Not that I've been asked, but I hate being away from home and the idea of spending a weekend learning three new ways to pull a card out of my nose doesn't excite me. I'd rather be performing. I've got a pretty stable act that doesn't need new material, and I'm not interested in socializing when I could be either (a) with my family or (b) working a party.

>Have you checked them out with the locals?

I have no idea what the locals think of me. I spent a year as president of the local Ring (don't ask, it was before I adopted this stage name) and ran screaming. Never went back. Came away with a nice plaque, a real respect for the top-notch pros who would visit maybe once a year just to be polite, and a lot less respect for the "been-there-since-the-Punic-Wars" clique who defied every effort to make the club anything more than a free magic show with a convenient bar.

>Are their posts on the various bulletin boards insightful or a pitch?

I hope you find them valuable - you're the judge.

>Look for reviews of their products on both bulletin boards and respected trade publications.

Working' on it.

>Beware of affiliate endorsements!

AMEN!

--------------------

Perhaps I'd market a little harder if I had more than just one product right now. I've already given up trying to sell my DVDs through other dealers. I think I'll do a "not available in stores" thing instead, and let my brand be its own best recommendation. (It worked for the late Brian Flora - shame his line is not being promoted much now. It's a wealth of valuable info.)

Anyway, your criteria are all very wise, but I felt I ought to point out that there are justified exceptions.
kenscott
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Yes, indeed, Cranky. Can you do my party! LOL
Creative Coach
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I stand by what I posted. I'm trying to say if you spent more time being the best performer YOU could be and spent less time trying to shortcut the learning process by purchasing a poor show-in-a-box, you might become what you want to become... a great performer!

Yes, you can learn from "others" but make sure the "others" are worth listening to! It seems to be the in thing to sell "Systems" to the masses who are looking for an easy solution. Most I've seen aren't worth investing in.

Maybe there are exceptions to the criteria but they are few and FAR between!
__________________________________

After checking out Rossmacrae's website he may just be the exception to the rule!

His DVD looked interesting! I don't do children's parties any more, but I'd buy it if I did!

Good Luck, Ross!
PROFED
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I purchased Ross Macrae's DVD and have spoken to him on the phone. At the time, I had years of performing experience with children. I found Ross and his material helpful.
NJJ
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I never buy systems or shows in boxes, because I believe in being a unique and individual performer.

As you said, it is important to learn from others, but part of education is making mistakes, putting ideas together for yourself and knowing what is relevant to you and what is irrelevant.

For me, the classic example is Barry Mitchell. Barry has a ton of GREAT ideas that I have taken, run with and made my own. But I don't want to be the 1000000th guy do Inspector Iwannano, because you never LEARN anything about putting your OWN shows together.
chichi711
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This is going to sound weird, but where do you find these kits? I don't want to purchase one, but I have never seen one either. I am just curious to see what they put in them, etc., etc.
TomBoleware
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I agree. Before spending Big Bucks you should check it out. Not only the unknowns but the well-known also.

With books, videos, etc., when you add up the numbers, there might be more people being suckered by the Big Names than the unknowns. The unknown sells to a very few. With the big name, quite often we think, "Oh, I’ve heard of him, it must be good." That’s not always the case, and then we write it off as being a dud for him, hoping the next one will be better.

Lots of good stuff out there by the unknowns. Never underestimate the little guy.

Bottom line, you don’t always know until you’ve tried it.

(And then it’s only your opinion, so get a second opinion.) Smile

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

www.tomboleware.com
Starrpower
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Where can you find them? The "trendy" ones are in every magic magagazine. The time-tested standard ones are usually well-known, and sell at lectures, magic shops, and the authors' websites.

Here's one ("Money In Your Pocket")that was endorsed by Jay Marshall, David Ginn, and Sammy Smith. It received great reviews in MUM and Linking Ring (it was totally ignored by MAGIC.)The authors are well-known and contribute to publications as outlined in the original post:

http://www.markstarr.com/magicians/products.htm#1
rossmacrae
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CHICHI711 - "Where do you find these kits?"

Pal, THEY find YOU - you can't spend an evening surfing the web (with magic in your mind) without tripping over four or five.

And opinions on each of them vary from "absolute sh**" to "I learned something" to "I followed the directions, now where's all that money?"

I got an interesting email a few days ago from a buyer. He and I discussed a number of issues (regarding my advice) with which he disagreed, and in all honesty, he had some points regarding my "absolutes" which (we finally settled) should have been "most of the times" (when we started the discussion he was at "never"). About other things, we will just have to agree to disagree. But what intrigued me most was that this guy was SO DEEPLY into getting sales advice. He named several of the sellers of "magic career success packages" PLUS an array of the Big Name general motivational speakers - apparently he gets a lot of adrenaline out of a nonstop stream of motivational thoughts ... AND FOR HIM, AND HIS NEEDS, WHO'S TO SAY HE'S WRONG?

I bought a lot of this stuff in my early days - NOT, as you say, "show-in-a-box" but some highly touted marketing advice.

Some of it helped me a lot with what I was doing.

Some (much) of it showed me how to define and improve what I was doing just by understanding what parts of the field I'm NOT in (no more "how to get a job on a cruise ship," no more "how to make big bucks doing trade shows", thank you).

And some of it showed me some things I COULD do (daycares, classes, co-op fundraisers) and tried and found not to my liking but at least I found out I could implement those ideas if I want to.

I got seriously sidetracked by some of it (a lot of fascinating Flora stuff on marketing the psychic angle and weird magic - I tried for the longest time and it's just "not me").

Now I'm selling it all, bit by bit, on eBay, trying to remember where I ever got all that money ... (oh, yeah, I forgot ... I have kids now, THAT'S where it went.)

Update:

Found an answer to the "where are all these kits" question.

Go a few spaces down to the TRICKY BUSINESS forum and look at the original message in the topic "Trends."
Joseph_Then
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Quote:
On 2005-01-17 15:08, rossmacrae wrote:
WARNING: CRANKY POST - THE OP DOESN'T DESERVE MY ATTITUDE BUT...
........
Anyway, your criteria are all very wise, but I felt I ought to point out that there are justified exceptions.


Ross, I think John is giving his guideline rather than the absolute point. I think it is a very good guideline given and I do agree that there are exceptions.

We come from various performing culture and background, and some posts do get arguments but I think if we see it as a guideline, it will help all of us.
-----



Joseph Then

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Creative Coach
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Thanks, Joseph.

This guideline was not an absolute. It was just a guide. There is a LOT of advice floating around in the magic world. A LOT is aimed at the guy who works a 9-5 job and hates it and dreams of becoming a full-time magician.

DON'T buy a kit or "System" and quit your day job! The world of full-time entertainer IS NOT an easy job. A lot of "Systems" tell you it is or play the glamor up. A lot don't tell you it's work, salesmanship, guts, determination, risk and sometimes uncertainty.

Is it worth it? To me it is. I've been full-time for over 20+ yrs. My wife is my business partner. We've managed to make a nice living in show business. Has it been tough at times? You bet! Would I quit? NO!

I'm simply saying buyer beware and BE YOURSELF (not a MINI ME). Find what works for YOU! Become the best YOU, YOU can be!
Donald Dunphy
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Quote:
On 2005-01-17 20:14, Starrpower wrote:
Where can you find them? The "trendy" ones are in every magic mag. The time-tested standard ones are usually well-known, and sell at lectures, magic shops, and the authors' websites.

Here's one ("Money In Your Pocket")that was endorsed by Jay Marshall, David Ginn, and Sammy Smith. It received great reviews in MUM and Linking Ring (it was totally ignored by MAGIC.)The authors are well-known and contribute to publications as outlined in the original post:

http://www.markstarr.com/magicians/products.htm#1


By the way, I think it would be fair to mention that Starrpower is promoting his own product here (he is one of the authors). You might not be clear on that from his post, although he talked earlier in the post about the author's websites. Some people may have put 2 and 2 together, that Starrpower and MarkStarr might be the same person. Some might have not put it together. It might come across as a little underhanded and sneaky, and I don't want Mark to appear that way (one of the traits of a good, ethical marketer is that they aren't underhanded... sneaky is OK at times, depending upon your definition. John will verify that. Smile Hehehe!).

Mark doesn't share that link very often, but if he didn't post the link, I would have.

Mark Nilsen's thinking is excellent, although I don't own any of his products yet. He has written articles for M-U-M, he knows his business stuff, and he even has some free articles online at his site. I am a huge fan of his articles! I endorsed his website to others on the Dean's List, before Mark became involved here, before I ever interacted with him.

Another performer who writes a column (in the Linking Ring) and has contributed valuable posts on the KidAbra forum, is Julian Franklin. He also has some free resources available online, as well as sells products.

Further, look at John Cooper (Creative Coach). Lots of good material contributed to the KidAbra forum. So he gives away a great amount of help for free, and also offers professional services as a creative, business coach.

Dean Hankey has contributed lots of worthy, insightful, helpful material on the Dean's List, and on other forums. And Dean has offered me lots of personal advice for free, that put money in my pocket, once I developed a relationship with him.

And same for Jim Snack. I don't recall seeing anything in magic magazines by him. But he does contribute some very valuable things to the Café, and has free samples online at his site. Like Jim says, read enough of his posts, and you'll get most of his book's content.

So, look for free materials around by those people (they are the winners of "who you should trust", from my personal perspective), then decide if you like their advice and writing styles before investing in their products.

- Donald

P.S. Question for Creative Coach (John). Do you think that your coaching students, who got advice from you to help their careers not too many years ago, have the right to go on and coach others? I know of some that do. Just wondering your take on that idea.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Creative Coach
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Donald, I have shared ideas with many over my career as a performer and had lots of my ideas and thoughts stolen and marketed. I have two performers (one of which has passed away) that reformatted my ideas and thoughts and made LOTS of money on them. It happens. I've only had to threaten a lawsuit once. But remember no one is ever as good as the original. Lots of people copy. Being a copy is being cheap. Just like "systems" you have to know "gurus/coaches/consultants".

Questions when looking for a Guru/Coach/Consultant:
Is this person making more money than me?
Do they have a lifestyle I'm looking for?
Have they walked the same path I'm walking?
Are they well read?
Are they producing (or have they produced) the results I'd like to produce?

What makes me unique? I have yrs of entertaining as well as consulting/coaching experience. I read at least 4-6 books a month on business and life. Is the person you're working with producing results? Have you really given their suggestions a try? A great coach/consultant is only as good as the student they coach. No Try, No Results! See I look at things differently. I look at where you're at and then I see where YOU want to go. Each client is different. It's not one-size-fits-all!

People ask: Why do you charge for your services? Well, why do you charge for a party? You could do it for free but you couldn't feed your family. You'd spend time but you'd make no money. If I can create several thousands of dollars extra income for YOU why shouldn't I get some reward for my effort.

Donald I hope this answered your question....

What gives me the right to coach:
Show Director Kingdoms Three Amusement Park
Producing Clown International All Star Circus
Successful Variety Artist for 30+ yrs, 20+ full-time
Columnist for Laughmakers,
Articles in Linking Ring & Funny Paper
Featured in INC Magazines book 301 Marketing Ideas
Multiple presenter at the KidAbra Conference
Educational PEG Chairperson For The National Speakers Association (2 Yrs)

Now I keep a very full calendar speaking & presenting in the Education & Corporate Arena as well as coach/consult people from a variety of professions.
p.b.jones
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Questions when looking for a Guru/Coach/Consultant:
Is this person making more money than me?
Do they have a lifestyle I'm looking for?
Have they walked the same path I'm walking?
Are they well read?
Are they producing (or have they produced) the results I'd like to produce?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

What gives me the right to coach:
Show Director Kingdoms Three Amusement Park
Producing Clown International All Star Circus
Successful Variety Artist for 30+ yrs, 20+ full-time
Columnist for Laughmakers,
Articles in Linking Ring & Funny Paper
Featured in INC Magazines book 301 Marketing Ideas
Multiple presenter at the KidAbra Conference
Educational PEG Chairperson For The National Speakers Association (2 Yrs)

Now I keep a very full calendar speaking & presenting in the Education & Corporate Arena as well as coach/consult people from a variety of professions.

HI,

Personally I think the criteria you put forward are not bad in picking a coach. However for me you do not meet what I require from your criteria. It seems that you are now in the business of educating rather than in the business of performing (nothing wrong with that). Personally I would prefer to learn from a children's performer who was making more money than me, has a lifestyle I'm looking for (and that's not someone doing 50 shows a month or doing x nights a week in restaurants).

I care little if they walked the same path as me as long as they have a path I can follow. I care little if they are well-read. I want them to have produced consistently and still be producing the results I am looking for.

Just my opinion.

Phillip
Donald Dunphy
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Quote:
On 2005-01-18 13:14, Creative Coach wrote:
Now I keep a very full calendar speaking & presenting in the Education & Corporate Arena as well as coach/consult people from a variety of professions.


Actually, Phillip, I think you misunderstood him.

John said in this statement that he does "speak and present in the Education and Corporate Arena." He actually is a performer, but has created an approach that is much more than that, and is worth more to his customers. He makes more money with less shows. He does a school show of sorts (and other things), but gets a lot more, because of his positioning and unique offerings.

So, he is still active performing and offering things his customers WANT, he has just taken it up a notch.

Take a look at some of his other posts here and on the KidAbra forum and you'll discover this for yourself. This information on his profile is available with a little bit of research.

- Donald

P.S. I know I didn't have to defend John, but I chose to. He can do that pretty well himself!
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Creative Coach
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Donald,
Thanks for coming to my defense. But you know me.... I can defend myself too!

Performer? I was the king of the party market in Atlanta, GA for over a decade before I wrote 2 books on the business and went on to bigger things. I'm the originator of the Birthday Fan Club concept (Many copiers of the idea)

Next I was a daycare presenter with 13 different educational magic shows for preschoolers. In one yr 685 programs! Originator of "Teeth Are Neat!" as well as "Happy Birthday Frosty" (again copied and sold by others without permission, but who cares, the copiers know the truth!)

I have evolved into a very busy performer who does a school show in excess of $1000+ a day! (and not a multiple locations!) Yes, I do magic, juggling, puppetry, storytelling...etc. But I've developed a different angle on entertaining.

Yes, today I coach a lot of birthday performers, daycare performers, and school performers. Just because I no longer work in a market doesn't mean I don't know the markets.

Over the yrs I HAVE produced consistantly a VERY nice income. I don't have a wife with an executive job and benefits like a lot of "so-called" fulltime pros do. My wife is my business partner.

The entertainment business is a growth process. Hopefully you grow and evolve. I like to earn consistantly more income yr after yr with less work. I beleive in "Work Less, Make More!" Just because I can make $15,000 a month doesn't mean I have to. Today I'm comfortable working 8-10 days a month. I work typically a Mon.-Thurs. week. But I spent 20 yrs getting here!

I hope you'd want a coach that was well read as this expands new ideas and creativity. And as anyone who's coached with me can attest, I'm very creative and they've actually grown their business!
chichi711
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75 bucks for that money making set huh. Depending on the material that is covered it could be worth it to somebody breaking into magic. Hopefully it would tell said person to practice practice practice. And that they should at least add their own character and style.
Creative Coach
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And yes Hockley....I'm a straight shooter!
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