He stole all their stuff — even Cindy Lou Who’s TREE!! Yet Christmas morning he bent an ear towards Whoville and what did the Grinch hear? THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS!!
So let’s not act like it’s possible for anyone to cancel the holidays.
The holidays are STILL on their way. The holidays are STILL going to happen. The Grinch, Shutdown, and Work From Home will NOT change that.
The question isn’t WILL the holidays happen — remember, they cannot be cancelled. The question is HOW they will happen.
For decades I’ve helped organizations big and small celebrate the holidays at banquets, parties, and cocktail mixers. I’ve made CFOs appears out of “thin air” in a Santa Claus suit and have helped financial service companies show their clients and prospects a fun evening of appreciation.
And in 2020 I am doing the same thing, but now I am helping groups celebrate the holiday through online Zoom shows and socially distanced holiday events.
Hundreds are gathering virtually, feeling the joy, amazement, hilarity of the show and most importantly, feeling the gratitude to their organization for hosting the event!!
If your group hasn’t made your plans for this holiday season, I understand that because while my calendar is filling up quickly I am STILL getting calls and emails from groups want to have a great, amazing, and fun time.
“While Covid-19 Donations Soar, Other Charities See a Big Hit to Funds”
“Canceled galas, auctions and fundraisers undermine giving; ‘we’re not in position to survive another couple of years of this,’ says the director of a nonprofit.”
The big hit to charities caused by the covid-19 lockdown cannot be denied. If you’re involved with a charity, the question is not IF you will be affected by it. The question is:
“With your former fundraising methods unavailable, how will you raise funds now?“
Willie Sutton was a famous bank robber in the first half of 20th century, stealing over two million dollars during his “career.” It’s said that a reporter once asked him, “Why do you rob banks?”
He replied, “That’s where the money is.”
Q: So where is the money for your worthwhile cause? A: Where the people are …where the focus is …where currently the only game in town is …online. I’m inviting you to join me and my audiences on Zoom and raise big & easy money in a Zoom Show Fundraiser show. It’s literally the easiest fundraiser you’ll ever do.
HOW EASY? THIS EASY: We pick a date. I set up EVERYTHING — the online box office for ticket sales and donations, and, of course, the online show itself You publicize the show through a few emails to your list and social media posts — about 30 minutes work. And you don’t spend one dime to do it. Night of the show: Everyone has a fantastic evening of amazement and laughs during the hour+ show, and you get great publicity and a big fat check.
Learn from Willie Sutton without having to spend decades in jail.
Contact me today to get more details about your Doc Dixon Zoom Fundraiser MagiComedy Show.
You’re walking down the street and you see a guy playing the shell game. (The three card monte would also work for this example, but the shell game is a personal favorite of mine.)
You think to yourself, “I see people winning. I’m smarter than them. I could win money, too.” And so you play. And you lose money.
Now here’s the secret of the game. Not the sleight of hand secret, but the real “how these street hustlers makes money” secret. The people that look like they are winning money in a street hustle are shills. They are part of the con job team. And how can you identify a team member? If they win money, they’re part of the team.
“But, but,” some ask, “don’t they let you win a small first bet to sucker the victim into betting big money?”
That’s a big no 99.9999% of the time. It’s probably a good guess that the “let you win the small bet” theory was circulated by hustlers to get victims to lose that small bet because small bets do add up.
If you try to bet on the right shell what happens? Your wager won’t be taken. You’ll be told your bet isn’t big enough and/or the hustler will take the fake bigger bet of a shill.
There’s a shell game going on in your head right now.
It’s not the shells or even the three card monte. It’s social media, particularly Facebook. And in the US we are neck deep in FPS – Facebook Political Season – so it’s only going to get worse.
If you don’t play, you can’t lose. If you play, you won’t win.
But you will lose time, emotional energy, possibly friends, and maybe even clients.
Yes, I know you have political opinions. Me, too. Do you honestly think Facebook arguments and insults are the best way, or even a good way, to express them? Do you think snark or battling snark is worthwhile? If so, then wrestle a pig and not get muddy.
Are there exceptions to this? Sure. But …if you’re living neck deep in heavy sturm und drang action because of social media …if you’re having long debates, then deleting when the ugly sets in …if you’re frequently writing posts about having to unfriend someone …if people are frequently writing posts about having to unfriend you …if you’re writing posts that are the length of War & Peace wannabes …if you’re arguing with people you wouldn’t know if you saw them in person six feet away …if you’re confusing Facebook activity with actual accomplishment …then maybe, just maybe, you should …
Like the shell game, the best bet is to stay out of the game.
Today I stopped by my local cigar shop, Southern Cigar in Newnan, GA and bought cigars, but left with much more.
The man behind the counter noticed my large Ford Transit van as it pulled in the lot and commented on it. I joked, “I have 6 sons and that’s the official vehicle of dads with a lot of kids.”
He asked how old they were and I replied, “Five to thirteen.” He said, “I have something for you,” and generously gifted me the six “smokes” you see below. (The deck of cards is there because, well, I always have them nearby. I’m a magician, for Pete’s sake.)
I thanked him profusely for the thoughtful gesture.
So here’s my question for you:
What cigars are you giving away in your business?
Now, just to be clear. I’m not talking about literal cigars, though that’s not a bad idea. I’m talking about gifting the customer. What are your gifts?
I know what mine are. These are ways I add value and express consideration in my work. They are always at the ready. They vary from client to client. Often they improvised for a situation for a specific client, but they are always there. Never paid for. Usually unexpected. Always appreciated.
I can’t tell you some universal action — universal cigar, to continue the metaphor — to give in your business, as every business is different, but I can tell you these actions all spring from … attention to the customer, an attitude of service, and the encouragement of everyone in an organization to serve.
Well, I’m going to smoke one of those wonderful sticks from Southern Cigar now. If you’re ever near Newnan and looking for a good smoke, stop by the place.
Your charity is hosting an online fundraiser show on Zoom. You are bringing in a speaker/entertainer for your Zoom meeting. You are adding entertainment for a family event or private group event on Zoom.
Your entertainer/speaker could be great …fantastic …the bees knees …and the cat’s meow. BUT …if he or she doesn’t know their way around the Zoom universe, your event is potentially DOOMED, not Zoomed.
I’m here to help.
Since mid-March I’ve performed in hundreds of online Zoom events. For the first handful — all events I did for friends and family — were done so I could experience and better understand the tech side of Zoom. Once those few, but important, early shows were done, I went on to share my shows with clients across the nation. I learned a lot from those first shows. Let me speed up your learning curve for your events by sharing those 101 lessons.
Points to keep in mind when:
★ You’re hosting and leading a Zoom meeting or ★ When you have invited an entertainer/speaker to present for your group. These points will help you speak the same tech language as the person you’re engaging.
As already mentioned, these are “101” points. If you’re a Zoom veteran at this point, you know these, but you’ll also know they are critical.
#1 If your guest entertainer/speaker doesn’t already have it, give them host power.
Hosting power is just a way another way to allow the performer to run the tech aspect of his performance. In live in-person theater shows, the audience doesn’t control the spotlight or microphones. The performers do and should. Same thing in Zoom.
Let the performer control the tech by being a Zoom host for the show or his portion of the meeting.
#2 The host should embrace the power of the mute and “mute all.”
When you’re new to Zoom it can feel weird to mute people because it feels like you’re telling them to shut up. In Zoom you’re doing them a favor. In Zoom, the main camera/screen will frequently go to the person making noise if they’re not muted, a.k.a., “speaker view.” Ugh.
Imagine this: you’ve hired David Copperfield to vanish an elephant for your Zoom meeting. (Or you’ve hired me to vanish something slightly smaller. Probably better, because I’m closer to your budget.) At the exact moment Copperfield makes the elephant vanish, the dog of Marge in accounting starts barking. Suddenly, everyone view shifts away from the magic to Marge saying, “Shhhhh. Shhhh. Who’s a good puppy? Who’s a good puppy??” Not exactly ideal.
#3 Pin is good. Spotlight is usually better.
Remember this lovable couple from 2011? It might be one of the sweetest things you’ll ever see. It’s a senior citizen married couple trying to figure out a webcam. They’re delightful.
As charming as they are, imagine an entire audience of people with similar tech knowledge. That would be rough.
In a small gathering of zoom savvy people I might ask participants to pinmy screen. Pin is what a participant does to disable the active speaker view and view one screen. It’s a simple matter .
In spotlight the host effectively pins primary active speaker for all participants in the meeting and cloud recordings.
Participants pin. A host spotlights. When performing for groups of more than a handful I usually spotlight myself. This prevents any less Zoom savvy participants from missing parts of the show.
Zoom strongly recommends using a password or waiting room for security reasons. I agree, but which one?
For larger groups, unless you have a committed host to allow people into the room, I strongly recommend password over waiting room. Why? When I’m entertaining an audience, I focus on the audience, on performing, on giving everyone a great time. I do not want to interrupt the show repeatedly to allow people in the room. Using a password furnishes security without distraction.
Are there more things that can go wrong in the Zoom universe? Sure, but these will steps will solve 99% of Zoom snafus. Bonus point coming up …
#5 Let’s talk!
Entertainment, at its very basic level, is the art of transferring the performer’s excitement and fun into the audience. The challenge with Zoom is that not all entertainment styles transfer the same. Magic, particularly close-up sleight of hand, is a tailor-made fit for the intimacy of Zoom. Mentalism, a.k.a. “theatrical mindreading” works so well because audience members thoughts are read even though physically the performer may be a thousand miles away. It’s amazing! And comedy? Good comedy always works.
Here’s anevent profile of a Zoom show fundraiser I performed Sunday night, June 28, 2020.
While this event profile will be detailed, it might not seem that way. WHY?
Because hosting my Zoom fundraiser show is simple. I mean suuuuuper simple. Super simple equals fewer details to manage. In fact, if you’re trying to raise funds for a worthwhile cause, partnering with me might be the easiest, most efficient fundraiser you ever do.
And remember: many charitable organization are currently experiencing workforce declines. Simply put, this means fewer employees with fewer hours are present to run events. That’s another reason my Zoom Show Fundraiser is so great — it literally takes less than 30 minutes on the part of the sponsor — a few social media posts — a few emails — DONE!
A few details that are NOT in my Zoom Show Fundraiser: 1. No venue rental 2. No catering 3. No limitations on how far people travel to be a part of the event, giving the sponsor a far greater pool of potential donors. 4. And NO expenses for 1, 2, and 3 The shift to a virtual online Zoom show makes the event process leaner and cleaner. Like I said, it “might be the easiest, most efficient fundraiser you ever do.”
The June 28th Event Profile
2018: A wonderful family see me perform at Kennywood Park, America’s Finest Traditional Amusement Park, near Pittsburgh. I later would find out they’d come to see my show over FORTY times. Wow!
2019: One day after a show at the Kennywood Park, the mom, Jamee, asks me to perform for a fundraiser to raise money for research for Angelman’s Syndrome and FAST (Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics). We work out the details and the live, in-person performance (like nearly all shows were back then) is scheduled for late August 2020.
March 2020: Covid-19 changes the world, including the way I perform shows.
May 16, 2020: We shift the show from a live in-person show in August and schedule it on Zoom for June 28.
Jamee shares the link for the event on social media. Ticket purchases and donations immediately and steadily start coming in.
June 28, 2020: Show time! I spends a fun evening laughing and sharing amazement with a couple hundred wonderful people online, raising awareness & thousands of dollars for a worthwhile cause.
Post show email from the event sponsor: Thank you so much!! I have heard from so many people already who messaged me after to say how much fun their family had! Thank you for being so easy to work with. I know you said my son has seen over a dozen shows. Let the record show he has seen you perform in person at Kennywood at least 40 times over the past 2 years and he laughs hysterically EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 😂😂😂
There is a very promising clinical trial that is taking enrollment soon and my son is eligible. So, thank you again for your help in raising this money and awareness. Literally, every dollar counts at this point.
Hope to see u in person soon! Jamee
A great cause. A great way to fund it. A great group of giving people.
If you’d like help with YOUR cause, connect with me here.
How do you deal with nearly all meetings now being Zoom meetings in your business? How do you deal with social distancing in your business? How do you deal with the equivalent in your business of “Wait. No one told me there’d be 30 barking dachshunds here?”
Social distancing & Zoom meetings are the new wiener dogs.
I can only hope I don’t die of a heart attack at my keyboard right now, leaving my loved ones to not only grieve, but to forever wonder what that last sentence means.
Not all shows are the same. Nope. Nope. Nope. A few years ago I’m performing close-up magic at a big outdoor event. I’m the only magician, but not the only entertainment. There are jugglers. There are acrobats. And at noon on that day for about 20 minutes, there was a wiener dog race.
The wiener dog race took place less than 40 feet from me. Now I was fine with this because I have a soft spot in my heart for the kitschy Americana (Germanica?) that is the wiener dog race. During the race I paused my performing because, one, it was an all day booking and a small part of my time there, two, I knew the longtime client would want me to pause, and, three, in the rock/paper/scissors world of performing, nothing short of Santa on a flaming chariot trumps a wiener dog race. Nuthin’.
The wiener dog races conclude. The bettors pay up. (I didn’t actually see any gambling, but it’s a shame to waste a perfectly good wiener dog race wagering opportunity.) I turn on my microphone and immediately gather a large audience, because there was a large audience at the race and that event just ended. I know opportunity when I see it. My audience included one of the wiener dogs and her owner. I perform a 20 minute set, concluding with the wiener dog herself doing a card trick. It was a fun time.
During all of this I look over at one of the other entertainers. He’s ticked off. I later confirmed in a post show discussion he’s ticked he had to stop doing his act because of the wiener dogs.
Rather than discuss the folly of his anger, I want to focus on how the event turned out well for me, not to brag (I do card tricks, not brain surgery), but to illustrate important principles.
And yes, I know that using a wiener dog race as a metaphor for how to deal with change is odd, but if instead of “wiener dog” this post had the phrase “studies show” or “research proves,” you would not have read past the headline. Moving on.
Step one: I realized the reality what I was up against and no amount of denial or fighting would change that reality.
That day it was the dog race. Currently it’s the fact people are not gathering in person to become audiences.
Step two: I started thinking about how I can work around the current reality to still serve my customers. Remember when you read I had the wiener dog do a card trick? If you’re wondering how I was able to create a wiener dog trick on the fly, I didn’t. The moment I saw the race I realized such an opportunity might come up and I mentally prepared.
That day it was a card trick. Currently it’s the virtual shows I’m doing online, usually on Zoom. The process was fast and immediately starting putting me in front of audiences all over the country. Read about it in a previous blog post, It’s Time To Buy Brains.
Step Three: I realized there was big opportunity after the race finished: a few hundred people, packed together a few feet from me, that I could pitch to come to my show.
I’m sitting in my office this morning, preparing for upcoming shows on Zoom. After I bring my wife her coffee in bed (#happywifehappylife) I take my cup to my home office. The coffee helps my brain prepare for the next two online shows — one a fundraiser, the other helping a company host an enjoyable virtual happy hour. As I do this I find myself feeling thankful for my family, my clients …and coffee.
Tens of thousands of years ago a guy was walking around his home and saw a goat off in the distance. The goat was frenetic, bouncing around and acting like no one had ever seen a goat act before. It was making the other goats in his herd nervous and was a big pain.
Did that guy just look at the goat, just shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh well?”
Yes. Yes, he did. Then he went back to grumbling about whatever people grumbled about thousands of years ago …my dang hut roofer did a lousy job, wish my brother-in-law Larry would get a job, so tired of reading about the tribal chiefs on the cave wall …
But the Next Guy didn’t say “Oh well.” The Next Guy investigated the situation and saw the goat had been eating coffee berries and this incident gave birth to the sweet societal addiction called java, cup o’ joe, NZT-48, wakey juice …COFFEE!
Thank YOU, Next Guy.
I want to be my own Next Guy as there are still jumpy goats out there.
Business people are facing more challenges today than I can ever remember in my 30+ years in business. These challenges are a lot more than a jumpy goat in the herd. Yet I’m convinced curiositycan help us through this.
Step One: Quit grumbling.
Really. Don’t be that first guy. There’s not much more to say than “Stop it.”
Step Two: Give into curiosity
Six months ago I didn’t think I’d be performing shows in Zoom meetings doing things like … …raising thousands dollars in one night for charities …adding excitement and energy to meetings for attendees thousands of miles apart …helping clients bring laughs and amazement to client appreciation events
But here I am. Doing those things on a regular basis. And all of them began with a cessation of grumbling and thinking, “Hmmm. Wonder if that would work?” And, yes, YES, it has worked.
Where are the jumpy goats in your business? Get curious about them.
As I transformed my business over the past few months from a magician and speaker that mostly performs at live events to a magician and speaker that mostly performs at virtual events and Zoom meetings, I couldn’t help but think of how my late father, Oscar, dealt with challenging times when he much younger than me.
My late father quit high school after the ninth grade when he was fourteen years old. It was in the heart of the Great Depression. He had parents and siblings that needed to eat, so in keeping with the theme of this post, to him the decision was a …no-brainer. At first he worked in the coal mines for a couple of years (it was a different time) and then he built a successful trucking business in southwestern Pennsylvania.
When he was in his early twenties he was socializing with some friends in a tavern — OK — He drinking in a bar with friends. Dad would have busted my chops bad on that the earlier pretentious wording — and met one of his former high school teachers. The teacher said to him, “Oscar, I was so sad when you quit school. You had brains. You were a smart kid.”
My dad, then bringing home more money than the man who was talking to him said, “I can always buy brains.”
My dad loved telling that story.
Now, so you won’t misunderstand, let me emphasize my father wasn’t putting down the need for education. A self-guided education was a big part of what made his business a success and in the context of the story, he was referring to the knowledge he needed to run a successful business. Dad was a lifelong learner and reader. He valued education, both in himself and those he employed.
He was simply telling the man there was more than one way to get knowledge, and that is particularly true during challenging times.
So let me break down what Dad did: He recognized the reality of his situation — a brutal economic time and a family that needed him. He “bought brains”, meaning he got his smarts outside ordinary channels or hired those who already have them, and was willing to do so again if the the need came up. He acted quickly.
Great Depression, meet the Rona.
The specific challenges differ, but nearly all businesses are being hit hard today in one way or another. Rather than give specific advice on what you should do, let me tell you what I did and I hope it serves to inspire and motivate.
Acknowledge reality. Buy brains. Take action.
For thirty years my business has put me in front of groups of people, bringing amazement, hilarity, motivation, and inspiration. But now the phenomena called “groups of people” is on hold for a while. Will it come back? Of course. But for right now and the near future it doesn’t exist. So what were my options? 1) Stress out Or … 2) Educate myself in video streaming production. 3) Buy brains, meaning spend money to buy the expertise of others to super quickly learn what I need to learn …to in effect spoon feed myself the smartness of the best people in streaming video. 4) Take action.
I opted to combine 2, 3 and 4. I did 2 very, very quickly (less than two weeks) by turbo charging it with 3. My default option to not to spend money foolishly is even stronger because I’m the son of a parents who lived through the Great Depression and a father of seven. In my current situation, foolishness would be to hold on to that money. So I slammed a fat wad of cash on the Zoom meeting and streaming video education bar and said, “Leave the bottle.”
This knowledge lead to 4, part of was buying the best equipment for the task (saving me a ton of money because I didn’t buy the wrong equipment).
And now I’m able to bring amazement, hilarity, motivation, and inspiration from my home video studio to Zoom events like: ♣︎Meetings ♥︎Client Appreciation Events ♠︎Virtual Happy Hours and Private Parties ♦︎Online Charity Fundraisers
What’s YOUR reality? What brains should YOU buy? What actions can YOU take?
And while we’re talking, how can I help you bring amazement, hilarity, motivation, and inspiration to your next online event? Just this past week I’ve helped organizations make there meetings exciting and team-building, and helped charities raise thousands in a single show. What can I do for you?