How to not get a girlfriend – lessons learned as a magician | Benjamin Viethen | TEDxKielUniversity

Kissing

Translator: Anqi Deng Everything starts with this here, right? So, I remember, as if it were yesterday, that I unwrapped my first brand new deck of cards Whoo! (Laughter) That’s good. You’re already excited.

I like that. The smell of it, the feel of it, the sound of it. I’ve been waiting for this all day. To me, it was pure bliss. I wasn’t …

See, I can do this, I wasn’t opening a deck of cards. I was opening a portal to another world. (man in audience) Whoo! (Laughter) It was magic. Today, whenever I perform a magic trick … Whoops! …

I’m instantly taken back to the moment when it all started, 23 years ago. Magic is a permanent connection to my inner, younger self. The boy who sat in his room unwrapping a deck of cards while dreaming of magical powers. In the next 18 minutes, I would like to talk about my relationship with magic and the three magical insights I’ve gained through it.

They have inspired me both in my career and my private life. And I sincerely believe that they will do the same with you. But first … Uh … you there, second row, could you come up to the stage? Just very short– (Cheering) (Applause) Well …

Hold it, hold it. I just need you to keep an eye on the ball. That’s actually all, but thanks for clapping. Okay, thank you. You can sit down again.

It’s okay. (Laughter) Well, anyway. Thank you for keeping an eye on the ball. So let me take you from my childhood years, back 23 years ago to 60 years ago. When I was a teenager. When I was a teenager, I was pretty average, although my mum would tell you something different.https://gethuman.com/issue/Facebook/U17k/For-some-reason-facebook-dating-is-not-working-on-my-profile

I was pretty average. Take my room, for instance. When I said that I’d cleaned my room, that usually meant that I made a path from my door to my bed. So pretty average, nothing special. In some other respects, though, I made rather unconventional choices.

I like magic. I played table tennis. I listened to death metal.

And for those of you who don’t know the sound of that – good for you. (Laughter) Because it’s something like – (mimics death metal). I’m not joking. It is like a choleric cookie monster that is chewing on a pillow.

And I loved it. So, magic, table tennis, death metal. Let’s just say, that combination kept me safe … … from having a girlfriend. (Laughter) Yes, magic, table tennis, and death metal. I guess if I’d collected dead animals, I would have still had better chances. (Laughter) But I can’t blame them. A teenager who performs magic tricks at children’s birthday parties, with a little bunny plush toy called Mr.

Bunny … (squeaks toy) … for an assistant. Now that was hardly the ideal boyfriend 14-year old girls dreamed of. But I’m glad I stuck to it because 16 years later, finally, it makes a funny anecdote.

I guess I just liked magic too much to not pursue it, even if it made me seem like a complete dork to most teenagers. In fact, when I was a teenager, I rediscovered magic, and the feeling it had given me when I had been a child. So, slowly it developed into a hobby, and I became less and less conscious about it. And you know what happened? Being less shy about my magic, I ended up meeting people who understood my love for this creative and visual art form.

People who I call my dearest and best friends today, people who, to no surprise, work as sculptors, interior designers, or photographers nowadays. So regardless of the professional field, we’ve always cherished the same passion for creativity. And let me tell you that … passion is power.

Passion is power. Passion gave me an amazingly different perspective on magic To my classmates, it was a bit like this water. Thank you, by the way.

Translator: Anqi Deng Everything starts with this here, right? So, I remember, as if it were yesterday, that I unwrapped my first brand new deck of cards Whoo! (Laughter) That’s good. You’re already excited.

I like that. The smell of it, the feel of it, the sound of it. I’ve been waiting for this all day. To me, it was pure bliss. I wasn’t …

See, I can do this, I wasn’t opening a deck of cards. I was opening a portal to another world. (man in audience) Whoo! (Laughter) It was magic. Today, whenever I perform a magic trick … Whoops! …

I’m instantly taken back to the moment when it all started, 23 years ago. Magic is a permanent connection to my inner, younger self. The boy who sat in his room unwrapping a deck of cards while dreaming of magical powers. In the next 18 minutes, I would like to talk about my relationship with magic and the three magical insights I’ve gained through it.

They have inspired me both in my career and my private life. And I sincerely believe that they will do the same with you. But first … Uh … you there, second row, could you come up to the stage? Just very short– (Cheering) (Applause) Well …

Hold it, hold it. I just need you to keep an eye on the ball. That’s actually all, but thanks for clapping. Okay, thank you. You can sit down again.

It’s okay. (Laughter) Well, anyway. Thank you for keeping an eye on the ball. So let me take you from my childhood years, back 23 years ago to 60 years ago. When I was a teenager. When I was a teenager, I was pretty average, although my mum would tell you something different.

I was pretty average. Take my room, for instance. When I said that I’d cleaned my room, that usually meant that I made a path from my door to my bed. So pretty average, nothing special. In some other respects, though, I made rather unconventional choices.

I like magic. I played table tennis. I listened to death metal.

And for those of you who don’t know the sound of that – good for you. (Laughter) Because it’s something like – (mimics death metal). I’m not joking. It is like a choleric cookie monster that is chewing on a pillow.

And I loved it. So, magic, table tennis, death metal. Let’s just say, that combination kept me safe … … from having a girlfriend. (Laughter) Yes, magic, table tennis, and death metal. I guess if I’d collected dead animals, I would have still had better chances. (Laughter) But I can’t blame them. A teenager who performs magic tricks at children’s birthday parties, with a little bunny plush toy called Mr.

Bunny … (squeaks toy) … for an assistant. Now that was hardly the ideal boyfriend 14-year old girls dreamed of. But I’m glad I stuck to it because 16 years later, finally, it makes a funny anecdote.

I guess I just liked magic too much to not pursue it, even if it made me seem like a complete dork to most teenagers. In fact, when I was a teenager, I rediscovered magic, and the feeling it had given me when I had been a child. So, slowly it developed into a hobby, and I became less and less conscious about it. And you know what happened? Being less shy about my magic, I ended up meeting people who understood my love for this creative and visual art form.

People who I call my dearest and best friends today, people who, to no surprise, work as sculptors, interior designers, or photographers nowadays. So regardless of the professional field, we’ve always cherished the same passion for creativity. And let me tell you that … passion is power.

Passion is power. Passion gave me an amazingly different perspective on magic To my classmates, it was a bit like this water. Thank you, by the way.

Like this water, it was from all sides, pretty boring, uninspiring – unexciting, actually. So … they didn’t like it, it was pretty dull. But when you are passionate about something, you see so much more in that. Right? If I hadn’t been so confident about my magic, I would have never found my best friends, these great like-minded people.

Our opinions about magic are just mixed, mixed, mixed, mixed very well. It takes some time to settle in. But where other people saw craziness, we saw creativity. Where others felt embarrassment, we felt enchantment. Where others saw weirdness, we saw wonder.

Now, who’d like some? Seriously, guys. Who would like some? I should have a … (Applause) I should …

Now, let me just get this … I have a cup here for anyone who would like to try this. I really have to get rid of this silk. Is there anyone here would like to try this?

Now that I mixed it, you can open it if you want. (Laughter) You know what? Keep it. You can keep it.

You guys can check it out later. So passion is power. And being passionate about something can rarely be wrong – unless you’re passionate about getting a tattoo while you’re completely drunk. Don’t do that, just don’t. It’s real, isn’t it?

Man: Yes. I can smell it. It smells good. That’s how you do it. Yeah, so passion is power, and it’s amazing where it can take you if you’re truly passionate about something.

Even today is a pretty good example for that, isn’t it? I couldn’t see myself on a more suitable stage right here among you guys. I can openly tell a curious audience about my passion for magic. That’s amazing where passion takes you.

And eventually, it took me to working in an ad agency. And working with people from different backgrounds and with different opinions, I noticed that we often have different expectations, as well. And that those expectations significantly change the way we judge things. As soon as we have expectations about something, we are biased, right?

Because we only see what we expect to see. Let me explain that. As soon as a person expects an idea to fail, regardless of its great potential, that person will instead see risks and failure.

Likewise, if you try to like me right now, which I sincerely hope by now, you won’t pay attention to my negative habits, you will only focus on the good. You might think something like, “I like this guy. His card tricks are way cool.

He’s got his speech memorized pretty, pretty … … pretty well.” We only see what we expect to see. Hands up who of you has once mistaken a stranger for a friend? I want to see those hands. It happened to me, as well. You might have seen a familiar jacket or the way a person walks, or even recognized the voice and your mind fills in the incomplete picture and tells you, (whispering) “Listen, that is your friend.” And sometimes you’re right.

Relationships

But other times you have to embarrassingly pretend you’re waving at someone else. (Laughter) We only see what we expect to see. That’s true even today. You know, when you are a magician, and you show up at an event like this, people will expect you to wear all black.

And, this is why I’ve prepared this question for you. What did you see? What did you expect me to show up with? If you said black – well, you’ve been wrong. (Laughter) Yeah, it’s a … Seriously, there’s no tricks.

So this is how fast I can get changed. It helps, really, in the morning. (Laughter) So our eyes and our mind are easy to fool. And that is why magic is so powerful because it defies what we see and what we expect. It proves us wrong.

Think about it. The next time you are expecting an idea to fail, you might be wrong. And even if the new guy in the office never makes you coffee, and that grinds my gears, the observation that he is not a nice person might be wrong.

I know it’s not … I mean … Well, we judge very quickly.

We can’t change the fact that we judge very quickly. And we have certain expectations about people, beliefs, opinions, ideas. We can’t change that. But we can change the way we approach those things by positivity. Expect people to be nice, even if they don’t make you coffee.

Because you’ll find those positive qualities eventually. Expect ideas to work even if they sound a bit crazy, because you’ll focus on the true potential. I know it’s not always easy to create a positive mindset – I’m speaking from experience.

It’s not easy, but I think a lot of us do that already, subconsciously, usually as we tackle a new project or learn for a test or apply for a job or stand on stage. We don’t expect ourselves to fail. We expect ourselves to succeed. And that creates confidence. Confidence.

Which brings me from my early work years to here now. And confidence is exactly what I need right now, to share this quote by magician Justin Willman with you. Justin Willman, who once said, “Magic is like breast implants.” (Laughter) “We know they’re fake, but when done well they can give you a feeling of true wonder.” (Laughter) (Applause) I wish it were my quote.

But I thought I’m going to prove that right now for you. I’ve got some slides prepared to show you exactly that. If you feast your eyes on exhibit A, I will tell you that I cannot elaborate on that.

I cannot talk about breast implants, and this is just the nose of a bunny. Got you! Sorry to disappoint you. I can’t elaborate on breast implants, but I think the quote captures really well what magic is all about – making people believe in magic by making it believable. By making it believable.

But how do you do that? How do you make something believable? Nowadays, the internet provides us with a ton of tricks, props, tutorials, and gimmicks for magic. So it’s easier than ever, actually, to learn a magic trick really well.

But … to make a complete audience question reality, to make them almost believe in something supernatural, you will need something else. You will need something you can’t read up on the internet. What you’ll need is faith.

What you’ll need is faith. A magician needs to have faith in his own magic. He needs to convince the audience that his magic is real, that he himself believes in his own magic.

That’s what I’m going to do right now. That is why I’ll need a witness, a volunteer right here on stage. It’s not easy to find the perfect person for the stage.

So I’ve come up with an extremely complex equation system to find the adequate candidate to be here on stage. Now, who in this room, is currently holding onto a small yellow ball? (Laughter) Ah, right there! What a coincidence! Come up on the stage. (Applause) Okay. What is your name?

Lucy. Hi, Lucy. I’m Benny.

So we haven’t met before. And in a few minutes, you’ll wish it would have stayed that way. So, let me just … (Laughter) Because I love card tricks, I’m going to do a card trick with you. And just like any other card trick, it starts – it’s having the spectator choose a card and making a bad joke about that.

So, Lucy. Please, choose a card, any card you like. Not that one! That’s the bad joke. Okay, choose a card, any card you like.

Okay. Be free to take a look at it and also memorize the card. I should have a pen. Yeah, there it is.

So I should have a pen right here. You can show it to the audience. It’s okay if I see it, too. (Laughter) Now, it’s okay.

It makes it really easier. I’d like you to make this card a unique one. So please write anything you want on that card – your credit card number, expiration date and security code. I’m just giving you some advice.

Anything you like. Your favorite word or just your name. Lucy: Lucy? (Laughter) Is that really your name? You ask me.

Anything you want. Okay, we’ve got a limited time frame. So I need you to stop, drop the pencil. Okay, so what have you written here?

Er, help me. I’m trapped on stage with this crazy dude. That’ll work, that’ll work fine.

You can stay here. You know what? I’m going to put back the pen. I don’t need that.

What I’ll do right now is I’m going to shuffle the card back into the deck, right above the middle, somewhere there. It doesn’t really matter where because we all know what will happen next with the deck of cards. Usually, I hand that over to you to let you shuffle the cards.

But this time, we’re not going to do that, (Softly) we’re going to apply some real magic. Okay, so … come over here. What we’re going to do – I have to confess something.

I’ve got something strange-looking in my pocket – and this sentence can really get you into trouble. So, even as a magician, don’t ever say that. But I’d like you to hold up your hands like that. Both hands.

I’m going to drop that into your hands what I have in my pocket. I’ve got some – Oops! Sorry! – some strange-looking balloons. At least I was told they’re balloons.

I’m really sorry. Yeah, that would work. So what I want you to do right now, Lucy, is I’d like you to choose one of the balloons.

Okay, give it to me. Alright, so … You’ve chosen a balloon.

This is where we’re going to apply some real magic. I’m going to create a vacuum. And we all know what a vacuum does, right? It is like the electoral results in the US. (Laughter) It sucks! (Laughter) It sucks so much. In fact, it will even … (sucking sound) That’s exactly the sound effect it does.

It will even suck in a deck of cards. And this is now trapped inside of the balloon. And this would have worked, Lucy, with any of these balloons.

It will work with any of these balloons. You chose a very special balloon. I’m going to make this a bit more visual for you guys, so you can really see it. (puffing) Now … Now we can shuffle the cards. Never practice unsafe magic; always have balloons.

Lucy, right now, I’m going to grab inside the balloon and pull your card through the balloon wall. Is this your L and this your name? Yes. Feel free to keep it, and this as a proof for some real magic.

Sorry I don’t have any balloons anymore. Thank you, Lucy. (Applause) So, faith makes magic believable. But I think that’s something that does not only apply to magic.

I think faith is something every one of us needs in our daily lives, isn’t it? The moment when you stand in front of the person, and you think the person likes you, and you like the person, and you desperately want to kiss the person for the first time. Or when you apply for a job, and you are explaining why you are the perfect choice for that job. Or when you negotiate your salary with your boss, and you really think you deserve the raise. Or when you stand on stage, and you give a talk about one of your most favorite hobbies.

Whatever magic you do, you’ve got to believe in it. You’ve got to believe in it to make others believe in it. So what have I learned through magic? Passion. Positivity.

Faith. Or, as I like to call it, the short form: ppf! (Laughter) It’s very easy to memorize. Magic formula. But I think, obviously, you don’t have to be a magician to discover the values that are dear to you. I think every one of us has his or her own trigger which touches and moves, inspires our inner self.

A hobby made me creative because I love to entertain. A certain event might have made you pursue a scientific career because your inner self is curious. An inspiring person might have made you become a photojournalist because you love to explore.

It is about listening, listening to our true inner self and the dreams, the wishes, the aspiration and voices – something we often neglect in our daily lives. One can actually reach it. Because that voice can take us to places where we can be authentic, places where we can be happy and successful just being ourselves.

Magic places. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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