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Spellbound: Seven Principles of Illusion to Captivate Audiences and Unlock the Secrets of Success Hardcover – May 9, 2017
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This enjoyable work from a confident master of his trade is a “virtual wand” for those who want a bit of magic in their lives. (Publishers Weekly)
David Kwong’s magic leaves me in awe, and his book did too! (Will Shortz, New York Times crossword editor)
Fifteen years ago David Kwong and I started a magic club together, and one of us was good enough to quit his day job. I’ve learned a lot from him about how to surprise and delight audiences, and now his knowledge and storytelling skills are on full display. This book shows how the art and science of illusion can make us more engaging and more persuasive. (Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take)
David Kwong uses his mastery of illusion as the spine of a story about us and our limits. But more important, he shows that illusion is far more than a set of tricks; it as a very well thought-out set of principles that are broadly applicable in business and life.Here you can learn the principles and enjoy the show! (Ed Catmull, president, Pixar and Disney Animation,and bestselling author of Creativity, Inc.)
David Kwong has conjured a unique and seamless blend of cognitive psychology, business acumen,and the secrets of being a renowned magician. (Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Flourish)
From the Back Cover
David Kwong has astounded corporate CEOs, TED Talk audiences, and thousands of other hyperrational people—making them see, believe, and even remember whatever he wants them to. Illusion is an ancient art that centers on control: it is the ability to command a room, build anticipation, and appear to work wonders. Illusion works because the human brain is wired to fill the gap between seeing and believing. Successful leaders—like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner—are masters of control and command; they understand how to sway opinion and achieve their goals.
In his years of research and practice, David has discovered seven fundamental principles of illusion. With these rules anyone can learn to:
- Mind the Gap: recognize and employ the perceptual space between your audience’s ability to see and their impulse to believe.
- Load Up: prepare to amaze your audience.
- Write the Script: discover the importance of shaping the narrative that surrounds your illusion.
- Control the Frame: explore the real-life value of a magician’s best friend: misdirection.
- Design Free Choice: command your audience by giving them agency.
- Employ the Familiar: take secret advantage of habits, patterns, and audience expectations.
- Conjure an Out: develop backup plans that will keep you one, two, three, or more steps ahead of the competition.
Inside Spellbound you’ll discover a different way to sell your ideas, products, or skills, and make your best shot better than everyone else’s.
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A Harvard graduate in the history of magic in 2002 (while there he taught then-Harvard president Larry Summers how to produce a bouquet of flowers from his sleeve), David Kwong decided to make his way in the world as a magician. (Despite the doubts of his parents, both more staid academics.) Now with this book he moves out of performing magic to tell us the secret of how illusion can help us succeed in business and our lives.
That makes some sense. In business and in politics, illusion does often bring more success than realism. Think of Steve Jobs and his "reality distortion field". Think of Robert Kennedy's version of George Bernard Shaw's line: "Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not."
That kind of thinking can be taken too far, I think, but David Kwong does not do that. He ties together magic tricks and illusions with the psychological principles underlying them, and then suggests how the same principles can be used in other fields to get results.
In some cases, David Kwong trots out the same old ideas as others before him. Storytelling, for example, is powerful. I get that. But even with that, he brings a new slant to it, pointing out that the best magicians tend to tell stories in their acts. You still need good tricks to impress. Storytelling adds to good tricks, it does not make up for mediocre ones.
In other cases, David Kwong brings out some new ideas I had not thought of. Like the vital need for preparation and timing. One example: when a person goes out of a room for a moment, leaving their phone behind, David Kwong might pop off the back of the phone and put a folded-up card inside. When the person comes back, the worst thing to do is to do a trick then. Best wait a while, until the person forgets they even left the room. Even better, until someone suggests a card trick. Then the trick will impress.
Magic tricks rely on misdirection and illusion. When explained, magic loses its luster. You have to be just as careful of that in real life as in the world of magic. Be hamhanded and you seem manipulative. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of preparation, to pull off illusions in business and politics. But it can be, David Kwong explains, worth it. Do it well, and you can do magic.
Most recent customer reviews
THE AUTHOR IS A GENIUS WITH CROSSWORD PUZZLES AND OTHER WORD GAMES, AND ALSO WITH PRESTIDIGITATION AND "MAGIC" TRICKS