At 7:30 a.m. I boarded a flight to Detroit. I made my way down the aisle to the coach section where we were packed into our tiny seats like eggs in a carton. I found myself seated next to a young serviceman. Army I think. He was in uniform and had carried on a duffel bag as if he were headed back to his base. A moment after we had both gotten situated, a guy makes his way back from the first class section, stops at my row and says, “Go take my seat. I’ll switch with you. You deserve it.” Woo Hoo! It’s my lucky day, I thought. He must be a fan of The Phil Factor.
As fate would have it, he was talking to the young serviceman next to me. Little did I know that both the young serviceman and I were in luck that day. My new but extremely weary travel companion was magician James David. He must have pulled at least $40 in change out of my ear during the hour long flight. I’m kidding of course. His real trick was staying awake. He had performed until late in Buffalo the previous evening and then during the night drove over an hour to get to Rochester where his flight was leaving from and he hadn’t slept all night.
This is James’ third time appearing on #ThePhilFactor, but it’s his first as an author. You can read his other two interviews HERE and HERE
Me: I have yet to see a job listing for magician on LinkedIn. How does one become a magician as a career?
James: Hey Phil, well one doesn’t just get to pick a job as a magician from Linkedin. You have to receive a letter from an owl saying you have been accepted to Hogwarts. Everyone knows that Phil!! However, if you are not that lucky (like myself) then learning from a book or a website is a good place to start. Once you master the basics of magic and get good enough at them you don’t have to “apply” for a job, the jobs just come to you. When I started to get really good people would just ask me if I did this for a living and how much did I charge? All I had to do was answer yes! So the short answer to your question is LOTS of hard work and practice.
Me: What led you, a magician, to decide to write a book about sports team chemistry?
James: Long before I was a magician I was a basketball coach. In fact, I started learning magic to entertain my students and my players when I felt like making the atmosphere a little more fun. It gave the kids and myself a mental break from reality. But as I learned more and more about magic, I realized magic and sports/life are identical. What I mean is that they both have fundamentals. The more you practice a skill set the better you get at it and the better you get at mastering the fundamentals the more it looks like “magic”. The same is with building chemistry with someone.
I was turned onto the topic of emotional intelligence through a conversation I was having with a friend one day. It fascinated me and the more I researched the topic, the more I realized it had to do with building chemistry. But my coaching mind never shuts off and I just kept saying to myself, “This is team building stuff.” From there I realized that building chemistry is the same as magic and sports. There are certain fundamental of chemistry as well. Those fundamentals are self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. If you work hard at them and developing emotional intelligence, you will build chemistry! (It’s explained in more detail in the book)
Me: What has been your most unique or exciting experience working with sports teams?
James: Since I am by heart a basketball guy, my two favorite team to work with have been UCLA men’s basketball and the Portland Trailblazers. I just loved talking hoops and being able to help professional athletes think about team chemistry in a different way. But UCLA was my favorite team growing up and it was special to work with a historic program like UCLA because of its rich history in winning championships and because of their former head coach John Wooden. In fact, John Wooden has a lot of high emotional intelligence principles in his coaching style which is what helped him win so many hearts of his players. They loved him because of it.
Me: What does your book offer for someone who isn’t in sports coaching?
James: It was funny you asked this question because when I was having people pre-read my book, I picked some people that knew sports and some that never played. One consistent thing I heard back from people was that not only did they learn how emotional intelligent relates to sports, but that it also relates to life! You do not have to be a sports person to get the value of emotional intelligence. You just need to be willing to learn and apply it. When you do that whether you play sports or not, your life will improve.
Me: Thank you James. I appreciate you stopping by The Phil Factor again. Best of luck with your book and your magic.
If you’re interested in learning more about James you can find him at JamesDavidMagic and you can find his book on Amazon! Have a great Wednesday! ~Phil
The idea started with a random meeting and act of kindness. A flight to Detroit and a stranger giving up his first class seat for a serviceman. No, I wasn’t that stranger. Magician James David was. Some of you may remember him from my interview with him last year. His second act of kindness was, even though he was exhausted, to maintain a conversation with the random guy he sat next to after giving up his seat. His next act of kindness, at least the next one I became aware of was his Simple Acts of Magic campaign that kicked off this year.
TPF:James, welcome back and thank you again for taking time to entertain my readers. Could you tell us a little bit about your Simple Acts of Magic campaign? James: Hi Phil, It’s great to be back! This is actually a campaign that was inspired by the previous article you wrote about me. The campaign is simple. It’s about giving random people the experience of giving unconditionally. I wanted to make sure the project wasn’t focused on me, but rather the person giving and the person receiving the acts of kindness. I recruited a friend of mine, Nicole, who writes a blog about kindness. I asked her to send a letter to her friends to see if she could get 5 random people to donate $100 to my campaign. It was explained that I would take their money, and give it away in a really cool way. In return, I would film it and send them the link so they could see exactly how their money was given away.
I pretended to be filming a documentary about magic tricks. I told the people that I approached that I wanted was their opinion on the magic tricks I will be performing. However, little did they know that THEY were the one that was going to be doing the “magic”. Once we found the person, I asked them to draw a hundred dollar bill and cut it out. I then asked them a simple question, “If this $100 dollar bill was real, what would you do with it right now to make someone’s day better?” When they told me what they would do, I took the fake $100 bill and made it real. You will see the rest when you watch the videos!
TPF:What has been the best reaction to one of your Simple Acts of Magic moments? James: The best reaction was a lady we met in Madison, WI. She was so excited to be chosen for the giveaway. She really took this project and her role seriously. She was so caring and sincere. She spent time with each person she gave money to. Her reaction to giving was as good, if not better, than the people receiving the money. While everyone who participated in this project enjoyed their part in it, she seemed to enjoy it the most! I think you will know exactly which person she is when you watch the videos! TPF:What has been the most surprising reaction to one of your Simple Acts of Magic moments? James: The most surprising reactions are the people who turn down the money. You wouldn’t believe how many people actually turn it down! They’re either skeptical or just don’t want to take it. I was very surprised by this. It’s sad that people’s first reaction is to think there’s a catch. Thats why I love this project. I hope that I can change a few peoples minds! I want people to know that I am doing this to inspire and I get nothing from it other than the feeling of doing good. All of the money I received from this project was 100% given away. TPF:Outside of your Simple Acts of Magic spots, during a show, whether it be you or another magician, what is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen? James: I think the funniest thing I’ve ever seen was a reaction to my “sword through neck” trick that I do on occasion. I happen to have a REALLY good one. It’s an antique magic trick from Europe and it looks great. When done in the right situation, it can be pretty scary. A little too scary for one college student in particular. After I had seemingly messed up on a prior trick, I asked for a female volunteer for my next trick. I could tell she was a little nervous, but figured she would start to calm down
as most volunteers do. As the trick started to build up and I began the countdown to shove the sword through her neck, she closed her eyes and seemed to calm down, but when I pushed the sword in and everyone screamed, it scared her. She then let out a little scream and began to laugh hysterically. I had no idea what was going on until she got up and asked for a towel. It was then that I AND the audience realized….she had just peed her pants a little. TPF:I hope there’s video of that on Youtube. Scratch that, maybe not. Before your career in magic, what did you imagine you’d be doing at this point in your life? James: I honestly know without a doubt, I would be coaching basketball. It’s my first love. In fact, it was magic that made me decide to leave coaching. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I loved being a positive role model in young athletes lives. However, in order to pursue that dream, I would have to sacrifice family time and also job security. Anyone who coaches knows that in the blink of an eye you could be without a job or moving across the country. I didn’t want to do that to my family. I now speak to a lot of high school and college athletes, and will often reference my playing and coaching background to explain team building concepts using magic. Believe it or not, basketball and magic actually have a lot in common. I still coach from time to time working summer camps and running an occasional shooting clinic. When you are a coach you wear many hats, I just happen to have a rabbit under mine now. 🙂
TPF:What is your favorite trick to perform, and why? James: My favorite trick to perform is any trick that makes people question their reality. I really love performing tricks that no one has seen before. In this day and age, the internet wrecks a lot of things. Secrets are not sacred anymore. I have a few “go to” tricks that I can use in any situation, but if you have to make me choose ONE trick, I would say I love doing the opener of my show. It’s a “Star Wars” skit I do with the audience. Its really funny and a perfect opener. TPF: If people reading this want to help with your Simple Acts of Magic campaign, how can they do so? James: IF anyone reading this is inspired to help out, just go do something kind for someone else. Sometimes it does not take much to make a big impact on someone. I will share a story about my son (Benjamin) who taught me a very good lesson about giving. When our children receive money for Christmas, birthdays or whatever, we break it into thirds. One third goes into his college fund, one third goes into a charity fund that he has to donate and one third goes into his personal savings that he can spend any way he wants. One day after overhearing my wife talk about a particular charity she wanted to donate to, Ben decided that this was something he would like to give to as well. So she got out his change and put it on the table along with a plastic bag for him to put in as much money as he wanted. He was about 5 years old at the time, so she just sat there watching him separate his money. She began to notice that he was separating all of the pennies from the other coins and was filling the bag with just the pennies. She just smiled and thought it was cute that he was donating something. But when he brought her the bag of pennies he said, “Here Mom, I am going to give you all of the gold ones, because they are worth the most.” Of course any parent would think that is a cute story, but it wasn’t until later that I really understood Benjamin’s message. You see, by todays standards pennies are worthless. But to Benjamin, at that time, it was the most he could give. So in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t the amount he was giving, it was the simple act of him giving that made this story stand out. I tell people all the time, if you are ever having a really bad day and want to make it better, go do something kind for someone else. The money I helped
give away is not life changing money.
The amount was not important for my Simple Acts project, it was the act itself I wanted to focus on. If you want to help you can also check out my website: www.jamesdavidmagic.com and go to the “Donations” tab at the top to find out how to donate money that will be given away in one of my next videos! Whoever donates will get a link to the video and get to see how their money was spent. Thanks again Phil! You sir, are one of the best! I look forward to seeing you again. TPF: Despite the fact that there is a magician in California that calls himself Phil Factor, James David is The Official Magician of #ThePhilFactor. Again, James has performed the magical feat of entertaining my audience far better than I ever do. If you want to find James online you can follow him on Facebook,Twitter, and his website. Have a great Friday everyone! ~Phil
Self-proclaimed grand poobah of leisure and author of humorous suspense novels The Sneaker Tree & White Picket Prisons, the humor essay book Fifty Shades of Phil and the long running blog The Phil Factor.