Oz Pearlman has surprised and delighted audiences with jaw-dropping mind tricks and sleight of hand for over two decades, and his current run on America’s Got Talent has sparked national interest in his gifts. Oz will be a featured speaker/entertainer at two Influence Group events this fall:¬†RetailSpaces Napa and the Senior Living Innovation Forum.

I recently caught up with Oz to learn how he keeps his cool on live television and to understand the hustle and perseverance it took for him to make it this far.

This is probably the biggest moment in your career to date. What do you think is the trait that got you here today?

I would say that the feeling that I could always be doing more and persistence are the two traits. Say you know someone, and you want to be more like them. Very few people actually take the effort to reach out to that person; not pester them, but reach out. I’ve had people do that to me and now they’re some of my closest friends and trusted colleagues.

The best way to find out how to accomplish something is from someone who’s already achieved it. Most people are willing to share, but nobody thinks to ask. When a magician asks, I’ll tell them what worked, what didn’t work, and I try to inspire them. What I tell them is, to me, obvious, but it’s only obvious because I went down those roads that were dead ends and came back. I’ve learned from experience. A lot of my successes are because of past failures. Everyone is still learning. No matter how successful you are, there’s always someone more successful than you at the same thing.

Is there anything business leaders can learn from the art of magic and the principles and regimens that you practice?

There’s something to be said for making goals and really sticking with them. “I want x, y, and z.” It’s breaking down goals into achievable units, and that’s a lot of what I’ve done with my career. When it comes to business, I’m all about initially building a relationship and then layering off of that. Everyone shuts down when they feel like they’re being sold to versus if you can become a friend. When I first got to New York and was doing this on the side, I knew success wasn’t going to fall in my lap. My plan was very simple: every week, I was going to either call or visit one event planner or catering hall and pitch. I was going to do some magic for the manager, and I was going to try to convince them that they need me at their establishment.

My advice: build a rapport where people don’t feel uncomfortable, don’t try to sell them anything right off the bat. Try to do more listening than just waiting for your turn to speak. That might be the number one mistake people make when they approach a business conversation. They know what they want to say, so when others are talking, they’re not listening, they’re just waiting for their own turn to get their point across.

Check out my full interview with Oz Pearlman in the Huffington Post.

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