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Being Criss Angel



criss angelTake a page from Criss Angel to set and achieve the expectations you set for your customers.

I LOVE magic.

Especially the “man on the street” type shows that David Blaine and Criss Angel have made popular over the past several years.  Have you seen any of the MindFreak shows on TV?  They’re incredible.  Watch this, then come back.

Criss Angel walks through glass

That clip, and countless others I’ve seen over the years, set an expectation as to what I would see at his show in Las Vegas.  I think that’s a reasonable assumption, since he has never wavered from his style of magic and performing head-scratching, daring stunts.

Never Assume

Rather than magic, the show I watched was a dozen or so oddly-dressed Cirque du Soleil dancers telling a non-sequential story with Criss Angel popping in every now and again to address the audience.  The show couldn’t seem to decide whether it’s a Cirque show, parlor magic show, stand up act, horror show, or some sort of ghoulish art exhibit.   The problem is – it succeed as none.  Oh, he did a few tricks.  But sadly they were predictable, and nary a “how did he do that?” gasp was heard.

Crickets …

I wasn’t alone in my confusion and disappointment. The audience was lifeless, and several people walked out.  Sadly, Criss Angel didn’t come anywhere close to meeting the expectations he set through my previous interactions with him.

Change is necessary

When markets shift, businesses need to find additional ways to generate income – often through new product and/or service offerings.  Smart move, as long as the new product or service is a natural extension of the brand, and makes sense to the core audience.

Two take-aways

1. Jack of all, master of … none?

It seems reasonable to diversify your offerings to attract a new segment of clientele, right?  However, if you’ve spent years earning/building an “expert” reputation as the “go-to” agent for first-time home buyers, can you reasonably keep your bragging rights as an “expert” if you make a foray into a new-to-you niche area?  For example, as an investor agent.

2. Are you meeting the expectations you’ve set?

First, how are you setting these expectations?  How do you know what exactly your clients expect?  Personally, I prefer the direct route of asking so we can agree or modify those expectations up front, thus avoiding any misfires later.

Next, how do you know if you’ve met expectations?  Criss Angel, the Luxor or any producers of his show could leverage Yelp for this.  If I had read the reviews prior to my trip, I would have opted for another show.  Are you searching for your name in Google, on Yelp or any other opinion site to check?  When Ginny Cain completes a project for a client, she has a debrief conversation to understand what went well, and what could have been better.  I think that’s a great idea.

If he were to ask me, I’d suggest Criss Angel be Criss Angel.

(Note: Bill Lublin suggested the title “What do Criss Angel and many of my dates have in common” – neither meet my expectations.  I liked it, but decided against it, as it would mean sharing just a bit too much.)

photo credit

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Ken Brand

    July 17, 2009 at 9:07 am

    In Texas they call it “All hat and no cattle.”

    Go ahead. Spill. Sharing will set you free.

    Cheers Brandie

  2. tomferry

    July 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm


    #1- Thank you for saving me the $100 on seeing his show in Vegas. That’s really too bad. Did you see any other shows that were worth it?

    #2. Great way to tie it all in. Thx


  3. Bill Lublin

    July 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    So the key to being a winner may be to under-promise and over-deliver?
    Sounds right to me!

  4. Brandie Young

    July 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Ken – you have the best phrases … love “all hat, no cattle”.

    Tom – It’s not to say you wouldn’t like the show… unless you are expecting magic. But, thanks for the kind words…

    Bill – yep, that about sums it up!

  5. Jessica

    July 24, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Sorry, I have to disagree about your Criss Angel BeLIEve assessment. I saw the show a few weeks back (early June 2009) and I loved it. It is very much a “trip” into Criss Angel’s mind – not a Mindfreak show. The audience was very responsive and everyone that I talked to really enjoyed the show. To each his own, though – at least you gave it a chance.


  6. Brandie Young

    July 26, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Hi Jessica – thanks for the comment. It’s ok that we have different opinions of the show. I’m happy you liked it! My point was around expectations being met (or not). I really, really wanted his brand of magic …

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Business Marketing

Instagram’s false information flagging may accidentally shut down artists

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Instagram is doing its hardest to insure no false information gets released wide, but the net they cast may catch a lot of artists who manipulate images.



technically a false image

Instagram’s new update is hiding faked images. The downside? Posts by digital artists are being swept up in this new flagging system. In December, Instagram announced the release of a false information warning in order to combat the spread of misinformation on the platform.

How does this work? Content that is rated as partly false or false by a third-party fact-checker is removed from Instagram’s Explore option and matching hashtag pages. Additionally, the image will receive a label to warn viewers about its credibility with a link back to the fact-checker and further sources that debunk the visual claims in the image. These labels can be seen on profiles, feeds, DMs, and stories. Identical content from Facebook will be automatically labelled if posted to Instagram.

Digital artists are feeling the effects of Instagram’s update as digitally-altered images for the sake of artistic expression are being slapped with the misinformation label. The good news, however, is that not all photoshopped images are in danger—only the pictures that have gone viral attached to false information and identified as such.

So if an artist manipulates an image, releases it, then someone else decides to use the altered image to spread misinformation, the artists image could be labeled as misinformation and will be hidden from the Explore and hashtag pages. The artist pays the price for someone else spreading false information.

While a label will save a viewer from questioning a post, digital artists, whose careers depend upon visibility and the spread of the work are likely to feel the effects—whether it be scroll-frenzied viewers passing their work by, deterred by the label barring the post from a quick look, or even worse, the artists having their own credibility called into question.

With only a couple of weeks into the new year, it’s yet to be seen how other digital art may (or may not) be caught up in Instagram’s well-meaning update.

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Business Marketing

How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation

(BUSINESS MARKETING) We have all be frustrated by someone who doesn’t listen to us; so why not make sure that you are taking the steps to not be them, and be better listeners.



good listeners breed good listeners

We all want the same thing: to be heard. In this digital age, we’ve created an endless stream of cries for attention via comment sections, forums, and social media feeds—shares, retweets, tags, videos, articles, and photos. Worse, our words echo in our digital bubbles or specific communities, doing nothing but making us lonely and isolated. However, in the midst of a divided political climate, we can all stand to strengthen our ability to listen.

Me? A bad listener? What are you trying to say? I got enough flaws to worry about and don’t wanna hear about another skill to improve. Oh, the irony.

“Bad listeners are not necessarily bad people,” assures Kate Murphy in her new book You’re Not Listening. “Anyone can get good at it. The more people you talk to, the better your gut instinct. You’re able to pick up those little cues. Without them, you’re not going to get the full context and nuance of the conversation,” she says in an interview with The Guardian’s Stephen Moss.

Our bad listening aside, we can all remember a time when we weren’t treated with the attention we craved. Moments where you’d do anything for the person you’re conversing with to give a sign of understanding—of empathy—to validate our feelings, to acknowledge the vulnerable piece of ourselves we’ve entrusted to them is cared for. Nothing is worse when we’re met with blank expressions and dismissive gestures or words. These interactions make us feel small and lonely. And the damage can stay with us.

So what can we do to ensure we’re the listeners we’ve always wanted from others? Being a good listener does take time, energy, and tons of practice. There are easy tips to keep in mind:

1. Show you care by making eye contact and putting away your phone.
2. Patience. Everyone opens up on their time.
3. Ask open-ended questions. Yes/no responses inhibit the flow of conversation.
4. Repeat what you’ve heard. This clarifies any misunderstanding and validates the speaker.
5. Give space. Let the conversation breathe—silent pauses are healthy.

By becoming better listeners, we show care. We become curious about and empathetic towards others, leaving our bubbles—we become a little less lonely.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.



work week rush

With the new decade comes the renewed resolutions. Social media has been flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and…hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care…that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well…probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the resolution to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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