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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.

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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?

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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

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Written By

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.



  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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