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  • Well, thank you.

  • Our world is a shared experience, fractured by individual perspectives,

  • yours and mine.

  • Imagine if we could all understand each other.

  • When I first started my career in magic,

  • I was doing a lot of performing in restaurants,

  • table to table card and coin tricks, sleight of hand and whoop!

  • you got a good seat for this.

  • This one night,I was on fire: I remember I was fast and funny

  • my moves were perfect, I was unstoppable.

  • I sauntered up to this one table, an elderly man and his wife,

  • and said, "Would you like to see some magic?"

  • The man looked at me, and he said,

  • "Sir, I would love to see some magic, but I can't.

  • Unfortunately, I am blind."

  • I looked at him, really looked at him for the first time, and it was so clear

  • he was blind: his eyes were glazy, he wasn't really looking at me.

  • Anybody would've known that, but I was so wrapped up in my evening,

  • so lost in my world, I wasn't looking at him.

  • I just saw two generic people and launched into my show.

  • I stood there, embarrassed, and that word was ringing in my ears,

  • "blind, blind, blind", and I had no choice, and I said,

  • "I'm sorry, I didn't know. I don't have anything I can do for you,

  • but if you come back again sometime,

  • I promise to have some sort of magic that I can share with you."

  • He said, "I'll hold you to that!", and I went on with my night.

  • A few weeks later, they came back in;

  • I recognized them immediately, and I panicked.

  • I had completely forgotten about it.

  • I raced back to the room where I kept my props,

  • thinking about every trick I'd ever learned and every book I'd ever read,

  • something, anything I could do for the man,

  • and then I remembered reading an obscure idea a long time ago in an old manuscript,

  • it was all I had.

  • So I composed myself, I walked back out, and said, "Hey folks, my name is Brian,

  • would you like to see some magic?"

  • And he cut me off, he goes,

  • "Alright, we are back, what have you got for me?"

  • with a big smile on his face.

  • I asked his wife, "May I sit next to you?" and she said, "Sure."

  • I sat down, and I said "Ed," - his name was Ed -

  • do you trust your wife?"

  • and he said, "Sometimes." (Laughter)

  • Then I said, "Will you trust her now?" and he said, "Sure."

  • So I took out a pack of cards, gave them to her, and said,

  • "Mix the cards, make sure there's no special markings on them,"

  • and she said, "No, they're fine."

  • I took Ed's hand and said, "I'm going to place a card in your hand

  • do you think it's a red card or a black card?"

  • Then he said: "red." And he was right;

  • the next card, he said red, and he was right again.

  • I put down the next one, and he said, "Hmm, black!"

  • Again he was correct;

  • his wife is getting skeptical at this point.

  • We keep going, red, red, black, black, red, and he's getting all of them right!

  • Red, black, red, faster, black, black, black, red, through the whole deck,

  • black, black, red, every single one of them right, and at the end,

  • Ed is laughing, he's howling, the whole restaurant is staring at us,

  • and I turn to see his wife, and she is weeping tears of joy.

  • It was the most beautiful magic I had ever experienced.

  • A little bit later, I am going to tell you how we did it.

  • But the real secret of the trick, the real secret of magic,

  • is understanding and taking on different perspectives,

  • different points of views.

  • Let's try to experiment with perspective, would you like to see some magic?

  • Alright, let's try a little experiment here.

  • This is one of old illusions in magic, here we go.

  • Check that out for me; yes please, here you go.

  • That's rope right there, you can check that out.

  • I got some more over here, here you go, one for you yes, and one for you.

  • Make sure that's what it seems to be; is it what it seems to be?

  • Are you what you seem to be? (Laughter) I don't know what that means.

  • That's good, I'll take that back, you look as confused as I do.

  • Here we go, I'll take that, thank you, one, two, and three pieces of rope.

  • Three pieces of rope, and they're all the same length yes?

  • It's going to be a tough crowd, I can tell;

  • you are going to have to believe me on this.

  • So I'll take the ends and I hold them up: they look like they're the same length.

  • The ends do, I didn't say it was a great illusion.

  • It'll be a tough crowd, I think. Here we go, I'll prove it to you.

  • Yeah, that's all, thank you! (Applause)

  • That's the big one right there, the medium right there,

  • and that's the small one right there.

  • There's too many things going on, so I'll get rid of one of the pieces,

  • so that it'll be easier to follow with only two, won't it?

  • I should just start over, it'll be little bit simpler.

  • So sometimes the ends come off, which is a little unusual,

  • I'll do that again just in case you missed it.

  • There are people who think that this trick is all about the ends.

  • That's not true, the middles, those come off too.

  • Place the middles right here, back on the rope,

  • and we're back in business.

  • But you guys know this trick wasn't done with one piece of rope,

  • it wasn't even done with... two pieces.

  • It was actually done with -- two of us watched Sesame Street.

  • That's the big one right there, that's the medium one right there,

  • and that's the small one right there; can you guys tell which one's which?

  • See this one right here? This is the big one, that's the big one.

  • That's the medium one, and that's the small one,

  • a little illusion to get things started.

  • (Applause)

  • Well, thank you very much. Now, what just happened there?

  • It seems that you and I had a very different experience, doesn't it?

  • What did I see?

  • I saw the moves, the sleight of hand, and the juggling.

  • You probably saw the ends of a rope, jumping on and off, three different ropes,

  • changing lengths impossibly, violating all the laws of physics.

  • That's just what we saw, what did we feel? You may have felt, hopefully, wonder?

  • Maybe amusement? Perhaps frustration?

  • I felt focus; these are two very different perspectives of the same experience.

  • You see, magicians have a unique dilemma.

  • The magician is the only person who cannot see the magic

  • because I know how the trick works,

  • and that knowledge of the secret is a limiting perspective.

  • So the magician must wholly, and completely, take on the point of view of the audience.

  • We do this night after night, no matter who's out there

  • in order to create illusions.

  • This is a technique called "perspective taking".

  • Perspective taking is the ability to see the world

  • from the point of view of another person.

  • It sounds simple in theory, but in practice,

  • it can be incredibly difficult to do.

  • For instance, have you guys played around with one of these before?

  • Aha, a few of you look excited,

  • most of you look angry just because I'm holding one.

  • I feel flashbacks to childhood,

  • some of you started twitching when I took one out.

  • I love the Rubik's cube;

  • they're actually easier to solve than you think they are.

  • Take the stickers off, rearrange them, put them back in the right order?

  • Break the pieces apart, put it back together?

  • I learned how to do this, and then realized,

  • if you spin it really fast... it looks like it solves itself.

  • (Laughter)

  • So what just happened there? Oh, thank you. (Applause)

  • Kind of a delayed response, everybody was just... (Laughter)

  • So what just happened there?

  • Well, I know that if I come out, mix up a Rubik's cube, toss it in the air,

  • and it comes down solved, you're all going to to think I'm a jerk.

  • At the very least, a show off, and I don't want you to feel like that.

  • I want you to enjoy the experience of magic so I make a few jokes.

  • Take the stickers off, rearrange them, break the pieces apart, and then you go,

  • "Oh I did that! My friends, we smashed it with a hammer, we threw it at a wall!"

  • When that happens, you feel like I understand you.

  • When you feel understood, we make a connection,

  • and then I can do the trick,

  • and we can all enjoy the magic in that shared space.

  • So now you know what perspective taking is.

  • It's the ability to see the world from the point of view of another person.

  • You also know why magicians do it:

  • to create illusions, and to connect with the audience.

  • But why should you care?

  • Well, it turns out this technique has drastically improved my life

  • off stage, outside of magic, in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

  • I'll explain.

  • I never had trouble meeting new people:

  • making friends, getting into relationships.

  • But I always struggled to maintain them.

  • Eventually, the communication would break down, people would leave,

  • and I would be alone.

  • It took a long time to admit it, but it was my fault, or at least mostly.

  • The people in my life didn't feel like I was invested in them.

  • Now that wasn't true, but it doesn't matter.

  • It's not enough to care about somebody; it's not enough to understand them.

  • They have to feel understood, they have to feel cared about,

  • and I wasn't doing that.

  • Then I took this technique I had honed on stage,

  • and I started using it outside of magic,

  • and I realized I can make better, more meaningful connections with people.

  • I met friends, incredible friends, that have lasted years,

  • I met a beautiful, fiercely intelligent woman, the love of my life,

  • and I held on to that relationship.

  • We're actually engaged to be married.

  • Oh, thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • She'll be happy to hear that.

  • None of that would have been possible before.

  • So of course the question then becomes

  • how, how do you do it, how do you do perspective taking?

  • Well, first you need to understand the difference

  • between visual perspective and emotional perspective.

  • Magicians traditionally deal with visual perspective.

  • We need to know, literally,

  • what the trick looks like to the audience.

  • So we practice in front of mirrors, we film ourselves and watch it back,

  • but relationships are primarily about emotional perspective.

  • How is somebody feeling about our interaction?

  • It seems like a difficult thing to do,

  • to get to know someone's emotional perspective,

  • but let's get back to Ed, Ed and his wife.

  • The relevant question for Ed was,

  • What would magic feel like to someone who is blind?

  • I didn't want Ed to feel tricked, that was important to me.

  • I don't know, but I have to imagine if you are blind, you could be tricked

  • by anybody, at anytime.

  • So I didn't Ed want to feel tricked; I wanted him to feel magic,

  • I wanted him to be magical,

  • and his wife, this woman who spends her life looking out for him,

  • I wanted her to see him in that light,

  • and for them to share in that experience together.

  • So if you want to get to know someone's emotional perspective,

  • one of the simplest way to do it, ask.

  • Ask questions.

  • Too often we're afraid to ask people questions

  • because we feel like it will be rude, or somehow they won't want to answer,

  • but we underestimate people's willingness to answer our questions.

  • Before the trick, I asked Ed, "Have you always been blind?"

  • He said yes.

  • To me that was crucial, relevant information.

  • It seems that a person who has never been able to see

  • will have a different perspective from somebody who had their sight,

  • and then lost it to accident, or illness.

  • With Ed I cannot even use the language of sight.

  • So by asking questions, I can adjust my tone,

  • my demeanor, even my language,

  • so that he feels understood and we can make a connection.

  • Now, if you're going to learn this, it's important not simply to ask questions

  • but to listen to the answers, and listen to understand.

  • Don't just listen to respond, or to reply, and you've heard it before.

  • This is where I went wrong most in my life, I think.

  • You've heard it before,

  • and we're all guilty of it from time to time.

  • But too often we listen to people only with the intention

  • of coming up with something clever to say so as soon as their lips stop,

  • we can jump in and say our thing.

  • We've all done it, we're all guilty, but I did this especially badly,

  • and I think to the detriments of my relationships.

  • Have you ever asked for somebody's name, and instantly forgotten what it was?

  • You know why do we forget people's names?

  • Because while they're telling us their name, we're thinking

  • about how we're going to say ours: first name, last name, Mr. Miller, Brian.

  • We're not listening, we're on our end of the conversation only.

  • So you can start to learn this technique:

  • ask questions, listen to understand the answers.

  • When you do that I think you'll find you can make better,

  • more meaningful connections with people, personally and professionally.

  • It drastically improved my life, and I really