Post by: William Arruda | Forbes | Published on: 09/27/2016 8:51 am


Here are the highlights from my recent interview with Tim David, the acclaimed magician, mentalist and motivational speaker who helps professionals build better relationships. He’s also the author of Magic Words.

William Arruda: The center of your work is what you call “human connection.” Let us know a little bit about that.

Tim David: Human connection is a dying art. Human connection is about getting back to those moments in life that matter—getting back to the relationships that matter.

Arruda: How do we develop these powerful relationships?

David: Be willing to adapt, to grow, to change with the times, to flex and flow. Communication is about you. It’s about what you say and how you say it. But connection is about the other person. Are you focused on what the other person is hearing and experiencing?

That’s one of the things we were taught when I was learning magic. My coaches told us a phrase over and over: “Watch your angles.” As performers, we need to be aware of what the other person sees. Human connection is about their perspective—what they hear, what they experience, and what they feel.

Arruda: Can you tell us about your decision to go to a magic school?

David: It was just a hobby. When I started getting paid, I think the very first check that I earned was $10. I’m like, “Man, I was just doing this for fun. I can’t believe I can earn money doing this. This is crazy.” I think, like anything else, it started with a deep desire to learn something, to grow in that area, and to make it happen.

Arruda: You went from magic to what you’re doing now. How did that happen?

David: I saw an ad that said, “Book more gigs, make more money.” So I called the guy up and he told me that in show business, “business” is the bigger word.

I thought having better sleight of hand would make the difference. Truth be told, what mattered is that human connection—that element of being able to influence, to sell, to move an audience. After investing in this guy’s program and studying it like it was my job, there was quite a turnaround.

Other magicians thought, “Tim, how are you doing 350 shows a year without agents?” So I began putting on events. There were jugglers, fire-eaters, stilt walkers in the hallways during the breaks, but salespeople were showing up too.

Over and over, my research comes back to human connection. While we’re sitting on our deathbed, we’re not going to say, “Hey, can you please bring me my college degree so I can hug it one last time?” What we’re going to say is, “Bring me the people. I want to see So-and-So.” At the end of our lives, we’re going to focus on our connections, not on our collections.

Arruda: As you made this evolution, is most of your work now in the corporate space?

David: Absolutely. I do a lot of work with corporations and associations to help them find that difference maker.

Arruda: You teach them the magic words.

David: I’m happy to give you the magic words: “yes, but, if, because, someone’s name, help, and thanks.” The brain loves to be super-efficient with its processes. “Because” gives the feeling that there’s a good reason coming, and ultimately it influences thoughts, choices, and actions.

Arruda: I love it. But Tim, I was hoping you could talk about the word “but.”

David: Whatever comes after the word “but” is more important than anything that goes before it. “Johnson, great job on the project last week, but there’s just one thing that I need to talk to you about.” It erases everything that came before it and enhances everything that comes after it. One technique is to simply change the word “but” to the word “and.” “Johnson, great job on the project last week and there’s just one more thing I want to talk to you about.” It changes the emotion. Remember: feelings before facts.

Another technique is called the But Reversal. Somebody might say to you, “I would love to purchase a ticket for your fundraiser, but I have to do my hair.” You can repeat and reverse what they say to you: “You have to do your hair, but you’d love to get a fundraising ticket.” Just make sure that the part that you want them to remember comes after the “but.”

Arruda: How do you help employees connect on a deep human level?

David: There’s some startling scientific research about how just mindset alone can affect the thoughts, choices, behaviors, and actions of the people around us. As a mentalist, that’s something I was interested in.


I typically work with middle management. That’s the sweet spot where we create change. They can distribute it to their teams. But they can also manage up and, through the results that they get, show upper management, “Hey, this is what we’re doing.”

Arruda: Let’s focus on the most prevalent form of communication in business: email.

David: We’re experiencing Revenge of the Words. Words are becoming all we have. You have to strike this balance of confidence so you’re not perceived as demanding or weak. You know you’re in the right place when you can ask assertively. Assertiveness is respecting your rights while respecting the rights of others. So you can ask assertively, but you can also give up your right to be angry when they say no.

Also, do your research. Let them know that you looked at their website. Look at their social media. You will automatically stand out. Never lead with “Dear Sir/Madam.” A person’s name not only shows them that it’s personal, but it’s also quite impressive what a name does to the human brain.

Another magic word in an email is “help.” Everybody wants to help. It’s a deep human need. The problem is nobody likes asking for help. It feels like weakness. When we use the phrase “I need your help” and give people an opportunity to help us, they actually end up liking us more.



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