This week Jonah is joined by Jonathan Bayme, CEO of theory11, to talk about his work applying magic minded thinking to his business and the products he creates.
Jonathan was five years old when he watched a performance of David Copperfield, and by thirteen he was headlining events to sold out audiences. Soon he’d finish highschool early to begin producing and consulting for some of the biggest names in magic and in 2007 he founded theory11 and has taken his keen ability for magic minded thinking into other businesses and environments beyond the performance stage.
Learning To Perform, Not Just Present
Jonathan shares with Jonah the story of his early years. From knowing at a very young age that he would be spending his life performing as or working with magicians. He learned the difference between performing magic and presenting magic and shares stories of the lessons he learned and people he met, and tried to meet, that directed the course of his early magic career.
Going With The Wind
Jonathan is quick to remind you that he has never gone in with a long master plan and is always open to change. It’s that flexibility that allowed him to put himself into moments of opportunity that put him in the same room as JJ Abram, pitching a plan to sell a mystery box with his name on it, or working with other high profile clients creating playing cards for their brands.
From founding theory11, to producing The Magician at New York’s NoMad with Dan White, to having to pivot that show into the virtual performance of The Magician Online, Jonathan has been moving the wind and accepted the changes to his trajectory all along. Is this where he thought he’d end up? No. Would he rather be anywhere else? Not a chance.
Sending The Second Email
Jonathan also offers up a lot of advice for budding magicians who want to make this artform their career. He shares with Jonah his background on working with The Illusionists, to founding his company, and how he pitched the idea of a one player game to Target and how Neil Patrick Harris ended up attached to the project.
Ultimately, many times, it has come down to knowing the value of your product and returning time after time even after you get rejected. Sending the second e-mail. Or the third. Or the tenth. Never giving up until your vision is realized.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
One thing I love going on in magic right now is how much the internet has become even more of a vehicle for magicians connecting than it ever has been.Whether that’s YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, message boards, anything… you have the ability to connect with other musicians in 15 different forms.
There’s a very specific genre of magic that I like. I like pushing magic being seen as a sophisticated upscale intellectual art form. I like elevating the art form. So the things that I liked the most, or the magicians that do that. Anything that’s the opposite of that is probably what I liked the least.
Take home point
Being very willing to go where your passion leads you and you don’t have to have a goal. People ask, “what’s your five-year plan”? Like, I don’t have a five day plan let alone a five-year plan. If you don’t have a plan it means that you’re going a little bit more with the wind. It means potentially more insecurity. And your career path, not knowing exactly what you’re doing. You have to be totally set on what you’re doing at the moment, but I’m just saying, be willing to deviate from your original plan. You can change your story and you can become something completely different or you could not be a professional magician and you could go work at something else and magic is your hobby and that’s totally fine. It doesn’t make you less of a magician because you don’t perform. I just want to open people’s eyes to how many options and opportunities there are in magic and ways that you can have a life in magic that don’t necessarily have to involve becoming a famous magician.
Box One is the game that we made with Neil Patrick Harris, go to boxonegame.com