A Brief History of Magic Consulting

Since the dawn of time, man has struggled to control the dark forces of nature and they’ve often turned to magicians for help. Magicians think about problems in novel ways, and they can often see solutions where others see impossible difficulties.

Remember, impossible is just another day at the office for a magician.

Not many people know about the incredible contributions magicians have made to people, society, and governments through history so I wanted to introduce you to a couple magicians and explain the contributions they made so you can appreciate how “thinking like a mind reader” can help you in your life & business.

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

Jean Eugene was a French magician born December 7, 1805 and died June 13, 1871. This man is responsible for the image you see in your mind when you picture a magician. He was the first magician to dress like his audiences at the time; in a top hat and tails. Before him magicians wore robes, cone hats, and performed wearing similar relics of the mystical age.

Jean Eugene updated the look, and nothing has changed since!

But, he also did a lot more than revamp the magician aesthetic. He was engaged by the French government for a secret mission.


The French government had a strong presence in Algeria (Northern Africa), and the local people didn’t appreciate their being there. Some of the traditional magicians (who were more like shamans & spiritual leaders than the performer magician you might be thinking of,) were claiming they had strong magic that would protect anyone fighting the invasion. Consequently there were riots and lots of pushback.

Then someone in the government had a bright idea: let’s bring in our own magician.

So they called Jean Eugene and explained the situation. He jumped at the chance and went on a tour of Algeria challenging the local magicians to a “rap battle” of sorts, but with magic.

The Light & Heavy Chest

Jean Eugene brought a small box with a handle to the party, and put it on the ground. Using an interpreter, he invited a child to lift the box which was done fairly easily.

Then he claimed he could rob anyone of their strength using mere suggestion and hypnotism through the his incredible magical powers. Anyone who didn’t believe him was welcome to prove him wrong.

One brave volunteer steps forward in defiance. Jean Eugene waved his hands in the direction of the rival magician muttering under his breath, as though to cast a secret incantation. Then the rival was invited to lift the box.

He couldn’t.

No matter how much he struggled and strained, the box remained unmoved. The Algerian magician is defeated, and to add insult to injury, the child would lift the box again to show no trickery had been used; only pure magic.

Jean Eugene would reinstate the Algerian magician’s powers with a warning to stop attacking the French representatives.

He would neglect to tell them about the steel plate in the bottom of the box, and the powerful electromagnet he had buried in the ground in the days before the demonstration. . .

More Proof Required

Not everyone was convinced he possessed more powerful magic, and the Algerians challenged him with a feat so dangerous no mortal would possibly accept:

If your magic is so strong, let us shoot you.

“Ok,” he said. “But, first I must prepare the proper magics. Come back in two days.”

Satisfied, they walked away. Now, Jean Eugene had to figure out how he was going to solve this one, which he did.

And, so, a modern magical staple was born: the bullet catch.

JEAN EUGENE ROBERT HOUDIN (1805-1871). French magician. ‘A Terrible Moment–the Marabout and the Conjurer.’ Wood engraving, c1880, depicting Houdin’s government mission to Algeria in 1852.

As you can see in the illustration, they were using a muzzle loading pistol. This is the secret to the whole method.

As Jean Eugene was making his mystical passes over the bullet that was to be fired at him, he used sleight of hand to switch the deadly round for a hollow wax replica before dropping it down the barrel.

Satisfied that everything was done properly, the Algerian magician takes aim and fires.

Jean Eugene remains standing.


I said the story would show how a magician has provided invaluable consulting insights & skills. I did not say it would be for good reasons.

Nowadays, few would think it’s a good idea to employ a magician to further the colonization of another country, so let’s look at an example most would agree is a good use of a magician’s skills.

Jasper Maskelyne: The War Magician

This handsome devil came from a long line of English magicians, and he was at the height of his skills when WWII broke out.

He knew his skills could do more good for the British as a consultant than a performer so he pulled an “Elvis” and enlisted in the military. At first, they didn’t know what to make of him, but he quickly showed his usefulness through several demonstrations of innovative camouflage techniques learned from hiding the secret workings of stage props, and other valuable translations from the stage to the battlefield.

He then created inflatable tanks that were used in the African desert to make enemy forces think there was an army where it wasn’t, and hid tanks as trucks with plywood contraptions to make the enemy think there wasn’t an army where it was.

He also would perform shows to boost troop morale, and give them something else to think about than what doom tomorrow holds.

To me, however, his most amazing feat was hiding an entire city.

There was an important port along the river that the British government needed to protect from constant bombardment by enemy forces. Jasper had an stroke of genius: let’s create a scale replica of the city with the same patterns of lights that, when viewed from 10,000+ feet in the air, would look identical to the real thing!

The plan was put into action.

Several miles away from the real city British forces created the Potemkin village complete with scale model buildings, but it was the lights that needed to be exactly right. When it was completed, the real city went to blackout, and the lights of the fake one were turned off.

Then they waited for the bombers.

This was the moment of truth. Would the pilots trust their instruments which would lead them straight to the real thing, or would they trust their eyes and adjust course?

Fortunately, the pilots thought “Seeing is believing” and changed their flight path to the fake city, and that’s how Jasper saved the port.

But the deception didn’t end there.

He had artists paint craters on giant pieces of canvas to match how the shadows would look at different times of the day. That way, when the reconnaissance planes flew high overhead, the real city appeared to be damaged from the previous night’s raid.

Magicians think of everything.

The Lesson

When thousands of lives were on the line, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher, it was a magician who was the deciding factor.

Jasper’s contributions and story are so interesting, it’s currently being made into a movie, so keep an eye out for it!

Jonathan Pritchard

Now you know why I decided to move from performing on stage, to lending my insights to companies who wanted to achieve the impossible.

I still appear on TV, do radio interviews, and perform for employees as a way to help companies connect with their people, but I also understand how important my work is from a consulting angle.

The more I help companies solve their problems the better everyone’s lives get: employees, CEOs, clients: including everyone’s families! So, now, I don’t just help people forget their problems for an hour, I help them solve them forever.

I’ve been at the top of my domain for years. I’ve consulted for Criss Angel, I’ve performed for the troops stationed overseas in South Korea, I’ve been on America’s Got Talent, appeared on Vegas mainstages, and done all the things you’d think a performer would want to do.

Now, however, I realize the mindset training I used for myself to achieve the impossible is useful in life & business, too. That’s why I want to share it with you, and your team.

I want to help you connect with your people in a fun, engaging, memorable, and meaningful way.

Let’s chat!

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