Pursuing Your Dream Job Is No Magic Trick How I Made It
AllAboutCareers.com spoke to Duncan William about how he became a magician and mind reader. He reveals how he embarked upon a graduate scheme and travelled before following his dream career path.
Have you always been a magician and mind reader?
Like most creative people who sing, paint, draw, or perform; sadly we get sucked into the traditional 9am-5pm day of work and live solely for the weekend. It’s a story I’m sure most of us can relate to, and having spent three years studying at university – conforming to the social norms of getting a ‘proper job’ applied to me the same as 99% of other people. Embarking on a retail trainee management scheme, which consisted of four years of long hours and endless merchandising and weekend work, I quickly became disillusioned with this kind of life.
I decided to travel the world. I withdrew £1500. Travelled to London to pay for my ticket. Got scared and came home. Annoyed at not having the nerve to go through with it, I went back the next day, paid the money, quit my job and travelled. My ventures took me to Japan, where I secured a residency performing magic and my love of magic was reignited from the childhood days of having a magic set for Christmas and performing at school.
I’ve always been a magician and mind reader from an early age but, much like an artist or pianist, I never fulfilled my true passion out of fear, conforming to norms or worrying about making enough money.
Do you have any inspiration or role models?
David Blaine in 2000 ushered in a new era of magic; he made magic cool, contemporary and brought the focus back on the audience. Alongside him, mind reader Derren Brown also popularised the art form of mentalism or mind reading. These two are performers were integral in the evolution of magic into what it is today and, as a consequence, my own career also.
How long have you been a full time professional and how did turning pro come about?
I have been full time for about one year. Turning pro came about through working at my job part-time and building it up into a position where I could turn it into a full time career. My hand was also forced in terms of being made redundant. Taking risks in the past, such quitting my job to travel in the world, stood me in good stead for taking on the responsibility of perusing magic as a full time career.
What is a typical day like for you?
A lot of my work is at the weekend. Therefore my weekend is very performance based. That doesn’t mean I get an easy time of it for the other five days. My days are very heavily administrative and involves replying to enquiries, sorting out my accounts, working on various marketing campaigns, exploring new revenue streams in the magic industry – be it workshops in schools or corporate bookings, for example.
What advice would you give to people wanting to pursue a career in performance arts?
Performance art is a fickle business. However, people work in this industry out of a love for it. When you find something you really want to do, and have an absolute passion for it, forget the money because if you think that earning money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t want or like doing in order to go on living, doing things that you don’t 100% enjoy doing which, in itself, is ridiculous. My advice is that it is better to have a short life perusing your dreams and ambitions than having a short life doing what you don’t really enjoy doing with a ‘live for the weekend’ mentality.
What is the secret to being successful in the entertainment industry from your experience?
Be yourself. Carve your own niche. Be open to doing many different things. If you are an actor, do adverts, modelling, voice over work – don’t just think ‘I’m only starring in feature films’. If you are a magician, do kids magic, adult magic, corporate shows, charity shows. All are key steps on the paths to your goal. If you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is but the experience you get you will eventually become a master of your art. You will be able to command higher fees and, in turn, live your dream…
What steps should people take to realise their dream in self-employment?
Books and gurus will tell you just go for it. They are not realists. You have bills and rent to pay. I would say build up your business. Learn how to market yourself. Learn who the competitors in your market are and work out why they successful and why are others not? When you feel you have built up your business alongside your day job or other job, only then make the leap and go for it!
This first half is painful. I regularly worked until the early hours to build up my magic business alongside my full-time job. Arnold Schwarzenegger has six rules of success:
Trust yourself. (Who do you want to be?)
Break the rules (Not the law – think outside the box)
Don’t be afraid to fail. (Don’t be paralysed by fear of failure)
Don’t listen to the naysayers (Those who say you can’t do this or that…)
Work your butt off. (Fact. No way to get around this one)
Give back. (To the community. This will give you more happiness)
Duncan William is a full-time professional magician and you can find out more about him at www.magicduncan.co.uk.
By Billy Sexton, Editor, AllAboutCareers.com
Image courtesy of Duncan William
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