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3 lessons that real estate agents can learn from magicians

David Kwong talks about preparing for all eventual outcomes and more
  • Magicians can teach agents a few tricks when it comes to navigating in unpredictable environments.
  • When dealing with clients, always prepare for all possible outcomes. To get ahead you have to think 20 steps ahead.
  • Recognize the importance of failure as a natural iteration of success.

Magicians and real estate agents have more in common that you might think.

“We’re always operating in an unpredictable landscape, and we never know what’s going to happen,” said magician David Kwong.

Sound a lot like like your typical day trying to keep up with changes in the market and unpredictable clients?

There’s just one difference for the magicians.

“We like it that way,” Kwong said.

Why? Because magicians prepare for the unpredictable.

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Kwong goes out of his way to prepare hundreds of different “endings” to the story. That way, he’s always prepared for whatever happens — and it seems like a miracle to you.

Kwong, who holds a degree from Harvard in the history of magic, is well-practiced at keeping his audiences happy.

The Los Angeles resident consults on television and movie sets teaching illusion and sleight-of-hand to Hollywood’s top stars. He was the head magic consultant on the bank-heist film Now You See Me, teaching magic to Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson.

His latest project includes consulting on the puzzles and secret codes for NBC’s hit drama Blindspot. And when he’s not teaching magic, he can be found constructing crossword puzzles for The New York Times.

Kwong often jokes that he’s combined the world’s two nerdiest hobbies into one career.

It’s through the melding of those two passions, however, that he’s uncovered that the principles of magic and illusion can also be used to get ahead in business — and even real estate — by helping keep clients happy and feeling in control.

Here are just a few of the tricks he’s learned.

When getting ready to meet or impress a new client, whether it’s at listing presentation, open house or a client meeting, take Kwong’s advice: Always prepare for all possible outcomes.

“Prepare, prepare, prepare,” he said. “To get ahead of everyone else, you have to be so many steps ahead.”

Kwong has a perfect example of going above and beyond to prepare for a big finish to a magic trick for a well-known movie director. (And if you happen to be in Beverly Hills in October, Kwong will be speaking at Luxury Connect and share exactly the lengths he went to impress. Trust us: You’ll be amazed.)

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“Magic is inherently deceptive,” Kwong said. “But the goal is not to be manipulative or take advantage of people. Illusion can help you get ahead.”

Along with preparation, another trick Kwong said you need to understand when influencing others is the “illusion of free choice.”

“One of the big principles applicable to clients is we make you think that everything is your idea. It’s making your client and audience member feel in control.”

Magic, illusion and puzzle-solving aren’t the only areas where magicians and real estate agents can learn from one another. On a personal level, Kwong also relates to solo practitioners who are trying to stand out and build their own brand identity.

“Every day, it’s a hustle. I’m always out there doing my thing, sharing my product. It’s the backbone of what I do.”

And as every successful real estate agent knows, it’s crucial to learn the role that failure can play in breeding and fine-tuning success.

“It’s about iteration. I have failed so many times in Hollywood and magic but I always find a new angle and keep moving. Television shows have been cancelled, appearances have fallen through, but I keep pivoting and finding what works.”

He’s also found that you can take two seemingly different things — puzzle-solving and magic — and blend them into a career you love. That passion shines through in his work and keeps it new and fresh for his audiences.

“That’s how you create something new, is to cross-pollinate different things and synthesize a new product,” Kwong said. “I’ve taken two passions with common strands and teased out something new.”

For Kwong, that something new is a forthcoming book due out next year with Harper Collins Business. Kwong will explore the principles and science of how the brain works and can be fooled, the concepts of illusion and how to use the secrets of command to get ahead.

To get ahead in your real estate career, be sure to register today for Luxury Connect to hear more from Kwong first-hand. Tickets are disappearing faster than a rabbit from a hat!

Email Kristy Hessman