Jim DeLoach, Protiviti’s managing director, has two professional passions: consulting and performing magic. And while the two may seem like an odd combination, he credits his 45 years of performance experience for significantly enhancing his consulting skills.
Consulting: How much time do you devote to magic?
DeLoach: It’s more than a hobby to me. I really like to do well at it and that requires working hard. When I undertake the learning of a new effect, I will work for a long, long time on that effect before I present it to an audience. There’s an effect I do in which I count out 11 bills in my hand, but when someone from the audience counts them there’s only ten. That person counts them again, but now there’s only nine, and so on. I worked on that effect for two years before I ever presented it.
Consulting: Does your wife resent the time you devote to magic, on top of the time you spend as a consultant?
DeLoach: Magic is something we can do together. She’s often my assistant and does a great job at misdirection. My wife and I have won awards, beating many full-time magicians. The preparation for one act was just brutal. We worked with a professional magician to hone a specific act. I presented him with about 14 minutes of material and we cut it down to six minutes and 18 seconds. Yes, it was that exact. Every bit, the music, all had to fit perfectly.
Consulting: What’s the secret to being a successful magician?
DeLoach: A long-term performer once told me that when you’re developing an act, you should work on it and work on it until you are thoroughly sick of it. When you’re not concerned with the mechanics of what you’re doing, you’re free to work on your performance, concentrate on reaching out to the audience. And that enables you to focus on selling yourself. You’re not worrying about your next step or your next move.
Consulting: Are the skills you develop as a performer helpful in your day job presenting to clients?
Debouch: When doing magic, you become very aware of the crowd. You’re aware of site lines and who is to your right, left and behind you. Developing that group presence helps me every time I’m working with a group—any kind of group. The communications skills are the same. Whether it’s a consulting project, or a performance, it’s all about how you relate to people. Good presentations require eye contact and sincerity.
Consulting: Are there other similarities?
DeLoach: Another connection point is realizing that every audience is new. Successful performers are able to go with the flow. And that’s also true of consulting clients. Each client’s source of pain is different—and recognizing that is vital to the consultative process.