Wayne Hoffman is an Illusionist and Mentalist
Wayne Hoffman is a professional illusionist and mentalist. He has performed across the world, and has been featured on Howard Stern, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Glenn Beck, The Discovery Network, and more. You can learn more about Wayne on his website (and don’t forget to check out his tour dates).
Wayne developed a passion for magic when he was a teenager. Through a lot of hard work and an unwavering dedication to his craft, he was able turn what started as a hobby into his career. I jumped at the chance to talk to him about what he does and how he was able to build a career out of something he loves to do. The interview is below, and I hope you find it inspiring as you’re chasing your own dreams.
For the sake of any readers who might not be familiar with what you do, can you explain what mentalism is?
Mentalism is the use of psychology and human behavior for entertainment. In layman’s terms, I’m a mind reader. You think of things and I can figure them out. I also do seemingly psychic demonstrations of precognition (predicting the future), psychokinesis (moving objects with my mind), and other weird stunts involving the mind.
You fell in love with illusions and card tricks when you were in high school. Did you know right away that this was something you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
I always enjoyed performing magic for my friends growing up and I never really thought about doing it as a job. When I was 15 somebody offered to pay me to do a show. At that point it hit me that I might be able to perform for a living. It was a weird concept to accept that I could get paid for something I enjoyed doing. I mean, aren’t you supposed to hate your job?
At some point, your family and friends must have told you that you were crazy, and that you should just pack it in and get a reliable desk job. How did you react to that?
Many of my family members and friends told me that I was crazy for even thinking about being a performer. I know that it came from a good place and they were just trying to protect me. They wanted me to take the safe route and get a normal job. I feel that some people cant grasp the concept of taking a path outside of the box. The key thing that I feel I did was to put earplugs in. Its often times the people who care about us most that stop us from following out passions. My theory was that I was going to be successful. Period.
You started your career by performing card tricks for small crowds at places like birthday parties and restaurants. There must have been days where you wanted to give up and pack it in. What kept you going?
I always enjoyed performing but I lacked the knowledge in business. Looking back, if I would have had a degree in business marketing and development, I would have succeeded much faster. I had to learn the business on my own. Landing a gig in the beginning was difficult but my love for what I did is the thing that kept me going. The truth is, I would still perform, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it.
Ive watched a lot of clips from your shows. One thing that really stands out to me is your knack for storytelling. How did you develop that skill?
I started public speaking as a kid in my local church. I was asked to be the lector and read in front of everyone. At first I was nervous, but then I got used to it, and even started to like it. After I could handle being in front of a crowd it was no problem performing.
With that said, there is a huge difference between being a magician and doing tricks. Anyone can pick up a deck of cards and do a trick, but it takes something more to become a magician. The difference is in your presentation. I feel like the largest entertaining factor in sleight-of-hand or mentalism is in the presentation. It is the story behind the trick that really helps your audience connect with what you’re doing. Once you find a routine that you enjoy, its easy to create a story around it. I like to use universal themes in my presentations: death, money, love, etc. Those things resonate with everybody.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My friend Uri Geller told me two great pieces of advice: Cause controversy and invest in real estate.
What is the worst part of your job?
The worst part is traveling so much. I feel like I live in airports. Most people would kill to travel, but there is an old saying Too much of a good thing is bad.
Traveling as much as I do doesn’t allow me to spend as much time with my family as I would like. But to be honest, even the downside of my job is pretty cool. Ive gotten to see some pretty amazing places like Bali, Tahiti, Venice Italy, Bora Bora, London, Paris, and more.
This year, you established a charitable organization called the Hoffman Foundation. Can you tell me a little bit about what the organization does, and what motivated you to start it?
The organization was formed to help children from lower-class families experience live theater. I want kids to step away from the computer and the television and see the original form of entertainment. I grew up fairly poor and I never got a chance to see any magic shows or theatrical plays. It’s my belief, and the belief of the people who help support the organization, that every child deserves to experience live theater, regardless of how much money you have. Right now my goal is to simply raise awareness and let people know about our mission.
What advice would you give to people who dream of following their passion, but are scared of failure?
Ive had people ask me how I was able to take such a crazy dream and turn it into reality, so I wrote a book on it called Mind Candy under my pen name Wayne Nicholas Hoffman.
Editors note: Waynes book is available on Amazon.
In the book, I teach people a four-step process to creating whatever they want in life. In simple terms: Feel. Define. Plan. Do.
First and foremost, make sure you’re passionate about what you want to accomplish. Put in earplugs and don’t listen to anyone who tries to stop you or dissuade you. Create a clear vision of what you want. Take small doable actions to get closer to reaching your goal. Finally, stop talking about it and do it.
Thanks so much for your time!