Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Notes

Happy Holidays! It's been hectic as always. I hope yours have been as stress free as possible.

The week before Christmas, my dad had a stroke, and had to spend Christmas in the hospital. Our whole family had our Christmas celebration with him there. He's doing well, and we're hoping for a speedy recovery. He's currently in the rehab ward at Proctor Hospital. Please do send him your prayers.

I got some nice press for my appearance at the Salvation Army "Red Stocking" parties. Several people said they saw me on the TV news, but I missed seeing it. Here's the Peoria Journal Star article. And here are two photos from the article.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rocco Follow Up

Just a quick update/ followup to the Rocco Landesman visit to Peoria. First, here's the At Issue episode that aired on WTVP, in which I was one of two audience members who posed questions to Chairman Landesman.

And here are a few photos of the discussion that took place at WTVP studios, where I also posed a question to Rocco:

Finally, there was a ton of press generated, locally, regionally, and nationally, on the Landesman visit. Here's a list of some of the highlights:

Peoria Journal Star
November 8, 2009
November 7, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009

St. Louis Post Dispatch
November 8, 2009

Washington Post
November 8, 2009

November 5, 2009

NPR News
November 5, 2009
November 9, 2009
November 7, 2009

Chicago Reader Blog
October 21, 2009

November 6, 2009

Bradley University

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NEA Chair Plays in Peoria

This past Friday, I took part in a discussion that was part of a visit to Peoria by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, Rocco Landesman. The visit came about as a result of comments that Chairman Landesman made several months ago, saying that he didn't know if Peoria had a theatre, but that if so, it probably wasn't as good as the Steppenwolf in Chicago. Suzette Boulais, Executive Director of ArtsPartners, and Kathy Chitwood, Executive Director of Eastlight Theatre each wrote to Rocco, saying he should come see for himself what Peoria has to offer. And he took them up on it, using his visit to Peoria as the kickoff for his Art Works tour, which will have him visiting cities throughout the country to learn how art shapes the economics, city revitalization, and social development of communities. He wrapped up his visit by attending a special performance of Rent at Eastlight.

The discussion I attended took place at WTVP studios and was taped for the NEA website, as well as a special edition of At Issue, a WTVP program with producer/host, H. Wayne Wilson. I was one of the audience members who posed questions to Chairman Landesman in both tapings.

I have a strong sense that those of us in the arts have a responsibility to make our voices heard, when it comes time to shape public policy that effects how the arts are funded and allowed to thrive. One of the interesting points that Chairman Landesman made is that even some Congress members have made comments about the (comparitively miniscule) amounts of the national budget directed to supporting the arts being frivolous, and that it could instead go to creating "real jobs". Rocco pointed out that someone who'd spent their life working to become the top violinist in a symphony orchestra would not think they didn't have a "real job". And he went on to note that the number of people who have full time jobs in the arts is actually greater than the number of people with jobs in the transportation sector and automobile manufacturing industries combined.

There was also discussion of the arts in education, how it's the first thing eliminated when budgets are tight. And yet it's been shown again and again that students who have the arts as a part of their curriculum achieve higher in all areas of academic pursuit, as well as at success in life and business after leaving school, than those who don't. We need the arts if we're to compete effectively on the world stage. Those who claim otherwise are simply ignorant of the facts.

So it's obvious that the arts play a major role in the economic, academic, and cultural health of our society, and it's time that those of us who have a stake in the arts step up and educate people on the realities of not only the part that art plays in our personal lives, but also of the value it has in our economic health as a nation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Corporate Event Planning Checklist

Here's a helpful article with tips on planning a corporate event, from small to large, with a useful checklist to help keep you on track. They've also included a link to a pdf file with a more detailed checklist and planning sheets, courtesy of Midwest Meetings.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here's an article I just found with some useful tips on planning a kids' Halloween party:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why Meetings Matter

There has been a lot of buzz in the press lately about how the economy, and in particular the perception of corporate events as frivolous, have effected the meeting and event industry. I've noticed some companies tightening budgets, being more cautious about event spending, and waiting until the last minute to firm up plans. Luckily, in part because I offer an excellent service at affordable prices, my business hasn't taken a huge hit, and I've made up the difference in other areas. But many event related businesses have suffered.

Now the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) have teamed up to create a campaign to "reinforce the message, that contrary to media and political backlash, Meetings Matter." Their website promotes the idea that corporate meetings and events "develop leaders and a workforce ready to invent a profitable future for America... and help drive a vibrant and productive economy."

The US Travel Association has developed a similar approach, and developed a website on the idea that "Meetings Mean Business". For example, they point out that "For every dollar invested in business travel, companies realize $12.50 in incremental revenue."

If you're in an event related business or job, and concerned about cutbacks, there's a wealth of information out there on the true value of corporate events and how they relate to the bottom line. It's not just about lavish, extravagant, or frivolous spending: it really is about an investment in the bottom line.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Holiday Party Planning Tips

Current trends say that even with the downturn in the economy and tight budgets, most companies are still having parties for the holidays, even it they are scaled back a bit. I just came across a useful article on low budget party planning for the holidays.

Some of the main tips include:

1. Book early for the best deals and dates -- and be flexible.

2. Seek support from on-site event planners.

3. Take advantage of seasonal promotions and packages.

4. Look for distinctive locations and activities.

5. Remember, low-key doesn't mean low quality.

You can check out the entire article HERE.

Friday, September 11, 2009

There's a great video profile on me that currently is front and center on the Peoria Journal Star website, at

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just set up a new account on Eventful, and listed my upcoming 5 Points show:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Social Media Event Planning and a Fundraising Opportunity

We all know online social media is the big craze these days. But what does it mean for our businesses? Well, if you plan meetings, conferences, or other events, I just came across a useful article in the Indianapolis Examiner on "15 Ways Social Media Can Make Your Next Event a Smashing Success". It does a nice job of summarizing the wide variety of social media tools that are either directly related to or that can be used for event planning. Some of the more interesting ones include event planning sites like Upcoming (just used this on myself!) and Eventful, to ways share photos and video on Twitter.

On another topic, we've just announced a really unique opportunity tied to my upcoming show, The ART of Magic! at Five Points in Washington, IL. We're allowing local community organizations and charities to partner with us, using the show as a fundraising vehicle for their groups. In a nutshell, they help us sell tickets to the show, and in return, they get a generous cut of the price of each ticket they sell. If you're part of a group that might benefit, send me an email right away for details.

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Conference Communication Resource

Hey, meeting and event planners, if you're planning a large conference of any kind, here's a really interesting new resource I just stumbled across that may make your life a whole lot easier. GuestAssist is a mobile phone/ text based, interactive communication system that allows conference planners, staff, attendees, and others to communicate in a variety of useful ways. Here are just a few uses:
  • Questions can be answered
  • Information can be sent or downloaded
  • Schedules can be updated
  • Alerts and updates can be sent
  • Feedback can be given
Communications can be targeted to specific groups or individuals, all attendees, or can be used by attendees to reach event organizers for questions or feedback. Feel free to check it out at:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Upcoming Public Appearances

Well, my show at the Apollo Theatre in Peoria went well. And now that it's over, I'm looking forward to a few other public performances in the coming months.
  • July 11 and 12th I'll be doing two shows each day at this year's Marshall-Putnam County Fair.
  • On July 17, I'm performing in a special FREE CONCERT at 5 Points Washington, called The Art of Music and Magic.
  • On August 1, I'll be performing at 2-Cylinder Days at the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, IL.
  • And I'm really excited to announce we've just confirmed I'll also be back at 5 Points Washington for my own The ART of Magic! one man theatre show on September 19.
Since most of my work in the past few years has been at private and corporate events, it's a little more rare to be able to see me at public venues, so I'm really glad to let everyone know about these. If you need more information about any of these events, feel free to call me at 309-647-3692, or send me an email.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Social Media and Networking

I'm always looking for better ways to stay in touch with my clients, friends, and anyone else interested in my entertainment programs and events.

I just found an interesting statistic. According to a recent survey, a majority of meeting planners are using online social media sites as ways of keeping touch with customers and event attendees. 61% use Facebook, 58% for LinkedIn, but only 13% are on Twitter.

If you're on one of the social media sites, and you'd like to stay in touch, keep up to date on my activities, or just follow me on any of my various social media pages, you can become a "friend" on my MySpace page, or my Facebook page, connect with me on LinkedIn, or follow my "tweets" on Twitter.

Oh, and if you'd like to stay up to date more directly, you can subscribe to my email list, and receive my email newsletter The Magic Word, by sending me an email asking to be added to the list. For immediate attention, put "Subscribe to MW" in the subject line.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I now have a new version of my website, specifically for the Peoria area. It's at It has some subtle differences from my main site, including my promo video: UNFORGETTABLE EVENT ENTERTAINMENT on the homepage.

I also just learned about a new tool for helping to integrate your social networking. If you use more than one social networking site, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace, is a way to update all of them at once! How cool is that? (I got this tip from my friend and business associate, Cindy Fleming, President and founder of VisionShift. Thanks, Cindy!)

Here's my video, in case you haven't seen it:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Press Release

I just put out a press release on our upcoming show at the Apollo. You can view it HERE.

We're really excited about how the show's coming together, and about our support for Look! It's My Book! They've only been operating since January, and they've already adopted two schools in the Peoria school district, and have raised enough money to date to add a third school

Great work!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Save the Date Resorces

Here are two more online event planning resources to share.

WhichDateWorks gives you a simple, easy to use way to decide on a date for an event. Basically, you create an invitation to your event, enter the email addresses of the people you need feedback from, and send it out. You can choose a range of dates from the entire year down to limiting it to two days from which to vote on. The recipients don't need to sign up to use the service, they simply follow the link that arrives in their email and select the date that works best for them.

If you need to do the same thing, but want to include more detail than just the date (specific times, locations, activities, etc., for example), you can use Doodle. It gives you more variables and it also integrates with Facebook. Also, with Doodle, you don't necessarily need each person's email address, just a way to get them the link where they can vote on event details.

One of these days I'll have to compile all the various online event planning resources I've written about in my blog so they'll all be in one place... Maybe in my next newsletter? Speaking of which, if you're not already on my email list for my newsletter, The Magic Word, that's filled with news and updates on my activities, a "trick of the month" that you can learn, event planning tips, and lots of other fun stuff, just send me an email with Subscribe to MW! in the subject.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Magic, Music, Art, and Harriet

Just a quick announcement. Here's an opportunity to see me in one of my public performances.

On May 31, as a kickoff event for the One State: Together in the Arts Conference in Peoria, I'm doing a special show at a really cool little theatre, the Apollo Theatre, in downtown Peoria. I'll be performing my one man theatre show, The ART of Magic. Joining me on the program will be Edith Barnard with her one woman portrayal of author Harriet Beecher Stowe. We're calling the show Magic, Music, Art, and Harriet, and you can learn more about it or order tickets HERE.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Online Meeting Planning Resource

Just a quick note to share another event planning resource I just came across. It's, and it's a very comprehensive set of online resources for meeting planners, including a searchable database of vendors and a variety of meeting planning tools, including free enhanced meeting planning software.

The only drawback is that they are targetted mainly to events and services in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. But if you're planning an event in one of those areas, I think you'll find this very useful. And even if you're planning your event somewhere else, there's certainly enough helpful information and resources that it's at least worth taking a look!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm On Twitter!

Well, I did it! I just created an account on Twitter. If you're not familiar with it, it's the latest craze in internet social networking. You can "follow" what your friends are doing, throughout the day.

I'm interested to see how it relates to business, promotion, marketing, and just staying in touch with customers and for networking opportunities.

You can follow me at: (My real name was already taken!) Check it out!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finding the Right Hotel, and a Magical Experience of History

Today I'd like to share a new event planning resource, and a "magical experience" I just enjoyed.

First the resource: it's a new web based system for finding the right hotel for your event. It allows you to directly contact all the participating hotels in a specific area, all in one shot, and provides a platform in which the hotels can choose to send proposals, and you can interact with them. Thus avoiding the need to either go through a professional event planner, or call all the hotels individually. It's called, and you can read more about it here.

Last weekend was my 22nd wedding anniversary. My wife Kathi and I decided to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois. What an absolutely amazing place! And an extraordinarily magical experience. The museum is an exciting mix of modern high tech wizardry, detailed historical drama, and a plethora of fascinating facts, narratives, and historic artifacts. The unique combination really takes you into the experience of Lincoln's life in a way that's like nothing you've ever encountered.

What a great way to learn about the past! It really is a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory experience of sight, sound, emotion, much more,... in which history comes alive all around you. (And there are some actual magic techniques in use in at least one of the presentations,... but I won't let the cat out of the bag-- you've got to see it for yourself.)

If you have the chance to get to Springfield, I highly recommend that you take the time to spend a few hours at the museum. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Positive Change

The weekend before last, I presented a program for Carver Pump Company in Muscatine, Iowa. In addition to the family atmosphere amongst their staff and co-workers, I was also impressed to learn that, in the midst of the current economic climate, their biggest challenge at Carver Pump Co. is going to be keeping up with all the orders they already have on the books for 2009. In the words of one of their staff members, "We've elected to not participate in the current recession."

This really is the attitude to have. It's easy to get caught up in the worries over downturns and shortfalls. But our perceptions really do, to a very large degree, determine our reality. So a realistic, but positive attitude of confidence and determination to succeed can go a long way, even when things are tough all around us. And of course it's also important to note that a huge part of Carver Pump Co.'s success is based on the spirit of community within the company.

You can see the recession as a reason to fail: everyone else is doing it, it's a handy excuse if things don't go your way. Or you can see it as a challenge to be met; one that urges you to rise to the occasion. It's really up to you... and if you manage or supervise other people, you can lead in this way as well, and use the challenges as a motivating factor: "We're all in this together!"

Personally, I see the current situation as inevitable and necessary. We've been running things, politically and economically, in a totally unsustainable, inequitable, unjust, and unrealistic manner that was doomed to eventual and unavoidable collapse. We just didn't realize it. This is the necessary end to that way of doing things that had to happen in order to awaken us to the realities of the results of our collective actions, so that we can find a better way of being in the world.

This is a historic turning point, and a monumental opportunity to create a better way of living on our planet; one that is more just, purposeful, healthy, and sustainable. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I believe we are on the cusp of a totally new way if life... IF we can accept that business as it has been is no longer tenable, IF we can let go of our irrational attachment to over-cunsumption, greed, and "more!", and if we can choose to truly move forward in a more rational and humane manner.

Change is good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two More Event Planning Resources

Here's another new event planning site that I just came across. It's called PLUQ. I found this article about it that spells out its various features. It seems to be similar to some other event planning sites, but this one is geared for casual use, for parties, dinners, and such, with lots of interactivity possible.

(Update: 2/24/09: here's another article that describes the difference in PLUQ as compared to other event planning sites, and how it's more interactive.)

And if you're looking for a speaker for an event, you may want to check out the You can search for speakers by topic, post an "open call" for a speaker, or have the folks at the site find a speaker for you.

Have fun exporing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Few Quick Thoughts...

Just got back from Des Moines, Iowa, where I worked over the weekend at the Youth Strike for Christ conference. I performed a customized version of my one man theatre show for a group of about 600 teens. What a rush! A big thanks to Margo Fuller and Jim Oberbroekling with the Youth Strike group for inviting me and for being such gracious hosts. They put on a very impressive event.

I'm working on my latest email newsletter which should go out in the next couple of days sometime. If you're not on my list, and would like to be, send me an email and mention that you'd like to receive the newsletter. It's full of my thoughts, what I've been up to, and fun tidbits such as vegetarian recipes and a magic "Trick of the Month" that you can learn to do.

If you're in the Peoria area, have you been out to see me at my Wednesday night spot at Tyroni's Italian Cafe in Bartonville? If not, come on out, you'll love it! Here's the scoop.

Finally, a Happy Valentine's Day this weekend. Hope you find time to spend with those you love. Stay in touch!

Friday, January 9, 2009

More Web Resources

Here are a couple more useful resources I wanted to share.

Just came across this helpful article on using web based event planning applications. They can be a great way to manage, organize and plan events online. The article gives several references of such applications, on which you can create events, schedules, track attendees, sell tickets, and lots more. Some of the services even allow you to set up a free website for your event.

Also, for those of you interested in business networking, I've mentioned LinkedIn before, which is a business social networking site. (You can view my LinkedIn profile HERE.) I've also just discovered and joined another similar site called Naymz. Here's my profile on Naymz.

These types of sites are a terrific way to build business connections, and to increase your web traffic if you market through a website.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Way to Find Corporate Sponsors for Your Events

I just came across a terrific resource for event planners, and wanted to share it right away...

In my writing on event planning, I've often mentioned the value of getting corporate sponsors to help offset the costs of your event. If you can find the right match, this can be a great "win-win" way to have a great event and allow your corporate sponsor to get it's message to it's target market. This is especially true for fundraising events, where you want to maximize your profits, but it's great for any event where you just want to keep your costs down and get the most from your budget.

Well, I've just discovered a free web based resource that helps you find sponsors for your events. It's called, and it allows you to post notices and find good corporate sponsors for your events. Also, here's a Press Release with additional information on their services.

I plan to try their services out myself to see about getting sponsors for some of my events, so if I have good results, I'll try to make another post here to update you on how it went. (If you try them out, I'd love to hear about how it worked for you too!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Magic in the New Year


to all my friends, clients, and anyone else stumbling upon these pages...

I hope the holidays were joyous and filled with wonder for you and yours. My season was filled with shows for both new and repeat clients, and I had fun with all of them.

Next week I'm doing a series of shows at Washington Intermediate School in Pekin and am putting together a special program to go along with their "RESPECT" code. I'm looking forward to it, as I think the importance of mutual respect is often overlooked in education. Kudos to the folks at Washington Intermediate for putting together such a valuable program!

HERE is something a friend sent me recently that I thought you might enjoy. It's a "magical" animation based on a new technology. It may take a few moments to load, but once it does, a playing card will appear. Scroll down to the slider bar below it, and move the slider gradually to the right and stop and watch what takes place, then move it a little more to the right and stop and another show will take place. Keep doing this until you get to the end.

Enjoy! And stay in touch!