Rick Gerber – Man of Influence – By Deana Murray

Rick Gerber - Deana Murray

By definition, influence is that unseen energy created by a memory that affects your future choices. It’s situational – leading to an alternate approach providing unexpected and surprising outcomes.

So, if you’ve ever had a Budweiser, been to a Magic Live Convention or worked on a non-magic project… then RICK GERBER’s influence might be one of the invisible threads that connect us all. I first met Rick at a Hispanic Scholarship Fundraiser – THE ALLIANCE Golf Tournament in Angel Fire, New Mexico. It wasn’t the first time he’d traveled far from his home in Laguna Niguel, California to an Anhauser-Busch sponsored event. He is, after all, their “Corporate Magician”. ‘The Bud Man’ of choice. He is also Stan Allen’s man of choice to initially direct the Stage Shows, and now, the General Sessions at Magic Live. Likewise, RICK is a man of influence and inspiration for his wife, Raleigh and their three sons, Greg, Chad and Jason.

Initially, when Rick began creating and performing large illusions for Budweiser events, his magic was overtly and overly branded with an obvious “pitch” factor. Vanishing beer bottles, production of assistants from a large, suspended 6-pack. “That style of magic has changed… and the corporate environment has changed, too.” He says, “On the one hand, audiences are now turned off by the blatant advertising pitch. {Rick sparingly uses much smaller gestures, now with bottle caps and labels.} On the other hand, when decisions are made, the cost of entertainment is more often driven by sales objectives.” Although ‘Added Value’ is hard to define, it’s not so hard to defend when Rick arrives.

Because event experiences build relationships and Rick’s magic is so personable and interactive, he does impact sales directly. His audiences of customers, retailers, and business executives are even more bonded to the brand they buy.

RICK’S ADVICE for magicians at adult events or sponsored by a product made for adults…

Rick Gerber

Play to the adults. Children are welcome to watch, but he never has a kid “pick a card.”

Entertainment is the objective. Let the crowd have their fun. If they mess with you, it’s generally not harmful in nature. He responds in kind, by playing along or into the ‘sidetracking’. Action, guided by interaction.

There are many sub-groups or divisions within a company. Each will have their own goals and BUDGETS. If you’ve proven yourself, you’re part of the family. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the different departments with a variety of uses for your skills. Rick’s list includes “In-Store Promotions, Trade Shows, Sales Meetings, Hospitality Suites, Golf Tournaments, Dinners and Banquets, and Experimental Marketing.”

STAN ALLEN, Publisher of MAGIC MAGAZINE reached out to RICK to influence the first MAGIC LIVE {un-conventional} Convention in Las Vegas. It was partially because of his production background in both live events and TV. But mostly it was because of his untainted knowledge of how magic conventions usually work, having never been to one. Rick accepted Stan’s reasoning and they set about creating “a corporate event for an audience of professionals.” Rick has worked on every version of Magic Live, save one. It was the year he just wanted to attend. Later he told Stan that he “should attend one of his own conventions someday, because they are absolutely wonderful.” One of Rick’s ideas was to produce a short video at the end of each day; 20- minute capsules of ‘behind the scenes’ clips of shows, break-out sessions and hallway interactions called “Late Night LIVE.”

Stan and Rick have been life-long friends developed from previous (AD)ventures. One of their many projects together was called “Treasure Quest.” With the help of Rory Johnston, they produced “team building and entertainment experiences” in the form of themed ‘Treasure Hunts’ at various resort locations for corporate clients. Rick laughs as he tells the stories… They went as far as hiding clues in helium balloons, under seats in a tennis stadium and submerged in water with a scuba diver. And further by over-dubbing a cartoon’s dialogue played on a bar television.

Rick’s family life has been pretty normal. At home, magic was never the mainstay of attention over other events in the day. When the kids were growing up, Rick chose to practice while they were asleep or at school. It did filter in, however, in a combination of ways. As children of a magician, Rick’s oldest sons tried their hands at one School Show and one Bar Mitzvah – but declined a future in magic because it was “too stressful.” The third son has learned to make balloon animals. It’s not exactly magic, but it’s a fun icebreaker.

The subliminal message over the years of watching Rick’s projects grow from an idea drawn on a napkin to a fully produced show has strengthened their problem solving skills. It’s funny how our belief systems get changed because of magic. Magic goes beyond and outside. According to Rick, “Anything’s possible. Ideas BEGIN without limitations, boundaries or obstacles. Look forward, towards the effect you want to present – then work backwards, to figure out how to achieve it.”

P.S. Rick’s son created a ‘real world gaming’ iphone app. The premise was that the device you play your game on should interact with the environment around you. Years ahead of its time, the first version of that idea was the invention of a game named “I SPY” with business partner Ian McDougald. Now, how’s that for influence?