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Do What You Love: The Amazing Kreskin

do what you love, magic, magician

Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.

You may have seen the mentalist “The Amazing Kreskin” on television, but the story of how he built his career, inspired by a comic book and a hidden penny, is as interesting and inspiring as the work he does.

What started as a passion when he was 5 years old has led to a career that spans six decades and has included hundreds of television appearances on shows hosted by Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Regis Philbin, Larry King, Howard Stern and Jimmy Fallon as well as appearances on CNN, Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC and many others.

He has entertained and captivated millions through his one-man live show, hit television show, “The Amazing World of Kreskin,” and his 19 best-selling books about mind power and career.

The Amazing Kreskin, who legally changed his name from George Kresge, tells BusinessNewsDaily in an email interview how he found a way to do what he loves for a living and how you can, too.

BusinessNewsDaily: Explain you what you do for a living.

The Amazing Kreskin: That is very clear to answer and I use the term mentalist. Although this is not a magic act, it deals with my ability to perceive and also influence people’s thoughts. This is in sharp contrast to a psychic, supernaturalist mumbo jumbo they use to describe themselves. I am not a fortune-teller. When I have made predictions, it was because of intuitive thinking and my examination of situations that may lead to a future event. But basically, I am a thought reader and can tap into individual’s thoughts if they concentrate. I can’t walk into a room helter-skelter and suddenly know what someone is thinking. That is not what I can do.

BND: How did you end up doing this for a living?

A.K.: There were a couple of factors involved. One almost reads like fantasy because as [a] kid 5 years old, I was given a comic book. The key comic created by author/cartoon writer Lee Faulk. It was called “Mandrake the Magician.” It is a legendary cartoon and even during the war had tremendous popularity even in enemy satellite countries such as Italy. He had created both “The Phantom” and “Mandrake.”

But, as I explain in my current book “Conversations with Kreskin,” the Mandrake character really was not a magician … he had telepathic abilities and hypnotic abilities. It was remarkably clear that in days after I received the comic that I could foresee myself becoming that character.

In third grade, a pivotal moment took place in my life. Because it was raining outside, my teacher decided to teach us a game we could play indoors. I had my brother go upstairs and hide a penny in grandma’s house. He called me [and] I meandered upstairs and through the kitchen aimlessly. I found myself in my uncle’s bedroom and reaching behind a curtain rod and I felt the penny. It then dawned on me that I had forgotten to tell my brother to speak to me. He never said a word. There was no conversation. There was no verbal communication at all. Somehow I picked up his thought patterns and found the penny.

By the time I was in ninth grade, I was doing two-hour performances using my abilities. There was never any doubt in my mind from age of five what my work was going to be. Ironically, years later, by the time I had become established and known thanks to public concerts and television, a seminar was held at Sardi’s restaurant by comic book aficionados. They were professors, teachers, scholars, writers and their special guest was Lee Faulk. I was asked to attend because many knew the effect that Faulk’s comic had on me. I spoke to Faulk for a few minutes and then his Q&A with this large educated audience began. Somewhere in the middle of his talk, he stopped and said, “I want to interrupt our train of thought at this moment and tell you that in the years since I started writing this comic in 1935, there is only one person that has come closest in real life to the character and characteristics that I have put in Mandrake, he then nodded over to me and said, ‘The Amazing Kreskin.’”

BND: What was the crucial decision you made that led you to this place in life?

A.K.: The visions of my adult life were pretty much spelled out by me in my preteen and teenage years. I would sit with teachers and explain experiments that I would do on stage or in public performances. At that time, I had not evolved or developed to the degree that I could do such readily. But I knew that someday I would be doing these experiments, including what has become a signature for me. In all of these programs, a committee from the audience is given my check and while I am escorted from the premises, my check is hidden anywhere within the venue. The committee returns to the stage and I am called back in. The committee is simply admonished by me to concentrate on what they have done. The bottom line is if I do not find my check, it is returned to people who booked me and the program is for free. And today there is no one in the world aside from yours truly doing this regularly in his performances.

BND: Why do you love your job?

A.K.: Work for me really is more of an adventure than a job. People would say that I could have retired years ago. Each program is literally an exciting experience. Because my audiences are so different, I am picking up rather dramatic thoughts I can’t even anticipate all that is taking place.

BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?

A.K.: Probably the biggest misconception is that there are those who think that everywhere I go thoughts cannot be guarded. And that their mind is an absolute open book immediately and instantly. And that really is not the case. The other is that I am in a position to predict and foresee anything in the future, including lottery ticket numbers and what have you. That is truly not within my capacity. This numbers come up by chance when they are picked and there is nothing for me intuitively to reflect upon.

BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have and why?

A.K.: A lot of people who know me personally have said that I probably would be teaching in a university reflecting on the passing scene and commenting on changes in the direction that our culture is going in, since I have made so many dramatic predictions and spoken at great length on our current scenario in the Western world, which is becoming more and more socially dysfunctional. But the truth of the matter is, if I could replace what I am doing now with teaching … probably not. I would be probably be on the streets doing what I do now for nothing because it is just too much a part of how I think and act and plan.

BND: Do you think having a job you love has made you a better person in other areas of your life?

A.K.: The only thing I can say to that point is that I have become more sympathetic and understanding to people’s behavior, even if sometimes it has sometimes been poor or antagonistic or thoughtless. I feel I have a greater understanding of people’s frailties because we all have them. I do not consider myself any less guilty of such. It makes me understand why people do things in their everyday life which unfortunately at times may damage others or damage their future. I do have a philosophy, which is that most of the problems we have in life, we create ourselves. To blame others is simply unfortunate, because in facing the fact that we create these problems, then we face the fact that we can change our life, and that is the great potential.

BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to pursue their career dreams?

A.K.: The advice that I give, and often to youngsters, is that they should remember, a very strong blessing, I became interested in what I intended in my life very early in my life. That was a blessing because people did not have a chance to teach me that these things could not be done. As far as other plans or jobs, my advice is to always has been have a plan in mind, have a target in mind but know that you may have to get to it through different routes.

BND: What's your idea of the perfect retirement?

A.K.: I would have say that I cannot really answer that question. In conclusion, I can say exactly what say on stage … “I plan to retire 10 days after I pass away!”

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.