Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What is the probability of a magician guessing my card?

What is the probability of guessing a random card?

One of the greatest magic tricks in the world is a magician guessing exactly which card you have thought of! Imagine a cool brown haired guy comes up to you and lays a card down on a table in front of you. He says “think of ANY card” and you say, for example, the two of clubs. He flips the card over on the table that has been right in front of you and it is exactly the card you have named! 

In the magic world this has historically been known as a “thought of card” routine, or in some even bolder cases an “any card at any number” routine. The two tricks are statistically exactly the same but nonetheless pretty amazing.

So, what about this trick is so freaking incredible? We can explain that using math, and also show why the same trick shown to children would not be viewed as amazing at all!

Let’s demonstrate this with the two of clubs. There are 52 cards in a shuffled deck of cards. The chances of any particular card being the two of clubs are 1/52, or 1.92%. 

Those aren’t very good odds. If a guy ever guesses a card that you merely thought of, give him a standing ovation because it is statistically impossible for that to happen!

But wait! What if he just happened to do this trick for different people over and over and then it happened to work on me! He just has to try 52 times until it works right?


If you were to constantly shuffle a deck of cards, and have someone guess a card you laid down over and over, most people would think that after 52 tries you would be 100% likely to get the card. However, that is not the case! 52 tries puts the probability of guessing correctly at least one time just at 64%! 

If you wanted to have an 80% success rate for guessing that random card at least ONE time, you would have to do this trick 80 times to make it very likely that it would work once. 

If you were to show this trick to a child under the age of 7, they would not be very impressed. This is because cognitively they have not developed the ability to understand “randomness” and “likeliness” for things like playing cards and mind reading. For example, at one show that I performed in a theater I asked an audience member to think of any city in the world. I had a prediction in the box that guessed cincinatti and I was right! 

The audience thought it was awesome, but to the kid sitting next to him, he said “…all you did was write down the city before the show and left it in the box”. 

… Yes, isn’t that awesome?!?!

The kid stared at me blankly, and went back to eating popcorn.

The big takeaway is statistically speaking, the world we live in is far more random than we would like to believe, so never take your bets on guessing a card correctly even once at a casino.

Well, unless you are a magician… like me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

3 Campus Event Promotion Mistakes

The Top 3 Campus Event Promoting Mistakes

Who doesn't love the feeling when your board's event is a success? You have a packed crowd, the hashtag you implemented for the event is being used repeatedly, everyone is engaged and the artist is terrific! Those are the moments that I live for. However, sometimes the events we plan don't go over as smoothly, and more times than not it's because you didn't get an audience as large as you anticipated. Often this is from common mistakes event planners and activity boards make when promoting - so here are some mistakes you should avoid this semester when promoting your events!


1. You Don't Make an Event Page

This is a mistake I see every month, and it's an easy mistake to make.

Let's say you have a, oh I don't know, a magic show coming up in two weeks! You get the digital poster your marketing department made and you post it on your facebook page's news feed every couple days. You continue to do this every couple days so that everyone is aware of the event and sees that post! It is the most effective way to promote it on facebook - right?


Posts are great for announcements, and sharing engaging content for your audience. However, if you really want to boost attendance at your event, you need to make an event page.

Posts that don't get a lot of comments or likes will be placed at the bottom of a user's newsfeed amongst cat videos and buzzfeed articles, and any content that looks like an ad is likely to end up never seen by anyone!

An event page is a great way around it, because anyone who is invited to join the event or sees the event can indicate if they are interested or going, which is then shared with their friends who will also indicate if they are going, and the chain goes on and on.

Also, any announcements made specific to that event will be made noticeable by facebook notifications, and the event page can even be shared and posted to different organizations pages and groups which expands your audience! And speaking of other organizations...

2. You Don't Reach Out to Other Organizations

I remember my sophomore year of college we had a contestant from "Dancing With The Stars" perform on our campus. She did an excellent job, but attendance was a lot lower than expected.

I knew the president of the Dance Club on campus and asked why she and the rest of the club weren't at the show because it seemed right up their alley, and I got the famous response

"What Dance Show?!"

I talked with my activities board about that and asked how they promoted, and it was only the standard "social media and flyers" talk. When I asked why they didn't share the info with the dance club on campus they replied:

"Huh. I guess that would have been a good idea. Well this is the way we have always done it so that's how we do it"

It definitely never hurts just to share the event page with different organizations on campus - even if they aren't as related to the event as a dance event and dance club. The Finance Club might be interested in your de-stress cupcake making event for all you know, and even if they aren't, at least they are aware of your board and some of the events that go on!

And speaking of awareness...

3. You Leave Out The Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

A common misperception on campuses is that the activities events are just for the freshmen, and the upperclassmen have no interest in doing any of that stuff.

I've had a ton of moments where I arrive on campus early to set up for my show, and I head to a coffee shop nearby to get a drink. I'll often make small talk with the people in there and then ask if they are coming to the show that night, to which they always reply "Wait! There's a magic show on campus?!" Needless to say, upperclassmen or not, they are usually pretty excited and interested.

Seen Above: Upperclassmen

Often times the planners get in the mindset of "We never see upperclassmen at the shows, so they must not like to do stuff on campus". I can tell you from experience this is not the case. Upperclassmen are just not aware of the events, because how are they usually advertised? Dorms, student centers, and wherever freshmen hang out.

Upperclassmen typically make up 70% of the student body, but you can't advertise to them the same way you advertise to freshmen. Do most upperclassmen commute to campus? Great! Put posters around the parking garages! Do they eat off campus more than on campus? Perfect! Have promotions on the popular coffee shops or restaurants near campus. Learn how the upperclassmen want to receive ads, and tailor the promotion to their needs.

More times than not, most students will find your events interesting. The problem is they are often not aware, so keep these tips in mind when you are planning your next event at your school and hopefully you can boost your attendance to a record high!


Hayden "Haydini" Childress is an up and coming magician from Charlotte, NC. He specializes in performances for theaters, universities, corporations, and private parties. Learn more at www.haydinimagic.com

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I was just testing out the live video freature of Facebook, and thought you might like to watch some of my magic :). You can see me do more of this in Charlotte and everywhere else in the world! Enjoy,

Friday, June 17, 2016

Stop Comparing Your Life to Social Media!

Stop Comparing Your Life to Social Media!

I am a full time entertainer who travels all across the country, and I am a full time college student as well. That sentence makes me sound really cool right? That is probably because you were comparing what you were currently doing in life (reading my blog) to the awesomeness of the only two things I had listed! But you know what goes hand-in-hand with traveling and performing which does not sound so glamorous? Sitting in a car for a few hours, or meticulously setting up props, or setting up sound and lights for a 45 minute set... you get the idea. There are a lot of boring parts to seemingly great things, and it can kind of be summarized in a quote by Steven Furtick.

"Don't compare your behind the scenes to everybody else's highlight reel..."(Furtick, Steven)

After having a drink or two with friends after they get off work, I hear a lot of people tell me the same things

  • "I see all my friend's doing _______ this summer and I'm just doing ______!"
  • I see yall all on Facebook doing this cool adventures and I just have summer classes!
  • etc....
Facebook allows us to look at things people are choosing to share but not their behind the scenes. So, in short I guess what I'm really trying to say is, your life is probably really awesome and I guarantee you there are a lot of people who are super jealous of you and all the great things you have going on - seriously! 

Climb a mountain, don't post it to Facebook.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This blog post serves no other function than to be an incongruous style and post from the rest of my blog. Isn't that interesting?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Strong branding - and the effect on our choices.

Branding and Marketing

Branding is defined (paraphrased) as the unique design and advertising given to a particular product or service that distinguishes it as unique. It is a key component of Marketing, which is eloquently defined as "The communication of value from business to customer..." (paraphrased again). These are two fields that I am highly interested in and continually study both in academic books, personal reading, and general observations in everyday life. 

As a magician and psychological entertainer I have learned from real world experiences how our minds can be influenced and even manipulated in certain cases if situations and environments are presented in a certain manner. Using my skills and knowledge in this field has allowed me to develop theories as to why people make the decisions that they do in everyday life, from purchases to preferences. We make irrational choices each day even if we are aware of them, but one has benefited companies for years and no one can give a solid answer as to why.

Why do we put company logos on our bodies, our cars, and other forms of expressive space willingly and without compensation financially?

This is not an attack on the ideology, just research into why we behave in this manner. 

A great example of the phenomenon of wearing a brand was expressed best in Simon Sinek's book Start With Why. In this book, Sinek gives an example of people who wear Harley Davidson clothing and even get Harley Davidson tattoos. When you see someone who has a tattoo like this, we automatically make assumptions in our heads about who that person is.

They are someone who (clearly) loves motorcycles, I am sure they wear leather jackets, they probably are not vegan, they like to drink domestic beer, and they love to travel across the country (possibly). Whatever assumptions or feelings you may have had does not matter, but the fact that we can infer about a person's personality based on their purchases (or desired purchases) is stunning when you think about it objectively.

Our first thought of rationalizing this is that this person frequently rides motorcycles and thus enjoys high quality cycles, and therefore expresses their love for the high quality cycles that they purchase. We of course know, however, that is not necessarily true. People wear the logo because it tells you who they are as a person and not what kind of stuff they buy. Harley sells a lifestyle more than a quality product (even if the product is highest of quality). Suppose in another world that Toyota were to make a motorcycle VERY similar to a Harley - it outperformed in every measure of quality of motorcycle. You would not have a crowd of motorcyclists wearing Toyota logos on their arms!

Similarly, think about other high quality products - Oreos (Nabisco), Bic pens, Dell computers etc.

 I cannot find any systematic flaw with an Oreo, and I would argue that they are (almost) a universally recognized brand of cookie. Oreos are, without a doubt, the NAME BRAND Chocolate cookie. Why then do we not see people with Nabisco tattoos or stickers on their cars? The same can be said of Dell, Bic, etc.

The said companies sell top quality products but do not provide a brand that identifies who they are as a company, or simply WHY they exist. This would certainly explain the high number of substitute goods (store brand oreos, off brand pens, HP computers etc.).

My final example which I've looked at the most is with a new, highly popular brand of high-end coolers called "Yeti". Yeti is a HIGHLY popular brand on my college campus at the University of South Carolina. Yeti sells (what many believe) to be the highest quality coolers on the market for fishing and hunting activities, and at a price - $300-$1200 for a single cooler! These coolers are bear proof, and highly insulated to the degree that they will keep ice frozen for days on end even in warm weather.

I have never known coolers to be too popular of an item for college students, aside from at pool parties and tailgates. Even at the pool and tailgates it logically would make sense to use $20 igloo coolers you find at Wal-Mart. Yet, this is not the case. Tons of students use Yeti coolers at their parties and tailgates, and proudly flaunt their ownership of said cooler. In fact, there is a whole trend of having young college girls pose in their underwear taking photos sitting on the cooler, sending the (assumed?) message that "This is a cool lifestyle and we're happy to be a part of it".

The most interesting part of the Yeti branding on college campuses is that these are NOT specialty cooler consumers. Many of the students I see who own a cooler do not hunt, fish, camp, or have any need for top end outdoor high-insulated coolers. There was no need for this product 20 years ago for a student and there is no need for it now. Yet, you can see them everywhere at a college tailgate! In addition to this, people post stickers, wear hats, and pay top dollar for other branding gear of A COOLER!

When students on my campus were asked why they flaunted the Yeti brand so much and either purchased (or desired to purchase) the $400 cooler, their responses were similar.

"This cooler is top end, you can put an ice cube in it and it will be there for a week!"
"I like to get stuff that is good quality and this is the best quality cooler"

Fair enough. But where is the demand for high end, high performance coolers in non-specialty markets? It is not existent - until now. Igloo brand coolers may have an equally high end cooler for a fraction of the cost, but you will not see people with Igloo t-shirts and Igloo butt trends. If it is the case that people buy because of quality products, this is not the case.

"People do not buy what you have, they buy WHY you do it..." - Simon Sinek, Start with Why

In a non-business sense, we can still see these decisions being made in our day to day lives. We do not date for specific traits (money, humor, looks etc.) we date for what FEELS right. Typically what feels right is someone who believes what you believe.

This is a summation of current thoughts on marketing and branding and how they have influenced our rationale into making high end choices we may not have previously made.