Max Major is a mentalist living in Washington, DC. His performances, which combine Magic, Mentalism, and Hypnosis, are featured at corporate events across the country. In addition to his studies as a magician, he relies heavily on his skills at reading body language, which he has honed over the course of 2000 live shows.
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3 Key Points:
- It is your ability that controls how far you will go—don’t let anything else hold you back.
- Simply pay attention.
- Remember that there is NO substitute for real world connections and relationships.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:01] – Max performs as an entertainer across the country
- [01:05] – He has been doing performances since he was 14 years old
- [01:42] – Max is an expert in human nature
- [02:19] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: There’s no such thing as competition – there is nothing that anyone else can do that will impact your ability to succeed.
- [03:16] – Pay attention and be fully involved in the conversation
- [03:38] – The face is the least reliable place to observe body language
- [05:55] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Max was 25 and was going back to the University of Maryland to meet a mentor. He told his mentor about everything going on in his life and his mentor said, “What’s your goal?” and “When is that going to happen?”
- [08:21] – “I made a decision… I decided to do nothing but perform”
- [10:53] – Go ALL IN!
- [11:14] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Six months ago, Max was performing for David Sokol. After the show, he was sitting out back, looking at a picturesque scene and he asked, “How did I get here?” Max realized his success and wins in life came from real world relationships.
- [12:54] – There is no substitute for real world, face-to-face networking
- [15:16] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “Teaching other people to do what I do”
- [16:54] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Hedging
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – A friend told Max about creating videos and online content
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Taking sleep seriously
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Rainy Mood and Quote Roller
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Starring You! – it helps you understand how you should position yourself
- [21:58] – Study the tools of influence and body language
- [22:24] – Go to Max’s website for a free chapter of his book, Influence Anyone!
- [22:44] – Connect with Max on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Max Major: I am ready to rock, let’s do this!
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Max is a mentalist living in Washington, D.C. His performances which combine magic, mentalism, and hypnosis are featured at corporate events across the country. In addition to his studies as a magician, he relies heavily on his skills at reading body language, which he has honed over the course of 2,000 live shows. Max, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Max Major: So, I perform as an entertainer all across the country. I’ve been doing this since I was 14-years-old. I’m 33 years old, so more than 20 years. It truly is my calling in life and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do this and only this. I’ve never had a real job, I can say. I live in D.C. right now, as you said, with my dog, Bruce. I grew up on a small little farm in Maryland, so from there to just performing all around the world.
John Lee Dumas: Love that! We’re gonna be really talking about your journey, Max, and being that it started at 14 years old, that’s so cool. But before we do, let’s kind of talk about your area of expertise. Break that down for us in just a couple of sentences. How would you define it?
Max Major: On the one hand, I’m an expert in human nature and so it’s understanding what makes people tick, how to influence the thoughts and decisions of people, and also how to read the signals that someone is giving us. Now, I do this on stage, but part of what I do is to actually teach people how to do this in real life. So, how to take what I do from the stage and translate that into an everyday conversation.
John Lee Dumas: So, within that, Max, let’s kind of break down something that we should know as entrepreneurs that you know because this is your area of expertise, but we probably don’t.
Max Major: I think that one of the things that I’ve really believed my entire life and I think it translates to any business that anyone’s in is that there’s no such thing as competition. I don’t mean this as a phoo-phooey mindset that you should get into. I mean that this is truly the way that business operates. There is nothing that anyone else can do that will impact your ability to succeed. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in or how crowded that field is, you literally can only perform to the best of your ability, you’ll have your own clients, and you’ll build the business that is sort of suited to that level of experience that you have.
I think often times we get stuck in this mindset that we’re losing to other people or that someone else has beat us out for a piece of business, but in reality, it is only your own ability that controls how far you’ll go. There’s nothing anyone else can do to impact that.
John Lee Dumas: Let’s get more specific. You are an expert at reading body language. What’s something that I don’t know about reading body language that would be actually cool to know?
Max Major: I think Rule No. 1 is pay attention. I think that’s the simplest thing. It’s that most of the time, we have our head buried in our phone or we’re thinking about what we’re saying next, and we’re not really paying attention to the signs that other people are giving us. So, Rule No. 1 is just to pay attention, to be fully involved in the conversation.
I think the second thing, and this is one that most people don’t know, is that the face is actually the least reliable place to observe body language because think about it, we learn as a kid how to lie with our face. We learn as a baby how to make the faces that we make to get the kind of reaction we want to get out of our parents. So, if you want to read someone’s body language, the most reliable indicators of body language actually start from the ground up.
Because again, remember the face is the thing we know how to lie with, but how often do you think about what you’re doing with your feet, or what you’re with your legs, or what you’re doing with your hands? So, pay very close attention to what someone is doing with their extremities versus the faces that they’re making for you in a conversation.
John Lee Dumas: What if they’re tapping their feet? I look at someone’s feet, they’re just standing there, their feet are kind of spread out like ducks. I mean, what does that mean?
Max Major: Okay, you said spread out like ducks and so where someone’s toes are pointing is really important because it tells you their truth intentions. So, you’ve heard the phrase “one foot out the door,” right? That’s when you’re talking to someone and while their body is facing you, maybe you’re at a networking event, their toes are facing the door. While they’re in this conversation, what their feet are really telling you is I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get out of here.
So, if you observe that, that might be a good time to say something like, “Hey, it looks like you’ve got to run. Here’s my card. We’ll talk a little bit more later.” Tapping the feet is an interesting one. In and of itself, it doesn’t mean anything. A lot of people tap their fingers or their feet, but you have to establish a baseline when a conversation starts.
So, observe if people exhibit these behaviors before you’ve even said a word. If these behaviors pop up once you start talking or once you say something, that could be an indication of anxiety, heightened anxiety, or something that you said maybe triggered something in them. Again, any time that you observe any of these signals, the best thing to do is just stop talking and ask the person, “What’s on your mind,” or “What do you think about what I’ve said so far?”
John Lee Dumas: Establish a baseline, that’s fascinating. I love that. So, Max, let’s kind of move more into your journey which, again, started at 14 years old. It’s been going on for over 20 years now. What would you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment in all of that time? Take us to that day. Tell us that story.
Max Major: Well, if you were to ask me at the start of that day, I would tell you that I had never been better. Specifically, I was about 25 years old. I was going back to the University of Maryland, which is where I graduated from, to meet with a mentor of mine who was at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. This was like a resource center for students and people who are alumni. I was meeting with a guy named Asher Epstein. I was going in to tell him about all of the amazing things that were going on in my life at that moment, to sort of really just catch up.
So, I went into this meeting and I sat down with him, and I said, “Asher, I can’t wait to tell you about all these successes I’ve been having.” So, I started telling him about what was going on in my performing career. I said I’ve done this many shows this year, and I’ve made this much money, and I had this opportunity coming up on television, and this other thing going on with radio, and how I’d never been busier.
After I got through all of this, he said it sounds like things are going great. I said, “Yeah, and I haven’t even told you about the other stuff.” He paused and he said, “What other stuff?” I said, “Well, in addition to performing, I’ve actually been building a business, doing promotion for nightclubs. I also just took an equity stake in a vodka company that’s just coming out.” He said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” He said, “What’s your goal?” I said, at the time, my answer would have been a little bit ego-driven. I think what I said was to be the most famous magician in the world. He said to me, “When’s that gonna happen?” It rocked me.
I think what Asher was really getting at on that day was this idea of focus. I think as an entrepreneur, it is so easy to take every opportunity that comes your way. One of the things that I discovered very early on is people really do come to you with these opportunities and it’s so easy to say yes because they see the success that you’re having and they say hey. In the case of the vodka brand, they said, “You’re a really great marketer. You’re in front of a lot of people. You should get involved with this.” It seemed very sexy and exciting at the time and I said to Asher, I said all these things are really great money. He said that’s the easy part. He said money is the easy part. He said, “What do you really want to do?”
I left that meeting, I went back to my car, and I remember sitting in my car at the top of the parking garage, and I couldn’t start the car. I was thinking wow, I thought everything was going so great and if I were to be really honest with myself, it sounds like I’ve really been spreading myself so thin. I made a decision in that moment that I wouldn’t start my car until I decided what I was gonna do about this and JLD, I swear, I sat in that car for what felt like hours, maybe it was 20 minutes.
I decided that from that day forward, I was gonna do nothing but perform and that I was gonna give myself one year to focus on this and only this and forego every other source of income that I had and give myself the chance, the shot to really do this and see what would happen if I put everything I had into it. It was that moment that really forever changed my life. I remember in the first two months, I had made more money than I had made in the prior year and while I had given myself a year, I knew within the first two months that there was no turning back and that this was a choice that I should have made long ago.
John Lee Dumas: Max, I love this story for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, do you know what the acronym for focus is?
Max Major: Nope.
John Lee Dumas: Follow One Course Until Success. Focus.
Max Major: Wow, yeah.
John Lee Dumas: Max, give me credit twice for that and then it’s yours forever.
Max Major: The next time I use it, I will certainly credit you.
John Lee Dumas: The next two times.
Max Major: That’s exactly what was going on in my head at the moment, was everything was going well, but no one thing was going great.
John Lee Dumas: So, that’s so important, Fire Nation, because when you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to everything else. So, when Max was saying ‘yes’ to that vodka company that he was investing in, he was saying ‘no’ to all the other things that he could have been saying ‘yes’ to that now that new investment was going to take the time of. But on the flipside, when Max said ‘yes’ to becoming the best magician that he could and focusing 100 percent on that, he was saying ‘no’ to everything else, which was essentially just distractions. So, when he was able to zero in and do that, look at, now he’s done 2,000 live shows.
Max, I’m sure if we went back to like your second show and got some video footage, you were probably pretty good, but I mean, you’re nowhere close to where you are now. I’m on episode 1,545. I mean, please Fire Nation, go back and listen to my first 100 episodes. They’re cringe-worthy. I was bad! You get better by doing that thing. So, I said ‘no’ to so many things to focus on this daily podcast. Max said ‘no’ to so many things to focus on becoming the best at his craft. Sometimes you just have to say ‘no’ to everything except your No. 1 focus.
So, Max, that’s my one big takeaway. In just one sentence, what’s this wrap-up that you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Max Major: Go all in. I think whatever it is that’s truly calling you, forego everything else and go all in on that.
John Lee Dumas: Max, what’s one of your greatest ideas that you’ve ever had? What’s that ah-ha moment that just appeared in your mind and how did you turn that idea into success?
Max Major: About six months ago, I was performing for a gentleman by the name of David Sokol who, if you don’t know that name, he was Warren Buffett’s former No. 2. We’re in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for his birthday, and in the room are Supreme Court justices, a governor, senators, some of the most wealthy and influential people in the world. After the show, I was sitting out back and I’m looking at this just picturesque scene of evergreen trees and the mountains and I thought to myself, “How did I get here?” How did I get here, from this kid performing in his parent’s basement to now entertaining this group of people, how did I get here? Not really how did I get here, step by step, but what has it taken to get here?
I thought about this event specifically and I said let’s start with this. How did I end up here in Jackson Hole? It was a result of a person; it was an event planner that I met at a networking even who then booked me for this event with David Sokol. I started to think back to all the really great performances I’ve ever had and where that business actually came from. Surprisingly, almost every one of the wins I’ve ever had in business came from a real-world relationship.
I think we live in this world where we’re so obsessed with technology and tools and tricks and hacks and followers and subscribers and fans and likes and it’s so easy to get caught up in social media and online marketing – and look, I use this stuff to build my business. It really is a valuable tool, but the truth is, there’s no substitute for real-world, face to face networking. There’s really no substitute for getting out there from behind your keyboard, and going in and networking with people face to face, and the depth of the relationships that you’ll build in that context isn’t something that you can accomplish over the internet.
So, to dial it back into this event that I was at, I could do all the online networking in the world and I would never have the opportunity to shake hands and rub elbows with Supreme Court justices and governors. So, in that room alone, let alone throughout the course of my entire career, all of the relationships I’ve formed face to face have been the things that have really taken my business to the next level.
So, I would encourage everyone, while the internet is really important, to get out from behind the keyboard and go to a face to face networking event. I am shocked by the number of speakers and entertainers and entrepreneurs who never go to networking events. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in producing content that we forget sometimes that there’s a human element to this thing that we call business.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, nothing beats that one on one, that in person, shaking the hand, the sitting down, the sharing a drink together. It just doesn’t have a replacement. For podcasting, you can get so wrapped up in wow, I’m doing 15 interviews today and I’m talking to amazing people. I couldn’t do that if I was in person, trying to rent studio space, and have people drive to me. It’s amazing what you can do, but you can’t forget about actually getting out and interacting with people.
That’s why Max, last year, we said this has gotta be done, so we actually hosted the first ever Podcaster’s Paradise Cruise where we got the best podcast hosts in the world, we have attendees that wanted to come in and be a part of this as well. There were 75 of us that for an entire week, we were just on this cruise ship, in person, doing karaoke, hanging out, going on shore excursions together. I have relationships with those 75 people now that – I don’t have relationships with people that meet online every single week for an hour mastermind call and I’ve been doing that for years.
So, Fire Nation, you can’t forget about that in person. I love that, Max. Let’s kinda zoom forward to today for you. What are you most fired up about right now?
Max Major: I would say teaching other people to do what I do. For the longest time, I saw my abilities as a mentalist as a novelty, as a form of entertainment that I used on stage. There’s no real practical application where people in the real world – unless, of course, they spent 20 years studying what I had studied. What I’ve found recently is that there’s a lot you can take away, just the simple tip I gave in the beginning about body language, that can really transform your everyday conversations, your business, your selling. Because really, what all these things are about are about being a more effective communicator.
In many ways, reading body language is about listening. It’s about getting the information that people are giving you. So, lately I’ve been doing a lot of speaking and keynotes and I’ve even written a book about how to take the tools of a mentalist and apply them to everyday life. Those would be the tools of reading people, of building rapport, and of influencing someone. I think that this is one of the most exciting new chapters of my life. I’m just as passionate about sharing this with other people as I was when I did my very first performance on a stage in front of a big crowd.
John Lee Dumas: Wow, Fire Nation, just love how you see the progression of the guest. That’s why we start and we talk about the worst moment story because you can see where they started and then the ah-ha moment. You can just see the progression as they go through their lives as entrepreneurs and that’s exciting stuff. Not quite as exciting as the lightning round is gonna be and we’re gonna hit that after we thank our sponsors. Max, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Max Major: I’m ready. I’m ready to bring the fire.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Max Major: One of the things that was holding me back was kind of hedging for the longest time. I think, going back to that conversation I had with Asher, that was part of it. But I had a lot of side jobs. I was a bartender in college; I was a waiter, doing whatever I could to make a little extra money to kind of make ends meet. I think what I found really quickly was that I would never have enough money, it would never be the right time, and I would never have the perfect plan, and that at some point I was just going to have to go all in. It was that moment that I went all in that forever changed my life.
I think the worst case scenario that we paint in our head is not really the way that things are going to go. The true worst case scenario, if you take a leap and it doesn’t work out, is that you can always go back to the life you had before. I think that’s one of the things that held me back and I think that’s something that holds a lot of people back.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Max Major: I had a friend tell me a tip about creating video and online content that really rocked me. I had been holding back for a while from shooting the volume of video content that I’m doing now. He said to me, “Shoot for the trashcan.” It was like he had given me permission to go out and suck. Because I think the fear that we all have is the fear of sharing. Like, I’m gonna do this, it’s not gonna be as good as I want it to be or people are gonna criticize me.
When said this, it was like he gave me permission to go out and film something, and you don’t have to share it with anyone. Isn’t that beautiful? You’re thinking about starting a podcast. Go record an episode. You’re thinking about writing a blog article. Write the blog article. You don’t have to share it. I think it’s the act of creation where we actually grow the most, not the sharing. It’s not the sharing part.
So, the truth is, I went out, I shot a video the next day. I gave my permission for it to suck. If it sucked, I didn’t have to share it. The truth is, it was incredible and I chose to share it right away. But it really took the burden off of me, the burden of creation, and gave me the freedom to just try and to experiment.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit, Max, that contributes to your success?
Max Major: About three years ago, I went had a very intense sleep study done. I went to a sleep clinic and from that day forward, I learned a lot about myself and I also started to take sleep seriously and to really not compromise any more on my energy level because, for the longest time, I was suffering from brain fog, headaches, just not operating at my peak. If you are waking up and feeling less than 100 percent, despite the fact that you are getting sleep and feel like you’re getting enough sleep, go get this done tomorrow because it will change your life.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Max Major: Two quick ones, one for creativity, check out Rainy Mood. It’s an app and a website, RainyMood.com. It actually plays very realistic sounds of rain and storm sounds and I found it just puts me in a really great state for when I’m trying to relax or create. The other one for you business guys is a website called QuoteRoller.com. If you are submitting proposals to clients for signature, this is one tool that will change the game for you. It allows you to submit a proposal and get a signature electronically, instantly. For me, it’s really transformed my business.
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Max Major: One of the things that has taken my career to the next level has probably been PR and T.V. and radio appearances. A lot of people struggle to figure out how to book those on their own. You could go hire a very expensive publicist, or you could read a book called Starring You. Starring You is a book by a guy named Terence Noonan who was formally a producer for Dr. Oz who tells you from a producer’s standpoint what they’re looking for when booking guests.
This will work for local news, local T.V. and radio, and also national as well. It really gets you to understand how to position yourself in a way that you’re a producer's dream come true, where they can’t help but say yes to booking you.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, we’re going to end today on fire. So, Max, give us just a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Max Major: My parting piece of guidance is to study the tools of influence and body language and suggestion because these will transform the conversations you’re having, both in your business life and your personal life. The truth is, there’s no one book out there to teach you all of this.
I realized this just this year. I’ve actually written a book called Influence Anyone, where I take my 20 years of experience and I boil it down into simple tools that you can use to level up your business and level up your life and actually is a gift to Fire Nation. Today, I’m giving away a free chapter from that book. If you go to MaxMajor.net/Fire, you can get a free chapter and you can learn right away how to influence anyone.
John Lee Dumas: Love that, Fire Nation. Is there any place else you want to send Fire Nation to?
Max Major: I’m on Twitter. I respond every day there. I’m really easy to find. It’s @ItsMaxMajor on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Anywhere you guys are, I’m probably there too. Hit me up.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with MM and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com, just type ‘Max’ in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been chatting about today. These are the best shows notes in the biz, time stamps, links galore.
Of course, head over to MaxMajor.net/Fire for that free gift. Fire Nation, go check it out. And Max, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Max Major: It’s been an honor. Thanks, man.
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