Book Review: Crushing It!

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book review, but I couldn’t resist as I stumbled upon Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book Crushing It! at my local Target store (sequel to his first book Crush It). Inside this book, you’ll find interviews with people who had an idea to do something or create something and went out and did it. Also, Gary gives advice and tips on how to utilize social media to promote your brand or business. Gary Vaynerchuk is hardcore and in your face brutally honest with advice. While reading this book you’ll have plenty of moments of motivation and inspiration to get your idea (or ideas) into motion and take action.

This book has a clear message: the only way to get what you want in life is to take action. A lot of people are infatuated with the idea of picking up a book and having that book give them the answers to life itself. This particular book will not do that, but you’ll read about people from all different backgrounds and starting points that achieved the goals that they’ve set for themselves.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. Even if you’re not thinking about creating a brand or a business (you should be anyways) this book is for you. Gary is great at getting you to look at social media and life in a different way. He has a distinct ability to get you motivated and while reading this book you’ll feel like Gary is sitting with you and explaining what you need to get done. All in all this book is a must have and should be on your bookshelf.

You can order Crushing It! on Amazon or at your local Target.

Why Reading Books Are The Secret Ingredient

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Reading books have always been an enjoyable experience for me. Whether I’m reading a Harry Potter book or a biography about someone that I admire, I always learn something new. To some, reading is a chore, and I can somewhat understand where they’re coming from. With all of the technology that we possess in today’s world, who has time to read a book? We’re all constantly checking our phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a “techie,” but I still make time to read books. I’m one of those people that prefer to have a book in my hands than read it on a screen (although I own a Kindle Fire). Books can take you to places that tablets and computers fail to do so. You’re forced to use your imagination and to pay close attention while you’re reading. With just a tap of our finger, information is given to us at lightning speed. With reading a book, you’re on a journey page by page (unless you decide to skip around) and that’s where the fun begins. With each page that you turn in a book, you’ll discover things that you didn’t know or you might be surprised with a plot twist.

 

Aside from books, building a library is not even thought of in today’s day and age. With the ease and use of Amazon, building a library is easier than ever. Over the years, I’ve built a modest library. In my library, you’ll find everything from personal development books to graphic novels. Currently, I’m reading three books at once: Elon Musk Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, 100 Deadly Skills, and the autobiography of Malcolm X. Some might say that’s a little excessive, and I would tend to agree with them (somewhat). Once you read a book, you now have information that you didn’t have beforehand. Plus you’ll always have a conversation starter wherever you go, and you’ll have that information with you at all times. Self-education is the best investment that you can make in yourself, and I can attest that personally. Since building my library in my early twenties, I have come to enjoy adding books to my collection.

 

So there you have it. Start building your collection as soon as you finish reading this. Go to your local bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon. And start to learn about people and things that you’re interested in, or what you’ve always been curious of. Delving yourself into literature will make you a more well-rounded person, and you’ll always have knowledge with you that nobody will ever be able to take away from you.

Are You Watching Closely?: Andrew Gerard

Photo Credit: Johnny Liu Photography
Photo Credit: Johnny Liu Photography

Do you believe in real magic? If not, I would guarantee you would after watching Andrew Gerard perform. Andrew has come up with some of the most amazing magic over the years. He has worked with magicians and mentalists such as David Blaine, Criss Angel, Keith Barry, and Cyril Takayama. Andrew is also a talented musician, and I had the chance to ask him about his magic and music career. You will come away learning more about magic and music.

Justin Marroquin: How did you get into magic?

Andrew Gerard: Well growing up my father was a magician, in the classic sense, stage magic, illusions etc. I never liked the classic stuff as a child, it looked like a play to me. But my grandfather “Gerard” was quite the inspiration to me. He could second deal cards, taught me to steal a watch and how to look at people differently and study them. I thought he was a pirate, or something growing up LOL. He was actually a very charming guy. I remember he gave roses to all the ladies in the neighborhood one day, and even threw his jacket over a puddle. The police showed up after dinner, because the local library had called them saying someone was stealing the roses from the garden. He even stole the sign that said “Do Not Touch The Roses.” I remember he also talked his way out of a ticket one time, I think he convinced the cop they were related through his last name. I think his idea that having knowledge and understanding people was more important than wearing a tuxedo, and making doves appear.

JM: Do you have a favorite illusion/trick?

AG: I think OOTW (Out Of This World) has the ability to profoundly have an impact on someone when performed at the right time, in the right way. (See Andrew’s version of OOTW on the ProCess DVD).

Note: For those who don’t know, OOTW is considered to be one of the best card tricks of all time.

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JM: What was your best performance in magic?

AG: I don’t think I have ever had a really great one yet. I am extremely rough on myself, and I usually come off stage and ask my sound tech, Wayne how bad was it? But I remember in 2001, I did a bill change for a homeless guy, it was pouring out and I just finished a gig at an upscale Martini bar; He had five bucks in his cup, I changed it into a hundred and let him keep it. He was dead silent for like two minutes and asked me “Is it real?” I could tell he really was questioning reality, and he needed magic at that moment. I saw recently a video of a magician doing this as a promotional thing. It would have been better if he didn’t film it, but then again maybe he would not have done it.

JM: What is your best memory in magic?

AG: I have had so many amazing opportunities in magic, on stage, and off camera. It would be hard to pick just one, but right now a couple of moments come to mind. I landed in New York to work with David Blaine, he knew I rode motorcycles, so he threw me a set of keys to one of his BMW’s and we went riding downtown NYC, it was amazingly so busy. He took me to Harlem and David Blaine pulled over at this old house, we parked and he told me to go up the stairs and read this red plaque. It was Harry Houdini’s house, and we did magic to each other for a couple of hours. After that, we rode home and picked up these two Brazilian girls that didn’t speak English. David told me to double one and he did, too! I had to give her my helmet we were also going the wrong way up a one way street! A cop was directing traffic and blew a whistle at us, I thought we were toast. No helmets, driving the wrong way etc. The cop saw it was David Blaine, and stopped traffic and told us to ride up the sidewalk and through a red light! Now that was magic! David Blaine is like Superman that way; huge star power without the attitude.

I filmed a TV show called “Past Lives” in London, England where I investigated past lives, etc. One of the girls took me to Abbey Road, where the Beatles recorded. I didn’t want to take a picture, it was too special. After we went to a pub for a pint, I read her mind and she asked me if I believe in angels, and heaven, I said yes. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had a brain tumor, and died two weeks after I flew out.

Backstage at Oprah with Criss Angel, we were alone in the dressing room, and both started laughing. We could not believe we were there. Criss was always very polite and respectful with me, I found him to be humble then, very much so.

541870_10151322302684291_1230221587_nJM: How are you able to stay so creative?

AG: I try. I fail. I try again. I think once I get interested in something, I go all the way. It means I dedicate a lot of time to not giving up on ideas. The down side is I can’t tie shoelaces, or throw a football. Thank god for Velcro.

JM: You are also a musician. How did you get into music?

AG: Once again, my father was a classical guitarist, so music was all around me since I was born. I was actually not very good, so I had to practice 10X’s harder than everyone else. Also, I never learned other people’s songs, I just wanted to create my own.

JM: What is a better thrill for you: Performing magic or playing music?

AG: That is difficult to answer. Music is real, and people react for an entire 60 minute show clapping, screaming, dancing, singing along, etc. I have never had anyone ask me after a show “how did you do that?” which is nice. With that said, magic can create very special memories when performed correctly. The difference is someone can learn the invisible deck and go blow someone away that day. You can’t learn guitar in a day, or even a year. In music, you must create your own song and lyrics. I wish magicians took some inspiration from musicians.

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JM: Has magic helped you to be a better musician?

AG: Well in some ways both have helped with each other, they are like cousins. You need to be able to step up and execute the art, and also be the person the audience needs you to be, which is yourself.

JM: Which is harder: Practicing magic or playing music?

AG:I don’t practice either anymore, I perform and I play. I think the best way to get good at anything, is to get stuck into it deep. Live it, breathe it, etc. I always fall asleep and wake up with a deck of cards and a guitar beside my bed, and sometimes in it.

27891_10151290406304291_1536324053_n JM: What is one piece of advice that has helped you in your life?

AG: Don’t try to be like anyone else, that’s weak. Every person reading this has one unique attribute that makes them incredibly special. Most of the time it’s something you take for granted, or that you can’t see yourself. Ask your friends to describe you. You may be blown away at what they have to say; for certain everyone will say one thing about you, that is your starting point. Build off of your strongest attribute.

“Success is knowing you are becoming the person you were meant to be.”

Like Andrew on Facebook: facebook.com/AndrewGerardMindIllusionist

Check out his website: gerardthehypnotist.com

Watch his videos on YouTube: youtube.com/user/GerardTheHypnotist

Listen to the band he plays in: danhaofficial.com

Becoming A Human Swiss Army Knife

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The Swiss Army Knife is one of the greatest tools ever made. It has everything you need: screwdriver, knife, scissors, etc. A highly versatile tool, and we should strive to be a Swiss Army Knife in life. What do I mean about that statement? Like a Swiss Army Knife, we should equip ourselves with useful tools, so that we can use them throughout our lives.

A typical Swiss Army Knife has a variety of tools, but I will describe the main tools used, and how to incorporate them into your life.

Main blade- This is your foundation. And what is a foundation without health? Your health should be your best tool in your Swiss Army Knife. Without health, you won’t be able to use the rest of your tools effectively. There are a myriad of options when it comes to being healthy. You can join your local gym, read a book on fitness and health, download an app on your phone, or other device. The key here, is to find something that works for you.

Smaller blade- Your brain: it plays a vital role in your life. Thinking, remembering, things, problem solving, etc. Keeping your brain sharp will enable you to fill out the rest of your tools efficiently. Again, as with health, there are a lot of options when it comes to your brain. Books, apps, and even video games ( seriously, look it up) you have so many choices, and of course, do what works for you.

Tweezers- This is where the fun begins. Now that you’ve worked on your health and brain, you can start adding tools to your liking. For example, I would choose cooking as my tweezers. Cooking was not my friend for many years, and I decided to change that. With a few books, videos, and apps, I was on my way to cooking better. So go ahead and choose a certain skill, and make it your “Tweezers.”

Toothpick- Again, for example purposes, I will share my toothpick. For me, it’s baseball. Growing up, I loved baseball and the intricacies of the game. In particular, I liked pitching. And in the past few years, I have had a blast learning to pitch. To practice this skill, I pitch once a week, and get feedback from other players.

Corkscrew- Last one (I promise!). This one is the most fun for me, and it is magic. Learning and practicing magic has been such a thrill. Magic is so expansive, and there is so much to learn. I’ve always been intrigued in magic, and I could not imagine my Swiss Army Knife without it. Putting together your own Swiss Army Knife is fun, and I hope you create your own.

The following sites listed might help you create your Swiss Army Knife. Here they are: onnit,com, bulletproofexec.com, fourhourworkweek,com/blog

Magic: The Art Of Impossibility

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Magic has astounded people for thousands of years. From sawing a woman in half to death-defying stunts, magic has captivated audiences, and has provided a getaway, for some. Even in 2013, magic is still strong as ever. What I will attempt to do in this post, is to give you a behind the scenes view of magic(no, I will not divulge and magic secrets.)

 

Being an amateur magician myself, I have had the pleasure of practicing the art of magic. It is an art form that is incredibly hard, and unfortunately, it does not get the credit it deserves. Magicians spend countless hours practicing illusions, sleights, etc. Magic will humble you, and at the same time it will bring the greatest joy to you. After spending time rehearsing an illusion/trick, it is time to test it out for people. In the beginning, the magician will test out tricks for family and friends. Once the magician is confident enough performing for family and friends, the next phase is to perform for strangers. It is one thing to astound your family and friends, but it’s another thing to pull off a trick for a stranger. When you astonish a stranger, it is one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing that you have pulled off something special is very powerful for the magician, and the stranger. In one instance, you get the magician feeling great, and the stranger is completely blown away. Today’s world is nonstop and constantly moving, so when a magician performs, it is a great escape for the stranger, and ultimately, the feeling of real “magic.”

 

Sooner or later, the question arises: How did you get into magic? This question will get answered a thousand different ways by magicians. For me, it started with Harry Houdini. When I first learned about Houdini, I was hooked. Escaping from handcuffs, straightjacket, 100 ft. of rope, and performing some of the most incredible illusions, Houdini instantly became my hero. Then when I was about ten, my mom and dad took me to go see David Copperfield. It was an experience I will never forget. Watching David Copperfield ignited my passion even more to do magic. A few years later, David Blaine came on the scene and inspired me even more. Glued to the TV, I could not believe some of the stuff David Blaine was doing, and his connection with people was even more magical. And lastly, the magician that really catapulted me in the art of magic, is none other than: Criss Angel. Each of the magicians I have mentioned all have their own mark on magic, and that is what’s great about it. You get so many types of magicians in the magic world, and it’s great to see what certain magicians come up with.

 

Magic is a great teacher, and it will teach you a lot about life. Failing, succeeding, learning how something works: magic provides it all. Learning about magic is a very rewarding experience, and I encourage everyone to at least try it. Start with a deck of cards and a magic book ( I will include where to purchase magic) Learn a few card tricks, and perform them to your family and friends. You just might end up wanting to learn more, and become a magician.

 

I leave you with this: Right now: someone, somewhere, is practicing magic. They are learning the sleights and mechanics to perform the desired illusion. When they are done practicing, and have shown their family and friends, they will get ready to perform for a stranger. That stranger may very well be you. Enjoy the magic, and always cherish that moment.

Check out these sites to learn and perform magic: theory11.com, penguinmagic.com, elmwoodmagic.com

The Psychology Of A Champion: Georges St. Pierre

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What makes someone a champion? There are so many answers, and not everybody will agree on what makes someone a champion. However, there is no doubt that everybody will agree that GSP(Georges St. Pierre) is the definition of a champion.

GSP was not born a champion. Growing up, he was often bullied, made fun of, and had very few friends. When he discovered Karate: everything changed. From that point on, GSP, had a burning desire. And that desire was learning. Karate was the first step in GSP’s journey to becoming a champion. GSP earned his first black belt in karate, at just 12 years old.

Fast forward to age 19. This is the pivotal age where GSP commits his life to excellence in the octagon. Seeking out coaches and mentors, GSP was like a sponge: soaking up as much knowledge as he possibly could. In training and in the octagon, he failed; a lot. But with each training and sparring session, he improved. With his relentless hard work ethic, GSP quickly became a well rounded MMA (mixed martial artist) fighter. Everything GSP does is very calculated. From his diet, training regimen, coaches, mentors, etc. He leaves no stone unturned, and it shows in everything that he does in-and outside the octagon.

Becoming a champion at UFC 65, GSP was on a path to greatness. That greatness was stopped shortly, after losing the belt to Matt Serra, at UFC 69. They would both meet again in UFC 83, and GSP once again, captured the title, and has not lost a fight to date.

So now that you know a little bit about GSP, the question will undoubtedly come up: what makes him (GSP) a champion? A thirst for knowledge, for starters. GSP explains how he looks at his life. He calls it “having a white belt mentality.” A white belt is where you start off in any martial art. It’s a stepping stone: learning phase, if you will. In having a white belt mentality, GSP learns from anybody. If he feels it will help him in any way, he will apply it to his skill set.

What can we learn from one of the best in the MMA world? To adopt the white belt mentality, and constantly learn from others. If you start implementing this in your life, you will look at everything differently. New ideas might arise, or you might get inspired by learning from someone else.

Learn more at: gspofficial.com

Twitter:Twitter.com/ GeorgesStPierre