What I Learned from Testing My Handshake Intro

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

In this post:

  • Results from testing my handshake introduction
  • How to use those lessons to improve your handshake intro
  • How to explain what you do after the handshake


A few posts ago, I showed you how to make a handshake introduction: A quick description of what you do that gets the other person to ask “Really?  Tell me more.”  My handshake intro was “I do magick like a spirit.”

Last week, I road-tested my handshake intro with some pagans, Thelemites and other mages while visiting Seattle.  Here’s what I learned:

  • The handshake introduction worked OK, but could be better.
  • You must have a practiced explanation to answer the “Tell me more” you just prompted.

This post will show you how to use those lessons, with examples I’m developing.  If you like my intros and explanations, and they’re accurate for what you do, feel free to use them.

My Road-Testing

“I do magick like a spirit” produces the follow-on question, but not the right emotion in the listener.  They seem confused, rather than intrigued.

Here’s why: Most mages never think about how spirits do magick.

It’s not enough for your audience to know each term you use.  They have to understand the concept or image you’re creating, and why it matters.

How To Improve a Handshake Introduction

Let’s go back to what I want to convey: That I drive magick with my own mind (rather than by channeling outside forces), that I direct each step consciously, and that this gives me better control and better results.

My first time, I jumped into wordsmithing.  First I tried a summary (which was bad).  Then I tried a simple statement (“I do magick like a spirit”).  This time, I’m going to try creating an image.

“I do magick by controlling its building blocks.”  I like building blocks.  It’s simple, lends itself to images and metaphors, and feels playful.  It’s also accurate: I work with connections, energy signatures, and the other small units that make up effects.  Now I just need a better verb.

A few tries later: “I construct new techniques from magick’s building blocks.”  The terms are simple, and the overall concept is clear even if you don’t get each piece.  It would make me curious about how the person does it.  Hopefully it will make my audience curious, too.

After the Handshake

So, your handshake intro did its job.  They asked “Really?  How does that work?”

Don’t wing it.  I’ve written 100s of pages about magick, how my style works, etc.  But without a cheatsheet, I confused my audience even worse.

I found that you need to walk the listener from your handshake intro to your explanation.  If you skip straight to what you do, you lose your audience.  Once I outlined that walk, my explanation became much smoother.

So, after preparing your handshake intro, outline what to talk about following the questions you expect to get.  Here are some examples to get you started.


Here’s the outline I learned to use following “I do magick like a spirit”:

  • Most mages channel forces or invoke spirits to do magick.
  • Those spirits drive magick themselves, without outside help.
  • That’s how I do magick: By connecting the parts of the mind that drive magick to the conscious mind.

(You would expand each of those points into a full explanation, at the right level for your audience).

For “I construct new techniques from magick’s building blocks,” they might ask about the building blocks or about how to build techniques.  Here’s my plan for the follow-on outline.

If they ask about building blocks:

  • They’re the small units of magick: Connections, energy signatures, etc.
  • Most mages focus on the big picture, using a visual or ritual to distract their conscious, while their unconscious handles the details.
  • I consciously watch the building blocks of magick and figure out how to use them to produce specific effects like [whatever I want to talk about].

If they ask about building new techniques:

  • All magick techniques work by altering the building blocks: Connections, energy signatures, etc.
  • Most mages don’t worry about those details.  They use standard rituals and visualizations to communicate their intent, while their unconscious handles the details.
  • There’s a lot you can do once you consciously direct your mind how to work with each building block, instead of letting the unconscious do whatever comes naturally.
  • For example, [whatever I want to talk about].
If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

I Repair Inner Children: The Art of the Intro

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

In this post:

  • Why you need to know your handshake introduction
  • 1 template, 2 examples and 3 tips for making them


You know the guy you avoid at parties because he shakes your hand and immediately bores you with 5 minutes on what he does?

This post is about how to avoid being that guy.

The key is a handshake introduction: A short 1-sentence intro you say while shaking hands to get the other person to say “Really?  How does that work?”

It’s harder than it sounds.  A VC blog I read posted about Sam Jones, who introduces himself with “I buy dead magazines“.  You can bet he didn’t wing that intro.

Here’s what I learned from preparing handshake intros for consciousness integration and for controlling magick consciously.

Avoid Summaries

My first attempt was “I connect the conscious and unconscious minds so people can update thought patterns from childhood to the adult world.”

I asked friends for input.  They told me (very nicely) that it was terrible.

Lisa: Use an emotionally charged image.  “I beat up your inner child.”

Me: I love your eagerness to beat people up.  How about “I push your inner child into the adult world?”

Kristen: You need to put the benefit up front.  “I help your mind work for you instead of against you.”  Also, “inner child” is the good, playful part of you.  It’s not a problem.  People don’t want it beaten up or pushed.

(You might recognize Lisa and Kristen.  They comment on this blog sometimes).

I came up with “I introduce your inner child to your adult mind so they can stop fighting and start working together” and “I let you be your best self by helping your conscious mind talk with the unconscious urges that most people suppress.”

Better.  But still not good.  Because they all summarize my entire message.

Summaries are too long for a handshake, and they’re intellectual rather than emotionally interesting.  Avoid them.

Gripping, and Not Untrue

I took Kristen’s approach: State the benefit, let them ask how.  “I fix the unconscious urges that most people suppress.”  No how to clog up the works.  Much better.

But it still isn’t gripping.  You need an emotionally charged, surprising image* to grab your audience.  Like Lisa’s “I beat up your inner child.”  But one that won’t scare customers away.

*For more on making ideas memorable, see Made to Stick.

Here’s where you have to let a good idea die so a great idea can live.  Abandon accuracy.  Aim for “I buy dead magazines,” not “I turn unprofitable magazines with a specialized market and passionate readers into web magazines.”

Make your goal “Gripping, and not untrue” rather than “Describes what I do.”  That gives you the freedom to make a striking short intro.

A Recipe For a Good Handshake Intro

I went back to the starting point.  “I buy dead magazines.”  It’s a verb* followed by a metaphor it wouldn’t normally go with.

*Specifically, a working verb.  Avoid trivial verbs like “do” or “went.”

Fundamentally, I fix the unconscious urges that people suppress.  That’s my verb.

Now, since I’m doing something positive, inner child works well for the metaphor.

I fix inner children.

Except that fix suggests it’s broken.  Also, in animals, fix means cutting off the testicles.  So, “repair” as a softer synonym that doesn’t suggest snipping:

I repair your inner child.

Short = Good

For my second handshake intro, I had a plan: Identify what’s surprising or unusual about what I do, then simplify it into the “I buy dead magazines” formula.

Surprising and unusual for my style of magick in general: Most mages rely on forces and spirits to drive magick for them.  I control magick consciously, and drive it myself, like those spirits and forces that others channel.

First, find the verb.  Here, it’s “do magick.”  That’s what we’re talking about.

“I do magick like the spirits that people channel.”

I was happy, but it’s hard to critique your own writing.  Always ask a friend.  Lisa said “Not bad, but it doesn’t pop.”  She’s right.

The problem is “… that people channel.”  It isn’t doing any work.  I don’t want to talk about people channeling spirits, I want to talk about doing magick myself.  Sure, it makes the statement more accurate, but who cares?  Accuracy can come after your audience is interested.

So I wound up with “I do magick like a spirit.”  If it speaks to you, feel free to use it.

Adjust to Your Audience

A parting thought.  I saw a flyer at a diner advertising “Learn to Channel.”  Terrible headline.

That flyer is good in occult shops.  Everyone knows what channeling is.  Some people want to learn it.  Boom, there’s your market.

But in a diner, most of your audience will think “What’s channeling?”  Only they won’t.  They’ll just move on to the next flyer.

“Learn to Talk to Angels” is better for the diner.  It’s something a layman gets.  Is it less accurate?  Sure.  But the point of a headline isn’t to explain everything.  It’s to get your audience to ask for more info (verbally or by reading).

Once you make your handshake intro, adjust it to your audience.  Every word and phrase needs to speak to them.  Avoid words like magick that have strong connotations.  Make sure they listen to your concepts, instead of getting hung up on your words.


Got thoughts on my handshake intros?  Trying to make one of your own?  Or just saw some flyers with awful headlines?  Leave a comment.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

How To Market a Magick Business for $20

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

In this post:

  • How to be seen as a magick expert and build an audience
  • How to convert that audience into customers
  • How to help your customers refer you to friends

How much it costs to start a business.


Last post I showed you how to run your business at zero cost.  Here’s how to market your business for the cost of dinner.

I’m new to entrepreneur-ing. I had no idea I could start a business for under $500. But that’s what happens when you cut out everything that’s not really necessary.

The $20 goes to business cards and handouts for workshops. See the Materials Summary for details.

How To Market Your Magick Business For $20

Short answer: permission marketing.  You give to the community, people get interested in your ideas and see you as a reliable expert. Then, when you tell them about your service, they listen and trust you, and they feel safe hiring you.

I like the focus on helping people and making friends, since that’s why I’m really doing this. If I were focused on money, I’d work on my computer consulting business, not magick.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Establish myself as an expert: Offer several low-cost classes through local occult shops.
  2. Offer a useful service with an easy entry point: Serious satisfaction guarantee, low-cost group workshop to sample the service.
  3. Help customers tell their friends: Show them how to recognize when a friend could benefit from this service, how to explain it, etc.

How To Become an Expert and Build an Audience

Provide valuable information. It’s that simple.

Expertise is really hard to gauge, especially for non-experts.  People generally* assume you’re an expert if you:

  • Teach a class
  • Publish (even a blog, as long as it looks good and has real content)

*See The 4-Hour Workweek for more on this.

I already have a magick class I taught last year in Chicago, plus the course in the free eBook. Also, I’ve taught for 10 years: computer programming, martial arts, dancing, jewelry making, and magick (most of it professionally).

I’ll go to local occult shops and make them an offer: I teach a class at your shop for free, you publicize it and let me talk about my business for a minute at the end. I’ll point them to this blog to show that I’m for real.

The store gets customers.  I get an audience.  Students get some useful info.  I become a teacher who publishes a blog, which is pretty close to expert.  Everyone wins.

One note, if you’re doing this: The class doesn’t have to match what you sell.  My class will be an intro to conscious magick, and the service is personality integration.  You’re trying to make connections and build an audience, not jump into sales.

How To Convert That Audience Into Customers

Offer a low-risk trial. And have an awesome service.

The simplest option is a satisfaction guarantee.  Everyone offers a money-back guarantee, and everyone knows it’s a hassle to get any money back.  Instead, I’ll offer “don’t pay unless you’re satisfied”.  You pay me at the end of the session.  Or if you’re not satisfied, you don’t pay.

Beyond helping get people in the door, it’s also slightly remarkable (which helps generate referrals from customers) and it avoids negative word-of-mouth from the small percent of customers who will always be unsatisfied.

If I find that I have a decent-size audience but no one’s purchasing, I can offer a personality integration workshop: I do 5 minutes on each person, so customers can see what I do before signing up for the full session.  It’s a social event, which is nice for referrals.  But I’m not sure how much I can accomplish with someone in 5 minutes (which could lead to weak referrals), so I’ll wait on this until I have more experience.

How To Generate More Referrals

The Referral Engine has great tips on helping your customers refer friends to you.  The gist is that people want to help their friends find useful services, but they need some help.

The main ways to help them are:

  1. Help customers recognize when their friends could benefit from your service (particularly for an unusual service like this, people won’t ask friends if they know a provider).
  2. Help customers explain your service.  What does it do, how does it work?  I also need to help customers talk to friends who aren’t into energy healing.

There’s a lot more in the book, but those are the first steps.  I’ll explore those in other posts when I create that content.

Materials Summary

Only what’s absolutely necessary: Something to hand people you meet so they can find your website, and handouts for the class so students can use what you taught and tell friends.

100 mini business cards: $20 from moo.com.  You can probably find large batches at better rates, but I want to start small.  Plus they give you tons of free images, so I can make something decent without a graphic artist.

Handouts for the class: Overview (for taking notes) and the URL of a page I’ll make that links to relevant posts. Figure a 1-page handout, 10 people per class, I can print at home almost for free.

Class fliers: A text blurb explaining the class, maybe a photo of me.  I’d expect the shop I teach at to cover this, since they’re making the money on it (I’m teaching for free).

Later on, I can add a professionally designed logo ($250-500) and fliers for my business (costs: design + printing). They’re both worth it if you have a viable, talked-about business.  Once I get there, I’ll add them.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

Cash Flow in a Magick Business

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

In this post:

  • What cash flows are and why they matter
  • How to build a magick business with a positive (good) cash flow


Read some business blogs and you quickly learn that, in small businesses, cash is king.

Cash flow is the delay between when you pay your expenses and when your customers pay you.  Getting money before you have to spend it simplifies your business and makes it much more likely to succeed.

First, I’ll give an example of cash flows, then I’ll apply it to my personality integration business.

Cash Flow Summary

Say you run a company that sells CDs.  For meditation or whatever.  You pay the manufacturer $2 per CD.  You can sell them in a store and get $4 as your commission ($2 profit), or sell them online and get $4 per CD, but spend an additional $1 on shipping ($1 profit).

$2 profit is better than $1 profit.  But that business model has cash flow problems.  Here’s why.

When you sell in a store on commission, you pay for the CDs up front, then the store pays you 30 days after the CD sells.  It takes 2-3 months before any money comes back to you.  That’s a cash flow negative business.  It’s hard to make work because it takes a while to produce a profit.  And each time you expand, you have to invest more up front then last long enough to see any profit.

In contrast, say you sell the CDs online, “allowing 4-6 weeks for shipping.”  A CD takes 1-2 weeks to manufacture and 1 week to ship, so you don’t need any inventory.  Bill your customer $4 when they order, use $3 to get them the CD, and keep $1 profit.  You don’t need to invest your own money, you pay your expenses with the money your customer just gave you.  That’s a cash flow positive business.

When you don’t spend your own money to run the business, you don’t have to worry about investors, loans, slowdowns in the market, etc.  If you walk away, you don’t lose money sunk into inventory because there isn’t any.  Cash flow positive businesses are much easier to run, so I want to make sure my business will be cash flow positive.

Cash Flow for Personality Integration

Personality integration is a service-based business: I do something for you, you pay for the hour.  Service-based business don’t have to worry about inventory, and since I’m the only employee for now, I don’t have to worry about recurring costs from staff.

What I do have to worry about are costs from delivering services.  In my other life, I consult for large companies.  When I travel, I spend my own money on airfare and hotels, then bill those expenses back to my clients.  It takes about 30 days for them to pay me.  This would be cash-flow negative, except that I pay with credit cards so I don’t really pay the travel expenses for 30-60 days, which makes the travel expenses cash-flow neutral.

For magick services, I’ll need to rent space.  Established clients might be comfortable working at their house, but new clients would probably want to meet at an occult shop (in the room they use for tarot readings).

I’ll need to arrange with the local occult shops to rent their space as needed, and pay after I use it, so I can pay with the money the client paid me with.  Since I’m scheduling around the shop’s weekly events, I need to develop a relationship with several occult shops in the area.  And since I might not be able to handle same-day bookings or complete an appointment when a new client initially calls me, I’ll need enough material for new clients to read to sustain their interest while we schedule an appointment.

Both of those results suggest that low-cost group workshops offered through the local occult shops may be a good marketing plan.  I’ll write more about marketing in the next business post.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

First Steps to Starting a Magick-Based Business

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

I’m starting a business using magick to help people with personality integration.  Each week, I’ll blog about what I learned about the business.

This week: The first steps to starting a magick-based business.  But first, a quick background.

What Personality Integration Is

Everyone has many unconscious parts of their psyche formed during childhood.  They create emotional responses in your mind and body based on behaviors that were healthy as a child.  But those responses are often unhealthy as an adult.

The unconscious parts only communicate through emotion, and don’t receive thoughts from your conscious mind, so they never update their worldview.  That’s what this effect changes.

I activate new thought paths to let those unconscious areas talk directly with your conscious mind.  Your conscious mind adjusts their worldview to be accurate for today, which changes how those unconscious areas respond.  The changes are immediate and dramatic.

I’ll write more about it soon, both for non-mage customers and for mages who want to learn the technique.  But this post is about the business end of things.

The First Steps to Starting a Magick-Based Business

So far, I have a technique that I can do on myself and my girlfriend (who is also a mage).  I can connect to strangers and find the right parts of their mind that I would work on.  So I have a working prototype that I want to turn into a business.

Here are the steps I see.

Develop the Prototype into a Product

I need to test this on a few friends, to develop the technique better, and also figure out how to explain it to a non-mage.

In particular, when I first did this technique on my girlfriend, she had a lot of painful emotions as she processed the changes.  I’d like to eliminate this problem if I can, or at least be able to prepare customers for it.

Also, when I do these effects on myself, I tweak them constantly.  That’s fine for a prototype, or for something I do on a friend I see everyday, but for customers I need to be able to do the effects right the first time, and know when to recommend the next session.

Create Marketing Materials

Make a path for people to initially hear about the service, learn enough to be comfortable, try it out, then purchase:

  • Make a web page for non-mages.  It should emphasize the concepts, and de-emphasize magick, which is a bad buzzword to non-mages.
  • Turn that page-long description into a 1-sentence tagline, and name the technique (which will also be the business name).
  • Select a price and pricing model with a way to easily see what it is, like a short, inexpensive session, a group workshop, etc.  Ideally, something I can do at local stores that will help the store-owners bring in customers.  Also, a guarantee, like “You don’t pay unless you’re satisfied.”
  • Make a business card and flyers for local businesses, referencing the landing page.

That’s the list I have now.  But it’s the first time I’m doing a magick-based business.  (I ran a dance lessons business a couple years ago).  Please leave comments with ideas, tips, etc.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.