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Meet Joe M. Turner of Turner Magic & Keynotes in Buckhead

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe M. Turner.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
At Mississippi State University, I studied to be a physics teacher. I did most of another degree in theatre. I took a job with a management consulting firm and moved to Atlanta in 1993.

I was a change management consultant for the company that is now called Accenture. I developed training and corporate communication for a variety of change initiatives and continued to pursue theatrical performance in my off-time — mostly in musical theatre. I play the piano, sing, compose and have worked professionally in music and theatre (I still play every day and even take the occasional piano gig for cocktail parties, receptions and so forth just to stay sharp).

In 1995, I got married. My wife and I had kids and later, I moved to a job as a Vice President at Bank of America focusing on similar change projects in that organization. After a couple of years, they wanted me to move to Charlotte but we decided not to go. That was in the fall of 2000.

By that time, a hobby from my youth had reemerged. I had performed magic as a teenager, doing talent shows and kids parties. I had picked it up again in the late 90s and began performing for corporate audiences. As that grew, it became a sideline business. When we decided not to go to Charlotte, I took it full time.

My first big project as a corporate magician was with the Coca-Cola Company and the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) literacy non-profit. I designed, wrote, directed and trained performers for a two-year touring show promoting literacy as part of Coke’s sponsorship of the Harry Potter movies. It was a great project that won a number of awards.

As I grew in magic, I started writing for the oldest continuously-published magazine in the industry, Genii Magazine. I’ve now written reviews of instructional video for 18 years, helping amateur and professional magicians make good choices as they learn and deepen their skills.

Speaking of serving the industry, the International Brotherhood of Magicians is the largest association in magic with about 10,000 members in 88 countries around the globe. I got involved with the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) locally when I was first getting back into magic. I became president of the local chapter (IBM Ring 9) and later, got involved on the international level. I eventually became part of the Executive Committee and was elected as International President for 2015-16. I am a life member of the IBM. I’m also a life member of the Society of American Magicians (SAM) and a member of the London Magic Circle (AIMC), the Academy of Magical Arts, the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, the National Speakers Association and Mensa.

I’ve been fortunate to travel the world with magic. I regularly speak at conferences where I help businesses, associations and other groups inspire their members with practical ways to create amazing experiences for their own customers, clients, students or followers. I’ve traveled to 6 continents, been seen on major television networks, performed in theatres from the Hollywood Magic Castle to the London Palladium, including off-Broadway performances at Monday Night Magic. I’ve served as a magic consultant for film, television and theatre. For the last four years, in addition to my work as a corporate speaker and entertainer, I’ve co-produced a show called “Atlanta Magic Night” which spotlights local and national magic acts. We are excited to celebrate our 4 year anniversary in May 2018 and I have new entertainment projects on the drawing board!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No person or business travels a perfectly smooth road. There have definitely been struggles.

Less than a year after I started full-time, September 11 happened. I had focused largely on trade-show magic — using customized magical marketing presentations to attract traffic at trade show booths. After 9/11, that industry went into a long slowdown.

There have been other economic downturns, too. The 2008-2009 recession was significant.

In all of these situations, the most successful approach has been to rethink what I do and to try to offer my skills to an additional market. For example, I went from being strictly an entertainer to leveraging my corporate experience along with the magic and that helped me begin a career as a keynote speaker.

The hardest struggles are not external, though. I think the biggest obstacles are internal – self-doubt, harshly judging your failures while not celebrating your successes and that kind of thing. Driven people are prone to derive their personal value from their accomplishments, not from their intrinsic self-worth. I know this is a problem for me and so when times are rough and accomplishments come at a slower clip, it is very easy to get discouraged. I’m fortunate that my wife and family are supportive of this endeavor.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Turner Magic & Keynotes – what should we know?
I am a former management consultant with a background in theatre. Yes, I am a speaker, magician and mentalist but it’s that corporate experience and theatrical training that make me different than most.

As a speaker, I use lessons from the theatre and live magic performance to demonstrate amazing experiences which I then analyze with my audience. We see what makes experiences amazing and noteworthy, and look for parallels to help them deliver amazing experiences in the way they interact with their own audience through their branding, marketing, and other communication. This is a unique combination of magic and corporate messaging, and it has credibility because of my experience in both areas.

Even as a mentalist and magician, I have learned that few of my peers have actually trained in acting and performing. Most of the performers in the industry have studied magic, but never acting, voice or movement. So the fundamental tools of commanding a stage or a platform are something of a differentiator for me even within my industry.

I am proud of the customized work that I do. I love working with a client on a keynote, or a marketing event, or a trade show where I get to research their business, understand and clarify their objective for an event and craft a script that uses magic to deliver that message effectively.

I am also proud of the work I have done as a performer and producer to elevate the public’s perception of magic as an art, and to provide opportunities for other performers to showcase their skills.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I wish I could say that the quality or characteristic most important to my success is being the smartest, best looking, funniest, most creative or most talented. But the truth is that, I can name other performers and speakers who surpass me in all of those categories.

Some qualities I think I do have are: a good eye for material that suits me, strong writing skills, the ability to speak and connect with individuals and groups, an unusual and eclectic collection of talents and a willingness to go out and network, shake hands, then keep going when others might have stopped. I will go through slumps, like everyone does but I guess the main thing is that I have kept moving forward.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Preston Smith, Rolando Santos, Bill Wells, Bulgarian National Television – BNT2

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Dr. John Patrick Lestrade

    March 12, 2018 at 2:33 am

    I would argue with his humility in his “smarts”. I was his physics teacher at MSU. In lower level classes, I could use his answers as the exam key – always perfect. In an advanced astrophysics class his research and exams were par excellence.

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