Because I wrote a popular business book on P.T. Barnum, called There’s A Customer Born Every Minute, numerous people have been telling me about the new movie titled The Greatest Showman.
The movie is a musical loosely based on the life of “The Greatest Showman” – P.T. Barnum.
I say “loosely” because the movie isn’t concerned about the facts; it focuses on the spirit of Barnum.
After all, the real “The Greatest Showman” didn’t dance, or sing, or run, or look or sound like the actor playing him, Hugh Jackman.
But Barnum would have loved the movie.
And I loved it, too.
“The Greatest Showman” is a big scale, old school Hollywood production, with a large cast, huge sets, big music numbers and fast dance routines, and more.
It is hugely entertaining.
It is fun for the whole family.
I found “The Greatest Showman” inspiring, uplifting, nurturing and contagiously happy.
Actor Hugh Jackman does a wonderful job of making Barnum understood and liked within the context of the times “The Greatest Showman” lived.
Barnum did in fact promote the unusual, and he was indeed a man behind “humbugs” and “hoodwinks.”
He lived in the 1800s, and his promotions were new, unusual, entertaining, educational, and highly curious.
He never said “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
People loved his shows.
He was the Disney of the 1800s.
But he didn’t have a fling with Jenny Lind, and he didn’t open a circus tent right after his museum burned down, and he didn’t retire to watch his children grow.
In reality the real “The Greatest Showman” wrote his autobiography, went into politics, lectured on the speaking circuit, made partners (like General Tom Thumb) rich and famous, and promoted even bigger events and shows, including the circus, right up to his death in 1891.
Still I loved this movie.
As long as you turn off any fact checking in your mind, you can sit back and enjoy one of the most entertaining movies of 2017 and early 2018.
And if you do care about the facts behind “The Greatest Showman,” then go get my book: There’s A Customer Born Every Minute.
PS – The Greatest Showman – the real one, not the Hugh Jackman movie version – used 10 “Rings of Power” to make himself and his businesses so famous that we still make movies about him 100 years after his death. Get the real story in There’s A Customer Born Every Minute.
“If you’re going to excel in business, learning about a showman like Barnum and applying some of the lessons he taught can give you valuable insights. Joe Vitale has captured ten of these lessons (he calls them ‘rings of power’) and shows how you can apply them in a way that will open your eyes and stretch your imagination. There’s a lot of money-making and fun wisdom here.”
— Joseph Sugarman, Chairman, BluBlocker Corporation
Back in 2006 I held the world’s first Canine Concert.
It was a publicity event to promote my 1998 book on P.T. Barnum, There’s A Customer Born Every Minute, which was revised, expanded, and reissued in 2006.
Many people donated their time and talents on a mind melting hot and humid Texas day to help me.
Little did any of them know — including me — the karma we triggered.
Let me explain…
The Canine Concert was a playful hoax, a publicity stunt, an idea given to me by the legendary prankster Alan Abel.
Alan is a genius.
He is a “professional media prankster.”
Before and beyond Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, Alan, as one newspaper called him, was “The Rembrandt of the ridiculous.”
Alan started his career in the 1950s with a fake organization called S.I.N.A.: the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals.
The crusade wanted to clothe critters.
Alan made national news, ignited a craze, and became infamous.
Alan helped me get media attention for my book The Attractor Factor with a fake lotto win in 2006, which was turned into the short documentary Humbug!
He also wanted me to run for U.S. President later, on the “Common Sense” platform.
But I went to Alan for ideas on promoting my Barnum book.
He offered the Canine Concert.
The idea behind it was to put on a show “for dogs only.”
I thought it was wild, didn’t know if it would work, but was willing to try it.
I sent out a survey to my list to find out what kind of music their dogs liked. The majority vote was for rock and roll.
So I went looking for a local rock and roll band that would be willing to play at a sound level only dogs could hear (like using a dog whistle), and who would play for the fun of it.
I’m a lifetime member of the Society of American Magicians, and knew many entertainers through the local magic club. Many of them donated their time to help me. And one (hypnotist C.J. Johnson) introduced me to the band, Porterdavis. The group agreed to play at my wild stunt.
There were more volunteers, of course.
I had a beautiful live mermaid (Lisa Nicks), a performing magician (John Maverick), an MC (Kent Cummins), P.T. Barnum (played by Kevin Coyne) and even a protesting cat.
Three news crews came to film the people, the dogs, and me.
We all had a good time and we parted after the event.
And here’s where the story gets juicy…
Years went by and one day I received an email from Daniel Barrett, the lead singer for Porterdavis.
He wanted to have lunch and ask for some advice about a career change.
I remembered him, of course, and agreed.
Over lunch, Daniel told me he was planning to start a program to help first time musicians write, perform and record their own music.
What Daniel didn’t know is that my secret dream was to write, record and perform my own music.
Think about this.
Daniel had no idea I wanted to become a musician.
I had no idea he wanted to help people become musicians.
Yet we met — years after he did the good deed of helping me at the event — and our karma balanced out.
Daniel has so far produced five of my 15 albums, including an album with me, Daniel, and Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster.
Is this all amazing or what?
But the story doesn’t stop there…
We’ve been having problems with our wireless Internet for a long time.
I finally jumped online and searched for someone nearby to come to the rescue.
I called a listing and left a message.
I didn’t think much more about it.
Later the same day, a fellow named Randy called me back.
“Are you the Joe Vitale that’s the self-help guy?” he asked.
“Some say I am.”
“Then we met years ago,” he explained.
“Yes. You gave me my first job when I moved to Texas.”
“Yes. I was the protesting cat at your canine concert.”
I was surprised, delighted, and impressed.
Again, a good deed from years ago returned.
Karma had balanced the tables again.
Neither Randy or Daniel (or me) had any idea that their giving in 2006 would lead to new business and new friendships almost a decade later.
And Alan Abel, the man who offered the Canine Concert idea to me, is still (at age 90) writing and hoaxing. I’ll be publishing his autobiography soon, so he won out in this karmic play, too.
There are probably lots of lessons in this story, but here’s a big one:
Give joyfully and without concern for return and the good karma you trigger will come back to you multiplied and spilling over.
You don’t need to do everything with money in mind.
Sometimes helping a good cause, or helping a friend, without concern for pay or pay back, can lead to spectacular unexpected miracles later.
Call it good karma or canine karma.
Either way, it’s pretty cool.
Do it and Expect Miracles.
Note: There is a DVD of the event, created by Nerissa Oden, for sale at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-First-Canine-Concert/dp/B000V246RK/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452085530&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=canince+concert.
When the world’s strongest man, Dennis Rogers, came to visit me recently, he explained that most people give up just seconds before they are going to reach their goal.
“I’ve seen it hundreds if not thousands of times,” Dennis explained. “Right before the steel is going to bend, the person stops.”
He was referring to bending nails, horseshoes and steel bars, but his observation is true for any goal you’re seeking.
While some people procrastinate in getting started, still others stop too soon.
They give up on their goal because it’s “taking too long” or “it’s too hard” or they feel “it’s never going to happen.”
But the curious thing is, they were only moments away from the achievement.
In the movie Bending Steel, which is about upcoming strongman Chris “Wonder” Schoeck, the star explains how he finally bent a stubborn piece of steel: “I didn’t want to give up five minutes before the miracle.”
At the of the movie, he is on stage explaining that the metal he wanted to bend had haunted him for months.
On stage, he persisted and the metal bent.
The operative word here is persisted.
I’ve seen this in my own life, in countless areas, but most recently in learning feats of strength from strongmen Dennis Rogers and David Whitley.
After they teach me how to do a feat, I try it on my own.
When they are in front of me, encouraging me, I keep going, using will power, muscle power, strength and endurance until the steel melts in my hands.
But I also noticed that I had great difficulty bending anything when I was alone in my gym.
I tried to bend a horseshoe every day for two weeks.
I tried to bend one in front of two visiting friends.
It perplexed me until I wrote David Whitley for advice.
He replied, saying it could only be one of or a combination of three things:
1: The horseshoe is beyond your current strength level
2: Your technique is off
3: You lack confidence/desire
That really made me think.
Did I not believe I could do it?
Was my technique off?
Was I trying to bend too hard of a horseshoe?
I went back into my gym, looked at the horseshoes I had bent, and the ones I couldn’t budge, and realized I was trying to bend at a level I wasn’t ready to accomplish yet.
So I dropped back to a slightly easier horseshoe, got my mind and body in position, and — bent the horseshoe!
This story is relevant to you and whatever you are trying to accomplish.
Ask yourself –
1. Are you trying something beyond your current level of skill?
2. Are you using the wrong method or technique to get it done?
3. Are you fully believing in yourself and your ability to do it?
As with me reaching out to Dennis and David for personal coaching, very often you need expert help in achieving and attracting your goals. That’s where Miracles Coaching might be useful to you.
Whatever you decide, remember, most of us give up right before the miracle.
Remind yourself to hang in there and your “horseshoe” will give.
PS – Inside Secret: Because I know having a crowd cheer me on will trigger more motivation in me – much like cheerleaders at a football game get the crowd and team energized – I bought an applause app called Rent-A-Crowd. It’s exactly what you think: you open it and tap it to hear applause. It can be a small group of people applauding or an entire stadium of raving fans. Your choice. Now, when I attempt to bend a nail or horseshoe, I play the Rent-A-Crowd applause app and pretend a crowd is cheering me on. Another app I use is called Applause. It works, too. I sometimes play it for friends when they do something good for themselves. Go ahead. Applaud me for giving you this tip.
If I handed you a horseshoe and said “Bend it,” what would you do?
Probably nothing, right?
Same thing if I offered you a metal bar.
You’d hold the cold steel and wouldn’t know where to begin.
Your mind wouldn’t have any idea how to start.
It would seem impossible.
But the other day I came home and handed Nerissa a bent horseshoe and a twisted metal bar.
“You bent these?” she asked in amazement.
“Yep,” I replied. “And I also drove a nail through a board with my hand.”
“How is that even possible?” she asked.
And that’s where I had an “aha” about how we can more easily and quickly change beliefs.
Let me explain…
I attended the Strongman University seminar with the legendary Dennis Rogers and strongman David Whitley. You may recall their names because I wrote about them on a previous blog post.
Both guys are powerfully strong, and prove it by ripping thick phone books, decks of playing cards, bending nails and spikes and steel bars and horseshoes, breaking out of chains, holding people high in the air with one hand, and more.
They come from a long history of strongmen (and women) who do feats of strength for a living.
I attended the event to find out their tricks of the trade.
Turns out, there aren’t any tricks.
These strongmen are actually doing what you see them do.
While there may be magic trick approaches to getting similar results, Dennis and David and the old school authentic strongmen don’t use tricks.
They are using intent, will power, knowledge of technique, and a tremendous amount of focused sheer strength.
I know because it took everything in my body and mind to bend a horseshoe.
My muscles ached, my breathing was hard, my face was flushed, my neck veins were popping, and I groaned and struggled as my entire body and mind were focused on bending that horseshoe.
And I did it, too.
But when I first held it, it seemed impossible.
After all, a horseshoe is hard steel and made for a horse.
It’s not designed to give.
How was I going to bend it?
But here’s what happened:
I saw David do it.
Then I saw a few other people in the event – including two petite but strong women – do it.
And then I knew it was possible for me, too.
In other words, seeing living proof of it being done convinced me – it changed my belief system – and I realized it was now possible for me, too.
This insight made me realize that when you want to change something in your life, you might need to read, see, or meet someone who has already done it.
Once your mind accepts the reality of change, it then becomes possible for you, too.
You still have to take action, of course.
The horseshoe will not bend by itself.
I have to pick it up.
I have to see it in my mind bending.
And I have to collect all the muscle and energy and focus possible within me and aim it at that horseshoe.
But because I know it can be done, I’m more inclined to give it my all.
And when the horseshoe bends, you feel like superman.
Same is true for all your goals.
Once you achieve one, the rest become doable.
You don’t have to pick up a horseshoe and bend it, but wouldn’t it be cool if you took on a daring challenge and completed it?
And if it’s a big challenge – like bending a horseshoe or steel bar was for me – then read about or watch a film about someone who already achieved the goal you want to achieve.
Their success will teach you and inspire you and let you know that what you want to do is possible.
And then, go do it.
PS – What if you try and fail? Truth is, I wasn’t able to do all the feats of strength that David and Dennis taught. I couldn’t rip a phone book, tear a deck of cards, or bend a metal spike. I tried so hard that my muscles still ache today. So, did I fail? Not at all. As long as I keep trying, and remind myself that it is possible for me to do, then I will succeed. The “failure” was simply feedback that my grip needs to be stronger. And that means my “failed” attempts were actually part of my training. Just trying to rip or tear or bend was building my muscle. You never fail as long as you keep moving forward.
The following is the cover story feature article in this month’s issue of Austin All Natural magazine, by yours truly:
“Let me make you a paper weight.”
It was Dennis Rogers speaking. Many consider him the world’s strongest man. Celebrities call on him for advice on performing and getting strong. He’s performed over 2,600 feats of strength shows. He’s a legend.
We met over lunch. He wanted to give me a gift, or rather make one for me.
He wrapped his hands in a thin leather protective covering, and then began to bend a wrench before my eyes. I couldn’t comprehend how he did it. I had felt the wrench beforehand and it was a genuine metal tool, heavy and solid. But it bent like it was warm butter.
By now the kitchen staff had seen the bent wrench and saw the small lunch crowd forming around Dennis and me.
“Would you like me to roll a frying pan for you?” Dennis asked the cook and staff. “It can be a souvenir you can hang in the kitchen.”
They all agreed, their eyes bugged out and waiting.
Dennis pulled out a frying pan, put his fingers over the edge, and began to slowly roll it like it was a tortilla. It was astonishing to see. It was surreal. Dennis was clearly focused, breathing hard, putting his life force into his efforts.
He handed the completely rolled up pan, now of no practical use, to the chef.
None of us could believe it.
I had seen strongmen and feats of strength before. When I was in Russia, a man billed as the world’s strongest man – I guess there can be more than one – bent a heavy nail before my eyes. He, like Dennis, used sheer power and intense focus to get it done.
I admired it. I could see applications in other areas of life. I wanted to know more.
The origin of strongman feats of strength goes back to prehistory, maybe even back to caveman picking up boulders and protecting their caves.
The first of the recorded characters was probably Milo of Croton, an ancient Greek wrestler, circa 558 B.C.
His training was simple: find a young calf, lift it.
Next day, find a heavier calf, lift it.
Next day, find a heavier calf or cow, lift it.
It was an early exercise routine today named progressive overload. But that’s the ancient Greeks for you. They didn’t name it. They just knew the process made them stronger.
But feats of strength were performed throughout history, right into the circus and on the vaudeville stage throughout the 1800s.
As time went on, strength displays were broken into categories, such as power lifting and bodybuilding.
I admire men and women who use intention and strength to accomplish something the rest of us might consider virtually impossible.
Some of these early strongmen, most notably Joseph Greenstein, whose stage name was the Mighty Atom, also pursued strength as a means of mental and spiritual development.
Authentic strongman and strongwomen don’t use magic tricks to get their results. They want to impress themselves as well as you.
This is one reason I’m attending Dennis Rogers and Dave Whitley’s Oldetime Strongman University Training in Austin September 19-20. http://www.dennisrogers.net/oldetime-strongman-university-seminar/
I want to learn what it takes to be a modern walking Hercules, able to bend nails, wrenches, frying pans or your car keys, but doing it as a type of meditation. Using it to stretch myself into bigger possibility thinking.
Dennis told me, “The area of strength that David Whitley and I will be teaching is the artistic display of physical strength. I say this because you must certainly build your body, particularly your core and grip, but it also requires a creative mind and artful presentation.
“It is the art of the old vaudeville and Coney Island strength stars. Men like Eugen Sandow, Siegmund Brietbart, Warren Lincoln Travis, and ‘The Mighty Atom.’ “
According to author and strength historian David Willoughby, “It was Sandow who raised feats of strength out of the grunt-and groan category and made them spectacular and entertaining.”
But it’s not about the bent item, it’s about learning to use your mind and muscle to get results. That’s priceless anywhere.
David Whitley said, “It is the bodily expression of the mind’s power.”
And that’s why I trained with the “old school” bodybuilders, like multiple Olympia winner Frank Zane, who advised me, “Watch your thoughts. Most people let their mind talk themselves out of what their muscle can do. Push past the voice.”
And Steve Reeves, the legendary early bodybuilder who played Hercules in the original movie, said he would visualize his muscles growing as he worked them. Arnold does the same thing.
It’s mind over muscle.
Dennis Rogers once told me that most people give up in trying to bend a wrench right before the wrench is going to bend. “They let their minds talk themselves out of what they can achieve,” he explained.
David Whitley said, “We tend to think of the physical first, but being strong is something that goes beyond the physical performance of feats and encompasses the entire being. It is a means of discovering, unifying and expressing the True Self.
“The essence of being an old-time strong man in my opinion is recognizing and acknowledging the infinite potential of the human mind. The ability to bend steel, rip decks of cards, etc., has its roots in the same place as every great invention or work of art we have ever seen: The Imagination.”
You can see how relevant this is to all aspects of life, not just in the gym or on stage. It’s about using your mind and body to achieve your intentions. It’s about training in a way to exceed your own “personal best” and proving to yourself and others that virtually nothing is impossible.
Now, stand back, as I’m going to break that chain around my neck on the cover of the magazine…
PS – If you are in the Austin, Texas area, you can find the current issue of Austin All Natural at places like Central Market, Whole Foods, and leading edge book stores and yoga studios. You can read it online right here.