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Zoltar Fortune Teller reading palms

Why Brides Want Fortune Tellers

Why Brides Want Fortune Tellers

Why People Crave Something Different

Is it really about knowing the future?

Why do brides all suddenly want fortune tellers? It’s not about the future: it’s about the here and now. Maybe it’s because we all want to know what’s going to happen next. It might be because it’s the comfort and connection we feel when someone takes the time to recognize us and our gifts. Personalized and meaningful entertainment is popular. We’re seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of brides who really want to have something different for all things weddings: fortune tellers, palm readings, handwriting analysis, Tarot readings, coffee cup readings, lip print analysis–even acrobats, jugglers, and magicians! All of these quirky, old-fashioned forms of entertainment are making a huge comeback. People are hungering to do something different, but most importantly, they want to do something meaningful.

Why? 

It’s because we are all starved for connection. The hunger is real. We want to connect in a meaningful way. People feel a sense of alienation and isolation that comes from living through a pandemic. Along with brides, planners are desperately looking for different ways to connect people.

What kind of wedding events use fortune tellers?

Think about it–how can you create a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or wedding reception that helps your guests connect in a meaningful and compelling way? 

Easy! Use the opportunity to bring people together so they can get to know each other, exchange ideas, talk about what matters to them. A fortune teller, reader, psychic, analyst–whatever you call it–the most important part is the integrity of the performers. Second to that is their ability to match their production values to the overall ambience of your event. Whether formal, breezy, quirky, subdued, or surprising, decor adds an extra dimension to any event. Think of it as the difference between inviting guests to  a home that is fully furnished versus one that is empty 😊.

There is a huge surge in requests for interactive entertainment for everything family-oriented. These are events where people can bond with each other, find a precious moment to share something unique and personal. Sometimes it’s the first time people have met.  Sometimes, it’s been far too long since they’ve seen each other.

Creating connection

We want to meet other people. How can we have personal connection and be ‘seen’? It can be difficult to start a conversation with someone you meet for the first time or someone you haven’t seen for a while. That’s our time to shine. People watch and listen, rev up their courage, are curious—and want to know about themselves and that other person!

Don’t lose this opportunity to connect more deeply with your loved ones and have fun at the same time! Nothing matters more than how your guests feel at your event.

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Richard and Elon: A True Story

A True Story: Richard and Elon

April 2, 2021

 

Full disclosure about yesterday’s newsletter–Happy April Fool’s Day!

However, I actually did reach out to Sir Richard and Virgin about eight years ago re entertaining on the Mars shuttle. His executive assistant contacted me. We discussed my offer and I presented my other idea: my concept for helping women develop micro-businesses along the lines of my business for their charity that help women in remote African villages develop sustainable livelihoods. I believe it was for https://www.evebransonfoundation.org.uk. It wasn’t what they were looking for. I’m telling you this to encourage you all to reach for the stars. Now go donate somewhere.


A True Story: Richard and Elon

April 1, 2021

Hello Friend!

Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson are duking it out on more fronts than one. Spurred to action by consumer demand, they have just entered into a bidding war to keep their patrons and clients satisfied during what could be a tedious flight to Mars. No puddle-jumper this, the famous duo have locked arms in what will become the arm wrestling championship of all time:

Who will win Handy Entertainment’s services for the trip to Mars?

AP News spoke with Jan Levie of Handy Entertainment about this turn in events. Here’s the low-down:

AP: Tell us, how did all of this start?

JL: I was busy answering my spam calls, typical Tuesday morning, looking for some ‘Good Cop’ entertainers for an event where people are known for getting wild and ignoring safety protocols. Richard called and said, “Have a minute, Jan?” “For you, always,” I said, swooning at the memories. Just then, a lead came in from Elon.

Richard was hell-bent on talking me into entertaining on the next Mars flight.

Elon said he and Grimes were sure they could make it worth my while to entertain on HIS upcoming Mars flight.

I told Elon that not only had Richard asked first, but that Richard and I go way back–how I’d pitched Richard on entertaining on the Mars spaceship ages ago, and explained to Richard that I could only do domestic flights until I was done driving carpool.

AP: Carpool?

JL: Yes, I told Richard I needed the flexibility of domestic flights while I was the main source of transportation for my kids. We’re past that now, so I said—let’s do it! But I was holding out for a cute spacesuit-costume…

AP: What did Elon say?

JL: When I told Elon, he gave me the stink eye and said,

“We’ll see about that.” He can be really stubborn.

AP&JL: Thank you!

Now, go back to the pink button at the top of the page which goes to The Giving Kitchen–no joke–they are helping thousands upon thousands of hospitality workers across the Southeast.

 

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Your non-profit can increase its reach with innovative entertainment.Brochure and Lip Print Analysis Card. Great choice for virtual events!

How to Increase Your Non-profit’s Reach

Looking at how to increase your non-profit’s reach might be the simplest and most effective way of increasing revenue. Does your organization rely on an annual fundraiser to survive?

Are you using your precious resources to develop, market, and run it?

Avoid staff burnout and limit overtime.

Most non-profits set a format and stick to it because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Times change, people change, societies change, and eventually your donor pool changes.

Who are your donors?

Did you notice when your donor pool changed? What did you first notice? Was it when donations started to dry up? Diversification is important in fundraising. To create a diverse pool of donors, take a deep and hard look at who your are trying to reach: who they are, how they relate to you, and how you can support THEM.

Shared affinities increase your non-profit’s reach

People support organizations when they share affinities with them. Look at how to increase your non-profit’s reach ny growing your donor pool. Are your donors part of the group your organization serves? An example of this is families with a loved one suffering from an incurable disease. Of course they want to contribute to the charity dedicated to finding a cure for it.

Sometimes the main sponsors are NOT directly affected by the organization’s outreach. One example of this is a business that contributes to a non-profit serving homeless children. Where is the connection in this case? Is it because of the activity the sponsors can take to help, or is it about their reputational enhancement by associating with the non-profit?

Organizational culture

Look at your organization’s culture. Is it homogenous? Do the majority of your supporters look alike, live in the same place, have the same interests, or have the same socio-economic status? There’s a lot to be said for extending your reach. For example, a food bank which had previously funded by church members extending their reach by joining the local Chamber of Commerce.

Diversify your outreach

Many nonprofits first become viable when they increase their visibility beyond their traditional supporters. How do you do that? One way is by diversifying your means of outreach. Another way is by diversifying what your organization offers people and organizations.

How do you fundraise?

A very simple idea that is worth examining, is how your non-profit currently fundraises. Where can you find opportunities to shift the concept? Something that amazes me is how some organizations are still doing the same thing that they did 20 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago. It may have stopped working a long time ago, but you won’t know that unless you have been keeping diligent KPI records.

We began working with a non-profit that provides medical services to remote villages in Nicaragua and Ecuador. They have dedicated medical providers who donate their time and expertise. In addition, they are setting up satellite offices to develop the healthcare infrastructure of small villages that are far away from normal services. Being a relatively new organization, they are always on the lookout for different ways of doing things. When they reached out to us in 2019 for their annual fundraiser, we were intrigued. What could we offer them that they had not already done or seen?

Palm readings to engage donors?

They asked us to do palm readings. That’s simple. But how could we put something into what they were doing that would be a game-changer? The first event we did for them was so fast and furious and the attendees’ waits were long for their palm reading or a lip print analysis or handwriting analysis. There was an opportunity to extend their reach and really think through the process of what they were trying to do and find different ways to do it.

Pivot and profit

For their 2020 event, discussion had started earlier in the year.  It became obvious that an in-person event would most likely not be an option. They were swift to pivot, and hired a company to provide an online auction service. This was great for them in many different ways. They used it to create excitement, first off.  Most importantly, they used it to reduce the time that their staff had to spend on creating packages, selling packages and collecting for packages. This turned out to be a real timesaver and also help them raise a proportionately much larger amount of money than in past years.

No idea is wasted

Because everybody was working so hard to pivot, (the most overused term of the year), we didn’t have time to flesh out an idea that had been “percolating’ in my head – to offer coffee cup readings. The director of the nonprofit owns a coffee business. We had begun to work on providing kits to individuals that would let them get coffee, brew it in their cup, and get a coffee reading all in one with a virtual coffee reading and coffee kit.

How are you trying to increase your non-profit’s reach?

The drawback was that our advance timeline was shorter than we needed to make this function optimally. Another issue that was that the majority the people involved in the organization were young families. Due to the pandemic, they were more stressed out than ever before—balancing jobs, childcare and educational tasks on top of their usual family involvement. They just didn’t have the bandwidth to be able to deal with making a cup of coffee and executing all the little intricacies at a prescribed moment and in a specific way.

Hopefully, the seeds that we have planted will help this non-profit continue to  reach their donors to create an even better event this year!

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Mindreader at work

Is Your Assistant a Mindreader?

If your assistant IS a mindreader, they should get a pay raise! Take it from a ‘Mindreader’ who has been an assistant before—your assistant is probably NOT a mindreader.

Working with people with disabilities has made me very aware of how I can improve what I communicate to my assistants, and particularly, HOW I communicate it.

What your assistant doesn’t know is quite a bit. 

When you’ve been doing what you do for a while, and your assistant is new, it turns out there is even more they don’t know!

There are many things that they probably DO know.

It’s up to us to create an environment where they are comfortable asking questions. The fact of the matter is that nobody is going to say anything if they don’t feel valued and safe. Debriefing after an event is a great way to get to this point with your team.

Your assistants can help you get better. Much better.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most brilliant, creative, and innovative designers as an assistant.

This is a great way to learn, stretch, get ideas of how you can improve your client experience, or add elements to bedazzle your client. Below are some of the things I’ve noticed—what works, what could be improved, and how we can streamline the process.

We have had some of the most AMAZING assistants, too! They’ve helped us understand how to make things work better and flow more smoothly on their end (and on ours).

If we don’t say or show what what we want an assistant to do, they might not understand our tasks, at least not right away.

What is the best way to give assistants an overview of the completed project, of what we’re trying to achieve, when each part should be completed, and how we’ll know when that has happened? The answer: SMART Goals – Specific  – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-bound.

Everyone has a preferred learning style.

Some people respond well to verbal instruction, some are visual learners, and some like a set of objectives and benchmarks, or step-by-step instruction in real time. Others like to be shown how to do something, and still others like to have guided, hands-on training. There are also combinations that are useful, depending on the task and the assistant.

For me personally, I seem to understand and be able to work in many different ways, except that I can’t always see or hear instructions in the chaos and noise of live events.

Show and tell.

One way to work around this is by doing a show and tell. I can show my assistants what things are, where they live, how things look at the beginning. By showing the structure of what we’re doing, the stages of beginning, middle, and end are very helpful.

That’s why someone who has worked with you before is infinitely more valuable than a first-time assistant. They have an idea of what you want and how you want it, how you communicate, and your priorities.

When I’m asked or told to do something, it can be an exercise in frustration if I can’t hear or see the person speaking, or don’t know what the components are called.

I’m always amazed at all the different ‘things’ I don’t know the names of! 

Garbage in, garbage out. Create a system to your madness.

It’s the same with the breakdown. Knowing the order the items need to be stored or retrieved helps expedite the work. Vases need to be repacked so they can be safely retrieved for the next event and are easy to find. Making an inventory sheet for items to quickly note if they are broken/damaged/need cleaning/or are missing will save you and your assistants a great deal of time.

Loading vehicles—which items go where, and in what order? Assume your assistant hasn’t seen all of the items yet and can’t know what else is to come until it has been taken down.

Save time and money.

Do you have a van/truck layout? Are there items that need to be stored differently, or separately? Do you have labels and markers available? Use your inventory check-off list with names of items, count, and condition. Add photos of the items, have the document loaded on a tablet and send a copy to your client immediately after breakdown. If the client is still on site, you can give them the sheet or tablet to sign immediately after you show missing or damaged goods.

Let’s set those new assistants up for success and at the same time, lighten our load-ins and load-outs!

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Helping children fight loneliness with connection

How to Help Kids Fight Loneliness

Tools from an event professional that will help kids fight loneliness

The ways we can help children fight loneliness are getting easier. Kids worldwide are suffering disproportionately from loneliness. Loneliness is defined as the feeling caused by the difference between expected social interaction and how much actual social interaction you actually have.

The pandemic and enforced isolation have increased loneliness for all of us.

Full disclosure: I am not a clinical or research psychologist, I am an event professional. My company, Handy Entertainment, creates meaningful and personalized event entertainment that connects people. What I bring to the table is what I’ve learned working in events, working with kids at events, and as an educator.

What does this have to do with entertainers?

Entertainers develop traits associated with the positive psychology that the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education and Talent Development offers through their educational program, ‘Operation Houndstooth.’ ‘Operation Houndstooth’ focuses on creating educational environments to support and encourage the development of attributes associated with giftedness.

The Traits of Positive Psychology

These attributes are:

• Optimism

• Courage

• Romance with a Topic/Discipline

• Sensitivity to Human Concerns

• Physical/Mental Energy

• Vision/Sense of Destiny

Entertainers, as a group, develop many of these same traits. The majority of entertainers (including musicians, actors, dancers, plus stage managers, directors, and producers) are self-employed or freelancers. Some freelancers obtain long-term engagements with, for example, cruise ships, companies like Cirque du Soleil, or on Broadway.

There are long stretches in a freelance entertainer’s life when they are literally on their own. They rehearse, audition, take jobs outside of the industry, work on their craft, and in some cases, just try to survive. That is what is currently happening in the entertainment industry. The pandemic has disproportionately affected the events industries.

What is it that makes entertainers this way?

Entertainers develop resilience while auditioning. They are frequently told, all on the same day, that they are too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too old, too young. By creating a system where ‘failure’ is frequent and an accepted part of the practice, entertainers strengthen their resilience, and cultivate tools for survival.

What are some of the tools that performers use, and how can we make them available to our kids?

Here is what I’ll call ‘The Performers Tool Kit.’

Though these aren’t a traditional part of formal training for performing artists at universities or conservatories, they are lessons that are usually learned on the road of hard knocks:

  1. Build your network.
  2. Know who you can call, and call them. Reach out to get info, reach out to verify info, and reach out to share it.
  3. You are only as strong as the weakest link in your network. You can text or email, but talking to someone is better, and we all know that.
  4. Take care of your instrument. Your body is your instrument. You need to keep it tuned with sleep, exercise, healthy food, and mindfulness.
  5. Gratitude is everything. Express gratitude in acts of kindness, random acts of kindness, or anonymous ones. It can be as simple of being grateful for being alive, for having parents, having siblings, teachers, something to eat, a sunny day, etc.
  6. Call someone. Anyone. A friend who moved away, a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. Text works too, or emailing. Reach out to people who are sick, struggling, living alone, or are caregivers.
  7. Write a card, or a letter. Yes, it’s old-fashioned. It feels good and it does good.
  8. Find a non-profit where you can volunteer. Purposeful action gives you a sense of agency. A sense of agency (control) counteracts feelings of anxiety and despair.

Back to entertainers:

Actors learn how to create ‘what if’ situations.

There might be a kooky director who tells you to pretend you are swimming through an ocean of peanut butter to save someone, other times, you might have to act as if you don’t see those people having a loud discussion in the back of the theater.

These ‘what-ifs’ are superpowers right now. We have the tools to  make stone soup, a fable about contributing to the greater good with  seemingly insignificant offerings. Let’s look at creating meaningful interactions.

What is a meaningful interaction?

Meaningful interaction can be as short as one minute. At its best, it is reciprocal. People feel seen, heard, and accepted in a meaningful  interaction. This is something that we can model for children, something  that can help them tremendously.

Ways to create meaningful interaction

We can ask children something as simple as, “What was the best part of your day?”  This gives them the chance to connect with their emotions. With kids, there’s a good chance you’ll get an eye roll in response to that question, so here are some other options:

  • “If you could have any one super power, which one would you choose? Why?”
  • “Let’s say you can have dinner with any one person in the world (historic  figures included). Who would you invite?”
  • “Things you would want to talk about?”
  • “Tell me, what is the dumbest invention of all time? The smartest? Why?
  • “If there were one thing that you’d say most people misjudge about you, what would that be?”

All of these questions have one thing in common—they are deeply personal. If someone is brave enough to share deeply personal information with you, give them the courtesy of paying complete attention to them.

Loneliness and adolescents

According to studies published by the National Institutes of Health in May, 2020, “early indications in the COVID-19 context indicate that more than one-third of adolescents report high levels of loneliness.

How can we help our kids get through this? Not just get through it, but help them emerge on the other side just a little stronger,  better-equipped, and ready to take on life?

We can use tools that performers use and that are taught in gifted programs to help children work through the isolation and loneliness they are currently experiencing.

As a performer, I have many friends who are in the entertainment industry. When Broadway closed, film production shut down, Cirque closed down, I saw friends panic and struggle. Imagine working your entire career for that moment where you have a lead role in a world-renowned production. Then—suddenly—it’s gone through no fault of your own. The worst part has been that there has been no recourse—you couldn’t just go out on a cold call.  Do you have a place to live? Food? Family? Friends? For people whose work often took center stage, it has been humbling to be left bare-naked in the world with nothing but the basics—food, shelter, family—for the lucky ones.

Creating opportunities to practice these skills will not only help children through this time of isolation and loneliness. More importantly, we will help them learn how to create meaningful connections. Building meaningful connections is a skill that can help all of us, old and young, of any persuasion or background.

Handy Entertainment creates meaningful connections as the basis for all our work.

Our event entertainment is personalized. We bring people together and forge real connections. You’ll find us at proms, graduation parties, birthday celebrations, lock-ins, teacher appreciation, anniversaries, going away parties, wedding celebrations, fundraisers, Bar- and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, and anywhere good people come together to celebrate and create connection. Tell us how we can help you celebrate your next event TODAY!

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