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Q&A with Accelerate’s 2019 Keynote – Vinh Giang

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As legal marketing and business development experts, we are constantly asked to perform what can seem impossible. Pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat is not an uncommon occurrence in this profession, which is why Accelerate is thrilled to welcome Vinh Giang as this year’s keynote speaker. Not only will Vinh inspire with his ability to use illusion to illustrate real-world applications, he will also transform the way we think about cross-firm collaboration and perspective.

Ahead of his keynote address, I had the chance to chat with Vinh about his magic and the topics he’ll address at Accelerate 2019’s keynote. We learned how he got a million-dollar idea from his friend, a plumber; why creating a safe environment is essential to sharing ideas; and why actively seeking to add new people to our circle is so important.

Expect nothing less than magical from Giang as he weaves together common threads between magic and the principles legal and professional service teams rely on to grow and thrive.

What got you into magic? When did you make the connection between magic and problem-solving?

I got into magic because it gave me confidence. As a little kid, I lacked a lot of confidence and self-esteem. I remember one day learning a magic trick and performing it for my friends. The moment I performed it, they said:

“OH, MAN! YOU’RE AMAZING!”

And that was it. I was hooked. Growing up, I didn’t get attention from other kids, and for once, I was the cool kid.

I made the connection between magic and problem-solving when I realized that everything amazing we see out there in the world that’s being done by another person is just a magic trick. What I mean by that is there’s a method behind the madness. I’ve always wanted to be a keynote speaker that travels the world speaking and doing what I love most. It looked impossible, as do all magic tricks. But as a magician, I know that it’s just a problem that needs to be solved.

Why it so important to collaborate across different teams within a law or professional services firm?

Perspective is incredibly powerful. As we move into a different time in business, we face different types of problems. We are going to have to collaborate with new people to come up with new solutions.

At the end of the day, what is innovation? Innovation is just composition—the coming together of two different perspectives that have not come together before.

Why is learning other perspectives so important? When is it appropriate to share your own perspective and why is that important?

We all have such a unique way of seeing the world. I can see things in you that you cannot see in yourself. The reason you see “magic” is because of a silo mentality. You only see the magic trick from your own perspective, and you perceive it to be magic. But if you saw it from the magician’s perspective, you’d see the methodology—the solution and not the problem.

I would have never become a keynote speaker if it weren’t for my mentors. They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. What talents and gifts do you possess right now? We are often blind to our own brilliance. This is why another perspective is so important—we need others to help us realize our own potential.

How do you positively and proactively promote a sharing of perspectives within a team? Within a firm?

Leaders need to learn how to create a safe environment. Without this, people will not share their perspective. People are often afraid of saying what they actually think. I often tell my students:

“The top five people around you know exactly how you can improve and take your career to the next level, but they won’t tell you because they are afraid they are going to hurt your feelings. The secret to leveling-up is kept by those closest to you.”

By creating a safe environment, you will unlock the potential of those around you.

What is the most memorable or impactful example of utilizing various perspectives and collaborating that you have personally experienced or come across?

From a financial point of view, our first million-dollar marketing idea came from a friend of mine who was a plumber. We couldn’t believe he had such an amazing idea for an online marketing campaign. If we hadn’t listened, and if we hadn’t created a safe environment, he probably never would have shared it with us.

From a personal point of view, if I never sought out my mentors, I wouldn’t be doing what I love most right now. I teach people how to communicate more effectively. I teach public speaking. It’s my purpose. I spend most of the year teaching leaders from all different walks of life out of my theatre in Long Beach, California. They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.

You sometimes show the audience the “behind the scenes” of your magic tricks to show the power of perspective and influence, and it’s a common saying that a magician never reveals their secrets. Do you have any magic trick secrets you’ll never reveal to anyone?

Absolutely—you will see in the keynote. There are tricks that I reveal, and there are some that I will not share.

Why is it important for everyone to learn the secrets of Sight, Sound, and Sync? How do you utilize these skills to advocate for yourself or your team?

This is a powerful technique that magicians use to hone their showmanship, which is just a fancy word for communication skills. As professionals, we often put a lot of effort into our visual image. And that’s where we place most of our efforts. People usually are not even aware of another very vital image that impacts how others perceive us. The vocal image.

Your voice is your personality. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll say it again. Your voice is your personality. Isn’t that crazy? People perceive all your personality traits through your voice. By applying the Sight, Sound, and Sync formula. You will be able to style your vocal image the same way you style your visual image. See it as a mirror for your voice.

You have mentioned the quote, “You are the direct reflection of the top five people you spend time with.” Why is it important to actively seek out people to positively influence you?

We often leave our development to chance. And we often don’t proactively seek new people to add to our circle, meaning we spend time with the same people year after year after year. Yet, we can literally control who we become in the future by deciding who we spend time with today. You can craft the person you become—don’t leave this to chance. Think about the goals you’d like to achieve and work out, and ask yourself, “Who do I need in my top-five to make this happen?”

I find that people often don’t achieve their goals because they are in the wrong environment, not because they are incapable.

“Everyone is a genius. — Albert Einstein

It’s easy to see, especially through social media platforms, that people often surround themselves with people who have the same ideas and beliefs as them, creating an echo chamber effect. How do you balance surrounding yourself with people that you’d want to influence you and finding different perspectives?

A big alarm bell for me is when everyone around me believes the same thing I believe. It’s hard to describe the value of diversity until you truly experience creating a diverse environment.

The big problem here is that most people don’t know how to communicate their ideas, vision, and beliefs across to others in a way that doesn’t cause conflict. It all comes down to communication. When we improve our ability to communicate more effectively, we will be able to share our different perspectives without causing chaos and upset.

Communication is one of the most important skills in life that we have not been I believe that we flock to those who think the same as us because it’s easier than having to communicate why we disagree with someone. We tend to lean toward the path of least resistance without realizing that same path leads us to live a life of mediocrity.

Improve your ability to communicate more effectively; this is how you set yourself free from the echo chambers and mediocrity.

You have said, “Mastery is how you achieve the impossible.” In what ways can you achieve mastery in a work setting? What should you try and master when working in a team?

Mastery is how we achieve many things in life. First and foremost, when you master something you will gain massive fulfillment from the work you do. Because to master something means that you will do great work. And from the great work that you do, your customers will express appreciation and praise—something we all crave. In summation of this thought, doing masterful work makes you feel good intrinsically and the appreciation from customers makes you feel good extrinsically. I find this is what’s missing in the world we live in today: people rarely pursue mastery anymore. Being average in our profession is what causes us to be unhappy and customers to be dissatisfied.

In the workplace, master your ability technically. Stay sharp. And at the same time, master your ability to communicate the technical ideas. You may be at a level 10/10 with your technical ability but if your  communication is only a level 3/10, do you think people perceive you to be a level 10 or 3? You are only as good as your communication skills.

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Why are you excited to give the keynote address during Accelerate this year? 

I started out studying commerce and law at university! So, in some ways, this feels like I’ve come full circle. I am excited to connect the fundamentals of magic with the business of law!

This year, Accelerate is taking a hands-on approach to growth and Vinh is the perfect speaker to kick off what will be a one-of-a-kind event.

Space is limited. Secure your spot and register here.

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About Annie Smith

Annie Smith
Annie is responsible for the go-to-market strategy and execution for the LexisNexis® InterAction® and LexisNexis® Juris® product lines. With over a decade of marketing experience in the enterprise software and technology space, she is passionate about capturing the voice of the customer and translating that into an impactful client experience. Annie also unapologetically loves her alma mater the University of Florida Gators – and is rumored to bleed orange and blue.
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