Article Date: 12/1/2010

The O.D. Mentalist
reflections
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

The O.D. Mentalist

How a love for magic and music enables me to make sure my message is remembered.

Gary Gerber, O.D., Franklin Lakes, N.J.

When I first started lecturing to doctors, I was always fascinated that the person who seemed the least interested in what I was saying (appeared sleeping, reading the newspaper, etc.) was the first to tell me post-presentation how much he/she appreciated it. As a result, “reading” an audience became something I focused on during my presentations. That, and a love of magic and music, since I was a boy, led to me study mentalism and eventually create the “Rock Your Mind” mentalism show (www.RockYourMind.com). I perform this show both inside and outside the eyecare industry.

Magic of the mind

Mentalism is psychic entertainment. So, instead of sawing people in half or making them disappear, I make a lot of seemingly impossible predictions, revelations and use psychokinesis, among other equally intriguing effects, during my show.

Further, unlike sleight-of-hand magic, which is performed with cards or coins and can easily be done for one person, or video taped so you can hone your skills, mentalism requires an audience.

Message received

As an O.D., practice management consultant, speaker and mentalist, I combine business-building concepts that I learned in practice (and use with clients) with mentalism effects during my practice management presentations. While this is certainly an unconventional approach, I've noticed that when the audience becomes active participants rather than passive observers, they are more honed in to the content.

For example, to demonstrate to an audience the power of visualizing a positive outcome, I perform blindfolded chess. In addition, my show includes a psychokinetic effect that demonstrates teamwork and the power that gets magnified when two individuals share a common goal. Specifically, the audience sees two people seated at opposite ends of a room — about 60 feet apart. I instruct both of them to close their eyes and think of the other person. I tell them they'll feel a slight tap on their shoulder, and when they do, to stand up. In actuality, I tap only one person, yet both stand up at the same time! In addition to enjoying the effect, the audience immediately connects with the message. Of course, telepathically determining (and then playing on a keyboard) someone's favorite rock song in the middle of a marketing lecture is a great way to keep the audience alert too.

Also, it's not unusual for me to take out a crystal ball during a question-and-answer session and tell the audience, “Don't bother asking your questions. I'll read your minds and answer them for you.”

Dr. Gerber: “I predicted you would be thinking of this card — the two of spades.”

A tough crowd

Because of an optometrist's training and the scientific nature of what we do, O.D.s have been some of my toughest audiences. Critical analysis is second nature to an optometrist. We know that 1+1 = 2, and, as a result, we won't accept any other answer. Therefore, it's not uncommon to have one or more doctors approach me after one of my practice management presentations that included some mentalism effects and hear, for instance, “I don't know how you read my mind, but I'll eventually figure it out.” That's very different than a non-doctor who might say, “Wow. That was just plain freaky!” The difference is love of analysis vs. love of entertainment and mystery. Both are admirable and both make my work fun. OM


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2010