AOL EXCLUSIVE: Reading people's minds with mentalist Oz Pearlman

Switching to a new job can be terrifying – it's a risk that isn't guaranteed to pay off, no matter how much you weigh out the pros and cons.

But what's even riskier is switching career fields all together.

SEE ALSO: The job market isn't as strong as you think

Especially when you're working at a top company on Wall Street and decide to pursue the form of magic known as mentalism as a full-time gig.

And if you're Oz Pearlman, whose considered one of the best corporate entertainers in the country, making the job jump certainly pays off.

A third place finisher on 'America's Got Talent,' Pearlman's client base includes everyone from A-list celebrities to Fortune 500 company owners, which stands as proof that his abilities as both a mentalist and entertainer are second to none.

So, what exactly is mentalism?

Oz will be the first to admit that it's not a supernatural power or gift:

"I have a natural skill and a knack, but I've honed it for 20 years."

It's a "magic of the mind" – think of it as a specialization within the field of magic (like how a heart surgeon would be a specialized doctor in the general field that is medicine.)

And just like any profession or specialization, you have to start by building a foundation and learning the basics, and then work your way into the more specific and detailed.

He recommends two books for anyone interested in getting involved:

The first is the base-builder he swears by, called the "The Royal Road to Card Magic" by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue.

Once you've mastered that, he recommends "13 Steps to Mentalism" by Corinda, which Oz refers to as "The Bible".

Naturally, Oz' success didn't just happen by chance. And luckily enough, we got the chance to sit down with Oz and get the scoop on what works (and what doesn't) when it comes to making major career moves.

Watch our exclusive interview with Oz Pearlman here:

Yes, you can turn a hobby into something permanent.

Mentalism, and magic in general, were always things that Oz enjoyed since he was young:

"[Mentalism] was kind of a fun thing to do as a hobby, as a passion on the side, but that kind of got me a lot more notoriety within my company."

He would perform for co-workers and at work events, slowly building up his reputation and showing off his skills whenever possible.

"Honestly, it doesn't matter what your service, what your business is – the more often you can tell people about it, show them, showcase what you're doing – the stronger your presence is going to be and the stronger your brand is going to grow."

But, you need to be logical about it.

"There's the cliché that's 'if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life', but at the same time you have to make ends meet. You've got to pay bills...I was lucky enough that I left my job pretty early in life where my expenses were not overwhelming ...I had the safety net of going back to get another corporate job if this didn't pan out."

Success isn't going to just come over night, and as passionate as you might be about something, there are still necessary expenses and basic needs that you have to make sure are still being taken care of and covered.

So, it's best to take the step-by-step approach.

"I did things incremental. I didn't really know that I was going to quit but I set goals."

Oz would go and meet with event planners a couple of times each week, and network at restaurants once or twice a month.

He worked hard to build up his base, and only made the jump when he felt as if he had enough leverage to do so.

"Anything you're doing, whether it's a service business, whether you have some sort of gadget, app, thing you're selling – set realistic goals and as you hit those benchmarks, decide "am I this much closer to going for it?"

There really is no big moment-of-decision jump, but rather a bunch of little moves that add up to one final push:

"You have to reach a point where you feel comfortable enough to go for it, and that point might look different from person to person...for some it mean having enough money saved up to be able to fall back on, for others it might mean developing a strong enough skillset."

Okay, so mentalism and magic might not be your forte, or hobby of choice. But Oz also took the time to chat with us about what we can learn from his profession, and how his skill set translates directly to any career or, even more generally, in any endeavor of forming new relationships.

Predict someone's response and their defenses before you approach them.

"My job as a mentalist is to diffuse that tension. If somebody thinks 'Oh, this is creepy, I don't like this stuff', I will agree with them. I'll go 'I hate this stuff, too! But check this out' and right away they're not expecting that type of response."

This isn't much different than what a salesperson, for example, might encounter daily – If you can learn to walk into situations expecting rejection and an adverse response, you'll know how to handle it when and if it happens.

And if people are extremely receptive? You win either way!

"Build rapport, build trust. And the way I do that is by expecting what people are thinking in advance. That's a huge part of my job...knowing what they might say in anticipation, what they might counter, how I'm going to pitch them my services. Listening is such a big part of my profession."

Always remember people's names.

What seems like a small gesture can actually make a huge difference in building trust and a relationship with someone.

"When you shake their hand, say their name back to them – make sure you remember it. Say it two more times in your head, maybe compliment them...suddenly that name is going to stick in your mind very clearly."

Draw comparisons to your other hobbies and interests and learn from them.

In his spare time, Oz is a mega marathon runner (seriously, he's finished a 135-mile-long run...same) and it's that dedication to the sport of running that's taught him valuable lessons about how to achieve success in other areas of his life:

"You have to have things in place that are regimented."

When training for a race or hitting a new goal, it's crucial to remember the importance of keeping a routine – something that's important in achieving success with breadth in anything, be it your current profession, new job or even personal relationships.

No matter the circumstances, you're always in control of your own success.

Work hard, see results – Oz's life philosophy is pretty simple:

"People think that things get handed to you in life, and I think that's absurd. Almost always, you make your own luck. You are at the right place at the right time on purpose, and the luck just adds to it. "

RELATED: 5 valuable business lessons from our interview with Barbara Corcoran

barbara corcoran 1:1 takeaways
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barbara corcoran 1:1 takeaways

#1: You’ll find what you’re meant to do by sticking to what feels right
Instead of focusing on a specific career path, focus on the big-picture features that you want out of a job. Barbara didn’t wake up one day and decide she wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact, she “discovered it quite by accident.” But being an entrepreneur meant independence and being her own boss, something Corcoran knew she wanted in her career. “The minute I was my own boss…I knew I liked being my own boss. And that is the beginning of being an entrepreneur.” 

Photo credit: Getty

#2: Make your biggest insecurity your biggest motivation
“When I was in school I was a terrible student and I was always feeling like a loser," Barbara admits.  But she used this as motivation to prove herself to her boss, peers, coworkers, clients, you name it: Corcoran was going to use the one thing that bothered and scared her most as motivation to knock every endeavor out of the park. “I didn’t want anyone to see me stupid ever again, and that goes a long way to get you back up off your butt and doing something again and again until you succeed.”

Photo credit: Getty

#3: Mentors can come from the unlikeliest of places
Corcoran didn’t enter the real estate and business world seeking out a mentor who was an expert in the area. Instead, she realized she had a mentor at home all along: her mother. “She was probably the most powerful woman I ever met,” Corcoran said. All of her mother’s strongest qualities served (and still serve) as the basis for how Barbara runs her businesses. 

Photo credit: Getty

#4: Successful people don’t take expert advice
What has Barbara learned about the way the most successful entrepreneurs she’s investing in handle her advice? “All the good ones ignore me.” She even went as far as to say that “If they’re really paying attention to me, I realize I’m probably going to lose money on the investment.” The key to being a successful and innovative entrepreneur is sticking to your guns and trusting your instinct, regardless of what other people think is best for you.  

Photo credit: Getty

#5: The two essential skills that you need to be successful apply to any industry
Corcoran says that regardless of what industry or business you enter, there are two skills that will enable you to succeed no matter what. You have to “be able to surround yourself with the right people and you need to be organized enough to get it done.”  Combine this with “a vision that you run like crazy to try to make come true,” and you’re set for great things. 

Photo credit: Getty


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