To turn a personal hobby into a lucrative career is a sure sign of talent and reveals an uncommon amount of courage and determination that only a privileged minority seem to possess. If – on top of that – the hobby-turned-job in question has never been practiced professionally in your country by anyone below the age of 39 and you happen to be 13 when you get your first paid contract, we are surely talking greatness. Now 22 years old, the most famous magician in his native country of El Salvador and one of the most celebrated in the Central American region, baby-faced Mago Ben is living proof to the value and importance of cultivating a personal brand that oozes passion, professionalism and wholehearted commitment to performing whatever one’s age and surrounding circumstances.
Now the lucky recipient of more than 200 contracts per year and one of the most active contributors to creating what he defines as ‘a magic-loving culture’ in his country and beyond, Benjamin Aguilar ‘el Mago Ben’ has earned the recognition of Central Americans and become a household name thanks to his more or less permanent presence on TV with an uninterrupted four year stint and more than a thousand shows in a career spanning over 9 years. A true Latin American personal branding hero, Ben has stood out as a magician, hypnotist, illusionist and a gen-Y personal brander with a social media bent – as his active Twitter or Flickr accounts prove. And given his age and growing fame, the best is surely yet to come.
“My father is a publicist,” tells Ben, “and he witnessed first-hand my passion for magic since I was about 6 years old. When he realised I was dead serious about it and I had the confidence and the will to perform, he gave me the first nudge I needed to get out there and show people that magic is one of the most thoroughly entertaining experiences anywhere and that it is possible to be first class and put together a quality show even when you are 20 years younger than your counterparts. But in order to succeed in this tough business, there is no doubt in my mind that personal branding and personal marketing have been of the utmost importance. Every effort I have put into them and every investment I’ve made in these novel areas have paid off in a huge way”
Ben was instrumental in establishing the first association for under-25 magicians in Central America and creating a community of magic lovers in a region of the world not immediately associated with magic or top performers. “I was inspired by the combination of wit, humor and magnetic card-games of the great Spanish magician Juan Tamariz although I have tried my best to develop my own style. I have also sought to make magic extensive to all sorts of people by performing in all kind of settings: from birthday parties to corporate events. Magic can be enjoyed by everybody.” And audiences in excess of one million people to-date prove the truth of his claim.
Lessons for personal branders
- Your family can be your first port of help and give you the pat on the back you need when you start out in your professional life. At times they will be your first ‘clients’ and the first you will need to inspire and prove your competence to. Enlist the help of your relatives and welcome every opportunity that come your way from those with blood ties.
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- Do not let your youth or inexperience to become an impediment or an excuse to stop you from dreaming big. The quality of your work will shine by itself whatever your age.
- There may not be a tradition in your region or country for the kind of work or idea that you want to implement. If that is the case, it will be your turn and your privilege to create one from scratch.
- A strong personal brand will sustain you in the long term as your career evolves and adapts to changing circumstances. Time spent on personal marketing and personal branding is one of the smartest and money-savvy investments you can make as the case of Mago Ben proves.
- If you have received much, giving back is always the best policy. Creating a community to make sure that your work and your ideas are spread and enjoyed by many turns you into a values-driven referent that can be celebrated across the board.
I look forward to sharing with you all in the future the examples of more inspirational personal branders like Mago Ben who challenge us, take us out of our comfort zones and prove that our dreams can be turned true with the invaluable help of personal branding tactics and techniques.
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is included in the ‘Top Social Media Influencers’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists @OscarDS. He is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’ and the co-author of ‘Marketing de Atraccion 2.0’.