I was shocked and very saddened to learn last week of the tragic suicide of Tim Conover, certainly one of the best mentalists in modern history. Unfortunately, too few magicians got the chance to reap the benefits of his knowledge and experience because he didn’t publish much and kept himself so busy with corporate work that he rarely attended conventions.

Almost twenty years ago, I had the privilege to have dinner with him and my friend Craig Stone, in my hometown of San Diego, after a day working a trade show. (Craig swears that Brian Gillis was also present but I don’t remember that – sorry, Brian.)

During the meal I was amazed at Tim’s generosity with information – how he entered the market, priced himself, developed an act, got bookings, etc.  At one point he asked me to grab a napkin and jot down every effect I’d ever seen or performed that was a favorite.  It made no difference if I was fooled or not, if I knew the secret or not.  If I loved it, it went on the paper.

After about ten minutes of writing, I had about fifty-five effects.  Tim then instructed me to circle my top ten.  I groaned.  This would be difficult.

After another ten minutes, and many darlings killed, I had my circles.

Tim looked over the list, commenting here and there.  (“Thats a great one…  Not bad….  Good.”)

He then looked at me, and pointed to my top ten.

These are the effects you should be doing.”

I was speechless. It seemed so simple.  Really?

“These are the effects that moved you.  That you remember.  They mean something to you.  Why would you ever consider doing anything else?”

I smiled.  He was right.  It was a wonderful lesson.

Then, he upped the ante.

“And every year, take one of these effects, and replace it with a better one.”

I kept that napkin.

I still have it.

It means a lot more to me, now.

Rest in Peace, Tim.