20 Ways to Get Unstuck

Ever find yourself creatively stuck? It's like quicksand. The deeper you go, the harder it is to escape. Over the years, I've come up with strategies to help save my ass. Maybe they'll help you too. Here are 20 ways to get unstuck: 

  1. Take a walk around the block.
  2. Head towards water (lake, ocean, bottle or shower).
  3. Pretend you're done, then remember what you did.  
  4. Remember, “the first draft of anything is shit.” - Hemingway
  5. Exercise. Do I have to explain this? 
  6. Get bored the old fashioned way. No phone, internet or television. 
  7. Free write for ten minutes. Keep the pen moving. 
  8. Break down those baby steps, baby. Another no brainer.
  9. Ask yourself, "What will happen if I don't do this?"
  10. Get creative. Switch out your eyeballs.  
  11. Avoid social media like the plague.
  12. Change your physiology: look up, sit up, stand up, smile :) 
  13. Bang your head against the wall, again and again and again. 
  14. Break into musical improv.
  15. Take a fish oil pill. Imagine it’s a powerful cognitive enhancement.
  16. Call Derek Erdman and see what he thinks: 206 324 6276
  17. Remind yourself of the rules, then smash them with a sledge hammer.
  18. Put off procrastination, until later.  
  19. Eat some nuts.
  20. Write a list of 20 ways to get unstuck. 

Your friend, 

Matt Cooper

Jealous of Your Friend's Success?

How I feel about a friends success, is often based on my own success. When I’m doing well, their success is welcome, even encouraged. But when I’m struggling, their success can make me so jealous, it's toxic. To the point where seeing them do well, makes me sick of myself. Now, I enjoy having friends, so I put a smile on my face and congratulate them. But I’m not always happy about it. Instead, I get all self critical, and wonder why I’m not good enough.

I'm not proud of this. I'm actually ashamed, and surprised I'm even sharing this with you. But maybe someone out there has felt the same way. So here's what I've learned:

Following some bad advice, I tried using this jealous energy as motivation. But you should know, working hard to achieve something driven by jealousy doesn't breed happiness, it destroys it. Because your self worth is governed by forces beyond your control. After all, when you compare, there's despair. 

So I started thinking about who my friends are, and why we became friends in the first place. It wasn't because of their success, material wealth, or social presence. But because of a feeling. Which I can best describe as solidarity. Or an inside joke that we both understood, having just met each other.

And the only friendships that grew, were those that weren't measured by success or failure. Because they weren't measured at all. I'm not saying competition is out of the question. But there's a difference between friendly competition, and that which is motivated by ego. Friends are not yard sticks, to be measured against our own self worth. Real friends are comrades, fighting the same battle you are.

This has not been a cure-all. No doubt the green-eyed-monster still lives inside me. But understanding what triggers the beast, makes her easy to tame. Which means the health of my friendships can improve. Stronger friendships, means a happier me. A happier me, means success :) 

Your friend, 

Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper on BuzzFeed

I'm thrilled to share this with you!

Earlier this month, the lovely (albeit skeptical) people of BuzzFeed, challenged me to read their minds. My challenge was to determine the first person they kissed, using my skills as a mentalist. They set this challenge for three reasons...

  1. It's personal information, which you couldn't just research. 
  2. Volunteering themselves, guaranteed no actors or stooges.
  3. The vast number of names, cancel out any lucky guesses.  

The live broadcast on Facebook reached about 100,000 viewers. With late comers, we are now close to 200,000. Below is a video from my youtube page. But you can watch the original broadcast here

Prepare yourself, because it's a long video (15 minutes). So you can either watch it later, or skip to the following highlights:

  • 1st mind read | 3:35
  • 2nd mind read | 7:10
  • 3rd mind read | 10:48

Thanks for watching. 

Your friend,

Matt Cooper

What’s a Mentalist?

Matt Cooper

I've been hearing the term "Mentalist" used more often, due to shows like The Mentalist, Americas Got Talent, and the movie Now You See Me. But it's poorly defined by major online dictionaries. Most likely because we (Mentalists) haven't made it easy to define. Is it real? Is it fake? Is it psychic, psychological, or magic? Well, here's an official definition. Defined by me, a Mentalist.

Mentalist: an entertainer who replicates extraordinary mental powers, using techniques of illusion and applied psychology

So it's clear now, we're talking about an entertainer. Whose job it is to entertain the idea of extraordinary mental powers: telepathy, telekinesis, mind control, photographic memory, precognition, and other mental mysteries. Not to prove that these powers actually exist, but to create a convincing theatrical illusion of these powers, for a damn good show. 

It's the combination of illusion and applied psychology, which makes Mentalism hard to pin down. That's also why we can't say if it's "real" or "fake". Because it's neither, and it's both. The point is to create a mystery, and leave you wondering about the untapped powers of the human mind.

Finally, one thing is indisputable. The Mentalist has never been, nor will ever be, genuinely psychic. In fact, some of the secrets of Mentalism originate from fake psychics, to begin with! The difference is, a psychic keeps secrets from you, but a Mentalist keeps them for you. Because we appreciate the joy of mystery. To excite the the mind, raise questions, and cause intelligent debate. When done well, it can be a powerful and thought-provoking piece of entertainment.

Hope that clears it up. 

Your friend, 

Matt Cooper

My Interview with the Examiner

Matt Cooper, Mentalist for Hire in NYC

Matt Cooper, Mentalist for Hire in NYC

After performing at the Cutting Room in NYC, the Examiner asked me a few questions about being a Mentalist for hire. You can read the original interview here, or just read below.

"Born and raised in Las Vegas, Matt Cooper made a career out of knowing what you’re thinking, since he’s a Mentalist who’s hired around the world for private events. Matt started developing his skills in Las Vegas, entertaining high-rollers at the Stirling Club. Later, his talents brought him to NYC, where Fortune 500 companies like Google and Cisco started booking him to impress their VIPs. From 2012-2014, Cooper toured the UK with Olivier award winner and master mentalist — Derren Brown. Since returning, he's in high demand for private events and live performances. Recently, Matt spoke to AXS about his experiences working in the entertainment industry:


AXS: How did you discover your mentalist abilities?

Matt Cooper (M.C.): To be clear, I didn't discover any abilities. Saying so might suggest I have a gift, which I don't. It’s more like a learned skill. But I did discover an aptitude for being a Mentalist. I have an insatiable curiosity, a love for story-telling, and a passion for live theatre. I also performed magic in high school. Then, my grandfather died and left behind some books on Mentalism. Mentalism is related to magic, but without the sleight-of-hand. Think, sleight-of-mind. So rather than finding someones card, you find out who a person is, and how they think, which is more interesting to me. So I’ve spent ten years learning skills which replicate mental phenomena. In my estimation, it’s the closest thing to genuine telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, brain washing, hypnosis, superhuman memory, etc. — within the bounds of science. Like sci-fi and immersive theatre, wrapped into one.

AXS: Growing up, what kinds of media--plays, TV shows, movies, etc.--had the biggest impact on you? Why?

M.C.: I’ll start with books, and for the sake of this interview, I’ll pick one genre: science-fiction. Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury are among my favorites. I love ”Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein; it’s a masterpiece of sci-fi. If you’re into existentialism, or the human condition, it's a must read. There’s a Mentalist character too, which gives it self-serving points. When it comes to theatre, I wasn’t exposed to much of it where I grew up, in Las Vegas. But Cirque du Soleil always blew me away. Also, I was hugely influenced by the magical duo, Penn & Teller. Now, when it comes to movies, my favorite directors are the obvious ones; David Fincher, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, and of course the beloved Hitchcock. But If I had to choose a favorite movie, it's the “before trilogy” by Richard Linklater (technically three movies). They are beautiful, and inspire me to be a better man. Finally, my biggest influence in television, is the "Twilight Zone” by Rod Serling. Despite censorship in the 1950s, he artistically presented ideas on war, violence, racism, extremism, addiction, consumerism, science and superstition. I deeply admire the man and his work. I’ve taken many inspirations form him, both personally and professionally.

AXS: How did you get into show business?

M.C.: Being a Las Vegas native had a lot to do with it. My mother was a classic vegas showgirl in the “Folies Bergere” and “Jubilee”. That’s where she met my father, who worked backstage. Show business is in my blood. But I didn’t get my professional start until I dropped out of art school and moved to New York City. As an art school drop out, I was completely unemployable. To give you an idea of my living conditions, my apartment was built inside of a warehouse with plaster walls. I had eight roommates, with nine cats. It was also the known source of a major bedbug epidemic. So that's when I decided to just go for it, and start a full time career as a Mentalist. After all, I had nothing to lose. So I called every charity in NYC and offered to perform at their next event, pro-bono, in support of the cause. I was helping them save money on entertainment, while gaining access to their wealthy benefactors. Who then hired me for their parties, and it just sort of snow balled. But for a while, I was booked to perform at black tie events, then coming home to squalor, where I'd hang my suit on an old rusty heater. It was like living a double life, and I loved every second of it.

AXS: So far, has one venue proven to be especially memorable? If so, where and why?

M.C.: Unfortunately, the most memorable venue I’ve performed in, I can’t discuss. I’m contractually obligated to not disclose my client or the event location. But I can mention the worst place I've performed. It was a funeral home, early in my career, when I needed the money. I still cringe when I think of it. Thanks for reminding me…

AXS: You sometimes call on members of the audience to help you with your performance. Do you really pick someone at random or are they given some warning?

M.C.: No one has prior notice. But it’s not always random either. Sometimes, I need a certain type of person, so I'll select them by hand. The problem is, people think I’m using actors. So, I’ve had to incorporated randomness, like tossing out objects for people to catch. But no matter how fair the selection is, people are naturally inquisitive, and will look for any solution, no matter how crazy.

AXS: Have any of your chosen participants ever done something especially surprising or amusing? If so, what was it?

M.C.: Apart from the rare fainting spell, everything runs smoothly. It’s important I remain in control. However, I do receive some bizarre emails. I’ve had a couple stalkers, people convinced I’ve been spying on them or tapping their phones, and a few asking me to contact their loved ones who have passed on. Most people understand, what I do is a show. It’s a theatrical production. But there will always be a few who get wrapped up in the story.

AXS: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the entertainment industry?

M.C.: No question, it was getting to work with one of my early heroes — Derren Brown. He’s not well known in America, but he’s made a splash in the UK, and is without a doubt the greatest living Mind Reader. From 2012-2014, I had the honor and privilege of working with him, on tour, around the United Kingdom. It was the most rewarding and enriching experience of my life. I'll never forget it.

AXS: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

M.C.: There’s some talk of a TV show, but it’s still early days. Also, I’m working on a stage show, which you can see this Summer. In the meantime, the best thing to do, is sign up for my newsletter where I post my public appearances. It’s called “Letters from a Mentalist”. You can find it here.

AXS: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a mentalist?

M.C.: My advice isn't specific to mentalists, but anyone starting a career in the performing arts. Have influences outside of your field. Read books, absorb culture, travel, have hobbies, keep yourself engaged with the real world and don’t get caught up in one idea. Tunnel vision is cancer to creativity. On a more practical note, be smart with your money, work hard, and be nice to people. Everything will be ok."

- The Examiner (AXS Entertainment)

Matt Cooper is a Mentalist for hire, available for your next private party or corporate event. You can also find him on stage around NYC. To catch his LIVE shows, join his mailing list by clicking here

How Hard Will It Be

Here's a question we love to ask: How hard will it be?

We love asking this question, because we know the answer: It's going to be hard.

How hard will the job be? How hard will the conversation be? How hard will writing a "Thank You" note be? How hard will the diet or exercise be? 

It's always as hard as we think. But here's a secret -- it's as easy as we think, too. We just have to ask a better question: How easy is will it be? How fun will it be? How quick will it be? How nice will it be? How enriching will it be? 

Here's the formula: Ask a question, get an answer, feel something.

So you can ask a bad question, get a bad answer and feel bad. Or ask a good question, get a good answer and feel good. Just don't dismiss this line of questioning. It's like an archimedes lever. Little effort, big results.

Your friend,

Matt Cooper

How Much Do You Make

How Much Do You Make. A blog by Matt Cooper, NYC Mentalist and Corporate Entertainer

Dear Reader,

How much do you make?

I'm not asking for a dollar amount, because you don't make money. Unless you work in a mint, or print counterfeits.

I'm just asking, how much do you make? If it's art, when do you make it? Everyday? Maybe it's furniture, or clothing, or apps, or books, or photos. It doesn't have to be physical, either. Maybe it's a service, or an experience, or a deep connection with someone you care for. But how much do you make? The amount matters. Not necessarily the amount of units. But the amount of quality, the amount of care and the amount of purpose that goes into the whole process. 

Making a product, making art, making friendships, making love, making promises you can keep, it all counts. But it takes time, effort and repetition. Like making a consistently good cup of coffee. If you want it to be good, make it often. Today, tomorrow and the next. Make it better, with as much of yourself as possible.

Which I think is my point.

It's not how much money you make. 

It's how much you make of yourself. 

Your friend, 

Matthew Cooper