What you can learn about Security and Risk from a Magician | A Q&A with Alexis Conran

1 January 2012

If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?

As long as they are interested in listening I am happy to speak anywhere. I guess any event involving the police would be fun. A sort of cat and mouse scenario.

Can you remember your first speaking engagement?

Yes, it was a charity lunch for Crimestoppers at the Magic Circle. It was a nice easy gig and being a magician I felt very at home at the Circle.

What’s the worst thing that has happened to you during an event?

I was asked to speak at a charity event without really knowing who was attending. During a gambling demonstration of how to cheat at dice, I mentioned that I had been to a casino a few days before whose security was so bad that I could have pulled this stunt at their tables without them knowing. Of course, it just so happened that everyone around me was in the casino security business and the head of security of that particular casino was standing two feet away from me. He was not amused.

What was the last event you spoke at?

Lloyds young professionals lunch in Birmingham. Perfect event for me, I got to do some scams and tricks on some of the bankers and then spoke about why scams work, there were some very surprised faces.

Which event has been your favourite and why?

Speaking at the European RSA conference last November. It was a conference of like-minded speakers, we all shared stories of the latest scams and hacks that were hitting the public. Great source of the latest scams.

Which speaker/performer do you most admire and why?

Frank Abignale Jr is a bit of a hero of mine. Not only was he one of the greatest conmen that ever lived but through his repentance and work in the security industry in last thirty years, he has been a massive help in building our defences against scams.

What is your worst on-stage habit?

Speaking for a lot longer than I was booked. I am a terrible time keeper when I get speaking, once I start I find it hard to stop.

What annoys you most professionally?

When clients ask me to pick pockets at a speaking event. All you need is one person with no sense of humour and you're off to goal.

Why should an organiser hire you to speak at their event?

Having carried out over countless scams, I am able to provide a unique insight as to why and how these scams work. This is not only fascinating, as most people are intrigued by the world of conmen - look at the success of films like The Sting and Ocean's 11 - but also it provides an insight into how we function. What makes us buy? What makes us choose how to behave? After all conmen are the hackers of human nature. So, whether you are a sales man, in security or running a business, knowing how to push people's buttons is going to come in handy.

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