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Stanford seminar teaches secrets to magical leadership

Ferdinando Buscema, who describes himself as a corporate specialist designing magical experiences for organizational growth, is the finale of this year's entrepreneurship seminar series in the Department of Management Science and  Engineering. He performs today at the NVIDIA Auditorium.

Courtesy of Ferdinando Buscema Ferdinando Buscema performs a magic trick.

Ferdinando Buscema, a mechanical engineer turned magician, is the final speaker today in the entrepreneurship seminar series of the Department of Management Science and Engineering.

In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson talked much about the ability of the late co-founder of Apple to compel people to do things they didn't think were possible – a "reality distortion field," as the author called it.

It could also be called magic.

"Magic is associated with all that is mysterious, enchanting, extraordinary, astonishing and wonderful," Ferdinando Buscema, a mechanical engineer turned magician, has said. "Thanks to such occult knowledge, the magician can make extraordinary things happen."

Buscema, who made those remarks at a TEDx talk in Venice, will be speaking and performing at Stanford today (Wednesday, May 29).

Buscema is the final act of this year's Draper Fisher Jurvetson Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders seminar series. His presentation, "Magic and Leadership," will take place in Stanford's NVIDIA Auditorium in the Huang Engineering Center.

His talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. and is presented by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and BASES, the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students.

Buscema, whose background is in mechanical engineering, describes himself as a corporate specialist designing "magical experiences" for organizational growth. And as a conjurer and sleight-of-hand artist, he is a credited performer at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

Buscema has given whimsical presentations at academic and corporate events for Ferrari, Nike, Siemens and others.

For his Stanford seminar, Buscema will draw from a rich variety of sources – from archetypal psychology and organizational behavior to group dynamics and magic performance – for a fast-paced, multimedia lecture.

He said he hopes to trigger "a resonance with the archetype of the magician inside everyone that holds the keys to enhance their personal performance, as well as that of their companies."

The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders seminar series, which also serves as the course Management Science and Engineering 472, invites entrepreneurs and innovation leaders from business, finance, technology, education and philanthropy to speak about their careers, their passions and the real-world lessons they've learned on their way to success.

This quarter has featured Jocelyn Goldfein, a Stanford alum who now serves as Facebook's director of engineering; Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta, co-founders of the news app Pulse; and the co-founders of The Last Mile, a program that teaches incarcerated men and women fundamental business skills and entrepreneurial training.

Follow the Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner on Twitter (@ECorner) for live tweets of the seminar. All previous Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders talks are archived online, as podcasts and full-length videos, at Stanford ECorner.

The seminar series resumes in the fall, with the first talk scheduled on Oct. 2.

Michael Peña is a communications specialist at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.