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Stuart Nolan

Research Magician. Performer, speaker, and consultant on the arts of the impossible, the future of deception, and the psychology of play.

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Stuart Nolan began his career as professional performer but soon got distracted. After a short time as a cell biologist in cancer research he worked in emerging media platforms for 17 years producing for Web, mobile devices, games, museum displays and Interactive TV. He has twice been a judge for the BAFTA Interactive Awards and was a cross-platform media consultant for Oyster Partners through the boom/bust years emerging relatively unscathed. As an internationally respected authority on creativity, new media, and the psychology of play he has spoken at over 120 professional conferences in the past 15 years.

In 2002 Stuart was nominated for a prestigious fellowship from NESTA which seed funded his current business Hex Induction. Since then he has been using principles from the art of stage and close-up magic to improve performance in a wide range of industries. This currently includes Attention Control & Physical Deception Training for sport coaching, Designing Mystery Seminars for the media and design industries, and Defence Against Cold Reading Talks for business strategy.

Stuart has had a whale of a time delivering his highly original talks to game designers, street performers, sport coaches, genetic research scientists, hypnotists, App developers, Peruvian mindreaders, green architects, bizarre magicians, experience designers, puppeteers, card counters, TV and radio scriptwriters, grifters, new media producers, cold readers, performance poets, cultural industry innovators, Goth academics, teenage inventors, installation artists, and The Austrian Robot-Man.

Mystery Design, Physical Deception and Attention Control Expert
Stuart Nolan is a leading expert in both physical and psychological deception and the creator of Attention Control Training (ACT). Originally devised to help professional sports teams and Olympic athletes gain a competitive advantage through controlling an opponent’s visual and physical attention, ACT is now being used to help individuals and organisations effectively understand and manage deception and attention.

Stuart was thrown out of school for reading too much and spent his youth involved in a range of nefarious activities including time as a pitchman, a fake psychic, a 3-card monte thrower, and a stand-up poet. These activities later paid his way through University and form the basis of his Streetwise Seminars.

After gaining a BSc(Hons) in Cell Biology he worked as a research scientist for the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research looking at changes in the genes of patients with Wilms’ tumour.

In the early 90s he became interested in interactive media and has since produced for Web, mobile devices, game platforms, museum displays and Interactive TV. Stuart was a cross-platform media strategist for Oyster Partners through the boom/bust years of the late 90s emerging relatively unscathed. During this time he spoke at over 150 professional conferences on digital media and acted as a consultant to the Training and Enterprise Council (T.E.C), the University for Industry (U.f.I), and DTI trade missions to France and Malaysia. He was been a member of the European Commission Broadcast/Broadband Experts Group. a judge for the BAFTA Interactive Awards, and a board member of The Media Centre Huddersfield.

Stuart has held a number of academic posts including Research Fellow in Interactive TV Design at Manchester Metropolitan University, Visiting Research Fellow to the Research Centre for Future Communications, and Curriculum Developer for the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice. He has researched how teenagers respond to the mysterious in new technologies and how organisations are regularly deceived by the language of strategy documents. He also became an accredited LEGO Serious Play facilitator and has published his work on its use in collaborative learning and organisational change.

It was as a creator of engaging experiences on digital platforms that he first used traditional principles of deception and attention control to solve modern problems.
In 2002, he was awarded a NESTA Fellowship and took the opportunity to travel the world studying with experts in traditional techniques of deception and attention control.  Refining these techniques using current research in psychology and neuroscience he developed his expertise as a performer of sleight-of hand magic, stage hypnosis, cold reading, psychological illusion, mentalism, memory feats, and street performance. He explored the deeper meanings of deception with the Las Vegas Mystery School and even studied marketing and promotion with Paul Daniels.

He has given his unique talks and seminars to architects in Manchester, technologists in Lima, film editors in Paris, journalists in Sofia, museum directors in Norwich, artists in Madrid, Internet entrepreneurs in Kuala Lumpur, TV executives in Helsinki, game designers in Alicante, teenage inventors at the BBC, scriptwriters in Amsterdam, futurologists in Brussels, and professional athletes all over the world.

Stuart gives talks on a range of topics including:

Most people love attention. Do people give you their undivided attention? Are you good at giving your attention to others?

One of the most powerful skills for managers and leaders is the ability to give and control attention but most of us are unaware of the physical and psychological principles behind how attention works.

Attention Control Training was initially developed for coaching in sports where the ability to control the attention of an opponent would give a competitive advantage. It combines traditional techniques from acting, sport, martial arts, performance magic and stage pickpocketing with new research into sport psychology and visual neuroscience. It is now being used to help people effectively understand and manage attention in their business and social lives.

Designing Mystery
Theatrical conjuring is one of the oldest forms of interaction and experience design with its secret techniques for communication, deception, psychological control, and the manipulation of story.

By considering the principles behind the creation of a mystery and the techniques of illusion design we can highlight the importance of suspense, surprise, deceit, the hidden, and the unknown in the creation of compelling experiences.

Streetwise Seminars
“How do you turn a group of bored individuals into an excited, paying audience? The secrets are there in the streets.” - Jim Cellini – King of the Street Performers

Commerce originated on the street, in the marketplace and the bazaar. Bustling, hectic, fluid. Wheeling, dealing, grifting and hustling. Seemingly chaotic but with its own complex language of barking and bartering, of call and response. Stuart has spent over 20 years studying the techniques of street performers, barkers, pitchmen, and buskers. By exploring the psychology behind the grind shows, jam auctions, stunts, and pitches we discover the oldest and most powerful language of branding, marketing, selling, monetizing,

The Internet has been called a digital bazaar, a networked market where the voices of the buyers and sellers can once again be heard. It is the new digital street and the market is a sea of conversations once more.

The Streetwise Seminars have taken the most powerful techniques of the street and adapted them to the networked marketplace and the 21st Century pitch.

Learn how to plant a crowd, mark the line, control the edge, pace the payoff, weave the pleasers, drop the claps, bark the hat lines and stop the copper.

Streetwise Seminars are modular and can be delivered in a range of formats including a half-day seminar, a 1-hour intensive session, or as a number of 5 minute Getting the Hat pitches, each of which demonstrate a different technique and its application to business.

Cold Reading Jedi Skills
Cold Reading is a set of techniques developed over centuries by mind readers, fortune tellers, psychics, and mediums to gain swift knowledge of a person’s character, beliefs and preoccupations. They can be used to quickly understand someone’s needs and build genuine rapport or to mislead and deceive.

In recent years the techniques have been refined by psychologists and are used in interrogation, seduction, politics, psychometrics and business. The techniques are being taught to police departments, salespeople, pick-up artists, HR departments and managers as tools for persuasion, recruitment, mentoring, coaching and people management.
Stuart has originated research into the effects of Cold Reading in business working with a number of European and US Universities to conduct studies with over 600 organisations from start-ups to multinationals, from NGOs to financial institutions. The results are startling, deeply worrying, and grimly amusing.

How can you know if someone is using Cold Reading to influence you? How can your organisation know if they are being sold a pup? This talk will show you how to spot the traps of Cold Reading and to avoid the pitfalls of Cold Consultancy, Cold Analysis, and Cold Management.

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