Exclusive Interview with Mike Toy
Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Toy.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. My family did not have it easy. My mother is an immigrant from China. She struggled with learning English and finding decent paying jobs. My father was a high school dropout and lacked confidence in himself. Though my parents work really hard we still had to rely on government food subsidies to get by month-to-month. As a kid, I only wore or played with toys that were hand-me-downs from other kids.
I remember having lofty aspirations as a young boy. I wanted to be an astronaut and the President of the United States. My parents, being Chinese, had more practical expectations for me. They wanted me to become a doctor. My parents were disappointed when I didn’t choose their path for me.
After graduating from UC Davis, I tried all sorts of different jobs to see what might fit me. None of them did.
One day I saw a magician doing card tricks. Everyone was floored by what he did. Many people even asked him to show them how the magic was done. The magician wouldn’t oblige, but for some curious reason he approached me and said, “You may not know it yet, but you’re actually a magician. Want to learn this trick?”
This chance encounter was life-changing. It led to my performing for and speaking to millions over the years. I finally found my calling and that is being on stage, entertaining and inspiring others.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
When I first decided to do magic professionally, it was difficult. A lot of magicians viewed me as potential competition so they did not want to help me grow. In fact, one magician sabotaged me and even lied about me to try to ruin my business. It was painful to experience all this, but there’s an upside. I think this experience tested how serious I was about magic. Fortunately, I did find some mentors who taught me show business. The term “show business” can be broken down to two words: “show” and “business”. You need to do both well in order to have success. What good is it if you have the most amazing show, but you don’t know how to run a business and vice versa. Thanks to these mentors I came out stronger!
I also do motivational speaking and that has been challenging as well. I think the hardest thing for me was always thinking that I was not good enough to speak. This is often referred to as the imposter syndrome. I would question my skills or qualifications in my head, saying, “I’m not a movie star or a CEO or an athlete. Why would anyone want to listen to me?”
Then I met Nick Vujicic, who was a motivational speaker born without any limbs. He accepted who God made him. Nick helped me to accept me for who I was. I didn’t need to be someone else. I could just be me!
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
I’ve had the fortune to present before numerous Fortune 500 companies including Mercedes-Benz, Disney, and Google. I’m thankful that my message has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX.
As an entertainer, I blend comedy and magic to create an unforgettable experience for my audiences. Unlike most comedians, my performances are always squeaky clean, both on and off stage.
As a motivational speaker, I bring that entertainment background with me and fuse it with a challenging message so that audiences don’t leave the same.
It is a tremendous privilege to present before organizations and conferences. The message I bring can be the catalyst to help people see from a different perspective, solve a problem, or find breakthrough. I don’t take this responsibility lightly.
I have written nine best-selling books covering a range of topics including leadership, management, influence, sales, customer service, persuasion, and corporate culture.
I might be a nerd for admitting this, but I am also fascinated with how the mind works. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my TEDx talk on YouTube. It’s called “Why We Get Tricked”.
I feel like I’m a poster boy for what is possible. Who would have guessed that coming from a background like mine that one day, The White House would select me and fly me into Washington DC to speak to international leaders? What an amazing country we live in!
When you discover your niche you become unique. At that point there is no competition.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
Success takes a lot of adjustment and hard work. Don’t expect a pie in the sky. Don’t hope that you will just get lucky.
Let me tell you a story. When I first started playing basketball I really sucked. I was always picked last and I clearly lacked confidence in my game. The worst part of my game was shooting. I couldn’t make a shot if my life depended on it.
One day I decided that enough was enough. I knew that I could definitely be better, so I decided to go to the gym and practice my shooting every day, which certainly helped a bit, but I knew that I needed outside help.
I hired a coach to help me with my shooting. He corrected my shooting by having me shoot a higher arc. At first, this made it even more difficult for me to make buckets. However, I stuck with it because I knew in the long term changing my shot would yield dividends.
After some practice I was able to make as many shots as I used to. And after even more practice my shots were more accurate than ever before.
Why do I bring the story up? Whatever you want to succeed in, you have to put in the sweat equity. The adjustment I made was hiring a coach who could push me to the next level. But even that wouldn’t have helped if I did not keep going to the gym without quitting.
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
I’d like to expand on my basketball analogy on success. Remember how I couldn’t make a basket if my life depended on it? Well, after significant adjustment and hard work I can make 40 free throws in a row. In fact, I have done this two times.
Success is possible, but it depends on how badly you want it. In my story, I talk about hiring a coach. A lot of times we are not aware of our own shortcomings or mistakes. We need a coach who will be willing to tell us the hard truth so that we can more clearly see our own situation.
I wasn’t going to make 40 free throws in a row if I kept doing what I was always doing. I needed a coach to point out the need for a higher arc and to constantly remind me to shoot that way also.
One of the shortcuts to success is to find a coach, who is much more skilled than you to help you develop. Every professional athlete has a coach or perhaps even a team of coaches to make him even more successful. You are no different.
I am indebted to all the various coaches who have helped me become who I am today. I feel that same obligation to help my audiences. There is wisdom and knowledge that you and I know that others would benefit from. It would only be right if we are part of their success story.
What’s next for you?
I think it’s time for a vacation to Hawaii. Just kidding!
Life is short and I want to make it count. I want to continue to pour my life into my audiences so that they can hit the ground running.
On another note, it’d be nice to find a wife and start a family, but that’s in the Lord’s hands.
I’d also like to commit to memory some of my favorite Bible verses. Believe it or not, one of my spiritual mentors memorized the entire New Testament. That bar might be a bit high for me though.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
I would love to connect with you and see how I can help!
Feel free to reach out to me here!