Meet Ricky Kalmon, the Celebrity Hypnotist Changing Mindsets at Meetings

September 6, 2019

Ricky Kalmon isn’t your everyday motivational speaker. A mindset expert, celebrity hypnotist and motivational speaker by trade, Kalmon works to engage and inspire event groups through his customized entertainment and keynote program that blends hypnosis with high-energy mindset coaching. CEN/TSNN sat down with Kalmon to find out how a positive mental attitude can not only help us become healthier, happier and less stressed, but also more successful in our personal and professional lives.

How did you get into hypnotism? 

I grew up in the entertainment business and was a child magician. I went to a hypnosis show at a corporate event and was completely blown away. I couldn’t get over what I was watching – people were having the greatest time! I had a vision of using entertainment as a great way to engage people to get them to open up, have fun and show them how valuable mindfulness can be in their professional and personal lives. And that’s what I’ve been doing now for 32 years.

Most people tend to be pretty skeptical about hypnosis. How do you reassure your event clients that it’s nothing to fear?

When people ask me what I do, I use keywords such as engagement, audience participation, high-energy, fun and interaction. I downplay what most people think of as hypnosis, which is the whole swinging-watch concept. Some people’s first response is, “he’s going to make me bark like a dog,” or “I would never let somebody else take control over my mind”—but I explain that hypnosis is not about being in a trance or controlled by somebody. Instead, it’s a state of great awareness and relaxation that brings on focus and concentration that everybody can experience. 

Can you share an example of how this feels?

Have you ever caught yourself driving for 20 or 30 miles and you could only recall 10 of them? This is called Highway Hypnosis, a perfect example of how our mind can be focused on one thing and doing another. Consider professional athletes – when they’re out on the field [playing games], they’re not distracted by 75,000 fans; they’re playing in “the now,” which is a form of hypnosis. It’s basically the focus of effort to influence an outcome.

Your program is a two-part experience that involves a comedy hypnosis show followed by a keynote presentation the next day. How do these work together? 

The show itself is a 60-75-minute entertainment show. I tell my audience that I’m going to demonstrate a very simple technique of how relaxation can take them to a different place of reality that will help them focus, concentrate and sleep better. I’ve always presented my show this way versus “I have this magical power and I’m going to put you in a trance,” because it’s not like that. 

I then call for volunteers out of the audience, and by that time, I’m having to turn people away, because once people start to understand what I’m about to do, they want to try it. Even the quietest, most reserved audiences become highly engaged in my program.

Once the show starts, I help the people on stage get into a state of hypnosis. They turn into rock stars; they think they’re on a TV show or a flight attendant on an airplane – nothing ever personally or professionally compromising or politically incorrect, just fun situations. It’s like improv on caffeine. 

Throughout the show, I’m explaining what’s happening. Finally, I tell the [audience] that I’m going to come back and teach them how these techniques can be used to improve their personal and professional lives, from sleeping better, losing weight and being happier, to being more confident, prepared, clear and accountable. Hypnosis allows you to put your positive intentions into action, and when you’re really focused on something your mind works really hard to make it happen.

Can you share a cool experience that you’ve had during one of your shows?

People almost always come up to me afterward and say [things like], “that’s not what I expected,” or “I was the skeptic with my arms crossed, but now I want more.” This can be the executive or someone who just started with a company. Sometimes, doubt or misconceptions hold us back from new opportunities — so my job is to help people put those aside and be more open. 

You’ve said that mindset can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Why?

Our minds either propel us to new heights of success or hold us back based on our beliefs. For example, if we say something as simple as, “This is going to be too hard,” or “I’m overwhelmed,” this controls and frames our reality. Words are powerful tools, and the words we use affect our reality, so our mindset is based on our last belief. Even a sigh of frustration frames our mindset.

So what can we do to change our mindset? 

You can either say, “it’s going to be a crappy day,” or you can give yourself permission to make the change. So literally, stop what you’re doing and write yourself a note or put in your phone: “I give myself permission to change. Sign it, because when you sign something, it has value.

The second thing is to understand the importance of awareness. If your mind believes you can achieve something, it works overtime to achieve it. 

Third, realize that you are your most valuable asset. As an event planner, you put so much effort toward producing an event, but in the process, you can forget about yourself. So start your day with just a few minutes of relaxation to get clear on what you’re supposed to do. Don’t put it off, just do it.

To learn more about Ricky, go here.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.