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With a name like Max Major, you have to be good at something.

But it can’t just be any something. It’s gotta be something pretty extraordinary and maybe even a little strange.

The 33-year-old DC entrepreneur and forthcoming author of Influence Anyone certainly lives up to his name.

A professional mentalist, Major uses a mix of hypnosis, memory feats, body language scanning, deduction, and rapid mathematics to appear as if he’s reading your mind.

Seriously. Check out this video of him reading the minds of strangers on the streets of Chinatown. Major has performed in over 2,000 live shows and entertained for corporate clients like Booz Allen and Facebook.

If you’re wondering what the trajectory of someone’s life has to entail to grow up and become a mentalist, you’re not alone.

On Knowing Your Purpose

“I’ve known this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid,” says Major. “I will say I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but my whole life, I’ve been okay with that. I’ve never in my life had second thoughts about the path I’ve chosen for myself.”

“When I was a kid, I learned a magic trick. And, for whatever reason, it spoke to me.”

Major, who grew up in central Maryland and moved to DC in 2003, started putting on shows for family members, and kids birthday parties in the neighborhood.

“When I was a kid, I learned a magic trick. And, for whatever reason, it spoke to me.”

“When I turned 18, my dad went to get hypnotized, so he could quit smoking and it actually worked.

Before that, he had tried everything and nothing worked. And then he got hypnotized, came home, and never smoked again.

I was fascinated by this. Card tricks were pretty cool, but whatever he just experienced, that must be real magic. I thought if you could change someone’s life or behavior with your words, then maybe that’s something I should look into.”

After that experience, Major went on to study hypnosis, body language, psychology, and influence and eventually became a mentalist.

“Mentalism is kind of the showmanship of a magician,” says Major. “I learned to be a performer through being a magician, and combined it with the tools of body language and science and suggestion and hypnosis.”

On The Power of Influence

“The best thing you can do to be more influential is to gain an understanding of body language,” says Major.

“There are two reasons for this. One, so that you can understand what other people are saying to you when they’re not saying a word. And the other reason is to know how other people are interpreting the signals you’re sending.

Everyone is conscious of what they’re doing with their face. We’ve been taught since we were children to control our faces. No one is thinking about what they’re doing with their feet.

If you want to size someone up, start by looking at their feet and working your way up. What are their feet saying? Their knees? What are their hips saying? Their torso? Their hands?

It’s not just about reading other people, it’s about being able to control how other people perceive you.

Influence doesn’t have to be nefarious, and dirty, like politics. It’s about equipping yourself with a set of tools to be a more effective communicator.”

Max Major

On Trusting Yourself & V-Neck Tees

“I’ve never in my life had second thoughts about the path I’ve chosen for myself,” says Major.

“I’ve known this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. I will say I didn’t always know exactly what that would look like. But my whole life, I’ve been okay with that. I think people have a very specific vision for their future and nothing short of that will make me happy.

“While I knew what my job title would be, I probably couldn’t have told you exactly where the finish line was. For me, it’s the journey. Its that self-discovery of what do I do with this next? I’ve always been someone to listen to those instincts.”

Our last, and probably most important question for Mr. Major: What’s up with all the low V-Neck Tees?

Max: More chest is best.

Max Major will be at the Bolton St Synagogue in Baltimore, MD on May 6th. Meet him there and he may just tell you what you’re thinking.