Adam Patel: Adventure Capitalist

And For My Final Trick: Reflections On My Career In Magic, Lock Down Mental Health And Plans For The Future

Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2020


We never really know what’s round the corner. I don’t think there is anybody who, over the last four months, has got what they planned or expected. Many of us were suddenly very unbusy while some of us have been busier than ever. It’s been rough.

Despite my professional life becoming much busier, I’ve still had a lot of time on my hands on account of no restaurants or theatres to go to. I mean seriously – how much Netflix can a man watch?

Being essentially locked in a room to think has brought out both good and bad. At times I’ve found myself agonising over past mistakes, wading through bouts of depression and anxious about what the future (the unplanned version) might hold.

I’ve also given a lot of thought to what I want for the future (the planned version) and how to get there. Part of that has been a(n ongoing) complete rebrand which is still a bit of a work in progress.

It’s fair to say the last five years have been an adventure. Who’d have thought doing card tricks on school lunch breaks would eventually lead to The Edinburgh Festival, The West End and the BBC? It certainly showed me that anything is possible if you put your mind (and money) to it.

But as I’ve got older I’ve had a change of heart. And it turns out that the life of a magician is no longer the life for me.

For a start – fame. From the outset, I’m not claiming to be a Kardashian (the first and last time I’ll ever write that word). I experienced a small amount of so-called fame, but to be honest, it was enough. Let’s just say fame didn’t do what I thought it would do.

When I was younger, I always thought fame would make it easier to make friends. It doesn’t. If anything, it makes it harder. In fact, I think it’s the closest insight I’m ever likely to get into what it’s like to be a really attractive woman (I checked with my wife and some of this is true):

People (strangers) just act weird around you. They say odd things. And after a while you figure out that they can’t get past the image of you they hold in their minds (from newspapers and social media) and a natural organic relationship is much more difficult.

It’s also an extremely weird experience to be recognised when you’re just going about your life, “Hi. Excuse me. Where do I know you from?”

“I don’t know…?”

Additionally, contrary to what I thought before all this started, a surprisingly large number of people in Britain still ‘believe’ in magic and accept the supernatural as part of reality. And naturally, they are attracted to somebody they think is a practitioner of such things. This leads to a lot of weird encounters.

And celebrity parties. They’re swanky. But just like everybody else, some celebrities are nice down to earth people and some of them are arrogant twats. I’ve met both kinds. I got epically shut down by a very famous A-list actress once. I won’t name her – just in case we ever cross paths again. At the time, it burned like crazy. Now, it’s just funny and was actually possibly the greatest gift she could have given me because since then, whenever I’ve approached a woman, I’ve always thought, “Whatever happens, it can’t be as bad as that time!” It made me invincible to rejection.

I think it was Michelle Pfeiffer who said, “Fame is fun for five minutes.” Well… I’ve had my five minutes. You can keep the other ten, Andy.

Then, the job itself… being a magician involves a lot of travelling. When I was in my twenties, I dreamed of travelling more and making it beyond the Bradford ring road. Ironically, when I eventually started getting requests from other countries, I sort of couldn’t be bothered. I just wanted to stay at home with my wife. And currently, only Edinburgh is worth the logistical nightmare of going to live there for a month.

I guess for me, the really fun part of being a magician was putting the act together – the writing. And that all happens at home or in the rehearsal space. But to get any credit and indeed any income for it, you’ve got to take it to the stage, which, in front of a live crowd, when it was fun it was really fun, but when it went badly it was awful.

So what next then? If not magic, then what? Well… I don’t think the door is completely closing on magic. I will still do the Edinburgh Fringe when time permits. But although I’ve promoted myself as a magician over the past few years, magic isn’t all I do. I have always considered myself an entrepreneur first and everything else second. And I think it’s this direction I’ll be heading in next.

It occurred to me that all I really want for myself is to be able to spend my time the way I want to (financial freedom), a nice house to live comfortably in and raise my kids, and a couple of nice holidays a year.

Yes, I do still have dozens of ideas for all kinds of things from FinTech startups to movies and tv shows – and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do some of that. But – as must every ideas person – I have to accept that, even if I live to be 100, there simply isn’t enough time to develop every idea I have. Not at the rate I come out with things. Only a select few will ever see the light of day.

I suppose I find myself craving a more diverse range of adventures. Variety is the spice of life. And variety is something that only entrepreneurship can give me. The entertainment industry always looked fun – and I will probably return at some point. But there are so many other industries out there. Maybe there’s fun to be had in some of them too?

I recently started working with a couple of startups to develop ideas and figure out the best route to market. I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about those in the future.

I also find myself thinking about how I can make the world better. How can I enable others? How can I reduce the suffering in the world? I’ve been saying for years that I was going to do some philanthropy. And I never have. And then I realise to my horror I’ll be 35 in a couple of months. I’d say the time to start is now, regardless of the size of contribution I can make. Surely anything is better than nothing.

Not exactly a cast iron plan at this point. But let’s see where it takes me. After all, we never really know what’s round the corner.

About Adam

I am not a day trader. I generally hold positions for between a few weeks and several years and any opinions I share have this sort of time scale in mind.

Nothing on this blog should be considered to be anything more than entertainment. It is certainly not to be considered to be financial advice.