While Michael Ritter is responsible at ista for managing customer service projects and looking after and improving tools and processes, in his private life he uses his talent as a magician to make children's and adults' eyes shine. The father of two has been enchanting young and old for some twenty years now. INSIDEista immersed itself in his world of magic and went to see him perform at a nursery school in Simmern …
“Have I got everything?” Michael Ritter mutters to himself, going through the list of props in his notebook. Magician’s hat, magic wand, balloons, paper streamers, baking ingredients, sweets, saucepan and various mascots – all waiting for their big moment. All present and accounted for. With a flourish, he quickly throws his black magician’s cape over his shoulders – and he’s ready to go!
Clear the stage and raise the curtain
The door opens and tiny feet hurry across the wooden floor of the gymnasium. Some 15 children run whispering and giggling quietly to the gymnastics mats laid out on the floor to find their places. Full of excitement and curiosity, the eyes of the young audience all look towards the stage where Michael Ritter is preparing for his magic show.
He also willingly gives up some of his holidays to bring joy and pleasure to children.
Ritter has been giving performances in various institutions for 20 years now – many know him meanwhile and approach him directly. If a nursery school or school doesn’t have any money for such a treat, he also goes without his fee – just to make the children happy. And for that he also willingly gives up some of his holidays.
This is not the first time he has visited Simmern. “I have now so many tricks in my repertoire that I can appear several times at the same place without having to repeat a single trick,” the 46-year-old says. He has mastered many different slights of hand, patiently practising them until they were perfect. He trained for three months for his first “professional” trick before he plucked up the courage to perform it in front of an audience. “The trick is called ‘crazy man’s handcuffs’. David Copperfield has also featured it in his programme,” Ritter says. “It’s all about undoing two interlocked rubber bands using friction and a bit of magic.”
Today in Simmern the trick goes perfectly. Michael Ritter conjures with great humour, acting talent and infectious passion. He makes giant playing cards disappear before the children’s astonished eyes, turns “baking ingredients”, such as sand and coloured paper, into sweets and saws up Rocky the cuddly raccoon into three bits, only to bring him back completely unharmed and all in one piece in the next moment.
It’s only natural for the children not to be able to sit still during the performance and to want to marvel at his props from close up and touch them. He loves them to interact and be curious – it brings the whole show to life. However, he also warns. “Being a magician is not exactly cheap,” explains Michael, who has a degree in Business Studies. “You need high-quality equipment to be a good magician.” He prefers to buy his in a specialist shop for magicians’ props in Bonn. However, at the moment his wife has forbidden him to buy any more props. “My passion for conjuring knows no bounds. I need somebody who brings me down to earth again, otherwise I would simply buy everything in the shop.”
Customer relationship management: quality takes top priority
His attention to quality and his pleasure in having direct contact with his audience are not limited to his conjuring and magic turns. These are both attributes which benefit him in his job as well. For example, together with his colleagues, he is currently setting up a new tool for customer relationship management. He can put his experience in customer service from previous jobs, like the one at Bolzhauser AG, to good use. “I have learned to minimise costs, but never at the expense of quality,” Ritter explains.
According to his colleagues, he is conscientious and reflective and keeps an open mind. Valuable qualities for somebody who, as a project manager, has to maintain an overview of all his colleagues’ processes. He gets right inside the technical and organisational processes of the Key Account Centre, develops process optimisation and knowledge management concepts and presents them to different groups of participants at ista. So he is used to appearing in front of an audience whether to give a PowerPoint presentation to his colleagues or in his spare time to perform his magic tricks and make children’s eyes light up with amazement.
Ritter was inspired to start doing magic by Jürgen von der Lippe, whose programmes mesmerised him 20 years ago and from whom he copied magic tricks. He bought the trick and the rubber bands in “Lippes Magic Store”, practised for months before first performing it in front of a small audience. The performance was a resounding success. Michael Ritter’s interest was kindled. His magic tricks got more and more sophisticated, his audiences bigger. And today he no longer performs magic for just six people but sometimes for a thrilled audience of over 100. Our new Copperfield?
Photo credits: Mike Henning