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Magic Delivers Message, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Trainer-Inspirational Speaker Becomes an Inspiration to All, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Professionals Motivated by Magic, Minnesota Business & Opportunities Magazine
East Sider's Life, Work Nationally Renown, by David Forster
Rob Chalmers '72: A Little Magic, A Lot of Ability, Macalester Today
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Magic Delivers Message St. Paul man looks past his disability to help others see through stereotypes
Rob performing magic

Rob Chalmers performed a magic trick for Cub Scout Troop 246 of Maplewood during a presentation Monday. He was illustrating a point about saving the environment. Chalmers, a corporate training consultant, also uses magic to teach people to look at others more carefully.

(Staff Photo by Jerry Holt)

By Daniel Spiller
Staff Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 15, 1992

Rob Chalmers uses his magician's skills to teach people to look more carefully—to notice the difference between what they see and what's really happening.

Born with cerebral palsy, Chalmers, 41, is a corporate training consultant who specializes in teaching diversity, seeking to break stereotypes through education. "Just because I am up there onstage, I blow away a lot of the perceptions people have," he said. "I don't perceive myself as being disabled but, ironically, it helps me to deliver my message."

Magic just happened to find its way into his presentation.

"I had to fill up an hour during a speech, so I picked up a magic trick," he said. "It worked out well and I started adding more magic."

Chalmers, of St. Paul, said the magic helps him illustrate the way people look at one another. "We tend to label people who are different than we are," he said. "Then, we judge people by the labels and build barriers."

After graduating from Macalester College in St. Paul, Chalmers found a job as public educator for United Cerebral Palsy. Later, he worked for St. Paul Mayor George Latimer coordinating the city's compliance with the 1973 federal rehabilitation act.

He often received requests to speak, and nine years ago, he made it a full-time job by founding his own consulting firm, People Magic.

In his show, he illustrates labels with an assortment of colored scarves. He gives each scarf a common label—black, young, white, old—and then makes them change colors. His point: "Things don't always appear as they are."

Chalmers has presented his workshops to Land O'Lakes, 3M, Thermo King, Jostens and other Twin Cities area companies.

"He is probably the most interesting guy that we have ever had making a presentation to all levels," said Al Nuness, Jostens' director of staffing and diversity. "He comes in and you think he's handicapped. When he leaves, you're not sure whether it's you or he that's really handicapped. His performance were really before their time; he was out there before diversity was even popular."

"I didn't even call myself a diversity trainer," said Chalmers. "When cultural diversity hit, I realized that I've been doing this for years. It really fit well."

About seven years ago, Chalmers wanted to expand his business and contracted with Ramsey County to do shows about recycling and solid waste for area schools.

"We think of him as a wonderful role model," said Lee Bradford, a public information associate for the county.

After he rips up a newspaper, the newspaper is restored and turned into a cereal box wrapped in the Sunday comics, to demonstrate reuse and recycling.

"The presentation is to promote recycling and waste reduction to both adult and school-age audiences," said Cathi Lyman-Onkka, program analyst in Ramsey County's solid waste division.

"I've always had a bit of showmanship in me, but I never thought it would emerge the way it did," Chalmers said.

Minneapolis Star Tribune
April 15, 1992
Reprinted by permission

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