An Interview with the CIA’s former Magic Man

| John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
Former Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency

In the Cipher Brief’s “Under/Cover’ section, we plan to bring to readers, not only reviews of current books on national security matters, but also news and notes regarding forthcoming books of interest, and Q’s & A’s with authors, publishers, and agents (the literary kind.)

This week, we have something a little different up our sleeve.

John McLaughlin is one of the most admired and respected alumni of the intelligence community. A 32-year veteran of the CIA, McLaughlin was Deputy Director and Acting Director of Central Intelligence and is now a senior fellow and Distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington.  He is also an on-air contributor for NBC News and MSNBC.

Slightly less-well-known than his chops as an intelligence professional, is skill as a magician.  Over the years, McLaughlin dazzled his colleagues with sleight of hand – to the point that his security detail’s code name for him was “Merlin.”

McLaughlin recently co-authored a book called Creating Business Magic: How the Power of Magic Can Inspire, Innovate and Revolutionize Your Business.

The book takes what the authors have learned about magic and packs it into a unique framework and relates it to key lessons applicable to business enterprises. The authors’ adapt nine strategies of the world’s greatest magicians and aim to inspire boundless imagination, bolster innovation, energize leadership, and spark success in any business.

“Creating Business Magic” was recently included in’s list of “22 Books Highly Recommended by Successful People.”

Under/Cover recently caught up with McLaughlin and asked about the convergence of intelligence, magic and business.

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The Author is John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004.

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