When Dr. Al Snyder lectures for people, they tend to doze off. That's OK - in fact, he encourages it, because sleeping kids and adults are more likely to do as he says. Al isn't some power-mad teacher or a bad guy seeking to sap the will of America's youth. He is - in addition to being a veterinarian and, until recently, a partner in a company that made groundbreaking software for veterinary clinics -- a professional hypnotist who performs 60 to 70 shows a year across the United States. Speaking from the Kansas City airport on his way to four gigs in Oklahoma, Al explains that selling his company, Advanced Veterinary Systems, to IDEXX Labs, freed him up to pursue a craft that's both entertaining and educational.
"I'm fascinated by the subconscious and how it allows people to do things they thought they'd never do," he explains with a congenial chuckle. "I can take a quiet, timid kid and make him act like a rock star. And once a kid sees he can open up like that, he often realizes that he's capable of much more than he thought." "I've always worked with youth groups. It's exciting to show kids ways that they can use their potential." Teaching kids to better utilize their subconscious -- by using self-hypnosis to improve memory and study habits -- is all part of Al's routine. While he enjoys the work with young people the most, he does an equal number of adult corporate sales meetings and conventions.
Al, who calls Eau Claire, WI, home, began practicing hypnotism seven years ago when a keen interest in psychology led him to a hypnotist's show. He ended up serving a two-year "apprenticeship" with the performer, traveling throughout the country as he learned his way around the labyrinth of the subconscious. Now that he's out of the software business, he's on the road again, devoting most of his time to a profession that he finds endlessly intriguing. Did his skill as a hypnotist serve him in selling his company? He laughs again. "It's a lot of fun," he says simply, running to catch his plane. "It's so cool what sits in the mind and never gets used."