“Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” ~Dan Dennett
I love that quote!
To truly feel alive, you need to find something that you love, and you can’t do it for prestige.
It requires passion.
There’s a great video of Steve Jobs answering the question asked by Kara Swisher, “What’s the number one thing required to accomplish some of the things you’ve done in your life?” To which he replies, “Passion.”
There was Brian who I met when I found myself in jail at 16 years old, and others like Gerry who I reached out to 10 years later when I was weeks away from going bankrupt running a $1.2M dollar company.
They showed up when I needed them most. Some refer to them as their “Yoda’s,” others call them their teachers. I like the word mentor, even though I’ve never asked them to be, or called them that in person.
Why are more people scared of public speaking (74%) than of death (68%)? Think about that… more people would rather be in the casket, than giving the eulogy. I think that’s ridiculous and that understanding our fears should be a top priority in our life.
“It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.” ― Abraham Maslow
All great entrepreneurs have this in common. They know what they want. But they didn’t always know what they really wanted. Most of them went through what I call Maslow’s Hierarchy of Entrepreneurial Needs, borrowed from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs depicted above. My experience was no different.
A few months ago, my wife Renee turned to me and said “Meeting John C Maxwell is on my bucket list”. I thought – cool .. that’s an easy one. We could probably find an event he’s speaking at, and try and connect with him before/after he gets off stage. Perfect, easy peasy.
As a startup advisor and angel investor, one of the first things I try and teach every entrepreneur, is the importance of keeping advisors and investors in the loop. With that in mind, I’ve created an email template that you should consider using.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at fbFund REV demo day watching 20+ startups pitch to a room of over 100 investors and seasoned entrepreneurs.
What’s interesting is the pattern I started to see emerging. Some of the best startups not only had the strongest pitch, but also had an amazing person selling!
Here’s 5 characteristics I noticed and why I think they’re the most important when pitching your startup.
Have a presence
Command the room
Tell a story
Solid eye contact
Choose your words carefully
Have a presence: Believe (internalize) that you’re going to succeed and show the audience how freakin’ excited you are about your solution. Be high energy! (ex: Brad Wolfe [backlight.org] opened with a song full out).
Tip: Do 20 pushups before you get up to pitch.
Command the room: Talk loudly, don’t ask if people can hear you. Just get up there and go for it – be focused and stay on topic <- no one-one-one banter with an audience member. (ex: Leah Busque [RunMyErrand] rocked it out standing tall at 5,1′)
Tip: Project your voice as if your talking to people behind the last row in the room.
Solid Eye contact: Scan the room and talk to the audience, not your slides. Be sure to connect, smile / head nob / confirm with attendees (ex: Leila Chirayath Janah [Samasource] did an amazing job scanning, talking and smiling!)
Tip: Take 3 seconds to acknowledge people sitting in the far left and right corners of the room.
Tell a story: Stories are engaging, features aren’t. Explain the problem you’re solving and why you’re solving it (include the “back story”). Also, the user flow is important, however don’t fall into the trap during the demo of explain each field name and button click = super annoying. (ex: Brian Phillips [Thread] did an amazing job connecting his real life story to his startup)
Choose your words carefully: Don’t say things like; potentially, soon, try, we believe, etc (a.ka. debby-downer-words). Sometimes certainty and conviction is the only thing a startup has and your job is to make others feel this. Words are very important.
Do you have any other tips? Please leave a comment – would mean the world.
If you’ve ever felt a bit crazy, different or that you might not fit in … good for you! The “crazy ones” are those that push the status quo, that dream up the big ideas and shape our futures. Care less about what people think and more about creating. We need more creators. I don’t care how freakin’ weird the idea – just build it. Let your dream control you. Seriously, go for it.
Notice: Parents and friends don’t discourage, they just don’t want to see you hurt (fail, mess up, loose all your money, etc). Be open to their feedback – but they don’t decide. You do!