Categories
Startups

Goo Goo Da DOLLARS!? What a best-selling children’s book taught me about pitching to grown @ss investors ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Everybody LOVES a good story, am I right!?

It doesn’t matter if you’re an impatient, terrible-two’d (made up word, parents will understand ๐Ÿ˜ฌ) baby boy – called Antonio, or if you’re a middle-aged VC investor – exhausted ’cause you’ve been listening to lame startup pitches all day.

When they hear a good story, people can’t help but grab the arms of their chair and hang on to every word, drooling with anticipation.

Can you blame them?

Good stories can be entertaining, funny and useful. They’re great to get a point across. And for the listeners, they’re a helluva way to learn (and retain information).

With me so far!? Good!

Let’s get personal.

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There’s a book called Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. It’s rated 4.8 (out of 5) with almost 11,000 reviews on Amazon. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

What’s the book about, you ask?

Well, in very few words: The narrator asks the ZOO to send him animals, but somehow they are never a right fit – ’til the end.

I’m sure that if my son Antonio could speak (and type for that matter ๐Ÿ˜€), he would happily add another gleaming 5 star review.

‘Cause he ABSOLUTELY loves it. He can’t get enough of it.

So, the other day I was thinking. ๐Ÿค”

WHY!? What is it about THIS book that makes it SOOO compelling?

And once I figure that out – HOW can I apply it to the startup world?

Some context: I frequently pitch investors for BeLocal, my startup.

SO…. I NEEDED to crack this code!

I need to capture these people’s attention. Keep it. And make my points. I need to swipe these people off their feet – so they can give us their money.

Well, this is what I came up with.

Here… are the 8 Lessons a Children’s Book Taught me About Pitching to Grown @ss Investors ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿ“ˆ

This is what you came here for, right!? Let’s get to it, then.

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Talk about things they LOVE๐Ÿฅฐ

Antonio LOVES animals.

But Paulo, every child likes animals.

NO, my friend – he’s different.

Of the 9 words he can actually pronounce, 7 are animal sounds.

WOOF and ROAR are two of his favorites. ๐Ÿ˜‚

LESSON: Find something your audience is passionate about and talk about it.

IMPORTANT: This only works if it’s genuine. The trick here is to find a common ground. Some interest you share with the audience.

Probably don’t need to say this – BUT I’m gonna say this anyways.

It needs to (somehow) relate to your pitch.

You can’t go mentioning Spock just because you know your audience digs Star Trek.

Unless you’re pitching Enterprise Software! Ba Dumm TSSS.

HA – Get it!?

No!?

Enterprise software is software designed for big companies. And it’s also the name of the ship…. OH.. forget it!

Okay, moving on.

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Visuals matter. ALOT!

In Dear Zoo, the illustrations are super cute, adorable – one might say!

They are simple, yet unique enough to draw him in.. and stand out from the crowd.

LESSON: Invest in high-impact visuals. Make them capture the essence of what you’re saying. Make them simple. Make them BEAUTIFUL.

There are plenty of resources (and tips) on how to do this, so I won’t spend much time here. Maybe, another day. ๐Ÿค”

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Use cliff hangers ๐Ÿง—โ€โ™‚๏ธ

Authors and filmmakers use these all the time. And so do skilled storytellers, like this author!

When you end a thought with “…” literally or figuratively, the listener can’t help but try to guess the ending. And he or she needs to know what happens next!

Lesson: Use cliff hangers to get and KEEP your audience’s attention.

TIP: Try opening your pitch with a powerful story… and NOT finishing it at the end!

They won’t let it go. When you are done with your presentation, I bet they will plead you to finish. I GUARANTEE IT. Nobody stands open loops.

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Add surprises ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

You know the feeling when somebody hands you a gift…And you can’t wait to start unwrapping it!?

This is what the author does at every couple of pages. Just like a present, you need to unwrap (in this case, flip) the flap and reveal the animal that’s behind it.

There’s a tiny (but palpable) adrenaline rush that gets released – and boy does it feel good!

Lesson: Use the unexpected to your advantage. Create suspense. Startle your audience. Surprise them… and be MEMORABLE.

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Use words sparingly ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™‚๏ธ

There are only a few words in every page. This is deliberate. Words dilute the imagery and hinder a story’s impact.

Like this author, make EVERY WORD COUNT.

Lesson: Don’t overcrowd your slides with words.

Slide decks are props. Not emails.

YOU are the presenter. Don’t let the slides hijack YOUR presentation.

The slides need to serve you! They need to supercharge your message, not compete with it.

Also, when you put a lot of words, your audience can’t help but read them. And what happens? You lose them for those precious seconds.

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Entice your listeners with breadcrumbs ๐Ÿž

It feels good to crack a mystery doesn’t it? A skilled storyteller leaves little clues, (sometimes called breadcrumbs ’cause of Hansel and Gretel’s fairy tale – remember that story?) for you to find.

This makes the story that much more interactive. It’s as if the listener/reader becomes a part of the plot.

By wittingly exposing some part of the animal’s body – to offer a clue as to what animal is inside each crate – this author deploys this crafty tactic.

And it works! Antonio thinks he knows the answer, but he just has to confirm it for himself.

And ’till he does, he’s not ready to move on to something else.

Lesson: Give your audience clues. And help them answer the questions you posed… or solve the mysteries you have created.

A passionate delivery is key โค๏ธ

Even if you may have the most compelling things to say. The most awesome visuals to show. And an offer your audience can’t possibly refuse, if you sound (and act) like a half-dead zombie after a bad night’s sleep – NONE OF IT WILL MATTER.

With my son, I try my best to change my tone, make exaggerated faces and interact with him as much as I can.

I also pay attention the cues he gives me (like startling expressions, giggles and laughs) as a way to gauge whether I’m doing well.

If I see him drift off, I just raise the heat. ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Lesson: Loud is better than soft. Dramatic is better than lukewarm. Fireworks aren’t necessary. You don’t need to be a Shakespearean actor, but make it a show – nonetheless.

Use gestures. Walk around. Scream… if you have to.

Maybe you’re kinda shy like me. Maybe you don’t like to call attention. That’s fine.

Just don’t forget: whatever you do – do it with ALL of your heart.

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Finish STRONG! ๐Ÿ’ช

Great books. Great movies. Great meals. They all have memorable endings, right!?

They’re what people talk about as people leave the movie theater, or what sticks in your head when you finish a great novel.

And how about that ooey-gooey molten chocolate cake you had that time for dessert!?

Can’t seem to forget it, huh!?

This is partially because of “the recency effect” (the tendency to remember the most recently presented information best).

But… also, because if done properly, an ending can be the satisfying conclusion to the journey you’ve just embarked on.

You’ve taken your audience on a wild ride and although they’ve enjoyed every minute – they are glad to be back. And are thankful to you – for getting them back safely!

This is exactly what this crafty author does with the last line: “I kept him”.

Lesson: Use an impact phrase, visual or share the compelling ending of a story to finish your pitch. Your audience should deliver a collective “WHOA!” at the end. Even if they don’t hear it, it should be apparent in their faces.

If nothing else works. You can always end with a Mic drop. And exit stage, left! ๐Ÿคฃ

OOOOF. That’s it! These ran longer than expected. Hopefully you enjoyed reading them (as much as I enjoyed writing them).

If these work for Antonio, trust me – they’ll work for ANYBODY! ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ’ช

Hope this helps, my friend. And good luck with YOUR pitches. Both to children and adults, which by the way…. sometimes behave in the same way – am I right!? ๐Ÿคฃ

Oh- thanks for reading. โ˜บ๏ธ

Bonus

Here are some interesting resources you can read about pitching (and storytelling). And obviously, if you are also the father/mother of a child, buy the freakin’ book!

Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book

Ps. These are affiliate links and I could earn a small commission. Cause, why not, right!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Categories
Startups

WHAT you DO is WHO you ARE

Corporate culture has always fascinated me. ๐Ÿค”

So, I’ve always been very aware of the differences in the places I’ve worked for, throughout my career.

I’ve worked in serious places.

You know the kind, right?

Formal shirts tucked deep into your pants. You only speak when you’re spoken to.

Reserved parking spots? Only if you’re in top management.

Not that I’m against any of that. In fact, those were very happy (and productive) times for me.

But, I also worked at more “relaxed” places.

Beers were chugged. Fun was had. And ideas were more freely circulated.

The lines between work and play, colleagues and friends… were blurred.

Whatever the style – culture can be the difference between dreading the sound of your alarm clock and “waltzing out of bed” every Monday morning – bursting with energy and a sense of purpose.

I don’t think there is a RIGHT culture. There IS though.. an ADEQUATE culture for that company and with that Founder.

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As Ben Horowitz writes in his book, What you do is who you are:

 "If you donโ€™t methodically set your culture, 
then two-thirds of it will end up being accidental,
 and the rest will be a mistake." 


With this in mind, can you answer this?

  • If you are an employee: In what kind of culture do you want to work at?
  • If you are a founder: What kind of culture do you want for your company?

As BeLocal’s founder, I dove deep into these questions. And inspired by Ben Horowitz’s book AND the practices of the seemingly unstoppable Amazon (which has its own set of widely publicised values), my team and I created OUR Guiding Principles.

Think of them as a set of rules, based on values, that anybody that works at your company should believe in (and follow).

Is the suspense killing you? It is…!?

Sorry, here you go!

(for simplicity and to NOT bore you to death, I will refer to the Guiding principles as GPs, ok?)

BeLocal’s Guiding principles โค๏ธ

Learn these. Love these. Live these.  

Be obsessed. ๐Ÿค”

With the customers. With the product. With results.

Be scrappy ๐Ÿ’ธ

There IS a way of doing it, cheaper. Or free. Find it.

 Just fuck!ng do it. ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ

Plan less. Do more. Adjust along the way.

Yes, we can. ๐Ÿ’ช

No hill is too high. No challenge is too tough. No idea is TOO crazy.

We are open to feedback. ๐Ÿ‘‚

From our team. From our users. From the universe. 

The truth shall set us free. ๐Ÿ™Œ

Be open. Be honest. Be direct.

In Data we TRUST. ๐Ÿ“Š

We base our decisions on Data, whenever possible. 

Take care. ๐Ÿค—

Of ourselves. Of our company. Of our customers. Of our family.

Be a sponge. ๐Ÿงฝ

Learn. From our colleagues. From our customers. From our competition.

Don’t be an a*shole. ๐Ÿšซ

Be nice. Be humble. Be human.

We are a team. ๐Ÿคœ ๐Ÿค›

We work as a team. We win as a team. We fail as a team. 

Have fun. ๐Ÿคฃ

We kid. We laugh. We enjoy ourselves.

We take time OFF. โ›ฝ

To rest. To unplug. To reenergize. 

Donโ€™t be Afraid. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

To speak out. To make mistakes. To be yourself.

If you enjoyed them, feel free to use them at your company. Or make some changes. OR EVEN… make your own – COMPLETELY UNIQUE set of guiding principles.

Oh – if at any point you see one of us Belocals not following our GPs, please let us know.

We are ALWAYS open to feedback. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now you know OUR GPs. ๐Ÿ˜Š

How about at YOUR company!? What’s your culture like? What do you enjoy? What would you change? Let me know in the comments.

BONUS

Here are a few tips I learned along the way reading about the topic and implementing our very own guiding principles at BeLocal. Hope they are helpful.

Okay, let’s get started with this list. ๐Ÿ’ช

1- You can’t fake them.

Your GPs have to reflect who you are. If you are formal and methodic don’t try to create a spontaneous and playful culture.

2- Good GPs are concrete, specific and based on behaviors and not values.

Think we don’t print anything that can be sent by email and NOT ” we care about the environment.”

3- Involve your colleagues.

A culture that is imposed “top-down” is doomed to fail. Discuss each GP, clarifying what they mean and and settle down on a final meaning. This way, you will increase “ownership” and your GPs will have a higher chance of adherence.

4- Expose… and share them generously.

Here at BeLocal we have them framed on our wall. Every time we enter our office we are reminded of them. We also plan on printing them in a “deck of cards” format. Who knows – it might even become some sort of game. ๐Ÿคท

5- Create initiatives that represent your GPs.

There’s no point in just sticking with the theory, am I right!? Put them into action. For example, one of our GPs is “Be a Sponge”, so every team member has a monthly budget to spend on books, courses and other learning material they deem interesting.

6- Hire for culture.

A new employee who does not share your GPs, can quickly have a devastating effect on your culture. So, while interviewing, be sure to be aware and share your GPs as early and as often as possible.

7- Use them to take (and simplify) decisions

We used to spend A LONG time discussing things which were basically guesses – they were based on our own experiences – but they were still guesses. And you know what? These discussions took us nowhereFAST. Now, when we discuss something, we ask each other, “What does the DATA say?” This has made our discussions more focused and productive. Every time you invoke a GP, it becomes more powerful and ingrained.

8- Guiding Principles can (and probably will) change over time

GPs are like people. They age (and mature) with time. It’s a natural process. And the important thing is to be aware and adjust accordingly.

Categories
Startups

I ain’t afraid of NO GHOSTS! ๐Ÿ‘ป 5 Tips for Dealing with these Modern Day Digital Demons

You know what “ghosting” is, right!?

It’s when somebody just stops responding.

Things are going great. You are getting to know each other.

Then something happens.

They stop replying to your whatsapp msgs or responding to your linkedin mail.

You try to call – straight to voicemail.

They just…. ignore you. It’s like you don’t even exist anymore.

Just like real ghosts, these can be REAL spooky.

Just because they can take a hit at your self esteem and confidence.

Nobody likes to face rejection, am I right!?

That’s why ghosts are gruelling tests of resolve and commitment.

And look… they happen to haunt entrepreneurs – like ALL. THE. TIME.

It’s happened to you, right!?

We need to consistently be reaching out to people and pitching sh!t.

Whether it be potential clients, advisors or investors – there’s always an ask somewhere.

And the reality is: people are busy. damn busy.

And if your pitch doesn’t hit the bullseye – (and continue to generate interest) you are likely to be pushed down the priority list… and eventually be ignored to oblivion.

It happens to the best of us.

And when it does, here are my top tips to deal with these nay-saying nuisances:

1- Don’t take it personally. ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™‚๏ธ

Ghosts are a part of life. This just means that the person you reached out to is just not that into YOUR PITCH. It’s not a reflection of you, or YOUR self worth. You’re still super awesome – you better believe it!

2- Give it some time. โฐ

Sometimes people just need a little extra time to respond. I usually give them a full week before nudging.

3- Don’t give up TOO easily. ๐Ÿ’ช

Persistence pays off. Not quitting can make the person feel that this really matters to you – and that you believe in it. Make him/her a believer as well.

4- Give more value. ๐ŸŽ

When you follow up offer some new piece of information or development. You never know what may trigger them into coming back from the dead.

5- Learn… and move the fu!k on! ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Ok, so you’ve tried it all. And still no sign of life.

Perhaps its time to assess what went wrong, perfect your pitch and move on to your next target, more resilient and with more experience.

That’s it, those were my top 5 tips for dealing with ghosts – as an entrepreneur.

So, the next time you get ghosted. Don’t sweat it.

You know what to do.

Just scream at the top of your lungs:

I AIN’T AFRAID OF NO GHOSTS!!! ๐Ÿ‘ป