One of my closest friends is a brilliant entrepreneur. He generates more great business ideas before his first cup of coffee every morning than most people do in their lifetime. He’s also skilled at weeding out the ideas he knows will work from the ones that won’t. But in his own words, it’s more about figuring out what the public—and more importantly, potential investors—are ready for than whether his idea is good or not.
Because he knows his ideas are good. All of them. It’s just a matter of pitching them to the right people at the right time in the right way. That’s why I was surprised when he come to me with a confession: he felt like he was losing his mojo.
I was more than surprised. Here’s a guy who can sell sand at the beach. Sky high confidence, always upbeat. This time was different. He was rattled. He’d been pitching an idea for months with no success. He was accustomed to blowing people away with his presentations, but this time he was getting nowhere. Everyone loved his idea, recognized its value, and praised it on its merits—but no one was willing to take a risk and go first.
Played by The Room
I realized he’d fallen into a common trap: instead of playing the room, the room was playing him. He was toning down his language, tempering his enthusiasm, and leaving out his best attributes: his confidence the strength of his convictions. Remember, this is a guy who can sell needles to a porcupine and snowshoes to a camel.
He forgot that.
His presentations got lukewarm, so the responses he got were lukewarm.
Instead of infusing the room with belief and energy, he pulled back. Rather than being proactive and educating potential partners about the tremendous upside of his prospect, he went reactive. He played defense. He let the presentations fall into a negative feedback loop, and half the time never got to his best material or his sure-fire closing lines.
I told him to regroup and remember who he was at his core. To speak from his highest self. To walk into those rooms with the full belief he’d walk out with a yes. To put all his cards on the table every time, treat every pitch as if it was his last, and give the potential partner every opportunity to go all-in on his idea.
I saw the lightbulb click on over his head, and I knew that was exactly what he needed to hear.
He got his mojo back—and his idea got the traction it deserved.