“All the wrong people have inferiority complexes.” – coffee mug slogan

I recently had the opportunity to speak for a career networking group.

They were thrilled with the “haven’t heard that before” insights shared during the program and the meeting planner asked if I’d share them in a blog so others could benefit from them.

Happy to.  Hope these help you POP! out of the pack of applicants and land the job of your dreams.

POP! Your Job Search Tip 1.

Don’t Be Shy. If You’ve Accomplished Something Special – Include It!

“There are few times in your life when it isn’t too melodramatic to say your destiny hangs on the impression you make.” – Barbara Walters

One of the most important lessons-learned shared in my What’s Holding Us Back? book is …

“Our strength taken to an extreme becomes our Achilles Heel.”

For example, kindness is a wonderful quality. But if we’re kind to people who are cruel to us; our kindness becomes a weakness that gets preyed upon.

Having a great sense of humor can be delightful. But if we always have to be the “clown” who’s the life of the party; not so good.

Are you thinking, “What’s that got to do with resumes and job search?”

Most people are way too humble when applying for a job.

Humility is a lovely trait.

But when it comes to getting hired. humility can become our Achilles Heel.

How so?

Potential employers can’t read your mind.

They don’t know how and why you’re special unless you tell them.

If you’ve accomplished something outstanding and don’t include it on your resume; you could lose out on a job you deserve and might have gotten otherwise.

It’s your responsibility to showcase specific skills that may help get your foot in their mental door.  It’s your job to mention real-life, one-of-a-kind experiences that could add value for their organization.

My son Tom is an excellent example of this.

Tom and his brother grew up in Maui, Hawaii.

We would go for walk and rolls at night in our lovely neighborhood near Keawekapu Beach. I would walk and they would ride their big wheels, bikes or skateboards. Our nightly tradition was for each of us to pluck a plumeria blossom and bring it home to place on our pillows.

Even when he was young, if you asked Tom what he wanted to be, he would point to the sky and say, “Something to do with up there.”

Little could we have known that Tom would eventually graduate from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies) with a multiple degree in Aerospace Engineering, Physics, Astronomy and Math. (Suffice it to say, I didn’t help Tom with his homework!)

Several weeks before graduating, Tom applied for a job at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.  After  filling out the application, he asked me to take a look at it.

I was glad to do so – and was surprised to see Tom hadn’t mentioned that he and his college team had won an international competition to plan a Manned Mission to Mars.

I asked Tom, “Why didn’t you include that on your resume?”

Guess what he said?

“But Mom, that would be bragging.”

Arggh.    I told him, “Tom, it’s not bragging if you’ve done it.”

“Think about it. There could be hundreds of applicants for this job, all with similar degrees. Many have great GPA’s or were on the Dean’s List. So that’s nothing special to decision-makers at this point.

Think about it from their point of view. They’re looking through a stack of resumes in search of something relevant that isn’t same-old, same-old. Something that causes them to think, ‘Now that’s impressive. Or, that’s interesting. Let’s bring that person in for an interview.'”

If you have an impressive achievement few others can claim; it deserves to go on your resume.

It differentiates you from similarly-qualified candidates.  It could be a deal-maker because it gives you a competitive edge and gives potential employers a compelling reason to consider you as a high-potential.

Guess what? Tom got the interview  … and he got a job in mission control at JSC in Houston. 

Every day he gets to do what he loves most and does best. He is fulfilling his SerenDestiny (the title of my upcoming book) and getting paid to do work that puts the light on in his eyes.

He told me recently, with a sense of wonder in his voice, “Mom, working with the International Space Station is a dream come true. I do something down here . . .and it makes something happen up there.”

Hmmm … that is exactly what Tom wanted to do, all those years ago in Maui when he pointed to the sky when asked what he wanted to do when he grew up.

Who knows if Tom would have landed this ideal job if he had left off that singular achievement about the Mars mission that caught the interviewer’s eye and motivated him to fly Tom out to Houston for a site visit and interview?

So, here’s the question . . .

What’s a singular achievement you’ve accomplished that could help you stand out in a stack of resumes?

If you were Employee of the Month, that goes on your resume.

If you were the first to be certified in a specific computer training program, say so.

And, include an example of an uncommon hobby or involvement in a favorite cause/philanthropy.

If you compete in triathlons, add it to the resume.  Who knows? Maybe the interviewer is an athlete and will feel enough of a common bond to call you in.

In fact, an author client landed a big-name literary agent  by doing just this.

I advised Leslie Charles, (author of Why Is Everyone So Cranky?) to include under Credentials on her book proposal that she rode dressage.

She asked, “But Sam, that has nothing to do with my book. Why would I include that?”

I smiled and said, “Because the agent you want to work with rides dressage.”

This agent handled several best-selling authors in the non-fiction genre and wasn’t really looking for new clients. However, she and Leslie “clicked” while discussing horses and dressage and Leslie ended up working with her and getting a 6-figure deal for her book with a major publisher.

So, look over your current resume and job application.

What POP!s out? What gives it a “human” element that would give an interviewer a good reason to want to interview you?

What intriguing achievement, personal mission, heartfelt hobby, or uncommon interest could help you stand out from the crowd of candidates?

If you’d like more ways to POP! your job search, career, communication and success, check back for Part II of this series on the 3 Best Ways to POP! Your Job Search.   Or, subscribe to receive them automatically.

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“When someone’s impatient and says, ‘I haven’t got all day,’ I always wonder, ‘How can that be? How can you not have all day?'” – comedian George Carlin

George had it right the first time.

We DON’T have all day to convince people we’re worth listening to.

Busy decision-makers make up their minds in minutes whether we’re a good investment of their time and mind.

That’s why it’s up to you to distill your pitch down to 10 slides.

Yes, I said 10 slides.

If you roll out a 30, 40, or 50+ power point slide deck (don’t laugh, I’ve seen them and, unfortunately, sat through some) … investors are already rolling their eyes and getting out their smart phones.

You do not want to add to the epidemic of INFO-BESITY

I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of entrepreneurs on their pitches .. and we always distill their pitch into a crisp, convincing 10 slide, 10 minute format that thrills potential investors because it concisely and compellingly addresses what they need to know to make a decision.

Here are just a few of the criteria I use when designing a to-the-point pitch that will win buy-in to my client’s idea, venture, product launch or start-up. Hope you find them useful.

1. Anticipate and Address Objections:

Investors can be “Doubting Thomas’s.” Ask yourself, “Why would they say no?” and then say it early on. If you don’t address their objections in the beginning, they won’t be listening; they’ll be waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell you why your idea won’t work. Neutralize resistance by naming it . . . first.

2. Title Each Slide with the Main Point and Turn Some Titles into Questions

Don’t force investors to try to figure out the most important take-away. They can’t give you their undivided attention if they’re distracted or confused by an unclear slide. Ask yourself, “What’s the primary point of this slide – what do I want them to remember?” and then feature it on top so everyone gets the point.

Posing questions with your title and then answering it with your content turns your pitch into a two-way dialogue instead of a one-way monologue. Voicing what the group is thinking and articulating what’s on their mind – and then responding to that turns your pitch into an conversation vs. a lecture.

3. State the Problem(s) Your Business Solves:

Exactly how does your business solve an existing problem of your target audience in a unique or more efficient, profitable way? Reference a respected publication (WSJ? IBD?) that reveals a dramatic statistic, a recent study result, or a survey that attests to the size/scope of the problem or need you’re addressing. Specify how your solution is better than the competition or is addressing this problem in a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind way. What metrics can you provide that prove the urgency of this issue or the rapid growth of this demographic?

4. Show Them the Money:

Want investors to give you millions? Show exactly how and where you’ve managed and made millions before. Where exactly have you produced impressive monetary results commensurate with what you’re asking? Prove you’re not a risk with a tangible bottom-line track record of successful launches, exits, sales, profits, savings, payoffs. Don’t wait until the last slide to introduce this; put it up front as the primary question in an investor’s mind is, “Have you generated/managed big money before? Can you be trusted to do it again and make money for us? How?”

5. No TMI. 10 slides TOPS.

People shut down when there’s too many slides and a speaker races to “get them all in.” When people are overwhelmed; they become immobilized. They will not say yes or want to know more if they’re flooded with a fire-hose of facts. Discipline yourself to make 10 clean points. vs. 20 confusing ones.

6. Remember, slides are visual “aids.” Keep ’em clean and visually appealing.

In a 10 minute pitch, fancy animation or complex graphics can be over-kill. YOU are the show – not your slides. Please, no lengthy documents in tiny print. Distill crucial info into 3-4 bullets max. Make copy easy to “eyeball” with a minimum of 24 point font. Instead of bells and whistles; use a consistent theme with dark text on a light background to produce an easy-to-read, professional-looking presentation.

Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Have a max of 25 words per slide. Distill each point into its essence – you can always elaborate when you’re speaking. Numbering points instead of bulleting them can make them easier to follow and more factual.

7. Make Your Slides Right and Left Brain:

Include some human faces along with your graphics and grids to SHOW what you do, not just talk about it. Balance statistics with a real-life success story to “people” your pitch so it’s not neck-up, wah-wah rhetoric. Remember, investors make decisions on emotion and logic. Have a blend of photos of real-live people and back up your claims with empirical data so decision-makers like you and respect you.

8. Put Names and Numbers in Your Claims:

Instead of making vague generalizations (e.g., “team has extensive experience in bio-med” What’s that mean?), say, “For example . . . “ and then provide the names and logos of companies you’ve worked with; the millions of dollars you’ve generated; the number of months it took for a product launch; the hundreds of people you’ve managed. Metrics are trusted. Sweeping claims without specific, real-world evidence are suspect.

9. Give Three Action Options in Closing Slide:

Do you know how most people end their pitch? “Thank you for listening.” Arggh. Talk about leaving money on the table. Don’t close passively by trailing off and expecting the audience to read your mind. Close proactively by asking yourself, “What do I want them to do? Call next week to set up a more in-depth, in-person meeting? Connect with you at your exhibit table at the 2:45 pm afternoon break? Request a free sample or product demonstration? SAY THAT. Be explicit by offering three incentive options that would motivate them to follow-up.

Please note: preparing a pitch is a front-loaded project.

Yes, it takes time (and maybe some consulting money) to “do it right” … however it will pay off.

How much money are you asking for? Half a million? $2 million?

If you want to turn your dream into a funded, successful reality; take the time and invest the money to design a 10 slide pitch that has your decision-makers at hello.

Want 10 ways to DELIVER a pitch that captures and keeps your audience’s favorable attention from start to finish? Email us at Cheri@SamHorn.com and put PITCH DELIVERY TIPS in the subject heading.

Thanks to Duke Ellington for his insightful lyric that inspired the above title.

This is the final post in a 5-part series sharing some of the coaching tips given to Springboard Enterprises clients.

Part of the advice given was “If you want investors to care, you’ve got to show F.L.A.I.R.”

Many investors have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches. After awhile, they all start to sound alike.

One way to stand out and get noticed and remembered – for all the right reasons – is to use R = Rhythm and Ryhme.

Tip 1. Duke was right. When you put things in a beat; you make them easy to repeat.

Hence the enduring popularity of such “earworm” ad slogans as:

“I Can’t Believe I Ate The W-h-o-l-e Thing” (Alka Seltzer)

and

“Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking” (Timex)

Chances are, you haven’t heard those jingles for years: yet you can still repeat them, word for word, in the same cadence you first heard them.

When I work with clients, one of our priorities is to create a proprietary phrase that pays that showcases their strongest selling point.

We work on saying it with “pause and punch” so anyone can repeat it, word for word, after hearing it once.

Tiip 2. Be sure to pause and punch when introducing yourself and when wrapping up.

When nervous, or when trying to jam a lot of material into a short amount of time, many speakers jumble their words together.

The consequence is people don’t “get” your name – which means they won’t be able to repeat it a minute, hour or week later – which means you’re out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Not good.

Put a pause between your first and last name (i.e., Sam – Horn) so each word is distinct and can be heard clearly.

Then, e – nun – ci – ate each syllable of your business name – and put a 3 beat pause between words – to make sure it’s imprinted and so people get it the first time.

For example, In – trigue . . . In – sti – tute.

This may sound petty or like I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

However, if people can’t repeat your name, they didn’t get your name . . . which means you won’t get their business.

Tip 3. Rhyme is sublime . . . because it helps you get remembered over time.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from the U.S. Government.

They were concerned years ago about the number of fatalities and injuries in car accidents so they invested a lot of money to create a public service campaign called “Buckle Up for Safety.”

Hmmm. Are you motivated to just run out and fasten your seat belt?

No one seemed to care and no one was inspired to change their behavior.

So, they went back to the drawing board. Or, as comedian George Carlin was famous for saying, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”

This time, they put their slogan in a rhyme that had a distinctive beat. I bet you know what I’m talking about.

Yep, Click It or Ticket.

Not only did that phrase that pays catch on, it’s motivated people to buckle up and, as a result, the number of injuries and fatalities has decreased.

All this goes to prove that phrasing isn’t petty.

You can spend hours and thousands of dollars on fancy power point slides, bar charts and graphics.

But if you rush through your material and your audience can’t understand or remember anything you said – it will all be for naught.

Remember these 5 elements when preparing for and delivering your pitch . . .to increase the likelihood YOU’LL be top-of-mind at the end of a long day.

F = Fun. If you’re not having fun; they’re not having fun.

L = Link. Compare what you do to something with which they’re fond and familiar to fast-forward comprehnsion and buy-in.

A = Alliteration. It’s working for Java Jacket. Why not for you?

I = Inflection and In Your Body. Tower (vs. cower) and speak out – loud and clear – with downward inflection so you have the look and voice of authority.

R = Rhythm and Rhyme. Craft a phrase that pays and make it easy to repeat so you’re the one who gets remembered.

Want more tips on how to POP! your pitch, close the deal and get the money?

Check out POP! – which has been featured on MSNBC and in the New York Times and Washington Post – so the next time you present, you are confdient of your ability to intrigue and favorably impress everyone in the room.

“I have a photographic memory. I just haven’t deveoped it yet.” – Jonathan Winters

So, we’ve talked about how having FUN and using LINKS contributes the F.L.A.I.R. that motivates investors to care.

What’s next?

A = Alliteration

Say these words.

Best Purchase.

Dirt Vacuum.

Bed, Toliet, Etc.

Kind of clunky, eh?

Now make those words alliterative. (Alliteration is when words start with the same sound.)

Best Buy.

Dirt Devil.

Bed, Bath and Beyond.

More musical and memorable, right?

This is not petty.

Repeatability is crucial to memorability.

And memorability is crucial to you closing a deal.

At the Springboard Enterpises BootCamp in Boston at the Microsoft NERD Center on June 17; each of the 21 entrepreneurs (selected from more than 100 applicants) started with a 2 minute bio presentation.

Their assignment?

Tell us, in 2 minutes, about your credentials and proven track record so we are intrigued, impressed and convinced you have the clout to carry this off.

Here’s what I told the group at the end of their bio presentations – which took about an hour total.

“Okay, I’m giving you each $10 million. You just heard 21 entrepreneurs introduce their business credentials. Who would you invest in?

Look around the room. WHO DO YOU REMEMBER?

Do you remember ANY of the names of the presenters or businesses? What do you remember that so impresseed you, you’re motivated to walk up to that person and initiate a follow-up conversation?”

It was a sobering moment. Because these entrepreneurs realized that most of what they just heard had gone in one ear and out the other.

They realized that unless they did something special with THEIR pitch, the business they’d invested their head, heart, soul and bank account in . . . may go in one ear and out the other of future investors who have heard thousands of pitches.

Think about it. These were 2 minute pitches.

Many pitch forums feature 20 – 30 ten minute pitch presentations, back to back.

Imagine sitting through 8 hours of pitches.

At the end of a l-o-n-g day, pitches start to blend together. They start to sound alike and it’s hard to remember who was who.

That means, unless you do something special to stand out, you’ll be out of sight, out of mind.

That’s why it’s essential to give your audience a hook on which to hang a memory.

If you care about your idea or business, it’s YOUR responsibility to pitch it so crisply and compellingly, YOU’RE THE ONE they remember . . . YOU’RE the one they respect . . . YOU’RE the one they want to talk to at the end of the day.

Alliteration helps.

Look at your pitch, product description, web copy and business name. Are you using alliteration, i.e., Rolls Royce. Dunkin Donuts. Java Jacket. Merlin Mobility? (Kudos to Springboard presenter Margaret Martin for coming up with that magically alliterative name.)

If so, good for you.

If not, go back and insert words into sentences that start with the same sound. It will make your language more lyrical and help you stand out so YOU’RE the entrepreneur who’s top of mind at the end of a long day of pitches.

“I never metaphor I didn’t like.” – Richard Lederer, NPR’s A Way with Words

In the previous blog, we talked about the importance of having FUN while pitching.

If you’re not having fun; trust me; your audience isn’t having fun.

Now for the second letter in F.L.A.I.R. that helps investors care.

L = LINK

“The quickest way to help decision-makers connect with what your business does is to compare it to something they already know and respect.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, pitch strategist and author of POP!

Jan Bruce of New Life Solution is already a successful entrepreneur having developed meQuilibrim (talk about a business name that POP!s).

She has a compelling “backstory.” After selling a business to Martha Stewart for millions, for some reason, Jan didn’t feel as happy as hoped.

In fact, as she told our group, she wondered, “Why am I feeling so bad when I am doing so well?”

This prompted a quest to figure out what was going on.

Jan’s research revealed that “stress is the new ‘obesity.'”

It’s reached epidemic proportions and is costing companies billions and compromising people’s health.

She’s developed an “online, guided, self-help progam providing interactive education, behavior tools and peer support on a scalable basis.”

HUH?

See, that’s the problem.

That sentence describes what her business does – but we still don’t get it. And if we don’t get it, SHE won’t get it.

That’s where LINKING comes in.

Comparison provides a shortcut to comprehension.

A metaphor or analogy that links your unfamiliar business to something with which we’re familiar (and fond) fast-forwards our understanding.

Jan knows this and excels at it.

What’s her elevator intro for her business?

“New Life Solution is like Weight Watchers for stress.”

OOOHHHH. Got it.

Are you pitching an idea or venture?

What is it LIKE? Link your new idea or venture to a proven entity your decision-makers respect to turn confusion into clarity.

Believe me, an intrigued “ooohhh” is a lot better than a confused “huh?”

Want to know what the A in F.L.A.I.R. stands for? Keep reading.

“If you want investors and audiences to care; show F.L.A.I.R.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, pitch strategist and author of POP!

What a pleasure it was coaching Springboard Enterprise entrepreneurs yesterday in Boston at Microsoft’s NERD location overlooking the waterfront.

Springboard has helped entrepreneurs such as Robin Chase of Zipcar and Gail Goodman of Constant Contact receive more than $5 B in funding.

As their official Pitch Coach, my role is to help them prepare 10 minute pitches that intrigue and favorably impress potential financial partners.

I don’t waste their valuable time talking about how many words to put on their power point slides. That informaiton can be found in many other books or programs.

As The Intrigue Expert and Pitch Strategist, my specialty is showing clients how to pleasantly surprise jaded investors with approaches they haven’t heard before – approaches that quickly, compellingly communicate a convincing competitive edge and commercial viability that get eyebrows up and smartphones down.

In the next few blogs, I’ll be sharing some of the tips that had participants saying, “You’re a hero. I can finally describe my company in 60 seconds so investors get it and want it.”

First, let me keep my promise to participants to finish sharing what F.L.A.I.R. stands for.

F = FUN!

“Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.” – Woody Allen

Sound familiar? Many entrepreneurs are so tight and tense during their pitch; it’s almost painful to watch.

The thing is, “likability” plays a role in whether you land funding.

Some investors have so much money; it’s no longer strictly about the money.

There’s thousands of start-ups that could potentially make them money. The question is, “Would I like to work with this person for the next few years?”

Frankly, fun is a sign of confidence. Not only do you command more atention when you’re having fun, it shows you’re comfortable in your own skin and can wield authority confidently.

The ability to relax, perform optimally and enjoy yourself in front of a group of decision-makers is a sign you won’t panic under pressure or “choke” as the leader of a multi-million dollar company.

So, yes, even though asking for 6 or 7 figures is “serious business;” don’t make it SO serious you lack personality or passion.

Check out the next blog to find out what the “L” stands for in F.L.A.I.R.

“Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.” – Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

I recently had the opportunity to attend Larry Benet’s SANG – an inspiring gathering of the top speakers, authors, executive coaches, social entrepreneurs, website designers, social media experts and internet marketers in the world.

What a great few days it was – leading-edge insights from Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, Leigh Steinberg (the “original” Jerry Maguire), Kevin Harrington of Shark Tank, Ken Kragen (creator of We are the World and Hands Across America) and the brilliant Peter Diamantis, founder of the X Prize.

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, led a panel on the future of publishing.

With Amazon.com now selling more Kindle books than hardback and paperback books combined (!), and with books now available on aps, everyone was wondering, “What’s next?”

Well, what’s next is INTERACTIVE books – such as the new book from Al Gore from PushPOPPress.com which includes such gee-whiz features as QR codes. Just point your smartphone at one and it whisks you to websites and video clips.

What was clear though is that while the future of books is rapidly changing; the future of your book still depends on how clearly, crisply and compellingly you pitch it.

For example, someone at the program asked me, “What do you think of this idea for my next book?”

Hmmm. A few minutes later, I still had no idea what his book was about.

Yikes.

I told him, “This is why I wrote POP!

At our first Maui Writers Conference, we gave participants an unprecedented opportunity to pitch directly to top agents and editors. It was a rare opportunity to jump the chain of command and meet one-to-one with publishing decision-makers who had the power to give you a deal on the spot.

The first question in the pitch session was usually along the lines of, ‘What’s your book about? Why is it different or better than what’s already available?’

Brain freeze.

Many of the participants wasted ther ten minute-golden opportunity desperately trying to describe their book.

By then, it was too late.

See, publishers think, “If you’re not clear what your book’s about and why it’s worth buying, your readers won’t be either.”

I told my lunch partner, “Your goal is to create a 60 second or less book hook that passes the following 3 question test.

1. Do people UNDERSTAND what your book’s about? (Could they explain it to someone else after hearing your description?)

2. Are they INTRIGUED by what you just said? (Did their eyebrows go up? Are they motivated to want to know more?)

3. Can they REPEAT what you just said? (If they can’t repeat it, you’ll be “out of sight, out of mind.” Not good.)

How about you? Have you crafted a succinct elevator pitch for your book?

When people ask, “What’s your book about?” does your response elicit an enthusiastic “I want to read that!” If so, good for you.

If not, you might want to get a copy of my POP Your Pitch CD or MP3.

POP! Your Pitch & Proposal  (A MP3 digital audio download 62 min.)

POP! Your Pitch & Proposal

This one-hour program features my step-by-step, proven approach to creating pithy, powerful, persuasive pitches that have helped my consulting clients get publishers, TV/radio/print journalists, meeting planners and readeres interested in what their book has to say.

Be prepared to take notes. You’ll discover why I’m called The Pitch Whisperer and why these “can-use-it-immediately” techniques have been featured on MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com and FastCompany.com.

Hope these POP! Your Pitch techniques help you win buy-in for your book so your message gets out in the world and makes a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for you.